Do you have trouble balancing work and your personal life? If so, you’re not alone. According to Mental Health America (MHA), almost 40% of U.S. adults who are employed full time reported working 50+ hours a week, and 18% work 60+ hours.
Despite how common it is for people to work long hours, having a healthy work-life balance is critical. Working too many hours—especially if it bleeds into your evenings, weekends, and holidays—can cause you to:
- Feel stressed and burnt out
- Strain your relationships with your loved ones
- Neglect your hobbies and self-care activities
All of this, in turn, can negatively impact your physical, mental, emotional, and social health.
How to Achieve a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Creating a healthy work-life balance can sometimes be difficult, but it’s certainly doable. Here are some steps you can take to balance work and your personal life:
- Manage your time. There are various time management techniques—such as Pomodoro timers—that can help increase your productivity, meaning that you’ll get more work accomplished in a shorter amount of time.
- Multitask. If your job allows it, try to get some work done while simultaneously engaging in a self-care activity. For example, you could listen to a seminar while you go on a walk or do some laundry.
- Set boundaries. Decide what times you’ll be starting and stopping work each day and stick to that schedule as best you can. Also be sure to set aside time for vacation days even if you’re not planning an out-of-town trip.
Get Help Balancing Your Work & Personal Life
Work-life balance plays a crucial role in our overall health and happiness, so if you’re struggling in this area, we invite you to contact us and schedule a therapy session. We look forward to helping you take the steps needed to balance work and your personal life.
For most of us, food is not only something that sustains us: it’s something we use to connect with others and celebrate life’s joyous moments. Yet for all of its positives, food can also cause some of our anxiety, particularly when it comes to waste.
The good news is there are many creative solutions being tested by sustainability organizations to find new ways to reduce food waste. These practices are generally called waste-free cooking or zero-waste cooking.
What is Waste-Free Cooking?
The name really does say it all: waste-free cooking means trying to prepare meals and have a little food and packaging waste as possible. This concept relies on the 3 Rs you’ve probably heard of before:
- Reduce – Use less food, cook smaller portions, etc.
- Reuse – Instead of throwing out usable food scraps, reuse them in imaginative ways. You know, like grandma used to.
- Recycle – Get into the habit of composting your food scraps.
Benefits of Waste-Free Cooking
Let’s start with some of the big, obvious benefits of adopting this way of eating and preparing food.
Current estimates suggest nearly 133 billion pounds of food are thrown away each year, just in the United States alone! In some cases, a single person may throw away over 600 pounds of food each year. How many dollars end up in landfills by doing this? When you waste less food, you waste less money.
Waste-free cooking also reduces waste from food packaging and takeout boxes. The EPA reports that nearly a quarter of all trash in landfills is from food-related, single-use plastics and other materials. Waste-free cooking helps protect the environment.
And finally, waste-free cooking can be incredibly fun because it forces you to think in new and creative ways!
It’s easy to get started with waste-free cooking. Here are three important tips:
- Plan well – Meal planning needs to go beyond WHAT you’re going to eat and incorporate HOW you’ll prepare the meal and the ingredients you need (and can leave out).
- Repurpose what you can – Get creative when using those leftovers. Experimenting is a key component in this lifestyle!
- Store foods properly – Most of us mean well when we grocery shop, but food inevitably spoils when it sits too long on counters and shelves. Buy the right storage containers and learn how to store different foods properly to extend shelf life.
Reducing waste when preparing and eating meals is a great way for you to have fun, save money, and lessen your environmental impact.
When you think about it, your brain is a pretty important organ. In fact, it’s like the CEO of your body’s corporation. So it’s important you do all you can to keep it healthy and working optimally.
When it comes to the health of our brain, diet cannot be overlooked. There are certain foods that are chockfull of nutrients our brains need to be healthy, such as antioxidants, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
If you want your brain to be as healthy as possible, then you’ll want to start eating more of the following brain foods:
Avocados are loaded with monosaturated fat, which is a healthy fat that has been shown to reduce rates of cognitive decline and keep blood sugars nice and steady. And thanks to the vitamin K and folate in avocados, your brain will be protected from blood clots (stroke) and memory loss.
2. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate lovers rejoice! Dark chocolate is actually very good for your overall health, especially the health of your brain. Dark chocolate is full of powerful antioxidants called flavonols, which also have anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown cocoa has the ability to increase cerebral blood flow and cerebral blood oxygenation. In addition, it helps lower blood pressure in your brain and heart.
