Water is essential to our bodies and to our lives. We are made up of about 60% water, and if we do not consume enough water every day, we simply do not function well and are at risk for a number of different health issues.
You can think better and concentrate more, staying focused and alert when you’re well hydrated, but in contrast, being dehydrated can negatively affect your brain, body, and mood. The more well hydrated you are, the better you will perform. The opposite is true as well; the more dehydrated you are, the worse you will feel.
BENEFITS OF STAYING HYDRATED
Water is a detoxifier and helps flush out toxins and waste through sweat and urine. Since you sweat more when you exercise, it makes good sense to drink more water to replace all that water lost through sweat. Water helps regulate body temperature, too, releasing heat from the body as sweat evaporates, so be sure to drink plenty of water in the summer months especially.
Water may also aid in weight loss. In addition to making you feel fuller longer, drinking water also raises your metabolism and – just think – it has zero calories! Substitute unhealthy sodas with water and aim to add more water to your day. When you reach for water instead of soda, you will feel better and have more energy.
Saliva is 98% water and, when dehydrated, saliva production can be affected. Saliva is protective, helps keep the mouth clean and helps prevent tooth decay. When well hydrated, saliva helps keep your lips and mouth moist. Who knew that staying well hydrated can help avoid dry, cracked lips and make our smiles brighter!
Want a softer, smoother, more glowing complexion with a healthy radiance? Water to the rescue! If you want healthier, anti-aging skin, drink more water. It replenishes skin tissues, keeps your skin moisturized and increases elasticity in your skin. Good hydration helps keep your skin plump and reduces signs of pre-mature aging.
Stay hydrated throughout the day and on the go! Take a BPA-free water bottle with you whenever you’re out and about. Be mindfully aware of how you are feeling and how much water you are drinking. Be sure to listen and pay close attention to your body’s needs to stay sufficiently hydrated. If you’re feeling really thirsty, chances are you have waited too long for that refreshing drink. You are already dehydrated and your body is telling you in no uncertain terms that you should be drinking more water.
DANGERS OF BECOMING DEHYDRATED
We depend on water for our very survival. We can survive about three weeks with no food, but can only live three to five days without water. Drinking enough water to stay properly hydrated helps your body fight against sickness, disease and ailments. In contrast, dehydration can lead to headaches and migraines, leaving you feeling lousy. And who wants dehydrated skin that is susceptible to skin disorders and wrinkling?
Dehydration can even lead to inflammation and joint pain. The cartilage in joints and disks of the spine contains about 60% to 80% water, and that water keeps your joints lubricated and helps flush out toxins. When dehydrated, however, those joints have reduced shock-absorbing ability, causing joint pain. Arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout can all benefit from drinking plenty of water to help reduce painful joint friction.
ENJOY REFRESHING FLAVOR-INFUSED WATER
Get refreshed! Rejuvenate your senses by giving your next glass of water a little boost of something natural, like adding some fresh fruit or herbs. What to try in your water to enhance the flavor? Try adding thin slices of cucumber, lemon, lime and orange to a large water jug, mason jar or water bottle. Other delicious choices include berries, watermelon, fresh mint, spearmint or lemon balm. For quicker infusion and extra flavor, gently crush the fruit and herbs just a bit before adding to the water, and be sure to wash the fruit well first.
You don’t have to go to a fancy spa or hotel to enjoy beautifully quenching water – you can make it inexpensively at home!
It’s water time! Sip away. . . Cheers and bottoms up! Here’s to your health!
Forgiving someone, or even ourselves, can be one of the most emotionally challenging obstacles in life. Perhaps because of this truth, there is an art to forgiving. It is all about letting go of past feelings and the dead weight of grudges. Whether you are in a position where you need to forgive yourself, someone else, or even if you have someone who is unforgiving towards you, these words are for you!
THE UNFORGIVENESS TRAP
Why don’t we want to forgive others? This is a rhetorical question we should all ask ourselves at times. Forgiving someone is difficult. It is hard to clothe ourselves with the maturity, wisdom, and strength to find forgiveness after someone took a bat to your personal feelings. The magnitude of the offense and whether it was family or a stranger determines the difficulty of forgiveness.
