Newsletter from Employee Health Promotions

February 2019

If I tell you I love you

By Nancy Lyon

I grew up in an Irish Catholic family in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Irish Catholics I know are only emotional at wakes. The Irish can be rambunctious and they can LOVE you after a couple of beers. But they aren’t sappy and they don’t spend a lot of energy on the soft stuff. The Upper Peninsula is full of hard working Finnish folks. Fins and humans of hearty Scandinavian stock. All this is to say: I did not grow up among huggers. And I certainly did not grow up among demonstrative people. In my family if someone loved you, well, you just knew it. And that was enough.

For a long time I did not count myself among huggers. I often flinched when someone I barely knew would open their arms for an embrace. I didn’t know how to be comfortable with friendly affection. I made jokes about it, and played the role of the funny, grumpy, stand-offish curmudgeon. That was how I spent the first half of my life.

The truth is, I am someone who loves fiercely. I have friends that have been dear to me for 20, 30, even 40 years. As with most busy adults, I haven’t invested enough in my friendships. But I’m so grateful for the big hearts and enormous spirits my friends have let me keep close for so long.

Now I am at an age where it’s becoming impossible to take much for granted. I mean, I’m like anyone else. I get caught up in my work, family, events, commitments, deadlines, schedules, and ambitions. So I do take things for granted, because all humans do. But more and more I’m confronted with the unspoken rules we live by simply by being alive. Like, pain is part of it. Pain and loss and failure and suffering — all the things we fear the most are the things that are inevitable.

Loving our people carries with it the risk that we will lose them. And the older I get the more I am witness to the fragility of life. I see families lose loved ones, I see friends battle illness, I see businesses fail. And I've worried about my own business and my own failures.

Part of being human is feeling — the good and the bad. And when your people are struggling or fighting or coping or healing, it’s hard to know how to show up. Or if you should show up at all. There are only so many meals we can make. There are only so many leaves to rake or driveways to shovel. There are only so many cards to send or texts of support. It’s hard to know if it matters or if the person you sent it to feels it. And people deserve their space and the room they need to be with their families and in their process.

The other night I was at a holiday party and, when leaving, I embraced a friend who is very ill. He’s my neighbor. We aren’t particularly close, but we have certainly been friendly over the years. When I hugged him, I said it. It came out of my mouth. I said, “I love you.” And he said “love you, too.” Then I wandered home with my little family. Later, I mentioned to my spouse that I felt silly that those words had come out. I hoped I hadn’t made him uncomfortable, "I liked the guy, but we weren't like, CLOSE." My dear partner comforted me with a simple reassurance. She said, “It doesn’t matter how well you know him. Your soul knows him. It’s ok to say you love him.”

I am entrenched in the trappings of middle age. My tween son’s schedule dictates the majority of our weekend activities. My family is the center of my universe and my career is a very very close second. I am busy. All of the time. Most days I feel like time is getting away from me. But I have learned to stop and take a minute to be grateful. I’ve learned that being the stand-offish curmudgeon doesn’t serve me anymore. I’ve learned to welcome hugs from my friends and even the occasional stranger. And I’ve learned to say ‘I love you’ when I am moved to do it. I am telling my people I love them every day. Whether they live in my home or around the block. I am saying it. Out loud.

It doesn’t matter if you spend every minute with someone, or you hang out once a year. It doesn’t matter if you are there for every special occasion, or if you’re a classmate or workmate or neighbor. It doesn’t matter if someone is your dearest friend, or just a pal for whom you have concern. Your souls know each other. We know each other. Some of us have spent lifetimes together and some of us have just met. If something moves you, share the hug. Say ‘I love you’ out loud. I wish I’d embraced this lesson ages ago. But, of course, I learned it when I was ready. Now, if I say that I love you, it's because I know you, and I must.

Copyright © 2019 Nancy Lyons, All rights reserved.

If you would like to read more from Nancy, you can find her on Twitter, our sign up for her monthly newsletter HERE.

How to Use Your EAP: Counseling

By Amy Tiffany

Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is there to help you and your family handle whatever comes your way, and one of the main components of your EAP is counseling. Some people may feel timid around the idea of counseling, however there are many benefits and reasons to participate in counseling.

What is counseling?

VITAL WorkLife Consultant, Adam Frei, MS, LPC, says counseling is often referred to as “talk therapy” where an individual, family, or group works with a licensed mental health provider to address psychological, social and physical concerns. Counseling can differ based on the counselor’s training and counseling perspective. A counselor can help you identify goals and potential solutions to problems which are causing you emotional turmoil; seek to help improve communication and coping skills; strengthen self-esteem; and promote behavior change and optimal mental health.

There are many types of counseling :

• Individual counseling

• Couples counseling

• Family counseling

• Addiction counseling

• Child/adolescent counseling

• Gerontological counseling

• Military Counseling

What is EAP counseling?

