Self-Care for Those That Prefer to Stick Close to Home

If you enjoy spending time alone and prefer to work independently, you’re likely an introvert. Unfortunately, popular media would have you believe that the only way to be healthy is to surround yourself with others. From fitness classes to group-based travel, it’s easy to find self-care opportunities based around interaction. These, however, are not always right for introverts. Here are some things you can do to upkeep your health, no crowd required.

Guest PostBy: Melissa Howard at StopSuicide.info

Know What You Are Putting Into Your Body

There is no way to deny that what you eat has a profound impact on your overall health. The good thing is that eating well is something you don’t need a group of people to do. What you do need, however, is an understanding of food and ways to make healthy eating a habit. And there is no better way to do this than to learn how to prepare your meals ahead of time.

Meal prep starts by identifying long-lasting staples, like oatmeal and rice. You can use oatmeal to pack breakfasts for the road — Foodies Today recommends sweet potato and oatmeal muffins and chocolate overnight oatmeal smoothies. Both of these can be made ahead and enjoyed for days. Rice, which comes in a variety of forms, including Jasmine and long grain, is a likewise long-lasting meal base. Rice and oatmeal may help keep you from overeating.

Your pre-planned meals should also include lean proteins and produce. A bed of rice with shredded chicken, sautéed peppers, onions, and fajita seasoning, for example, is a healthy and delicious lunch that will reheat well in the right container.

Exercise Your Body Every Day

Food is only one aspect of your overall self-care routine. As Time asserts, exercise is just as impactful and can change the way you look and feel, as well as have an effect on mental health. Don’t let yourself get comfortable on the couch for too long; give yourself at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. If you do not want to deal with people, lack self-confidence, or just prefer your own space, there are many exercise programs online

Something else to think about is that you can have fun while working on your abs and agility. If you have a Nintendo Switch, games such as Ring Fit Adventure and Fitness Boxing can keep you moving from the comfort of your living room.

Take Up a New Hobby

Hobbies are not only fun but many, such as drawing, also have mental health benefits. Using the drawing example, putting a pencil to a piece of paper can help you gain a new perspective and may help stave off depression and anxiety. Drawing is also shown to help with your memory. The best part is that with nothing more than a piece of paper or sketchbook and pencil, you can get started today. If you don’t care for visual art, you can take that same paper and pencil and start writing, be it a journal or fiction.

Take Care of Your Home

Are things starting to pile up around your home? Do you often struggle to find the things you need, only to find that they’ve buried under other, less important stuff? If so, then you need to take some time to declutter your home. Not only will it help release any “bad energy” that may have built up in your home as a direct result, but it can help create a sense of peace and calm throughout your property. So, take a hard look around your home, identify areas that need attention, and set to work. You may be shocked at the difference it makes.

How you care for yourself is up to you. However, when your self-care plan doesn’t include crowds, you may need to look for alternative ways to do things like exercise and enjoy your free time. But remember, whether you’re an extrovert, introverted, or something in between, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is to prioritize healthy eating. Once you’ve done that, everything else will fall into place.

Image via Pexels

4 Ways to Relieve Household Stress While Self-Isolating

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have put lots of pressure on parents over the past couple of months, and while you have a bit more freedom to leave your home now, your options for activities are still rather limited. As you try to balance working from home with your kids hanging around and taking care of your other domestic responsibilities, you may struggle with rising tensions in your household. Here’s how to address a few potential sources of tension and create a happier environment within your home.

Guest Post By: Emma Grace Brown Emmagracebrown.com+emma@emmagracebrown.com

Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits

Has your family been neglecting exercise and healthy eating since you all began isolating? Practicing unhealthy habits can make you feel anxious, depressed, and irritable. It’s easier to manage household tensions when everyone is prioritizing their physical and mental health. Plus, focusing on fitness can be a fantastic way to release tension! Develop a solid workout routine, and choose exercises that the whole family can join in on.

It’s also important to clean up your diet. When you’re spending more time working out, it can be hard to find opportunities to cook, so Play Date Fitness recommends using an electric pressure cooker to concoct tasty, nutritious meals with little effort. 

Eliminate Fear

The connection between psychology and physical movement just can’t be ignored. When you feel fearful, it’s because your nervous system is in overdrive, and adrenaline is coursing through your body. Let’s face it – this has been a scary time, and your family may need to be proactive about addressing those fears. You may already know that exercising helps you maintain a more positive attitude, but what about slow, mindful movement? 

