May 10-16 is Women’s Health Week

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has proclaimed May 10-16 2020 as Women’s Health Week.

Women’s Health Week serves as a reminder for women and girls, especially during the outbreak of COVID-19, to make their health a priority and take care of themselves.

Governor’s Proclamation:


Check out some resources on #NationalWomen’s Health Week Here:

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention:

US Department of Health and Human Services:

Have any good health and wellness tips or resources to share? Tell us how you #FindYourHealth

Strategies to Support Each Other through COIVD-19

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Washington State Employee Assistance Program’s April 2020 Newsletter

lotus blossom in pond
Image from Pixabay

Here are a couple of strategies you can try right away to help all of us be our better selves and work together through the COVID-19 outbreak, adapted from the Greater Good in Action and Center for Healthy Minds websites:

Maintain a calm, stable presence

We know that maintaining a sense of calm presence is better for us, our families, our workplaces and our communities. And, we’re human, so sometimes without realizing it we suddenly find ourselves caught up in anxiety and fear – maybe we feel our racing heart, or hear our irritated voice while talking to our child or partner or colleague.

How can we regain our sense of calm? In addition to taking a walk or talking with a calm friend, another way to find a sense of calm is by shifting your breathing pattern so your out-breath extends longer than your in-breath. This activates the vagus nerve, the major channel of the parasympathetic nervous system that helps us to “rest and digest.” Following stimulation of the vagus nerve, your heart rate slows down, your blood pressure decreases, your muscles relax and your body calms. The vagus nerve communicates your body’s new sense of calm to your brain, so the brain relaxes as well, and you experience a sense of peacefulness. To try this practice, breathe in through your nose for 3 seconds and out through your mouth for 6 seconds. Start with 6 cycles, which will take about 1 minute.

Remember our common humanity: combat stigma and cultivate loving kindness

Throughout human history, marginalized groups have been scapegoated and blamed for disease outbreaks and other crises. During the current COVID-19 outbreak, news reports have continued to show people of Asian descent across the US being attacked, harassed, shunned or otherwise victimized because the virus appears to have originated in China. In addition, some political leaders and media influencers have referred to COVID-19 by names that encourage stigma and bias, such as “the Chinese virus” or “Kung flu.”

What can we do? We can speak up to combat racism and stigma, refer to the virus by its official names of “COVID-19” or “Coronavirus”, model acceptance and compassion to our children and take other anti-racist actions. In addition, we can consciously practice loving kindness. Studies show that a loving kindness practice is one of the most effective ways to increase empathy and compassion for others and potentially decrease bias towards stigmatized groups. And, when people feel more connected to others, they feel a greater sense of personal happiness. Try this 15 minute loving kindness practice.

For additional tools and resources, see EAP’s COVID-19 Resources page or contact the EAP for further support, at 1-877-313-4455.

Six Tips to Strengthen Your Immune System

woman jumping

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the Washington State Employee Assistance Program’s April 2020 Newsletter

Strengthen Your Immune System

You and your family are working hard to limit your exposure to COVID-19 by social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face, cleaning frequently-touched surfaces and more: all of the actions recommended by the CDC, Washington State Department of Health and World Health Organization (WHO). What else can you do? To support your immune system to function at its best, it’s more important than ever to take these commonly recommended self-care actions:

1) get adequate sleep (7-9 hours for most folks)

2) eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants

3) move your body regularly

4) avoid smoking and heavy alcohol/substance use

5) maintain a healthy weight

6) manage your stress. This advice is even more important for older adults because they are at greater risk for severe illness from COVID-19, as the immune system becomes less efficient with age.

Examine gaps in your immune system maintenance plan, and talk to your medical doctor, health/wellness adviser or an EAP counselor for support with healthier self-care actions and overcoming any roadblocks. You can also watch the EAP’s on-demand webinar on self-care during COVID-19 or visit our COVID-19 Resources page to sign up for an upcoming live webinar.

Free Webinar: Maintaining Your Composure in the Face of COVID-19

COVID 19 model

Submitted by WaTech

A webinar for state employees on how to maintain composure through the COVID-19 epidemic is set from 8-9 a.m. Friday, March 20.

