All posts in Health Benefits

Why Do Some People Not Feel Their Age?

“When you reach my age, your body starts falling apart.” Or, “I can’t lose weight and keep it off because I’m not as young as I used to be.” Or, “I can’t sleep like I did when I was younger.” Sound familiar?

Many people sincerely believe that once they reach a certain age, bad things happen to their health no matter what. They blame it on genetics or bad luck or whatever that is beyond their control. So they seek no help. They simply give up.

These folks are usually mistaken. They do not understand how much control they actually have. They are not aware of the power of the mind-body connection. They don’t realize that once they gain self-awareness and become tuned in to how the mind and body work in unison, they can overcome societal myths about aging.

Self-awareness is staying connected to reality. It’s the ability to question your expectations, ideas and assumptions, and having the wherewithal to explore preconceived notions objectively. The goal is to figure out fact from fiction, and to get to the root of fears, questions and doubts about the aging process.

What you will discover once you reach this level of self-awareness is that you have more in your life that you can control than you thought. Such an “aha” moment is exhilarating. You’ll no longer have to accept that getting older is such a terrible thing full of more and more aches and pains until you die; that this is the way life must be. Fact is, each of us is the captain of our own ship, and the fate of our wellbeing is largely in own hands.

It’s amazing to me how many people give up on sustained health and happiness. They do not realize that they can be in control long term without giving up the things and lifestyle they enjoy. The key is to know yourself, why having optimum health is important to you, and then get and maintain it for the rest of your life.

There is no better time that right now to take personal responsibility for your own health, to get yourself enrolled in a proven wellness program and to be unafraid to ask for help and guidance. Don’t you agree?

 

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10 Tips For Making 2018 Your Best Year Yet!

My clients often come to me looking for accountability. They know what they need to do to improve their health but can’t seem to stick to the program. This is not unusual. I remind them that change is not a linear process. It takes time to establish consistency. There are ups and downs but with the right motivation,  you will get there.

So, as the end of 2017 draws to a close, take some time to assess all of the progress you’ve made regarding your health during the past 12 months and make a short list of achievements and disappointments. Then consider the following 10 truths about achieving lasting change:

1. Initially, the change you seek will seem impossible, but nothing is impossible.

2. The best way to not be cowered by fear of the unknown is to step toward more unknowns. Think of a particular skill as a muscle. To achieve the right tone, you establish a schedule, warm it up, work it out and watch it grow.

3. Have a clear vision of what change you seek, why you are seeking it and push forward through uncertainty.

4. Welcome into your life the people who believe in your vision and have the ability to help you attain it. Their support and accountability are what you need until the change you are seeking becomes a new habit.

5. Failure is not an option. Stick to your schedule even though you may stumble from time to time and always follow through.

6. Remind yourself that yes, you can do this, even if you have failed many times before.

7. Surround yourself with positive energy (your thoughts, your relationships, etc.). Think of these things as a magnet because that is exactly what they are.

8. Remember that consistent small steps lead to big gains. The key is to simplify a complicated task into small steps.

9. A rested mind is a productive mind. Sleep well and fully each night. Guard fiercely this valuable, necessary time. It may involve saying no, it may involve a shift in your daily routine, but in so doing, you cultivate a more enjoyable and productive day.

10. Being denied what you desire is often a test to see how sincerely you wish to attain it. Find reassurance in your decision to succeed.

Remember, you have set out on a worthy path. There will be disappointments along the way but they are fleeting. Stay resolute. Stay determined. You will be amazed at what you can do if you stick with your plan, and chances are the goal you seek will be achieved when you aren’t expecting it.

So be ready. The change you seek is possible even if the journey to get there doesn’t always make sense. Become a member of a courageous minority who know change is a journey that reaps huge benefits, not the least of which is contentment

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What Does Stress-Free and Happy Mean to You?

It’s scary to start something new – especially when you are over 50 years old. But that is what I did when I began my health and wellness coaching company, Wellness Beyond Fifty, three years ago. Why health and wellness coaching? Why leave my comfort zone? I’ve done exceptionally well in real estate. Why not open my own real estate company instead?

