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AA Homepage Articles | Family | Wellness |

Parents: How to Create a Healthy Relationship with Social Media for Your Kids

3 minute read

At its roots, social media was meant to be an online platform for creating networks, communities, and collectives to share information, messages, ideas, and photos or videos.

And while it’s used for those positive things every day–with approximately 2.62 billion social media users around the world– it is also a breeding ground for “social comparison.”

Social comparison theory states that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others. People sometimes compare themselves to others as a way of fostering self-improvement, self-motivation, and a positive self-image. As a result, humans constantly evaluate themselves, and others, across domains such as attractiveness, wealth, intelligence, and success.

Jessica Abo, an award-winning journalist and author of Unfiltered: How to Be as Happy as You Look on Social Media, refers to this as the “Compare and Despair Trap.”

Tips For Managing Your Kids’ Social Media Intake

To help your kids enjoy the connectedness of social media without damaging their mental health, follow these tips.

1. Stay Informed

Social Media is constantly changing, so it’s a good idea to keep up to date with which apps are appropriate for your child. Here are some of the most popular ones that children and teens are using right now:

2. Monitor Privacy Settings

Once your child is at an age where you have allowed them to create social media accounts, it’s important to make sure they keep their accounts private and their privacy settings updated. You should have access to all their account information so you can set their privacy to the maximum setting and ensure their content is hidden from anyone who might try to misuse it.

3. Set Guidelines/Rules for Social Media

This should be a team effort. By involving your child in the setting of the rules, it lessens the likelihood of them sneaking around behind your back or setting up fake accounts to get around the rules. You want to instill healthy/positive social media habits right from the start so they feel empowered to make good decisions without you watching over their shoulder.

4. Keep an Open Dialogue

You can’t monitor your child’s social media activity 24/7, (nor should you), so it’s important to communicate regularly with your child about what’s going on in their online world. Ask questions and pay attention to what they’re saying. What are they posting about? Why are they choosing to post that? What are their friends posting? How does that make them feel? If your child is showing signs of stress or anxiety when talking about social media, it’s important to address it.

5. Empathize with Them

You might not be able to relate to the disappointment of your first TikTok dance not going viral, or your crush liking your best friend’s latest Instagram picture, but you have felt left out and let down before. Don’t dismiss their feelings around social media as if they don’t matter, because, to them, it’s sometimes all that matters. Share with them about a similar situation and hopefully the lesson you learned or growth you experienced because of what you went through.

6. Set Aside Tech-Free Time

You can say this is for your screen obsessed teen, but the reality is we are all addicted to different forms of social media. Model a healthy relationship with your devices by creating some real life face time as a family every day. This is a great opportunity to check in with each other and ease some of the stress and anxiety that can come from checking your phone every five seconds.

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Healthy Humidity | Healthy Home |

Why Water Panels Need to be Changed Annually

2 minute read

Water panels are the backbone of your Aprilaire Humidifier and they must be replaced annually. The water panel is an aluminum mesh frame that helps your home maintain its proper humidity levels to help you and your family breathe clean healthy air.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than the outdoor air. As each of us our spending more time inside, it’s important to make sure that we are breathing clean healthy air.

Over time, water panels can get clogged with particulates as air passes through the system. This can cause a myriad of problems in your home’s HVAC systems like putting more stress on heating and air conditioning unit and can make your humidifier work less efficiently contributing to issues with your indoor air quality.

Humidifiers are important to maintaining proper indoor air quality. A humidifier reduces your proclivity for sore throats, nosebleeds, dry skin, and can play a role in increasing your energy savings. For every 4 percent of change in your relative humidity, you can change the temperature by one degree. For example, if your home’s relative humidity levels are running at 14 percent and you increase your humidity to 38 percent for a difference of 24 percent, you could reduce your thermostat by 6 degrees. This can help reduce your energy costs along with creating a more comfortable living environment and healthier air.

Healthy Air Is on the Way

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Depending on your region, you may have different humidification needs and there may be major swings in seasons or in your day-to-day. If you’re in the latter category, a water panel is even more important to help you maintain those proper humidity levels and to ease stress on your humidifier.

Humidification also plays an important role in the reduction of the proliferation of airborne viruses. We follow the recommendations of the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers who recommend keeping your home’s humidity levels between 30-60 percent. Anything below or above that can cause major health problems whether it’s a sore throat, asthma or allergy triggers, or black mold. Several academic articles have also researched the importance of humidifiers in reducing airborne viruses like influenza and the common cold.

To do all of that, your humidifier requires a clean water panel. Replacing a water panel requires very little technical knowledge and can be replaced without the presence trained technician. There are also several videos on changing your water panel to help make the task less intimidating. We also have technical support on hand to help you too. Our humidifiers even come with a digital warning to let you know when you need to change your water panel.

