Laughter is the Best Medicine

Humor is infectious. The sound of roaring laughter is far more contagious than any cough, sniffle, or sneeze. When laughter is shared, it binds people together and increases happiness and intimacy. Laughter also triggers healthy physical changes in the body. Humor and laughter strengthen your immune system, boost your energy, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Best of all, this priceless medicine is fun, free, and easy to use. Click here to learn about all of the benefits of humor and laughter or if you need to bring more laughter into your life.


Surviving the Holiday Eating Frenzy

The holiday season is upon us, and with it all the wonderful, rich food and drink temptations that threaten to steer us off our intended course of diet or at least moderation.  Being health-conscious doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t enjoy the holiday season and have a little bit of what you fancy. It simply means that you should continue to be vigilant and be prepared for the festivities.

Weight Watchers has reported that the average American gains around 7-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That’s over a pound per week.  However, the holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. The holiday battle of the bulge can be won!l610272507

So, how to steer a safe course while still enjoying those holiday meals and parties? The following article contains 12 tips to help you eat healthy for the holiday season and beyond.

Overcoming First Day Jitters

How to help your child through the first day of school.

Whether it’s the first day at kindergarten, junior high, or high school — or if it’s a new school — children get excited but they also get nervous. These are milestones in your child’s life, and how your child adapts may determine how he or she adjusts to other “firsts” later in life.

“Kids who are fearful early on may be the ones who have a harder transition in other aspects of life,” says Nadine Kaslow, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University and chief psychologist at Grady Health System, both in Atlanta. Inherently, “some children are just more flexible, more adaptable and these firsts don’t seem to be that big a deal for them. For other kids, any transition is very disruptive. It takes them longer to make the transition.”

Every little positive experience helps children adapt to all the “firsts” of their lives, Kaslow tells WebMD. “The more you prepare a kid the better, especially if your child is sensitive.”

Read more……….

Spring Forward With a More Positive You

Spring is in the air. The flowers are blooming. Bees are buzzing. New life is everywhere. Spring is more than a time to air out the house – it’s a time to do a personal house cleaning as well. Here a few tips to help boost your mood and maintain a good attitude this Spring.

Move a muscle, change a mood.

Did you know that exercise is good for your head? While it may seem as if moving about when you feel tired is the quickest way to feeling more tired, the opposite is true. Experts say that increasing physical activity, especially walking, increases energy.

“I like walking because it’s easy to do, doesn’t need training or equipment, and you can do it anywhere,” says Rita Redberg, MD, science advisor to the American Heart Association’s “Choose to Move” program.

In experiments conducted by Robert Thayer, PhD, at California State University, people who took a brisk 10-minute walk not only increased energy, but they kept the energy for up to two hours. And when they took the daily 10-minute walks went on for three weeks, their energy levels and mood were lifted.

Psychologists studying how exercise affects mental health are finding that how much or how hard you exercise isn’t the key factor in helping depression and anxiety. In fact, they say that less is more; or at least just as good.

According to a study by the American Psychological Association, when depressed people used stationary bicycles, their mood improved even when they weren’t biking all that hard.

In another study, people felt better after a 10-minute brisk walk or a 45-minute workout. Those working out for 45 minutes said they were less tense. They said their energy went down at first, but later went up. Those who just walked said that they felt less tense, and they also had more energy right away.

Food affects mood.

So how should you change your diet if you want to try to improve your mood? Here are some ideas:

Eat breakfast and don’t skip meals.

Have you ever been in a bad mood, only to see that you haven’t eaten in hours? Eating a balanced breakfast and not getting too hungry during the day will keep your blood sugar and mood even, says Susan Biali, M.D.

Many studies show that eating breakfast leads to improved mood, better memory, and more energy all day long. What makes up a good breakfast? Lots of healthy fiber, some lean protein, good fats, and whole-grain breads and cereal.

Eat enough protein.

Eating protein with every meal, like fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, yogurt, milk, soy, and chickpeas helps the food last longer in your stomach, prevents blood sugar drops, and also keeps you “up” and alert for two to three hours after.

Stay away from simple sugars.

Foods made from things like white sugar, white flour, and white rice can give you a “sugar high” that leads to a big drop in blood sugar that will affect your mood, says Dr. Biali. For a more positive mood, choose whole-grain, high-fiber foods with lasting power.

Eat fish three times a week.

Fish like salmon and tuna are rich in good oils. Research has found that people who eat fish less than once a week have more mild-to-moderate depression than people who eat fish more often.

Limit the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink.

Though having a drink will make you feel good at the start, it can actually make your mood worse later. If you have trouble with your mood, it’s best to stay away from it. It can also have a bad effect on the quality of your sleep, which can make your mood even worse the next day.

The caffeine that is found in coffee, some teas, and soft drinks can make your mood worse. And if it keeps you up at night, which is sure to hurt your mood.

You may already know that it’s easy to confuse signs of hunger with thirst. We think we need food when we really need water. But did you know that thirst can also make you feel tired?