I had defeated a bout with breast cancer 10 years before, and my real estate sales were booming. Married later in life to a wonderful man who enjoys his work as an editor, writer and grower of fresh vegetables, I had little to complain about. We own our home in Charleston and a lovely farm not too far away. I thrive on helping others, but it was the constant stress of selling houses and the impersonal nature of new technology that wore me down and made want to do something different.

What’s more important to any of us than having an enjoyable, stress-free life? Why has it become so difficult to live one? Our nation is having a serious health-care crisis. Approximately half of U.S. citizens are dealing with chronic illnesses, the complications from which is the nation’s No.1 killer. If I really wanted to help others on a meaningful and lasting level, what would be more important than helping them take control of their health and well-being so they could have wellness beyond fifty.

So ask yourself: “If you don’t know how to achieve and maintain good health, what do you have of any lasting worth?”

I began this journey by going back to college in 2013. I enrolled in one of the nation’s best health-coaching programs at Duke University, passed my oral and written exams and spent the greater part of a year focused on becoming a national board-certified health and wellness coach, which I achieved earlier this year. And here is what it means:

In September 2017, more than 1,100 professional health and wellness coaches passed the nation’s first Health and Wellness Coach Certifying Examination. The National Board provides this certification for Health and Wellness Coaching – collaboration between the National Board of Medical Examiners and the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching.

Health and wellness coaching as a certified profession focuses on the urgent need to increase clients’ engagement in sustained healthy lifestyles that prevent and treat chronic conditions. As the profession has grown, so has variability in the standards of health and wellness coaches working in clinical settings that include universities, employer health plans, private practices and health clubs.To deliver consistent standards for our profession, the consortium joined forces with administrators of physician-licensing examinations in the United States and developed educational and training programs to determine if health and wellness coaches meet national standards by passing a certification exam.

The National Board Certification for Health and Wellness Coaching is based upon a set of competencies for appropriately developing the coaching relationship, communication techniques, processes for behavior change, health and wellness knowledge, ethics and professional development and more. All practitioners who meet eligibility requirements and pass the examination are designated National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coaches.

If you have questions about the process, visit the ICHWC website at http://www.ichwc.org or NBME at http://www.nbme.org/hwc/, or contact ICHWC Executive Director Leigh-Ann Webster at (858) 395-5808.

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What Do Turkey and Sleep Have In Common?

Thanksgiving is the holiday when most of us stuff ourselves with turkey, cranberry sauce and pie, and then take a nap. It’s the nap that I’m wondering about here. Is it true that eating turkey induces sleep? Or is it simply eating too much of everything that brings on the z’s?

So I did some research and learned that turkey is loaded with an essential amino acid called L-tryptophan, which the human body needs to build proteins, but can’t make on it’s own. Foods rich in tryptophan also include other poultry, red meats, cheese, yogurt, fish and eggs.

Once L-tryptophan is consumed, the body uses it to make niacin, a B vitamin that is important for digestion, healthy skin and nerves, and for producing a remarkable brain chemical called serotonin, which plays a large role in determining one’s mood. Generally speaking, if you have the proper level of serotonin, you will have feelings of wellbeing and relaxation. That’s because serotonin produces melatonin, a hormone that affects your sleep and wake cycles.

But proteins like turkey, chicken and fish, which are high in L-tryptophan, require assistance from foods high in carbohydrates to affect serotonin levels. All it takes is a carbohydrate snack — no more than 30 grams — in combination with the L-tryptophan stored in your body from food you’ve already eaten to give you the biggest boost of serotonin.

Such a carbo-snack could be a couple of Fig Newton’s, or half of a whole-wheat bagel with honey drizzled over it, or a few cups of air-popped popcorn. Take it after you’ve eaten foods high in L-trytophan and right before bed and chances are you will feel relaxed and sleep better.

So if eating turkey isn’t exactly the same as popping a sleeping pill, why the sudden grogginess as soon as the holiday meal has ended? It’s probably because you ate too much. Overeating takes a whole lot of energy for your body to digest. Add that to the fact that you are away from the stress of work and enjoying yourself among family and friends, and you have an excellent recipe for a perfect snooze.

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H2O plus CO2 = ?

Water is an essential nutrient for humans, but not all water is created equal. We have several options, some

healthier than others…So let’s take a closer look at what’s available.

