Tag: Blog

  • 4 Steps You Can Take to Feel More in Control Now

    June 26, 2020

    Tags: ,

    COVID-19 has upended life as we know it for millions of people around the world. Many of us—including the young and healthy—are seriously contemplating our mortality for the first time.

    As the parent of a toddler, with a baby on the way, I’m definitely in this camp. It’s deeply unsettling to ponder how this virus has cut short so many lives in the span of just a few months.

    I can’t escape the reality that I’m not invincible and never really have been. Whether it’s an accident, a terminal illness or an infectious disease, untimely deaths happen and none of us are assured a long, healthy life.

    That thought paralyzed me before I decided to take a proactive approach to things. The good news is that there are concrete actions you can take today to protect the ones you love and get some peace of mind during these challenging times. Here are four definitely worth doing.

     

    1. Prepare your will. Not even half of Americans have a will, which is a legal document that spells out your wishes for where your assets go and who cares for any minor children in the event you pass away. If you die without a will, your individual state’s laws will decide where your money and belongings go and who takes care of your kids. As if that isn’t bad enough, dying without a will generally delays the process of resolving your estate and can subject it to additional taxes.

    Spare your loved ones from this experience with a will. Many people use a lawyer to draw up a will, especially if they have large or complicated estates. These days, many lawyers can help you via email, phone and teleconference, so don’t let social distancing stop you from getting a will.

    Another option is to create a will online. This is a fast and inexpensive option for anyone on a budget or with uncomplicated needs. A few popular resources include LegalZoomQuicken WillMaker & Trust and Do Your Own Will. (The final option is free!)

     

    2. Create an advanced directive. An advanced directive is another legal document you’ll want to lock down. It explains what kind of medical care you’d want in the event you can’t speak for yourself.

    The most common types of advanced directives are the living will and the durable power of attorney. A living will spells out your health care wishes in the event you’re terminally ill and unable to express your wishes or permanently unconscious. Meanwhile, a durable power of attorney is a document in which you name a trusted person to make health care decisions for you in the event you’re unable to do so.

    An attorney can help you create an advanced directive or you can create one for free online using a form from your state. (Check your state’s website for its individual form.) If you go the latter route, make sure to check your state’s laws about advanced directives. Some require you to sign them in the presence of a witness, while others require them to be notarized. (And yes, you can now get documents notarized online through services like notarize.com.)

     

    3. Look into life insurance. If anyone depends on your earnings or unpaid labor (I’m looking at you, stay-at-home parents and caregivers), it’s absolutely essential to have at least some life insurance in place. From funeral costs to the mortgage to everyday living expenses, life insurance steps in to smooth things over financially if you aren’t in the picture.

    I know the last thing many of us want right now is an added expense. But this is one well worth having—and it’s probably a lot less than you think. A healthy 30-year-old can get a $250,000 20-year level term policy for just $13 a month.

    Any amount of life insurance is better than none at all, so contact an agent today to get a policy that works for your life and budget. (Like lawyers and notaries, many of them can work with you over phone, email and teleconferencing tools!)

     

    4. Consider disability insurance. Illnesses and injuries curtail many people’s careers and lifetime earnings unexpectedly every year. With respect to the current crisis, those hospitalized for COVID-19 often have long roads to recovery as well as lifelong complications. Whether the health challenge leads to short-term or permanent consequences, it’s hard to stay on top of bills when your paycheck stops.

    This is where disability insurance can be a lifesaver. This “insurance for your paycheck” protects your income until you’re able to return to work. Like life insurance, there are policies for every situation and budget. Learn about the three main ways to get disability coverage.

     

    I’m the first to admit that contemplating these realities isn’t a fun way to pass the time. But something far worse is knowing that the people I love the most would be in a bind if the unthinkable happened. Plus, tackling these to-do’s gave me a much-needed sense of control during these unpredictable times—I hope it does the same for you, too.

    By Amanda Austin

    Originally posted on lifehappens.org

  • Mental Health Exercises for a Strong Mind

    June 8, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    When someone says they want to get healthy, you naturally think of physical health. However, we do have the ability to do a mind workout so that we are mentally fit. We’ve collected some exercises to help you build your mental-muscle-strength and, in turn, build a strong and healthy body.

    Anxiety disorders are the highest reported mental health issue in the US with 42.5 million Americans claiming to suffer from this illness. We can only assume that now, due to the state of the world in the middle of a global pandemic, those numbers will be increasing. It’s natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during a crisis. But, rather than camp out in those feelings, it’s a better choice to work out of those feelings.