Drink more water.

“Sometimes, not drinking enough water can leave you feeling tired and slow,” says nutritionist Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, an associate professor at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York.

The solution is simple: a tall, cool glass of water. This is really important to boost energy after exercise, when your body needs it, Ayoob says.

Positive thinking can cut down on stress and help you enjoy life more.

According to the Mayo Clinic, some studies show that how you look at life can affect many areas of your health and well-being. Positive thinking doesn’t mean that you keep your head in the sand and ignore bad situations. It just means that you look at things in a more positive way.

With all this in mind, when you learn to think positive thoughts, you will see how much better you are feeling.

Understanding positive thinking and self-talk.

Self-talk is the endless stream of thoughts that run through your head every day. These thoughts can be positive or negative.

If the thoughts that run through your head are mostly negative, you may feel unhappy most of the time. If your thoughts are mostly positive, you are already on your way to positive thinking.

The health benefits of positive thinking

Health benefits that positive thinking may give you include:

  • Longer life
  • Less depression
  • Lower levels of stress
  • Less illnesses like the common cold
  • Better mind and body well-being
  • Lower risk of death from heart disease
  • Better ways to deal with loss and times of stress.

It’s not clear why people who are positive thinkers have better health. One idea is that it lets you deal with stress, which means less stress on your body. It’s also thought that positive thinkers have more healthy ways of life, get more exercise, have a healthy diet, and don’t smoke or drink too much alcohol.

Now that you know how to put some healthy ideas into action, go out and enjoy the beautiful weather. You can notice the colors, and the light, and be grateful for all that life has to offer. This is the time to think good thoughts and take care of your body. Don’t forget to have fun!

Working with Difficult People

Is there a person who constantly ridicules your work, or someone who just won’t speak up? Identify 11 personality types that can cause problems and find out how to turn around the conversation.

We all encounter personality conflicts at work. However, conflict can be a positive experience. Here are 11 personality traits to be aware of and ways to approach them for a positive solution.

Difficult Personality: Locomotives

They steamroll over people. They’re angry and hostile and take out their frustrations on others.

How to Approach the Situation: Don’t take it! Tell them how their behavior affects your work, how it makes you feel, and that you need to be treated differently. Be assertive.

Difficult Personality: Perfectionists

Their standards aren’t realistic, and even excellent work that is praised by others can be unacceptable to the perfectionist.

How to Approach the Situation: Don’t take their statements seriously. They’re expressing their own inadequacies, not yours. Try to work with them to set realistic expectations for themselves and others.

Difficult Personality: Resisters

Change causes negativity. Resisters usually don’t openly express their opposition to change. They do it more subtly – saying they think change is good, but then don’t implement change. Extremists may even sabotage if they find a particular change exceptionally threatening.

How to Approach the Situation: Try to gradually involve these people in the change. If they’re part of the transition, their resistance may decrease.

Difficult Personality: Not-My-Jobbers

These people express their negativity by refusing to do any task, no matter how simple, if they decide it isn’t part of their job responsibilities. It’s often their way of getting back at colleagues, managers, or the organization because of their unhappiness with how they perceive they’re treated.

How to Approach the Situation: Find training and development opportunities for the Not-My-Jobbers. When they feel they’re in a dead-end career road, they lose their enthusiasm for work and try to do as little as possible.

Difficult Personality: Rumormongers

They take out their negativity toward work by spreading rumors. Rumormongers sense a loss of control over and rumors help them regain that control.

How to Approach the Situation: Give people in the organization the information and facts they need. Doing so gives them little motivation to spread rumors.

Difficult Personality: Pessimists

They experience the world as an unpleasant place. They’re unhappy with the way things are – no matter what you try to do for them.

How to Approach the Situation: You won’t be able to change their attitude easily. Start by trying to have them adopt specific positive habits to take the place of their existing negative ones.

Difficult Personality: Criticizers

They disagree with anything that’s said. They like to be right, no matter what. They find problems, never opportunities.

How to Approach the Situation: Ask them for examples, evidence or their reasoning for disagreeing. Be persistent and don’t give up.

Difficult Personality: Crybabies

When crybabies don’t get their way, they behave like children frown, withdraw, go off on a tirade or cry.

How to Approach the Situation: Crybabies need a supportive environment and constant encouragement. Also lower their stress and pressure levels.

Difficult Personality: Sacrificers

They come in early and stay late, do whatever you ask them to do. But they’ll complain about their workload and about difficult employees, customers, or bosses. Their negativity is brought out by feeling unappreciated.

How to Approach the Situation: Give regular positive feedback on how much their hard work and contributions are appreciated. Giving recognition in front of their colleagues, teammates, and boss also is helpful.

Difficult Personality: Self-Castigators

They get upset with themselves and become negative. They find fault with their work performance, career progress, socioeconomic status… everything.

How to Approach the Situation: Use strategies that build their self-esteem.

Difficult Personality: Scapegoaters

They shift the blame for their mistakes on others, especially when they’re in a negative mood.