The rumor on the waterfront is carbonation will hurt you, but that’s a bad rap. Carbonation is merely carbon dioxide injected via bubbles into a liquid in order to give it a fizz. Humans emit carbon dioxide from their lungs every time they exhale, so it’s not the CO2 you should worry much about.

But a carbonated soda, including the diet variety, is a different matter. Sodas are typically loaded with sugars or artificial sweeteners that stay in your body after the carbon dioxide is expelled. Everyone should know by now that too much sugar and too much artificial sweetener can wreak havoc on their bodies.

But, hey, listen up. Not all carbonized waters are created equal either. Here’s what you need to know about them, especially during the holiday season when good cheer comes in a variety of ways:

Seltzer water by itself is a healthy choice. It is a carbonated water with a refreshing taste that is safely enhanced by a squeeze of real lemon or lime. But check the labels. Some bottled seltzer water contains added, processed flavors, which might be problematic.

Club soda is carbonated water that has added sodium ingredients, including table salt, sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate. The type and amount of sodium additives differ depending on the producer. If you are watching your salt intake, it’s best to say away from club soda.

Tonic water is carbonated water with added sweeteners and, perhaps, other flavors, including quinine. There’s very little difference between drinking tonic water and a typical soda. Tonic water is not the best choice for health-minded individuals because of the added sugar and empty calories.

Mineral water comes from natural springs and contains a variety of minerals, salts, and sulfur compounds. Mineral water is bottled with added carbonation to create a bubbly beverage. Research has shown mineral water to improve both hydration and performance in athletes. It’s considered a healthy, bubbly water alternative, especially with a citrus twist.

Flavored sparkling water is a carbonated beverage and may contain added natural sugars, citric acid, sodium and caffeine. It’s important to read the label on this one to avoid additives you’re trying to avoid. It is a step up from common sodas, but only if the ingredients listed on the label work out in your favor.

Some think that drinking carbonated beverages of any kind can lead to decreased bone health, tooth decay, irritable bowel syndrome and weight gain. Is there any truth to these claims?

According to an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, soda drinks reduce bone mineral density compared to other more simple carbonated beverages. It appears the phosphorus ingredient in sodas binds to bone calcium and is excreted through kidneys, causing weaker bones.

Research has debunked the myth that carbonation alone increases calcium loss in bones. The healthy choice for strong bones is to avoid phosphorous sodas and drink clean, bubbly waters instead.

Research has also related tooth decay to carbonated drinks with added sugar and citric acid. We reduce our risk of tooth decay by drinking plain, carbonated water like seltzer. The carbonation process alone is not shown to increase our risk of tooth enamel erosion. But when ingredients like sugar, acids and sodium are added to carbonated waters, it’s a different story. Such additives increase the risk of tooth decay. Note: You might want to avoid club soda for this reason because of the added sodium

Another common thought: Carbonated drinks, including bubbly waters, can cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS affects close to 23 percent of the population, according to the World Journal of Gastroenterology. Studies show carbonated waters are not the cause of IBS but can trigger a flare up on the condition in some people. If you’re sensitive to carbonated beverages and experience stomach upset, it’s a good idea to avoid them.

The idea of carbonated water causing weight gain has also been questioned. Plain bubbly water doesn’t contribute to weight gain. But some sparkling waters include artificial acids, flavors, sodium and sweeteners. Such additives in carbonated beverages contain hidden calories and can contribute to weight gain. Avoid unwanted ingredients by reading labels carefully.

Hydration
As I wrote earlier, plain carbonated water is made bubbly with pressurized carbon dioxide gas. As long as the water is free of additives, it’s just as hydrating as regular water. Also, mineral water with higher calcium and bicarbonate has shown to provide better hydration during strenuous exercise, according to research. But bubbly water can increase bloating, gas, and burping, so drinking it during exercise is a personal preference. Many individuals have increased their water intake because they enjoy the fizzy texture.

Regular Water Replacement?
According to the American Council on Exercise, plain bubbly water can be subbed out for regular water any time during the day. If drinking carbonated water is your preference, feel free to imbibe. But be sure to check the label for unwanted added ingredients. If you want or need it to taste better, add fresh lemon or limes slices. Fresh or frozen berries are good additives too. And don’t forget a sprig of mint.

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How Can Something Healthy Taste Good Too?

