Black man using cell phone on bed

Access to mental health care may be just a virtual visit away

(BPT) – Mental health disorders impact thousands of people every day, including many of our friends, neighbors and co-workers. Everyone reading this likely knows someone struggling with mental illness and is aware of the toll it can take on individuals, families and communities. Mental health challenges do not discriminate — they affect people from all walks of life regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic level.

While stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders impact an estimated 43 million adults nationwide each year, the World Health Organization reports that only about one in four people with a diagnosed disorder is likely to pursue treatment.

Unfortunately, barriers prevent people from getting the mental health care they may need. The reasons are many. Consider these statistics: 4,000 areas in the U.S. have only one psychiatrist for 30,000 or more people; the average waiting time for a first psychiatric visit is 25 days; and stigma is the fourth highest-ranked barrier to help-seeking.

The good news is that people who access care more quickly may be more likely to engage in their treatment and have a better outcome. With the right treatment and support, people can recover from mental health disorders to live healthy, self-directed lives as valuable members of their community. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle nudge from a friend or loved one to help someone take that first step on their path to recovery.

For some people, that best first step may be a virtual visit with a mental health provider via a mobile device or computer. For many, access to virtual care may already be available as part of their health care benefits.

Virtual care can shorten wait times for an appointment, fit work and personal schedules, and eliminate travel time and expense. An appointment conducted in the safe, comfortable environment of home may reduce stigma. And, research shows that outcomes of a virtual visit with a mental health provider are similar to in-person sessions for multiple disorders.

Raising awareness and reducing stigma around mental health issues are keys to supporting well-being within our communities. Today, people can access effective, proven treatment in a variety of formats, including using video-calling technology. It’s up to all of us to reach out and encourage our friends, neighbors and family members in need to access these available resources.

For more information and links to recovery support resources in your area, visit www.optum.com/recovery. To learn more about available health care benefits, call the number on the back of your health plan identification card.

Read more
Beautiful young woman making finger frame and looking at camera while standing against grey background

The eyes have it: 4 things your eyes may communicate without you knowing it

(BPT) – Your eyes: you stare with them, wink with them and roll them. You use your eyes to communicate your thoughts and feelings every single day. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your eyes can speak volumes about who you are and what you feel. But could your eyes be sending the wrong message?

New findings from Allergan’s “A Look at Eye Language” online survey of 1,019 adult Americans reveal that approximately half of respondents (53 percent) say the first facial feature they notice about another person is their eyes. Patti Wood, a body language expert with over 25 years of experience in the field of human behavior, says our eyes can convey all sorts of messages — both intentionally and unintentionally. “Eye language is the messages we send to others with our eyes,” Wood says. “These eye behaviors include rubbing the eyes, extended eye contact, averted gaze or eye shifts. Our eye language can say a lot about us, revealing our emotions, confidence level and, at times, even if we’re telling the truth.”

Curious what your eyes are telling other people? Wood provides four eye language examples.

* Eye contact: Too much of a good thing. You’re taught early on to look at someone when they’re talking to you; it’s a sign of respect and shows you’re listening. In fact, the survey, conducted in conjunction with Kelton Global, revealed that for those who see the value in maintaining eye contact, holding a direct gaze makes them feel respected (53 percent) and understood (45 percent). However, Wood says if your gaze becomes a continuous, unrelenting stare throughout an entire conversation, it may signal to the other person that you’re trying to assert your dominance. This can be problematic in many situations, particularly in the workplace, so make sure you’re being attentive but not overly aggressive with your eye contact.

* Certain conditions can alter your eye contact. Sometimes, you send messages with your eyes without realizing it. For example, Chronic Dry Eye disease symptoms, like red, itching, burning or watering eyes, can send the wrong message — one you don’t intend. It’s important to understand the messages your eye language might be sending to others. Talk to your doctor or visit Eyepowerment.com to learn more about the symptoms and treatment options for Chronic Dry Eye.

