Safety and Security

Health Hurdles


The Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee has started a new initiative called “Health Hurdles”, where our resident Occupational Health and Safety Nurse will address health challenges that may be preventing you from optimizing your health, energy, and immune system. This will be provided bi-weekly, or more often, depending on the circumstances on campus. This initiative will run for the next four months and will then be reassessed by the JOHSC . The Acadia University Occupational Health and Safety site will house previous sessions in case you miss them and want to look back on them.

Please feel free to provide input or health topic recommendations to OHS@acadiau.ca


Sessions

Immunity

It seems to be that time of year when cough, cold, and flu symptoms are active again. So, to help everyone get through this, it seemed like a good idea to help build everyone’s immune system to ensure to avoid catching any viruses going around. Most importantly, do not forget to wash your hands and get vaccinated. More information to come on an upcoming flu vaccination clinic on campus, but in the meantime, enjoy the attached presentation (.pptx) to help you boost your immune response.

Communication

It is that time again, where we learn a useful skill to put in our toolbox of life.

Effective communication can benefit everyone in a positive way. To learn how to effectively improve your communication skills, see the attached presentation (.pptx).

Work-Life Balance

Amid the elevated anxiety, stress, and exhaustion during COVID-19, the pandemic has also resulted in improved loyalty to employers and a stronger sense of purpose in the workforce, finds a new poll by KPMG in Canada. The biggest workplace challenges, say full-time Canadian employees, include work/life balance, isolation, COVID-19 exposure, and a heavy workload.

Four in five (80 per cent) say their employer has treated them fairly during the pandemic, of which 18 per cent described the first few months of the pandemic as "rocky" but their employer pivoted, making "positive adjustments along the way." But, nearly half say their workload is heavier than it was pre-pandemic.

"Our poll findings reveal that while many Canadians are feeling the weight of a heavy workload, they also feel they are making a difference during this extended and exceptionally challenging time," says Emily Brine, Managing Director, Firm Management, Talent and Culture, KPMG in Canada. "Employees have really stepped up and made sacrifices to keep us safe, provide us needed goods and services, and help keep our communities and economy going. But, with stress levels intensifying during this third wave, the onus is on employers to continue supporting their workers in ways that both unite and inspire them.

Key Findings:

  • Nearly half (49 per cent) of full-time employees in Canada say their workload is "much or somewhat more" today than pre-pandemic
  • 36 per cent say their workload is about the same, and only 15 per cent say they have less or much less work today
  • 31 per cent say they're so overworked that they're on the verge of burnout, or are burnt out
  • Nearly three in five (59 per cent) find more purpose in their jobs today, saying they feel more motivated and engaged, and that they are making more of an impact compared to before the pandemic
  • 80 per cent say their employer has treated them fairly since the pandemic started, including 18 per cent who said that although first few months of the pandemic were "rocky", their employer "made positive adjustments along the way."
  • 29 per cent are more committed or loyal to their employer than they were pre-pandemic; 18 per cent were either less committed or actively seeking other employment, while commitment/loyalty of the remaining 53 per cent had not changed.
  • 62 per cent say the pandemic has proven that they can work independently”

They continue on to discuss the biggest working challenges faced by Canadians are work-life balance, isolation, COVID-19 exposures, and heavy workloads. For more interesting facts, please visit their webpage.

Please see the attached presentation (.pptx) for more insights into the Work-Life Balance.

Cave Syndrome and Anxiety

"The Mental Health Research Canada poll (2021) states that 'this poll has seen a decline in the number of Canadians reporting high levels of anxiety (from 28% in Poll 6 to 24%). However, levels remain higher than those we saw in 2020 and remain much higher than the 8% who felt their anxiety levels were high before COVID-19.'"

Many people are struggling to re-integrate into society, especially since provinces are easing restrictions in the wake of the Delta variant. To help alleviate anxieties, please review the presentation. If you are still struggling, seek help to alleviate your anxieties. Professionals can help provide the tools for you to move forward in these stressful times.

Reference
Mental Health Research Canada. (2021). Mental health during COVID-19 outbreak: Poll #7 of 12.

Fall Campus Insights

I have received numerous questions and concerns from faculty, staff, students, and parents lately, so I thought it best that I include some information to alleviate some anxieties on returning to campus. Please see the attached COVID-19 Orientation to Campus presentation. This presentation has some useful information on existing strategies and the changing guidelines which will be happening on campus in the next couple weeks.

Keep in mind that everyone will be moving forward at their own pace. Some people are excited and looking forward to re-opening, while others are hesitant and have great anxieties about working and socializing in-person. As long as we stick together as a community and we all do our part to ensure we are safe, we will see the end of this pandemic and be able to have a normal life once again. Do not forget to check on your friends and family to ensure they are doing well during these stressful times. And don’t forget to reach out if you are feeling overwhelmed. Someone is always there to help you! If you require some resources for support in moving forward please visit the link below and see the Mental Health Resources segment.

