Bay Area judge blocks Trump administration's birth control exemptions

A Bay Area judge last week placed a preliminary injunction on an attempt by the Trump administration to eliminate access to free birth control, guaranteed to women through the Affordable Care Act, by allowing employers to deny contraception based on moral or religious grounds.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra headed a coalition of attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia protesting the birth control exemptions, set to take effect Jan. 14. Oakland District Judge Haywood S. Gilliam’s decision to block the move came in under the wire Jan. 13.

Battling stress

According to a 2018 survey conducted by Globe Newswire, 45 percent of teens said they’re stressed out all the time, and based on data from the American Psychological Association, 44 percent of children reported trouble sleeping due to stress.

While we often hear about the impact of stress on adults, the impact of stress on children and teens is just as prevalent and real these days, and is something to pay attention to. Children and teens are facing different types of pressures than ever before, including more competitive academic environments; increased use of technology such as mobile devices, social media, video games and on-demand programming; bullying in school and online; and notably busy schedules that include homework, several after-school activities and sports.

Red Cross issues emergency call for donors

A donation shortfall over the winter holidays has prompted the American Red Cross to issue an emergency call for blood and platelet donors to give now to prevent a blood shortage from continuing throughout winter and affecting patient care.

The Red Cross collected more than 27,000 fewer blood and platelet donations the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s than needed to sustain a sufficient blood supply. During the period, volunteer sponsor groups hosted approximately 1,350 fewer blood drives than required to meet patient needs, as busy holiday schedules kept many donors away.

Santa Clara County reports first flu death of season

The flu has claimed the first local person under the age of 65 this season, the Santa Clara County Health Department reported this month. The individual was 39 years old and had medical conditions that placed him or her at an elevated risk for severe complications from the viral infection.

Citing medical privacy laws, health department officials could not provide additional information about the case, and they could not confirm whether the deceased had received a flu vaccination.

When the holidays are on top of us

Holiday Hoopla
Town Crier File Photo
While retailers promote the holiday season as a time to buy presents and decorations, it’s important not to be overwhelmed by a to-do list. Focus instead, advises Los Altos marriage and family therapist Nancy Andersen, on connection and self-care.

The holiday season is upon us. While it can be a joyous time of year, for some the holidays feel like an elephant on the chest or a knot in the stomach.

Presents! Gotta get, gotta have presents. Christmas cards and decorations, too. Don’t forget planning meals. Maybe there are some relatives you don’t really want to see or a holiday party conversation you dread. We’ve all heard that the holiday season can be a time of stress and/or depression for many. It’s no “ho ho ho” when we’re slumping or worried.

Unplugged: Strategies for relaxing over the holiday break

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
The break from school or work the holidays provide can and should be used to unplug, according to Passion Fit owner Reena Vokoun. Getting outside and spending time alone can benefit one’s stress levels.

According to a research study conducted by UC Santa Cruz, unplugging from technology and spending more time in nature can lead to a 50 percent increase in creativity and problem solving.

The holiday break may be the ideal time to truly unplug. Below are four ideas for how to do just that to close out the current year and ring in the new year feeling healthier, happier and more fulfilled.

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