The webinar is called: Keep Calm and Carry On: Maintaining Your Composure in the Face of COVID-19. You may register (no charge) at this link.

The webinar is presented by Workplace Options in partnership with the Washington State Employee Assistance Program (EAP), a service of the Department of Enterprise Services. The EAP also offers a guide: Coping with Stress During an Infectious Disease Outbreak.

Here is a description of this Friday’s webinar:

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to widespread fear on a global scale. The pervasive impact of the outbreak on a humanitarian and economical scale has caused many of us to experience extreme levels of uncertainty and anxiety. As every person and every organization tries to quickly adapt to the constantly changing situation, societal stress levels remain high. Given that stress has an adverse impact on our immune system, it is more important than ever to maintain a healthy sense of perspective, focus on practical ways to adapt to the situation and respond to the outbreak with calm and composure.

The webinar will cover:

  • Strategies to tackle feelings of anxiety and stress.
  • Practical techniques for working from home.
  • Ways to address signs of panic in the workplace.
  • When to reach out for further help and support.

For more information about the EAP, visit their website or call 877-313-4455.


Eat a Bigger, Better Lunch for Better Health

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on the Vibrant Soulful Blog by Annie Barrett


Anahad O’Conner of the New York Times writes that “a growing body of research suggests that our bodies function optimally when we align our eating patterns with our circadian rhythms, the innate 24-hour cycles that tell our bodies when to wake up, when to eat and when to fall asleep. Studies show that chronically disrupting this rhythm — by eating late meals or nibbling on midnight snacks, for example — could be a recipe for weight gain and metabolic trouble.” Dr. Satchin Panda, a researcher on Circadian science and author of the Circadian Code argues that our bodies function best when we eat our meals daily during an 8 – 10 hour window, eating our breakfast in the morning and finishing dinner by the early evening. (Read this article here.)

TIP: Make lunch the main meal of the day. This is when your digestive capacity is at its peak

Ayurveda, the healing tradition of India and sister science of yoga, and modern science are in agreement with regards to meal timing, meal spacing and what to eat when. Ayurveda has always emphasized that meal spacing and making lunch the largest meal of the day are keys to health and longevity. Ayurveda argues that when the sun is at its highest ,at the noon hour, is when the body is most primed to take in the largest meal. Scientific evidence support this. Eating the bulk of your food in the first half of the day is better for our health because we are biologically best equipped to digest food more efficiently and burn more calories in the earlier part of the day.

Ayurveda and growing scientific evidence suggests that you should eat a nourishing breakfast, a bigger lunch and an earlier, lighter dinner. Allow at least three hours between finishing dinner and going to bed. Allow at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. Evidence suggests that 14 hour or more of fasting reduces inflammation and may help promote better weight. If you finish dinner by 7 PM, your body will have ample digestion time. If you are going to skip any meal, let it be dinner rather than lunch or breakfast.

Making the shift to a bigger better lunch.
A few generations back, the midday meal that we call lunch was called dinner. Folks stopped working and gathered at midday or early afternoon to eat their largest meal together. It was a time to be nourished and to relax. After this, folks would return to their work or chores. Later in the day, they would gather again for a smaller meal called supper. Supper: think something “supplemental.”  A lighter meal, not a large, heavy meal. This healthy pattern of eating is still practiced in many parts of the world.

This all sounds reasonable, but so many of us are away from home at lunch that it’s hard to make lunch a priority. What can we do? Shifting our eating pattern to making lunch a larger meal requires planning, meal planning. If you work away from the home and gather with your family for dinner in the evening, plan to make enough dinner so that you’ll have leftovers for lunch for the next day. Before serving your dinner, put away healthy portions for lunch for the next day in lunch containers. Then, serve yourself a smaller portion for dinner. Better yet, save the dense, heavy food for lunch and eat something lighter and more digestible like soup for dinner.

