April is National Stress Awareness Month

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I am no stranger to stress. In fact, stress is a part of my daily life.  I know when I am stressed when I feel my body tense up, I am irritable and unable to sleep.  In order to de-stress, I have a list of things I like to do.

1.)  Pamper myself by getting a massage/facial or both. Massage eases away all of my muscle tension.

2.)  Get a haircut or new haircolor.  Sometimes change is good and makes you feel good about yourself.

3.)  Exercise. Keeping the body moving decreases tension.

4.)  Yoga. The meditative effects of yoga will combat stress.  There are many options for guided yoga available online, or you can attend a class at a local gym or studio.  Some health insurance companies, like Oscar Insurance in New York and New Jersey, even offer reimbursements for gym and yoga studio memberships.

5.)  Meditation in the morning and night.  Clearing out your thoughts and quieting the mind will help your body relax.

6.)  Journal. Sometimes I find journaling effective if I am angry or hurt by someone. Journaling decreases your stress by putting all of your thoughts on paper and not your body. Also, writing in my gratitude journal helps me focus the positives in my life.

7.)  Breathe. Oxygen to your body – muscles and cells will decrease tension.

8.)  Prayer. Surrender to a higher power to what is beyond your control.

9.)  Cultivate solitude. Sometimes being alone and away from all of the daily noise is what your body needs to recover from the stress.

10.)  Eat.  Its also called stress eating. I stress eat but I make sure the food is healthy. I personally stress eat on veggies sticks, snap crisps or popcorn.

This is my personal list on how I manage stress. I recommend trying out a few in the first few weeks to see what feels good to you.  What are the ways you de-stress?

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Pain

Pain. Everyone experiences pain:   physical and emotional. I am referring to emotional pain which is hard to treat. You can’t take drugs for it. No one will ask what your pain rating is. And if you try to cover emotional pain with alcohol or drugs, you are technically just masking the pain, but it is still there. Its best if you feel the emotional pain, sadness and depression that comes along with it. Its not an experience everyone would like to have but they say pain will make you a stronger person. But, I am not so sure. I think it will make you bitter and cynical as one experiences more and more pain.

Here is one of my favorite poems about emotional pain.

A young lady was singing opera one day and her instructor watched and listened with excitement as she hit every note perfectly. Sitting next to the music instructor was the gentleman who wrote the opera and so she decided to share her enthusiasm with him. “She’s great, isn’t she?” She whispered. He replied, “She’ll be even better when someone comes along and breaks her heart.

” Pain is one of the inevitable experiences of human existence. Our pain is the most effective tool that God uses for growing us up spiritually. Let’s face it, we do not grow or mature unless we are being hurt. The deeper God hurts us, the more effectively He can use us. It seems unfair and unjust, but it is reality. Let me give three reasons for us to rejoice when we are hurting. First, when we hurt, God is getting our attention for our own benefit. He is trying to communicate with us. Second, when we hurt, God is preparing us for a special purpose. He is getting us ready for something that will give us fulfillment, bring goodness to someone else, and bring glory to God. Third, God has a special blessing waiting for us at the end of our hurt. Remember, nothing happens to us unless God allows it with a good purpose in mind so “…count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (Jas 1:2). Think about it.

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4 Healthy Habits That Aren’t Just for New Years

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Getting healthy isn’t just a notion reserved for New Year’s resolutions. And there’s more to good health than dieting and exercise. Getting healthy is a lifestyle change, and it’s easier than you might think.

Daily Meditation

If you find that you’re anxious, tense, worried or stressed, spend a few minutes each day to restore your inner peace. The ancient practice of mediation can enhance your emotional and physical well-being. Emotional benefits include gaining a newfound perspective on life’s stressful situations, building new skills to cope with stress, increasing your self-awareness, focusing more on the present and reducing negative emotions. According to the Mayo Clinic, some research suggests that meditation can help manage symptoms of asthma, anxiety disorders, depression, pain and sleep problems. Popular forms of meditation include yoga, tai chi, mantra meditation, guided meditation and mindfulness meditation.

Meditation can be as formal or as informal as you choose, making it a realistic and healthy habit for anyone wishing to eliminate stress.

Annual Checkups

When’s the last time you had an appointment with your eye doctor? How about a visit with your dentist? Regular health exams and screenings help doctors find problems before they start or become problematic. Annual eye exams are especially important for contact lens wearers. Unfortunately, people sometimes delay their eye exams or order more contacts than they need to take them beyond their prescription expiration date. Don’t avoid an annual exam, even through you may avoid a visit to the doctor’s office by ordering online from a discount retailer like Vision Direct. If the problems are found early, the chances of treating and curing the illness is far greater.