Heart Health

Nine in ten Canadians have at least one risk factor for heart disease or stroke.
Various risk factors can influence your heart and its performance. Risk factors are caused by a combination of factors and the more factors you have, the greater chance of developing heart disease or an associated condition.
Heart diseases and associated conditions are the second leading cause of death among Canadians.
Please see the attached Power Point for more details on maintaining a health heart.

Pain Management

1 in 5 Canadians suffer from chronic pain. Pain is unique to each individual and can vary widely. Studies suggest that an individual’s quality of life can be influenced by their outlook and by their ability to emotionally cope with their pain.


Read the following PowerPoint to get helpful tips on managing pain.

Digestion Disorders and Management

"More than 20 million Canadians suffer from digestive disorders every year.” CDHF, 2021

For information on Digestive Issues and Subsequent Management, please see the attached Power Point.

Mental Health Supports for Faculty and Staff

Mental wellness achieved from recreation activities include increased self-esteem, sense of accomplishment, increased self-confidence, reduced stress and increased ability to cope, improved quality of life, and life satisfaction.

More than 80% of Canadian adults experience levels of excessive stress in their daily lives. Chronically elevated levels of stress and cortisol lead to health risks and disease such as heart disease, weight gain, digestive issues, sleep issues, memory, and concentration impairment, and much more.

One in three Canadians will experience mental health issues or mental illness in any given year.

Address symptoms early: Addressing mental health symptoms early by accessing services and supports in community can significantly reduce the severity of an illness. Connect with community-based mental health organizations for more information about programs and resources that can help keep you mentally healthy.

For an abundance of mental health supports in your community, see the attached document.

How to Make Healthier Choices

Behaviour change can be difficult. You need to be prepared and set yourself up for success. To find some tips on implementing successful personal changes in your life, please see the attached PowerPoint.

Ergonomics

To view more details related to office ergonomics, please see the attached PowerPoint.

Weight Management

For more weight management tips and tricks, see the attached PowerPoint.

Stress Management

Back by popular demand, this week’s segment will look at Stress Management.

Stress Management

For more details, check out the attached PowerPoint.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is described as persistent pain that lasts longer than 3 months.

A recent public opinion survey found that 34% (1 in 3) of Canadian adults are experiencing some form of chronic pain. The same survey determined that 22% (1 in 5) of Canadian adults consider their chronic pain significant due to the emotional and physical impact on daily living. That means there are millions of Canadians living with moderate to severe chronic pain that interferes with their daily lives.

57% of those individuals feel their chronic pain contributes to their anxiety and depression. 83% of those individuals with significant chronic pain say that it prevents them from doing their regular daily activities.

Chronic pain is associated with addictions, social dislocation and isolation, and stigma.

Unfortunately, chronic pain is not well understood by physicians, patients, or the public.

Chronic pain is associated with the worst quality of life as compared to other chronic diseases such as chronic lung or heart disease.

The annual direct and indirect costs of chronic pain in Canada is estimated to be at least $56 to $60 billion dollars! Take the quiz on pain.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to get pain relief. A pain management plan should be developed in collaboration with your primary care physician and depends on your symptoms and underlying health conditions. Solutions can include medical treatments, lifestyle changes, or a combination of the two.

Mild to moderate pain can be treated with:

  • Exercise, and getting sufficient sleep.
  • Over the counter medications like Aleve, Ibuprofen, and Tylenol.
  • Complementary therapies (described in the attached document).

See the attached document (.docx, 4MB) for more techniques and details to alleviate your specific pain.

Walking
A figure in running leggings and walking sneakers in a park. Image courtesy of Arek Adeoye via Unsplash.

What activity can:

  • Improve your mood.
  • Help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Reduce your risk of chronic disease.
  • Decrease your blood pressure.
  • Improve your cholesterol levels.
  • Improve your digestion.
  • Ease your back pain.
  • Can curb your craving for chocolate and a variety of sugary snacks.
  • Increase your bone density.
  • Boost your immune function.
  • Delay the onset of varicose veins.
  • Increase your creativity.
  • Decrease your stress levels.
  • Help alleviate joint pain.
  • Help you sleep better.
  • Help you live longer.

…and is free?! Let me give you a hint:

Walking!

Brisk walking is considered moderate-intensity exercise. It is recommended to get 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per week. Breaking it up into bouts of 10 minutes or more at a time throughout the day may be easier to accomplish.

For more details, benefits, and guidelines, please read our resources document.

