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Positive Self Reflection + Change


December 30, 2019

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Positive Self Reflection + Change

Written by: Jayne Hansen, Health Educator

For me, the new year brings bitter-sweet feelings of reflection. I reflect on the good times, the hard times, and the times that encouraged growth. Reflecting on places I’ve visited, accomplishments I’ve reached, or new friendships I've made. Reflection, when done positively, has the capacity to bring gratitude and fulfillment into our lives. Here are a few tips to reflect on the good of 2019 and welcome new change in 2020.

Choose the right environment. 

Choose your favorite spot in the house. Make sure the table is clear from all the yummy holiday treats from all your neighbors. Light your favorite candle and have a notepad handy to write down your thoughts and impressions for the year. If you think best while on the go, consider going for a walk-in nature, sitting on a park bench, or next to a quiet stream surrounded by beautiful trees covered in thick white snow. Whatever the environment you choose, make sure it allows you to reflect honestly about your year. 

Set time boundaries around self-reflection.

Just like where you reflect, the time of day you reflect is also key. Reflecting on your 2019 when you are exhausted from all the hustle and bustle may not allow you to see the year for what it was. Therefore, reflecting on your year when you are emotionally and mentally charged will allow you to see the positives of this last year. Not sure when you will feel emotionally or mentally charged? Take a mental health day, do something you enjoy, or take the afternoon off. Do something for yourself, and you will fill your mental and emotional bank so you can see your year for what it really was.

Remember the things you’ve done well. 

We all know it’s true, “we are our own worst critic.” When reflecting, it is natural for us to see the things that we did poorly this last year. Georgian Benta, founder and host of the Gratitude Podcast reminds us that it’s our brain’s natural tendency to focus on what we have done wrong. To balance the reflection, he suggests counting your accomplishments too! “At the end of each day, go through what you experienced and find three things that you did right. It can be something as simple as driving to work and back safely, putting the final touch on a project, or being able to respond better to a difficult situation.” There is power in finding the good in each day. This can be done when reflecting on 2019. Find three things that you did right this year. Once you have 3, challenge yourself to keep going! I promise you can do it!

Write down your reflection. 

Writing down your reflection of the year can solidify what the year meant to you. For example, 2019 was a challenging year for me. I had a lot of moments that pushed me and encouraged me to work hard. 2019 was my year of growth. I tried new things, I made new friends, I had moments of failure, and I had moments of victory.

Write down the specifics of the year. 

The names of the new friends you made, the moments of failure, and the moments of victory. This is an empowering exercise. It encourages you to see your year for what it truly was. It is also fun to add facts about your year. Where you lived, where you worked, how much gas costs, your favorite restaurant, movie, hiking trail, etc.  Writing down these specifics is a great way to compare the uniqueness from year to year. It is also a great way for future generations to see what life was like back in ‘2019’. Make it fun and show your personality.

List things you appreciate about yourself. 

Benta suggests that you come up with a list of things you appreciate about yourself. “Make a list of your qualities, whether they’re on the inside or on the outside. This will help you achieve a healthy self-image and give you confidence.” He proudly quotes one of his podcast guests, Rino Soriano: “The more value you find in yourself, the more appreciative you are of your life and of everyone else.” 

Set healthy intentions for 2020. 

Based off your positive reflection for 2019, you are better able to set a healthy intention for 2020. Setting an intention is setting your mantra for 2020.

 Here are a few examples:

  • 2020 will be the year of forgiveness. I will forgive others who have hurt me with or without an apology. I will forgive myself. I will forgive so I can find true fulfilment in life's moments. 
  • 2020 will be the year of adventure. I will be open to excitement and moments that encourage me to live fiercely.
  • 2020 will be the year of talents. I will develop skills that will become some of my most cherished talents.
  • 2020 will be the year of friendship. I will stretch myself and make friendships that will last decades. 
  • 2020 will be the year of good health. I will focus on the different dimensions of wellness to increase my overall health. I will be kind to myself and honor my body's cravings.

 

Set goals to reach your intention.