You can incorporate both meditation and yoga into your family fitness routines. These practices can help you relieve stress and process uncomfortable emotions. When you’re doing yoga with young children, Yogi Approved suggests doing poses together when possible – for example, you can pick up your toddler and rock them during tree pose! If you want to go further in this journey, you can also check in with therapist and wellness coach Stacey Reuille-Dupont, who offers telehealth services so you can connect from anywhere.

Indulge Your Sense of Adventure

Want to help your whole family become healthier and have fun while you’re doing it? If you’ve been cooped up indoors, it’s time to embrace the warm weather and get some fresh air. Head out the front door to enjoy some wellness-boosting outdoor activities together! After all, exercise and time in nature can perk you up, and everyone in your household probably needs to stretch their legs and blow off some steam. Activities like hiking, biking, running, and even rock climbing are great for people of all ages, and your kids may even discover a new favorite hobby during your outdoor excursions! 

No More Boredom

After spending such a long time isolated with your family, everyone in your household may be feeling a little bored – and you know that when your kids are bored, they’re more likely to get into squabbles! If you suspect that boredom is the cause of rising tensions in your household, it’s time to help your kids find some new hobbies. 

Both kids and adults might enjoy gaming together. If your family wants to get into gaming, you just need to make sure you have the right tools! For instance, if your children are interested in online multiplayer games like Fortnite, you’re going to need a strong connection to the internet that won’t drop while they’re playing. Companies like Verizon can set your household up with fiber optic connections, which allow for smoother gameplay and faster download speeds.

If you feel like everyone in your family has been on edge since the beginning of this pandemic, you can begin taking steps to ease these tensions. By prioritizing your health, making more time for outdoor activities, and leaning into mindfulness, you can embrace your time at home together and take advantage of self-isolation. 

Photo via Pexels

Social Distancing While Parenting and Being a Social Worker

How many of us are feeling the effects of trying to balance our lives while social distancing? In this post a good friend of mine outlines her experience parenting, while working from home, while worrying about the effects of the global pandemic on her children. I think many of us can relate on all sorts of levels – parents or not.

Guest Post By: Megan Murphy, LCSW

I begin writing some scattered thoughts after the third night of tossing and turning and waking up with a sore jaw and neck, from all of the things my brain must be trying to work out at night.  I notice that mornings, I tend to feel strong and hopeful.  I am noticing that afternoons are really hard, and my mind truly wishes it could download or shut down, sleep or reset.

I am familiar with anxiety and depression.  I have dealt with these emotions at many different times in my life, and overall, I have been able to overcome them, or at least survive, cope with, and accept them in my life. 

This has been a very confusing time for my mind, like it is, for so many others.  My career as a Social Worker, who works with many vulnerable populations, including the severely and persistently mentally ill, has given me more strength and hope than I could ever explain in words.  I have seen people survive and thrive in circumstances, I am quite sure I would never survive.  I’ve seen the communities of the homeless, helping one another, and caring for one another.  I’ve seen families doing their best to support their own, with limited resources, sometimes limited intellectual capacities, and very often, with judgment from the outside world.  My career has taught me so much about resilience.  I am so grateful for these clients and to so many people I have worked with along the way, who put their hearts, souls, and brains into this work.  I have no doubt that the clients I work with, have taught me so much more than I could ever teach them.  I THANK them to no end!

It has been heartbreaking not to be able to support these people face to face, to help get them the resources that they need now more than ever.  However, I am grateful for a job that knows that keeping all of us (clients included) healthy in the short term, will only help, not hurt our mission, to help them in the long term.  Or, as a wise man (thanks Dad) told me, “sometimes you have to stay in the fight, to win the fight”. 

Parenting has been a whole different level of anxiety, acceptance, and resilience during this time.  I have two sons, ages 14 and 9.  We are beginning to work on schooling from home.  I have so many worries about this time in life for them.  For my 14-year-old, I worry about this time in his life.  He is supposed to be working on independence, separating himself from his parents and working on finding himself.  Peers are also such a huge part of learning and growing at his age.  It’s so hard to tell him that we don’t have answers about when life may be “normal” again.  It is so hard to say “no” to so many requests.  I am so proud of him.  I can tell he is frustrated and worried.  It always seems that right when it’s needed, he invites his brother into his room to play games with him.  He is an amazing human being.  I worry about my skills to work and teach him from home, while also paying attention to emotional needs.  