How does unforgiveness hinder us? It’s called the “unforgiveness trap” for a reason. Having resentment towards someone only kindles the flames of unforgiveness and hatred inside of us! We cannot progress in life or be at our best if we have that burden of unforgiveness strapped at our ankles that keeps us stumbling every time we try to move forward. The more resistant we are about forgiving others, the longer that negative energy sticks around like a pretentious companion. This pretentious companion will keep reminding you of the past and why you shouldn’t forgive the person who hurt you. This dangles in the back of our minds and will throw us off course if we are not careful.
But the only way to unfriend this “pretentious companion” is to find the courage to forgive. Forgiveness is a gateway to personal freedom.
Forgiveness liberates you.Holding a grudge towards someone, or even harboring an unforgiving spirit creates a bondage. Once you choose to forgive your loved one, or your BFF, for their faults, you will find it easier to focus on what matters most: yourself.
Learn to forgive even if people don’t apologize. There are so many people in life who will offend you or hurt you in some way, and not even apologize for it. If they don’t utter a sincere “I’m sorry…” even after you address them, be the bigger person and forgive their offense. It may be sohard to do because it takes so much strength and maturity. But think of how difficult your days will be if you keep that hurt inside of you. The fact that you already forgave them with no apology means you’ve taken the first step towards healing. The only one who has to deal with the issue is the offender.
Forgiveness is an act of love.Having a strong, genuine love for others means forgiving them will be more effortless. Forgiveness stems from love and it’s difficult to stay angry at someone you love so much.
Don’t rejoice when your enemyfalls. Our enemies are also human and have needs just as well as we do. Genuinely loving those who do us wrong helps us forgive faster. We take pleasure in the wrong things when we find joy in anyone’s misfortunes.
WHAT IF PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO FORGIVE YOU?
Forgive them anyway. This may be the hardest step, but it is the most important. Once you genuinely forgive the offender, you will be able to move on in your life even if the other person has a hard time letting go, admitting their wrong or even forgiving you for your part in the conflict.
Love on them in action.Don’t ignore the other person, or bring up the past in a confrontational way. If you’ve already apologized, you have done your part. Continue to be there for them and support them when they need it. It may soften their hearts in due time.
Don’t force them to forgive you. Instead, let their forgiveness come naturally because that is when it is most genuine, no matter how long they take to come around. And they will come aroundespecially when they remember the strong foundation the relationship is built on.
Forgiveness is contagious.When we forgive, it makes others want to forgive because of the liberating feeling that results from it. What can you do today, or even this month, to free yourself from the cell of unforgiveness?
Most every woman has asked herself this question. Why is it important and exactly how is beauty defined? Throughout the evolution of man, attractiveness was originally based on health and strength. Younger women with good skin and symmetrical features, both signs of lack of disease and parasites, were desirable for successful childbearing. Not a very romantic description of attraction!
Throughout history, cultural choices have often defined beauty. Many features considered beautiful in one culture, or during one era, may not be embraced as beautiful in another. The thin, fit body so desired by women in our society today would not have been popular in Renaissance Italy when plumpness and a slightly rounded belly were desirable. Or in Edwardian England when the hourglass figure, often created with a tortuous corset, was all the rage. Thin, flat chested women were thought of as beautiful in the Roaring Twenties and again in the 1960s when the stick thin Twiggy was the top model.
Ideals of beauty are often defined by the desire to appear successful and affluent. Tan skin, for example, was once considered the mark of a field laborer or someone not affluent enough to enjoy the leisure of resting indoors. This turned around after the industrial revolution when laborers moved from the fields to the factories, and the rich began to enjoy outdoor sports such as yachting and tennis. Tan skin became the mark of cultural beauty.
Pale skin is still very much sought after in modern Korea and India where women are encouraged to use skin lightening products, and advertising claims that lighter skinned people are not only more beautiful but happier and more successful.
In the 1970s in America, African American women began to be recognized in the media as ideally beautiful. Changes in the makeup of a society can alter the perception of beauty. Allure magazine did surveys of readers both in 1991 and 2011. The ideal beauty chosen by readers in 1991 was a blue-eyed, light-skinned blond. In the second survey, women of mixed ethnic backgrounds with darker skin tones and blended ethnic facial features were chosen as the most beautiful women in America.
Modern day beauty in America is also associated with lack of body hair and very specific eyebrow shaping. Most women would be surprised to learn that in Ancient Greece, the unibrow was considered beautiful for women and some even drew in center hairs to achieve the look. In Europe today, the obsession with removing body hair is much less extreme.