But before you go out and buy a bag full of Snickers, these health benefits just listed come from dark chocolate, not milk chocolate, which is loaded with extra fat and sugar. A good rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate the healthier it is for you! So look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa to reap these brain benefits
There was a time where eggs were vilified, but new science has proven eggs – yolk and all – are not only healthy but an absolute superfood!
Eggs are an excellent source of several nutrients your brain needs, including vitamins B6 and B12, folate, and choline. Most people don’t get enough choline, and choline is responsible for creating acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory.
If you eat more of these 3 foods every week, your brain will thank you!
While most people will experience challenges and hardship in their life, some people experience trauma. We’re beginning to understand trauma better now and have recognized that trauma is actually a physiological process that impacts our psychological and emotional wellbeing. When trauma is suppressed, it often leads to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and even PTSD.
While talk therapy can be effective at treating certain emotional and mental health issues, it can actually cause someone with trauma to re-experience their trauma. And when trauma survivors don’t have the emotional resources yet to process the trauma, talking or focusing on the event(s) of the trauma can send them into a state of confusion and hyper-arousal.
Trauma and the Nervous System
We have begun to understand that trauma exists in our body’s nervous system. When we experience acute or chronic trauma, our nervous system goes into “fight or flight” mode. To treat trauma, we must do so on a physical level by connecting with our bodies and allowing them to process and neutralize those unexpressed defensive fight or flight reactions.
If we do not allow our nervous systems to come back to a calm and neutral state, we are kept in a state of high arousal, and eventually, our nervous system becomes overwhelmed and shuts down. This is often when depression and PTSD symptoms present.
How Somatic Meditation Helps Heal Trauma
Somatic Meditation and Mindfulness help people suffering from the effects of trauma by getting them to become aware of the trauma in their body, without the need to recall the traumatic event(s). Somatic meditation teaches individuals how to release tension from the body, and therefore helps the nervous system release the trapped defensive energy.
If you’ve tried talk therapy and are interested in exploring these body-focused exercises, please get in touch with me. I would be very happy to discuss somatic meditation with you further and answer any questions you may have.
The old saying goes, “Into every life a little rain must fall.” Stress is like rain. A little of it can be a good thing. But too much can cause havoc and devastation.
Our bodies are designed to handle a little bit of acute or sudden stress. But when stress is prolonged or becomes chronic, it can have devastating consequences to our health.
Here are just some of the ways stress can negatively impact your body:
Prolonged stress can lead to respiratory issues such as shortness of breath. Individuals who do not have an underlying respiratory disease may not be very impacted. But for those with pre-existing conditions such as COPD and asthma, stress can dangerously exacerbate the situation.
When we’re stressed we are in fight or flight mode. This causes our heart to beat faster and our blood vessels to dilate. In short-term scenarios, these physical manifestations help get us out of danger.
But for prolonged periods, this can put a lot of stress on our heart and blood vessels, potentially leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Did you know that 80% of your immune system is located in your gut? It’s incredibly important to ensure your gut is healthy!
But chronic stress can wreak havoc on your gut as it changes the beneficial gut bacteria. And a change in this bacteria can negatively impact your mood. And when you’re already feeling stressed, the last thing you need is to also feel depressed.
Both the male and female reproductive systems are influenced by the nervous system. When we are stressed, our sexual hormones can get out of balance and we can lose sexual desire. Men may find it hard to achieve and maintain an erection. Stress can also make it hard to conceive and affect a woman’s menstrual cycle.
As you can see, stress can really impact your physical health in a negative way. While we can’t stop the rain from falling or stress from entering our lives, we can practice healthy stress management. That means eating right, getting enough exercise, and quality sleep each night.
Your immune system is your personal bodyguard, protecting you from a multitude of pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and even cancer cells. It’s a complex system and one that needs to be supported and optimized to do its job properly.
Here are some of the best natural ways you can support your immune system so it can keep you healthy:
Essential oils are concentrated chemicals extracted from plants. They can be sourced from leaves, flowers, and even bark.
Some of the most potent essential oils used to strengthen the immune system are eucalyptus oil – made from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, clove oil – extracted from the dried flower buds of the Syzygium aromaticum tree, and lavender oil – which is made from the flowers of the lavender plant.
Sometimes getting all of the nutrients you need from your food is just not possible. For this reason, we often have to turn to supplements to make sure our immune system gets everything it needs to work optimally.
There are a variety of supplements that can support your immune system, but there are three we recommend to all of our clients on a daily basis: vitamin C, zinc, and vitamin D3.
