Each new school year, parents and kids shift into “go-go gear”. Anticipation, preparation and time-juggling increases stress for all. Classwork and homework, extracurriculars, relationships and social media generate even more stress. A recent study found that teens now report stress levels as high as those of adults.
In the classroom, stressed brains have trouble learning. To reduce stress and improve learning, some classrooms are sprouting yoga mats, meditation pillows and soothing music stations. Activities such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation, progressive muscle relaxation are helping to calm students and contribute to more positive experiences and outcomes.
For fun, take day or weekend road trips this summer with family (or friends). Whether you’re a Florida native or visitor, you probably remember cruising around with your family, playing road-trip bingo and swatting mosquitoes, en route to some fabled Florida roadside attractions.
We sought out performing mermaids, dolphins leaping from small tanks, dinosaurs hanging out in the woods and graceful, water-skiing ballerinas. We swam, snorkeled and tubed in crystal springs and murky rivers. We flocked to alligator and flamingo farms. We hiked or camped in “wild Florida” state parks and wildlife sanctuaries. And we reveled and splashed on the beautiful beaches that frame our amazing coastlines.
Planning your Trip. If kids are involved, ask them to help choose the destinations. It may shock them to learn that before Google and the internet, we relied on billboards, signs and maps to guide us to these mystical places. Central Florida, a popular destination, hosted many roadside attractions before Disney. You may rediscover a few, although most have surrendered to competition, development or kudzu. When you hit the road, see if you can get your passengers to put down their screens and play bingo, “I Spy” or even sing.
No matter what, you’ll share great fun and adventures captured in snapchats, insta’s, selfies and most lasting? Memories!
If you reach the point of thirst, dehydration has begun. The remedy for dehydration is deceptively simple: drink clean, clear water daily. Fortunately, our water supply is abundant and clean. (How the US compares to the rest of the world)
5 Tips Before You Sip
Drink slowly: (avoid “chugging”) to balance your hydration
BYOWB: Carry a refillable water bottle (Father’s Day gift idea)
Limit caffeine: it works against your hydration
Go for 6-8 glasses of water a day (adult dose)
Be wary of “energy drinks”: they pack in sodium, sugar & caffeine
Summer is definitely here! Stock up on watery foods, such as fresh fruits and veggies, which help boost hydration. Go for cool, sweet, juicy watermelon or frozen grapes on hot summer days. We’re big fans of hydration and it’s likely that we’ll remind you to drink some water after your next chair massage 🙂
The working moms’ debate still simmers: is it better to be a stay-at-home mom or a mom-who-goes-to-work? It’s all good. Recent research validates positive outcomes for moms who work outside of the home and opportunities for doing career work from home and/or work flexible, part-time hours have become more abundant. Now delete the image of stuffing envelopes at your kitchen table. Technology has punched a hole in the time/space continuum, creating opportunities to work remotely (full or part-time) and/or to jump into the gig economy. Potentially you can pick up work based on your skills, needs and schedule. Nearly every industry has (or is moving towards) more contract/freelance work, part-time work or telecommuting.
If you’re considering working “free range” it’s advisable to take some time to consider your benefits and retirement. Before you go the self-employment route, review your health and life insurance needs, do some retirement and tax planning, and consider resources for vacation and income gaps. With these factors in mind hit the web, talk to friends and colleagues. What you find out there may surprise you! Regardless of your family situation, you may discover that creating more flexibility with your schedule might just be the best work for you!
Multitasking is a thing, a progressive upwardly, exploding trend. And that little smart phone next to you? It lurks, ready to pounce on your productivity. You may be a self-declared Multi-tasker or a staunch skeptic, in either case, multitasking impacts your life.
Popular Multitasking Myths
MT is a viable choice
MT increases productivity
MT is good for your brain
MT makes you more alert and observant
MT doesn’t technically exist, it’s actually “task” shifting. You can do one or possibly two things at once. You can walk and talk, you can cook and listen to the radio, but you probably can’t add a column of figures, answer email and/or talk to your boss all at the same time. So at best, it’s really about switching back and forth, and at worse, bouncing from task to task.
MT actually lowers productivity (as much as 40%). If you open too many tabs on your desktop, POW your screen freezes or crashes. Same with your brain: engage the right side and engage the left side with two complicated tasks, and you’re done. That third task can crash your already engaged brain. (French study).
MT increases your stress level, and distracts you both during and even after. (That fact brings many of our customers into our massage chairs, and we recommend our headsets)
MT lowers the perceptions of your environs and limits your view. You can literally miss seeing even obvious things. In a recent campus experiment, 75% of college students failed to observe an unicyclist nearby while talking or texting on their phones.
Multitask for Good in Your LIfe
For Self-Motivation. For low level tasks, like exercising or cleaning, listen to music or podcasts.
Getting Unstuck. When focused on a project or deadline for too long and feel drained or stuck, take a break, switch tasks. Revitalize your mind, refresh your creativity. Simple repetitive tasks like knitting or gardening soothe the mind and body.
Enjoying nature. Be present and really see, hear, smell and sense your natural environment and surroundings. Your reward will be energy, fresh observations and creative, new ideas.
Multitasking is valuable and is clearly important to our survival as a species. If our parents hadn’t been able to multitask, some of us might not be here clinging to smart phones or anticipating self-driving cars!
Butterflies flit, flutter and gracefully weave through our landscapes. In some cultures are referred to as “flying flowers”, butterflies are an iconic sign of summer. In our part of Florida, however, they thrive almost year-round. Based on what you plant and where you plant, the odds are in your favor that you will attract butterflies from some of the 200 species of who call Florida home. Kids love the wonder of this mysterious renewal. Adults and seniors find peace, joy and beauty a simple and often therapeutic pleasure.
