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What’s Your New Normal? — May 2020

What’s Your New Normal? — May 2020


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Loss, Grief, Resilience and Hope

That’s a good question! You may have dealt with illness or the loss of a loved one, maybe loss of income. Even if you haven’t experienced deep loss, everyone has suffered loss on some level. On top of that, how we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic is still unknown. One thing is certain though, the new normal will be different. In the face of change and uncertainty, being resilient (or becoming more resilient) can ease worry and bring hope to challenging times.

Loss and Grief

Seeing movies with people in close contact or pictures of family gatherings reminds us of the way things were just a few short months ago. We are all mourning the loss of familiar routines like going to work, taking kids to school, visiting friends and family, eating at a restaurant, and getting our hair cut!

It’s unsettling not to be free to move about the way we used to. The loss of income and the pandemic’s effect on the economy are major worries. We are concerned about loved ones in hospitals and nursing homes, and those across town or states away. Education has been disrupted, graduations are off, weddings postponed and other major (and minor) events cancelled indefinitely. There’s been so much change to our livelihood and sense of community.

Most people connect grief to the loss of a loved one, but smaller losses can cause grief too. Grief is a natural reaction to loss. It’s that feeling you get when something or someone is missing. It’s common to experience unexpected emotions like shock, anger, guilt and profound sadness. Grief can cause nausea or upset stomach, fast heartbeat, fatigue, headaches or other physical symptoms. Everyone grieves differently so the way you feel and how long it takes will be unique to you. For some, grief may be delayed, showing up out of the blue weeks or months later.  It might be triggered by another type of loss or because the intensity of the pandemic has passed.

The process of grieving can affect your ability to sleep, eat and think straight. One way to help yourself emotionally is to take care of yourself physically while grieving. Seek out time to talk with trusted friends or family about your feelings and challenges, even if by phone, video or at a safe distance.

Believing You Can Cope

Resilience means believing you can cope in the face of major life stressors. Try to see difficulties as problems to sort through, rather than impossible obstacles. We can’t control the fact that change is a part of life and stressful events will continue to happen. It may be necessary to set new goals and accept a new normal. During challenging times, try to find the positive. Focus on the things you can change and give less energy to what you can’t.

-from this newsletter

Resilience and Hope

With so many unknowable answers to questions about the future and circumstances beyond our control, it helps to focus on what we can control. Adapting to change and stressful situations is called resilience. If your resilience could stand a little dusting off, here are a few steps you can take to build strength for adjusting to the times:

  • Plan for what you can. Don’t expect perfect solutions to every challenge but look for different ways of doing what you used to do. Let go of less important tasks and focus on higher priority items.
  • Keep up on the news but limit your exposure. Repeated exposure to the news can be upsetting. It’s important to stay aware of coronavirus developments, but take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories (that includes social media!). When you do seek news, stick to trusted sources of information, like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and your local public health authorities.
  • Connect with your people (even when physically distant). Call your family and friends, or have FaceTime, Zoom or other video visits. Reconnect with old friends or colleagues. Staying in contact with people can ease stress and anxiety. Be sure to talk about subjects other than the coronavirus. It’s important to laugh, share stories and focus on what else is happening in your lives.
  • Take care of yourself. Maintain a routine as best you can. Try to work, eat and sleep at regular times. Make time for enjoyable activities, like reading and watching a comedy. Get outside if possible; a walk around your neighborhood or park can clear your head. Just avoid getting too close to others. Speaking of walking, it and other forms of exercise help relieve stress and lift your mood. You may not be able to go to the gym or attend classes, but you can still bike, hike or take virtual classes online. Mowing the grass, climbing steps and dancing are forms of exercise too.
  • Take care of yourself, part 2. Try to eat healthy meals. It’s tempting to eat starchy, sugary comfort foods during difficult times, but these foods tend to leave you feeling worse (after you initially enjoy eating them). Instead, shoot for well-balanced meals including chicken and fish, fruits, vegetables, healthy oils and nuts.
  • Take care of yourself, part 3. Sleeping 7-9 hours each night is essential for good health. It is the time when our bodies recover from the work (and stress) of the day. Without adequate sleep, it’s hard to think clearly and bring renewed energy to solving challenges.
  • Recognize when you need help. If the stressors of the current situation feel greater than you can manage, reach out for help. Family, friends, counselors, providers, employer-sponsored Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and KnovaSolutions are good options. The National Suicide Hotline is always open: 800/273-8255.
  • Help others. You can make a difference in your community by helping others in need. At the same time, you’ll be giving meaning and purpose to your days. This will help you regain a sense of control over the situation. You might deliver groceries to an elderly person, donate to food banks, send notes of thanks to healthcare workers and/or reach out to someone who may be more isolated than you. You may be able to help by simply being a calming influence when people seem stressed: be positive, focus on other things (besides the news), help problem-solve or listen attentively to their worries.

