Emotional Wellness

Finding Healthy Balance

Finding Healthy Balance

This time of year is a challenge for most health-conscious individuals. Post-holiday weight gain can cause hectic gym crowds, cold weather for some make outside exercise unpleasant, media is saturated with *New Year's Resolutions* and holiday-season indulgences oftentimes last longer than *just* the holidays.

To keep health on your radar despite these obstacles, we’ve put together a list of tips to help you maintain balance and avoid excess stress!

Making Time For Self-Care

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Being a parent, professional, spouse, adult, and/or a combination of the these roles is challenging. In the chaos of life, work, and family, it can be all too easy to neglect your own needs.  

In a busy life, self-care may seem like a non-priority.  But in reality this is far from the truth. If every single day you live life from one task to the next, eventually, you very well may burn out. When that happens, those people and responsibilities that you love and care about will suffer.  In addition, your physical and mental health will suffer.

Cortisol is the hormone in the human body that is released during times of stress.  Stress is ambiguous. Without some stress, motivation or a sense of urgency to accomplish simple tasks, even enjoyable ones, is lacking.  However, too much stress causes intense surges of cortisol throughout the body. High levels of cortisol over long periods of time have been linked to the onset of chronic diseases.  Additionally, too much cortisol inhibits fat loss, sports performance, mood, productivity, immunity, and ability to address and deal with life’s twists and turns. The goal of integrating consistent self-care into your life is to reduce those cortisol levels, and help your body and mind rest and recharge so that you can continue to tackle life (and feel better doing so).

The great thing about self-care is that there is no “right” way to do it.  When choosing how to spend that time, however, keep a few things in mind:

  1. Minimize distractions and external stimuli.

  2. Choose an activity (or in-activity) that requires little problem solving and challenging thought.

  3. Eliminate the potential for stress to creep in.

  4. Make sure you are doing something that you enjoy, purely for the sake of enjoyment. There should be no goal or standard to meet.

  5. Keep in mind that this time spent is to benefit your mind, body, and soul.  Imagine that you are recharging your battery. Let this metaphor help guide you to how you will spend your self-care time.

Self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant.  It can be as simple as prioritizing getting an extra hour of sleep each night, drinking more water, eating an extra serving of vegetables, or taking a 15 minute walk alone each day.  Start slow, just a 20 or 30 minutes set aside each week will do the trick. As you get more comfortable with practicing self-care and find what works for you, slowly increase the sessions over time. What works for one person may not work for another, so be patient.  Here are some “self-care session” ideas to get started:

  1. Go for a relaxing walk outdoors on a nice day. Listen to your favorite audiobook, podcast, music, or just enjoy the sounds of your environment.

  2. Do an at-home stretch session before bed.

  3. Relax in a warm bath with Epsom salts and lavender essential oil.  Epsom salts can reduce muscle soreness and tension, and lavender is calming.

  4. Attend a new exercise class that you’ve always wanted to try with a friend.

  5. Spend some extra quality play, or cuddle time with your favorite furry companion.

  6. Color in an adult coloring book.

  7. Read one chapter in a non-work-related book.

  8. Cook a new healthy recipe.

  9. Get up a few minutes early in the morning to enjoy quiet time alone before the day begins.

  10. Donate some of your time to a charity, non-profit, or cause that is meaningful to you.

These are just a few of the many possibilities to help get you started.  Set aside one time this week for a self-care activity that you think you would enjoy, and see how it goes.  If the experience is positive, maybe schedule another time the next week, or even two! If the experience is negative or neutral, consider trying a different activity the next time.  

Finally, remember that you are important. Taking a little time for yourself is not selfish, lazy, or a waste of time.  In fact, self-care is a critical aspect of a healthy and balanced lifestyle!

We would love to hear your experiences.  In the comments below share how your experience with incorporating a “self-care session” went!

 

7 Holiday Gifts For the Snow

7 Holiday Gifts For the Snow

If you’re a lover of outdoor activities, snow can sometimes put a wrench in the plans you had to run, walk, or bike. However, there are a number of activities you can do in the snow that are fun and active, and don’t feel at all like exercise! Plus, these activities also make great holiday gifts for the kids (or adults) in your life. Here are our top 7 picks:

What Nutritionists Do with Their Kid's Halloween Candy

What Nutritionists Do with Their Kid's Halloween Candy

Ask any kid in America, it’s likely that one of their favorite things about Halloween are the costumes. Oh wait, did we say costumes? We meant candy. Their favorite thing about Halloween is most definitely the candy. As a parent, it’s normal to feel a little anxious about watching your kid unwrap piece after piece of the typically demonized “processed sugar”, but the truth is, you don’t have too much to worry about! In fact, the less you worry, the more likely your kids will view candy as “no big deal”. We’ve polled some of our most trustworthy registered dietitian partners to hear what they do with their kid’s Halloween candy.

Are Your Kids Stressed Out?

Are Your Kids Stressed Out?

As an adult who carries the stress of work, family, chores, and finances, it might be easy to forget that our kids are experiencing stress as well. They spend their days assimilating new information, navigating school, and developing relationships;  the constant “input” can be overwhelming. Help your child handle stressful situations and develop healthy coping mechanisms by following these five simple steps.

How to Handle Bullying

How to Handle Bullying

If you’re a parent, it’s likely that you’ve witnessed bullying at some point throughout your child’s life. It might have been something innocent like name-calling, or something more serious like physical violence. Nearly 33% of children in the United States report being bullied at school.  While being the victim of bullying can be emotionally challenging and potentially traumatizing, it’s not uncommon for victims to become the bullies themselves. It’s important to help your child process their experience if they are bullied, and instill  positive values to prevent the tables from turning.

Here are some simple steps you can take whether your child is the bully or the victim of bullying.

Should Your Child Start Journaling?

Should Your Child Start Journaling?

Journaling can be a highly effective tool for improving mental health and processing difficult emotions. Unlike what you might see in television shows or movies, journaling is more than just venting or recounting the events of the day. Journaling is a tool to help children (and adults!) hash out how the events of the their day, or their life, affect them emotionally. It allows children to express themselves without fear of judgement or repercussions, especially since mom or dad will not be reading the journal.

Help your Kids Develop Confidence and Self-Esteem

Help your Kids Develop Confidence and Self-Esteem

The terms self-confidence and self-esteem are often used interchangeably, but they actually have slightly different meanings. Self-confidence is developed out of a sense of competence. Mastering a skill like riding a bike gives a child a sense that they are capable, even if the process involves making mistakes.. Self-esteem is when a kid feels valued, accepted, and proud of his or her accomplishments. Both self-confidence and self-esteem play a big role in helping kids succeed academically, socially, and emotionally, ultimately allowing them to be better equipped for all of life’s challenges and obstacles. Here are a few simple ways you can help your child develop both self-confidence and self-esteem.

Help Your Child Cope With Their Emotions Without Using Food

Help Your Child Cope With Their Emotions Without Using Food

Children often have difficulty expressing complex emotions because they don’t have the language for it. As a result, they might express these emotions nonverbally by acting out, crying, or isolating themselves from social experiences. More often than not, these emotional expressions are undesirable within our social construct. As parents, we don’t enjoy seeing our children angry, sad, or lonely, and our instinct might be to find a quick-fix to mitigate the situation at hand by using one of our most readily available coping mechanisms: food.