We appreciate the article today in the Grant County Herald Independent covering Unified Community Services being one of only two governmental entities recognized in the State of Wisconsin as a “Vets Ready Employer!”
Some important, practical tips can help minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. These tips may even help you enjoy the holidays more than expected. See below for an article by Peter Reisner MD. The source of the article is linked below.
Through the endless parties, cooking, shopping and cleaning, try taking one of 9 steps to ensure you have a stress-free holiday:
1. Plan ahead.
Between co-workers, friends and family, it’s inevitable that some commitments will end up on the same day. Make sure to plan on what you can attend in person or virtually. If you’re hosting the holidays, create a menu to help you stay organized and make grocery shopping easier.
2. Say no.
With holiday commitments, it is OK to say no to a few or all of them. It also will help relieve some stress. Try sharing your to-do list with other family members.
3. Plan spending.
The holidays mean spending money. Make a budget and stick to it. Spending money on your loved ones is important, but it’s also important to pay your energy bill. Don’t buy gifts that you’ll be paying off for the rest of the year.
4. Create relaxing surroundings.
Turn on some music, light some candles or open the windows on a sunny day. Research has found that listening to music and the scent of citrus can boost feelings of well-being, and vitamin D is always a happiness booster.
5. Maintain healthy habits.
The holidays are notorious for ruining healthy habits. A short workout each morning will help your decision-making throughout the day. Encourage your family to try snow shoeing or sledding to get in extra exercise. Eat healthy snacks like fresh fruit or vegetables throughout the season and to fill up before a dinner party or celebration with tempting, but unhealthy, foods.
6. Share feelings.
Spending a holiday after a loss in the family can be difficult. Accept your feelings and open up about them to others. It may make you feel better to share. Try to switch up old traditions to ease the loss.
7. Respect differences.
Family members will have different viewpoints than your own. Try your best to forgive and forget this holiday season. Focus on your similarities, and replace tension with something productive.
8. Be realistic.
You are only one person, and you can only do so much. Be realistic with how much you can handle this season. Forget about perfection, and relax and enjoy the company surrounding you.
9. Take a break.
Don’t forget about your own needs. Take a nap, go for a short walk, read a book or watch a funny movie. Laughing relaxes the whole body, and can relieve physical tension and stress.
Holidays are meant to be a fun, enjoyable time with friends and family. These tips can help ensure you truly enjoy your holidays when stress starts to set in.
Governor Evers and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) awarded 17 organizations in the State of Wisconsin an award for being Veteran ready. Unified Community Services was among the 2023 Gold Award winners listed as their fiscal agent Grant County. The DWD initiative, called Vets Ready, awards organizations that “build a support system for Veterans within their workplace, hire and retain more Veterans, and connect to Veterans in the community and their families. Every year the Department of Workforce Development recognizes businesses who have gone above and beyond for the Veteran workforce.”
One unique focus of the Unified Community Service plan is to include military spouses in the support as they most certainly serve and rarely receive recognition worthy of their sacrifices during and long after the uniform is worn.
With deep gratitude we thank all Veterans, their spouses, and families.
Unified Community Services is proud to report we are one of the 17 organizations in the State of Wisconsin to receive recognition as a Vets Ready employer by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Governor Tony Evers announced the winners in a press release on November 7, 2023. Unified Community Services won a Gold Award for Small Organizations for their onboarding program that celebrates and empowers not only Veterans but also Veterans’ spouses and family members.
The Gold Award is for organizations that show “exemplary leadership in hiring, training, supporting, and advancing Veterans and their families.”
The Vets Ready Initiative encourages employers to “establish a support system within their workplace, hire and retain more Veterans, and connect with Veterans in the community and their families. Every year, DWD recognizes businesses that have gone above and beyond for the Veteran workforce. Businesses are separated into three categories – small, medium, large – and either receive a gold or silver certification.”
At Unified Community Services we are deeply grateful for our incredible staff which includes employees who currently serve in the Armed Forces, Veterans of the Armed Forces, military spouses, former military spouses, and many family members of Veterans. We are indebted to them for their commitment to continued service in Iowa and Grant Counties and for all the selfless good they do every day for our clients, coworkers, and communities.
We’re extremely proud to report we’re Veteran Ready.
Veterans often face a range of mental health challenges after their military service. These challenges can result from the unique stressors and experiences associated with military life. Some common mental health issues among veterans include:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Exposure to traumatic events during deployment can lead to PTSD. Symptoms may include intrusive memories, flashbacks, nightmares, and heightened anxiety.
Depression: Veterans may experience depression due to a variety of factors, including the challenges of transitioning to civilian life, coping with physical injuries, or dealing with the loss of friends.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): TBIs, often caused by blasts or other head injuries, can result in a range of cognitive and emotional symptoms, including memory problems, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating.
Substance Abuse: Some Veterans turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with stress, pain, or mental health symptoms. Substance abuse can exacerbate existing mental health issues.
Anxiety Disorders: Generalized anxiety, panic disorder, and other anxiety-related conditions may develop or worsen as a result of the stressors experienced during military service.
Adjustment Disorders: Transitioning from military to civilian life can be challenging. Veterans may struggle with adapting to new routines, relationships, and work environments, leading to adjustment difficulties.
