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Doctor’s Orders: Relax! Do You Need a Health Break?

Written on February 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm , by

Nick Cannon gets a prescription for some R&R. (Photo courtesy of lev radin / Shutterstock.com)

Last week, America’s Got Talent host  (not to mention actor, radio personality, DJ, rapper, and dad — phew!) Nick Cannon announced that he was stepping down as host of “Rollin’ with Nick Cannon” at the 92.3  NOW New York radio station. Cannon was hospitalized in January for kidney failure and faced another health scare this February, this time involving blood clots near his lungs. Cannon tweeted that his doctors told him to slow down and stop working so hard.

I don’t know about you, but when I think about my fitness, the mental checklist I go through usually involves: How many times have I worked out this week? What nutritious meal can I have for dinner? Did I take my multivitamins? Am I getting a cold? Whether I’m feeling too stressed or getting quality sleep is usually last (if at all present) on that list.

But Nick’s diagnosis reminded me just how important it is to slow down and relax, too. To add a little more balance to my lifestyle, I’m promising myself at least one yoga session a week and a walk in the middle of every day as a health break. It’s no vacation on the beach, but I’ll take it!

Try these 3 simple ways you can relax whether you’re at home, work or on the go:

Photo courtesy of lev radin / Shutterstock.com

Tell us: What are you doing to de-stress?

5 Ways to Relax and Recharge in 15 Minutes

Written on January 20, 2012 at 11:47 am , by

Now that the holiday decorations are down and our daily routines are back to normal, it’s easy to get caught up in our hectic schedules. Which is why when we heard about Aura Cacia’s plan to have a 15-minute “National Moment of Chill” at noon this Monday, January 23, we let out a sigh of relief.

You don't even need a bathtub to do these blissful treatments! (Photo by David Tsay)

You don’t need to hit up a spa to give yourself some zen. Try these five DIY recommendations from Aura Cacia to recharge inside and out.

Energize with: Peppermint Essential Oil
Apply three or four drops into your socks to achieve that extra pep in your step.
Other energizing recommendations: Energize Aromatherapy Body Oil, Peppermint Aromatherapy Stick

Feel balanced with: Rose Absolute Essential Oil
Diffused Rose Absolute at your desk creates a stabilizing atmosphere during times of stress.
Other balancing recommendations: Geranium Essential Oils, Clary Sage Essential Oils, Renewing Rose Aromatherapy Spritz

Meditate with: Neroli blended with Jojoba
Massage tension points—such as your temples—to alleviate stress and negativity.
Other meditative recommendations: Purifying Sandalwood Soak, Frankincense Essential Oil

Soothe away stress with: Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Rinse off the day with an after work steam shower boosted by four drops of eucalyptus on the shower floor.
Other purifying recommendations: Cleansing Tea Tree Stick, First Response Essential Oils

Relax with: Lavender Essential Oil
Combine 18 drops of Lavender with 1 ounce of water in a mister. Spray four times on your pillow a few minutes before bedtime to carry you off to sleep.
Other relaxing recommendations: Lavender Harvest Aromatherapy Bath, Chamomile Roman Essential Oil, Pillow Potion Mist

You can also join Aura Cacia on Facebook to pledge to take the time to chill out and invite your stressed-out friends to take part.

Tell us: What are your tips and tricks to de-stress?

Fit Links: Half-Marathon Basics and the State of Stress in the U.S.

Written on January 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm , by

Lace up your sneaks for a race! (Photo by Denise Crew)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

More from FITNESS: Learn more about (and sign up for) our half-marathon!

7 Tricks For Stress-Free Travel

Written on December 8, 2011 at 1:10 pm , by

Take note to make any adventure more enjoyable, affordable and fun. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

John DiScala, or Johnny Jet as road warriors know him, is no amateur when it comes to hitting the road. The Travel Channel expert has flown 127,467 miles this year alone! Since a day at the airport can be more exhausting than a day at the gym, we screened Johnny Jet for his secrets to book, fly and sleep—minus the stress—just like an expert jet-setter.

