Tag Archives: music

Family Fun Month

Family Fun Month

It’s Family Fun Month, and in honor of it, we’re helping you make exercise fun so you can get moving with your whole family.

Go for pre- or post-dinner walks as a family. They’ll help with your digestion, and walks are the perfect time to explore your neighborhood.

Dinner Walks

 

Crank a record or a playlist, move the furniture, and have a dance party. Music can help cognitive development. You’ll get moving, and you can hand down your favorites.

Make a game out of household chores to improve imagination and get active. Put on capes and have your kids save their toys from the slimy pit of the rug by putting them away.

Clean-Up Made Fun

 

Have a weekly sports night. Go to your kid’s baseball game, play tag or catch in the backyard, or make or buy an exercise deck of cards.

A New Kind of Sports Night

 

Walk or run for charity. Teach your kids the value of helping others and about good causes, and meet people while working out.

Moving for a Good Cause

 

Put kids to work in the yard. Tell them they can only jump in the leaf pile if they help rake and bag them too.

Yard Work Made Fun

 

Garden together! Kids already love playing in the dirt, so have them help you plant a garden and learn about healthy fruits and veggies.

Learning Through Gardening

Fun Summer Activities, Like Make Believe

Fun Summer Activities

Summer means as parents, you might be trying to fill your kids’ days with something more substantial than TV. Give these fun summer activities a try.

Get the whole family moving and take your dog to a park. Just check the pavement first. If it’s too hot to keep your hand on for 7 seconds, it’s too hot for your pup.

Struggle GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

Do you need a moment to breathe? Try these kid-friendly yoga moves and do it together.

Yoga for All Ages

 

Hit the road for a classic summer road trip, just make sure your kids’ car seats are in safely. Road trips are a great time to introduce your kids to new music or audiobooks and see new places.

Summer Road Trip

 

Make learning or getting active fun for your kids. Do they hate reading? Give graphic novels or comics a try. Do they love video games? Try these active Wii games.

Get Active with Video Games

 

Museums, aquariums, and zoos are a great way to make learning fun, and hands-on children’s museums are more available than ever. Find one now.

Learning Made Fun

 

Never underestimate the power of make-believe and dress-up, which let your kids explore complex subjects and build creativity.

Make nighttime summer memories that will last a lifetime with stargazing. Keep an eye out for special events like meteor showers or learn some constellations (there are some handy apps for that), grab some blankets and hot cocoa, and head to the country.

Stargazing Adventure

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Stop the Tossing and Turning

My Healthy Journey: Finding Time for Sleep

It’s been a busy year for my team at Health Alliance, so I hope you’ve been enjoying Nicole’s Chasing Health series while I’ve been too busy to post!

When life gets busy and stress takes over, the first thing that always goes for me is sleep. I’ve never been very good at getting a lot of it, even though it’s one of my favorite things in the world, especially when stress sets in.

Unfortunately, that’s not doing my health any favors:

The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation
Image via Mind Body Green

And since stress and being too busy already make some of these things worse, like my mood and healthy eating flying out the window, not getting enough sleep on top of all that is not good.

Not to mention that it’s definitely not helping my work:

What Happens When Your Brain Doesn't Sleep?
Image via Science.Mic

The moral is clearly that sometimes, you have to make taking care of yourself a priority, which is unfortunately easier said than done.

Rally, our online wellness tool, can help by offering missions that help you get 7 to 8 hours of sleep, stick to a bedtime, start a bedtime ritual, and sleep better.

As for me, what can I do to get better sleep?

I’m taking notes from this video and this handy list of 27 Easy Ways to Sleep Better Tonight from Greatist.

  • Start a bedtime routine. I used to have one, but that’s all but disappeared the last 6 months. I need to start again, and I’m going to try adding drinking something warm (and decaffeinated) to that schedule.
  • Listen to soothing music. Normally, I leave something playing on Netflix as I fall asleep, but soothing music or a sound machine, without the light, would be a much better idea. Maybe I can make use of Adele’s new album or apps like Rain, Rain, which makes thunderstorm noises.
  • Cut back on electronics. This and making my bed a work-free zone are nearly impossible for me, but I do need to work on cutting back. Setting a curfew when I set down my phone or laptop, like at least a half hour before bed, could really help.
  • Make your bed cozy. I mentioned this in my resolutions for this year, but I’ve just gotten around to digging out my cozy stuff for this winter.

