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.
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.
Our annual Halloween contest is a Take 5 Massage tradition. Our massage therapists work comfortably in their costumes, promise not to scare small children, and most importantly to not let the fun be a distraction form our important work: relaxation, stress relief and easing sore muscles.
Congratulations parents, summer is over. Time to “supply shop”, re-set the alarm and tackle impossible schedule conflicts. Little kids are excited and anxious to meet new people, go new places and learn new things. Older kids anticipate reunions with friends, confront advanced academic challenges and navigate a whirl of extracurricular activities. Parents are adapting.
Although moms, dads, kids and teenagers share in their excitement and anticipation, they also share another experience, stress. Adults, sensitive to their own levels of stress, may not recognize the signs of stress in their kids such as: sleep disruption (including nightmares), difficulty concentrating, behavioral changes. Teenagers can become moody, withdraw, exhibit aggression or simply retreat and stop communicating. Get the school year off to a great start with open communication and collaboration. Make it a family project, convene a family meeting, involve your kids and any care-givers in the planning process.
We sometimes hear from our customers: “you can give me all you got” “I thought if it hurts, it would help more” “I wanted to say something, but didn’t want to hurt the therapist’s feelings.” Getting your massage right for you involves one simple technique: good communication.
Questions: Before starting your session, your therapist may ask: “How can I help you?” “Do you have any injuries?” “Are you taking any medications?” Your therapist also may ask you: “What level of pressure do you prefer – light, medium or heavy?”
Check-ins: Early in your session as you begin to relax, your therapist may check-in and seek your feedback. Don’t hesitate to honestly share any feedback you may have. Also let your therapist know if you would like more or less pressure. (Hint: more pressure does not always = better results).
The Close: At the end of your session, feel free to offer feedback to your massage therapist (if you can talk J). And your therapist may have some suggestions for you, such as: stretching or taking more breaks during deskwork. Better hydration may also be recommended. (Bear in mind these are only suggestions).
A relationship between you and your therapist is built on communication and trust, as well as results. And your shared goal is always an effective, relaxing massage with lasting results.
First you endure your morning commute, then you sit for hours in your office chair, and then you cap it all off with a couple hours of sofa-surfing, sound about right? Yeah, you know you need to mix it up: move, stand, walk, breath, stretch. The big question: HOW to create the time and space for self-care at work.
Don’t be a statue: If you stay in the same position for hours, you may develop chronic pain. Use a simple timer, your smart watch, your even-smarter phone and set reminders to move: stand, stretch, haul-it down the halls, is strident on the stairs, tap dance in the aisles.
Find a Break-Buddy: ask a co-worker to take a walk & talk, call a “standing” meeting, wander outdoors for breaks, join co-workers in gentle-no-pain stretching.
Do a desk audit. Does your work station work for you? Adjust your screen at the proper angle and distance to avoid both strain and injury. Simple monitor adjustments help prevent both slouching and eye strain. Is the lighting bright but not glaring? Here’s a cool app for tweaking your space, how get it just right for your size.
Chair Check. Since you might spend 1/3 of your life in your work chair, are you two a good match? A chair can be good to you if it’s adjustable, supports your back, and allows you to rest your feet comfortably on the floor, a cushion or a foot rest. Negotiate a “swap” if yours isn’t working.
Own Your Space. Web-surf to discover some stretches, activities, tools that can help you create a more satisfying work space that works for YOU. If your boss can’t spring for a new chair or lighting, explore what you can do on your own, for you! Here’s one to get you started.
Things to keep in mind. One size chair, desk, keyboard setup does not fit all. Each body has different needs. To avoid injury while stretching, be gentle and slow, especially to start. Clear new exercises with a trusted healthcare advisor or professional familiar with your goals and your health. If your co-workers think you have gone nuts, ask them to subscribe to our newsletter (sign up on at the bottom of our home page).
There’s a fresh, healthy new look sprouting up in O’Town. Thanks to the ingenuity and passion of some talented local folks, urban farming and gardening is happening in Orlando. Communities and neighborhoods nationwide are re-thinking both the creativity and the practicality of growing fresh food, attracting pollinators and wildlife with native plants, adding fun and beauty in open spaces, right-of-ways, rooftops, vacant lots, medians and yards. Yard farms, urban gardening, permaculture, community gardens are just a few ways to brighten landscapes, draw people together, educate aspiring farmers and gardeners, provide habitat and shelter for Florida’s native Florida fliers and critters.
