The month of August has this great week called the National Safe At Home Week, August 26 to 30, and that got me thinking about things that people could do to keep their home safer.
What came to me instantly was to declutter! I must admit that I am a bit of a clutter bug. I somehow keep collecting more pots and pans (I’m honestly not sure how this happens), and I have this need to collect cookbooks or cooking magazines that have yummy recipes in them. And don’t even get me started on my Halloween decorations collection.
I’ve come to recently realize that I just have too much stuff. I’m also finding myself getting a tad bit anxious when the stuff seems to be too much to keep organized or in place. I need to make a change, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Why not use this month, or a week in this month, to get the clutter bug under control? I think you might thank yourself later when you have more peace, maybe more money in your pocket (hey, the summer is a great time for a yard sale) and a safer environment that is less cluttered. (I don’t really believe in the notion of being “clutter-free,” but I think we can work to have less clutter in our lives.)
Health Alliance Northwest has great presentations about a whole host of topics that we share with the community, and one of them is called Downsize and Declutter. It gives practical advice on how to start the declutter and downsize process, how to stick with it, and the possible rewards of getting through the process, along with other helpful tips. If you’re interested in having an outreach liaison, like me, present this to your group, please email me at Breck.Obermeyer@healthalliance.org to schedule a time. Happy decluttering!
Breck Obermeyer is a community liaison with Health Alliance Northwest, serving Yakima County. She is a small-town girl from Naches and has a great husband who can fix anything and 2 kids who are her world.
The month of August has this great week called the National Safe At Home Week, August 26 to 30, and that got me thinking about things that people could do to keep their home safer.
Did you know that our local Area Agency on Aging, LifeStream, has a program called “Safety Solutions” that not many within their newly expanded service area in Indiana know about? This program allows individuals to send a referral to LifeStream to assess the needs of someone on safety item(s) that may need fixed to make their living environment safer.
When I think of Safe At Home Week, what came to me instantly was to declutter! I must admit that I am a bit of a clutter bug when it comes to paperwork. I somehow have a hard time parting with things I might need down the road.
I’m finding myself getting a tad bit anxious when the papers seem to be too much to keep organized or in place. I need to make a change, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. Why not use this month, or a week in this month, to get the clutter bug under control? I think you might thank yourself later when you have more peace, maybe more money in your pocket (hey, the summer is a great time for a yard sale), and a safer environment that is less cluttered. (I don’t really believe in the notion of being “clutter-free,” but I think we can work to have less clutter in our lives.)
Reid Health Alliance has great presentations about a whole host of topics that we share with the community, and one of them is called Downsize and Declutter. It gives practical advice on how to start the declutter and downsize process, how to stick with it, and the possible rewards of getting through the process, along with other helpful tips. If you’re interested in having an outreach liaison, like me, present this to your group, please email me at Morgan.Gunder@healthalliance.org to schedule a time. Happy decluttering!
Morgan Gunder is a community and broker liaison for Reid Health Alliance. Born in the South and raised in the Midwest, she is a wife and mother with a passion for traveling, learning, and technology.
The end of April and beginning of May might be the craziest month-long stretch I’ve ever planned for myself. I will be battling traveling stress each week with almost no downtime in between.
First, I spent a weekend with loved ones around Indy, going to the zoo and shopping. Then, my mom, sister-in-law, and I went on a big weekend trip to New York City to see a Broadway show. The next weekend, I’m headed to Chicago to visit some old friends. The 2 weekends after that, I’m driving home for events, and then the weekend after that, I’m off to Seattle.
No matter what, traveling is stressful, so to get through it, I’m trying to plan ahead, stay on top of things, make the healthiest decisions I can on the go, and enjoy the moments of fun that are the whole point of traveling in the first place.
Planning Ahead to Avoid Traveling Stress
While tickets and such have been booked ahead of time, the planning never ends there.
First, I spring-cleaned my apartment like crazy so that it could survive the coming month without looking like a wasteland.
I pulled tons of great tips to make this list from the helpful resources we shared in our Spring Cleaning for National Cleaning Week post, like using rubber gloves to wipe dog hair off my furniture, freshening up my garbage disposal, and more.
Organize, Organize, Organize
I’ve been making a list of all the things I need to do before each trip, so I don’t do something silly and forgetful, like making myself late by forgetting to put gas in my car before driving to the airport.
And this list doesn’t just include the things I need to pack but also the things I need to do around the house and the errands I need to run first.
This helps me stay on track and not forget all the little things that have to be pulled together at the last minute.
I try to pack as much as I can ahead. The key to-do’s I can mark off in advance:
Buy or organize travel liquids if I’m flying.
Check the weather forecast.
Plan versatile outfits, like things that can mix and match and fit the weather and planned activities, including shoes because I get blisters easily.
Organize or switch to a purse better for travel.
Never forget essentials, like headphones, a book, sunscreen, bandaids, gas in the car, and meds.
Plan driving times and routes.
Then, at the last minute, I can just add in the things I’m still using, like my makeup bag, toothbrush, and phone charger, and avoid all that last-minute packing stress.