You do not want to wait too long to replace your water panel so make sure to have one on-hand so when your warning light does come on you’re prepared to continue providing healthy humidity and clean air to both you and your home.

Healthy Humidity Plays a Key Role in Wellness
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Stress Awareness Month

AA Homepage Articles | Wellness |

Stress and Social Distancing: 4 Strategies From Stress Awareness Month for April 2020

2 minute read

April is Stress Awareness Month. And for 2020, it’s going to look a little different than previous years as the United States and the world deal with the stress and uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent weeks, you may have found yourself asking: How can I protect my family? Will I lose my job? When will my kids get to go back to school? Will I be able to feed my family? Will I be able to get treatment if I get sick? When will we be able to socialize with friends and family again? When will this all end? How can I help?

These times are stressful, there’s no way around it. And while it’s natural to feel that stress, it’s also important to find a healthy, manageable way to approach your anxiety and uncertainty.

For Stress Awareness Month, we’ve put together a few methods for combating stress and focusing on the things that truly matter.

4 Ways To Manage Stress

1. Stay active. You may think that with gyms closing and orders to stay home you have the perfect excuse to binge-watch Netflix shows for the next month. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, you could get a huge benefit from trading an hour or two on the couch for some physical activity.

Exercise is one of the best ways to get endorphins pumping through your brain, which helps relieve all the stress that’s piling up. And, thanks to fitness experts who know the importance of staying active, here is a list of several services offering free workouts during this time of isolation.

2. This will look different for everyone, but learning to incorporate some relaxation techniques into your daily rhythm can go a long way in reducing stress hormones.

Here are some ideas:

  • Meditate – There are lots of free resources online, or you can try an app like Calm or Headspace
  • Create – Draw, bake, start a DIY project
  • Diffuse some essential oils – Take the time to slow down and breathe deeply with essential oils like lavender or bergamot
  • Put your phone down/turn off all devices for an hour to quiet outside noise and the stress of the 24/7 news cycle

3. There are very few silver linings to what is happening around the world at this time. But if we can take a moment to find a bright side, it would be the age of connectivity that we’re living in. With Zoom meetings, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, Snapchat, Instagram, etc, there are lot of ways to connect with family and friends.

Try scheduling a family Hangout/Zoom every week to check in with each other; let your kids teach you a new TikTok dance; call an old friend that you’ve been meaning to catch up with. The point is, we as humans are made for relationships, and this time of social distancing doesn’t mean we have to be lonely.

4. That’s right. Just breathe. It’s easy to forget how important this is when you’re stressed out, but it’s the perfect, free way to take a break from the world.

At Aprilaire, we’ve identified decreased stress levels as one of the benefits of having healthy air in your home. This is more critical than ever, given the “safer at home” orders asking us to leave the house as little as possible. So when you make healthy air a priority at home, you can enjoy: better health for your family, better sleeping environments, increased energy efficiency, and less need for dusting and cleaning.

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AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Home | Wellness |

How to Best Clean and Disinfect Your Home during COVID-19

3 minute read

Cleanliness has become top of mind for many of us during the coronavirus pandemic, but how often and what you should clean depends on your household.

The primary way the coronavirus spreads is through respiratory droplets from an infected person which often land on surfaces, but droplets can live on those surfaces for several hours.

It’s important to disinfect high-traffic areas as much as needed. These high-traffic areas include kitchen counters, door knobs, bathrooms, TV remotes, light switches, and refrigerator handles.

The rate at which you need to disinfect is dependent on how often you and your household members leave your house. You definitely want to disinfect daily if you or another household member is leaving every day for work, the grocery store, or another area with lots of people. It’s important to remember that even if you or another household member has not interacted with someone who appears to be sick, they can be asymptomatic and still be infected with the coronavirus.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of the best cleaning products to use to disinfect your home.

The New York Times listed out best practices to disinfect your home including washing your gloves and then your bare hands after you’ve finished disinfecting.

If someone in your family is sick, follow these cleaning guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Remember to avoid sharing kitchen utensils – be sure to clean plates, glasses and cutlery thoroughly after they’ve been used. Additionally, you should avoid licking a utensil and then placing it in a commonly used jar like peanut butter, or drinking directly from a carton of milk or juice.

The CDC does not recommend disinfecting your fruits and vegetables, but instead suggest using soap and water especially if you’ll be ingesting the skin and not cooking it.

Remember that disinfecting does not eliminate the need for you or your housemates to wash their hands after sneezing, coughing, or after coming home from work.

Make sure to also disinfect your phone or tablet especially if it’s commonly used by other members of the household.

While these disinfectants will create cleaner surfaces, many chemical cleaners emit volatile organic compounds. These VOCs are harmful to air inside your home.