How to Approach the Situation: Give specific examples of how their errors, mistakes or miscalculations were the problem, not any individual.

Difficult Personality: Eggshells

They’re very sensitive, and even the slightest comment, if misconstrued, causes them to crack.

How to Approach the Situation: When giving constructive feedback, give it slowly, without making it personal, and be sure they understand your point before you move on.

Difficult Personality: Micros

They like to focus on the smallest details or mistakes and forget about the big picture

How to Approach the Situation: Have them get into the habit of evaluating the entire project or assignment. Ask them for the main point, the overall goal, the major problems, the main objectives, and so forth.

The Big Picture

We all have highs and lows and may demonstrate some of these behaviors now and then. However, if you or someone you know regularly demonstrates some of these behaviors, you may need to assess the situation and adapt your actions. If the behavior seriously affects your work, talk with your supervisor and ask for input on a solution.

Improving your work relationships can lead to increased job satisfaction, more recognition, and an even greater chance of advancement.

The Road to Financial Health

Financial stress affects everyone. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to ease the confusion and start building your financial strength.

Life is a journey full of twists and turns, and so is the road to financial fitness. As with any trip, it takes planning, calculations and tune-ups along the way.

Before you begin

The first part of any journey is to understand where you are today and then plan for where you want to go. How can we know where we’re headed if we don’t know where we want to be? Financial fitness is attainable, but it takes time, commitment, determination, and making some tough decisions.

The term “financial planning” seems daunting, but it’s merely a road map to help us along the way – a step-by-step process as easy as counting to 5. So what are we waiting for, let’s get started!

First Steps:

Step 1: Define your goals

For some this may be early retirement, vacation, a child’s education or a new home. It may simply be to start a savings account. Each person’s goals will be different and that’s OK.

Step 2: What will it take to achieve those goals?

Each person will have a different answer here – maybe the amount to take that vacation, the amount for a down payment on a new car or the amount to retire at a certain age.

Step 3: What will you have?

Based on your current plan what will you have saved next year for that vacation? What will you have saved in five years for the down payment on that first home?

Step 4: Is there a gap

This is no time to be unrealistic; we have to be brutally honest with ourselves. Are we putting enough away today to get where we want to be tomorrow?

Step 5: What should you do?

Based on the outcome of the first 4 steps, your path may take a turn here. Maybe we realize that we can’t start saving yet because we’re living paycheck to paycheck with credit cards and other debt. This would be the time to closely examine spending, make a family budget and start asking yourself what you can do without.

Financial rules of thumb:

    • Spend less than you make – seems like a no-brainer, but it can be hard to do
    • Track spending in detail – for a minimum of 30 days. This will help determine where things may be getting off track. Build a family budget based on your consistent income. Even seemingly small things add up. Spending $3 a day on coffee or soda at work adds up to $780 a year. That money could be diverted toward a financial goal. Taking a close look at your spending can be quite an eye-opener.
    • Save where you can – find ways to save or exchange goods for less expensive items. Cut down on dining out. Whatever particular leaks you found in step 5 – now is the time to find solutions for them. Cutting back is not the same as doing without. Think of it as moderation. Being thrifty is trendy.
    • Pay off debt – if you have credit card or installment debts, work to pay these off as quickly as possible. The right financial answer may be to work on the bill with the highest interest rate first. However, if you are strapped paycheck to paycheck, focusing on the debt with the lowest balance or highest payment may be the answer for you. This depends on what your personal goal is – freeing up cash monthly or saving money in interest over the long haul. Make a plan and stick to it!
    • Establish an emergency fund – a general rule of thumb is to have 6 months take-home pay in some type of liquid account, available in the event of an emergency. For dual income homes, 3 months may make more sense as generally both earners won’t lose their incomes at the same time. This fund will give you peace of mind and protect you and your credit in the event of a job loss or emergency. Build savings into your budget.
    • Maximize your company benefits and pre-tax accounts – if your employer matches the first 6% of your contribution to your 401(k) plan, at minimum contribute that amount to earn the full match (in this example, 6% of your income). Do the same with any other type of company-funded benefits and pre-tax accounts such as Flexible Spending or Health Savings Accounts. Read the fine print to understand any penalties or restrictions associated with all types of plans and programs.
    • Review insurance needs in detail – take a look at your life, disability, property, and medical insurance. The proper types and amount of coverage are critical if there are others dependent on your income. Health plans with a Health Savings Account (HSA), are a great way to save for medical expenses.
    • Determine the need for retirement planning – outside of your 401(k) you may want to look at setting up an IRA.
    • Monitor progress – and make any needed adjustments along the way.

Depending where you are on the road to financial fitness, the plan may be different. Thinking about your plan for the future and how to manage your money the right way can be overwhelming. People are making changes – Americans are saving more, spending less, and rebalancing expectations about what’s important in life. You can do it, just get going! Start with one piece and go from there. Becoming financially fit can provide peace of mind in all aspects of life, freeing up your attention for friends, family, and hobbies.