Planning for Work
Another important key to planning ahead is making sure work is ready for me to be completely unavailable.
Usually that just means talking to my co-workers in advance and making sure anything that takes place on the weekends, like social media for the next week, is done early.
One of the easiest ways to ruin your vacation is to have to drop everything for work, so make sure you’ve talked to your co-workers and set boundaries for when you’ll be available.
Then, stick to those boundaries because vacations are an important part of avoiding burnout. If you’re only going to check email once a day, stick to that and do it at a time when it won’t ruin your day.
Staying on Top of Things to Avoid Traveling Stress
No matter how much planning you do, it can all fall apart while you’re there if you focused on the wrong thing.
I like to make plans for each day with loose free time around them. You never want to have to be too many places in one day, so one meal with reservations and one event or activity that requires tickets in advance per day is probably plenty. You can munch or discover something new when you’re actually hungry the rest of the time, which can help you avoid overeating on a trip. And you’ll have more time to focus on something you love instead of rushing off to your next activity.
I also like to have extra time planned in so that if I’m exhausted, I can take a nap, shower after a hot outdoor activity, or simply enjoy downtime by watching a movie or grabbing an appetizer with my loved ones.
Get Your Bearings
Another key can be knowing your location and how to get around. I’ve lived in New York and Chicago, so I know my way around the neighborhoods and how the subways work, and pulling up a location on my phone is more than enough for me to find my way in either place.
However, I’ve never been to Seattle, so looking at maps and familiarizing myself with what’s where will be a much more important part of planning that trip so I don’t end up lost when I get there.
Identify what you need to focus on in preparation for each trip for a smooth journey to avoid hiccups in the moment.
Start the Day Off Right
Each morning of your trip, it’s a good idea to review your plans with everyone. Not only will it put you all on the same page, but it will help you remember which important tickets, confirmation numbers, or reservation details you need to bring along that day for your planned activities.
Making Healthy Choices to Avoid Traveling Stress
Traveling stress skyrockets for me when I feel guilty about it, so I’m trying to make healthy choices wherever I go.
A few weeks ago, I bought a Ringly ring. Ringly is a fitness tracker that syncs to your phone but looks like jewelry. I’d been wanting a tracker for a while, and the design of these adorable pieces made me finally get on board.
You charge it in a ring box and manage it from an app on your phone, and no one would ever know from looking at it that it’s a tracker.
Because of this new tracker, I can see how much walking I’m doing each weekend. The weekend in Indy, I walked 9.2 miles. And in NYC, we planned in time to walk the High Line and the bottom half of Central Park. We ended up walking 25.5 miles total!
I also try to choose healthier food choices most of the time without sacrificing the experience.
Enjoying the Moment to Avoid Traveling Stress
Finally, the stress-busting key for me is enjoying the fun parts of traveling. Those moments have to outweigh the stress, or it’s not worth it!
In NYC, we:
Ate at Bobby Flay’s Gato
Saw the new show Amélie
Spent a day at Chelsea Market
Walked the High Line
Had a ball at Waitress, including the perfect-serving-size, tiny Key Lime and Marshmallow Pies at intermission (And they raised $20,000 dollars in a little auction at the end of the show for charity!)
Indulged in the special Easter brunch menu at Tom Colicchio’s Craft
Explored Central Park
With more crazy weekends ahead of me, I hope my planning helps me stay sane!
Tips for Your Travels
If you need more tips to make it through your next trip and traveling stress, these can help:
Before you shop for groceries, there are a few things you should do to get ready.
Choose the Week’s Meals
Before you make a grocery list, map out your meals for the week.
Check what you have. Look through your fridge and cabinets to see what you have on hand to get meal ideas and to make sure you don’t buy anything you already have.
Think about your week. Choose meals that are easy to make for your busiest days. Save recipes that take longer for weekends or days off. Choose big recipes that will give you lots of leftovers for lunches or busy days.
Keep recipe lists for ideas. Keep a list of your family’s favorites for quick planning or bookmark your favorite cookbook. Keep another list of recipes you’d like to try. (Find healthy recipes in our food category or our Pinterest.)
Make a grocery list to stay organized and make sure you never run out of important ingredients or household items.
Organize your list for easy shopping. Add items in order or use a list broken into sections, like this one from ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Use an app. You can use a list app, like Wunderlist, that you can use on your phone or computer or try one of these other grocery list apps.
Add things as you run out. Keeping a running list makes it easier to keep track of what you need to restock.
Look at your weekly meals. Use that plan to make the list of ingredients you need to buy. Don’t forget important basics, like bread, milk, fruits, and veggies, that may not be in recipes but that are perfect for quick meals and snacks.
Plan to Save
Being prepared can help you save money once you’re at the store.
Join a loyalty program. If you always go to the same store, join its loyalty program. Loyalty programs are usually free and give you discounts and special offers just for signing up.
Read the sales fliers for deals. They usually come out midweek in the newspaper, or you can find them at the front of the store or on the store’s website.