Often, beauty trends are dictated by commerce, with businesses advertising to women that they need specific products and treatments to achieve beauty. Does anyone really need laser hair removal, skin lightening creams, non-surgical facelifts, and figure-enhancing implants? No, but many people want, and seek out these opportunities in order to achieve attractiveness.
As you can see, the idea of beauty varies from culture to culture. So, how do we define true beauty and how do we judge our own level of attractiveness? For some, this can be a more difficult task than need be. The influence of modern-day marketing aimed at women is powerful. Constant bombardment of photos of idealistically beautiful women, thin and fit, with flawless skin and teeth, can unduly influence someone to believe she does not compare. This can negatively affect self-esteem and often results in eating disorders, excess exercise, and money spent on countless products and procedures.
Beauty is subjective, but one’s outer appearance can be immeasurably enhanced by attitude and health. Outer beauty is influenced by many cultural practices. Inner beauty is a unique possession we each own and is strengthened by self-love and realistic expectations. Emanating a sense of self-love and worth can be very attractive. The unique “flaws” we each possess in our physical appearance can make us attractive in our own way. What a boring world it would be if we all looked like runway models! It is often our little physical flaws, such as that slightly crooked front tooth or that row of sun-kissed freckles across our nose that make us beautiful to those who love us. So, when you ask yourself, “Am I beautiful?” answer “Yes!”
You’ve probably heard that everyone needs eight hours of sleep each night. Actually, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), the amount of sleep we need varies according to age. The NSF recommends:
Toddlers age 1-2: 11 to 14 hours
Preschoolers age 3-5: 10 to 13 hours
Children age 6-13: 9-11 hours
Teenagers: 8 to 10 hours
Adults age 18-64: 7 to 9 hours
Adults age 65 and older: 7 to 8 hours
As you can see, we need less sleep as we get older. As busy adults, however, many of us get far less than the recommended amount of sleep. We “burn the candle at both ends” by staying up too late and getting up too early. In addition, the quality of the sleep we do manage to get can be compromised by the amount of coffee and other caffeine we consume and how much light we are exposed to from, among other things, our screens: cell phones, TVs, and computers.
Sleep is an individual thing. Your work schedule, overall health, and the amount of stress in your life can dramatically impact your sleep needs and sleep habits. Experts say that even 30 minutes less sleep than you need can make you drowsy, grumpy, and unproductive the next day. Thus, regardless of the guidelines listed above, to help determine how much sleep you personally need, consider these questions, adapted from the National Sleep Foundation website (sleepfoundation.org):
*Are you productive and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or do you feel markedly better when you get eight or nine hours of sleep?
*Are you driving drowsy?
*Do you need coffee to make it through the day?
*Is a health problem such as sleep apnea robbing you of sleep?
Quality sleep is essential to overall health. A lifestyle that creates “sleep debt” can have serious consequences. Insufficient sleep can impact your cardiovascular health, predispose you to weight gain and diabetes, and even increase your risk for certain cancers. If you’re not getting enough sleep, weigh these risks against what you are accomplishing during the time you should be sleeping. (You can read more about health and sleep on the Sleep Foundation website under the “Health Impact” tab.)
To sleep longer and better¾starting tonight¾begin to adjust your lifestyle according to these guidelines:
Follow a regular sleep schedule. That is, go to sleep and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening because it might make it harder to sleep at night.
Develop a bedtime routine that lets you wind down before you go to bed. Some people relax by watching television, reading a book, taking a warm bath or listening to soothing music. Find what works for you.
Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and neither too warm or too cool.
Be careful about when and how much you eat in the evening. Consuming a large meal close to bedtime may keep you awake. On the other hand, a light evening snack may help you sleep better.
Avoid caffeine late in the day.
Avoid alcohol in the evening. Even a small amount can make it harder for you to stay asleep.
If you wake up during the night, expose yourself to as little light as possible. Resist the urge to look at your cell phone. When you go to the bathroom, instead of blasting your eyes with a bright overhead light, use a plug-in night light that exposes you to light that is less harsh.
If your mattress, pillow, or blankets are making you uncomfortable, replace them with ones you like better.
Address the home safety issues that could rob you of the peace of mind you need to sleep well. Install smoke alarms outside of your bedrooms. Lock your doors before you go to bed. Remove any rugs you or another family member might trip on if they get out of bed in the night.