The best way to combat airborne viruses is to clean those surfaces with disinfectants while combining it with a 3-part Aprilaire Healthy Air system.

A fresh air ventilation system will help dilute the VOCs in your air from all of those disinfectants or any other cleaning procedures like dusting or vacuuming.

Healthy Air Is on the Way

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Air Filtration is the next step in the Healthy Air System. Air filtration through the use of a MERV 16 air filter or a whole-home air purifier will help filter out those harmful VOCs and other airborne particulates that can cause respiratory problems like allergies or asthma.

Our final step, Humidity control, will help keep your home and you in optimal health. The American Society of Heating  Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers  recommend keeping humidity levels between 30-60 percent. Moisture is constantly added to your home’s air from daily activities such as showering, washing your hands, laundry or the dishes. If humidity is not properly maintained between 30-60 percent, it can have harmful health effects and make your home more susceptible to mold or mildew or you more susceptible to airborne viruses.

By practicing these measures, you can best protect you and the members of your household from getting sick. While these practices will not totally eliminate every germ,  they will significantly reduce the risk of transmission.

Continue to monitor updates from the CDC and the World Health Organization to stay informed on the coronavirus pandemic.

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AA Homepage Articles | Family | Wellness |

Whole30 for the Whole Family: Healthy Benefits for Parents and Children

2 minute read

By now you’ve probably heard of the Whole30® diet, and maybe you’ve even tried it on your own as part of a New Year’s resolution.

For those who don’t know, here’s a crash course: Whole30® is different from other restrictive diets in that it’s more of an investigation of how what you eat impacts your physical and mental health.

You start by removing from your system: soy, dairy, grains, alcohol, legumes, and added sugars for 30 days straight. Then you begin slowly adding them back in, one food group at a time, with the ultimate goal of having a better understanding of how these foods and beverages impact your physical and mental wellbeing.

According to Whole30®, “Millions of people have transformed their health, habits, and relationship with food through the Whole30 program; eliminating cravings, improving energy and sleep, relieving symptoms, and discovering lasting food freedom.”

 Whole30 Benefits for Your Family

Because of the long list of foods to cut out, it would be tough to do Whole30® if everyone in the house isn’t on board. So make it a family activity!

Depending on your kids’ ages and level of independence in the kitchen, you may not need to tell them about Whole30®. If you simply start introducing healthier habits and foods into your family meal time, they’ll reap the benefits without any feelings of missing out. And when instilled early on, this type of mindful eating can be helpful throughout your children’s lives.

Here are just a few of the ways, taken from the official website, that Whole30® can benefit every area of your family’s life.

Outer Physical Benefits

  • Glowing skin with fewer blemishes
  • Whiter teeth and fresher breath
  • Stronger nails and hair
  • Flatter stomach with less bloating
  • More toned appearance

Internal Physical Benefits

  • Improved blood sugar regulation
  • Reduced or eliminated medications
  • Less acid reflux/ heartburn
  • More regularity/ less constipation and/or gas
  • Fewer asthma attacks/ seasonal allergies

Emotional and Psychological Benefits

  • Fewer mood swings
  • Improved behavior in kids/ less tantrums
  • Fewer sugar and carb cravings
  • Less anxious/ stressed
  • Improved self-esteem/ confidence

Food and Behavior Benefits

  • Healthier relationship with food
  • Healthy strategies to deal with cravings
  • Can distinguish between cravings and hunger
  • Learn new cooking skills
  • No more food guilt or shame
Whole30 Recipes for the Family

If your family could use any or all of the above benefits, take a look at a few recipes that will keep you compliant during the 30 days and may even become long-term favorites.

Grain-Free Chicken Nuggets from The Natural Nurturer

 Slow Cooker Cheeseburger Soup from Whole Kitchen Sink

Crockpot Creamy Tomato Soup from Real Food Whole Life

 Buffalo Chicken Chowder from Wholesomelicious

 One-Pan Mexican Chicken from Hello Glow

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AA Homepage Articles | Environment | Healthy Home |

Growing Green: Is Clover Better for Your Lawn than Traditional Grass?

2 minute read

A full, lush lawn is the envy of most homeowners, but just how “green” is that yard full of grass? With water and energy costs continuing to rise, many are in search of a more sustainable option.

Enter: clover.

Previously regarded as a weed by most, clover, (along with harmful weeds), fell victim to chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in the 1950s. But it’s beginning to make a comeback thanks to its many benefits.