* Liars look away? Not always. You’ve heard the old saying that a person who looks away is lying. But in many cases, that isn’t true. Research shows the eye contact you make while lying is partially determined by your personality. Wood says that introverts tend to have more trouble maintaining eye contact while lying, whereas extroverts may go over the top and increase eye contact while lying more so than they would otherwise. Additionally, Wood shares that an action like rubbing your eyes can convey a lack of interest, fatigue, disagreement or disbelief in the speaker — or even deceit.

* The amount of eye contact you display can show how you feel about things. Research shows that eye contact can demonstrate attraction or attentiveness. You actually make more eye contact with people and things you like and less eye contact with people or things you don’t like. Wood notes that our eye language makes us look at things that are new or interesting, especially faces, or look away from things that we find distasteful. So if you’re curious about how a certain person feels about you, pay attention to how much they look at you.

When it comes to nonverbal communication, your eyes are one of the most expressive parts of your body, even if don’t realize it. In fact, Wood says that research shows we can read not only the six basic emotions — sadness, disgust, anger, joy, fear and surprise — but also over 50 different mental states such as curiosity, interest, dislike or boredom, in another person’s eyes.

That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your eye language. Certain conditions, such as Chronic Dry Eye disease, have symptoms that may be sending the wrong message — one you don’t intend. To learn more about Chronic Dry Eye symptoms and treatment options, talk to your doctor and visit Eyepowerment.com.

Read more
Frittata on frying pan over wood table

5 nutritionist tips to start eating and living healthier

(BPT) – When you need to fix your car, learn the latest tech or finish a major home improvement, what do you do? You turn to the experts, those with in-depth knowledge on how to accomplish these tasks in the most efficient and effective way. And when you’re looking to improve your overall health by focusing on improving your diet, it’s also time to turn to the experts.

Nutritionists and registered dietitians are the thought leaders when it comes to improving your eating habits. So to learn from the professionals, we asked Registered Dietitian and nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner to offer her tips on how you can improve your nutrition and start living a healthier life today. She offers this advice:

*Get organized. Your environment can work for you or against you. Having an organized refrigerator can be the key to success on the journey to weight loss. Keep produce where it is easily visible and accessible. Storing foods like hard-boiled eggs, chicken breast and roasted vegetables at eye-level can really help to make smarter meal choices. Clear food containers will also help to keep already prepared meals top of mind and lessen food waste, which means saving money in the long run.

*Practice superfood swaps. Don’t cut out food cravings — embrace them! Eat the flavors that you crave but swap out overly processed stuff for fresh, wholesome ingredients. Avoid products with chemicals, refined sugars and flours, artificial flavors and preservatives and it will naturally lead to a healthier lifestyle. When you fill the house with healthier foods, you’ll automatically eat smarter when hunger strikes.

*Eat your “green base.” It can be difficult to make the right nutrition choices all the time. So when you are eating more decadent food like fried chicken, Chinese or pizza, put it on a base of leafy greens like spinach, spring mix or kale. That way you will get to eat what you want, but you’ll fill up more on your superfood greens and eat less of the high-calorie foods.

*Set the table. One of the simplest ways to start naturally eating less and enjoying food more is to eat all meals and snacks at the table. When you put food on a plate, eat at a table and sit in a chair you’ll eat much less than if you were eating while working on the computer, watching TV, standing in the fridge or driving!

*Build a better breakfast. A healthy diet starts with a nutritious breakfast. Think whole foods instead of pre-packaged foods high in calories and packed with preservatives. Eggland’s Best eggs contain double the omega-3s and more than double the vitamin B12 compared to ordinary eggs, which can be perfect for maintaining heart health. They also contain 25 percent less saturated fat, six times more vitamin D and 10 times the vitamin E of ordinary eggs. Plus, they taste great. Get your day started with this amazing recipe and you’ll be happier and healthier all day long.

