Guest Blog: Self-Care: A Priceless Gift For You


by Brad Krause

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Who doesn’t appreciate an hour—or two—to relax and let your mind wander, indulge in a good book or your favorite TV show or chill in a hammock guilt-free? Alas, with all of life’s demands, whether it’s your job, family and other responsibilities, we tend to cancel or put off those activities that give us time to recharge. But self-care is critical for maintaining good mental, physical and emotional health.

Why?

Self-care helps you to stay connected with yourself and remind you of your self-worth, produce positive feelings, boost self-confidence and self-esteem. When you take time to take care of yourself, you’re setting a good example for your family while reminding them that your needs are important, too.

Self-care staves off stress that stems from working too much; contrary to popular belief, workaholism is not a virtue. Workaholism leads to mistakes, decreased productivity and utter exhaustion. Overworking becomes a slippery slope that can invite serious health issues including anxiety and depression, insomnia and heart disease.

Self-care prevents burnout from too much work, too many demands on your time and too many areas in which it’s all too easy to spread yourself too thin. When you’ve pushed yourself beyond that proverbial breaking point, you’re simply going through the motions and, let’s face it—everything suffers. Plus, taking that step back and physically taking a break, can often lead to a breakthrough. In fact, science has proven that taking breaks—and ensuring that you’re getting consistently restful sleep—will enhance your performance.

Self-care habits like taking breaks from work—eating lunch with a colleague or taking a stroll during a break—improve energy levels and your mood. Mobile technology makes it all too easy for us to stay connected 24-7, so make a conscious effort to unplug and set boundaries between work and personal time.

How to start

Whether you’re trying to cultivate a new self-care routine or looking for other ways to increase your mental and physical mojo, check out this list of stress management hacks. Try them out and tweak as you need, because it’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition:

Schedule time to exercise. Put it in your calendar like your kids’ activities and work meetings. If it’s already part of your daily routine, you’re more likely to follow through. Need help with accountability? Join the gym or a class with a friend or two. Too busy to hit the gym? Download  self-care apps, which will give you suggestions to get your move on—even if you only have five minutes to spare.

Eat well. It’s way too easy to hit the drive-through or grab a slice of leftover pizza. Instead, use your Crockpot or instant pot for easy meal cooking. Take a few hours on the weekend or a weeknight to plan and prep meals for a week or a month. If you find yourself reaching for comfort foods because they taste good (and they make you feel good), think about changing how you eat, too. Are you reaching for a box of cookies to reward yourself for a rough day, or consuming too many carbs at dinner because you skipped breakfast and lunch? Check out these suggestions on how to eat well.

Practice mindfulness to manage stress and help your body to relax. Think about it: What do we do, daily, to maintain our psychological health? During the day, take a minute to look at a picture or listen to a song that makes you happy and recharges your batteries. Take a stroll around the block, electronics-free, to feel the sunshine and connect with nature.

These resources from the Positive Psychology Program include worksheets and exercises to build mindfulness, including the self-compassion pause, self-inquiry meditation, five senses exercise, and mini-mindfulness exercises. Deep breathing techniques are another good way to reduce stress by turning off the chemicals your body releases when the fight or flight response activates.

Change your perspective

Value yourself—guilt-free. Prioritizing and taking care of yourself improves all aspects of your life. As you’re evaluating where and how to prioritize your self-care, also think about your social, financial, and workspace needs, too.

Photo Credit: pixabay.com

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Guest blog: Reach Your Better Self: A Self-Improvement Guide for 2018


By Jennifer Scott

CaptureDon’t fall into the trap of thinking that the better version of yourself is unattainable, out of reach, or a fantasy. You can improve yourself and reach your potential. It is not impossible or far-fetched. Begin by caring for yourself and achieving balance in various aspects of your life.
According to Psychology Today, a concept known as self-love is important to living well. It affects the way you see the world and how you cope with the world’s challenges. The state of loving oneself involves engaging in actions that support physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Caring for oneself is vital when setting and achieving personal and professional goals.