  1. Be flexible! “I just bought a ticket to Florida a couple days ago and only paid $168 because I left a few days earlier than planned (the 21st). You can sign up for airfare alerts to be notified when the best deals are available.”
  2. Go postal. “Ship bags and gifts ahead of time via FedEx or UPS ground five to seven days before your trip to make it affordable. If you do pack presents, don’t wrap them, because there’s a good chance the TSA will unwrap them.”
  3. But do come bearing goodies. “Bring a box of chocolates for the gate agents and flight attendants! You will get the best service and possibly even an upgrade.”
  4. Come early, come prepared. “You might have to sit around at the airport longer if you leave extra early, but it’s so much better than getting stuck in traffic or long lines and rushing. Bring something to keep you busy after you make it through security, like a computer, book, magazine or knitting project.”
  5. Try self check-in. “Always print your boarding pass at home so you are already checked in. You won’t miss the cutoff point, but I still recommend arriving two hours before domestic flights at large airports or 75 minutes at smaller airports.”
  6. Eat well on-the-go. “Your best bet is to go to a supermarket before you leave and bring non-liquid eats. But you can find some healthy options at major airports. I always get a shot of wheatgrass from Jamba Juice.”
  7. Mix it up. “When booking a hotel, try doing so with loyalty points and cash. For example, Hilton HHonors members can book a standard rooms with the a Points and Money reward. It’s a great option for those looking to save on a room who haven’t accumulated enough points for a free stay or prefer to save their points for future use.”

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

8 Steps to Put Yourself on Your Priority List

Written on September 20, 2011 at 9:00 am , by

Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

How often have you found yourself thinking or saying the following?

  • “I wish I had more time for myself.”
  • “I’m so busy! I don’t have a moment to breathe.”
  • “I need more hours in the day.”
  • “I don’t have time for that.”

We lead crazy, busy lives. And the one thing we never seem to have time for is ourselves. This problem seems even more pervasive as we work harder to meet the challenges of this new economy.

Creating more personal time tops the list of goals many people want to accomplish. Here are a few ways you can make “me” time a reality:

1. First, decide that you deserve some time to yourself each day. Stop feeling guilty for taking time out for you, and realize in the long run, it’s a win-win for everyone. When you are tired, stressed out and pulled in too many directions, it is hard to give your best to all you must accomplish. Remember, self-time is not selfish—it’s a necessary dimension of self-care!

2. Decide how best to spend “me” time. How each of us chooses to spend free time is as individualized as we all are. If you had an extra 15 minutes, a half hour, an afternoon or an entire day, what would you do to make yourself feel rejuvenated, relaxed and happy? Write a list and keep it handy when you begin scheduling time into your calendar.

3. Evaluate the things that are wasting your time each day. Do you check your emails constantly and end up spending more time on your computer than you planned? Run to the supermarket daily to pick up dinner rather than plan in advance and shop once? If this sounds like you, you must take the time to organize your responsibilities, and you will gain more free time.

4. Learn to say “no” to requests to do things that you don’t really want to do, don’t value, or don’t bring you satisfaction and joy.

5. Ask for help with chores that don’t necessarily have to be completed by you alone.

6. At the beginning of each week, take a few minutes to designate specific time slots for all that must be accomplished—including “me” time. Treat your personal time like you would any other appointment and make it non-negotiable.

7. Commit to a minimum of 15-20 minutes of “me” time every day. Do something (or nothing) that completely lets go of responsibilities and releases your mind, allowing you to be alone with your thoughts.

8. Create a daily ritual. This can be a bath, listening to music, taking a walk or meditating. You will find yourself looking forward to this time!

Read the entire Spark article here

More from SparkPeople:

Putting “I” Back Into Your Vocabulary

Fitting Healthy Habits Into Your Hectic Life

The Proven Weight-Loss Program That Isn’t a Diet

How to Tame Wedding Planning Stress

Written on August 11, 2011 at 4:10 pm , by

Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

So you’ve joined the ranks of your friends on Facebook and are planning a wedding, too? Congrats! But we know the planning can at times wreak havoc on your mental health, so check out this post from our buddies at SparkPeople…


It’s a gross understatement to say that planning a wedding is stressful. With all of the coordination, timing and numerous things to prepare for (not to mention family politics!), it’s no wonder that nice, normal people turn into grumpy grooms and bridezillas. However, you don’t have to become a stressed-out stereotype on your big day. In fact, it is possible to plan a wedding and keep your healthy cool—no matter the situation.

The Stressor: You and Your Fiancé Want Different Types of Weddings

One of the biggest wedding stressors occurs when you and your fiancé have very different ideas of what your special day should be like. Traditional and in a church? A tropical destination wedding? The options are limitless and stress can be high from the get-go, if the soon-to-be-wed couple can’t agree on what kind of ceremony to have.