Spinach, Grape Tomato and Cheddar Frittata

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces baby spinach

1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half

8 Eggland’s Best eggs (large)

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

salt & pepper to taste

1/4 cup milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Whisk eggs and milk together until smooth.

Heat cast iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and saute spinach until wilted and then add half of the grape tomatoes.

Pour eggs slowly into pan.

Sprinkle cheese over eggs and spread remaining grape tomatoes evenly over the egg mixture.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place skillet to oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until eggs are cooked through and golden brown.

Remove skillet from oven and let rest for a few minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve warm.

To find more delicious recipes, tips and tricks to celebrate 25 years of a more nutritious egg, sign up for the EB newsletter, http://www.egglandsbest.com/newsletter/.

Read more
ClearLink-Kitchen-1200

4 things you can do to protect your drinking water

(BPT) – Water is something many of us tend to devote little time thinking about, not because it is unimportant but because we take our clean, safe drinking water for granted. That is, until something occurs that shifts our focus and shows us how potentially fragile our water infrastructure really is.

News headlines from across North America have brought the threat of poor drinking water to the forefront and caused many people to be curious about their own water. Research from Culligan International shows that 75 percent of survey respondents said they were worried about the water they drink, while 73 percent had never had their water tested.

“For years we’ve taken the safety of our water for granted,” says Rick Cook, manager of industry and regulatory affairs for Culligan. “But our aging infrastructure has heightened the risks of harmful impurities such as lead and iron contaminating our water supply.”

Preserving safe drinking water is not something that can be left to chance. To protect yourself and your family and to ensure the water running in your home is safe to drink, Cook offers these tips.

* Know where water contamination can occur. Water impurities are not just limited to the water source. They can also occur in the distribution system. While many naturally occurring chemicals and impurities can be filtered at the source, it’s still possible for unsafe amounts of lead to enter your water. These issues are more common in older homes — those built before 1986 — which commonly feature lead pipes and fixtures.

* Educate yourself on the filtration system currently in place at your home. Water treatment solutions, including water softeners, reverse osmosis systems and specialty filters, can eliminate specific impurities in your water. However, charcoal pitchers and refrigerator cartridges cannot.

* Pay attention to the warning signs. Corroded plumbing fixtures, unpleasant odors, disagreeable taste, discolored water and even shortened appliance lifespan are all signs that something is wrong with your water. If you notice any or all of these occurring in your home, it’s time to get your water tested.

* Schedule a test to identify impurities in your water. Because water contamination can happen unexpectedly, through a municipality, your own well or your own pipes, it’s important to have your water tested by a water expert who can determine what harmful impurities — if any — are present and how to eliminate them. While testing can be done at any time, Culligan recommends scheduling a water test after you move into a new house, if you have appliances that are burning out or if you notice a change in the taste, odor or appearance of your water. If you have well water you should also have it tested whenever the water becomes cloudy or changes in taste or smell.

For more information about Culligan water treatment products, or to find your local Culligan representative, visit culligan.com.

Read more
004_213

Healthier kids, healthier communities: 4 ways to get involved

(BPT) – It’s no secret that experiences in early and middle childhood are extremely important for a child’s healthy development and lifelong learning. Yet schools — the places where kids spend the majority of their time outside of the home during the week — often lack the resources and support needed to enable and inspire students to adopt healthier lifestyles.

The solution is within reach; it rests in the hands of parents and other concerned community members who make investments (even small ones) in kids inside and outside of school to help build healthier communities and a healthier world.

Dominique Dawes, an Olympic Gold Medalist, three-time Olympian and child nutrition advocate, shares her tips on how caregivers can get involved in manageable, meaningful ways to impact change within their children’s schools and communities.