Physical Health

Exercise
Find a kind of exercise or sport that appeals to your personality, lifestyle, and schedule. Look into a variety of options and stay open to new opportunities:
Gym membership. Join a traditional gym and commit to a certain schedule per week. This is a great way to begin if you haven’t exercised in some time because you can go at your own pace.

Try a new sport. Find out if your local recreation center has adult sports teams you can join. Joining a team sport can not only provide some fun social interaction in a new setting, but it helps people commit to schedule.

Try out a class. There are many schools and academies in your area that offer free classes to try out their programs. Sign up for a free dance class, martial arts lesson, or yoga session. Trying it out beforehand will give you a taste of what to expect.

LiveScience recommends starting off slow and gradually working your way up. Make sure to be honest about your current fitness level to avoid injury, and set goals for yourself to stay motivated.

Loving yourself also means staying away from behavior and substances that harm you. Exercise has recently emerged as a great companion to addiction recovery. The National Institute of Health cites that aerobic exercise can help people that abuse illicit drugs. Physical activity releases endorphins in the brain which produce a “high” feeling and help in restoring a balance in the brain. It aids in promoting feelings of positivity, improved mood, and better sleep.

Change Your Fuel

Diet is key. Many people often cite a lack of time as an impediment to eating better. However, establishing good eating habits and avoiding fast food doesn’t have to be that difficult. All it takes is a little organization and a nutritional plan:

  • Meal planning: Take one day a week for bulk cooking, and freeze portions that you can eat throughout the week. Make sure your meals are well balanced with protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
  • Plan trips to the store: Do not shop while hungry. Plan your grocery trips, follow the list based on your meal plans, and do not buy junk food or sugary stuff.
  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods: Inflammation is a generator of pain, infections, injuries, and bad moods. Eat a diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids to ward off inflammation and stay away from refined carbohydrates like french fries.

Follow Your Passions

The source of many people’s unhappiness often stems from a sense of unfulfillment. People give up on their passions for a variety of reasons. Generally people who pursue their hobbies and passions are happier and more productive. So don’t be afraid to pursue the hobby that keeps you happy and engaged.

Little Acts of Self-Love

A big part of caring for yourself is to spoil yourself when you achieve a goal or are successful in a particular area of your life. Treat yourself to a massage, visit a spa, or update your wardrobe. Small little acts of kindness toward yourself keep you motivated by providing positive reinforcement that keeps you disciplined and focused.
The best version of you is waiting to be be unleashed. Write down your goals and commit to them on paper. As you cross things off your list, you’ll find yourself feeling empowered and confident to take anything on. This year, reach your better self through a little self-care, discipline, and consistency.
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Guest blog: Hobbies for Health and Happiness


Hobbies: for Health and Happiness

By Jennifer Scott

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Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

 Being well means more than eating the right foods and working out three times a week. Whole health comes, in part, from simply taking the time to do the things we love. Participating in hobbies offers numerous mental, physical, and social benefits that can’t be accomplished doing the things you’re obligated to. Huff Post contributor Alan Kohll reports that leisure activities can even boost your job performance and keep your heart in tip-top shape.

Hobbies boost labor and school performance

While painting a picture isn’t quite the same as relaxing on the beach for a week, engaging in a hobby has a similar effect on the brain. Taking the time to relax doing something you love helps your body – and mind – reboot. Trying something new has the additional benefit of challenging your brain, which forces you to learn something new. And as with vacationing, taking a mini break by participating in organized fun may boost your performance at work and at school. A 2016 study published in the Public Library of Science found that students regularly involved in after-school hobbies (art, team sports, individual sports) were more than twice as likely to demonstrate above-average academic achievement. Inc. reports the effects are similar in adults. Employees involved in creative pursuits tend to perform up to 30% better in the workplace than their do-nothing-but-rest coworkers.

Hobbies improve mental health

Dr. Mark D. Parisi, a psychologist based out of Chicago, is an advocate of hobbies in the treatment of mental health disorders. Dr. Parisi notes that hobbies provide a host of benefits where it comes to mental health. These include stress reduction, mood improvement, an opportunity to forge new friendships through positive social interactions, and better long- and short-term memory. Hobbies are additionally associated with feeling happy, which can have a profound effect on those suffering from depression.