    Let’s get to work and train our brain to be healthy.

    1. When you feel anxiety or stress growing, take regular breaks from whatever is causing that stress. Go for a walk. Do breathing exercises. Turn up your music and sing and dance. If you like to garden, go outside and get your hands in the dirt!
    2. Make healthy food choices. What you eat has an impact on how you feel. Carbohydrates increase serotonin, which is known to contribute to feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Protein increases alertness and fruits and vegetables feed all the cells of your body and help with regulating your mood.
    3. When you think positively, you act positively. Keep a gratitude journal to help you focus on the things that you appreciate in your life. Practice the art of random acts of kindness. When you help others, it not only benefits the receiver, but also the giver! Speak positively to yourself and to others. Your words carry so much weight—make sure they are filled with the right kind of load.
    4. Limit your exposure to news and social media if you find these are areas that bring you more unease than joy. Consider only watching/reading the news once a day. The same idea goes for checking in on social media since you can so easily go down a Facebook bunny trail that leads to negativity. You can even choose to follow those stories that you know will brighten your thoughts like John Krasinski’s “Some Good News.”
    5. Connect with those who lift you up. We all have that friend whose natural bent is to be negative. This is not who you want to have speaking into you. Instead, seek out those friends that are naturally great encouragers and let them fill your emotional tank. In the same vein, when you need help, speak with trusted authorities like your pastor or counselor or those suggested through your work’s Employee Assistance Program.

    As you bulk up your mind with healthy thoughts, you will find your body follows suit. Mental health requires the same dedication to good habits and choices that physical health does. And, when you make daily decisions to think on those things that are good and noble and uplifting, your strong mental health will carry you through the rough patches of life without letting you down.

  • The Importance of Sleep

    January 29, 2020

    Tags: , , , ,

    Everyone knows that eating healthy, getting exercise, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking leads to a healthy lifestyle. Did you know that sleep is also an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle? With 1/3 of our lifetime being spent sleeping, this part of our life must take importance. Let’s delve into why sleep is important and what you can do to improve this area of your life.

     

    No Snooze, You Lose

    At different stages in our life, we require different amounts of sleep. From birth to 4-years old, toddlers need about 11-14 hours of sleep. They are growing and learning both cognitively and emotionally and this takes lots of energy. To restore that energy that is expended during these active toddler years, they require lots of sleep! School-age children are some of the most active humans on the planet. Being at school from 8-3 everyday really wears their little bodies out. Because of their activity, these children need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night. As they grow into their teen years, kids need 8-10 hours. And, as adults, we need 7-9 solid hours of sleep a night.

     

    Why?

    During our restful time of sleep, our bodies are hard at work restoring, rejuvenating, growing muscle, repairing tissue, and synthesizing hormones. To say the least, our bodies are never at rest. When we are awake and moving, we are busy processing stimuli, converting calories to energy, and growing, to name a few basic functions.  When we sleep, these processes continue but our body also does the intricate work of strengthening our immune system, fighting disease and infection, and processing the day’s emotions through dreams. Scientists say the benefits of good sleep include:

    • Sharper brain
    • Healthier heart
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Weight control
    • Mood boosters
    • Steadier blood sugar

     

    Rhythm Section

    To get the optimized benefits of sleep you have to get your body in the correct circadian rhythm.  According to the National Institutes of Health, “Circadian rhythms direct a wide variety of functions from daily fluctuations in wakefulness to body temperature, metabolism, and the release of hormones.  They control your timing of sleep and cause you to be sleepy at night and your tendency to wake in the morning without an alarm.  Your body’s biological clock, which is based on a roughly 24-hour day, controls most circadian rhythms.  Circadian rhythms synchronize with environmental cues (light, temperature) about the actual time of day, but they continue even in the absence of cues.” Stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and even external lights can interfere with this rhythm and therefore have a negative impact on your overall health.

     

    How?

    To get the best sleep and the right amount of sleep, you need to optimize that circadian rhythm. Here are some tips:

    1. Stick to a consistent schedule of both bedtime AND waketime
    2. Go for a morning walk—getting your body up and moving when it wakes up from overnight sleep helps reset your rhythm.
    3. Limit evening technology
      1. bright lights confuse the brain into believing it’s still daytime
      2. blue lights—specifically in laptops and cellphones—should be turned off within 2 hours of bedtime

     

    Understanding the importance of and the benefits from a good night’s sleep will help you prioritize this task each day. Start doing the basic work of setting a consistent bedtime and build up to turning off that cellphone game early.  You can’t afford to skimp on sleep—your body depends on it!

