Don't Stress Over the Thanksgiving Turkey

November 18th, 2015

Turkey Dinner The holiday season is coming up, first up to bat is Thanksgiving.  While turkey day is a time to give thanks for our family and friends, it can become a stressful situation. Don't let the holiday season become something you dread, make it something you can enjoy.

Figure out the Issue

The first step in getting to a good place this Thanksgiving, is asking yourself, what about the holidays gets you down? Once you figure out the specific problems, you can deal with them directly. For many people, holiday stress is triggered by:

  • Lowered defenses: It's cold and flu season and your immune system is under assault. It's getting darker earlier each day. By the time the turkey rolls around, you are worn out, tense and fragile. The stress of making everything work this Thanksgiving can make it harder to cope with your family than it might be at other times of the year.
  • Toxic relatives: Holidays can put you with relatives you avoid the rest of the year.
  • Unhappy memories: Going home for the holidays naturally makes people remember old times, but for you the memories may be more bitter than sweet. If you associate the holidays with a bad time in your life, this time of year will naturally bring those memories back.
  • What's changed: The holidays can highlight everything that's changed in your life. That can unsettle a gathering and add stress.
  • What's stayed the same: For others, it's the monotonous sameness of family holiday gatherings that depresses them.

Experts say the holidays can make people feel out of control. The key is to take control over the holidays.

Take Back the Holidays

This holiday season, don't unthinkingly do things the same way just because that is how you always do them. If the old holiday traditions aren't working and causing holiday stress, it's time to do something different:

  1. Put stress in its place: People who get stressed out easily are more likely to feel intense stress during the holidays. Learn to put stress in its place and take the pressure off throughout the year.
  2. Create the holiday you want: Make clear decisions on how you want to spend your time and resources.
  3. Play games: Games can help keep things fun and light at family gatherings.
  4. Postpone family feuds
  5. Have compassion for yourself and others: Try not to think about how people "should " be.  Accept them as they are and release the tension from your body.

When stress is at its peak, it can be hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings: If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it is normal to feel sadness and grief. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it is a holiday.
  2. Be realistic: Thanksgiving and the other upcoming holidays, don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals have to change as well.
  3. Stick to a budget
  4. Plan ahead: Set aside specific days for shopping and baking. Plan your menu and then make your shopping list. That'll prevent a last minute scramble for forgotten ingredients.
  5. Learn to say no: Have multiple Thanksgiving invitations? Choose one or two and say no to the rest. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.

Take steps to prevent stress that can descend during the holidays.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner and not stress over how it is going to get on the table. Make Thanksgiving and the rest of the holidays something to look forward to, not worry about. Here's to a great start of the holiday season from IAA!

Interested in reading more blog posts on this issue? Click here and here!

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

November 11th, 2015

RibbonAn estimated 48,960 people will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the United States. It is the fourth leading cancer-related death in the U.S.  Help promote awareness by learning more about this disease.

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

The pancreas is an organ deep in the body, behind the stomach and goes across the belly. The pancreas has two different kinds of glands:

  1. The exocrine glands make pancreatic 'juice" which goes into the intestines. This juice has enzymes that break down the food you eat. Most of the cells in the pancreas are part of the exocrine system.
  2. A small number of cells in the pancreas are endocrine cells. These cells are in clusters called islets. They make hormones like insulin that help balance the amount of sugar in the blood

Pancreatic cancer occurs when a malignant tumor forms in the pancreas. There are two main types of pancreatic cancer:

  1. Exocrine tumors: These tumors make up the majority of pancreatic cancers (around 90 percent) and come from the cells that line the ducts in the pancreas which carry digestive juices into the intestine.
  2. Endocrine tumors: These tumors are much less common. These tumors make up just two to five percent of pancreatic tumors.

The causes of pancreatic cancer are unknown. There are certain risk factors that have been noted:

  • Age: The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age
  • Chronic pancreatitis: Long-term inflammation of the pancreas has been linked to pancreatic cancer.
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

Be aware of your risk factors.