For my 9-year-old, I worry about his enthusiastic, open view of the world and an absolute need to connect, move, and be excited about life!  Lately, he has denied every request to go outside on a walk.  At first, I didn’t think much of it, but then I noticed he is anxious about it.  “Is it safe”, “what if I see a friend on a walk”, “Can we talk to each other”, “am I sick”, “are you sick”, “will we all get sick”.  “Are we safe”.  While my husband and I do our best to reassure him, we don’t have the answers.  He seems to feel best when saying, “family first, right mom”?  

While these things worry me, I am reminded of how much gratitude I have.  I do not have to parent without a partner.  We are able to do this as a team and take turns when the other is feeling overwhelmed.  So many do not have this and they are HEROES!  Sometimes, I get frustrated with my own anxieties and worries because I am SO aware of the hard times others have and are experiencing.  My life has been so easy overall.  I have never needed for a thing, and have always had an abundance of love in my life.  I feel guilty and ashamed sometimes that I have so much fear. 

I have parents who give me strength.  My father, a Vietnam marine, has this way of saying just the right things, to keep me focused and strong, during hard times.  My mom, an independent woman, who has been a caretaker of many kinds, keeps me sane with love and constant communication and ideas of ways to keep myself busy.  My brothers are both amazing and show me love and support, and I hope I do the same for them.

I have an extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins, who check-in, send me love, and inspire me.  

I have friends that keep me grounded, strong, and grateful.  Each of them gives me something so special and unique and I cannot imagine life, or this crisis, without them.  We send each other videos, love, and ideas.  Let me tell you, these are amazing women!

The lack of answers is what continues to be the hardest.  I told my friend Jamie the other day, that while I am so aware that I am not alone, I “feel” alone.  She said, “yes, we are trying to accept and process something we have no answers to, and only fear.  We feel alone because we are not allowed to be around others”.  That felt so validating.  

So, for the moment, I plan to give myself grace.  I plan to accept that some moments I will feel strong, and others I may not.  I will do my best to show up for my family, friends, children, husband, and clients, with love, and understanding, that they too, will have good moments and not so good moments.

Upcoming Programs:

Here’s How You Can Sleep Well Even if You Have Back Pain

Getting to sleep is hard for many of us. Let alone trying to get to sleep with pain. Here are some ideas to help you get to sleep and stay asleep if you suffer with back pain.

Guest Post by: Cheryl Conklin of WellnessCentral.info

Back pain is one of the leading causes of sleep issues. You can’t get comfortable, don’t get restful sleep, and have problems that carry over into the morning. It can make you fatigued and lead to other health issues. Whether you wake up with back pain or you’re heading to bed in pain from a long day of working your muscles, there are many things that can help you manage your back pain. These include medicine, physical therapy, and surgery. However, there’s also one surprising way that’s been proven in a study to be of potential benefit.

Apps May Be the Answer

The study was conducted in early 2019 and showed that participants with back pain that used a management app for 12 weeks found more relief than those that didn’t. Does this mean apps are the answer? It couldn’t hurt. With that in mind, here are a few apps to start with to see if they can help with your back pain and related issues. 

Stretching Before Bed

Stretching before bed is one of the best things you can do to release any pent up tension or aches and pains you’re feeling in your back. It will help relax the muscles so you’ll sleep better. With apps like 6 Minute Back Pain Relief, which is a gentle workout program that helps to reduce your back pain or Yoga for Back Pain, which uses yoga poses made specifically to reduce back pain, improve flexibility, and stretch your muscles. 

Relaxation Apps 

One way to reduce your pain is to reduce your tension. That can be achieved by relaxing your mind and body before falling asleep. Just like stretching and yoga are meant to help, so is meditation. With Headspace, you can learn to meditate, live mindfully, get expert advice from a former monk, and enjoy themed sessions, including stress reduction, sleep-enhancing, focus improvement, and anxiety relief.

Diary Apps

Recording how you’re feeling will help you better track your back pain so that you can determine any patterns and share results with your doctor. With CatchMyPain, an intelligent pain diary app that helps you track your pain, you can even connect to similar patients and trade tips. The app also provides a body model that lets you draw where your pain is and label the intensity of your pain. You can also track your happiness, stress, and fatigue, record your medication intake, and much more. It’s the perfect way to help you track what’s happening with your pain. 

iTens Device

TENS devices are made to provide pain relief stimulation to areas that are experiencing pain. TENS devices work by sending tiny electrical signals through your skin, which intercept pain signals and keep them from reaching your brain. They’re used by athletes for pain relief and faster recovery. iTENS is an app-controlled version of this device that can help you get over your back pain. With customizable settings, you can use it on various body parts and pain levels. With the app, you can control these settings and even be able to track your results after each session. iTENS can be used on your ankle, knee, wrist, back, and shoulders. 