1. Understand you’re not alone. Look to organizations with a footprint in your community, and seek out ways to volunteer. There’s a great organization called Action for Healthy Kids. With the help of sponsors like GoGo squeeZ, their volunteer network works to improve the health and wellness of students in schools nationwide and highlight the link between nutrition, physical activity and learning. They even have an “Every Kid Healthy Week” to celebrate the great effort schools are making. Programs like these are impactful resources for parents, students and teachers alike.

2. Reach out to your local parks and recreation department. Chances are, they’re looking for volunteers. You may be able to help out with something on a recurring basis — a wellness or athletic program of particular interest to you. Also, ask about other ways you can serve your community. They may have park cleanup programs or other projects that can get your whole family moving and contributing.

3. Make it fun. Talk to the administration at your child’s school about activities and competitions to help students take ownership of their own health. Action for Healthy Kids offers free online activities to help improve physical activity and nutrition in school, but you can also encourage your school to apply for a grant to expand your local resources. Sponsors like GoGo squeeZ fund new grants every year!

4. Don’t underestimate your own abilities. Did you grow up learning gymnastics? Speak to the parents of your kids’ friends about organizing a gymnastics workshop at the park one weekend. Do you have a passion for making (and eating) healthy food? Volunteer to bring easy, nutritious snacks to a local after-school program, sports group or camp whenever you’re able. Bonus: nothing builds new friendships faster than food!

“I talk to so many people who care about the issues we’re facing with childhood health and wellness but don’t know how to get their foot in the door,” Dawes says. “My best advice is to start small, but start somewhere. Just one small change can make a significant difference in the life of a child and the health of a community.”

Read more
Doctor pediatrician examining cute smiling african girl, throat sick

Need care today? Here are 4 choices to try before the emergency room

(BPT) – A health concern rarely strikes when it’s convenient for you, and in most cases it occurs at the worst possible time. When you need care and don’t have time to schedule an appointment, what do you do?

You head to the emergency room, of course. You wait in the long ER lines and pay the hefty bill that concludes your visit, all for a non-emergency situation that required immediate treatment. It’s hardly the most efficient solution, and while your health is certainly your most important concern, there are ways to receive the same quality care without the long wait and extravagant expense of an emergency room visit.

Considering the three C’s

Years ago the emergency room was your only option when you needed immediate care, but today’s health care market is home to a number of flourishing alternative options. To find the right solution for your situation, consider the three C’s: care, convenience and cost.

* Care: Evaluate the severity of your symptoms and identify what services you need. An emergency issue should always be treated at the ER, but if the problem is not life- or limb-threatening, it can be treated somewhere else.

* Convenience: It’s a good idea to know what health care facilities are near you, as well as their hours of operation.

* Cost: Not every provider will be covered by your insurance, so it’s important to understand your coverage area as well as your pre-authorization requirements.

Finding the best health care option for you

If you face a serious health issue, you should head to the emergency room immediately. However, if the issue merits immediate care but is not life- or limb-threatening, the Urgent Care Association of America offers this quick guide to your on-demand health care options.

Urgent care centers

Urgent care centers are equipped to handle illnesses and injuries that require X-rays, intravenous fluids and/or on-site lab tests. With an emphasis on convenience, urgent care offers short wait times — often 30 minutes or less compared to four hours in the emergency room — and affordable care, made even more so because it is covered by most insurance providers.

Retail clinics

Otherwise known as walk-in clinics, retail clinics are commonly found in supermarkets or pharmacies and specialize in treating less serious conditions than urgent care centers or emergency rooms. If you have a minor illness or you need preventative care, like a vaccination, then a retail clinic is a logical stop for you.

Telemedicine

A product of the digital age, telemedicine connects patients with providers via virtual visits, resulting in lower costs and decreased travel time. Telemedicine services are an attractive option if you live in a rural community or for times when the treatment you require does not extend beyond a consultation. They are also a handy tool for follow-up appointments that do not require an in-person visit.