Signs and Symptoms of Pancreatic Cancer

Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer can sometimes be brushed off or misdiagnosed. Make sure to be vigilant if these symptoms occur:

  • Blood clots
  • Diabetes: New onset and not associated with weight gain.
  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion
  • Jaundice: Yellowing of the skin and eyes. Possibly itchy skin.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low mood or depression
  • Mild back pain
  • Pain on eating
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Upper abdominal pain

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it might be time to schedule a visit to the doctor.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to take the time to support Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. You can begin by just sending this blog post to friends and colleagues. IAA wants you to be in the know!

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Prepare for Winter Storms

November 4th, 2015

Blizzard weatherThe Farmer's Almanac is calling for some stormy and snowy weather this winter! Make sure you and your family are prepared for the upcoming winter months.

Know Your Terminology

One of the best ways to be prepared is to know the terminology the meteorologists on the news are always talking about! Here are some winter weather terms that you should know:

  • Blizzard warning: Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
  • Frost/freeze warning: Below freezing temperatures are expected.
  • Winter storm outlook: Winter storm conditions are possible in the next two to five days.
  • Winter storm warning: Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within  24 hours. People in a warning area should take precautions immediately. 
  • Winter storm watch: Winter storm conditions are possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. People in a watch area should review their winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.
  • Winter weather advisory: Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous.

When you know and understand the terminology, the better prepared you can be!

Preparing for Wintery Conditions

Winter storms, snow, wind chill, frost, ice, and extreme cold are a coast to coast threat to the United States. With that in mind, it is important to be prepared before, during and after a storm:

1. Before a storm: Primary concerns are loss of heat, power, telephone service, and a shortage of supplies if storm conditions continue for more than one day. Have available:

  • Emergency heat source: fireplace, wood stove or space heater.
  • Extra food and water, such as dried fruit, nuts, granola bars, and other food requiring no cooking or refrigeration
  • Extra prescription medicine
  • Fire extinguisher and smoke alarm
  • First aid supplies
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Portable radio to receive emergency information

2. During a storm:

  • Close off unused rooms to avoid wasting heat
  • Cover windows at night
  • Eat and drink: Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.  Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors
  • Wear layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating , perspiration and subsequent chill.

3. After the storm: When the snow and ice melt, it's tempting to relieve cabin fever and hit the road. But melting snow can cause floods, partially cleared roads may be icy or blocked, and creeks and rivers often overflow from the rush of melting snow and ice.

If you know what to do before, during and after a winter event, you can increase your chances of survival.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to have a fun and safe winter.  One of the best ways to be safe is to be prepared! Just think of IAA as your third party winter weather checklist--making sure are ready for that winter weather. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

Intertested in reading more blog posts on this topic? Click here and here!

Getting Child Athletes Ready for Game Day

October 28th, 2015

Food and glovesTraveling to and from games and tournaments can be a lot for young athletes. Make sure your children are ready for game day by feeding  them the right kind of nutrients throughout the day.

Fueling Up Before and During the Game

When it comes to game day it is all about your child getting the right type of food at the right time. With this in mind--try this food schedule out for your child on game day:

1. 90 minutes before the game your child should:

  • Combine low to moderate glycemic carbohydrates with proteins
  • Drink around 16 ounces of fluids
  • Ideally eat 200-400 calories

2. Half-time (less than 60 minutes to rest) your child should :

  • Focus on replenishing fluids
  • Sustain fast-bursting energy with moderate glycemic carbohydrates such as fruit

3. Between games (if one to two hours before the next game) your child should:

  • Avoid high fiber or gas forming foods like beans or anything that can upset their stomach while their body is in motion
  • Avoid high sugar and high glycemic carbohydrates due to high fluctuation in blood sugar
  • Combine carbohydrates with proteins and fluids

For the best performance from your child, focus on foods that provide the best fuel and are acceptable to picky eaters. Game day is not the best time to test out new foods.

