As we enter what is hopefully the final chapters of this deadly virus, we look upon the damage that it has wrought. The damage has taken many forms. There is, of course, the hurt we have seen and continue to see. The virus has taken too many of us - those in our family, our dear friends, the people we work with. We have attended to those who have fallen ill. Others still deal with its long-haul effects and many wait in anticipation for their turn in line for the vaccine.

In addition to what we can see, there is the damage below the surface. The COVID pandemic has brought with it a tremendous amount of stress and uncertainty - stress that can cause headaches, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, a weakened immune system, heartburn, rapid breathing, and even heart disease.

For this reason, the WEA thought that it was important to offer their members the tools they need to help develop methods to alleviate stress and its many effects.

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On February 24th, The Wayne Education Association, in partnership with Dr. Brandon Picchierri of Paramus Medical and Sports Rehabilitation in Wayne, held a Virtual Stress Reduction and Wellness Workshop titled, "Destressing in a Stressful World."

During this workshop, our teachers, nurses and secretaries were shown many different types of relaxation and stress management techniques. These techniques came from a variety of modalities such as breathing methods, diet, exercise, meditations, vitamins, and the use of essential oils.

Each member that participated in this training was also given a gift certificate to be used at a later date for Paramus Medical and Sports Rehabilitation.

Dr. Picchierri was grateful for the opportunity to share his expertise with WEA members. He said, “With a family tree full of teachers, I see first-hand the multiple stressors on those in the profession: Both mental and physical. It's one thing to have a job where you're standing all day, it's another to have a job that requires critical thinking and planning all day, and then add a pandemic on top of that. You're getting hit from all sides. The biggest weapon you have to fight back against those things is self-care. Addressing the physical stresses is what my staff and I can do for you; to get you feeling good and removing those mechanical stresses. Mentally ... You chose a tough profession. According to a study by Penn State's Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, teachers are tied with hospital doctors and nurses for the highest levels of daily mental stress.”

The WEA also coordinated with local businesses to create Wellness Baskets that were raffled off to WEA members. These Wellness Baskets included aromatherapy products, gift cards to Amazon as well as gift certificates for dinner from either Taste of Tuscany or Positanos. Kim

Moore the Wellness Basket winner from Pines Lake Elementary wrote, “Thank you so much for the generous wellness package! What a wonderful collection of relaxing and useful gifts Thanks for recognizing our struggles during this unusual time, and for all you do.”

Dr. Brandon Picchierri stated, “Wellness isn't this new fad or anything; it's just about recognizing your need to monitor and possibly make changes to all facets of your life. Finding joy in your day, removing stress, eating right, physical activity ... Promoting the good stuff, removing the bad. Not over or under-doing one thing, balancing everything out.” The WEA would like to encourage its members to do just this, find some joy and balance in this stressful time.

The WEA thanks Dr. Picchierri and the Paramus Medical group for providing this important service to our members. It is powerful when community groups come together to support those educators who, themselves, have given so much to our community here in Wayne.