On-site clinics

Finally, you may consider an on-site clinic. This option is now offered by many employers as a way of providing increased health care access to their employees. Similar to retail clinics, an on-site clinic specializes in offering wellness and preventative services — though the specific services offered by each clinic may vary.

Finding the best solution for you

You’ve read all the care options above and you have a pretty good idea of the best solution for any care need. Match that need with the right treatment option above and you’ll receive the same quality care without the long wait and hefty bill of that emergency room visit.

To find an urgent care center near you, visit www.whereisurgentcare.com.

Read more
6 surprising health benefits of strawberries

6 surprising health benefits of strawberries

(BPT) – Eight strawberries, a single serving, delivers on a surprising checklist of benefits for anyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle. Strawberries are much more than a sweet and delicious treat — they are a versatile fruit that’s great for your health. What better time than National Strawberry Month to share six health benefits of strawberries that may be new to you. Grab a handful of strawberries and read on, because eating right has never tasted so good.

* Strawberries help you stay sharp. A recent study in the Annals of Neurology suggests that eating strawberries more than twice a week appears to delay cognitive aging by up to two and a half years.

* Loaded with nutrients. Strawberries pack a lot of healthy properties into a small package. Each berry is full of beneficial antioxidants and nutrients, including potassium, folate and fiber.

* Sweet without the sugar. The sweet taste of strawberries makes them a natural dessert topping, and strawberries are also low in calories and sugar — one serving of eight strawberries contains just 45 calories!

* A delicious source of vitamin C. When you think vitamin C, think strawberries. One serving of eight strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange, topping out at 140 percent of the recommended daily value. It’s the perfect power-packed boost that you can add to any meal or cold remedy.

* A healthy choice for diabetics. The American Diabetes Association has identified berries, including strawberries, as a perfect component of a diabetes meal plan. This is because strawberries have a low glycemic index and are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and dietary fiber.

* Cholesterol fighter. Lowering your cholesterol is a common goal for many Americans these days, and strawberries can help. In addition to being packed with antioxidants and fiber, strawberries are also rich in phytochemicals, which have been shown to reduce overall cholesterol levels. In addition, the potassium found in strawberries may help control blood pressure and fight strokes.

It’s easy to see why you should eat eight strawberries each day. Grab a handful today — your body and taste buds will be glad you did.

To learn more about the health benefits of strawberries, visit www.californiastrawberries.com.

Read more
young woman helping 90 year old senior woman to adjust safety belt in car

Transportation safety: How seniors can maintain independence outside the home

(BPT) – It can be hard to admit your vision isn’t what it used to be, especially when it comes to driving. Maybe you’ve noticed some difficulties reading traffic signals, or you’ve found it challenging to drive at night.

If you’re a family member noticing these warning signs in a loved one, pointing out these challenges may seem like a daunting and delicate undertaking. But when it comes to being on the road, safety is one thing you can’t ignore.

Encouraging your loved one to prioritize safety can be hard, especially when it feels like their independence is at stake. That’s why it’s important to have an open and honest discussion to determine the best options for maintaining independence outside the home.

Step 1: Address driver safety

Vision is the most important sense for driving safety. Annual vision screening is important for everyone, but it is especially critical for older people, since the sensory data used for driving is predominantly visual.

For seniors still able to drive, a defensive driving class can be beneficial. These classes allow students to brush up on skills while gaining confidence and introduce them to alternative transportation options for the times and locations of their preference. What’s more, many insurance companies provide discounts to seniors who complete these courses.

Giving up driving doesn’t have to mean choosing between all or nothing. For example, start limiting driving to daylight only, non-rush-hour periods. Then look into supplementary transportation options that eliminate the need to drive while still allowing you to get where you need to go.

Step 2: Research transportation options

It’s important to educate yourself or your loved one about locally available transportation options for seniors. When you know there are reliable, cost-effective transportation options available, it can help maintain a high level of independence for a trip to the grocery store or a doctor’s appointment.