When it’s lunch time at work, make it an occasion. Get away from your desk. Gather with your colleagues, your friends, or even take time by yourself, and take a real pause to eat and relax before getting back to work.
Read the entire article here

Annie Barrett is Educator, certified health coach, educator and yoga instructor.

L&I Mammogram Event Nov 5

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, L&I,  in partnership with Assured Imaging, will be hosting a mammogram screening event for eligible women from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday Nov. 5. It will take place at L&I’s Tumwater office, 7273 Linderson Way SW.

All major insurances will be accepted and no referral is needed. Women who wish to receive a mammogram during the mobile clinic event must pre-register online.


A woman is eligible for a digital mammogram screening if she:

  •  is at least 40 years of age*
      *Women between the ages of 35 and 39 can receive one (1)
       baseline mammogram screening without a doctor’s order
  • has not had a previous mammogram in the past year
  • has no current breast symptoms or complaints

Questions? Contact Cynthia Kerans,

Related: US Department of Health & Human Services Office of Women’s Health FAQ’s About Mammograms:

ICSEW Collects $11,668 in Hygiene Products for YWCA Other Bank

four women holding toiletries products

The Interagency Committee of State Employed Women’s (ICSEW) recently collected $11,668 worth of personal hygiene and cleaning products for the YWCA of Olympia’s Other Bank.

The Other Bank distributes personal hygiene and cleaning items to more than 13,000 low-income individuals and families in Thurston and surrounding counties each year. About one-third of recipients are children under 13. None of the items the Other Bank distributes can be purchased with food stamps.

The ICSEW’s public outreach subcommittee coordinates several public outreach activities, including toiletries drives, food drives and community projects each year.

ICSEW members from 13 state agencies participated by placing collection boxes at their worksites between May 20 and June 7, 2019.

Individual Agency Collection Totals:

About the Interagency Committee of State Employed Women: The ICSEW’s mission is to better the lives of state employees through advocacy, outreach and opportunity. It also advises the Governor and agencies on policies that affect state-employed women.

The ICSEW offers several free and low-cost professional development trainings and activities each year related to its core values of leadership integrity, fostering growth, empowerment, well-being and advocacy.

 About the YWCA of Olympia: The YWCA of Olympia is an approved and registered Washington State Combined Fund Drive Charity. (CFD #0315497). Its mission is eliminating racism and sexism to advance the economic, social and political status of all women and girls. Itd core values include collaboration, courageous leadership, intentional action, respect, racial inclusiveness, and social equity. For a list of programs visit the YWCA of Olympia’s program page.

Editor’s Note: As of July 1, The Other Bank is now operated out of the Thurston County Food Bank, 220 Thurston Ave. NE in Olympia. Distribution dates for items will be from 11 and to 1 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month during the summer months (July 16, Aug. 20 and Sept. 17). The level of service and day of operation for the Other Bank will change later this fall. If you have questions, please visit or call (360) 352-8597. Thurston County Food Bank (CFD #0316378)

March 2019 Meeting Recap

The Interagency Committee of State Employed Women, ICSEW, had another successful meeting March 26 full of informative presentations and interactive training. Below is a recap of the guest presentations. Note: Meeting minutes and training session handouts are available on our Meting Minutes page.

Women holding a book in front of a podium
Amy Leneker (far left) coaches a couple of meeting attendees during her Clifton Strengths seminar.

Amy Leneker

Amy Leneker gave an interactive training on identifying and maximizing one’s Clifton Strengths.

Clifton Strengths are named after Dr. Don Clifton, former chairman of The Gallup Organization. Gallup conducted several years of research on personality types. The research suggested people who best understand their strengths and behaviors will be best-equipped to deploy those strengths in their personal and professional lives.

Leneker showed meeting attendees how to find their top five strengths. She taught attendees how to best use those strengths, and recognize when those strengths become weaknesses. She did a couple of individual coaching sessions. Workshop attendees also got to team up with partners for an exercise that allowed attendees to brainstorm ways to combine different strengths.

Women writing in workbooks at a table
ICSEW reps, alternates and guests fill in responses in their Clifton Strengths workbook during a professional development training.

