Basic Wellness Tips to Survive the “New Normal”  
Feeling a little stressed about the “new normal” that we are all currently all living?
Sweating about working from the kitchen table, trying to meet a work deadline, while the dog barks to go out and the 1 st grader sitting across the table is demanding help with her addition that looks like it is written in a foreign language? Wondering if it is “safe” to leave the computer across the table from that same 6 -year old (after all, she can push buttons, even if it takes an act of Congress for her to figure out that 5 plus 7 equals 12) while you race to the restroom? Will the WIFI crash under the weight of all of the users in the household and will you find yourself suddenly “disconnected” (in more ways than one)?
All of these considerations and a host more, rising from the current unprecedented Coronavirus Pandemic, coupled with the many stresses of our already hectic everyday lives, have wreaked havoc on our physical and mental well-being, as well as our personal and professional lives, and made them all the more well, stressful.
I had recently been tasked to prepare an article for the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Quality of Life Balance Committee, of which I am currently the Co- Vice-Chair, for publication during “Wellness Wednesday” on May 6th, as part of the American Bar Association’s “Lawyer Well Being Week”. The purpose of the article was to provide my fellow colleagues in the law with some coping tips and mechanisms for brief “escapes” to help each of us achieve some measure of harmony and well-being during the current unprecedented uncertainty. After completing the article, I realized that the tools and suggestions discussed in the article applied to non-lawyers, as well as lawyers. So, I decided to share the “coping” tips in the firm’s Newsletter.
There is nothing earth shattering here, or any new “revelations”, but what follows are just SEVEN basic tips that take less time (or effort), yet can yield BIG rewards in reducing both stress and anxiety:
First, BREATHE. You can do it anytime, anywhere. You don’t need any special equipment, a special location or even a friend. All you need to do is stop and focus. Four seconds to inhale deeply, hold for 4 seconds, exhale all of the stale air out in another 4 seconds and hold for 4 more seconds before proceeding to take another breath. Do this ten times. There are many variations on the theme of how to BREATHE for stress reduction. Try several and use the breathing technique that works best for you. For those of you who need “proof”, studies show that doing these types of focused breathing exercises decreases blood pressure and eases anxiety (whew, what a relief!); 
Second, keep a GRATEFULNESS JOURNAL. Start (or end) each day with positivity by recording just three things for which you are grateful (The sun is shining. It is Spring and the flowers and trees are blooming with new life. The baby slept through the night for the first time EVER). Easy enough- “JUST TRY IT”. 
Third, get out in the SUNSHINE. Even a mere ten minutes a day of direct sunlight has been shown to increase the levels of serotonin (the “feel good” hormone) in the brain. Plus, being outdoors helps you connect with nature, which acts as a “re-charge” to reduce mental fatigue.
Fourth, MOVE. Dance, walk, jog, cycle, run the vacuum, do yoga, whatever movement suits your mood, your lifestyle and your physical condition. Even a ½ hour of any type of exercise every day, at any level of activity, has been documented to improve mental health as well as (or better) than some prescription medications, such as antidepressants.
Fifth, commune with NATURE. Go for a walk, dig in the dirt. Look at the world around us. Help things to grow. Most importantly, leave the technology, the news, and the social media at home.   
Sixth, extend KINDNESS to someone. Perform some sort of “service” for others (including pets). It can be something small like taking 10 minutes to read a short story to the six- year old, struggling with her math, and sitting across the kitchen table from you. Or, place a call (you know, actually talk) to an elderly friend, neighbor or family member to assure that they are well and have what they need during the pandemic. Text a friend with a virtual hug “until we meet again” to let him/her know you care and miss them. Pack up a box of non-perishables from the pantry and deliver it to the local food bank or shelter. Helping others is a not only a “feel good” event, it is a huge source of stress relief and provides rewards far greater, and for much longer, than you can imagine.  
Seventh, get between 7 and 8 hours of SLEEP every night. Can’t get to sleep? Ditch the technology in your bedroom. In fact, ditch it a good hour before you turn in (studies show that blue light disrupts your sleep cycle). Still can’t get to sleep? Try the focused breathing exercises, listen to relaxing music or place something on your bedside table that evokes gratitude in you or helps you to recall experiences and happy memories whenever you look at it. Studies have shown that experiences far outweigh “things” from a satisfying perspective. Relive those “feel good” experiences by holding the object or looking at the photo to evoke the gratitude and happy memories that they bring, right before closing your eyes. Then, zzzzzzzz’s
If you notice a theme here, you are right on the money.
SELF-CARE is the best gift that you can give yourself, your family, your colleagues and your clients. Not just during this international crisis, but EVERYDAY. If you are not in a good place- both physically and mentally, you cannot effectively help others. As the airlines tell you, “Put on your oxygen mask first. Then help others put on theirs”. All of the above tools/tips are the functional equivalent of putting on your own oxygen mask first. Only then can you be an asset to those who depend on you.  
As I stated at the inception, these tools told are not, neither new nor novel. The good news is that they also collectively do NOT take much time. But, they ARE trying, true and known to work, especially if they become a part of your daily “mindset” such that they begin to feel like your favorite pair of old shoes. How about trying them on for size and doing just a couple of figurative laps in them? You may be pleasantly surprised how natural and good they cause you to feel.
From the Law Firm of Peter J. Russo, P.C. we wish you and yours safety and good health. Here’s to your, mine, and our collective “WELLNESS”.  
FAQ’s on Custody in Pennsylvania
Q:    Who will get custody of our child?
A:      Courts in Pennsylvania have long held that the most important consideration in deciding who is awarded custody is what is in the best interest of the child. In ordering any form of custody, the court shall determine the best interest of the child by considering all relevant factors, giving weighted consideration to those factors which affect the safety of the child.