Best hobbies for overall health

There is really no bad hobby. But, there are a few that offer more positive benefits than others.

  • Dancing combines both physical activity and mental stimulation. People who dance must learn to coordinate their movements to music and/or their partner’s actions.
  • You don’t have to have a culinary degree in order to enjoy time spent in the kitchen. From learning how to make the perfect poached egg to composing a nutritionally-balanced weekly meal plan, cooking and baking are activities that engage the mind while producing tangible results from your efforts.
  • Not only does garden soil contain microbes that have a significant effect on your mood, but growing your own garden can boost your self-esteem by allowing you the opportunity to nurture something from nothing.
  • There is something satisfying about planning a trip and watching your expectations come to life at each destination. Immersion in new cultures will help you shift your perspective and possibly discover something new about yourself.
  • Playing music. While learning a new instrument as an adult may seem like a daunting task, there is evidence to prove that it’s an undertaking worth the effort. Live Science recently reported that something as simple as plucking out a few chords can reduce the signs of depression and anxiety while decreasing heart rate and lowering blood pressure.

Safety first

Regardless of which hobby you choose, don’t get so involved that you put yourself at risk. Your safety and that of those around you should be your number one priority. For instance, if you are cooking, make sure to have a functional fire alarm; when gardening, take care using electric or gas-powered tools. And, as with any new exercise routine, ease into dancing, running, jogging, and other physical activities or you’ll risk muscle strain or more significant injuries. Remember, the point of a hobby is to reduce stress – not add to it by watching hospital bills mount up.

Guest Blog: Tips For Building A Healthier, Happier Life After A Major Move


By Jennifer Scott

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Big changes in life can bring on stress and anxiety, even if the changes are for the best. Major life transitions like moving may related to a new job, relocating to be close to family, or ending a stressful or toxic relationship. Even if there are some negative components to the big changes ahead, this can be a great opportunity to embrace new, positive habits and take steps to ensure that your home is a healthy, happy, and stress-free one.

Flexibility and activity can make transitions less stressful

No matter how hard you work at anticipating issues related to a major life transition, hiccups are bound to pop up. Forbes notes that it is important to remain as flexible
as possible heading into big changes and allow yourself some grace when things feel difficult. Planning ahead and anticipating issues can go a long way toward ensuring a smooth transition, but it can become quite stressful if you do not allow for some changes
in plans along the way.

One great way to reduce stress and adjust to big transitions is to make an effort to incorporate regular exercise throughout the process. Colorado State University’s College of Health & Human Services details that exercise is essential in reducing issues related to depression, addiction, and stress. Adjusting to a new home can be taxing, but the need for physical activity can be a great excuse to get out and explore your new area. You’ll make new connections, discover new places nearby, and reap the benefits of exercise all at the same time.

Embrace strategies for clearing your mind to reduce stress

Creating a happy and stress-free home may sound like an impossible task when you are in the midst of major life transitions. However, taking a few minutes a day for yourself where you focus on positive actions can lead to lasting healthy, positive habits. For example, meditation can be a valuable outlet for relieving stress and developing coping mechanisms for leading a happier life.

Reader’s Digest indicates that the majority of people who try meditation see a reduction in their stress levels and many also see improvements in their relationships and overall wellbeing. Getting up a few minutes earlier in the morning to start the day off with some simple meditation techniques can set a peaceful tone for the day and many people find it helpful to create a special spot or nook in their home specifically for this self care time.

Focus on clearing out clutter to create a healthy environment

Apartment Therapy shares some simple suggestions that can pack a significant punch in creating healthy habits to make your home a positive place. Rather than rush around amid chaos before rushing out the door, take a few minutes to put everything in its place, make the bed, and so on. The minimal effort this takes on a regular basis will bring about calm and reduce your stress.

Mother Earth Living reinforces the idea that reducing clutter can help to make a home a stress-free and happy one. If you are facing a big move, as overwhelming as it may be, take the time at your old place to pare down and clear out what you don’t truly need. As you embrace your new home, remember that oftentimes less is more and keeping things open and clutter-free in your new space has a big impact on reducing stress.