Ways to Stay Safe

During these unusual times, everyone’s gotten smarter about germs and how they are spread (see last month’s newsletter). To help you and your family stay safe, try to stick to these habits:

  • Wear a mask. It needn’t be a N95 mask used by healthcare workers. It can be made from cloth or paper. By wearing one, you help protect others from germs you may be carrying. Wearing a mask also helps keep you from touching your face with hands that may have come in contact with contaminated surfaces. Replace or wash masks after use.
  • Wash, wash, wash your hands. You’ve heard it before, keep doing it! Especially after touching elevator buttons, pumping gas, handling money/credit cards and other germy surfaces. Try to carry hand-sanitizer or wipes, which can substitute when soap and water aren’t available.
  • Keep shared surfaces clean and disinfected.
  • Wear gloves when grocery shopping or handling mail. Replace or wash gloves after use.

By focusing on what is within your control and taking care of yourself (and others), you are bound to feel more hopeful. As always, KnovaSolutions is available to lend a helping hand. Our clinicians can help you and your family members develop or fine tune resilience skills. Call 800/355-0885 Monday to Friday, 8 am-8 pm, MT.

Click here to view/download the full newsletter. We encourage you to leave a comment or question below and a KnovaSolutions nurse or pharmacist will reply.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general, educational purposes. It should not be considered a replacement for consultation with your healthcare provider.  If you have concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.


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Are You Anxious or Depressed? — March 2020

Are You Anxious or Depressed? — March 2020


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Know the Signs to Find Relief

If you feel anxious or depressed, you are not alone. Everyone feels down or anxious from time to time. It’s a normal response to stress and other situations that arise in our lives. But ongoing feelings of depression and anxiety may signal a problem. In 2017, an estimated 17.3 million U.S. adults had at least one major depressive episode. About a third of the population will experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives (NIH). 

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Getting In-Network Care After Hours — December 2019

Getting In-Network Care After Hours — December 2019


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Plus, Healthcare Tips When Traveling

The holidays are here, it’s cold and flu season, and you’re leaving town to visit family. What happens if you or a family member gets sick at night, at home or away?

Assuming you are reading this when you don’t have immediate needs for medical care, you probably have time to plan for off-hour medical situations. That’s right, with a little bit of research, you can be better prepared to make decisions about seeking the most cost-effective option for the situation.

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Pass the Tissues! — November 2019

Pass the Tissues! — November 2019


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How to Tell the Difference Between a Cold, the Flu and Allergies

It’s that season again. When you first start to feel lousy, it’s sometimes hard to know whether it’s a cold, the flu or allergies acting up. Knowing the difference may help you pick the best treatment. All three ailments affect the respiratory system and can make it harder to breathe.

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Be Your Best Self After 50 — October 2019

Be Your Best Self After 50 — October 2019


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What Changes Are Happening Inside You?

Being 50 or older can be a fulfilling time of life. You are more experienced and wiser. You have a broader view of the world and may be able to take challenges in stride more effectively. If you’ve raised children, they are likely on their feet, or getting there. You may even be enjoying grandchildren or having more time to pursue your interests.

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Believing You Can Cope — September 2019

Believing You Can Cope — September 2019


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Is Half the Battle When Facing Life’s Challenges

In the children’s story, The Little Engine that Could, the little engine agrees to pull a long, broken-down train over a high mountain after larger, more powerful engines refuse. “I think I can, I think I can,” said the little engine. And when it’s successfully coming down the other side, he said, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”

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Turning Food Into Energy — August 2019

Turning Food Into Energy — August 2019


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Keeping Your Digestive System Healthy

Do you ever wonder how the blueberries or chicken you eat get broken down into fuel for the body? The digestive system is made up of organs that each have different roles in processing proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and liquids. Each organ works to break food into smaller parts and move nutrients to where they can be absorbed. Spoiler: the next section describes the digestion process; skip if you don’t want the details!

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Work-Life Integration — July 2019

Work-Life Integration — July 2019


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A 21st Century Take on Work-Life Balance

The concept of work-life balance was introduced in the 1970’s as baby boomers struggled to balance their careers, families, friends and hobbies with staying healthy. The idea is to ‘balance’ your work with your private life. Work-life balance means focusing on your job when at work and making time outside of work to enjoy family and friends, as well as engage in other activities you enjoy.

