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Posts made in July, 2015


The Hidden Effects of Stress

The Hidden Effects of Stress


Posted By on Jul 24, 2015

We all face stress in our lives, from daily frustrations like traffic jams, to major life dilemmas like divorce or job loss. But aside from the obvious emotional impact, stress can also affect your physical health. Have you ever noticed that you tend to get sick when you’re already facing major amounts of stress in your life? That’s because chronic stress can depress your immune system, making you more susceptible to common illnesses like colds or the flu. If the stress continues unabated, symptoms might manifest in ever major body system. In fact, in the long term stress has been linked to serious problems such as: muscle tension and pain headaches high blood pressure stroke heart disease and heart attacks increased asthma attacks type 2 diabetes heartburn and acid reflux stomach ulcers constipation and diarrhea erectile dysfunction, low sperm count, lowered sex drive, and impotence (in men) irregular menstrual cycles, worsened PMS symptoms, greater difficulty during menopause, and lowered sex drive (in women) To some extent, it is not possible to avoid everyday stress in our lives. We’re going to be late to work, the kids are going to forget their homework, and relatives are going to say things that upset us. But as you can see, the long-term effects of chronic stress can be disastrous. Avoiding stress is probably impossible for most of us, but learning to deal with stress may be an important key to better health and a longer, happier life. Get plenty of exercise. In fact, when stressful situations arise, just a ten-minute walk can help to boost your mood! Sleep. Do whatever it takes to get 8 hours of sleep each night. Use room darkening shades, drink some warm chamomile tea, and invest in quality bedding. Go outside. If you’re in no mood to exercise, simply sitting outside in the sun can be soothing for many people. Learn to say no. It’s okay to know your own limits, and enforce them. If you’re over-scheduled already, don’t let guilt pressure you into commitments you don’t want to make. Learn to cheat. If you volunteered to bring cookies for the class party, grab a pack from the grocery store bakery. If you’re supposed to bring a side dish to your work potluck, hit the deli. Don’t feel the need to be everything to everyone. Eat a healthy diet. A diet composed of sugary carbs will cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate, making you feel cranky and tired. Try lavender. Lavender has a calming effect on most people. Take lavender bubble baths, or place a lavender sachet inside your pillow case. Talk to a counselor. Don’t...

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If you’re a business owner with fewer than 50 full-time employees, you probably know that the Affordable Care Act does not require you to offer health insurance to your workers. But since offering employee health benefits can help you attract and retain the best workers, it may still be in your best interest to do so. In fact, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that you have better options available to you than owners of larger businesses. Yes, the cost of group health insurance has risen sharply, nearly doubling since 2009. But the good news is that you may be eligible for tax credits to offset the high cost of premiums. If you’re a creative mathematical thinker, or employ a highly skilled accountant, you may be able to devise a low-cost solution that offers valuable benefits to your employees. If you have fewer than 25 full-time workers, your tax credits may cover up to 50 percent of your portion of group health insurance premiums. But since you can only access these tax credits through the SHOP marketplace, your first step should be to consult with an insurance broker who is familiar with SHOP plans. You will learn whether you are eligible for tax credits, and then you can calculate your bottom-line expense for the company. Some employers choose to make a defined contribution toward employee health benefits, or they offer a variety of plans. Then employees can choose a plan based upon their needs and budget, much like shopping on the exchange. As you can see, sometimes small business owners have more options than those who run larger companies! Weigh the cost of providing group health insurance through tax credits against the benefits of offering an employee reimbursement program. With some creative thinking and careful calculations, you can find the health insurance solution you need to fit your...

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5 Ways to Lower Your Health Care Costs For several years in a row now, the cost of health care has outpaced the rate of inflation. This means that even as the cost of other goods and services remains flat, or rises only slightly, your out-of-pocket health care expenditures will increase disproportionately. Many experts predict that health care spending will rise about 7 percent in 2015 alone! Part of this increase will be passed on to you via increased health insurance premiums and prescription medication co-pays. But luckily, there are some things you can do to lower your health care costs. Review your health insurance plan this fall. Before Open Enrollment season begins this fall, evaluate your current plan to be sure it really suits your needs. Many young, healthy people otp for a low-premium, high-deductible plan because they rarely go to the doctor. But those who manage chronic medical conditions or need several prescription medications should carefully compare the benefits of each plan. If you expect any big changes in 2016, such as the birth of a new child, weigh the cost of increasing your premium against having to pay a larger deductible. Shop around doctors and hospitals. Doctors and hospitals are willing to discuss their fees with you, and they aren’t all the same! Before scheduling procedures or choosing a specialist, compare prices just as you would if you were shopping for a car. Shop around for prescriptions. Speaking of comparison shopping, you should also shop around for the lowest price on your medications. Check with wholesale clubs and online pharmacies, or ask your pharmacist about using generic drugs. If you need a particular prescription which tends to be expensive, ask your doctor whether another drug may work just as well. Your insurance plan may offer better coverage on an alternate medication. Check your medical bills. Often we tend to accept any medical bill as correct, and simply write a check for the balance after our insurance pays their portion. But keep in mind that your medical bills are processed by real people, who can and do make mistakes. If you’re familiar with your coverage limits, you will be armed with the knowledge to spot mistakes on your bills. Open a Health Savings Account. If you tend to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars on co-pays, prescriptions, and deductibles each year, why not pay those expenses with pre-tax dollars? A health savings account will also help you budget for medical expenses, if you choose to make direct deposits straight from your paycheck into the...

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