• Taking care of ourselves

    Mental Health and Wellbeing

    Stress and grief can affect many different aspects of our lives; mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and in our relationships. Having ideas about how we can care for ourselves with an intention toward wellness can be helpful during these challenging times. Listed below are a few keys to wellness as we shelter in place.. 
     
    Breathe
    We breathe regularly without having to think about it, but by occasionally focusing on your breath you can breathe more deeply and get more oxygen, and this will help you relax and be better able to focus.
     
    One exercise you can use is the 4-7-8 technique. Focus on the following breathing pattern:
     
    Empty the lungs of air. Breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds, hold the breath for a count of 7 and exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds. Repeat up to 4 times. 
     
    Be Mindful
    Taking some time to purposefully watch what we are doing and how we are doing it may help us to better cope with some of the challenges we are faced with and may help us to find some compassion for ourselves.
     
    Being mindful can be as simple as paying attention to the things you normally automatically do, to taking time to notice things in your environment you may normally tune out (sounds, sensations of temperature on your skin, the light in the room, watching the leaves react to the wind), to formally meditating. 
     
    Explore
    Express yourself: find different constructive ways to get your feelings out. Many find that talking about what is going on can be helpful, but that is not the only way we can explore our thoughts and feelings, and it can be helpful to have more than one way of exploring things.
     
    Trying different things can help you figure out what works best for you. Try drawing, or coloring, maybe arts and crafts, pick up a journal and just start writing. The important thing here is to remember that it is not about the product, you are not going to publish that journal or sell that painting, it is all about the act of doing it, the process. 
     
    Maintain a Routine
    Go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day, have breaks and meals at a time that you usually do. Get moving every day, do some exercises that you normally do. If that is not possible, try a video on YouTube to do something new. If possible, go outside (be mindful of your social distance) and go for a walk.
     
    Sleep especially is such an important function for our wellbeing and not getting enough can cause many challenges. Find ways to wind down before your bedtime arrives; turn off the TV or computer and put the phone down, read, practice gentle yoga, or take a warm shower to help relax.
     
    Keep Connected & Be Kind to Yourself
    Reach out and keep connected to the people in your life; family, co-workers, friends, your therapist. Connect by phone, video or text. Every day remember to be kind to yourself. Be mindful of the expectations you are setting for yourself and acknowledge all of the things you are doing. 
     

    These tips for your wellbeing brought to you courtesy of
     
     

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  • New Law for Employers New Law for Employers

    FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT (FFCRA)

    The full text of the FFCRA can be found here.

    The FFCRA is a new federal law that requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide two new paid leave benefits for eligible employees affected by the COVID-19 virus in 2020. This applies only to those employees (not already laid off) who are home sick. The leave requirements generally provide paid sick time or paid leave under certain circumstances (as described more fully in the notice poster, link #4, below). The FFCRA also provides tax credits that may help employers provide the paid leave benefits.

    The FFCRA helps the U.S. combat workplace effects of COVID-19 by reimbursing American private employers that have fewer than 500 employees with tax credits for the cost of providing employees with paid leave, taken for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The law enables employers to keep workers (who are home sick with COVID-19 related illness and therefore unable to work, even remotely) on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus. The Departmnt's Wage and Hour Division administers the paid leave portions of the FFCRA.

    If an employer has fewer than 50 employees and providing the paid leave benefits would jeopardize the viability of the business as a going concern, the small business exemption may apply. Employers who believe they qualify for the exemption should document why the business meets the exemption criteria unless and until the Department of Labor issues additional guidance on claiming the exemption.

    Effective April 1, 2020, employers are required to properly notify their employees of the new FFCRA leave benefits and implement the requirements.

    Below are links to important resources that contain compliant employee notices, guidance, and recommendations for employers subject to the FFCRA.

    1. Department of Labor: COVID-19 and the American Workplace
    2. Fact Sheet: FFCRA – Employee Paid Leave Rights (in English)
    3. Fact Sheet: FFCRA – Employer Paid Leave Requirements (in English)
    4. Compliant FFCRA notice poster for private-sector employees (in English)
    5. Department of Labor FAQ for the FFCRA employee notice poster

    courtesy of Montgomery & Hansen, LLP

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