Use a service like Zoc Doc to schedule and keep track of your appointments. The Zoc Doc app can be accessed with a mobile device or from a desktop, and you’ll receive notifications when it’s time for your visit.

Walking More

If you want to achieve better health, start walking. All you need to start is a pair of sturdy walking shoes and a pedometer if you plan to keep track of your steps. According to the American Heart Association, people who walk for 30 minutes a day can enhance their mental wellbeing while also reducing the risk of osteoporosis, colon and breast cancers, diabetes and coronary heart disease. Walking also helps improve blood sugar and blood pressure levels and lowers the risk of obesity.

Walking can be done alone or with a group and this activity costs next-to-nothing, making it a great way to get in shape and decompress from the day.

Eliminating Toxic Foods

Eating organically has been popular for nearly a decade; however, many people still purchase and consume non-organic foods that contain pesticides and harmful chemicals. Live a healthier lifestyle by making small modifications to your grocery list and eat a littler healthier with organic foods.

According to the Environmental Working Group, 99 percent of apples and 98 percent of peaches that were tested for pesticide residues in 2015 tested positive. These fruits are part of the “dirty dozen,” a list that also includes nectarines, grapes, strawberries, spinach, celery, sweet bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and imported snap peas. EWG reports that avocados were the cleanest food tested. Avoid the consumption of pesticides and shop organic at local farmer’s markets or retail chains like Whole Foods.

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Self-Love

Self-love is one of my words for 2015.  So is faith, compassion and unconditional love.

I used to think that I would be happy after nursing school, then I graduated nursing school and I still did not feel one hundred percent happy.

Then, I thought I would be happy after I passed my boards, after I got my first job, after I landed my second job, and so on the cycle goes on…… I never felt totally happy.

It wasn’t until I had my heart broken two years ago that I stepped back and re-examined my life.  I noticed a pattern.  That was when I realized I needed to self-reflect to know what I really needed. I had forgotten to know what I even wanted. I had forgotten what I loved.  I had forgotten myself.  I needed to heal.

Spending time in solitude thinking about  my life, my mistakes, my decisions:  good and bad.  I finally realized that it was ME who can make ME happy!   Loving myself is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I do.  I posted this poem five years ago and I still love to read it.

The Journey of Life

By:  Ann Onnemouse

We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another.

Then we are frustrated that the kids are not old enough and we will be more content when they are.

After that, we are frustrated we have teenagers to deal with.

We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.

We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get  a nice car, are able to go on vacation, when we retire.

The truth is, there is no better time to be happy than right now.

If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges.

It is best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

One of my favorite quotes is from Alfred D. Souza.  He said, ”  For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life.”

But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid.

Then life would begin.  At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my “life”.

This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness.

Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment that you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time…and remember that time waits for no one.

So, stop waiting until your finish school,

until you go back to school,

until you lose ten pounds,

until you gain ten pounds,

until you  have kids,

until your kids leave the house.

until you start work,

until you retire,

until you get married,

until you get divorced,

until Friday night,

until Sunday morning,

until you get a new car or home,

until your car or home is paid off,

until spring,

until summer,

until fall,

until winter,

until you are off welfare,

until the first or fifteenth,

until your song comes on,

until you’ve had a drink,

until you’ve sobered up,

until you die,

until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

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5 Ways to Treat Yourself on Valentine’s Day

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For the full-time work-from-home mom, your job is 24/7 and you don’t get holidays off. Christmas is more stressful than magical; birthdays become celebratory obligations merely monopolizing valuable work time. If you’re constantly in work mode during the most special times of the year, you may need to readjust your work-life priorities—starting with Valentine’s Day. Schedule a personal day and celebrate Valentine’s Day your way and without your phone or laptop in tow. Use the following ideas as inspiration to make it a day of romance, family fun or simply a day for yourself.

Me Time

If you’re flying solo, send the kids to Grandma’s and soak in the solitude. Make this Valentine’s Day a day to love (and treat) yourself. No kids; no responsibilities; no deadlines. If you’re a vino-phile, indulge in a bottle (or two) of Vanilla Puddin Chardonnay and let the sweet flavors of white chocolate with dollops of vanilla, butterscotch and caramelized apple delight your taste buds. Replace the phone with a wine glass and relax in a long bath with a heart-shaped bath bomb (for the sake of festivity) from Lush. Then, order takeout from your favorite restaurant and start a marathon of your guiltiest trash-TV pleasure.