A Cozy Bed

  • Make up for lost sleep. Adding an extra hour when I didn’t get enough sleep the night before could help me with my sleep debt.
  • Don’t toss and turn. I do this a lot, and if I can’t fall asleep for more than 20 minutes, I should try getting up and doing something relaxing (NOT work), like knitting or reading.

One thing I can tell you I won’t be trying off this list? Kicking my pet out of my bed.

While I know this must be a problem for some people, I don’t think it’s a problem for me. And I’m not alone. A new study finds that 41% of people think having their pet in the room helps them sleep better.

I know that I would worry about her if she wasn’t in my room. Plus, cuddling her is about the most relaxing activity in my life. In fact, that’s frequently how I fall asleep now. I mean, how can you resist that?

Sleepy Tootsie

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Organzing Against Stress

Chasing Health: Finding Out You’re Far from Perfect

Having gone through grad school while working in a Division I college athletics department, I thought I was a pro at dealing with stress.

Oh, you need game recaps, live scoring, social media coverage, and postgame interviews for four sporting events tonight? Cool, I’m on it. I’ll pencil in my critical analysis paper for my 20-page reading assignment for about 4 o’clock tomorrow morning, right after I finish my 5-page response to my other 20-page reading assignment.

That was once pretty much my life. And with a little Mountain Dew here and there (and more than a few post-midnight candy binges), I made it work and even enjoyed it from time to time. I mean, I was doing my dream job. It just happened to be at an extremely busy and stressful point in my life.

To understand how I deal with stress, you have to know a little bit about how I deal with anything. I’m not exactly laid back, and I’ve probably never done anything casually or halfway in my entire life. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person. You know, go big or go home.

Growing up, I never wanted to be any teacher’s second-favorite. I was the annoying teacher’s pet, cares-way-too-much-about-everything type. Any error on any assignment bothered me way longer than it should have, and a minus sign at the end of a letter grade on a report card caused physical pain.

I participated in nearly every high school extracurricular activity, from cheerleading and dance to the ecology team and Student Council. (I stayed away from competitive sports, though. Per my all-or-nothing attitude, if I wasn’t good at something, “go big or go home” meant go home.)

I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I think too much, worry too much, and let other people’s opinions get to me. Looking back now and knowing how I still am, I realize I don’t actually deal well with stress at all. And that busy grad-school schedule I stuck to wasn’t actually impressive. It was just busy and lacked the portion of life that’s meant for sleeping.

Although perfectionism sometimes leads to positive results, like good report cards, accuracy at work, and being everyone’s favorite group project member, it’s not as pleasant as it sounds. Nobody is perfect, so no matter what, perfectionists fall short of their own impossible expectations. Believe me. It happens to me nearly every day.

I can turn something that’s supposed to be fun and innocent, like baking sugar cookies, creating a Halloween costume, or choosing a new series to watch on Netflix, into a needlessly dramatic situation.

I’m a great example of how NOT to handle stress. Here are a few tips I’ve learned (but don’t always use) along the way.

  • Don’t stay up all night for work. I was a champ at pulling all-nighters during my college years, but now, not so much. And even if you can do it, it’s not exactly good for you.
  • Don’t load up on caffeine (especially if caffeinated drinks are normally not your thing). A few nights of extreme restlessness and extra anxiety were enough for me to stop my caffeine-bingeing in its tracks.
  • Don’t skip lunch to later eat your weight in candy corn. This is always a bad idea. Don’t skip lunch for any reason (unless you’re too sick to eat or something), and never eat your weight in anything.
  • Don’t cut back on exercise. Working out is not only good for your physical health but also your mental health, especially when dealing with stress.
  • Don’t focus on the possibility of failure, which in addition to strokes and snakes, is one of my biggest fears. Thinking too much about failure only slows down your success.
  • Don’t do it all alone. Some perfectionists, including me, are pretty good at keeping up their calm appearances on the outside. Don’t try to handle all your stress alone, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. (If you’re a perfectionist, asking for help is one of the hardest things to do.)

