SLCo Healthy Lifestyles Blog
Decluttering and Your Health
Decluttering and Your Health
Written By Christina McWhinnie
All of us
are mentally, physically, and emotionally bound to our “things.” Clutter causes
anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia and can make it harder to reach our
health goals. Imagine strings that are attached from your body to everything
you own; do you feel the weight and burden of those strings? Now imagine taking
scissors and cutting some of the strings; do you feel lighter? Can you focus a
little better? Do you feel calmer? This is how we are affected by clutter. “Research shows that clutter affects your brain’s ability to
concentrate and process information.” (1) This is why we can’t find our keys or
Removing clutter is physically healthier because
it removes dust particles and toxins from the air, which can improve allergy
symptoms and overall wellness. (2)
Stress and anxiety levels decrease as the clutter in the home lessens while
healthy habits improve, like better sleep and intuitive eating.
Decluttering makes room
for new things to come into our lives. Getting rid of the “stuff” that is
consuming us, frees up our time to have new experiences, meet new people, and
nurture relationships. The fewer knick-knacks we have, the less time we use to take
care of them by dusting and cleaning, giving us free time to have tea with a
friend or go for a walk. Ultimately, this leads to more happiness and
satisfaction in life.
Geralin Thomas, a
professional organizer who appears often on the A&E network’s show Hoarders
says, “Your house has to be something other than just a container for your
stuff. You need to figure out if your possessions orient you toward having or
being.” Clearing out the junk in our lives, in turn clears out the patterns of thoughts
and behaviors that prevent
us from achieving health goals, strong relationships and living the life we
Other people can make
good use of items you are ready to part with. Here are some ideas for places
that accept donations:
- Catholic Community Services Refugee
Program – Donate
unused household items such as shower curtains, dishes, sheet sets, towels,
- Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore – Donate building materials, furniture,
appliances, tools, yard supplies.
- The Road Home – Donate used clothing (adult and child), coats, shoes, blankets, baby
diapers and bottles, padlocks, etc.
- SLCo Jail library – Drop off your paperback books to any Salt
Lake County Librarian (let them know the book(s) are for the jail), and they
will get them to inmates.
- ShelterKids: (SLCo
Youth Services) – School supplies, craft & art Items, blankets,
wallets, watches, Lego sets, puzzles, etc.
How Breaks make you Better
Written by Emma Thompson
Why Take a
Break at Work?
Have you ever dedicated several
hours to a task just to later realize you haven’t made a dent? Surprisingly,
this can be a sign that you have not taken enough breaks. Although this might
seem counter intuitive, research shows that those who take breaks
once every hour during the work day seem to have greater productivity than those who do not. Just as one benefits
from taking breaks from physical activity to recuperate and prevent injuries,
breaks in our mental work can be equally beneficial. When these breaks are
taken effectively, they can act as the “oomph” we need in our daily
productivity. The following are 4 evidence-based ways taking a break can be
1. Breaks can
act as creative juice
Most of us can recall a time when
we hit that dreaded creativity “wall”. Rather than sitting and stewing over it,
a ten-minute break can be incredibly beneficial. Something
as simple as a walk with a friend, or listening to an inspiring podcast can act
as the mental boost or new perspective we need when we’re mentally stuck. These
breaks help us practice mindfulness by listening to internal cues to reset,
refocus, and recharge. During these
breaks, we can practice positive social health behaviors with other and better
control emotions of frustration and confusion. Literally taking a step away for
a moment can help us see things in a new light and overcome the “wall”.
activity prevents mental inactivity
I’m sure most
of us have heard that sitting all day is
harmful to our health and bodies. It probably comes as no surprise that being
sedentary is also harmful to our creativity and productivity. Taking a short
walk, standing and stretching, or even changing positions at your workstation
increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain – which is where all the magic
happens! Take time to mindfully enjoy the environment in which you are, whether
it is work, home, or anywhere in between.
tea breaks may give more of a helping hand than a caffeine boost
There are several health benefits related to
tea. It provides a small amount of caffeine and keeps us hydrated. However, one
key benefit for productivity may come from the process of making tea. Rather than choosing a fast snack or beverage and
getting right back to work, we must wait for the water to heat up and flavor to
disperse before we can enjoy it. This process forces us to slow down while
providing a moment of pure nothingness.
4. Play hard,
Most of us
are familiar with the afternoon slump. One great way to overcome this energy crash
is to consider a lunchtime workout. Research shows that moderate levels of
cardio can increase creativity and productivity for two hours after! As SLCO employees, we are fortunate enough to have
access to the Government Center Fitness Center as well as all Salt Lake County
Recreational Facilities. Click
here to purchase a fitness pass at a discounted cost to help beat the afternoon
slump and increase productivity
Be patient with yourself as you try different breaks and find
those that work for you and your situation.
Be open minded about attending a Mindful Monday session or listening to
friend as you take a step back from your work load and it just might surprise
you how productive you really are
Salt Lake County Mental Health Resources
Mental health is just as important as physical health when
it comes to wellness. Sometimes work conflicts, pressures from home or just
dealing with stress or anxiety can be overwhelming and difficult. Salt Lake County’s New Employee Assistance
Program is a resource to help during difficult and stressful times. The new EAP is run through Deer Oaks and is free for employees and their families.
Below are some common questions about the EAP that will help you understand
what resources are available to you and your family members.
Will my manager/supervisors know anything
about me using the EAP?
Everything involving you and the EAP is completely confidential and HIPAA protected. Your supervisors and co-workers will not know if you are using EAP services.
What is an EAP?