  • 4 Steps You Can Take to Feel More in Control Now

    June 26, 2020

    Tags: ,

    COVID-19 has upended life as we know it for millions of people around the world. Many of us—including the young and healthy—are seriously contemplating our mortality for the first time.

    As the parent of a toddler, with a baby on the way, I’m definitely in this camp. It’s deeply unsettling to ponder how this virus has cut short so many lives in the span of just a few months.

    I can’t escape the reality that I’m not invincible and never really have been. Whether it’s an accident, a terminal illness or an infectious disease, untimely deaths happen and none of us are assured a long, healthy life.

    That thought paralyzed me before I decided to take a proactive approach to things. The good news is that there are concrete actions you can take today to protect the ones you love and get some peace of mind during these challenging times. Here are four definitely worth doing.

     

    1. Prepare your will. Not even half of Americans have a will, which is a legal document that spells out your wishes for where your assets go and who cares for any minor children in the event you pass away. If you die without a will, your individual state’s laws will decide where your money and belongings go and who takes care of your kids. As if that isn’t bad enough, dying without a will generally delays the process of resolving your estate and can subject it to additional taxes.

    Spare your loved ones from this experience with a will. Many people use a lawyer to draw up a will, especially if they have large or complicated estates. These days, many lawyers can help you via email, phone and teleconference, so don’t let social distancing stop you from getting a will.

    Another option is to create a will online. This is a fast and inexpensive option for anyone on a budget or with uncomplicated needs. A few popular resources include LegalZoomQuicken WillMaker & Trust and Do Your Own Will. (The final option is free!)

     

    2. Create an advanced directive. An advanced directive is another legal document you’ll want to lock down. It explains what kind of medical care you’d want in the event you can’t speak for yourself.

    The most common types of advanced directives are the living will and the durable power of attorney. A living will spells out your health care wishes in the event you’re terminally ill and unable to express your wishes or permanently unconscious. Meanwhile, a durable power of attorney is a document in which you name a trusted person to make health care decisions for you in the event you’re unable to do so.

    An attorney can help you create an advanced directive or you can create one for free online using a form from your state. (Check your state’s website for its individual form.) If you go the latter route, make sure to check your state’s laws about advanced directives. Some require you to sign them in the presence of a witness, while others require them to be notarized. (And yes, you can now get documents notarized online through services like notarize.com.)

     

    3. Look into life insurance. If anyone depends on your earnings or unpaid labor (I’m looking at you, stay-at-home parents and caregivers), it’s absolutely essential to have at least some life insurance in place. From funeral costs to the mortgage to everyday living expenses, life insurance steps in to smooth things over financially if you aren’t in the picture.

    I know the last thing many of us want right now is an added expense. But this is one well worth having—and it’s probably a lot less than you think. A healthy 30-year-old can get a $250,000 20-year level term policy for just $13 a month.

    Any amount of life insurance is better than none at all, so contact an agent today to get a policy that works for your life and budget. (Like lawyers and notaries, many of them can work with you over phone, email and teleconferencing tools!)

     

    4. Consider disability insurance. Illnesses and injuries curtail many people’s careers and lifetime earnings unexpectedly every year. With respect to the current crisis, those hospitalized for COVID-19 often have long roads to recovery as well as lifelong complications. Whether the health challenge leads to short-term or permanent consequences, it’s hard to stay on top of bills when your paycheck stops.

    This is where disability insurance can be a lifesaver. This “insurance for your paycheck” protects your income until you’re able to return to work. Like life insurance, there are policies for every situation and budget. Learn about the three main ways to get disability coverage.

     

    I’m the first to admit that contemplating these realities isn’t a fun way to pass the time. But something far worse is knowing that the people I love the most would be in a bind if the unthinkable happened. Plus, tackling these to-do’s gave me a much-needed sense of control during these unpredictable times—I hope it does the same for you, too.

    By Amanda Austin

    Originally posted on lifehappens.org

  • Mental Health Exercises for a Strong Mind

    June 8, 2020

    Tags: , ,

    When someone says they want to get healthy, you naturally think of physical health. However, we do have the ability to do a mind workout so that we are mentally fit. We’ve collected some exercises to help you build your mental-muscle-strength and, in turn, build a strong and healthy body.

    Anxiety disorders are the highest reported mental health issue in the US with 42.5 million Americans claiming to suffer from this illness. We can only assume that now, due to the state of the world in the middle of a global pandemic, those numbers will be increasing. It’s natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during a crisis. But, rather than camp out in those feelings, it’s a better choice to work out of those feelings.

    Let’s get to work and train our brain to be healthy.