If you are not sleeping well due to sleep apnea, pain, restless leg syndrome, or another physical problem, talk with your doctor.
“Forget about the matchy-matchy look. Decorating a room with different furniture, styles, colors, and patterns is fashionable and fresh….but it can also be hard to pull off.” ~ Jen Derose
If you are like me, you have collected furniture and accessories for many years. This is what I find in most all the homes I am invited into. Every once in a while I am out shopping and see a new accessory or piece of furniture and think, “That’s not really my style, but I love it!” Not long ago while out shopping, I spied a lamp that I absolutely loved. Did it match my mostly traditional décor? No, but I loved the lamp! Yes, I bought it and placed it in our great room. Although it is contemporary in style, it goes, and the new style helped to update the great room. Why did it work? The base of the lamp is antique brass like many of the other traditional accents in the room and the lamp complemented instead of looking like it did not belong in the room.
Style At Home’s, Kimberley Seldon, says, “Here’s my own recipe for getting the mix right and creating rooms that feel cohesive instead of crazy. I call it my 80/20 rule, and it works like this: as long as 80% of your interior is unified by the same style, same period or same philosophy, you can deviate with the other 20%. In other words, a fine antique can absolutely work in an ultramodern space.”
A couple of decorating styles that have developed due to a mixing of style is the transitional, a blend of traditional and contemporary and the eclectic style, a blend of many different styles.
Your style may be shabby chic and your spouse wants to play it safe with traditional, or your home is contemporary and you have a family antique piece that you would like to use. Mixing decorating styles may be easier than you think if you keep these tips in mind:
Pick one style to have more presence in your space. The other style can be used as accent furniture or accessories. Remember Kimberley’s 80/20 rule of thumb.
Consider using a modern or abstract piece of art in a more traditional space or a beautiful oil landscape in a modern space.
Use color to update a space. Color can transform the mood and personality of a room. You may have a ‘hand-me-down’ dining table and chairs. Paint the chairs a fresh new color….such as yellow, turquoise, teal, lime green, or orange. Then purchase a couple of yards of an updated fabric and cover the seat cushions. Don’t forget to use that color a few other places in the room….like the art or the accessories….this will tie it all together.
Can opposite styles attract? Yes, they can! Have fun mixing and matching.
A consultation with Ava is chock full of information you can use right away. The result is easy to live with changes that can jump-start your project while stretching your decorating dollars. Sometimes it just takes another set of eyes to see your home in new light, whether you are working with what you have or starting from scratch. Call to schedule an appointment.
Sojourner Truth was a 19thcentury women’s rights activist and abolitionist. Born into slavery, she became the first woman to emerge as an abolitionist speaker. She also followed her calling as a preacher and helped out troops and other people affected by the aftermath of the Civil War.
This is my vocal journal, as I’ve never learned to read or write. Some believe knowing how to do so will drown out the voice of God in my spirit. I am speaking to you all because I am curious to see what I have to say! I have long wanted to share the journey of my life. Here are my most distinctive recollections.
I was born enslaved with the name Isabella around 1797 in Dutch, New York to my mother Elizabeth, “Mau Mau,” and my father James, “Baumfree.” I had many siblings, never got to know most of them because they were sold when I was very young. I grew up under slaveowners who spoke Dutch, so that was the only language I knew for a very long time. Sometimes I was sold to English-speaking slaveowners who would physically punish me for speaking only Dutch and not being able to speak English. After I told my father what happened, he sought out kind Dutch families who would treat me well.
My mother, Mau Mau, told me everything I needed to know about God and prayer. She told me to have a direct relationship with him every day, which became a defining trait of my religion. I tried to allow God to lead every decision I ever made. I would always listen out for His voice. He gave me peace, wisdom, and direction.
When my first slaveowner, Charles, died, my family was broken up and sold. I was only 9 years old. My father was getting real old, so my Mau Mau was freed to care for him until I was sold to another family.
John Dumont was a slaveowner who thought highly of me. I lived under him until a New York law in 1817 would claim my freedom after a 10-year period. I had about 6 children during this time. I grew up believing slavery was the natural order of life. But working for Dumont for long, strenuous years pushed me to make my big escape.