Isolation and Relationship Issues: Difficulty reconnecting with family and friends or feeling isolated from civilian society can contribute to mental health challenges. Relationship problems may arise due to communication issues or the emotional toll of military experiences.
Crisis: Veterans may be at an increased risk of crisis, especially if they are dealing with untreated mental health conditions.
It’s important to note that not all veterans will experience these challenges, and the severity of symptoms can vary widely. Many Veterans successfully transition to civilian life and thrive with the support of mental health services, social connections, and community resources. If you or someone you know is a Veteran struggling with mental health issues, reaching out to mental health professionals or Veterans’ support organizations can be a crucial step toward recovery.
Alyssa Wade wrote a piece recently about farmers’ mental health during harvest. She makes a lot of excellent points that may be helpful to review as so many in our communities are dealing with these stressors right now.
“To those in the throes of harvest, it’s the accumulation of all their hard-earned efforts, and with that comes an intense and stressful season. Nearly all of the stressors that affect agricultural production are beyond the control of producers. Dealing daily with excessive workload, unforeseeable weather and extreme work conditions is exhausting.
Compound that with debt burden, unpredictable markets, inflation and equipment repairs, and it can result in endless hours of physical and emotional stress. Chronic stress can lead to injuries and accidents on the farm and, if left untreated, anxiety, depression and disease.
Stress in agriculture is inevitable, but learning how to identify it and manage it is crucial to staying healthy. Here are some changes you can incorporate this season to lessen stress and stay healthy while harvesting.
Eat healthy and drink water
During harvest, it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself. Stress eating can be tempting, and fast food is quick and convenient. Eating well-balanced meals with proteins, vegetables, fruits and complex carbohydrates during times of stress will keep you feeling full and energized longer. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and try not to abuse caffeinated drinks to the point where you may begin to feel jittery or anxious.
As the old adage goes, “there is no rest for the weary” and working till the job is done is something growers are all too familiar with. There are times there is no way around long days and late nights, but prioritizing sleep is crucial to staying healthy. Lack of sleep can decrease reaction times, cause poor decision making, and lead to mistakes and/or accidents that could cost you time and money. After a stressful day in the field, the best way to assure a restful slumber is to try to create a cool, dark space to lay down and unwind. Aiming for seven to eight hours of quality sleep is best, and rest whenever possible.
Get physical activity
Sitting for hours, days and weeks in machinery during harvest can lead to physical tension as well as elevated stress. Take time to walk after supper or in the morning before the day starts. A short walk can have big benefits such as improving cardiovascular health, weight loss, increased endurance and energy, and the release of endorphins to improve your mood and relax. Daily stretching releases tension both physically and mentally, increases range of motion preventing injuries, and increases serotonin levels.
Limit alcohol and drug use
As much as a beer (or several) after a long day may feel relaxing and helpful to wind down, it can also affect your ability to get a good night’s rest. It may help you fall asleep faster, but it inhibits you from reaching the REM sleep state and as a result, can leave you feeling less rested and more fatigued. Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol when stressed can lead to more serious mental health issues in the future like anxiety and depression.
Create a plan
Agriculture is unpredictable, and although unanticipated circumstances may arise, it will help you to sit down with your family and employees and develop a well-thought-out plan. In order to facilitate a smooth and efficient harvest, allow your team to give input and develop a plan of action. Assign responsibilities to everyone involved and allow others to share the workload. Have an emergency or crisis plan in place for unforeseen events. Make plans for how things would be handled in the event of machinery breakdowns, injuries, accidents or other disasters.
Build a team you can rely on
Building a team to support you and your farm is extremely important and can cut down significantly on stress during times like harvest. Your team starts with your family and employees. Discuss with them what skillsets they have that they feel would be most valuable. Clearly communicate your expectations and put each team member in a place where you feel confident with them completing the assigned task(s) safely and efficiently. If there are tasks you feel your team is not equipped to handle, seek experts to help, such as Extension specialists who can help you enlist agronomists, financial advisors or other ag experts.
Take time away from the farm
Harvest season isn’t exactly the perfect time to take a vacation, but you can still take time away from the farm even if it’s just mentally. Blocking out a small window of time every day to eliminate any sort of farm-related talk or thoughts can release tension and aid in diminishing stress associated with the day. Pray, meditate, listen to music or a podcast, watch your favorite TV show, or talk to family/friends. Ten to 30 minutes is enough to leave you feeling re-energized and newly focused. Having something to look forward to like a vacation or special plans when harvest is completed can be helpful to staying positive as well.
Seek help if you need it
The most important asset on your farm is you. If you are starting to show signs of extreme stress, it is time to ask for help no matter what is happening on the farm. It may be time to seek help if you are experiencing extreme irritability, anxiety, depression, muscle tension and pain, rapid heartbeat, exhaustion, headaches, dizziness, high blood pressure, and digestive problems. It is okay to ask for help. Your farm cannot thrive if you are not well.
Utilizing these tips may not alleviate all the stress that can arise during harvest, but they can substantially reduce it, and that will benefit both your operation and your health.”
A link to Alyssa’s full article is below if you’d like to read more.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Espanol: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741