Moms Night Out (Or In)

Are you the girlfriend of the group who perpetually declines? Is your Evite RSVP always the no (that is, if you even have time to respond at all)? Salvage your friendships, redeem your workaholic reputation and plan a Galentine’s Night Out. Remember, this is no playdate, so hire a babysitter. Hit the town with your friends for dinner or drinks or invite the girls over for a pink-and-gold party. Treat yourself to a blowout to match your sparkling party dress. Serve homemade raspberry cupcakes and cheers to champagne. You (and your other mom friends) deserve it.

Just Dessert

In the life of a busy working mom (and parents in general), your marriage can fall on the list of priorities. Bath time and late-night email catch-ups replace conversations and cuddling. Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to reignite the flame with your spouse. With the kids away, make it a romantic dessert-themed affair. Chocolate is, by the way, a well-known aphrodisiac, turning on the brain’s pleasure sensors and creating a feel-good night. Give your guy mouthwatering Godiva chocolates or bake two molten lava cakes together. You can really set the mood with delicious chocolate-covered cherry sangria made with chocolate red wine.

Special Pho-ccasion

A maxed-out schedule leaves little room for cooking new and fun recipes. But since Valentine’s Day is a special occasion to spend with loved ones, you can leisurely cook incredible and eclectic fare—all day. Cosmopolitan Magazine recommends getting flirty in the kitchen and making ramen noodles from scratch. Earlier in the day, settle into the kitchen and make a batch of fresh ramen. Then you and yours can prepare a pot of homemade slow cooker Chicken Pho. The hours of cooking will fill the kitchen with mouthwatering aromas. When it comes time to enjoy it, each savory sip of soup will warm your hearts.

Pizzeria Party

Make Valentine’s Day into a pizza extravaganza with the fam. Kids love pizza, especially when they can help with the cooking. Turn your kitchen into a chef’s pizzeria, throw on aprons and cook up a fun pizza recipe like pepperoni pizza muffins, pepperoni roll-ups or just a traditional cheese pizza. Kids can choose toppings and decorate with silly faces or even use cookie cutters to turn homemade dough into fun mini pizzas. What’s for dessert? Sweeten Valentine’s Day even more with a gooey cookie dough pizza topped with melted hot fudge, caramel and cream cheese frosting.

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Is Debt Crushing You? How to Deal With the Stress

Most of us have been there at one time or another—you lie awake at night worrying about how you are going to pay your mortgage, how you will put your kids through college, or even how to pay for this month’s bills.

According to a Gallup Poll in 2014, about 31 percent of Americans were concerned about not being able to pay housing costs such as rent or a mortgage; about 35 percent worried about not being able to pay for their children’s college education; and about 36 percent were concerned that they did not have enough money to pay the bills. Well over a third of the American public is under some form of financial pressure.

Peace of Mind Starts with a Plan

It is nice to know that you are not alone, but what can you actually do about it? Fortunately, peace of mind starts with a good financial strategy. For most people, it is the uncertainty of what to do about a situation that causes the most stress. While your financial problems are not going to go away overnight, setting up a plan to deal with them can help to ease your mind about the future.

Whether you are worried about this month’s bills, next month’s housing payment or helping your children avoid student loan debt, the steps toward improving your financial situation are remarkable similar.

Find Out Where You Stand

The first step can be pretty scary—you need the details of each debt owed. That means finding out what must be paid every month and what interest rate is being charged. Many people don’t even have a full understanding of their situation until this happens.

Now that you know what the extent of the debt is, you can start to set some financial goals. Take a look at the list of debts. Are there any small amounts that you can settle quickly within the next couple of months? If so, these are the debts that you should target first.

Paying off these small debts is easier and puts a mark in the win column for you. The motivation this provides often outweighs any financial gains you would make by paying off the highest-interest debt first, which is another popular strategy.

To start paying off your debt, you’ll need to find some extra money. For some people, that will mean finding a way to increase their income, while for others, it may mean reducing waste and cutting back on unnecessary expenses like cable and eating out.

Small Victories Lead to Big Victories

Once you pay off that first debt, it becomes a lot easier. Once that debt is gone, the installment for it is like “extra” income and you can put this amount towards the next debt on the list. From there, it is like a house of cards, your debt will start to topple and your financial situation will become more secure as time goes on.

Another great tool for taking control of your financial situation is a credit monitoring service, which can help to identify improvements in your credit rating and, at the same time, help you protect your hard-won improved credit status from being misused by fraudsters and identity thieves.

Having a plan in place can do wonders to alleviate anxiety when it comes to financial matters. For instance, if you notice something suspicious on your credit card statement, you can respond quickly to head off bigger problems.

Your financial future is your own hands; re-take control today for a better tomorrow!

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