One night, I asked God how He wanted me to escape from slaveholders. How did He want me to claim my freedom? He gently told me to leave this Dumont house before dawn. Dawn gave me just enough light to see before me. So when the time came, I snatched up my youngest daughter, Sophia, and followed where my spirit led me. It led me to an old, dying friend of mine, named Levi Rowe. He told me to go to a Quaker home occupied by Isaac and Maria Van Wagenen. They lovingly took me in. John Dumont ended up finding me sooner than I expected and wanted to take me back, but I refused! Thankfully, Isaac Van Wagenen offered to buy freedom for me and my Sophia.
Meanwhile, my son, Peter, was sold out of state. Against the law! I took the case to court and ended up being the first black woman to win a lawsuit in the U.S.
With my newly established life, somehow my daily conversations with God became less of a focus…and I wondered why?
“VISIONS FROM GOD”
In 1827, I had a vivid premonition that John Dumont was going to find me and my Sophia and take us back. I am not one who moves backward, but always forward. How will I resist Dumont should he find us? At one moment, God gave me a flash of insight straight from Heaven that, “There was no place where God was not.” I realized that God would be with me no matter where I went, so there was no need for worryin’ or fussin.’
I trusted God to give me more visions and He did just that. The Holy Spirit led me to New York where I joined a Methodist church and an African church.
Next month: The second half of my diary, I speak about my preachin,’ my name change, my lectures, and my abolitionist moves.
Have you ever received an email from a favorite brand or found a blog post on a site you love only to feel like you’re falling asleep before you even get halfway through? It’s like the person behind it had no idea who or what their customer wanted and sent you straight to Snoozeville!
That’s because more often than not, businesses fall into the trap of creating content for content’s sake. Content creation shouldn’t just be a check on your to-do list but a genuine way to build connection with your dream customer! While you may have every intention of offering highly valuable content tailored specifically to your awesome customer, you feel like it’s outside your grasp sometimes. Trust me, we all feel like that every now and then, but there are a few surefire ways to get you on track and creating content that your audience actually wants to read!
#1 Think About Your Wheelhouse
As a business owner, everything you offer as a brand should be cohesive to your overall vision and mission. After all, your brand is what people truly know you for! You want to be intentional and have purpose behind everything you say or share with your audience. If you are a women’s beauty brand with a blog post on your website about the best travel spots for families or favorite dessert recipes, it may be confusing to your customer. When you sit down to brainstorm content ideas, hone in on who you are as a brand and the value you can offer the audience. What kinds of things are you an expert on? What problems or challenges can you help your customer with? Is there a special promotion or giveaway your customer would be excited to see? Spend time producing content your customer can’t get enough of!
#2 Look To Your Competition
Do you know the age-old saying, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”? While I certainly hope your competition isn’t your enemy, keeping them close as a reference is always a good idea. You want to stand out from the crowd but knowing what a similar brand is up to and how they are gearing their content towards their audience is very helpful. Are they offering blog posts or podcast episodes every week? What are the kinds of topics they offer? Do you notice a good amount of customer engagement on these content types or not? Taking a close look at what is working and what isn’t working for them can help you find validation in your own content strategy for your brand. Never let what a competitor is doing be the “end all, be all” of your own planning, but allow it to give you a good guideline to reference.
#3 Ask the People What They Want
There is this pressure around every business nowadays to be a content creator and come up with new and unique sources of content to put out there for the consumption of their customers. So why not ask your customers what they really want to see? Send out an email to your customer email list posing the question, “What kind of content would you like to see?” You can create a free online survey asking people to rank types of content or topics to help you get a clear idea of where your time is best spent. There is nothing wrong with going to the source and leaning in on your prime audience. Get out there and find out what your customers are craving from you.
#4 Schedule a Brainstorming Session
When you are working on a business there typically never feels like there is enough time in a day! This is one of the biggest reasons brands have a hard time creating consistent content or don’t get started in the first place. Having a content plan can seem like a bear to tackle, but I promise it can be as easy as sitting down at your computer for a fifteen-minute brainstorming session! A great way to make this happen is to add a recurring calendar reminder each month during a time of day you are most likely to have some time to spare. This becomes your time to get all of your ideas in one place. Think about possible collaborations with other brands, add links to articles you’d like to share, create a topics list or content types you’re interested in rolling out, and have fun with it. This brainstorm time isn’t meant to be your whole content plan but will keep your creative juices flowing and your mindset on track to work on your content for the month.