The Right Type of Food for Young Athletes

Kids need to eat the right amount and mix of foods to support that higher level of activity, but that mix might not be too different from a normal healthy diet. Eating for sports should be an extension of eating healthy for life. It takes a variety of foods to keep young athletes at their best:

  1. Vitamins and minerals: Kids need a variety of vitamins and minerals. Calcium and iron are two important minerals for athletes:
  • Calcium: Helps build strong bones to resist breaking and stress fractures. Calcium-rich foods include low-fat dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese, as well as leafy green vegetables like broccoli.
  • Iron: Helps carry oxygen to all different body parts that need it. Iron rich foods include lean meat, chicken, tuna, salmon, eggs, dried fruit, leafy green vegetables, and fortified whole grains. 

2. Protein: Protein helps build and repair muscles and most kids get plenty of it through a balanced diet. Protein-rich foods include fish, lean meat and poultry, dairy products, beans, nuts, and soy products.

3. Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates provide energy for the body. Some diet plans have urged weight-conscious adults to steer clear of carbohydrates, but for a young athlete they're an important source of fuel. There's no need for "carbo-loading," but without carbohydrates in their diet, kids will be running on empty. When you're choosing carbohydrates , look for whole-grain foods like whole wheat pasta, brown rice, whole-grain bread and cereal, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

It's important for young athletes to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, which can zap strength, energy and coordination.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America knows that game day can be fun for the whole family! Make sure your young athlete has energy and strength to be the best player possible. Good nutrition makes for a great game. Just think of IAA cheering your child's team on to victory!

Interested in reading more blog posts on this topic? Click here and here!

Create a Transportation Management Account for Your Business

October 21st, 2015

Public BusCommuting is part of daily life. This not only means racking up miles, but dollars as well. Companies  can help not only their employees, but their business as well by setting up a Transportation Management Account (TMA).

TMAs in the News

In late 2014 the New York City Council passed the New York City Transit Ordinance to encourage people to use public transportation as part of the commute to work, as well as make the commute affordable.

Companies with 20 or more full time employees who work in the city of New York must offer a pre-tax transit commuter benefits program to these employees by January 1, 2016.

While business owners may be concerned, they shouldn't be.  The ordinance can help businesses save money. When employers offer their employees a pre-tax commuter benefits program, the company can reduce its payroll taxes by as much as 7.65 percent of the amount of the benefits elected. Offering the benefit also helps to attract and retain quality employees.

How IAA can Help

Insurance Administrator of America can help your company create a TMA.  A TMA is like a personal bank account in which you and your employees can set aside an amount of money on a tax advantage basis to cover qualified transportation and parking expenses incurred to and from work. Within a TMA there are two "sub" categories: a Mass Transit Account and a Parking Account.   

Contributions to a TMA are made through payroll deductions. Your deductions can be made on a pre-tax basis, which means before taxes, FICA, and Medicare are taken out of your paycheck. For 2015, you may contribute on a pre-tax basis up to $130 a month into the Mass Transit Account and $250 a month into the Parking Account. These limits are set by the IRS. If monthly expenses for transit or parking are higher than these amounts, employers can allow additional contributions on a post-tax basis. Funds can be rolled over from month to month.

The IRS defines qualified transportation expenses as expenses that are necessary for you to travel to and from work, including parking, mass transit and commuter highway vehicles. Examples of qualified out-of-pocket transportation expenses that can be paid for with a TMA include:

  • Parking expenses for any type of vehicle on or near your work location
  • Parking on or near a location from which you commute using mass transit
  • Transit fare cards
  • Transit passes
  • Transit tokens
  • Transit vouchers

Expenses not allowed include:

  • Carpooling with a neighbor
  • Expenses incurred by your spouse and/or dependents in connection with their commutes
  • Mileage and gas expenses associated with going to and from work
  • Tolls

TMAs are a great way for employers to add a low cost benefit many employees can use every day.

IAA can help you create this added benefit for your employees. Contact IAA to learn more about this program. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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