How to de-stress: Before you plan any wedding details, sit down with your fiancé and make a list of the top three things that are important to each of you as far as the ceremony and reception are concerned. Then, calmly and patiently compare lists to see where you can compromise. If he wants a small wedding but you want a big one, you can always hold a small ceremony and then a big after-party. Marriage is all about give and take!

The Stressor: Overbearing Family Members or Friends
Almost every bride and groom deals with at least one or two overbearing (yet well-meaning) family members or friends while planning a wedding. Whether it’s a future in-law, your own parents, or even a bossy friend, everyone seems to have an opinion.

How to de-stress: Remember that this is your wedding—not everyone else’s. It may be hard to tell your loved ones “no”, but if you want your wedding day to be truly special and unique, you must stand your ground. Politely and firmly state your decisions with the support of your partner. Think of it as if others are trying to derail or sabotage your diet—it’s really none of their business!

The Stressor: Fear that Your Dress Won’t Fit
Of course you want to feel confident and healthy on your wedding day…but stress only hurts your weight-loss efforts.

How to de-stress: First, make sure that you aren’t being unrealistic about your body image on the big day. Your wedding weight-loss goals must be realistic, especially since planning takes a lot of time and you may not have as much time as you think to exercise and cook healthfully. Second, be sure to drink enough water, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and get that beauty rest. These three things will really give you that wedding-day glow. Lastly, visualize yourself walking down the aisle with confidence on the big day. Picturing yourself in a positive light helps squash stress and can give you the energy to plan, plan, plan!

Keep Reading: How to tame stress from the budget, guest list, and more!

More from SparkPeople:

Free Weight Loss and Fitness Plans

Stay Healthy While Planning Your Wedding

De-Stress in 3 Minutes or Less

The Most Stressed Out Women in the World (Literally!)

Written on July 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm , by

Is it 5 p.m. yet?

Before I even read this CNN article, I thought I knew the answer (it’s me, but of course!). Apparently not, according to a study released by the Nielsen Company. It turns out that women in India are the most stressed out in the world. That’s quite a claim.

The study, done by Women of Tomorrow, followed 6,500 women across 21 different nations from February through April 2011. An overwhelming 87 percent of Indian women said they felt stressed most of the time, with 82 percent claiming they had no time to relax.

So it turns out that I’m not as stressed as I thought I was, and the same might be true for you. The United States ranked #11 out of the study, with 53 percent feeling constantly stressed.  Coming in to the runner up spots were Mexico (74 percent) and Russia (69 percent).

Both Sweden and Malaysia tied for the least stressed countries at 44 percent. Not surprising, white sandy beaches and Swedish meatballs leave me with a smile on my face too!

Tell us: Does this study surprise you?

Fit Links: Celebrating Summer with Yoga, Strawberries and a Hammock

Written on June 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm , by

Maybe it's time to invest in a hammock. (Photo by Sarah Kehoe)

This week’s fit links from around the web:

Give Yourself a Reality Checkup

Written on May 19, 2011 at 9:15 am , by

check list of goals

Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

Perhaps the biggest reason that permanent weight loss is so difficult is that it is stressful—for your mind and your body. And when you’re stressed out, you just don’t function at your best, mentally, emotionally, or physically.

The best way to minimize the negative effects of these responses to your weight loss efforts is to minimize the degree to which your diet stresses you out.

5-Point Reality Checkup
The following reality checkup can help you determine whether your expectations and your attention-focusing habits are realistic, or if you need to work on them to stop unnecessary stress from hurting your weight loss efforts.

Decide whether you agree (True) or disagree (False) with each of the following five statements. At the end, you’ll find out if you’re guilty of the most common (but unrealistic) expectations associated with weight loss stress.

  1. True or False: Weight loss is all about the numbers. You lose weight when you eat fewer calories than you burn.
  2. True or False: Will power is the foundation of weight loss success. You have to force yourself to do the things you don’t like doing until you do like them or until you lose weight, whichever happens first.
  3. True or False: The best motivation for losing weight is being unhappy about your present weight and appearance.
  4. True or False: Being brutally honest with yourself about your problems, bad habits, and character flaws is the best way to overcome these problems.
  5. True or False: Your own body is your worst weight-loss enemy. To lose weight, you have to constantly fight cravings, urges, and desires that are biologically based.

Keep reading: Find out what’s true and what’s false…

More From Spark People:

6 Weight Loss Mistakes to Avoid

Pave the Way for Persistence

The Proven Weight-Loss Program That Isn’t a Diet