BY AL SEYMOUR, CHFC®, CLU®, CRPC®, CASL®, AEP®, CAP®
In the investment world, the term “Three-Legged Stool” is often used when referring to three components of retirement income: pensions, Social Security and personal savings. What I found is that the term is often used in many different industries to get across a variety of important concepts or relationships. One that we will focus on today is the “Tax-Efficient” Three-Legged Stool.
The “Tax-Efficient” strategy incorporates having retirement assets invested in taxable, tax-deferred and tax-free investments.
Taxable investments (or after tax) are outside of annuities, IRAs, 401ks, 403bs and other qualified vehicles, and are taxed potentially at lower rates.
Tax-deferred assets are IRAs, qualified plans and annuities. This money gets tax-deferred treatment until withdrawn for income. When withdrawn it’s taxed at personal income tax rates.
Tax-free are Roth IRAs, Roth 401ks, and municipal bonds. If IRS rules are followed appropriately, they will indeed provide tax-free income.
We often hear that “two things in life are certain: death and taxes.” Many in retirement find it frustrating that after years of saving and growing money in their IRA, when they spend it, they are taxed more than they anticipated. Investors quickly forget that these dollars were invested on a pre-tax basis and allowed to grow tax-deferred. No taxes have been paid on the money. My clients have heard me compare the IRS to the old “Fram” oil filter commercial phrase, “You can pay me now, or pay me later.” Quite frankly many of us would rather not pay them at all, but that would not be wise.
The problem for savers is that if you have too much of your retirement saved in pre-tax IRAs and 401ks, you will pay tax on every dollar you take out in retirement. Having more than one “leg” to your stool can help you manage taxes better. If you have Roth money or after-tax money saved, you can access that money without creating a 1099 for the withdrawal. If you have an emergency, do you want to have to pay taxes on the money you need to take out? If tax rates are high, would it not make more sense to withdraw from a tax-free account? Conversely, when tax rates are low, take more from IRAs and 401ks because you will net more on an after-tax basis during low tax rate periods.
You can see why a discussion of how your investments are allocated based on your risk tolerance and goals is important, but don’t forget about taxation of those same investments before and after retirement. It is wise to work with both your tax advisor and financial professional. The amounts needed in each leg of the stool will be different for each individual. Careful planning could help you find the right balance and ultimately keep more money in your pocket.
So many diets, work out programs, creams, serums and beauty procedures! Makes one’s head swim. Sure, you want to be healthy, fit and attractive, but how to wade through all the options available today? Well, you may be surprised to know that the key to health and attractiveness lies within you, not in a specific diet, product or exercise program.
Yes, do find the exercise program, diet, and beauty products that fit your lifestyle and budget. A little research can help you make informed choices and understand the benefits of, and realistic results to expect from, workout programs and products. However, here are three basic concepts to employ toward your health and attractiveness that you already possess.
Once you have found the right exercise program for yourself, whether it be walking, jogging, gym workouts, yoga, Pilates, or a specific proprietary program, the only way to make it effective is to be consistent in its application. This is where self-discipline and a bit of planning are all important. Create an easy schedule to follow and stick with it. Results are accumulative for any exercise program, so for maintaining health, especially as you age, it is up to you to make it happen. Make the commitment to yourself!
The same is true concerning your diet. Whether you are maintaining a healthy weight or are shopping for a weight loss plan, once you are on your way, be consistent. Regardless of which eating plan you choose to live with, remember that fresh and natural is always best. Keep packaged foods to a minimum and make a habit of reading food labels to understand what you are eating and how it may affect your health. Eating fresh, natural foods delivers the nutrition your body needs while avoiding excess chemicals and preservatives your body cannot process.
As we have established that consistency in a healthy lifestyle is key, remember that balance is critical as well to maintain that consistency without burnout. Whether you cook or eat out, make wise food choices. Feel empowered to ask questions of restaurant wait staff regarding food preparation, and know that in most cases you can order combinations of foods that are not listed together on a menu to suit your diet. If you do indulge once in a while, don’t criticize yourself too harshly. A bit of indulgence can be satisfying, especially in a shared social setting. Just know that you will return to your healthy eating lifestyle. The same is true if you miss exercising occasionally, or suspend it during the winter holidays. Just remember that getting back into the routine will take extra disincline and planning.