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Medication Benefits and Risks — June 2019

Medication Benefits and Risks — June 2019


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Do the Benefits Outweigh the Risks?

Taking medicine is part of a daily routine for many people. Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC)medications treat disease and improve health in many ways. Lowering cholesterol, fighting infection, controlling blood sugar levels, reducing pain—these are just some of the helpful effects. Along with the benefits of feeling better and getting well, medicines also pose the risk of unwanted side effects or unexpected adverse events.

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Food for Thought — May 2019

Food for Thought — May 2019


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Healthy Food and Other Ways to Feed Your Brain

Our brains never rest. They hold down a highly specialized 24/7 job. As one of our largest and most complex organs, the brain contains more than 100 billion nerves that communicate through synapses, or connections, to control thinking, breathing, memory, sleep, hearing, digestion, feelings, heart rate, and so much more. Think of your brain as your body’s command center; it controls everything! Weighing just 3 pounds, the brain has a hefty job.

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Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019

Is Breaking News Breaking You? — February 2019


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How to Stay Informed while Minimizing Stress

Almost two-thirds of all Americans say that the daily news causes them stress, according to an American Psychological Association (APA) survey. Feeling anxious, depressed, hopeless, irritable and worn out are some of the symptoms of “headline stress disorder,” a phrase coined by psychologist Steven Stosny.

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Managing Your Weight — January 2019

Managing Your Weight — January 2019


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For a Healthy Body and Mind

Carrying excess weight takes a toll on every part of the body. It affects walking, breathing, sleeping and mood, and can have a negative impact on quality of life. Being overweight can also increase the risk of developing serious medical conditions. The risk might rise from the stress the heart and joints suffer from carrying extra pounds. Or it may be due to complex changes in hormones and metabolism (how the body uses calories and fat).

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Over-the-Counter Medications — December 2018

Over-the-Counter Medications — December 2018

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Taking These (and Supplements) Safely

Over-the-counter medications (OTC) are easy to find at the store. They offer relief from common health problems like stuffy noses, seasonal allergies and achy muscles. They also can help prevent problems like constipation and nausea. You may feel empowered to solve a health issue without having to see your primary care provider for advice or a prescription.
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Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018

Complementing Your Medical Care — October 2018

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With Approaches That Benefit Your Health

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 30 percent of adults use healthcare approaches developed outside of mainstream western medicine. These approaches are called complementary and alternative —terms that are often used interchangeably. However, it is important to note that they are different.

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Calcium and Vitamin D — September 2018

Calcium and Vitamin D — September 2018

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Essential Nutrients that Work Hand-in-Hand

No matter our age, our bodies need calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, as well as other important functions. However, without enough vitamin D, calcium can’t be absorbed by the body. What happens then? The body draws from calcium stored in the bones, which weakens them and can lead to osteoporosis, a condition where bones become fragile, brittle and prone to breaks. Maintaining calcium and vitamin D levels in a healthy range over your lifetime can help prevent the risks of weak bones, teeth and other potential issues.

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Common Medical Conditions — August 2018

Common Medical Conditions — August 2018

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Can They Be Prevented or Reversed?

Heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. One in two adults has a chronic disease and one in four has two or more, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

When it comes to our health, there are things we can’t control and those that we can try to influence. We can’t change our genetic makeup, gender, race or age—some of the factors that can make us more likely to develop a chronic medical condition. However, many health conditions are caused by lifestyle factors that we do have some ability to manage—our diet, exercise, stress management, weight and smoking habits.

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Ah, Summertime! — July 2018

Ah, Summertime! — July 2018

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How to Enjoy It While Staying Safe

Picnics, roasting marshmallows, swimming, camping, fishing—you name it—these are the treasures of summer. With longer days and schools closed, summer often means vacation time. But even if your summer doesn’t include a vacation, you’ve likely shed some layers and are spending more time outdoors. Being outside is a great way to reboot and revive the mind. To make the most of this more relaxed season, remember to take a few precautions to keep you and your family safe.

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Working Smart — June 2018

Working Smart — June 2018

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Finding Your Way to Workplace Wellness

Fulltime workers spend, on average, more than one-third of their day, five days per week at their place of work. We rely heavily on the fruits of our labor: skills, confidence, camaraderie, and most importantly, an income. Since our work life is so important to our livelihood, it makes sense to work smart. Workplace health and wellness includes activities and policies designed to promote the well-being of employees, support health behavior in the workplace, and decrease the risks of injuries. Employees can experience greater job satisfaction by making some key adjustments in the workplace.

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