Stress Awareness Month is an annual designation observed in April. Have you ever been in a situation that was a little (or a lot) overwhelming, you had deadlines approaching and a mile-long to do list, and you were just in way over your head?! Well, you’re definitely not alone. Everyone feels stressed from time to time, especially as we get older and the responsibilities really pile onto our plate. The thing about stress is, a little bit of it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but too much of it can be detrimental to our emotional and physical health. Learning to find that healthy balance is the best way to live a productive, happy life.
A small amount of stress once in a while is a good thing, because it means you’re working hard and you care about what you’re doing. If you were never stressed, that would probably mean you’re living a lethargic lifestyle without a whole lot of work involved. However, too much stress doesn’t allow us to think straight, and is overbearing and counterproductive. Prolonged stress even leads to real physical problems and can cause strokes, IBS, ulcers, diabetes, muscle and joint pain, miscarriages, and many more.
This month, recognize the difference between good and bad stress and try to find your happy place within the madness.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Use #NationalStressAwarenessMonth or #StressAwarenessMonth to post on social media. This month, we are all challenged to keep our stress levels low, and our peace levels high. Here are some great ways to keep your mind clear and de-stress if you find yourself getting too overwhelmed.
Exercise. You’ve probably heard this one before, and even though it’s probably not exactly what you want to do when you’re feeling stressed (because laying on the couch and watching movies sounds more appealing), exercising gets endorphins pumping through your brain, which triggers a happy feeling. Exercise lowers your body’s stress hormones like cortisol, and releases chemicals that make you feel more at peace.
Think about taking natural supplements to help you feel more at ease. Natural remedies like lemon balm, omega-3 fatty acids, ashwagandha, green tea, and essential oils are very helpful.
Light a candle or turn on the oil diffusers, put on some soft, soothing music and dim the lights. Take a deep breath and count your blessings.
Caffeine intake reduction can help (even though it’s tough to kick the coffee!) because caffeine tends to make us jittery, which can cause stress and anxiety.
Spend time laughing with friends and family. Let yourself have a good time and get your mind off the busyness of the real world.
Stress Awareness Month is supported every year by the Stress Management Society.
There are over 1,500 national days. Don’t miss a single one. Celebrate Every Day with National Day Calendar!
Benefits and you
PRE-RETIREMENT SURVIVOR BENEFIT CHARGE
The Retirement Equity Act of 1984 mandated that pension plans provide a benefit for the surviving spouse of an employee who dies vested, but prior to retirement. This is known as the Qualified Pre-retirement Survivor Annuity (QPSA). Because this requirement adds to pension costs, employers are allowed to recover the cost by reducing the employee’s pension at retirement. The AA reduction at retirement for QPSA coverage does not fully cover the cost of providing this benefit. QPSA coverage is still heavily subsidized by American.
QPSA coverage is mandatory and automatic unless the employee and spouse sign a waiver. The benefit and how the charge is calculated are explained in detail in the Summary Plan Description. The calculation is based upon a percentage by age for the number of years coverage was in effect. There is no charge for providing the coverage past age 65, although the employee is charged for those years under age 65. Once an employee is at least age 55 with 15 years of credited service or age 62 with 10 years of credited service, the charge also stops accumulating. The charge is based only on the mandatory 50% survivor benefit. Employees who have elected a larger survivor benefit are not charged more.
Since the actual QPSA calculation is complex and can only be done accurately when a exit date has been established, for estimate purposes only we show a uniform $20 monthly reduction. We use $20 because we rarely see a QPSA reduction of $20 or more, for simplicity in preparing estimates, $20 is shown on all estimates, even for employees who never had the coverage, or will not be charged this exact amount.
At retirement those employees who never had coverage will, of course, have no reduction. For those who were covered, the reduction will be individually calculated based on their age and years of coverage.
As we discussed, normally about 300 TWU members retire each year. However with the early out, we may be asking as many as 7,000 TWU members to take a close look at their pension plan. Although the QPSA explanation has been in the Summary Plan Description, with this kind of scrutiny we are learning that we can improve how we communicate very important, but unfortunately often very technical pension information.