Category Archives: Stress

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Learning to Breathe

With the onset of April, we notice the first changes in the air that signal spring—budding trees, a slight warming and freshness to the breeze, tulips rearing their colorful heads, Easter candy stocking the shelves, and the white, winter-hidden legs of all of us desperately seeking sunshine at long last. But, since 1992, April has also brought with it the rather grand title of Stress Awareness Month.

Stress is something we can all relate to. It’s a normal part of the human existence. Good stresses such as new relationships and births and vacations vie with the tougher stresses of work, moving homes and poor health. The problem, though, is our body doesn’t always recognize the difference between “good” stress and “bad” stress. It’s just STRESS.

And stress damages the body, or as the quote goes, “It is not stress that kills us. It is our reaction to it.”

Increased risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression and anxiety, Alzheimer’s, headaches, gastrointestinal diseases, premature aging and even early death are all linked to high stress levels.

No need to get stressed about stress, though! Take action and implement stress reducing activities now to ensure a long, healthy and lower-stress life.

Breathe it out

Even a couple minutes is enough to lower the fight or flight response our body initiates in response to a stressor. The best thing about breathing? It happens naturally and can be done from anywhere. Try this breathing exercise to feel instantly calmer: breathe in for four counts; hold at the top of the breath for five counts; and then exhale for six counts. Try to lengthen those time periods as you become calmer.

All about perspective

When traffic comes to a standstill and you’re punching the steering wheel and showing off your well-manicured middle finger to passers-by, pause for a moment and reframe the situation. How big a deal is your situation in the long run? Focus on the positive, such as having a little more time to yourself without any obligations—some more time to listen to that intriguing podcast or finish singing your favorite song.


Speaking of songs—music is a great way to redirect your attention. When you are feeling stressed, you’re allowing the situation to take over. Step back and focus on something positive. This could be reflecting on three things for which you’re grateful; or putting on a song that always gets you dancing; or asking Siri to ‘tell you a joke.’ Redirect your attention and step away from the stress. Take control of the situation rather than allowing it to control you.

Om Sweet Om

Start a regular yoga practice. The best part about yoga is that it teaches the body to cope in a stressful situation on the mat (a safe place)—which leads to a better understanding of how to cope off the mat. And, you can even change your body chemistry with a regular yoga practice. Studies have shown that yoga can actually rewire your neural network, leading to better coping mechanisms and improved health.

Baby Steps

Lastly, one thing at a time. It’s easy to fret over the past and worry about the future and all the things start to pile up one on top of the other until you feel as though you’re drowning under the Sisyphean weight of all the stresses and worries and concerns. Phew! As mentioned above, step back. Breathe. Find perspective. Focus on the now. One small thing at a time. It’s easy to let it all snowball and feel trapped by everything at once. Take your day one moment at a time—make a to-do list. Do what you can to maintain perspective and stay in the now. We forget that we have survived 100% of the struggles we’ve experienced.

Those are pretty good odds. You’ve got this.

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How to live a balanced and healthy life

Even though it may seem difficult to focus on personal health and well-being, living a balanced and healthy life is certainly well within your reach! Making small, attainable changes to your daily habits can help you to achieve the well-being you yearn for, and more importantly, deserve. Making a pact to take care of yourself is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your mental and physical health. In fact, researchers describe life imbalance as being a contributor for:

  • Mental disturbances
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic stress
  • Elevated hormone levels
  • Chronic headaches
  • Sleep issues
  • Impaired immune system

While it may occasionally seem as though there is no way around these issues, there are ways to give yourself the attention you deserve—without taking away from family, friends, work and other important aspects of life. Curious about how you can improve the balance in your busy life and improve your health along the way? Let us help you!

Tip #1: Make sure to make “ME TIME” each day

This can be a 60-minute exercise class, a quiet morning coffee break, a brief walk around the neighborhood or just soaking up some sun during your lunch hour. It is important to take this time to appreciate yourself and how incredible your body and your mind truly are! Give yourself a few moments to reaffirm how grateful you are for what you’ve been given in life. Try saying “I appreciate what I do” or maybe, “I really am a hard worker” or “I am the best parent I can be to my beautiful children.” Whatever you tell yourself for, make sure it’s genuine. You deserve to be reminded of what makes you great!

Tip #2: Organize your priorities

With how hectic life can be, it is easy to lose track of time and to let tasks fall by the wayside. Create a daily or weekly list—either on paper, your computer, tablet or smartphone to plan ahead. Include check boxes so that you can determine which items have been completed and which require more effort. It can be such a rewarding feeling to be able to check off items on a list once they’ve been completed. This can include not only work tasks, but even at-home chores, family obligations and even personal goals. This will also help to alleviate any stress that comes with trying to remember all the things you have planned for your busy day.

Tip #3: Expect and accept the setbacks

Life is never guaranteed to go 100% as planned and even the smallest of setbacks can become great stressors. Accepting that this is sometimes the case will help you to better adapt to surprises, both great and small. With the current pandemic, vacations are being cancelled, kids are out of school, and work is being done from home (if you’re lucky). Reframe your mindset and see this as an opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones at home. Maybe there’s a home project you’ve been meaning to complete. Even if it seems challenging to do, always try to seek out the positive nature in all things.