Q:    What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody in Pennsylvania?
A:      Legal custody is the right to make all major decisions on behalf of the child, including, but not limited to, those involving medical, educational or religious issues. Physical custody means the actual physical possession and control over the child. It refers to the amount of time the child spends living with one parent.

Q:    What is joint custody?
A:      Joint physical custody, mainly referred to in Pennsylvania as shared physical custody, is the right of more than one individual to assume physical custody of the child, each having significant periods of physical custodial time with the child.

Q:    Can a court order supervised custody?
A:      Supervised physical custody is custodial time during which an agency or an adult designated by the court or agreed upon by the parties monitors the interaction between the child and the individual with those rights. After considering the factors set forth for the court to consider when awarding custody, the court may award supervised custody if it is in the best interest of the child.

Q:    Do courts favor the mother over the father?
A:      In Pennsylvania, in any action regarding the custody of the child between the parents of the child, there shall be no presumption that custody should be awarded to a particular parent. The courts primary consideration is what is in the best interest of the child.

Q:    What if we cannot agree on a custody arrangement?
A:        If the parties cannot agree on custody schedule or parenting plan, they may be directed to attend mandatory educational or informational programs concerning parental duties, mediation and/or conciliation conferences. If an agreement still cannot be reached, court intervention may be necessary. A judge will decide the custody arrangement if the parties are unable to reach an agreement on their own.

Q:    Will my child have to testify?
A:      It depends. One factor the court must consider is the well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child’s maturity and judgment. If the judge wishes to interview the child, he/she will likely do so in chambers and outside of the presence of the parents.

Q:    When can I modify custody?
A:      A court may modify a custody order at any time, upon petition, to serve the best interest of the child. A change of circumstances is not necessary to file a petition to modify custody; however, the court will focus on the status of custody since the last entered order and the reasons for the requested modification.

Q:    Can the parent with primary physical custody move away with the child?
A:      Under Pennsylvania law, no parent with custody may relocate with the child without the consent of every individual who has custody rights to the child or unless the court approves the proposed relocation.

Q:    What happens if a parent does not obey the custody order?
A:      Pennsylvania courts take custody orders very seriously. If a parent willfully disobeys a custody order, that parent may be held in contempt. The punishment for contempt of a custody order can include both a fine and imprisonment.
Work Life Balance
How to Establish Clear Boundaries for Working from Home
Now that millions are working from home, the work/life balance is bound to get even more blurred. Here are some ways to establish clear boundaries, even when your workplace is now your bedroom.

Create an Office
If you have an office at home, great! Work there. But if you’re like the rest of us, you are going to need to carve out a space where you can work productively. Find a safe haven in your home, whether that’s a basement, empty closet, corner of a room or any other feasible location and make that your new “office.” Guard it sacredly.

Have Set Hours
Establish set hours during which time no one in your household is allowed to bother you. Let your boss and coworkers know these hours. If you act like you’re available 24/7, people will contact you 24/7.

Cherish Your Time Off
When you do have time off, act like it. Savor this time so that you can refuel and be prepared for next week.
Meet Our Attorneys
Peter J. Russo
Kara W. Haggerty
David C. Dagle
Kathleen M. Gingrich
Megan Danielle Strait
Health: 4 Ways to Prevent Spread of COVID-19
Here are some of the latest guidelines to help you prevent the spread of COVID-19:

1.        Clean Your Hands Often
Try to frequently clean your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If that’s not available, use a hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol or more.

2.        Practice Social Distancing
It is important to avoid being around others who are sick to slow the spread of illness. However, being at least six feet away from others can also help you avoid casual interactions with others that could put your health in jeopardy.

3.        Wear a Mask
Wear a mask when in public to prevent you from getting others sick and to create a barrier between your mouth and airborne germs.

4.        Clean Frequently Touched Objects
Clean items that are used by multiple people on a frequent basis, including remotes, phones, and hard surfaces.
Self-Isolation Memes from Around the Web
“My commute is now from my bed to my living room and I am still late to work every day. I am beginning to think I am the problem.”

“Quarantine has finally given me the time to clean out my attic. I haven’t done it, but the time is there.”
“Me: I just did this really hard online escape room.

Coworkers: You mean our company Zoom meeting?”

“Him: Got any plans this weekend?
Me: day 63 of quarantine: What is a weekend?”

“Regina, you’re wearing sweatpants. It’s Monday. Whatever. Those rules aren’t real in quarantine.”
Fields of Law
  Here’s an overview of the fields of law our attorneys' practice.
• Criminal Law  

• Family Law  

• Real Estate Law  

• Business Law  

• Employment Law  

• Civil Litigation  

• Commercial Litigation  

• Workers' Compensation

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