Rides in Sight is a nationwide, online database of senior transportation options built by ITNAmerica, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing sustainable transportation options for seniors. Visit www.ridesinsight.org and enter basic information like your state or zip code, and you can find the ride option that’s best for your situation. If you prefer to access information by phone, call 1-855-60-RIDES (1-855-607-4337).

Rides in Sight makes it easy to find customized transportation, no matter what a person’s needs. For example, you can find wheelchair accessible transportation options or door-to-door driver assistance if that’s what you need.

Step 3: Implement a trial period

Giving up the keys is easier if you do it over a period of time. Pick a date and schedule your first ride with a transportation service during a time you normally drive. Any change takes time to adapt to, so try it out for a while before reassessing and making any necessary adjustments. After this trial period, you should feel more comfortable with someone else driving you, and you get to be in control of your mobility.

For older Americans, it’s important to be able to maintain independence when they limit or stop driving. When they are encouraged to create their own driving transition plan, more emphasis can be placed on finding new passions and activities to engage with their communities. The result is a positive impact on people of all ages.

To have that impact, reliable, secure transportation is essential. Having the necessary conversations and researching appropriate transportation options helps keep everyone happy, healthy and safe.

Read more
organic raw vegetables mix on the table

Think you’re eating well? Misconceptions lead to nutrient deficiencies for many

(BPT) – The good news? Americans think they are eating well; in fact, 60 percent say they eat a very healthy diet. The not-so-good news? Perception and reality may not be aligned.

Only 6 percent of Americans report eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, reveals recent research from supplement maker MegaFood. The discrepancy leaves a huge nutritional gap to fill.

The survey results highlight another knowledge gap between Americans and healthy eating — you can eat plenty of healthy foods, and still not get the recommended daily allowances of key nutrients.

For example, 52 percent of survey respondents say they think they get enough vitamin B6 in their diets. B6 is found in foods like bananas and avocados, plays an important role in producing fuel and energy, and is critical for optimal function of the brain, nervous and immune systems. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say 30 million Americans are deficient in vitamin B6.

Multiple studies have shown many Americans don’t get the recommended amounts of needed nutrients every day, yet two-thirds believe they can get all the required nutrients by eating a healthy diet, according to the MegaFood survey. As a result, the belief they don’t need a multivitamin is the top reason two in five people don’t take one.

“My experience consistently shows me that a large number of Americans live high-carb, high-sugar, caffeine-overloaded, stressed-out, no-exercise lives,” says Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, herbal medicine and dietary supplementation, and author of National Geographic’s “Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and More.” “We may have good intentions when it comes to eating well, but the truth is that many of us fall short of an ideal diet — and even when we do our best to eat well, it is extremely difficult to get all the nutrients we need on a regular basis with diet alone.”

What you can do

It is possible to take steps to improve nutrition. Dr. Low Dog offers these tips:

* Know the nutrients you should be getting and the recommended daily amount for each. The National Institutes of Health provide online tables for recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals, based on age and gender.

* Do your best to eat a balanced diet; it delivers health benefits beyond vitamin sufficiency. Be sure to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

* Supplement your good eating habits with a quality multivitamin. Eighty-one percent of consumers realize that not all multivitamins are the same. MegaFood makes a line of multivitamins formulated to support the health of men and women during various phases of life. They’re made from real food from real family farmers. The line is gluten-, soy-, GMO- and dairy-free, and tested to be free of pesticides and herbicides.

* In an effort to help bridge the nutritional gap, MegaFood has launched its MegaPledge campaign. Pledge to close your nutritional gap by taking a multivitamin and MegaFood will donate a bottle of multis to someone in need. Pledgers will receive a $5 coupon and be entered to win great prizes, including a year’s worth of multivitamins and an amazing wellness getaway. Additionally, MegaFood is teaming up with Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit organization that empowers underserved consumers to make healthier food choices by increasing affordable access to fresh, local food. With every pledge, MegaFood will donate two servings of fruits and veggies to someone in need. Take the pledge at megafood.com/pledge.