You may be familiar with the debate of whether attitude controls behavior or behavior drives attitude. You will find that a purposeful change in behavior, even a small one, can be inspiring toward a positive self-attitude. If you are unhappy with your health, weight, or attractiveness, small changes in behavior, such as starting an easy exercise program, or changing a few things in your eating habits, can be encouraging. Once encouraged, you will find yourself motivated to do more, to dig a bit deeper for the self-discipline needed to develop consistency and balance in your quest for health. Having a judgment-free attitude toward yourself is important for developing a positive self-image. We all tend to be our own worst critics, but go easy on yourself. A positive self-image, an acceptance of yourself as an attractive, valued person, will result in a positive energy that will emanate health and beauty, and attract others to you.
So, consistency, balance, and attitude, mixed with informative lifestyle choices, are your keys to health and beauty. The choice is yours!
Despite the advancement of women’s mental health awareness and access to resources across demographics, there continues to be a cultural and social stigma around counseling and therapy as a whole. In a time where more and more women are coming forward with their experiences of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, sharing their stories of postpartum depression, opening up and allowing their hardships to come to the surface on social media platforms or within their circles of trust, there is still so much change needed around acceptance and understanding.
As the world continues to shift, it’s important to address the stigma that surrounds mental health resources while normalizing and prioritizing the act of taking care of one’s self. Regardless of upbringing, country or culture, the ideas behind seeking help, seem to carry with them a set of lies filled with judgment and shame that have been whispered into the ears of generations.
Lie #1 – Therapy Is a Dirty Word
Two women run into one another at a local coffee house. The first says she just came from the dentist while the second looks around, hushes her voice and whispers she came from therapy. As you can tell, that story is actually dramatized – the second woman most likely wouldn’t have shared she’d been at therapy at all. Choosing to take care of your physical health and mental health should be on level playing fields, and yet, we are still fighting to erase the stigma around therapy. Going to a dentist to make sure your teeth and gums are cared for has no greater value when compared to going to a therapist to make sure your mind is clear and healthy. Finding a counselor that feels right, attending the sessions, putting the work in – all of it is something to be proud of as an advocate for your own health.
Lie #2 – Talking With a Stranger Won’t Do Anything
Many of us are blessed to have great relationships in our life. Seeking help from a professional outside of friends and family has no bearing on a person’s relationships. Those special people in your life are incredible and may be great listeners, but at the end of the day, they offer a different type of support than a therapist can. Sahaj Kohli, Senior Editor of the Huffington Postexplains it like this: “Friendships are two-way streets, which can cause a very biased view of experiences and circumstances; therapy is a one-sided relationship with a professional who has the skills and expertise to guide and help you through your struggles and needs.” So much can be accomplished and understood when you have that clarity and support from someone outside of your personal life.
Lie #3 – You’re Wasting Your Money on a Shrink
Warren Buffet once said, “The best investment you can make is in yourself,” and he wasn’t wrong. Therapy, along with any other form of self-care or wellness effort is never a waste of money – it’s an investment. Making the decision to invest time and/or money for personal development can come in many different forms. Some people may invest in a piano teacher or a personal trainer to help them meet their goals and improve themselves. Finding a therapist that truly addresses the challenges you are having while making you feel heard and offering resources to help you grow is a priceless investment.
Lie #4 – Only Individuals Who Have Experienced Severe Trauma Need Counseling
There are still so many misconceptions about the reasons why someone would seek a therapist, one of which is that the patient must have experienced severe trauma. This can also be popularized by pop culture in things like movie and television roles. The reality is that seeing a counselor can benefit a variety of different kinds of people with a plethora of experiences. While trauma can be a factor for women to seek out mental health services, people often seek help when struggling with anxiety, divorce, depression, health challenges, mental illness, stress from work, family or relationship issues, and many other reasons. The important thing to remember here is that everyone is facing a battle of their own and therapy may be one way to help them face it.
Lie #5 – Asking for Help Shows Weakness
It’s OK to ask for help. In fact, it’s more than OK. Just look at the human race and you’ll know that we simply weren’t meant to go through life alone. There have been numerous studies showing the hard truth that women, far more than men, have a difficult time asking for help, even when needed. Self-care is not a selfish act, but a truly generous one. When you put yourself first and ensure you receive the help you need to show up your most powerfully, that’s the most generous thing you can do for your loved ones. It’s not until this is understood and accepted more commonly that the stigma filled walls that still surround these ideas can be lowered.
If you or someone you know is looking for mental health resources or wants to learn more about breaking the stigma around mental health, please check out the National Alliance of Mental Illness at nami.org.