With the holidays fast approaching, I’d like to share a couple of healthy recipes. Each is a southern favorite, and these versions are healthy too. I got them several years ago from Southern Living magazine and one in particular is now a Thanksgiving tradition with my family.

Fried Pork Chops With Cream Gravy
8 Servings | Prep: 5 Minutes | Cook: 15 Minutes

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut pork chops
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
Vegetable cooking spray
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup fat-free milk
¼ teaspoon salt
Garnish: coarse ground pepper

Directions
Reserve 2 tablespoons flour, and set aside. Place remaining flour in a shallow dish. Combine Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, and pepper. Rub pork chops evenly on both sides with seasoning mixture. Dip pork in buttermilk; dredge in flour. Lightly coat both sides of pork with cooking spray. Cook pork, in batches, in hot oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high

Sweet Potato Casserole
6 servings | Prep: 15 minutes | Bake: 30 minutes

Ingredients
3 medium-size sweet potatoes or 2 (14 ½ ounce) cans mashed sweet potatoes may be substituted
½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup fat-free evaporated milk
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
¼ cup egg substitute
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
¼ teaspoon salt
Vegetable cooking spray
Garnish: 2 tablespoons diced pecans

Directions
Microwave potatoes 1 inch apart on paper towels at HIGH for 12 minutes or until done, turning and rearranging after 5 minutes; cool, peel, and mash. Stir together potatoes and next 7 ingredients; spoon into a shallow 2-quart casserole pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Garnish, if desired.

Are you ready to make some healthy lifestyle changes? We all know nothing changes unless you take action. As a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, NBC-HWC, my goal is to help you achieve the lasting results you want while enjoying the things you love. We won’t avoid certain foods or follow strict diets. It’s not about a number on a scale but creating a way of life you love living! Click here to get in touch with me about scheduling a complimentary wellness breakthrough session!

 

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Small Things Matter

I started keeping a gratitude journal when I had a bout with breast cancer 10 years ago. It was a health wake-up call for me on a lot of levels. Journaling allowed me to see the good things that were going on in my life and a way to shift my attention to the more positive things. It was hard to do daily, and still is, because it can be a highly emotional experience. But as I keep at it, I find greater emotional peace and contentment with my life.

How many of you have ever practiced regular gratitude journaling? Are you currently keeping one? If yes, maybe you will learn a few new tips, and for those who have never tried or have tried it and not been able to stick with it, hopefully today’s blog will help you make this a new, lasting, healthy habit.

Gratitude, like most desirable traits, needs to be actively practiced for it to become something we do without thinking. Most of us look at gratitude as an admirable character trait, but practicing daily acts of gratitude can have a big impact on our health and happiness too. These effects become more evident in the practice of keeping a gratitude journal. It only takes a few minutes a day, but the lasting mood boost it gives you can take you from feeling ok to feeling great on a regular basis.

What is a gratitude journal?

Quite simply it is a tool to keep track of the good things in your life. No matter how difficult or hard life can get, there is always something to be grateful for. When you are going through a tough time, it may be hard to find something to be grateful about; however, if you do it, you can pull yourself out of a funk. Writing the good things down in a journal on a regular basis also helps prepare and strengthen you to deal with the difficult challenges in your life when they do pop up.

It’s very simple to start: Simply write or type the things you are grateful for on a regular basis. Some people say daily, but I have found three times a week is plenty. It gives you more of an appreciation, and you don’t take things for granted. You can use a journal or a notebook. If you find it easier to do things digitally, you can use one of the many gratitude apps or even a Word document to write down the good things present in your life. So once you decide how you want to keep your journal and you have it, simply start noticing and noting the things you are grateful for. Examples might be: You got a promotion; you won your tennis match, your morning cup of coffee.

Benefits of a Gratitude Journal

So what have people noticed when they keep a gratitude journal?
It lowers their stress levels by shifting focus away from what is stressing them right now. It can help you feel calmer, especially when you do your gratitude journal at night. It can give you a new perspective on what’s important to you and what you really appreciate in your life. It also helps give you clarity on what you want to have more of in your life and what you can do without. It can help you find out and then focus on what really matters to you. You learn more about yourself and as a result, become more self-aware. It can make you feel accomplished, even if it’s a small accomplishment, and therefore increase your self-esteem. It can make you be more giving and generous to others. Kindness and compassion grow when you give them away. One day when you are down in the dumps, you can read through your gratitude journal to re-adjust your attitude and remember the many good things you have in your life.