Once you have an intention for your year, you have narrowed your focus for goal setting. This is when things get real exciting. Goals are actions that will help you achieve your 2020 intention for the year. Make sure they are SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time sensitive) and goals that you feel passionately about to accomplish. Goal setting can be an empowering experience. But only if you feel dedicated to your goals. Be sure that your 2020 intention and your goals reflect honestly what you want to accomplish this year. 


You Stress, I Stress, We All Stress


November 25, 2019

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                          Written by: Aseeya Grant-Aitahmad, Health Educator

            It’s that time of year again: looking forward to early mornings scraping off our cars of ice and snow, preparing to take the slippery roads among Utah’s best drivers, and watching the beautiful inversion-filled sky as the sun starts to set at 5 o’clock. With colder weather approaching feelings of excitement for various holidays and the New Year often come with. Though the holiday season is advertised as the most wonderful time of year, for many it can bring unwanted feelings of stress. Stress is an inevitable part of life, and often doesn’t receive the attention it requires to be managed in a healthy way. Let’s look at what stress is, why it’s important to your health, and ways you can manage this undesired feeling this holiday season.

            Unfortunately, stress is not just that feeling of panic when you are driving to work on a snowy day, driving on a busy unplowed road, and left the house 10 minutes later than you usually do. The National Institute of Mental Health describes stress as “how the brain and body respond to any demand”. Thinking of stress using this broad definition can be eye opening to how often we encounter stress in our lives. Knowing this, it’s important to remember that not all stress is bad stress! Stress is how the body prepares and reacts for potentially dangerous situations. Problems arise when these lifesaving reactions turn into chronic stress. The American Heart Association states that long-term activation of stress can lead to digestive problems, anxiety, headaches, depression, sleep problems, weight gain or weight loss, memory and concentration issues, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

Whether good or bad, stress is here to stay. So let’s take a closer look! Stress can be broken down into acute and chronic stress:

 

Acute Stress

Chronic Stress

What is it?

  • Short term
  • Helps manage dangerous (or stressful) situations
  • Excitement
  • Long periods of time, weeks, months, or even years
  • Body doesn’t get a clear signal to return to function normally

What are some examples?

  • Slamming on the car brakes
  • Arguing with a loved one
  • Wondering if you left the stove on at home 
  • Consistent financial problems
  • Ongoing disputes at work or home
  • Demanding work environment

             Now that you’re a little more familiar with stress what do you do? Add “not stressing” to the long to-do list you already have? Now you are supposed to magically relax because you know how chronic stress can be damaging to your health? Of course not! Just like anything regarding health we have to work hard and that change comes through small steps over time. Fortunately, there are many ways to help manage, decrease, and cope with stress. 

Let’s look at some ways that can help manage the beast called stress this holiday season:

Travel + Stress

  • Give yourself plenty of time:
    • Calculate how much time you think you need and incorporate some “wiggle room” for things like traffic, weather, and other delays in getting to where you need to be ahead of time.
  • Minimize vacation tasks ahead of time:
    • Planning can help decrease stress by having a plan for each aspect of travel. Know you’re going to need to be at the airport by 7:00 AM? Find someone reliable to give you a ride, schedule a Taxi or Uber, or locate public transportation schedules in advance to increase your chances of arriving ahead of time.
  • Know your credit card coverage:
    • Lots of credit card companies have travel protection. Contact your credit card company to give them a heads up if you are heading out of town.
  • Enjoy your downtime:
    • It’s easy to play “worst case scenario” in your head when traveling, try to avoid this! Queue your favorite podcast, download your favorite audiobook, or treat yourself to a fun magazine. With a good plan in place, you should take advantage of that “in between” time and do something that makes your travels more enjoyable!

Financial Stress

  • Plan Ahead:
    • Start compiling a list of all people you would like to get gifts for and what their potential gift and cost could be. Sticking to a budget helps you keep your finances in check without being afraid to check your bank account after the holidays.
  • Be creative:
    • The generosity of gift giving doesn’t need to be tied to a monetary amount! Think about making your own gift, finding items on sale, buying off brand items, or donating the amount you would spend on a gift to an organization in the person’s name you are gifting.

