Family Separation Abroad During COVID-19

Family Separation Abroad During COVID-19

Many months into the COVID-19 pandemic, traveling long distances to visit family members here or abroad is often impossible or too risky due to the pandemic. Many people are feeling anxious and depressed about the separation and isolation.

Hopefully, by this time most of us have learned positive ways to cope with the loneliness and stress of the unknown. As our lives continue to be impacted by COVID-19, try to protect yourself by making positive choices.

Make it a daily priority to:

  • Ensure time for exercise.
  • Get plenty of sound sleep.
  • Enjoy favorite leisure activities.
  • Take breaks from the news.
  • Learn relaxation strategies (e.g., deep breathing and meditation).
  • Know what to do if you become sick or concerned about COVID-19.

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Sooner or later, everyone experiences disappointment in life. Maybe you didn’t get the job or raise you expected, or you are faced with an unexpected relationship breakup. Or perhaps you failed to lose weight by spring.

There are countless examples of how something we hoped for or expected didn’t work out, and the ensuing disappointment can lead to anxiety, sadness and wondering how long you’ll feel down. Fortunately, you can learn to cope with disappointment and feel better.

Tips for dealing with disappointment:

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Whether you prefer a brisk walk, yoga session or bike ride, there are so many benefits to exercise. It can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers; can help improve your mental health; keeps bones and muscles strong as we age; improves sleep; and may help with weight control.

If you exercise just to lose weight, you may be aiming for an outcome you can’t fully control. Even when you eat well and exercise, the number on the scale can fluctuate. Instead of focusing solely on body weight, focus on inspiring numbers you can control more. For example:

  • How long can you exercise? With frequent practice, you will slowly increase your amount of activity.
  • How many steps do you take daily? Use an app to count steps, and gradually increase your number.
  • How many repetitions of an exercise can you do? Start with a few sit ups, push-ups or bicep curls, and build on that number.

After a few weeks, you will start to see progress. If your weight goes down and your clothes fit better, that’s great. But even if they don’t, exercise still helps improve your well-being. That alone is worth the effort.

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By Cara Rosenbloom, RD

If you’ve read a headline that mentions immune boosting, don’t believe the hype. The idea of boosting the immune system with supplements or specific ingredients is misleading and scientifically inaccurate. 

There are many things we can do to keep our immune system running smoothly, such as getting enough sleep, being physically active, minimizing stress and eating a balanced diet. But boosting immunity implies heightened action, which should be avoided — an overactive immune system is linked with autoimmune diseases, such as lupus or multiple sclerosis, and is equally harmful to your health as an underactive immune system. Immune boosting is a marketing term, not a medical term. 

Let’s focus on supporting your immune system instead. Certain nutrients, including zinc, iron selenium, protein and omega-3 fats, as well as vitamins C, D and E, are critical for the growth and function of immune cells. Build meals with a variety of foods to get the nutrients your body needs. 

  1.  Get extra vegetables and fruit. They should fill half of your plate at every meal. Fresh, frozen and canned are all great choices.
  2. Add protein from fish, chicken, dairy, tofu or beans. The building blocks of protein (aminoacids) are essential for T-cell function, which protects the body against bacteria and viruses.
  3. Choose nuts and seeds. Include Brazil nuts for selenium; walnuts and flax for omega-3 fats; pumpkin seeds for zinc; and almonds or sunflower seeds for vitamin E.
  4. Enjoy fermented foods. Yogurt, kefir and fermented vegetables — such as sauerkrautor kimchi — contain probiotics, which may be linked to a strong immune system.
  5. Look for vitamin D. It’s found in fish, milk, fortified plant-based beverages and eggs. If you don’t eat any of these foods or get much sun, consider asking your health care provider to check your blood levels. You may need a vitamin D supplement.

It’s also important to minimize highly processed foods, such as soft drinks, candy, fast food and salty snacks. These foods lack nutrients and can impair the production of immune cells and antibodies.

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ACAUpdate – Employer Reporting Requirements for Forms 1094B/1095B

The latest – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2016-4 on December 28, 2015 which announced a filing extension for Forms 1094B/1095B. The revised deadline for employers to provide Form 1094B to employees is March 31, 2016; and filing Form1095B to the IRS is extended to May 31, 2016 for paper filing, and June 30, 2016 for e-filing.  Notice 2016-4 also extends the filing requirement for health insurance carriers to provide Form 1095C to covered employees to March 31, 2016

Background – Employers with 50 or more full-time (equivalent) employees in 2015, must file Forms 1094-C and 1095-C.  The purpose of this filing is enforcement of the employee and employer mandates of ACA. This information is required under sections 6055 and 6056 regarding offers of health coverage and enrollment in health coverage for employees.

According to the IRS, taxpayers are not required to attach Form 1095C as proof of health care coverage when filing their tax return, but note that employees should keep the 1095C they receive from their employer and 1095B they receive from their insurance carrier as proof of coverage.

For further information regarding Forms 1094B and 1094C, the IRS has provided a Questions and Answers to guide you through the process of filing these forms. Click below for the forms and instructions:

IRS Form 1094/5B