Christina Falahee Wellness Coordinator/Health Coach
During the summer, many of us are excited to spend time outdoors after being cooped up all winter. It’s during these warm months we spend most of our time outdoors. Although the sun is a great source of vitamin D, moderation is key.
July is National Ultraviolet Safety Month which is a great way to shine a light on the effects of UV rays and spread the importance of sun safety. UV radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer in the United States. It can cause eye damage including cataracts and macular degeneration.
Who are Most Susceptible?
- Had skin cancer before
- Have a family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma
- Have many moles, irregular moles or large moles
- Have freckles and burn before tanning
- Have fair skin, blue or green eyes, or blond, red, or light brown hair
- Live or vacation at high altitudes (the strength of UV rays increases with elevation)
- Live or vacation in tropical or subtropical climates
- Work indoors all week and then get intense sun exposure on weekends
- Spend a lot of time outdoors
- Have certain autoimmune diseases, such as lupus
- Have certain inherited conditions that increase your risk of skin cancer, such as xeroderma pigmentosum or nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (Gorlin syndrome).
- Have a medical condition that weakens your immune system, such as infection with HIV
- Have had an organ transplant
- Take medicines that lower or suppress your immune system
- Take medicines that make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
How Do I Protect Myself from UV Rays?
- Seek Shade: UV light is the strongest between the hours of 10am and 4pm. If you are unsure how strong the sun’s rays are, use the shadow test: if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s rays are the strongest, and it’s important to protect yourself.
- Protect Your Skin with Clothing: Clothes provide different levels of UV protection. Dark colors generally provide more protection than light colors. A tightly woven fabric protects better than loosely woven clothing. Dry fabric is generally more protective than wet fabric.
- Read Your Sunscreen Labels: Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection protect against both UVA and UVB rays and with sun protection factor (SPF) provides UVB ray protection. Values of 30 or higher are recommend. Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming and sweating, even if it’s labeled “water resistant”. Be sure to check the expiration date on the sunscreen. Most sunscreen products are good for at least 2 or 3 years, but you may need to shake the bottle to remix the ingredients.
- Wear Your Sunglasses: Effective sunglasses should block glare and 99 – 100% of UV rays and have a wraparound shape to protect the eyes from all angles.
- Routinely Check Your Skin for Any Changes: Birthmarks, new moles and marks should be consistently examined for alterations in size, shape and color or if they look and feel differently from other moles and marks on your body.
Toni Sperlbaum, CWWPM, CHWC, Wellness Account Manager
When I was acquiring my certification as a Certified Worksite Wellness Program Manager at the National Wellness Conference in Minneapolis, MN, our two-day intensive class consisted of professionals like myself sharing their experiences and struggles in wellness. One topic of discussion that was clearly a concern for HR and wellness professionals was the lack of a budget. Conversations were that “my wellness program isn’t successful because we don’t have the money to do things”. Bravely, a wellness coordinator from Saudi Arabia raised her hand, stood up and said, “Our company is massive. The amount of figures in my wellness budget would sicken you, it’s so much. We have all the money you could want and our program. isn’t. working.” She opened everyone’s eyes to show that it’s not a hefty budget that makes a wellness program successful. It’s the cohesion of your programs. It’s the creativity of your people and your vendor. It’s your leadership team’s public support in your efforts (NOT through finances, but by example). It’s these things that give your wellness program a personality and your workplace a culture.
Since 2001, Health Plan Advocate has been providing corporate wellness programs. Although we provide services that require a budget, we also work as consultants in sharing our ideas and experiences with the hopes that your wellness program will be the most successful it can be. Here are 5 of our budget-friendly wellness ideas:
- Wellness Committees. If you don’t have a wellness committee, you should. Sure you may have to pay these employees for their time on your committee during the work shift, but these are the people who are out in the workplace who know what will work and what won’t. They will also be your CREATIVE TEAM! As a client of HPA’s, we can run these committees for you, we can sit on them consistently to offer our experiences, or we can do a one time visit – whichever you prefer!
- Health Fair. This is one of my favorites. All you have to do is pick the date and time. Your benefit vendors, local health food stores, hospitals, gyms, and more show up and do all the work for you! It’s about introducing local resources to your employees to support them in your journey. Vendors will typically provide decent door prizes, too.
- Parking Tickets. During the warmer months, take a trip once a week (or as frequently as you’d like) into your parking lot. On the cars parked the farthest away, leave them a “parking ticket”. On that ticket, it will tell the employee that they have parked HEALTHILY and once they collect 3 tickets, they can turn them in to you to claim their prize. This can be something tangible and low budget like a water bottle, t-shirt (it’s amazing what people will do for trinkets!), or something non tangible like a free jean day, or 4 hours of PTO, whatever you’d like!
- Healthy Selfies. We have to give credit to one of the agencies we work with for coming up with this one. They had their employees submit “Healthy Selfies” – photos of themselves doing something healthy. After collecting photos, they sent them out to their staff to vote on their favorites. Not only did they have fun with it (and was it completely FREE), but it allowed employees to see all the other fantastic healthy things their peers were doing, were able to share about this great fitness class they were a part of, share their favorite walking route, and more!
- Scavenger Hunt. Have your committee (or some fantastic volunteers) stand at different points of your facility or campus with a clue directing participants to their next destination (ever seen The Amazing Race?) but they have to answer a health and wellness trivia question to earn their next clue Once they reach their final destination, they can earn a trinket or maybe everyone who completes it goes into a drawing to win a day of PTO, tshirts, gift cards – whatever you prefer!
I could go on all day with budget friendly wellness ideas, but I’ll stop here. Talk to Health Plan Advocate to see how we can help you with your program!