Nutrition

Nutrition is not about discussing how many calories you eat or dieting. Nutrition is about the study of nutrients in food, how your body uses them, and the relationship between diet, health, and disease. Nutrition also focuses on how people can use dietary choices to:

  1. Reduce the risk of disease,
  2. Determine the consequences of too much/ too little of a nutrient, and
  3. Determine how allergies work.

For more information, please read our resources document.

Sleep

The importance of healthy sleep during this pandemic cannot be overstated. A good night’s rest is essential for a strong immune system and healthy brain functioning. The average healthy adult requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night and an older adult (65 and older) requires 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.

According to the Government of Canada, insufficient sleep is associated with obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, irritability, reduced well-being, and an increased risk of injuries, including a significant increased risk for motor vehicle accidents.

Unfortunately, sleep receives relatively little attention as part of a healthy lifestyle and lack of sleep is not generally considered a public health concern. Considering the negative impacts lack of sleep has on an individual, it should be considered a health priority when promoting healthy lifestyle components. Especially now with the pandemic, as sleep is critical to improved immune system functioning. There are numerous barriers to obtaining the recommended amount of sleep per day, from anxiety over the pandemic to chronic pain.

For more information, please read our resources document.

Resilience

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on our bodies and minds, compounded by original life stressors, prior to the pandemic. As the pandemic continues, with the uncertainties and numerous guidelines to follow, a heightened sense of anxiety and fear also continues. The pandemic is an unknown threat and the information related to the pandemic is constantly changing and being communicated to society. This is adding to our stressors due to the abundance and confusion of the information, resulting in overwhelming situations for numerous people. Along with all the associated information, fears, and anxieties, we have a variety of government directives to follow, including limiting gathering limits, etc. This has developed fear and hesitancy in connecting with others in case they have the virus and are asymptomatic. This fear and isolation have resulted in a social disconnect from relationships, friends, family, and community supports. Luckily, humans are built to survive and grow stronger as we experience and adapt to change. Determining how well we adapt and grow has a lot to do with our levels of resilience.

Resilience:

  • Resilience is the ability to adapt when faced with adversity.
  • It helps people recover from a setback.
  • It is the ability and tendency to bounce back.
  • Can be learned, built, and developed.
  • You still experience grief, pain, anger, etc. when you have resilience, but you are able to continue to function (physically and psychologically) in everyday life.
  • Resilience is not about avoiding stress but learning to see stress as a challenge and continue to thrive, as a result of inevitable life challenges.

For more information, please read our resources document.

Mental Health

Mental Health is a state of well-being that everyone has in varying degrees, similar to physical health.

  • It includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being.
  • Affects how we think, feel, and act.
  • Our mental health influences how we handle stress, how we relate to others, and the choices we make.
  • If you experience mental health problems, it can affect your thinking, your mood, and your behaviour.
  • Mental Health is much more than simply the absence of mental illness.
  • Mental health and physical health are linked. For example, individuals with chronic pain are much more likely to experience mood disorders.

For more information, please read our resources document.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention and staying present in the moment: It is being aware of where you are and what you are doing, without excessively reacting or being overwhelmed by what is going on around you.

Being mindful has numerous benefits to an individual from decreasing stress and anxiety levels, to positively impacting your brain and immune function. These are just a few of the benefits of being mindful. For more information, please read our resources document.

Stress
  • 27% of Canadian workers (1 in 4) claim to have high to extreme levels of stress daily.
  • 28.3% of Canadians between 35 to 49 years old perceive their stress levels as quite a bit or extreme.
  • 62% say work is their main stress; tied for second at 12% are financial and time stresses.
  • Prolonged stress increases risk of depression, heart disease and substance abuse.

Some stress in our lives is helpful and helps us focus to solve problems. If we did not feel any stress, we simply would not be alive! We all talk about stress, but what is stress?

Stress is the body’s response to a real or perceived threat. Most of the threats people face today are not simply something that they can fight or run away from. Today’s threats are usually problems that people have to work through. But too much stress may feel overwhelming at times, so there are many strategies to help you take control. Some options to reduce stress are time management skills, rest, and exercise.

For more information on stress, management options, and resources, please see the attached document for details.


Employee Training Opportunity

Mental Health First Aid Certification Course

Dates: Tuesday September 7th and Wednesday September 8th
Times: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Location: Acadia, Emmerson 209
Instructor: TBA

Registration is open. Please email caroliina.landry@acadiau.ca to register

Virtual Mental Health First Aid Introductory Course

Date: Aug 30th
Time: 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Location: Teams Webinar- link will be emailed out on the morning of August 30th
(This will be recorded and the recording will be available after the course)
Instructor: TBA

Contact

Occupational Health and Safety
ohs@acadiau.ca
(902) 585-1199