For more information on Clifton strengths or to take the Clifton Strengths assessment, go to:

Dr. Arne Gundersen

Man pointing to PowerPoint slide about teeth.
Dr. Gundersen illustrates the effects of gum disease.

Dr. Arne Gundersen, from Gundersen Dental Care  in Thurston County gave a health and wellness talk. His presentation, “The Link between Oral Health and Wellness,” illustrated the correlation between periodontal disease and its impact on our overall health.

He said periodontal disease (the body’s inflammatory response to infections caused by buildup of bacteria and debris around the teeth and gums) can put you at risk for more serious diseases like diabetes and heart attacks.

He offered a series of preventative tips like using electric toothbrushes and/or a water pic.

Women’s History Month

collage of women representing various occupations
Image courtesy of

March is Women’s History Month. Rebecca Llewellyn, the Governor’s Industrial Safety and Health Conference and Events Manager for the Department of Labor and Industries also gave a brief presentation on events L&I sponsored for Women’s History Month.

L&I has a Women’s History Month Display in its lobby with a newsletter with Women’s History Facts and a list of books and movies on women’s history.

Health & Wellness: Oral Health Impacts Overall Health

image courtesy

By Tanyah Williams, Washington State Patrol

Did you know healthy teeth and gums can affect your heart health?

Dr. Arne Gundersen, from Gundersen Dental Care  in Thurston County gave a health and wellness talk at at a recent ICSEW meeting. His presentation, “The Link between Oral Health and Wellness,” illustrated the correlation between periodontal disease and its impact on our overall health.

Using slides featuring oral anatomy drawings, Gendersen explained periodontal disease, an inflammatory response due to an infection or buildup of bacteria or debris around the teeth. Bacteria can infiltrate blood vessels and over time release proteins into the blood stream.

Man standing in front of PowerPoint slide of a tooth
Dr. Gundersen speaks at the ICSEW’s March 2019 meeting at the Department of Labor and Industries. Photo by Rachel Friederich

He also noted some research that links between oral health and the body’s cardiovascular system. For instance, Gundersen said there’s evidence that poor oral health can be linked to cardiovascular disease, which includes stroke heart attack and hemorrhaging.  Gundersen said researchers are also trying to figure out if poor oral health has a correlation to diabetes. He said researchers believe periodontitis can affect sugar levels in the body.

Gundersen offered some steps you can take between dentist appointments to improve your oral health to reduce your risk of periodontal disease and other serious health problems.

Dr. Gundersen’s Tips For Better Oral Hygiene

  • Brush and floss daily.
  • Invest in a water pic. This helps minimize the bacteria build up that brushing and flossing may miss.
  • Give an electric tooth brush a try. Brushing with a regular brush involves a lot of manual circular motions, which a lot of people don’t do correctly. An electric toothbrush does the motion for you.
  • Use bleach. Combine 1 teaspoon of bleach with one half cup of water to form a rinse.  Do this no more than twice a week.  DO NOT SWALLOW.
  • For those who grind and/or clench their teeth, use a night guard. Grinding and clenching teeth wares down bone quickly and a night guard can prevent this from happening.



Save the Date! 2019 Health and Wellness Fair is May 22

ICSEW 2017 blank flyer Vertical LgTUMWATER–The Interagency Committee’s annual Health and Wellness Fair will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 22 at the Department of Labor and Industries in Tumwater. The event is free.

This year’s theme is “Homerun to Health.” Dozens of vendors will have booths on various health and wellness related topics. There will also be fitness booths, experts on nutrition, physical, mental and financial wellness and interactive presentations.

Attendees can take a survey for a chance to win a prize raffle.

The ICSEW Health and Wellness Fair is held in May to coincide with National Women’s Health Week, NWHW. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health uses this week to encourage women to make health a priority and build positive health habits at every stage of life.

Location & Parking Information:

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries: 7273 Linderson Way SW, Tumwater

L& I has a limited amount of visitor parking spots. Overflow parking is at Mountain View Church of the Nazarine, 940 Israel Road SW, Tumwater

Click here for a downloadable flyer to share with your agency: Health Wellness Flyer 2019