If you’re a beginner, choose a popular butterfly like a Monarch or Gulf Fritillary. Do your research and identify the right host plants plus some flowering nectar plants like Penta. Local nurseries are very helpful. A fav is Lukas Nursery in Oviedo (they even offer tours of their butterfly greenhouse) and Palmers near Leu Gardens. The Winter Park Farmers Market even has a vendor who sells butterfly garden starter kits. There are also butterfly gardening classes at Leu Gardens. Make sure NONE of your butterfly host plants or nectar flowers are treated with pesticides. Why? Cause butterflies are insects! Ask before you purchase. Sadly, the big box nursery plants are usually treated with pesticides. Applied or systemic pesticides kill butterflies.
Once your garden is planted (or set up in pots) your beautiful, flowering nectar plants will attract butterflies to your garden. The females will possibly lay their eggs on your host plants. The eggs hatch into hungry (but harmless) caterpillars that munch and munch away the host plants until they reach the size and time to pupate (form a chrysalis). After a week or two, the new butterfly emerges, dries and cures its wings, eventually taking flight. With a little luck your butterflies will return to your garden and begin the next generation and then the next, pumping your landscape and neighborhood full of these delicate, beautiful “flying flowers”.
Massage therapy can prevent injury and speed up recovery and rehabilitation when an injury occurs. In upcoming Winter Olympic Games you may glimpse Massage Therapists working on the sidelines, the back stages of many venues plus the Olympic Village. It hasn’t always been that way. Massage therapy didn’t become an official part of the training and care of Olympic athletes until the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta.
Olympic massage has come a long way. In 1906, the top US athletes receiving massage were winning medals and championships. In a few years, the successful American methods of training with incorporated massage gained recognition and were adopted by the Swedes, the Germans, the French, the Australians and finally in 1912, the British.
Today US Massage therapists who meet the requirements work and gain experience in Olympic Training Centers and/or the Olympic Games. Massage therapists who find the work rewarding often return again and again and then bring their knowledge and experience back to offer their clients in their local practices.
If kindness is contagious, would you become a kinder person? Remember Random Acts of Kindness (thriving and now international) or the movie which taught us to “Pay It Forward“? Acts of kindness as simple as a smile or holding a door, or as profound as adopting a child or founding a non-profit DO change the world. Each act of kindness changes the world of the giver, the world of the receiver, and the world of the observer. (To learn the science about how this happens, watch the short video below).
Recently in a local café, we watched a baby grin repeatedly over his dad’s shoulder at a group of men in business suits at an adjacent table. Eventually they all stopped talking and smiled back at the baby. The baby’s infectious smile directed at strangers suggests that we start life with an instinct for kindness.
One of our customers recently shared with us that she keeps a pack of warm, fluffy new socks in her car to offer homeless people she encounters on the streets and sidewalks of Orlando. This cold snap amplifies both the kindness and the practicality of her act of generosity. She inspires us too.
So here’s our aspiration, if you want to join us. Let’s light up 2018, not with fireworks, LEDs and smartphone flashlights, but with the human warmth of kindness, smiles and generosity.
Pass the Potatoes, Hold the Politics. Thanksgiving 2016 diners straddled the great divide between vegetarians and carnivores. This year, diners will walk the plank that bridges the political chasm dividing America. Guests may welcome the chance to put aside differences, enjoy delicious food and have fun with friends and family. Whether you’re a host or a guest, help create that opportunity!
5 Peace-Keeping Tips
1. Vary the Guest List: Unrelated guests can reduce family tensions and enrich the conversations.
2. Set the Table: Use place cards to mix up the seating (Great project: give kids the supplies to create them).
A kid’s table is a useful tradition.
3. Focus on the Food: Much time and labor goes into a large holiday feast. Compliment the cook(s), ask for recipes, taste new dishes, offer to set up, clear and/or wash or load. If you have specific food needs, bring something with you that you can share and eat.
4. Minimize (or eliminate) alcohol: In some groups, alcohol can light a fire; in others, small indulges mellow the moment. Serve alternative drinks, teas or coffees – make them fun, fruity or seasonal.
5. Get ‘Em Outdoors: String up a net for badminton or set up Cornhole, a game popular with all ages. Lead a tour of your neighborhood or a park after eating.
If all else fails, separate the feuding folks, and slap in a good ole classic comedy (unless of course there are sports fans already glued to your TV. For non-TV folks, play Pictionary or Charades).
Create Thanksgiving memories that endure and sweeten with time, and everyone will thank you!
Let’s face it, 2017 is turning out to be a difficult year. In O-town, our stressors include the tangled re-construction of I-4 (the ultimate traffic maze), disappointing sports scores and most recently the long, frightening Night of Irma (succeeded by moldering piles of debris). While struggle and loss unite and strengthen us, they also can disappoint and discourage us.
It takes effort to envision a beautiful, functional, pothole-free I-4 coursing through the heart of Orlando, or a championship season (or two) or the restoration of our battered landscapes and green spaces. We can retreat, lick our wounds (nothing wrong with that) and then we can choose to shake off our lassitude and create our future with optimism.
5 tips to for Practicing Optimism:
Change of scenery: take a break, a road trip, plan a getaway.
Upgrade your personal spaces: paint, plant, restore, replace.
Pitch in: help a neighbor, volunteer, plant a community garden.
Boost your health: declutter your pantry and kitchen, enjoy more fresh food.
Laugh & smile: seek out comedy, music, art and friendships.
Still not convinced? According to current research optimists have healthier hearts, stronger immune systems and live happier and longer lives. So when you can, take a breath, relax, laugh a little, smile a lot and be optimistic.