Tip #4: Speaking of adventure…

Spontaneity is not an easy feat, but when you allow yourself to find randomness in your life, it’s incredible how your spirits can really lift! Try to think of an activity or skill you’ve always been curious about. Maybe you’ve been wanting to hike a new trail, or maybe you’ve been wanting to learn how to knit, or rock climb. Have you been considering learning a new language, but never got started? Parlezvous français? Regardless of what you find interest in, make sure you allow yourself an opportunity to seek it out and to fulfill your curiosity. You might just find something new to really excel at!

Tip #5: Allow joy

Always welcome the opportunity to smile. Whether it’s in knowing the love of a friend or spouse, the goofiness of a pet, or the beauty on the horizon, we all have things that warm our hearts and bring us joy. Don’t fight the urge to smile, to laugh, and to be grateful of these wonderful things. They are ultimately what we live for—what drives us to be human and whole. And if you feel you cannot find enough joy to fill your life, try seeking out new joys. Altruism through giving to others, whether volunteering time or energy, is one way to not only give joy to yourself, but also to others who too seek true happiness. Sunshine and fresh air are also especially effective for increasing those feel-good moments. Remember to breathe in the positivity in what’s around you and to breathe out the negative. What a difference this can really make on our stress levels and overall feelings of relaxation! Speaking of improving stress levels—exercise and healthy eating have a positive physiological effect on the body by improving hormones (did someone say endorphins??), energy, sleep patterns and more! And laughter…well who doesn’t enjoy a little laughter every now and then? Allow yourself to laugh out loud wherever possible.

Did we miss anything? Of course we did! Balance comes in so many shapes and sizes and that’s what makes us all uniquely special. Find your unique balance in life and always allow yourself the pleasure of knowing you are a healthier person for it!

Is there such a thing as a ‘healthy Halloween’?


When you think of Halloween I doubt the  word ‘health’ comes to mind. I think of candy-corn, gummies, and the over-the-top neighbors that pass out king size candy bars. To my surprise there is a way to still have a good time but not completely derail your progress.

  1. 1. Eat before pulling out the candy dish.
    1. Whether you are heading out for trick-or-treating or are in charge of passing out candy, make sure to eat a substantial meal before the candy makes its way out. Our family tradition is Halloween homemade chili. It is a quick and healthy meal that is great for a chilly October night, even with doorbell interruptions (See the recipe here)
  2. 2. Don’t over buy or early buy the candy.
    1. Set yourself up for success by not getting too much candy or tempting yourself by keeping it in the house for too long before the 31st. If you still have a lot of leftover goodies and the trick-or-treaters are beginning to dwindle, be generous! Increase that one/two piece ratio to a handful. The kids will love it and you won’t be stuck with the Snickers.
  3. 3. Trick-or-treat with your kids, if you don’t have kids (or they are too cool for you) walk around to see the costumes and fall leaves.
    1. Trick-or-treaters can cover some serious ground. Throw on your tracking device and try to get a couple thousand steps in. You can even make this a competition among your family to see who can get the most steps.
  4. 4. Treat yourself!
    1. It is a holiday so don’t be too hard on yourself. Pick out two of your favorite candies (snack size) and don’t feel guilty letting yourself indulge.
  5. 5. Keep your water bottle close.
    1. Water intake is a great way to keep your sweet tooth at bay. Make a game of it; every time someone says, “trick-or-treat,” or “happy Halloween,” take a swig.

I would love to hear some tips and tricks you have used in the past or are planning to implement this year to have a “Happy Healthy Halloween!”

Tips for Managing Stress

Stress Management

Stress is a part of almost everyone’s life. In fact, 35% of Americans said their stress has increased in the past year and 62% say their job is the main point of stress. Chronic stress can have an impact on your physical and mental health. It can lower your immunity, cause sleeplessness and headaches, and make you feel anxious and angry. The negative effects and feelings associated with stress can pile up, so learning to cope and deal with it is important.

5 Tips for Managing Stress

1. Learn to Say No
A healthy work-life balance is important. Learn to say no to things in your personal and professional life. An overloaded schedule is a sure-fire way to increase stress.

2. Manage Your Time Better
When you’re running behind for an appointment or a deadline is looming your stress levels are going to sky-rocket. Learn to manage your time, plan ahead and stay focused on one thing at a time.

3. Stay Positive
Next time you feel stressed and negativity starts to take hold, pause and take a moment to think about all the good things in your life.

4. Learn to Move On
Things that are out of our control, like the actions of other people, can be a huge cause of stress. While you can’t control everything or everyone, you can control how you react.

5. Find a Healthy Outlet
Find a way to unwind and let go of your stress at the end of the day. For some that’s running or yoga, others it’s taking a hot bath or meditating. Talking about your feelings, laughing at a funny movie, and getting outdoors are all healthy outlet options. Find an outlet that works for you.