Perfectionism isn’t healthy. On top of the bad eating, sleeping, and exercise habits, it can come with loads of anxiety, and it’s probably not good for my blood pressure or migraine-prone head, either. My late nights fueled by soda are never my most productive nights anyway (although they led to some dramatic reflection papers in college).

Here are some ways I deal with stress that actually work for me.

  • Taking outdoor walks (I recommend literally stopping to smell the roses and glancing at the beautiful fall trees. I did both this week. That’s about as close as I get to living in the moment.)
  • Going to PiYo classes (a Pilates-yoga combo)
  • Dancing in the kitchen, living room, bathroom, parking lots, anywhere really (except during important meetings and such)
  • Cleaning my apartment (It helps me feel an instant sense of accomplishment.)
  • Visiting the holiday aisles of my favorite craft stores (If thinking about the holidays stresses you out even more, I wouldn’t recommend this one. Just go to your version of a happy place.)
  • Listening to my favorite jams (For me, this consists of a lot of ‘90s boyband stuff, Broadway hits, and Taylor Swift. Don’t judge.)

I’m not saying you shouldn’t try your hardest or take pride in your work. I’m just encouraging you to try to put everything into perspective, realize you can ask for help, and know that sometimes, things won’t be perfect.

Take this blog post for instance. In some not-so-surprising twist, I’ve toyed around with it off and on for nearly a week. I’m sure I could pull it apart more, but I think there is sometimes a point when good enough is good enough. (Thank goodness I’m usually on deadline.) And in the case of this perfectionist’s blog post, I think I’m there.

Try living in the moment (responsibly) rather than stressing out about everything. I’ve never really done it, but I’ve heard good things.

Fighting for Fitness with Exercise

My Healthy Journey: Time to Sweat

I’ve changed my diet, organized my life, and made healthier choices, so the last and biggest thing on the list is exercise.

I don’t like to exercise, as I think a lot of us don’t. I’m competitive, so I liked playing sports as a kid, but as an adult, exercising by myself is boring and hard work. If I had a gym membership and could read on a treadmill, it might be different. But as it is, it’s hard to make myself do it.

But if I can (for the most part) give up candy, completely abandon soda, and stop drinking coffee for a month, I can handle anything!

I started by doing a muscle-strengthening yoga routine every day, which was a great way to start for me. It wasn’t too intense, it was calming, and it really helped me regain some flexibility and balance I’d lost over the years.

Now, I’ve been doing P90X. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but it used to have infomercials on TV, which automatically makes me suspicious. But I actually know a number of people who have done it, and my goal is less to get a killer six-pack and more to get in better shape, so I don’t really need it to live up to all its TV promises.

I borrowed the DVDs from a friend, so I didn’t spend all of the money they’re talking about. I’m also not following all of their meal plans or the exact exercise plan. Each day you’re supposed to do a different workout for a different part of your body, and they’re each about an hour and a half long with warmups and cool downs.

I usually can’t make it through the whole thing yet; they’re really difficult! I also do them more like every other day because I’m so sore the day after. They make you pour sweat, and they make you want to lie on the ground in your own sweat puddle to catch your breath.

But I can already see some improvements! And that’s really satisfying. Am I out running yet? No (it’s been so rainy!). But I am getting cardio and strengthening done, in my own bedroom no less.

Plus, I’ve found some new interests by doing them. For instance, there’s a kickboxing workout that I love, so maybe in the future, I might try kickboxing classes!

Do I think I’ll stick with this level of workout forever? Definitely no! Eventually, I’d like to mix things like this up with other activities, like yoga, runs, and more simple workouts. Once it’s a habit, it will really be more about doing something every day.

It’s all about finding the things that will keep you interested, engaged, and MOVING.