So, it appears, gratitude journaling has a lot of potential upsides and no downsides. But how does it differ from keeping a daily planner, diary or notebook?
The main difference is the focus of the action you are taking. For example: A gratitude journal finds things to be grateful for. It focuses on what you are grateful for. A planner plans and organizes you schedule. It focuses on what you need to do. A diary records the events of your day, both good and bad, as you reflect on what happened in your day. A notebook is something you use to take notes for work or class or as a personal development tool, like setting goals. It is for taking notes about present or future events to help you remember important points. Each one has a place in our lives, but they are not interchangeable. Granted, a planner may give you things to look forward to and be grateful for, but chances are there will be some events or responsibilities that you are not so grateful for. A diary focuses on both positive and negative events from your day and not necessarily on what is good and helpful in your life. And of course, a notebook includes things that do not necessarily have any value to you. So gratitude journals really are unique…their only purpose is to help you notice and appreciate the positive things in your life.

Ideas for Your Gratitude Journal

Your gratitude journal is unique to you and your life. It is for your eyes only so you can write anything you feel without worrying what others will think. Here are a few prompts to help you start writing about all of the things you are grateful for:

  1. Write about a person in your life that you are grateful for. For example, your mentor, your mother, your best friend.
  2. What skills or abilities do you have that you are thankful for? For example, if you are a good cook, a good listener or a good tennis player.
  3. How is where you are in your life today different than a year ago, and what positive changes are you thankful for? For example, I’ve learned to slow down, smile and say a kind word to the people I encounter throughout my day.
  4. What hobbies or activities would you miss if you were unable to do them? For example, I am thankful that my legs still allow me to run after 40 years.
  5. What are you taking for granted that you can be thankful for? For example, your phone, your coffee machine, the clean, fresh sheets you slipped into last night on your bed.
  6. What materialistic items are you grateful for? For example, your home or the new Kate Spade handbag you found on sale.
  7. Who has done something this week to help you or make your life easier and how can you thank them? For example, my college intern who posted and sent out my blog this week.
  8. What foods or meals are you most thankful for? For example, the delicious dish you had last night at your favorite restaurant or the tasty, crunchy apple you had at lunch today.
  9. What elements of nature are you grateful for and why? What about living in Charleston are you grateful for? For example, the sunrise on your early morning walk or run. Or the walk you took after work the other day in downtown Charleston.
  10. What part of your morning routine are you thankful for? For example, your morning cup of coffee or waking up without an alarm.
  11. What aspects of your work environment are you thankful for? For example, flexible hours or supportive co-workers.

Plan to write in your gratitude journal at least three nights a week for 15 minutes before bed. Set an alarm reminder and schedule it in your calendar. Keep your gratitude journal by your bed or on your nightstand, so you will see it before going to bed. Writing in it at night helps to put you in a relaxed mood and therefore sleep better. I like to pick a pretty gratitude journal so every time I look at it, it reminds me to be appreciative. Write as many things as you want to, but 3-5 is a good number to aim for each day.

Remember it’s for your eyes only, so it doesn’t have to be “deep.” You can be thankful for your family, a new book or movie you recently enjoyed, or what you ate for breakfast this morning. Don’t just go through the motions, but be conscious about your “attitude of gratitude.” You don’t have to set a minimum number, just celebrate a few things you were grateful for that day. Sometimes if you are struggling to even start, come up with only one thing. Try to focus on people and experiences rather than things. Yes, it’s okay to be thankful for your phone or new pocketbook, but the joy you receive from important relationships and experiences probably impacts you more than a fondness for your things. Try to savor and think about each thing you write down instead of hurrying to write a quick list. Note surprises in your day and the emotional response they generate for you…things you didn’t plan. For example, an old friend you have been thinking about lately reaches out by text or a phone call.

Sometimes a picture conveys what you are feeling better than a sentence or two. Add a picture to your gratitude journal. Decorate it; get creative with it because this can help you stay motivated to use it. Last but not least, give your gratitude journal a chance. Do it for at least a month before you make any judgment about if it’s making you happier and if you are enjoying the process. If you have fun with it, I think you will find you look forward to writing in it. Whether your gratitude journal is something you write in or use on one of the many apps, how you do it is up to you.