A popular in-town neighborhood, Audabon Park, with the support of the City of Orlando and the vision and organizing efforts of local residents is leading the way. One of the programs to emerge from these efforts is Fleet Farming, a bicycle-driven yard farming initiative. Another program run by the City of Orlando, has opened up neighborhood garden plots for city-dwellers who lack the space or light to grow veggies, flowers or fruit trees.
Whether you’re into veggies, trees, flowers for birds and bees, or just getting some fresh air and exercise, with a few spins on Google, you can find plentiful resources, inspiration, and like-minded folks to inspire you. Dig in!
The people of Denmark (a.k.a the “happiest country in Europe”) practice “Hygge” (pronounced hoo-ga). Danes burn the most candle wax per capita; obsess about lighting, treasure friendship and socializing, while surrounded by simple, comfy stuff. There’s also new research confirming the long-held theory that happiness benefits your health and contributes to longevity. A new field, Positive Psychology, continues to research and document the connections between happiness and health.
Since lighting a cozy fire and snuggling in angora aren’t particularly practical in Florida, check out The Little Book of Hygge for some adaptable ideas. Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute of Copenhagen, offers some great Hygge tips and ideas that could work in Florida. We especially like the idea of a garden for your office.
If you actually remember yours, congratulations, you may be a member of an elite group of achievers. While approximately 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions, only about 8% of those resolvers actually achieve their goals. It’s also highly probable that you captured your resolutions in writing or in digital form as well. Keep up the good work and encourage a few friends to join you in 2017.
Nope, I don’t remember my 2016 resolutions!
Take some time to reflect. Then list the ideas, goals, projects, dreams you would like to pursue in 2017. From that list, select your top 5 (our fav number). Then share. Things we keep to ourselves or/do alone are often doomed to fail. Recruit a friend. Help each other. Each of you lists a few simple action steps for your top goal or goals to focus on for 2017. Then (the most important part) – each of you make a copy of your list and swap copies. Meet regularly over the year for coffee or lunch and share your progress (and your setbacks). Less stress, more fun and you’ll be amazed at your results.
Uh-oh, I didn’t resolve a darn thing in 2016!
You’re in good company – 38% of Americans don’t make any New Year’s Resolutions. Resolving is just too serious a business for some of us. Alternate strategy: Take Action. Make a list of things you’d like to eliminate from your life. Then get busy. Recycle, re-gift and/or discard what no longer works (or at least not for you), end/or repair relationships that drain you, or aren’t working. Eliminate things that burn your time and energy. Clean out – donate, dispose of stuff, pass on, get rid of clutter – release things that are no longer useful. It’s often said that “nature abhors a vacuum.” The simple act of creating physical space in your life will attract new things, new people and cool, new creative ideas to energize and inspire you in 2017. Pow!
Be a giver. Volunteering at your local animal shelter or children’s hospital, and/or donating money or goods to a charity you value, giving can help remind us all of the truly important things in life.
Make your list, check it twice. List everything you want to do: from the moments that build memories, to the chores that keep your life moving smoothly. Visually seeing everything you want or need to accomplish can help you choose your priorities and organize your time more efficiently.
Traveling with kids. Prep for long trips by letting your kids open a present before leaving. Then they’ll have something new to play with. Pack healthy snacks. Plan stops for stretch breaks to dissuade and soothe crabby moods for kids and their adults!
Holidays Are Messy. Clean as you go and keep clutter at bay. That cuts down on the time needed to clean later on. Consumer Reports has a great list for some classic holiday “oops” moments and tricks for cleaning them up.
Savor the Sweet. So much is lost in the shuffle when we’re busy. Practicing mindfulness helps us stay present and “be in the moment”. Savor the food you eat, appreciate time spent with loved ones, really see the sights, sniff the spruce, and inhale the fresh air (link)
Take a deep breath and don’t slip and fall into the “perfection trap”. Holidays come every year. Decide what’s important, what you can skip, and what can be postponed til next year. And then plan your calendar accordingly. To stay well get adequate sleep and exercise, and maintain a balanced diet.
And remember what every Santa needs…
EVERY SANTA NEEDS A CHAIR MASSAGE, A SNACK & A NAP