One Last Thing

Using apps on your phone overnight (or even your smartwatch) can run the battery down. In addition, some apps require the use of your plan’s data. Running them overnight could eat up your data and lead to overage charges. You can avoid this by looking into unlimited phone service plans, which will give you more data to explore apps that will bring you a better night’s sleep. Either way, giving yourself the tools you need to overcome sleep issues is a good start. 

Although back pain can disrupt your life, there are steps you can take to help alleviate some of that pain. And while you might not be able to eliminate it altogether, you can find ways to give yourself some reprieve to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Image provided by guest author, Cherly Conklin via Pixabay

4 Health Tweaks You Can Easily Introduce to Your Daily Routine

Are you looking at 2020 wondering how you will implement changes to your health goals? Feeling overwhelmed already? This year look to simplify changes by making small tweaks in your current routines and add little increments to your health behaviors for maximum success.

Guest Post By: Jennifer McGregor

Well-intentioned health goals are a dime a dozen. Everyone always has something that they want to achieve, whether it’s losing 20 pounds or running a 5K. For many, reducing stress is also a compelling objective, especially those in high-stress occupations like caregivers. Regardless of what your goals are, know that it takes more than just good intentions to meet them; you need action, too. Thankfully, with strategic tweaks here and there, you, too, can incorporate solid health practices into your daily routine. Here are a few to get you started.

Choose the good.

The fulfillment of any health goal invariably starts with one thing—making good choices. In fact, mindfulness is known to not just improve your physical health, but also your mental well-being, too. 

No doubt, the thing that particularly benefits from this is your diet. The practice of mindful eating means listening to your body’s signals—that is to say, eating when you’re hungry as opposed to bored and knowing when to stop. Not only that, but it also means consciously choosing to consume food that’s healthy and nourishing, cutting back on processed food rich in sodium and sugar, which would be particularly beneficial to caregivers prone to stress and conditions like hypertension. Another way to eat healthier (and less) is to order healthy options from a meal delivery service because with pre-measured ingredients, you can control portion sizes

Beyond just your diet, being mindful means making choices that truly serve you and your body, too. This can be as simple as going to bed an hour earlier to get more quality shut-eye, or even taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Move with intention.

Of course, regular physical activity is a must for just about any health goal. And it’s hard not to see why with the many known benefits of movement. Its physical perks such as weight loss and improved immune and lymphatic systems—to name just a few—are common knowledge, but even more interestingly, movement also enhances brain health, elevates your mood, and reduces stress.

While the idea of movement inevitably brings to mind exercise, there are other ways to go about it, too. This could be anything from stretching to dancing to gardening. Indeed, simply being on your feet will already do wonders to your well-being holistically, so it’s great practice, therefore, to always make it a point to move.

Prioritize relaxation.

As rewarding a vocation as caregiving is, it also leaves you vulnerable to feelings of overwhelm and frustration, making caregiver stress a real problem. This is why it’s doubly important for caregivers to make relaxation and stress management a priority. 

Doubtless, the easiest way to go about this is to introduce relaxation techniques to your routine, such as meditation and deep breathing. It’s also a good idea to make it a point to go on a break and take time to do something you love, like reading or pursuing a hobby. Going on vacation is another way to relax. Even a staycation in your own city will do wonders for your overall well-being. 

Allow indulgence.

In the same vein as taking downtime, you should also give yourself a license to indulge from time to time, as long as you make it worthwhile. For example, partaking in your daily red wine is one indulgence that’s really good for you as red wine is chock full of antioxidants that protect you from a plethora of diseases, as well as anxiety and depression. Hiring a health and lifestyle coach is another, as you could certainly benefit from a customized health plan, plus it helps to have someone hold you accountable.

Suffice it to say, health goals are just ideals when you don’t have concrete steps to follow through on them. Thankfully, being healthier need not be earth-shattering. So start making small changes and see the difference.

Photo Provided by Author: Jennifer McGregor via Upslpash.com. Image URL: https://unsplash.com/photos/VKnjdEesFxw ~ Image Credit: Photo via Unsplash.com