Social Stress

  • Have a good sense of humor:
    • Don’t let your sister’s-boyfriend’s-grandma’s backhanded compliment about your casserole fester into negative self-thoughts or talk! Do your best to laugh it off, they may be dealing with their own things and not know the impact their snide comment had on you. Remember that we are all human and if we can find humor in the little things it feels much better than letting things get blown out of proportion.
  • Set your boundaries:
    • “Don’t let a yes to someone else be a no to yourself.” The holidays are a time of giving, but they can easily become overwhelming by feeling obligated to say yes to everything and everyone. Learn to say no!
  • Take a breather:
    • “Me time” is just as important as group gatherings. Don’t think that making time for yourself is selfish! Try to take at least 15 minutes a day doing something you enjoy. 
  • Set aside differences:
    • This can be very difficult. Try and appreciate family, friends, and loved one’s gathering to enjoy time together. You don’t have to and aren’t expected to see eye to eye on everything.

Tackle the holidays feeling confident with these tips and manage your stress this holiday season!

  


Environmental Health Day Every Day!


April 02, 2019

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Environmental Health Day Every Day! 

By: Stella Johannes, Health Educator 

When most of us hear the word health we think of fitness and nutrition, or physical health.  In fact there are nine dimensions of wellness that affect our overall health.  They include emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, environmental, financial, occupational, social and cultural.  Each of these dimensions needs to be addressed for us to be healthy and balanced people. When most of us hear the words environmental health most of us think of blue bins and stalwart activists, chaining themselves to trees or challenging massive whaling boats in rubber rafts armed only with a megaphone and ideals.  While these things certainly apply to Environmental Health, realistically the blue bin variety is more applicable to most of us – and its importance is underrated! Environmental health is concerned with any aspect of the environment that affects our health as human beings.  By this definition environmental health has as much to do with lighting, ergonomics, and neighborhood watch, as it does to do with recycling. 

 

However, as it’s April, and Earth Day is upon us, we’ll stick to the blue bins.  Because every choice we make however large or small has an impact on the natural environment, positive or negative, whether we directly feel the repercussions or not.    For those interested in improving their environmental health, in honor of Earth Day I would suggest starting by picking one small, realistic goal, and doing your best to stick to it for the month (approximately the time it takes to form a habit).  Choose something that appeals to you personally.  If you are trying to find more opportunities for physical activity, you could save electricity too, and opt for the stairs.  You could bring silverware to work with you, thereby eliminating the need for single use plastic cutlery, use scratch paper instead of post-its, or power-off and unplug electronic devices that don’t require updates when you are done with them for the day.  - or get yourself a reusable water bottle and stay hydrated in the bargain.  There are lots of great ideas out there!

 

Just the choice to commit to using canvas grocery totes instead of paper or plastic bags, has an impressive impact.  When plastic bags are not recycled (which is not always an option) they usually end up in a landfill, but those that don’t often find their way into the natural environment, decorating trees and floating in the breeze.  Plastic bags do not actually biodegrade, they photograde, which means that the material never breaks down into organic material, it just breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces of toxic material over the course of many years.  In the meantime they cause a lot of damage, most infamously getting mistaken for jellyfish and choking turtles and other sea creatures, entangling and trapping wildlife, and at every stage of photo-degradation, polluting the natural environment.  While paper bags are a better choice, they represent forest – a resource better not taken for granted. 

 

With occasional laundering you can reuse canvas totes for years.  Of course there are reusable totes in other materials, but my personal favorites are cotton, hemp and burlap because they are natural biodegradable materials.  Isn’t it amazing how incredible the impact of just one choice can be?  Good advice for those of us trying to make any healthful change in our lifestyle habits (whatever the dimension) is to take it in small steps, and to reward ourselves when we hit a benchmark.  It is tempting to try to bite off more than we can chew out of excitement, or impatience.  But trying to change too much too quickly typically results in failure, leaving us feeling discouraged and less likely to try again.  If we set one small realistic goal and succeed, then we can move on to another, and before we know it we are miles ahead of where we were when we started!