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Classified Benefits & Wellness Newsletter April 2016 Issue #6

Classified Sick Leave Bank  –  2016-17 Enrollment Coming in May!
Enrollment packets will arrive the first week of May at your building site.  The Classified Sick Leave Bank is intended to extend, to contributing members, additional sick leave days should a long-term illness or injury exhaust the employee’s own paid leave.  Watch for the yellow enrollment packet at your school, building or department on, or after May 1, 2016! 

Remember; May is the only time enrollment to the Sick Leave Bank is open.

Healthy Vision:  Take Care of Your Eyes!
Taking care of your vision should be a priority, just like eating healthy and engaging in physical activity.  Having healthy vision can help keep you safe when you are driving, while at work, home or school, participating in sports, or taking part in recreational activities.

Fortunately, many eye problems and diseases can be treated if caught early.

There are nine ways you can help protect your vision:
1. Get a comprehensive dilated eye exam for yourself and your family members.

  1. Know your family’s eye history. It’s important to know if anyone has been diagnosed with an eye disease or condition, since many are hereditary.
  2. Eat right to protect your sight-in particular, eat plenty of dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or collard greens, and fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, albacore tuna, trout and halibut.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight.
  4. Wear protective eyewear when playing sports or doing activities around the home, such as painting, yard work, and home repairs.
  5. Quit smoking or never start.
  6. Wear sunglasses that block 99 percent to 100 percent of ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.
  7. Clean your hands prior to taking out your contact lens and be sure to cleanse your contact lenses properly to avoid the risk of infection.
  8. Practice workplace eye safety.

“If the eye does not want to see, neither light nor glasses will help” – German proverb

PEP Fund Reminder
There are still funds to help reimburse you for job-related trainings, activities, tuition reimbursement, registration or material costs, and conferences and workshops.  Reimbursement forms can be found on the 4J website under the Human Resources department forms.
Second requests are now available.  Again, both first and second requests will be processed on a first come, first served basis until funds run out.  Call me to verify eligibility and funds today!

Sniffle or Sneeze?  No Antibiotics Please
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has news for us all this cold and flu season:  antibiotics don’t work for a cold or the flu.  Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses.  Colds, flu and most sore throats are caused by viruses.  Antibiotics don’t touch viruses—never have, never will.  Taking antibiotics when they are not needed can do more harm than good.  Widespread inappropriate use of antibiotics is fueling an increase in drug-resistant bacteria.

What to do for colds and flu:

  • Children and adults with viral infections recover when the illness has run its course.  Colds caused by viruses may last for two weeks or longer.
  • Measures that can help a person with a cold or flu feel better:
  • Increase fluid intake
  • Use a cool mist vaporizer or saline nasal spray to relieve congestion
  • Soothe throat with ice chips, sore throat spray or lozenges (for older children and adults)
  • Viral infections may sometimes lead to bacterial infections.  Patients should keep their doctor informed if their illness gets worse or lasts a long time.

Allergy Misery is Here Early!

The spring allergy season arrived early, which means it’s time to stock up on tissues, nasal spray and anything else you use to beat the incoming “pollen vortex”.  The mostly mild winter and the presence of El Niño could mean that the 2016 spring allergy season will be bigger and badder than previous years.

To prepare for allergy season you should know what you’re allergic to.  Next, it helps to minimize your exposure to allergens-whether that means cleaning your house in a certain way to reduce indoor allergens or keeping an eye on our local allergy forecast.

Taking your medicine before peak allergy season can help alleviate symptoms like nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes.  If your symptoms make it necessary to seek physician treatment, please plan ahead.  Remember; if you are suffering, so are many others and appointment time slots fill up fast.

The 4J Wellness Clinic provides insurance-eligible 4J employees, retirees and their families with pre-paid medical care for routine needs. Regular clinic hours are 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. (Closed for lunch 1:00-2:00 p.m.)  Call 541-686-1427 to schedule an appointment.

Oregon’s School Employee Wellness Conference March 20-22
I attended the 5th annual Oregon School Employee Wellness Conference in Bend, Oregon where school employees and community partners come together to learn more about the latest best practices and strategies for wellness in Oregon schools.

For me, the conference provides time to share stories, have a dialogue, and shape future actions by what I learn.  Attending also gives me opportunities to find information that may strengthen some of our existing programs.

Creating and sustaining effective school employee wellness programs is challenging, and it takes a team to make it happen.  Each of us has a personal journey, with our work as the hub, and this conference has the power to inspire and shape the health and well-being of us, our 4J students, and our community.  If you are interested in joining my mission and have ideas or something you want to share, please contact me.

Workplace Stress and Meditation
Research has shown that different types of meditation, such as “mindfulness meditation,” have helped people with chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia.  For example, a recent study assessed the staff of a school for children with behavioral problems after they began regular meditation.  Those who meditated felt less stress and less emotional exhaustion within days of beginning meditation, compared to those who did not meditate.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has an introduction to meditation on its website at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm.

Superfood of the Month
Avocado is a popular superfood that’s high in Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin K (along with 20 other nutrients!), which promote better brain function, while lessening the chances that you’ll develop age-related brain health problems such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Crazy with Stress? Craft Your Way to Calm
The magic of crafts is that they distract you from your worries and let you focus on the simple joys of the here and now.  But to reap the benefits, you need to approach your creative activities the right way.  Otherwise, crafts can become a source of annoyance, ratcheting up rather than relieving stress.  Many of us feel that crafting is being too self-indulgent when we “should” be working, cleaning, or caretaking.  Think of crafting as an essential vitamin that supports your health and well-being.

Pursue crafts that suit your personality.  If you are detail-oriented and organized, you’ll get great satisfaction from activities that require precision and planning, such as quilting, beadwork, decorative painting, mosaic, embroidery or woodwork.  If you’re spontaneous, give yourself some messy good times-for instance, with pottery, abstract painting, fabric dyeing, collage or gardening.  If an activity feels tedious or frustrating, drop it and try something else.

Many of us use knitting, crocheting, weaving and sewing for the purpose of relaxation, stress relief and creativity.

Share the joy with fellow crafters.  The stress-bursting effects of crafting increase synergistically when you combine your hobby with some socializing.  Crafting with friends may improve our mind and brain wellness and provides mental challenge and problem solving along with creating the social connection.  To find new friends who share your passion, take a class in your favorite art form or activity.

If we talk about retail therapy and chocolate therapy, why not use crafting therapy?  Crafts provide significant psychological and social benefits, which can contribute to well-being and quality of life.  Adult coloring is trending now and is said to help de-stress, unwind, lower anxiety, stabilize mood, increase attention span and serve as a sleep aid.  Amazon sells a good one to try; “Color Therapy: An Anti-Stress Coloring Book” by Cindy Wilde.  Local retail stores and Costco all have a decent supply to choose from.

This newsletter is reviewed and edited each month by the District 4J and OSEA representatives of the Classified Joint Benefits Committee (JBC).The information in this newsletter is summarized, and is not intended as advice or counsel.

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