Use coupons. Coupons can help you save on the items you know you’ll use. (Don’t buy too much of something you don’t need just to use a coupon, though!) These apps can help you find coupons and other ways to save.
Eat before you shop. Going grocery shopping while you’re hungry is a big mistake. It makes you more likely to buy things you don’t need, especially unhealthy foods.
I finally have something to sit on in my apartment! After 3 months, I’m mostly settled in.
Moving requires a lot of organization, and as I told you before, this was a rushed and unorganized move, which is probably exactly why it’s taken me this long to get settled.
You may not realize how much being organized (or disorganized) affects your life and even your health.
One study showed that you’re more likely to suffer from stress and depression if your house is cluttered and full of unfinished projects. (This was definitely my house for the last 3 months.) Long-term stress is tied to heart disease, digestive problems, poor sleep, obesity, and cancer.
This long to-do list at home can actually prevent the cortisol (a stress hormone) in your system from naturally lowering throughout the day. This affects your mood, sleep, health, and more.
Planning can also be key to a lot of healthy life decisions, and that takes organization. This slideshow from Good Housekeeping highlights what organization is doing for you:
It reduces financial stress by avoiding late fees and unnecessary costs.
It helps keep good relationships with loved ones by helping you to keep your mood up and avoid arguments over lost stuff, forgotten appointments, and errands.
It increase your time for your favorite activities. Imagine every minute you’ve spent looking for your keys going toward your favorite TV show, music, or activity.
It protects your health. If you forget to take your meds or schedule doctor appointments, you really could be putting your physical health at risk, so make sure you put things in places you’ll see them, organize your schedule, or even download an app to help remind you.
It let’s you exercise more! One of the first things you lose from your schedule when things get crazy is workouts. Plus, when you’re constantly forgetting your gym bag, it’s an easy excuse to skip the gym.
It let’s you eat healthier. Healthy cooking takes planning, like finding recipes and buying the right groceries. Snacks you grab on the go and dining out can be huge calorie bombs, so plan ahead!
It helps keep your home healthy. One study found that dust can have arsenic, dead bugs, pollen, and dead skin in it. Plus, removing clutter can eliminate up to 40% of your housework.
Many people believe that we are a product of our environment and that a messy environment can affect all areas of your life, physical, mental, and emotional
Rally, our wellness tool, knows that organization can be an important part of your healthy journey, too, so it has a mission that challenges you to de-clutter for 10 minutes every day.
I finished unpacking and organizing all my bookshelves a few weeks ago but was waiting for my new couch to arrive before I shared pictures.
Tootsie LOVES the new couch.
Those beautiful watercolor paintings on the wall are prints by Kelly Eddington, my high school art teacher and the wife of one of our Health Alliance employees.
Ignore that lamp on the floor. I just need one more side table in here!
In case you don’t remember, this is what the shelves looked like, before the gold shelf got here:
This is them now:
Everything is unpacked and on display, and finally getting to a place where I can use my living room feels so satisfying!
And now that I’m to this point, if I stick to the challenge of de-cluttering for a little bit every day, it should be easy to keep things looking nice.
I’ve said it before on here, but I’ve always loved reading and writing, and I’m not always very good at making time for it. I read a lot of news but not that many actual books anymore. Funny, because I don’t have any furniture in my apartment, besides the books on books.
All the books on the floor are going to go on a shelf that’s not here yet… (Tootsie, my dog, was really confused as to why I was taking pictures of this mess.)
It’s been one of my goals to make it more of a priority again. In the past month, I’ve read both Mindy Kaling’s book, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?” and Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” (which has really wonderful and funny advice for young women), and I just started Stephen King’s “On Writing,” which makes me want to stop everything and write.
But there are lots of reasons to read and write every day. Rally, our wellness tool, has challenges for just that, so you can make your brain a priority. In one, it challenges you to read for 20 minutes, and in another, to write in a journal every day.
So what’s this doing for your health?
Reading has been shown to slow memory loss, increase concentration, and reduce stress. Not to mention, one study found that reading helped improve your social skills, your ability to understand others and their emotions, and your ability to feel for others. Reading can literally help you treat other people better!
Not to mention that taking 20 minutes a day to read with your kids can make an amazing difference in their education and development.
I’ve been keeping a form of a bullet journal in my fitness binder on that handy grid paper I told you about. It’s really just a record of the most important things that happened to me that day that I can easily find later. I use other elements of this in my work to-do list and in organizing things like the social media topics I’ve done in the past. Below is a taste of what mine looks like, or this blog has really good examples of this in action.
(Don’t mind the ghost talk in the middle there if you can read it. That’s just me noting a plot idea for a fictional horror story.)
This lets me keep lists instead of trying to write a paragraph about things that don’t need any emotion or explanation. And my favorite part is it helps me organize things like character and story ideas, something I am known for jotting on anything around me until I have a strange collection of crumpled notes on things like napkins, CD sleeves, or even mail.
Head over to Rally, take your health assessment, and start meeting your goals for strengthening your mind!