There is no doubt that major life transitions like moving can escalate issues related to addiction, stress and depression. At the same time, a change like this provides the perfect opportunity to ditch bad habits and embrace new ones. Look for opportunities to clear out unwanted clutter and issues of anxiety when you move by keeping things clean and making time for self care activities like exercise and meditation. Build up the positives associated with your big change and embrace the fresh start ahead that can set you up for a happier, healthier life.

[Image via Pixabay]

Guest Blog: How to balance Work and Life? Being A Workaholic


shutterstock_234650602The modern day is a stressful, complicated place. We are wearing so many proverbial “hats” and are constantly pulled in tons of different directions. We want to focus on our career, but we also want to be good parents. We want to take time to experience life, but we also want to make money and prepare ourselves for retirement. All of these things add up to a lot of stress and a lot of seemingly contradictory wants and needs.

One of the hardest things about modern life is learning how to achieve that elusive work-life balance. Being a workaholic may seem like a fairly innocuous trait, but it can sap you and ultimately leave you wishing you had taken more control over your life when you had the chance. What follows are just a few ways that you can work towards obtaining that elusive balance so many of us are looking for.

 

Leave Your Work At Work

This is really hard for people to do. For some, they literally take work home with them. They spend their evenings filling out paperwork or catching up on correspondence. For others, even when they leave the office, they are still thinking about whatever it is that they were working on. What this ultimately means is that  you never stop working. As difficult as it is, you have to be able to leave the “work you” at the office and not bring it home with you.

 

Take Time for You

This is probably the most crucial element of obtaining a work-life balance. You have to be able to cultivate elements of your personality and interest beyond work. You have to find ways to de-stress and to leave work, well, at work. For those of us who have spent our entire adult lives so career focused, changing that aspect of ourselves is not easy, but it is worth it. Too many people regret, at the end of their life, that they did not work harder to cultivate themselves.

Do not just let your vacation time pile up unused, you are given it for a reason. Vacation is the reward you give yourself for being a “good adult” and keeping up with your responsibilities. Hobbies are a great way to keep your mind and body active when you aren’t at work. Nobody wants to be “hollow” or “one-sided,” but this is exactly what a workaholic is.

Whether it is a physical activity, you join a club, you start meditating, you paint, travel, whatever – these activities will not only help reduce your stress, they give your life meaning beyond going to work each and every day. These are things that you can do with your friends and family, or as a means to meet new people, bringing greater intimacy and companionship into your life as well.

 

Delegate

This is something that many of us could do a lot more of. One of the stressful things about modern life is that we have simply added more to our to-do list. Mothers who work are still just that, mothers, which means their job doesn’t end when they leave work at the end of the day. This is why it is important to delegate tasks when you can. Giving the children a list of weekly chores not only instills in them an understanding of work ethic and productive activity, it also means that you do not have to do those things.

Split the chores up between the whole family and suddenly everyone has more time, without sacrificing the cleanliness of the home or at the expense of necessary errands. In the end, delegating is good for the whole family. It teaches children responsibility and allows a little bit of extra time for the parents.

Modern life isn’t going to slow down to wait for any of us to catch up, no matter how much we wish it would. We are tasked with trying to live two, three, or more different lives in one lifetime. We are mothers, fathers, managers, scientists, artists, fixers, etc. This can make the modern day world incredibly stressful for people and often, they get a singular focus and become obsessed or insanely focused on just that one aspect of their lives.

For many people, that is work. Work becomes all-encompassing and it consumes us. It does this at the expense of our families, our friends, our hobbies, and the rest of our personality. Finding a good work-life balance is difficult, but it is certainly not impossible. Simple things like leaving your work at work, delegating chores, making time for hobbies or other non-work activities, can make a huge difference in the quality of your life. You will find that you have more time for experience, for companionship, and you feel all-around less stressed out all the time.

