For many of us, 2020 has been one of, if not the most challenging years of our lives. Covid-19 is putting tremendous pressure on us all, especially on parents with children at home. More and more parents are reporting high levels of stress, anxiety, and feelings of being on edge since the pandemic started and this distress has a ripple effect on children, families, and relationships. Being proactive and taking action is critical during times like these to sustain our health and well-being.Continue reading Perseverance in the face of challenge
With so much to think about in our new reality of working from home, one thing that we often fail to consider until it’s too late is the ergonomics of our home work space. Over time poor ergonomics can lead to musculoskeletal issues including carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, back and neck pain as well as headache, fatigue and decreased productivity. By using the simple acronym NEW we can get our ergonomics in check and stay healthy and productive when working from home.Continue reading The ergonomics of working from home
March is National Nutrition Month and along with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics I invite you to focus on developing sound eating and physical activity habits. A healthy diet and regular physical activity are essential to a healthy life and, despite what we may think, small habits done consistently can have a big impact on the quality and quantity of our lives. This year’s theme, “Eat right, bite by bite” highlights the benefits of small action. Bite by bite and step by step we can achieve and maintain optimal health and well-being. Here are some of my top tips for making healthy eating and physical activity the easy choices .
We’re five weeks into the new year and for many of us our aspirations for 2020 have already fallen by the wayside. Life has a way of distracting us from what is most important and if we’re not careful, before we know it, time has slipped away. There is a verse in a Pink Floyd song that resonates with me every time I hear it. “And then one day you find, ten years have gone behind you. No one told you when to run. You missed the starting gun.” Life is short and we only have one chance to live the life we want. The time to act is now but how do we actually get ourselves to take action? How do we “get motivated”?
Here’s the secret about motivation…motivation comes after we start. Yes, the best way to get motivated is to take action. Taking action is not always easy. We put so much pressure on ourselves to do it all and to do it perfectly. We become too focused on the outcome. Let’s forget about the outcome and focus instead on the process. Focusing on the process, especially on just the first step can significantly increase our likelihood of success. Every habit that we have or that we want to have starts with a trigger, one small action that is like the first domino which sets the chain in motion. Once we do that first action, the rest of the steps fall into place with minimal effort. All we have to concern ourselves with then is taking that first step.
March is National Nutrition month so there is no better time to talk about healthy eating and to think about how we might be able to optimize our diet. What we eat plays a significant role in how we feel both mentally and physically and on the quality and quantity of our life. People who consume a diet based on whole foods including plenty of fruits and vegetables are less likely to suffer with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression or with chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
One of the best ways to optimize our diet is to eat plenty of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants, the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colors, protect our cells and body structures from free radical damage. Free radicals are derived in the body during normal metabolic processes and also from environmental exposure to things such as environmental pollutants and industrial chemicals (Lobo, Patil, Phatak and Chandra, 2010). Free radicals act as little scavengers in our body, snatching up electrons from our cells causing cell damage and death which leads to illness and disease. A diet rich in antioxidant-containing fruits and vegetables can reduce and/or prevent free radical damage and keep us looking and feeling our best.
Not only do fruits and vegetables help keep us healthy in mind and body but they also add pizzazz to our meals, are a great way to add variety to our diet, and help to fill us up without adding significant calories, which is great for our waistlines. Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. Check out these tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and, if you’re feeling adventurous, try one of my favorite recipes….roasted root vegetables. I like to use sweet potatoes (Japanese sweet potatoes if you can find them….they are AMAZING), beets (preferably golden beets or candy cane beets as they are more mild than red beets), parsnips, carrots and butternut squash. I will warn you though – you might be tempted to eat the entire pan.
If you have a favorite produce-rich recipe I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Year’s resolutions….we’ve all set them but how many of those resolutions have actually taken hold? We decide that this is going to be the year we get active, lose those last ten pounds, clean out the garage, start saving for retirement, etc. We get fired up thinking about what we will achieve but by Valentine’s Day we’ve long forgotten about those resolutions. Why is it that something that sounds so good and may actually be in our best interest is so quick to fall by the wayside?
Well…it all has to do with habits. Merriam Webster defines a habit as “an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.” A habit is like driving your car on a dirt road in mud season. The more you do it, the deeper the ruts get and the harder it is to pull your car out. Habits are easy. They’re familiar and comfortable. They require no thinking and as the definition states, are often involuntary. The idea that we can change a habit or develop a new habit in only twenty or even sixty days is nonsense. Think about how long you’ve been behaving like you do, driving in that same rut. Those ruts are deep. It will take patience, time and consistent practice to form a new path, a new habit, but there are things we can do to facilitate the process.
According to author James Clear (Clear, 2018) there are five strategies which can dramatically help us change or implement a new habit. 1) don’t try to change everything at once; 2) start small; 3) focus on the process instead of the outcome; 4) pay attention to the environment; 5) remember that small changes can lead to big results. You can hear more from James here. I’d like to add a sixth strategy tp James’s list and that is to connect with your “why”. In her book, “Emotional Agility” (2016), author and Harvard professor, Susan David says that “when you discover and reconnect with the things that really matter to you, your daily decisions will be much easier”. When we have a strong emotional connection to our values it’s much easier to choose the right action.
So, when you’re thinking about what you want to achieve in 2019, think also about who you want to be and how you want to live your life. Define the outcomes you want and the values you want to uphold. Let your values guide your actions. Utilize James’s five strategies to help you get one percent better everyday and you’ll be amazed at where you’ll be one year from now.
Want to learn more? Check out these great resources:
Brewer, J. (2016, February 24). A simple way to bread a bad habit [TED talk]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-moW9jvvMr4.
Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits: An easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
David, S. (2016). Emotional agility: Get unstuck, embrace change and thrive in work and life. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit: Why we do what we do in life and in business. New York, NY: Random House.
Goldsmith, M. (2015). Triggers: Creating behavior that lasts-Becoming the person you want to be. New York, NY: Crown Publishing.
Read the latest issue of GMHEC’s “The Connection” newsletter here.
Read the latest issue of GMHEC’s “The Connection” newsletter here, for information on our upcoming webinar, first ‘go-live’ date, and more!
Read the latest issue of GMHEC’s “The Connection” newsletter here.