    1. When you feel anxiety or stress growing, take regular breaks from whatever is causing that stress. Go for a walk. Do breathing exercises. Turn up your music and sing and dance. If you like to garden, go outside and get your hands in the dirt!
    2. Make healthy food choices. What you eat has an impact on how you feel. Carbohydrates increase serotonin, which is known to contribute to feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Protein increases alertness and fruits and vegetables feed all the cells of your body and help with regulating your mood.
    3. When you think positively, you act positively. Keep a gratitude journal to help you focus on the things that you appreciate in your life. Practice the art of random acts of kindness. When you help others, it not only benefits the receiver, but also the giver! Speak positively to yourself and to others. Your words carry so much weight—make sure they are filled with the right kind of load.
    4. Limit your exposure to news and social media if you find these are areas that bring you more unease than joy. Consider only watching/reading the news once a day. The same idea goes for checking in on social media since you can so easily go down a Facebook bunny trail that leads to negativity. You can even choose to follow those stories that you know will brighten your thoughts like John Krasinski’s “Some Good News.”
    5. Connect with those who lift you up. We all have that friend whose natural bent is to be negative. This is not who you want to have speaking into you. Instead, seek out those friends that are naturally great encouragers and let them fill your emotional tank. In the same vein, when you need help, speak with trusted authorities like your pastor or counselor or those suggested through your work’s Employee Assistance Program.

    As you bulk up your mind with healthy thoughts, you will find your body follows suit. Mental health requires the same dedication to good habits and choices that physical health does. And, when you make daily decisions to think on those things that are good and noble and uplifting, your strong mental health will carry you through the rough patches of life without letting you down.

  • The Importance of Sleep

    January 29, 2020

    Tags: , , , ,

    Everyone knows that eating healthy, getting exercise, limiting alcohol intake, and not smoking leads to a healthy lifestyle. Did you know that sleep is also an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle? With 1/3 of our lifetime being spent sleeping, this part of our life must take importance. Let’s delve into why sleep is important and what you can do to improve this area of your life.

     

    No Snooze, You Lose

    At different stages in our life, we require different amounts of sleep. From birth to 4-years old, toddlers need about 11-14 hours of sleep. They are growing and learning both cognitively and emotionally and this takes lots of energy. To restore that energy that is expended during these active toddler years, they require lots of sleep! School-age children are some of the most active humans on the planet. Being at school from 8-3 everyday really wears their little bodies out. Because of their activity, these children need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep each night. As they grow into their teen years, kids need 8-10 hours. And, as adults, we need 7-9 solid hours of sleep a night.

     

    Why?

    During our restful time of sleep, our bodies are hard at work restoring, rejuvenating, growing muscle, repairing tissue, and synthesizing hormones. To say the least, our bodies are never at rest. When we are awake and moving, we are busy processing stimuli, converting calories to energy, and growing, to name a few basic functions.  When we sleep, these processes continue but our body also does the intricate work of strengthening our immune system, fighting disease and infection, and processing the day’s emotions through dreams. Scientists say the benefits of good sleep include:

    • Sharper brain
    • Healthier heart
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Weight control
    • Mood boosters
    • Steadier blood sugar

     

    Rhythm Section

    To get the optimized benefits of sleep you have to get your body in the correct circadian rhythm.  According to the National Institutes of Health, “Circadian rhythms direct a wide variety of functions from daily fluctuations in wakefulness to body temperature, metabolism, and the release of hormones.  They control your timing of sleep and cause you to be sleepy at night and your tendency to wake in the morning without an alarm.  Your body’s biological clock, which is based on a roughly 24-hour day, controls most circadian rhythms.  Circadian rhythms synchronize with environmental cues (light, temperature) about the actual time of day, but they continue even in the absence of cues.” Stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and even external lights can interfere with this rhythm and therefore have a negative impact on your overall health.

     

    How?

    To get the best sleep and the right amount of sleep, you need to optimize that circadian rhythm. Here are some tips:

    1. Stick to a consistent schedule of both bedtime AND waketime
    2. Go for a morning walk—getting your body up and moving when it wakes up from overnight sleep helps reset your rhythm.
    3. Limit evening technology
      1. bright lights confuse the brain into believing it’s still daytime
      2. blue lights—specifically in laptops and cellphones—should be turned off within 2 hours of bedtime

     

    Understanding the importance of and the benefits from a good night’s sleep will help you prioritize this task each day. Start doing the basic work of setting a consistent bedtime and build up to turning off that cellphone game early.  You can’t afford to skimp on sleep—your body depends on it!

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