Similar to essential oils, herbs allow us to gain access to powerful plant compounds that can support our immune system. A few of the herbs that have been found to be most beneficial to the immune system are astragalus – helps support the immune system while helping you destress, black elderberry – a powerful antioxidant, and echinacea – supports a healthy immune response at the onset of an illness.
Did you know that 80% of your immune system is located in your gut? It makes sense that you would want to optimize your gut health to optimize your immune system. For this reason, it is recommended that you eat foods rich in probiotics – those healthy bacteria that keep your gut healthy. Add yogurt, kefir,
and fermented veggies into your diet!
Your immune system does an awful lot for you. Isn’t it time you give it what it needs to be healthy?!
The holidays are right around the corner! And that means many of us will begin losing our minds, patience, and good cheer. Well, can you blame us? The holidays are one of the most stressful times of the year. Between shopping, decorating, and keeping your drunk aunt away from your recently widowed neighbor, it’s enough to pull your hair out!
If you tend to get a little stressed over the holidays, here are some tips to help you stay cool, calm, and collected.
Nothing and no one is perfect. No matter how hard you try to have “the perfect holidays,” it’s simply not going to happen. Accept imperfections, embrace reality, and just focus on connecting with loved ones.
Most of the people you will come in contact with will be stressed out of their minds as well. And some people feel very sad and depressed around the holidays because of loss and other trauma. Since you can’t know what’s in other people’s hearts and minds, and you can’t control other people’s actions, focus on controlling your own and show kindness. You’ll be surprised how you can completely touch another’s heart and change their attitude with just a smile or thoughtful act.
Often, when we feel stressed, our good habits go right out the window! Why eat healthy when you can shove holiday cake, cookies and pie into your mouth? But unhealthy foods, too much alcohol and not enough sleep will only exacerbate the situation. So be sure to treat yourself well and take care of your health during this time.
Speak with Someone
If you are having a hard time dealing with stress, it’s a good idea to talk with someone. This could be a friend, family member, clergy, or therapist. Often, just having someone else hear us and validate our feelings can help relieve stress.
If you’d like to speak to someone, please get in touch with me. I’d love to help you de-stress so you and your loved ones can enjoy the holiday season.
Happy Social Work Month!
As you may or may not know, every year the month of March is celebrated by honoring all social workers nationally for their hard work, dedication, and commitment. According to the National Association of Social Workers, social workers are essential. ”Social workers are essential to the community to improve the well being of every person”. I am a social worker by trade and throughout my career, I have encountered misinformed or miseducated individuals about what a social worker does and oftentimes what a social worker is. Social work is a broad profession and most people who are misinformed or miseducated often associate social workers with “child protection” workers or people who “take children away from their homes.” As practitioners, social workers are trained to help people address personal and systemic barriers to optimal living. Social workers are there for the elderly, the grieving, the families who cannot visit their loved ones in long term care facilities due to COVID 19, the students who are experiencing food insecurity, the homeless population, the large scale government agencies, the school teacher who has kids who are not showing up for virtual schooling, the doctors to help provide discharge planning, the hospice team to help support loved ones grieving the loss of a loved one, the social services agencies who provide clothing to battered women and children, the police department when disputes and phone calls are being made due to allegations of child abuse and neglect, the mental health clinician providing therapeutic support, As you see, the list continues to grow and as the world “stops” to flatten the curve social needs only grow. As the outbreak continues to exacerbate social isolation, unemployment and underemployment, food insecurity, homelessness and housing insecurity, stress, mental illness, and familial changes related to illness and death, social workers are there. The need and demand for social workers continue to increase and with the social work profession being on the rise, it is incredibly important to support and have conversations about the hard work that social workers provide to the community. Social workers are often left out of these conversations and thankfully, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) creates a space for us to come and share and support each other every month of March. This month, it is important to thank a social worker for their hard work and commitment to individuals and families. So, you are probably thinking, how can I thank a social worker?
Maybe start with a simple: Thank you. Oftentimes, we are viewed as individuals who need to just get stuff done to solve certain problems. Usually after the problem or the “fire” is put out, we rarely hear a “thank you.” So, take some time to thank a social worker today. Whether through phone call, text message, social media, written letter, handmade card. Whatever you must do, to form those two words, please share it and thank a social worker that you know. Even send a personal message to those social workers who may no longer be in the field. We are all trying to adjust to this new normal but remember it definitely takes immense grit, determination, and bravery to risk your own health and wellbeing to service others.
Thank you to all the social workers out there providing incredible services to those who are in need. Your work does not go unnoticed and will forever be honored.
-Dejerica Tinsley, LCSW, Owner and Founder of BEcoming ME, LLC