 

References:

http://www.webmd.com/women/features/balance-life

http://www.salary.com/14-steps-to-achieving-work-life-balance/


Author Bio

Kelly Everson is an American author and having MA in English literature. After spending time as a writer in some of Health Industries best websites, she now works as an independent researcher and contributor for health news related website like Consumer Health Digest. In her spare time, she does research work regarding Beauty and Women Health, Fitness and lifestyle blogs, which acts as a fuel to her passion of writing. When she is not researching or writing, you can find Kelly staying active, whether it be practicing yoga or taking swimming classes. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Guest Blog: The Positive and Negative Sides of Dependence and Interdependence


by Kelly Everson

Recently, people have been becoming increasingly interested in discussing the fine line between the two terms of dependence and interdependence. The target of these discussions and debates are to point out the ups and downs of each term; also to understand how to better utilize them for a balanced life and a more balanced relationship amongst people.

What do dependence and interdependence mean?

The term dependence is basically when someone relies on something or someone to thrive, or simply to survive. In fact, at some point in all people’s lives, being dependent on others is just normal, and even essential, to survive in this complex world. As a child, for example, one is totally dependent on his/her parents, who help their kids acquire the necessary skills to interact with others and, most importantly, to develop the skills needed to be self-sufficient human beings. Therefore, without firstly being dependent on someone or something, there can be no chance to later become independent or interdependent.

On the other hand, interdependence occurs when two or more people rely on each other to achieve mutual benefits. This is a relationship based on the concept of living and working together hand-in-hand to develop a situation in which both parties offer a means of assistance to strive together.

Commonalities and differences:

Both terms, however, have similar and different attributes.  To know these similarities and differences is to know where to draw the line when it comes to answering the question “To be or not to be?” and to determine which one of these answers is better.

Similarities:

The distinct shared value of the two terms is the very word “dependence” as both strive to function in the existence of someone else; whether it’s as an individual or more than one person and whether it’s a one-sided total reliance or mutual reliance. Another similarity lies with the reason behind the act of dependence, which is to succeed as individuals.

Differences:

Here are the main differences between dependence and interdependence:

While “dependence” involves one person who is dependent on another person or on a number of persons, “interdependence” involves two or more people who depend on one another.

“Dependence” is a one-sided relationship where one person takes the whole advantage of others, whereas “interdependence” is a mutually beneficial relationship which involves two or more parties.

“Dependence” indicates a total reliance on others. On the other hand, “interdependence” indicates a partial reliance on each other where each party offers equal benefits.

The ups and downs

Just as there are advantages of each, there are also disadvantages of being dependent or interdependent.

Advantages and disadvantages of dependence

At one stage in anyone’s life, being dependent on others isn’t necessary a negative thing; on the contrary, it might be necessary in order to take the right steps towards life’s goals. This means putting an unwavering trust in others’ hands, which is not always as easily done as spoken. Trusting others is an attribute that not everyone has and it sometimes requires taking courses or certain measures to develop this trust. Depending on others thus requires trusting that the results would be as desired, but at the same time continuing this trust even if the results aren’t as expected.

However, too much dependence is negative when it becomes a destructive force in one’s life. When someone turns into being over-dependent, he/she can no longer function well as an individual and wouldn’t have what it takes to survive alone. At the same time, over-dependence, when prolonged, can destroy the relationship between the dependent and his/her supporters because they would feel used.

Advantages and disadvantages of interdependence

Interdependence is positive when it highlights a social perspective. It enables people to interact, work, and live together while bringing about mutual interest for all. Society strives on such interaction and improves relationships amongst people. It is also important for a couple’s relationship that they support one another for the benefit of their family well-being.

Just like too much dependence, over-interdependent relationships have risks of their own. They can risk the person’s individuality aspects which are vital for survival. Because interdependence interaction is amongst people, it is highly influenced by the moods, actions, and reactions of others. For example, marriages can be subject to divorce at any period of couple’s life; if the couples are too interdependent, their chances of survival after the divorce takes place are slim and they would need to be rehabilitated as separate individuals.

The best approach is the positive approach

There are no definite positive or negative sides to dependence and interdependence. The trick here is to know where to draw the line to ensure that one is not completely drawn into one of the two extremes. Taking the positive aspects from each perspective is the best approach. This means maintaining one’s originality while living in harmony side-by-side and bringing out the best in both approaches.