Advantages to a Clover Lawn

  • It’s affordable. Clover comes as a free gift if you already have a patch or two growing in your yard–just let it grow. And if you need to buy clover seed, it’s rather inexpensive ($30 per 1,000 sq. ft. compared to $20 per 1,000 sq. ft. for traditional grass, according to FIXR).
  • It fertilizes itself. Clover is a leguminous plant, meaning it can take nitrogen from the air instead of the soil, and release it slowly to other plants. It even enriches the soil with the nitrogen it doesn’t use which can reduce or even eliminate the need for regular fertilizing, and makes for healthier and greener grass when planted alongside.
  • It’s low maintenance. Clover requires little to no mowing depending on your preferences, as it only grows to be around 2-8 inches. Reasons to mow or trim include: prevent blooming, remove deadhead old blooms, or simply tidy up the look.
  • It’s drought tolerant. Clover grows well in poor soil and can survive despite a lack of water once established in its area. This is a big change from the typical thirsty American lawn that requires watering all summer.
  • It holds its color. Clover stays green all summer until the first frost and is resistant to yellow discoloration from dog urine.
  • It attracts the right kind of insects. Bees love clover and will help your yard and garden pollinate. Parasitic wasps are also attracted to clover and are excellent exterminators when it comes to controlling pesky insects like caterpillars, stink bugs, and aphids in your garden.

Clover vs. Grass?
The battle between grass and clover doesn’t need to be all or nothing.

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Mixed grass-clover lawns – Most professionals recommend a ratio of 15-20% clover seed to 80-85% grass seed specific to your region’s needs. This mix is best for high traffic areas or playing fields and will help your lawn resist the effects of foot traffic since clover isn’t as hardy as grass. This grass/clover mix also doesn’t require regular reseeding.

Pure clover lawns – More resilient varieties of clover have been developed in the last few decades, referred to as micro-clovers. These varieties can be used to cover your entire lawn if you choose or to be intermixed with a lower percentage of grass. These thrive in areas with low to moderate traffic.

The beautiful thing is that whatever mix you choose, the natural balance of clover and grasses will adapt to reach an equilibrium that is best for the soil type and local conditions in your area.

So, if you’re looking to reduce the environmental impacts of your green space, clover seems to be an excellent option for a lush, green lawn that’s also sustainable.

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AA Homepage Articles | Environment |

Video Chat Services to Keep You Connected during COVID-19

2 minute read

Our lives have slowly moved toward becoming more and more online. As the coronavirus outbreak continues to interrupt our normal routines, we’ve turned toward the Internet and video chatting services to keep us connected.

Whether it’s chatting with Facebook, watching live concerts on Instagram, or texting, most of us have been looking for human connections with friends and family in the midst of social distancing and self-quarantines. Video chats have become increasingly popular as more people are seeking different ways to hang out with friends and family.

People were able to video chat when Skype was founded in 2003, but it wasn’t until Apple introduced FaceTime in 2010 that the networking tool gained popularity. The immediacy and convenience of chatting with friends and family through your iPhone made video chatting more commonplace than having to be tethered to your laptop. Since then, different companies have looked for different ways to improve the experience of video chatting through both mobile and desktop features.

Google introduced Google Hangouts in 2013 and has made various upgrades to the platform since then to include more users and additional features. Facebook introduced the Portal in late 2018. Amazon also has its own video chat software through the Amazon Echo Show.

My sister, who lives in Indianapolis, has the Facebook Portal and we’ve used it to chat and see my niece as much as we can due to the distance. One of the biggest benefits of the Portal is that you have more freedom of movement. We’ve found that the Portal camera can have trouble focusing when there is movement in the frame, but overall it’s a great tool.

Zoom, a company founded in 2011, has seen a rise in its number of users skyrocket as people across the world are in lockdown during the coronavirus outbreak. The company has added 2.22 million monthly active users in 2020 compared to the 1.99 million in all of 2019.  It has become the software of choice for primary and secondary schools to host online classes including many Ivy League universities. It’s being used to host as well. As restaurants and bars have closed across the country, many of us are looking for ways to reconnect with friends, family and coworkers. You can also break off in to separate groups too, but this feature is only accessible in the paid model.

My friends and I used Zoom for playing an online version of the game Jackbox this week as a way to reconnect and catch up. It worked super well. We used the free service, but as mentioned above there are different subscription options for a better experience.

Another service you can use is Netflix Party, which allows you to watch Netflix shows together with a group of people and with synchronized video playback and group chat. It’s a free service that just requires a Netflix subscription and Google Chrome.

Although the use of video to interact with friends and family may seem foreign, the idea of telecommuting will become more common as workers may continue to work from home even after the COVID-19 outbreak. Some doctors, including psychiatrists, have even used telemedicine to help treat patients.

Due to the recent surge in internet use from school to work, many different companies are lifting data caps or allowing you to upgrade your service without incurring a rate hike. These different promotions are short-term fixes. You can discuss the length of terms with your specific company.

Let us know if you have a particular service you like to use while practicing social distancing and self-quarantining.

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