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5 Tips for Breaking Bad Habits

This past week I was invited to speak to the Mount Pleasant Rotary Club on any topic relating to health and wellness that I’d like. Having been an active Rotarian in the past, I knew it would be a tough assignment because my audience of intelligent, middle-aged men already knew the basics of staying healthy. What could I tell them that’s new?

I opened with a brief description of my own bout with breast cancer, how I won that battle and what I was doing to maintain both my physical and mental well-being. Obviously, I explained, my health wasn’t as great as I assumed it was 11 years ago. I got cancer even though I wasn’t overweight, did not smoke and exercised regularly. So, I had to get extremely honest with myself. What was I doing or not doing in my life that caused me to get cancer? I had to move past my fear, learn all that I could about the disease and make the necessary changes if I wanted to have quality in my later years.

What I learned was that preventive maintenance is by far the most important step to take to shield oneself against chronic ailments; in fact’s it’s 80% of it. Not genes, luck, or bad luck in this case, but how I chose to live my life day in and day out. This was something I could control and wanted to control through making healthy choices and doing away with some of my bad habits. My focus last week with the Rotarians was on how to do the latter.

Here are 5 tips I shared for breaking bad habits regarding health:

Tip #1: Notice When Your Habits Are Automatic: Most habits occur thoughtlessly. Our minds are pre-occupied with other things. Lighting up a cigarette, gobbling down a bag of chips, consuming too much alcohol and staying put on a comfortable couch rather than going out for a walk are all mindless habits.

Tip #2: Practice Mindful Awareness: A few of us can quit bad habits cold turkey. For everybody else, it requires a conscious awareness and an abundance of determination. Mindful awareness is the ability to take notice of when and what we are doing habitually without becoming upset when we realize it. The goal is awareness, not action. Be conscious that you are smoking a cigarette or eating a whole bag of chips or lying around for no good reason. Engaging in your bad habit with full awareness lessens the frequency and duration of unhealthy patterns. Know what you are doing but don’t beat yourself up. It’s counterproductive.

Tip #3: Identify Daily Triggers: Habits are often tied to things we do on a regular basis. Do you automatically grab a cigarette after a meal or when you get into your car? Do you eat more than you are aware while in conversation or standing up? Do you become a couch potato every evening after dinner and click on the television? Note your triggers and think about them.

Tip #4: Mind Your Emotions: In addition to habits being tied to everyday events, they are often tied to emotional situations. We eat when we’re sad, stressed, depressed, lonely or bored. We order another drink when we’re happy and having fun. You get the message.

Tip #5: Ride the Urge Wave: Being aware brings to light a worrisome urge to engage in a bad habit. Be aware of this. Understand the urge before it starts, and be prepared to ride the wave of discomfort when it comes. The mind seeks pleasure and avoids pain. It’s a survival mechanism. Problem is, the mind focuses on short-term pleasure but not the pain that comes in the long run. However, most urges last only from one to five minutes. So, learn to ride it out. And the more times you ride it out the less often and intense the urge will be when it repeats itself.

Need some accountability to help create lasting healthy habits? Let’s talk

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Guest Post: Healthy Living Can Be a Walk in the Park!

With so much going on in our lives, many of us plan out every minute of our day: Wake up, work, go to the gym, come home, make dinner, work from home, try to spend some quality time with our families, go to sleep, repeat. Day after day we know what is important to live a healthy life and we are constantly working to juggle that with our daily responsibilities. But when our mental health starts to falter, it can be hard to check off everything on your To Do list.

How we can get more done while feeling less stressed, more fulfilled in our daily lives, and maintaining our overall health? The answer might be simpler than we think.

Try getting out more often. With most people living in urban environments, working in offices all day, and spending free time working out at the gym, it is not uncommon for our only time in nature to consist of the walk to the car. This may seem like a minor price to pay for living a full, busy life but the New York Times cites studies showing city dwellers have a higher risk for anxiety, depression and other mental illness than those who spend regular time outdoors.