There are so many reasons (and studies on) why you should  exercise. Mayo Clinic breaks it down perfectly: Exercise controls weight, fights health conditions and diseases, improves your mood, boosts your energy, and helps you sleep.

And Rally, our wellness tool, knows how important it is, too. It has tons of great missions to get you moving, like exercise 30 minutes every day, work up a sweat 3x a week, swim 30 minutes, and work your core, as well as weightlifting and walking missions.

So to help you get on a great fitness track that will entertain you and doesn’t require an expensive package, I’ve rounded up some activities for you to try for some of these missions.

Exercise 30 Minutes Every Day

43 Workouts That Allow You to Watch An Ungodly Amount of Television
100 No-Equipment Workouts

Work Up a Sweat 3x a Week

PopSugar Workout Music
Top 100 Running Songs

Run 30 Minutes

7 Easy Ways to Become a Runner
Beginner’s Running Guide
3 Methods to Run Faster

Swim 30 Minutes

The Ultimate Pool Workout
6 Tips to Improve Your Swimming Right Now
Make A Splash Infographic

Swimming's Benefits Infographic
Image via MyMedicalForum

Work Your Core

10-Minute Core-Blasting Pilates Workout

Quick Workout for a Powerful Core
Image via Buzzfeed’s 9 Quick Total Body Workouts

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Brain Awareness and Communication

Brain Awareness Week

It was Brain Awareness Week this week which is sponsored by the Society for Neuroscience to teach students all about the amazing power of the brain. We will be giving you interesting info about your brain each day this week.

First up is a TED talk all about how one team is mapping how your brain works.

Mapping Your Brain

 

Ever wondered why that song is stuck in your head? It’s called an earworm! Learn more about this interesting brain phenomenon.

Dancing Earworms

 

When you hit your thumb, that’s where you think the pain is. But actually, it’s in your brain. Listen to this NPR story about how pain is really in your head.

Hammer and Thumb

 

Smell has a huge impact on your life. It’s even the number one sense that triggers memories. But how does it really work? It’s all about your brain.

Homemade Smell

 

The power of expectations makes the placebo effect possible. Learn more about this power of your brain.

The Power of Placebo

 

How does your brain use chemicals to communicate? Scientists have unlocked the process of neurotransmitters.

What actually happens to you on a sugar rush? This podcast tells you all about your brain on sugar.

Your Brain on Sugar

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Getting Sleep with Diabetes

Getting Enough Sleep with Diabetes

The Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep

Over the last decade, the number of hours Americans sleep has fallen fast. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 72% of people sleep 7 hours or less, up 10% from 2001, which can have serious health effects. And getting enough sleep with diabetes is even more important.

“The public is less aware of the impact of insufficient amounts of sleep,” said Dr. Megan Ruiter, lead author of the National Sleep Foundation’s report. “Sleep is important—the body is stressed when it doesn’t get the right amount.”

Not only does sleep affect your body’s stress level, it also affects your blood glucose levels. A 2006 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found people who say they sleep poorly have higher A1cs.

Studies confirm sleep-deprived bodies make an average of 32% less insulin after a meal, leading to higher blood glucose.

Tips for Getting Sleep with Diabetes

Here are some helpful tips for a good night’s rest from Diabetes Forecast.

Set a schedule.

Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day. This can help your body establish a healthy sleep/wake cycle.

Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol.

These substances can disrupt sleep. It’s best to avoid them before bed.

Get in the mood.

A bedtime routine can help you shift from being awake to feeling sleepy. Take a bath or listen to peaceful music just before you turn the lights out.

Exercise earlier in the day.

Active people sleep better. Do your exercise in the morning or right after work for the best results.

Prep your bedroom.

Make sure it’s dark, quiet, relaxing, and at a cool (yet comfortable) temperature. Turn off (or silence) cell phones, TVs, and computers.

Don’t go to bed on a full or empty tank.

Eating a big meal just before bed or lying down with a growling stomach can make falling asleep tricky and can even wake you. If you’re going to eat a big evening meal, eat two hours before bed to give yourself enough time to digest.