References:

http://www.addictionhope.com/mood-disorder/depression/how-common-are-co-occurring-disorders-statistics

https://www.glozine.com/lifestyle/relationships

 

Guest Blog: How Advanced Health Management Tools act as a Boon for Patients?


by Kelly Everson

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Advanced health management tools refer to an electronic system that specializes in keeping medical health records. Its development was ignited by loss of focus when handling large volumes of papers, charts and files. With the help of this system, doctors are able to coordinate large support staff, manage complex business matters, and compile medical and billing information for patients. In addition, the system helps in dealing with regulatory and compliance issues.

 

Advanced health management tools come with the following benefits for patients:

1 Improved Quality of Medical Care

Advanced health management tools have far-reaching capabilities that are helpful in improving the quality of medical care for patients. Every person can get access to complete knowledge based health information including doctors’ location and experience. This means that patients are now in a better position to find the right medical professionals who can be helpful in addressing their medical problems at ease. The tools also help health professionals to discuss patients’ issues to come up with the best treatment approaches.

2 Decreased Medical Cost

With the help of technology advancement, doctors are capable of gathering every health data about a patient, and thus the ease of access to information promotes cost-effective testing and treatment services. With these tools, patients can receive appointments with medical professionals without having to make trips to physical locations and incurring commuting expenses. Patient’s recommendations and prescription can also be made virtually.

3 Easier Personal Data Access

In reference to Gary Hamilton, president and the founder of InteliChart, advanced health management tools will enable patients to easily access their personal data from an aggregated portal. This will give them an opportunity to utilize a single portal in connecting with all their health care providers and hospitals. Hamilton states that an aggregated repository is very crucial for organizations because it facilitates the next proceedings like care coordination and population health management. Patients will also interact with the aggregated portal to see one medication list and one appointment list from their providers using various vendors.

4 Easier Access to Medical Care

Patients will be in a position to request refills and schedule for appointments using the aggregated list. In addition, patients are more likely to remain engaged when they get a chance to interact with crucial information from doctors using a single portal instead of a separate portal for every health care provider and a different hospital. After initiating communication or requests through the portal, patients will be automatically routed to the appropriate provider, hospital, practice. They will be able to renew medication, undergo tests and schedule appointments with the click of a button. The next generation portals will have the ability to streamline communication by automatically routing requests to the most suitable staff.

5 Easier Sign-up Methodology

There are few practices that have the resources required in creating a patient’s portal account for every patient. This has therefore made a rise in latest technology portals that allow patients to create account remotely from the comfort of their home or through mobile devices. This provides initial access to plan appointments and complete forms in any location. On receiving an authentication token from his/her practice, a patient will then have complete access to their profiles.

6 User-friendly Technology

According to Hamilton, patients can only adopt a technology that fits with their lifestyles. For instance, with the help of a mobile application, patients will be in a better position to access health information and maintain communication with their healthcare providers. This will ensure that the doctors are up-to-date with patient health information, and thus will give recommendations when necessary.

7 Warning Alerts

Advanced health management tools deliver unprecedented guidance of a patient’s health that is analyzed according to the most up-to-date, evidence based practices to enable improvement across the entire population. If you are in good health, you can receive continuous monitoring as well as alerts that promote current wellness to reduce your chances of developing chronic disease. You will be alerted on when to attend a routine screening and tests for preventive measures and healthy living. The tools can also promote adherence to guard against negative interactions with other prescribed medications.  If you have a chronic condition, such as heart disease, these tools will help you to find out whether you are using the most effective medication currently in use.

Conclusion

Advanced health management tools is a boon to patients as it will help the health care industry shift from volume to value by embracing technology that promote clinical excellence. This will go a long way in improving patient satisfaction while reducing the medical cost. By monitoring patients’ personal health status over time, these tools will support high-value medical assistance. They will also give employers a chance to offer personalized health and wellness interventions within the shortest time possible. By getting incorporated in mobile devices, advanced health management tools will enable patients to have access to relevant information in their fingertips.

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Author Bio

Kelly Everson is MA in English Literature and an American Author. Her work comprises of articles appearing or forthcoming in over a dozen health care websites covering beauty skin care, weight loss, diet and overall men’s & women’s health. When she’s not educating strangers with her writing, she’s most likely researching about new discoveries on global internet magazine health, fitness and beauty industry. You can see more of her work at ConsumerHealthDigest. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.