By not spending enough time outdoors, we lose more than just our recommended daily intake of Vitamin D. Human beings have an inherent connection to nature and previous generations did not spend nearly as much time indoors. With modern technology, we can do nearly everything from the comforts of our own home but doing so could be detrimental to our health.

In a study done by Stanford University, Gregory Bratman and colleagues found that volunteers who walked through a green area of the campus showed a more focused and positive attitude afterward than volunteers who walked for the same amount of time near heavy traffic. The volunteers who had strolled through the calming natural parks also showed improvements in their mental health and were not dwelling on the negatives in their lives as much as they had been before the walk.

Getting into nature has major mental and physical health benefits for us, but don’t think of it as something else you have to add to your ever-growing To Do list. Many routine activities can simply be moved outdoors. Make the commute to work on your bike if possible, or take nightly walks around the neighborhood as a part of your post-dinner routine. On the weekends make time for a hike or picnic outdoors. Even just sitting on the porch for a while has its benefits.

It can be easy to become obsessed with reaching our goals and crossing tasks off lists, but a successful, healthy life is about balance. We should work towards the life we want and love, but not at the cost of our mental health. Start with half an hour every day spent in nature and try to write down how you feel before and after. Noting the lift in mood that the outdoors can have on you will help to continue the habit when it seems like the last thing you want to do. And eventually, your time in nature may be what you look forward to most every day.

Guest Blogger: Camila

Communication Major at the College of Charleston

Marketing Intern at Wellness Beyond Fifty

 

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Guest Post: 5 Tips to Organize Your Day

We’ve all been there…You look up from the screen staring back at you and realize you’ve been watching videos on Facebook for 45 minutes. Why does this happen? How do you stop doing it?

The internet is one of our best tools in today’s world. We can use it to connect with others, research information, and administer business; however, it has its down sides as well. Social media is a serious culprit when it comes to stress, time management issues, and relationship problems. People spend so much time online that it affects their real-life duties and connections with others. To make it even worse, we can access any social networking site from the palm of our hand, no matter where we are. According to a marketing study by Mediakix, people spend more than 5 years of their lives on social media. That’s a lot of extra time you could spend doing that overdue laundry or working to expand your business, isn’t it? So, you may be thinking, how can I limit my time on the internet each day? Well here are a few tips to help keep your daily scrolling as productive as possible.

1.Instead of looking at social media to read news articles, subscribe to a reliable news source. You can have news alerts sent directly to your phone through Apple’s “News” app, or you can subscribe to Fox or CNN for email notifications. This will cut down the amount of fake news you are reading, and it will help keep you away from the distractions of cyberspace.

2. Set a specific time and place where you can check social media. Limit yourself! For example, you can allow yourself fifteen minutes on Facebook while dinner is in the oven. When the oven timer goes off, so should your iPad or computer.

3. Spend time cleaning out your email account. Put all spam emails into your junk folder and block tempting stores and social media sites from sending you more emails. This will help transform your inbox into an efficient space!
4. Make a to-do list before you can get online. Get your house organized, your tasks done, and take care of yourself before you log on to see what everyone else is up to. Prioritizing your tasks will help you stop wasting time online.

5. If you really enjoy reading a specific blog or watching a certain channel on YouTube, allow yourself to look at one thing you enjoy a day. Getting online to read a new blog post about skincare tips or to watch a video about cooking is a lot more efficient than indefinitely scrolling down your timeline.

Unfortunately, social media can be an unknowingly bad habit. People often do not realize how much time they are spending online. Luckily, any habit can be broken in just 21 days. So, if you find yourself on the internet too much, make today day one! Reflect on how long you spend on the internet per day and imagine what you could be doing with that extra time. Time efficiency is important in our overall wellness. Not managing your time properly can lead to a lot of unwanted stress. This stress has a huge impact on your mind and can even make you waste more time worrying about all you must do. It’s an endless, vicious cycle, so get ahead of it! Plan social media into your daily planner just like an appointment. Make time for you to catch up on what is going on in everyone else’s lives, but do not let go of your own life to keep up with others. Once you make this change, you will have plenty of extra time to get moving! Go for a walk, take a yoga class, or spend time with your family. Once you can realize the key to managing your time, so many other rewards will follow.

Guest Blogger: McKenna
Business Administration Major at the College of Charleston
Marketing Intern at Wellness Beyond Fifty

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