Read more
Excited screaming young asian woman jumping out of a plane (please also have a look to my other pictures of this series - thanks)

Unique ideas to be gutsier in life

(BPT) – Being human takes guts, but a sense of bold confidence doesn’t come easily for everyone; and often requires you to start from the inside. You may need to overcome mental roadblocks and bulldoze through personal physical barriers that have held you back.

Now is the perfect time to break free of those internal boundaries and challenge yourself to live boldly and bravely. Here are some ideas to unlock your potential from the inside out, allowing you to live gutsier at any age:

Start with a gut check

To be your best self and have the “guts” to tackle whatever lies ahead, get your gut in check and reap the glory. According to a recent Renew Life survey, three out of four women (72 percent) report that they’ve experienced occasional digestive issues in the past 12 months, such as bloating, constipation and diarrhea. Not only may these all be signs your gut is in need of replenishment and balance, but they’re enough of a reason to sit on the sideline rather than experience a new adventure.

Nutrition experts like Ellie Krieger, RD, host of “Ellie’s Real Good Food” show and author of several healthy cookbooks, agree that one of the most efficient and impactful ways to bring balance to the digestive tract for better digestive and immune health is with a daily probiotic like Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics, recommended for their blends of multiple strains and billions of live cultures, which reflects the natural diversity in the gut.

Try something new

When you try something you’ve never done before, it stimulates the body and mind. Don’t worry about failure — just keep an open mind and have fun. No matter the outcome, you’ll create lifelong memories.

For example, even if you aren’t crafty, sign up for a pottery class. Always wondered about yoga? Take an intro session. Want to make new friends? Attend that community function. When you get outside your comfort zone, you may be surprised just how much fun you have.

Eat new foods

Expand your nutritional palate with healthy items that aren’t staples on your daily menu — mix them with dishes you know and try them a couple of times. Training your brain to recognize new flavors and smells requires multiple exposures, and proximity to familiar favorites helps make things safe by association. You never know what might become your next favorite dish.

Some healthy foodie trends you may want to try include sea vegetables like dulse, a seaweed, and items that include probiotic cultures, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt. You might even consider signing up for a cooking class to learn new skills in the kitchen.

Take a spontaneous PTO day

Americans wasted 658 million paid vacation days, according to Project: Time Off’s State of American Vacation 2016 report. That means more than half of workers (55 percent) left vacation time unused. Don’t let precious time off slip away, and take a mental health day.

Call in on a random day and give yourself the gift of an unplanned day off. Maybe it’s a particularly nice day and you can go hiking or you can surprise your best friend with lunch on her birthday. Take a “me day” and enjoy.

Reflect on and be a role model

Who do you admire for their guts? Is it someone famous or someone close to you? Think about what they do that inspires you. If you can, tell them why. For example, write your mom a letter about how she’s impacted your life. It’s sure to make her day.

While thinking about role models, reflect on how you can be a better one yourself. Whether you hope to inspire your friends, children or co-workers, be the best you that you can be. Always stand up for what you believe in and be true to yourself. One way to do this is to donate to a cause close to your heart.

Challenge yourself

Need extra motivation for living gutsier? Join a fun challenge that can both guide you plus provide a sense of community and support. Sign up for a 5K with a friend or commit your family to meatless Mondays for a month. When you do challenges in groups, it can be a lot of fun.

Check out the Renew Life Guts & Glory 14-Day Gut Challenge at www.RenewLife.com/gutchallenge that will bring balance to your gut; and as a result live the life you’ve always dreamed of. The challenge will provide plenty of ideas to #getgutsy and stay healthy, and one lucky sweepstakes winner will receive $2,500 to put toward any gutsy endeavor they choose (sweepstakes from April 6 – May 19, 2017).

Read more
1 11 12 13 14