Employee Wellness December 2014

For Travis County Employees and Retirees

December 2014


May peace, prosperity, and happiness be yours throughout the holidays and the New Year!

Take care of yourself! Make a list and check it twice:

__Flu Vaccine
__Annual physical
__Screening Labwork
__EAP Contact

This month's newsletter will provide you with the resources needed to check-off your list.

The week of December 7th – 13th has 2 health observances:

  • National Handwashing Awareness Week
  • National Influenza Vaccination Week

Check out the newsletter for more information.


National Handwashing Awareness Week

Keeping hands clean is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infection and illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013) recommends the following for handwashing and use of hand sanitizers.

When should you wash your hands?

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

What is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

What should you do if you don't have soap and clean, running water?

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of microbes on them in most situations. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some situations, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs. Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.

How do you use hand sanitizers?

  • Apply the product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the product over all surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry.

CDC Handwashing Video


National Influenza Vaccination Week

Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. between December and February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May. Protecting yourself from flu also protects the people around you who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness. So, get vaccinated!!!

In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu, stay home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others.

Click on link for CDC Video
Don't Get, Don't Spread: Seasonal Flu

Flu vaccines are still available at the following locations:


Not Feeling So Jolly? Help for the Holiday Blues

Know you can always reach an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider at 866-327-2400.

The EAP benefit is not only free to all employees and their dependents, but it is also confidential.

EAP assists with stress, depression, anxiety, workplace difficulties, substance abuse, marital problems, family or parenting conflicts, grief, violence and unhealthy lifestyles. Click on the link below for more information.

The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration. But for many people, the winter season is one of sadness or even depression. There are lots of reasons a person may get “holiday blues,” including:

  • High levels of stress and anxiety
  • Family conflicts
  • Lack of a strong social network
  • Loss of a loved one through death or divorce
  • Financial pressures

If you’re in the throes of the holiday blues, here are some ideas that may help:

Keep it simple. Don’t let the demands of the holidays overwhelm you. You don’t have to find the perfect gift or whip up a gourmet meal. Trying to do too much will add to your stress. Do what you can manage. Ask for help if you need it.

Spend time with people who support you. Having people to confide in can help you deal with holiday blues. Organize small get-togethers with people who care about you.

Take good care of yourself. Holidays can really throw off your routines. That can create stress, and stress can trigger or worsen depression. Be sure you get plenty of sleep and make time for regular exercise. Exercise is one of the best things you can do to improve your mood.

Stick to a healthy diet. It may be tempting to gorge on sweets and rich foods. Try not to go overboard. You’ll feel better and have more energy if you focus on healthy food choices and avoid excess sugar and caffeine.

Limit alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant, and if you are already feeling down, too much alcohol can make you feel worse. Avoid alcohol if you are taking antidepressants or medicines for anxiety.

Accept your feelings. The holidays bring up memories, and some of them may be bittersweet. Many people feel blue during the holidays. If you have lost a loved one, this may be an especially tough season. Expect to feel sad at times. It’s OK to cry and express your emotions.

If you’re alone, reach out. Instead of isolating yourself, find positive ways to contribute. Volunteer to serve at a soup kitchen. Help with a holiday food drive. Invite a coworker who doesn’t have close family or friends nearby to have dinner.

Get help if you need it. Feeling a little blue during the holidays may be normal, but depression is not. If you have depression symptoms, see your doctor. Depression can be treated successfully. (UHC 2013)


Predicting Good Health for Next Year?

No Need for Predictions!!! Call and schedule your FREE lab screening with the Travis County Employee Health Clinic.

  • Cholesterol levels
  • Blood sugar
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Kidney and Liver function
  • Calcium
  • Protein
  • Thyroid function
  • Complete blood counts (red blood cells, white blood cells, …)

Get the Facts- the lab results and make a plan, not a prediction, for good health into the New Year!


Holiday Eating

  1. Plan ahead. Visualize what you will do at the event or party before you arrive.
  2. Don't starve yourself. Before an occasion involving food, eat a piece of fruit, a yogurt, or other light snack before you go.
  3. Bring your own. Offer to bring an appetizer such as fresh vegetables and low-fat dip.
  4. Buddy up. Make a goal with a friend to maintain your weight during the holiday season.
  5. Exercise. Sign up for a 5K, a fitness walk or other fitness event.
  6. Limit leftovers. Send your guests home with the high-calorie leftovers if you have entertained.
  7. Make smart substitutions. Practice making your favorite dishes a little healthier.
  8. Choose beverages wisely. Limit alcohol, which is high in calories.
  9. Maintain perspective. A single day of overeating won’t make or break your eating plan.
  10. Celebrate the true meaning of the holiday. Try to give food less importance by focusing on what the holidays are really about - spending time with family and friends.

UHC (2013)


What's for Dinner Tonight?

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Travis County offers healthy meal inspirations that are simple and delicious. Watch video now!


Free Glucometers

If you are diabetic or newly diagnosed diabetic and need a glucometer or replacement, then please stop by the clinic with your old glucometer for a replacement. Must be on Travis County United Healthcare Plan.


Tobacco Cessation Resources

Are you a smoker? Want to be smoke free? Resources to help you quit.


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