How are YOU doing?

As I sit here today waiting for direction from the Dept of Regulatory Agencies, Governor Polis, and Boulder County, all I can do is do the best I can. Every day lately has had its ups and downs. I, like you, or people you know, was not cut out to be a homeschool mom and still feel like a good mother/ father/ spouse/ friend/ child. Our daily conveniences have been challenged. This past week was a special challenge for me. I want to get back to work doing what I love, but I want to be safe. One set of information comes from one direction, and different information comes from another source. How do you process it all? I have wanted to reach out to communicate with you sooner; however, once I set my mind to do so, another set of challenges or directions came at me. I’m sure you are all feeling the same way right now. To that I say, just do the best you can right now. Allow yourself some grace (I might need that same reminder in another week). Just take things one day at a time. If you are reading this, we at Blue Skies, likely call you our friend. Let’s be there for each other and not transfer our frustrations out to those who are also trying to do the best they can.

After I was up and at it this morning, I started planning my list and just wasn’t feeling it today. I needed to rest. I needed a break today and needed to get outside. I sat on the porch with a beautiful cup of coffee and got distracted in my little garden out front. Perfect day for it. I put on some reggae music and started to soak it all up. Those who know me well know that I spent about 8 years working on private yachts and cruise ships in the Caribbean before moving to Colorado. Listening to some fun reggae brings me back to my younger days before responsibilities took over my daily thoughts. Carefree and fun — sometimes the kids and I will even dance around the house listening to it to lighten the mood and take the edge off. When I least expected it, the words of Bob Marley came on: “The noblest thing a man can do is do the best he can.” I heard you, Bob. I’m going to do the best I can right now.

Truth is, I really don’t know an exact date about when we are going to be allowed to open back up. As soon as we have set date, we will let you know. There are a lot of logistics to work through to ensure all of our safety when we do open our doors back up. We, like many small businesses, are going to have a lot of expenses that come with reopening, after being closed for so long. We are not sure what the new normal will look like, but it will come with a whole new set of challenges. Whatever we do, it will be with our hearts, and our code of ethics in the forefront. We are planning certain protocols that will be different from before, and we ask that when we do all come back, that we each try to be patient with one another as we sort through all the new regulations that will be required of us before we are given the go-ahead. We want to protect everyone so that after a few weeks we don’t have to repeat this whole process.

We love and miss you all, and look forward to seeing you again soon. We will keep you posted on when we have a better picture of the coming weeks, but I just wanted to touch base with you to let you know what’s going on over here.

How are you? Please reach out; we would love to hear your news. Are you in need of anything we can help with while we are still closed? Until then, just do the best you can, and let us know if there is anything we can do for you.

Combating Stress

How Much Would You Pay to Combat Your Stress?

Melissa Leong | March 11, 2014 4:39 PM ET
More from Melissa Leong | @lisleong

According to a 2006 study for the Fraser Institute, people spent an average of $365 on massage therapy, up from $211 in 1997 — and almost 60{7436f697dd6db1568a21224d751e627194fec803aca7928783866b3b0418a3a1} of the cost was covered by insurance.

Knowing that stress comes with nasty health consequences such as heart disease and stroke, it makes sense for us to spend money to fight it.

We would save more for retirement, if it just wasn’t so far away

In the back of our minds, we know we need to save for our golden years, says one advisor, but our brains tell us to go on vacation instead. Here’s why

But as our stress levels soar, many of us are reluctant to “treat” ourselves. Even when our company health insurance helps cover the costs, the vast majority don’t fully utilize those benefits.

Massage and combating stress in Longmont Colorado

Great-West Life Assurance Company reports that even the most basic of stress reduction techniques, massage therapy, is only claimed by 27{7436f697dd6db1568a21224d751e627194fec803aca7928783866b3b0418a3a1} of its plan members. In 2001, only 10{7436f697dd6db1568a21224d751e627194fec803aca7928783866b3b0418a3a1} took advantage of the benefit.

The use of other paramedical benefits such as physiotherapy and psychology services are used by a still smaller percentage of those eligible. Only 4{7436f697dd6db1568a21224d751e627194fec803aca7928783866b3b0418a3a1} of members made claims for psychological services in 2011, compared to 2{7436f697dd6db1568a21224d751e627194fec803aca7928783866b3b0418a3a1} in 2001.