The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides mental health
services for employees and their families. The EAP offers short-term counseling
(6 sessions per issue) for a variety of issues including:
- Relationship Issues and Interpersonal Conflicts
- Depression or other mental health concerns
- Grief Counseling
- Substance Abuse
- Financial counseling
Who can use EAP services?
Any employee who is eligible for benefits (even if they're not enrolled in county benefits) and their family members (i.e. household dependents,
non-married partners, live in parents, children) can use EAP services.
What if I have an issue that requires more
than 6 sessions?
Both Regence and Select Health offer mental health
counseling coverage for employees and their families that can be long term.
Contact your insurance carrier for more information.
What are other benefits of the EAP?
- 24/7 online and phone Counseling
- In person counseling and assesments
- Identity theft
- Assistance in finding child or Elder care
- Legal Assistance
- Will Preparation and credit monitoring
- Click here for more services.
How do I contact Deer Oaks to request help?
For 24/7 assistance call
888-993-7650. You can also go totheir websiteand use the
login credentials below to find more information and resources.
Feel free to contact Healthy Lifestyles or the Benefits team
with any questions
Written by Keahi Higa
As we begin to gain a
broader perspective on health, we realize that health and wellness change with
time. From children to senior citizens,
there are varying elements of health that shift our health priorities. This health hub article will review basic
information about a common chronic condition effecting millions of people,
osteoporosis. While osteoporosis is
usually associated with the elderly, there are simple, everyday actions we can
take to decrease our risk of osteoporosis.
Our bones are living tissues in our body and
change as we age. Osteoporosis means
“porous bones” and is characterized by bones losing mass, becoming brittle, and
more susceptible to fractures.
Osteoporosis is a serious condition of bones that can lead to not only
fractures, but also loss of mobility, permanent pain, and even depression. In
most cases, we are not aware of osteoporosis until a fracture occurs because we
cannot feel our bones weakening.
the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), osteoporosis is responsible for
approximately two million bone fractures a year and on average cost $19
detection of osteoporosis is difficult, there are some prevention practices
that can decrease our risk of osteoporosis and increase your health and
wellness. These practices include eating
bone healthy foods, engaging in bone strengthening activities, and preventing
Bone Healthy Foods
are sources of key vitamins and minerals that can aid in bone health. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins
C, D, and K all support bone health and can be found in foods like dairy
products, fish, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and many other
fruits and vegetables. For more
information on bone healthy foods you can add to your next meal, follow this link to the NOF website.
Bone Strengthening Activities
to an increased focus on nutrition, understanding how to use and strengthen our
bodies can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
The NOF recommends that we engage in activities that focus on posture,
hip and spine strength, and balance.
These activities are adaptable for everyone and can be done with little
or no equipment, even a quick work break can turn into an activity that
strengthens your bone health. For more
information on bone strengthening activities, follow this link to the NOF website.
prevention covers a wide range of situations and surroundings and is based on
your personal habits and environments.
Falls and fractures related to osteoporosis often impact more than just
physical pain and can have lasting influence on mental and emotional health as
well. Fall prevention can be as easy as
being aware of rugs and carpets around your home to using a walking stick when
hiking. Refer to the NOF fall prevention
guidelines in this link to avoid potentially harmful situations.
osteoporosis is a serious condition that is difficult to detect, these
prevention practices can decrease our risk of osteoporosis and increase our
overall quality of life. Whether young
or young at heart it is important to be aware of how your health can change and
be ready to meet that change in a positive way.
Singing for Health
Written by Maggie Spicer:
Thanksgiving has passed and the holidays are finally in full
swing. Whether you find yourself bursting with holiday spirit or feeling like the
Grinch, there is one holiday tradition no one can escape: the music. Beginning
in November, holiday harmonies become unavoidable – streaming through our car
speakers, grocery stores and even elevators. Although at times this can be
tiring, it turns out that you might just need to sing along! Research is
many benefits of singing for our mental, physical and social health.
Melodies for Your Mental Health
For most people, the holidays are a particularly stressful
time of year. Between family feuds, tiring travels and mob-filled-malls it can
be hard not to feel a little down. However, singing a joyful tune can help
improve your mental health – no matter what time of year! Here are just a few
ways harmonizing can benefit your brain:
Feelings of Happiness and Well-Being: When you sing your brain
produces a variety of pleasure-inducing neurochemicals including endorphins,
dopamine and serotonin.
- Boost Brain
Power: Studies show that singing exercises
your brain in many ways, including improving memory. It is even being
studied as a therapy for individuals with dementia.
Belt It Out for Your Body
It probably didn’t surprise you that music is good for your
mental health. But did you know that singing can improve your physical health
too? Music has been used in healing rituals and therapy throughout history and emerging
research is backing these techniques up. Singing can help:
- Improve Immune
System: The reduction of stress and anxiety caused by singing also
immune system function and reduces inflammation.
- Reduce Blood Pressure:
Singing or listening to music has been found to aid in reducing blood
pressure by calming patients.
Shout for Your Social Health
Not only can singing improve your mental and physical
health, it also benefits your social health! Music has brought humans together
for tens of thousands of years. Whether you are belting it out at karaoke,
jamming around the campfire, or crooning a lullaby, singing helps you connect with
others. But that’s not the only way singing improves social health – here are a
- Builds Bonds: Not
only does singing help your brain create endorphins, it also produces oxytocin.
This chemical increases
feelings of trust, while decreasing feelings of loneliness.
Empathy: Music activates the areas in our brain that help
us understand what others are thinking and feeling.
While there is clear evidence that singing is great for your
health, you might still feel a little apprehensive about lifting up your voice.
But remember, you don’t need to be a professional to experience the benefits of
bursting into song. If you need a little more encouragement, check out this
TEDxSaltLakeCity talk by Brian Manternach – and get singing!