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What I need isn’t another day off – Celebrating Labor Day in the midst of COVID-19

Written by Kelly Klund, LPN
Resource Nurse, Empira

In normal times many American’s look forward to the first Monday in September as a paid day off of work. We celebrate by spending a long lazy weekend at the lake, having a picnic or BBQ with friends and family or enjoying a community parade.

Just a Little History


Labor Day was first celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City and was created to celebrate the achievements of American workers. On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.

Another Day Off


In the age of Covid-19, with nearly 25 million Americans unemployed, 2020’s Labor Day looks and feels much different than past years. With astronomical numbers of Americans currently out of work, this crisis has likely touched all of us in one way or another. We may be unemployed ourselves, have a loved one who has suffered a job loss, or we may see the effects of unemployment in our communities. In light of the wide reach and reality of the number of people out of work, we must face the mental health impact that unemployment can cause. According to the Journal of Labor Economics, this reality includes people self-reporting feelings of worthlessness, uselessness, feelings of despair, inability to find enjoyment, and an increase in the number of people being diagnosed with depression or anxiety.

I believe, that if we take a deeper look, we will find that unemployment is just one facet of the struggle that people are having and that by identifying a sense of purpose in our daily lives we can ease some of this despair. Having a sense of purpose means having an anchor that influences our behavior, helps shape our goals, offers us a sense of direction, and gives meaning to our lives. Studies show that identifying a sense of purpose in life may help people deal with early onset stressors and maintain overall quality of life. People who attach their sense of purpose and contribution to their employment, may be struggling with questions such as “Why should I wake up?” or “What difference am I making?”

Finding Your Purpose


If this resonates with you, your next question is likely, “How can I find my purpose?” I recently came across a Ted Talk that can help to answer this question with five simple self-reflections.

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • Who do you do it for?
  • What do those people want or need?
  • How do those people change or transform as a result of what you give them?


Let’s break it down a little further with an example:

Who are you? Say your first name. It’s as easy as that.

I’m Kelly.

What do you do? What do you love to do? If there are too many options. Change it to, what is one thing that you feel supremely qualified to teach other people?

I teach people how to have fun parties.

Who do you do it for?

I do it for my friends and family.

What do those people want or need?

They want to laugh and have fun.

How do they change or transform as a result of what you give them?

They make memories.

I’m Kelly and I’m a memory maker.

My purpose can be part of my work day, but it doesn’t have to be defined by it. This Labor Day I challenge both the employed, who are appreciating in a much needed day off, and the unemployed, who may be struggling with one day blurring into the next, to identify their sense of purpose by asking themselves these questions. Who are you? What do you do?

After you answer those questions go do more of that thing that can fill your soul and give you a reason to wake up! As for me, I’m headed off to plan a virtual birthday party for my mom!

References

Farré, L., Fasani, F., & Mueller, H. (2018). Feeling useless: The effect of unemployment on mental health in the Great Recession. IZA Journal of Labor Economics, 7(1). doi:10.1186/s40172-018-0068-5

Historic unemployment weekly claims | Unemployment data. (2020, April 17). Retrieved July 17, 2020, from https://usafacts.org/visualizations/weekly-unemployment-claims/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ND-Jobs&gclid=CjwKCAjwx9_4BRAHEiwApAt0zrJ0PclPnhmsB4LdPsk9eDu3E47rdPHwR40x-2UjXNYREkGBunEYxBoCGXUQAvD_BwE

History of Labor Day. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dol.gov/general/laborday/history

Leipzig, A. (2016, August 7). How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes | Adam Leipzig | TEDxMalibu [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om-XLTeQee0

Yeung, P., & Breheny, M. (2019). Quality of life among older people with a disability: The role of purpose in life and capabilities. Disability and Rehabilitation, 1-11. doi:10.1080/09638288.2019.1620875

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4th of July Traditions

Written by Birttni Peterson, RN
Resource Nurse, Empira

There is no doubt, that for many people, Independence Day is one of the most looked forward to days of the summer. What’s not to love? Time spent with family and friends, fireworks, tasty food, bonfires, and if we are lucky, as Minnesotans, nice weather. I’m pretty sure that most people understand the symbolism of the fireworks, like it says in the Star-Spangled Banner: And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air. But for many people the 4th of July is like many other holidays; a perfect reason to get together and celebrate with family. Many of those families have traditions and unfortunately with this COVID virus right now most will not be able to celebrate as they would like.

Vintage American Flag With Sparklers And Smoke On Rustic Wooden Background - Independence Day Celebration ConceptWhat is the reason we celebrate with fireworks, parades, and red white and blue on the 4th day of July? Well, here’s a brief history on it.

The Revolutionary War began in 1775 and ended in 1783. The cause of this war was due to growing tension between Great Britain’s 13 colonies and the Colonial Government. On July 2nd of 1776, there was a vote to gain their Independence, it wasn’t until two days later that representatives from the 13 colonies and Continental Congress officially adopted the Declaration of Independence.

“Fun fact, John Adams thought that July 2nd would be the date that Americans would celebrate their independence.”

Now, I’m not much of a history buff… but do you know who is? Our good friend Andy Griffith.

A family tradition of mine is adventuring to my Grandparent’s house in Deerwood Minnesota. We would attend the Crosby-Ironton parade during the day. Our parade spot was right across from a Dairy Queen, so of course we always bought a treat before the parade started… even if it was only 10 o’clock in the morning. The parades have been getting shorter and shorter each year, but average to be a little over an hour. Which for a kid looking to fill her bag with candy, it wasn’t long enough. We would then make the drive home to grill hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch and if my parents were lucky, us kids would let them take a nap before our evening festivities. We would finish our 4th of July day off by being mesmerized by fireworks in the evening. What are your family traditions for Independence Day?

Like I said earlier, the 4th of July, 2020, for most Americans, is going to be celebrated differently this year. Those most affected are the residents of long term care facilities. A lack of togetherness with their families will only be amplified during this holiday. Although recently the MN Department of Health has put out guidance for long term care facilities to have outdoor visitations, it just won’t be the same.

But there are a few other ways that you can celebrate with your loved ones this 4th of July.

Bring the tradition to them. Since visitors are not allowed in nursing communities and we don’t know how the outdoor visitations will work, bringing the tradition to them may be a bit more difficult this year. A way you can still celebrate with your loved one is by decorating the outside of their window with an American Flag, window decals, and/or flowers.

Cute American Kids watching Fourth of July ParadeCall and Reminisce. If you aren’t able to carry out your normal family traditions, call and reminisce about what you have done in the years past. Take it one step further by writing down your 4th of July memories and make it into a keepsake for you and your loved one(s).

Just remember that the biggest thing for people facing tough times, especially around holidays, is that they know you are here for them and that they are cared for.

Firework and bokeh lights at night in the colors of the flag from the united states of america (blue, white and red)Resources
https://www.history.com/topics/american-revolution/american-revolution-history
https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/independence-day

Click to access ltcoutdoor.pdf