EAP counseling is a free benefit available to employees and their family members. EAP counseling is short-term and solution-focused. EAP counseling sessions focus on addressing current work/life distress. If I want to take advantage of counseling through my VITAL WorkLife EAP, call the VITAL WorkLife EAP phone number at 800.383.1908, and then, we will find a counselor in your area that has experience in the concerns you are bringing to counseling. Once counselor option(s) have been identified, we will send this information to you and you will call to set up your counseling appointment. After your appointment, the counselor manages your case with VITAL WorkLife directly. By law this process is completely confidential. Your employer will not know you participated in counseling.

How long can I go to counseling through my VITAL WorkLife EAP?

The number of counseling sessions you or your family members can access is based on your company’s benefit. For information on the number of sessions you or a family member has available, contact your Human Resources department or call VITAL WorkLife at 800.383.1908. If you or a family member would like to continue attending counseling after your maximum number of sessions has been met, you can discuss accessing your medical insurance or private pay options with your counselor. Your EAP counseling benefit does not have a yearly or lifelong limit. You can use your counseling benefit for a variety of concerns. For example, you can access counseling for a marital/partner issue now, and two months later you can access it again for job-related stress. In order for your family members to take advantage of the benefit, they need to call in and state their relation to you, and what company you work for. If you or your family member is over the age of 18 you must call yourself to access your benefit.

The most common reasons we see for EAP counseling are:

• Partner/marital concerns

• Relationship issues (family, friends, colleagues)

• Stress—feeling stress, not knowing what to do with stress

• Communication issues

• Anxiety/depression, mental health concerns

• Substance abuse

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Vital Worklife Employee Assistance Program

Vital Worklife Employee Assistance Program. This service is available to ALL EMPLOYEES and geared toward recognizing an employee's life situations and helping to find appropriate help. It is confidential and is available to both the employee and members of their household - at no cost to the employee.

Examples of services available:

  • Phone Coaching

  • Online Seminars

  • Chemical Dependency Assessment

  • Face to Face counseling

  • Legal and Financial discounts

  • Click HERE for a complete list of services offered by this provider.

Phone number is: 1-800-383-1908.

Website is: username-mankatoschools, password -member

10K-A-Day February 2019 - It's Not Too Late To Join In!

The 2019 10K-a-Day event has begun, but don't worry, it is not too late to join in! We are trekking to East Africa for a safari ride. Join Us! Lots of prizes such as a hotel stay, state park passes, tickets to the Minnesota Zoo and many more! Contact your site representative for more information.

It's Back by Popular Demand: April Active Event!

We are pleased to offer all MAPS employees the opportunity to engage in creating an inspirational message for your work or home with Laura Doyen of Design and Wine LLC . This year we are also partnering with Happy Thyme Cooking to learn all about the fine art of creating a charcuterie board with cured meats, nuts, fruit and cheeses. You will be able to enjoy a delicious charcuterie snack while Laura walks you through the process of creating your very own pallet sign.

April 16th at DMMS

April 18th at PWMS

  • Allow yourself at least 45 minutes and join us between the hours of 4pm and 6pm.
  • Cost to the employee is just $10.00.
  • Advance registration is required (by clicking on link above).
  • You will be billed directly by the vendor.

Employee Health Promotions is covering the rest of the cost. Maybe you will learn a new hobby, or meet someone new? Laura and Molly are passionate about helping you tap into your creative side and will guide you in creating your personal masterpiece that you are proud to show off!

Other Resources for Your Wellness

  • MAPS Community Education and Recreation classes and events are advertised in the seasonal brochure each Fall, Winter and Summer. Employees are eligible for a $10 fee reduction for a class in each brochure. Each individual must register and provide their employee email address and work site. Contact the CER office at 507-387-5501 for more information.
Current Winter Brochure

  • READY! for Kindergarten. At the time of a requested paternity/maternity leave, an employee is entitled to two (2) years of READY! for Kindergarten Classes advertised in the seasonal Early Childhood Brochure. Registration is conducted through the Early Learning Office by calling 507-625-4620 or stopping by the Family Learning Center, 820 Hubbell in Mankato and completing the paperwork process.
Current Spring Brochure

  • Vitals SmartShopper is another new program. It’s a health care shopping and savings program that works with your medical benefits. With SmartShopper, you and your covered family members shop for different medical procedures and tests via phone, web, or mobile device. When you choose to have your procedure at a facility on the SmartShopper list, you earn cash. You also save money on what you pay out-of­-pocket for the procedure. Register by calling the SmartShopper Personal Assistance Team at 1-866-285-7452 or click on title above.
  • BCBS Sharecare NEW program to replace the gym membership program.
  • BCBS Doctor on Demand
  • BCBS Omada
  • BCBS Learn to Live

  • 2019 MAPS Employee and Dependent Flu Shot Clinic - August 29th 11:30-5:30 PM

We Couldn't Resist!