Thirty-five percent of respondents to a 2011 Sanofi Aventis Canada Healthcare survey said that workplace stress had been so overwhelming that they’d been physically ill in the last 12 months.

“Stress is a reality for most of us and to think that you don’t need to do things to manage it would be a little irresponsible,” Jasmine Baker, president of For The Love of Food, an event planning business based in Toronto. She works out more than four times a week and once a month sees a massage therapist ($100) and visits a spa ($250). “These are things that allow me to physically keep doing what I love. For me, it’s the cost of doing business.”

Nearly one-quarter of all Canadians (23.5{7436f697dd6db1568a21224d751e627194fec803aca7928783866b3b0418a3a1}) aged 15 and older reported most days were “extremely or quite a bit stressful,” according to a 2010 Statistics Canada report. Stress rates were highest for 35- to 54-year-olds.

Yet, a number of Canadians don’t even use their allotted vacation time to unwind. Twenty-seven percent of Canadians in 2013 were carrying over unused vacation from the previous year, an survey said.

So take time off. Save money throughout the year to fund a relaxing getaway. “Getting away from it all helps to put things in perspective,” says Kelsey Matheson, a Toronto resident and one of the owners of the Anamaya Resort in Costa Rica, which ranges from $795 to $1,895 for a week-long retreat.

Or visit a wellness centre specifically for stress. The Gaia Clinic in Canmore, for example, features a restorative health week which ranges from $3,500 to $5,000. The program includes services such as psychological work, stress testing, brain testing, nature walks, meditation, yoga and massage therapy.

“If I hadn’t it done the investment, what would have been the other option?” says Olympic gold medalist Chandra Crawford who attended the clinic last year to curb stress. “It would’ve been to carry on struggling, carry on diminishing my health and had even more serious consequences in health and lost career time down the road.”

These are things that allow me to physically keep doing what I love. For me, it’s the cost of doing business

At the least, use your work benefits, including any spending accounts that your company might have for health-related expenses, that’s what they are there for. More than 23 million Canadians have supplementary health coverage for things such as massage and psychological services, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association says. (The association says stress and mental-health related problems represent 40{7436f697dd6db1568a21224d751e627194fec803aca7928783866b3b0418a3a1} to 50{7436f697dd6db1568a21224d751e627194fec803aca7928783866b3b0418a3a1} of short-term disability claims in some of Canada’s largest corporations.)

According to a 2006 study for the Fraser Institute, people spent an average of $365 on massage therapy, up from $211 in 1997 — and almost 60{7436f697dd6db1568a21224d751e627194fec803aca7928783866b3b0418a3a1} of the cost was covered by insurance.

Some benefit plans require that you have a doctor’s note for services to be covered. Be mindful that if you ask your doctor for a recommendation to see a psychologist for stress, for example, this could affect your future applications for long-term disability coverage. In their underwriting process, an insurance company could choose to exclude coverage for stress leave.

“If somebody has a boyfriend with a break-up or a parent died or they went through a job change, these are very stressful situations and people often can cope with it themselves or they need some help. If it was a time-bound situation, there should be no problem getting disability insurance without an exclusion,” says Mark Halpern, a certified financial planner with who sells insurance.

Meanwhile, some people find spending money stressful and indeed, financial issues are one of the top stressors in people’s lives. In this case, opt for free relief: go for regular walks at lunch, take up meditating and interact more with your social circle.

Another option would be to rejig your budget to cut back on some expenses to make room for more stress-relieving expenses, especially if the stress is having an adverse affect on your health.

Jennifer Podemski says that any extra money she has is going to her well-being.

The 41-year-old Toronto resident was producing a television show and a movie while racing to finish by 4 p.m. to pick up her two and three-year-old from daycare when her stress caught up to her and manifested into a health condition.

One morning in November, she woke up and her legs felt as if they were filled with cement and being pricked by needles. To help de-stress, in December, she purchased a $2,000 infrared sauna for her home.

“These are the kinds of investments that I’m making for my health and my sanity so I’m a better mom, a better entrepreneur, a better person, a better wife.”

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