Get Back Down to Earth: Explore Ways to Decompress
Sometimes life can be overwhelming, and we seem to spin from one orbit to another. Stress can overwhelm your emotional being, as well as your physical health and the way you feel in time and space. The goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun—and the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head-on. However, stress management is not one-size-fits-all.
When Big—and Small—Challenges Come Your Way, your EAP is available
From time to time, we are all confronted with everyday life or work difficulties. If you’re struggling with an issue, you shouldn’t feel anxious about seeking help. Accessing your EAP benefit is convenient, confidential and safe. If you need assistance, you can call 1-800-327-1393 and speak to an EAP counselor. Sometimes a telephone call is all it takes. Ways the EAP can help you or a family member through a difficult time: Read More...
Step-It-Up Challenge: Splash Down Complete!
Our Out of This World Step-It-Up Challenge in May was a great success and we had 65 teams, with more than 226 BMC employees participating in this year’s event. Thanks to all the teams who took the health journey and stayed the course.
Now that we have all the data in at Mission Control, we’re excited to announce a winner. At splashdown on May 31, the team with the highest step average was The Olympians who together recorded an amazing 2,803,750 total steps for the month! That's 5.23 times the distance to the International Space Station, or 0.587% of the average distance to the Moon! Congratulations to the following Olympian team members, who received a trophy and a $250 gift card (or charitable donation of their choice):
- Raj C.
- Gillian C.
- Chris H.
- Laura J.
- Oto S.
- Nanci T.
- John W.
While this team had the most activity for the month, everyone who participated in the Step-It-Up Challenge was a winner, as they made strides each day for their own physical and emotional health. Thanks for making the journey with us!
Random Acts: Scientific Benefits of Being Kind
Our Good Deed Challenge is just ahead in August, and it’s a great time to explore the benefits of spreading kindness in our world. As part of the challenge, from August 1 – August 31, you’ll be invited to perform 30 acts of kindness over 30 days for the chance to earn 100 bWell points.
Why Be Kind?
Many of us have heard that performing random—and even regular acts—of kindness can be a good thing. But kindness helps our minds and our bodies in so many different ways, and it’s all backed by science. Here are just a few of the amazing ways kindness can improve your health.
- Promotes good mental health and happiness. When we experience kindness, a hormone called dopamine is released in our brain, lifting our mood. This phenomenon is sometimes called “Helper’s High.”
- It’s good for the heart. Being kind makes us feel good inside, often creating a warm feeling, which produces the hormone oxytocin. This causes the release of another chemical that expands blood vessels, reduces blood pressure, and protects the heart. It’s not just doing kind things for others that’s beneficial. Witnessing acts of kindness also produces oxytocin, so when you do kind things, you not only set an example, you can make a real difference in others’ health.
- Slows aging and increases lifespan. Kindness is proven to slow the aging process. And, individuals who volunteer their time for others tend to have fewer aches and pains. One study showed that people aged 55 and older who volunteer for at least two organizations have a 44% lower likelihood of dying early (excluding other contributing health factors and poor lifestyle habits). That’s more beneficial than exercising 4 times a week!
- Boosts your energy levels. Acting like a natural antidepressant, kindness stimulates the production of the “feel good” chemical in the brain called serotonin. It’s also been proven that your brain’s pleasure and rewards centers light up, as if you are the recipient of a good deed, rather than the person doing it.
- Relieves pain. Acts of kindness have been known to produce endorphins, which are the brain’s natural painkiller.
- Reduces stress. Really kind people tend to have about 23% less cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, than the average population.
Finally, being kind to others can be contagious—and it’s never too late to learn! It’s been shown that kindness is teachable, and people can build up their compassion “muscle” by putting kindness into practice with even the smallest of gestures.
For ideas on some simple ways to do good and improve your own health, click here.
Sources: Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, National Academy of Sciences, Psychology Today, Medical Daily, Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science (1998 clinical trial)
Focus on Men’s Health
There are a lot of stereotypes about the differences between men and women. But when it comes being proactive about health, there is a real disconnect between men and women. Despite the fact that men generally have a shorter lifespan and develop more chronic illnesses than women, studies show that men are also up to 50% less likely to seek medical help than women.
There are several reasons behind why we have created a culture where men are resistant to getting the help they need. One has to do with masculine stereotypes around the need to be tough and self-sufficient, which only get in the way of men seeking treatment. One US survey conducted by the Cleveland Clinic found that 65% of men said they avoid seeking medical attention for as long as possible, citing reasons such as being too busy, believing ailments will heal by themselves, and feelings of weakness.
The other big factor has to do with health “literacy.” Knowledge of disease warning signs, awareness of symptoms, and the importance of early medical intervention has consistently been found to be lower in men than women. And that is further exaggerated by ethnicity and socioeconomic status.
Cancer Awareness, Prevention and Diagnosis
Sadly, all of these factors related to men’s health tend to cause delays in diagnosis and treatment, which can prove fatal.The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be around 9,000 new cases of testicular cancer diagnosed by year’s end, with some 470 of those resulting in death. While the cancer is not particularly common, the incidence rate has been increasing, and the average age of diagnosis is young: 33.
Most diagnoses for testicular cancer are made through regular self-checks, but the most common symptoms start with pain or swelling in the testicular area or adjacent lymph nodes. The Mayo Clinic offers a list of other signs and symptoms that could indicate a problem, including breast tissue tenderness or even back pain. If you or a loved one in your life notice a lump or have any unusual discomfort, schedule an appointment with your physician for an exam.
For prostate cancer, the ACS recommends annual screenings beginning at ages 40-45 for men who are at higher risk, such as those with a family history or Black men. Other men should begin their screenings at age 50. Of course, if you experience any unusual symptoms, such as trouble completely emptying your bladder, pain during urination, or any of the other symptoms listed on the CDC website, schedule an appointment with your physician immediately. Screening is likely to begin with a blood test for prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, and may also include a digital rectal exam (DRE). If you have a PSA level less than 1ng/ml, your doctor may suggest you return for another test in two years versus annually.
The good news is that both of these cancers are easily treatable, especially if caught early, so early diagnosis is key. And, BMC’s medical plans cover age-recommended preventive screenings with an in-network provider at 100%, with no deductible, as part of an annual physical exam.
How Inflation Could Impact Your Retirement Savings
Inflation has hit everyone where it hurts—in the wallet. More than 70% of Americans say they are very concerned about the impact of inflation on their retirement savings plan, according to Fidelity’s 2022 State of Retirement Planning Study. And almost one-third don’t know how to ensure their retirement savings keep up.
Higher prices can eat into savings, but you may be able to keep your plan on track. Read more.
Join Fidelity for Financial Education
Fidelity Investments will offer several financial education workshops for BMC employees in the months ahead. Increase your financial knowledge and confidence and get answers to your questions at Ask Fidelity sessions. Mark your calendar and register for these virtual events.
August 10 : Top Things to do Before You Retire Wish you had a to do list to help you prepare for retirement? Learn how to get your financial house in order and other important considerations that can impact your decisions.
September 14: College Planning: Navigating the Road to Admissions. College planning, for parents and child, is about more than saving money. We can help on key steps from saving, preparing, applying and choosing.