Volunteerism is a winning way to spend your day

As you consider getting out in warmer weather, think about what types of activities you would most like to take part in. Any type of activity that keeps you moving and intellectually engaged is great, and what if you could do something for someone else at the same time?

One way to accomplish all that is by volunteering! In fact, there are many different types of volunteering, and none of them is a wasted effort. Here are some ways to spend a few hours each week or month:

Deliver meals on wheels. Make sure other seniors get the nourishment they need by delivering food and conversation to their doors!

Assist other seniors. Perform tasks around the house, like light housekeeping and cooking, for seniors who need a little extra help. Escort them to a store or the park, so they can share in the joy of nicer weather and social engagement!

Work with animals. Call a local shelter and offer your assistance! Many shelters have opportunities to help walk dogs and feed and groom all kinds of critters. You’re in fur a good time!

Help youngsters. Help kids learn to read, mentor teens, care for premature infants, and more! There are so many children who could benefit from your experience, knowledge, and compassion. When school is back in session, many teachers love to have outside help with story times and paper grading, too! Call a nearby school and see what you can do.

Having a little extra time on our hands is never a bad thing, but using it to help others can make a real difference to people in our community. We all need a little help now and then, so let’s pay it forward whenever we can!

Getting reacquainted with our environment

Sometimes we don’t realize how easy it is to make a difference in the health of our world, or how easily we can impact it. With Earth Day coming up, this is a great time to think about ways we can help ourselves, while also enjoying our environment, and helping our planet.

The world’s resources are not unlimited, and recognizing that fact by choosing alternative transportations is a good place to start. For instance, by walking, bicycling, and/or taking the bus on your next shopping or social outing—rather than driving or riding in a car—you can cut down on fossil fuel use. At the same time, by adding a little more physical movement each day—even if it’s just walking from the bus stop to the store—you can significantly improve your health over time. Small changes have big impacts!

You can always build on small actions, too—the next time you are out for a walk, bring along a paper bag and a rubber glove and pick up a piece of trash or two on each trip. It doesn’t take much to improve the world around us, and, who knows, other people might even be inspired by your actions and choose to join in!

Another seemingly small thing you can do for your body and the planet is to eat locally grown foods and avoid processed or heavily packaged foods as much as possible. Processed foods can contain ingredients that aren’t good for you. And by eating locally, you’ll further cut back on fossil fuels by limiting the need for the foods you eat to be transported across the country—or the world. Eating locally also cuts back on the resources used in manufacturing plastics and cardboards for packaging. This may mean eating fruits and vegetables only when they are in season—when they naturally taste their best!

Through a few small actions you can make big differences in the health of the planet, your immediate environment, and your own body. Start small and keep working your way up, and eventually you’ll inspire others, making you feel great in more ways than one!

 

Nurture your social wellness this spring!

Regardless of what the weather forecast says for this month, spring is on its way! This season of growth is a great time to reconnect with friends and cultivate social wellness after a long and cold winter inside.

Socialization and friendships provide significant benefits to our overall health and wellness including enhancing mental health and self-esteem, providing a sense of belonging and purpose, and holding us accountable when our schedule becomes a little less structured.

Making new friends is not always as easy as it sounds, but there are opportunities abound for nearly everyone these days—especially in today’s connected world.

  • Take advantage of community events. Retirement communities provide many classes, performances, and outings at little to no cost, often with transportation included.
  • Get online. If distance or transportation is an issue, connect with friends via FaceTime, Skype, Facebook, or other digital mediums.
  • Volunteer your time. Giving back stimulates many different aspects of personal wellness, and helps to support great causes, as well!
  • Share your interests and expertise. If you can’t find something to join, consider teaching a class or starting a club of your own, which will likely draw in those with similar interests. As you’re getting out and participating in different events, consider those who may be feeling isolated and extend an invitation! A kind gesture goes far and will likely be reciprocated in the future to further cultivate your own social wellness.

Lead an enriched life this year!

At the start of a new year, we look ahead at what’s to come and consider what we’d like to change from the year before. What do you want to accomplish this year?

No matter your age or situation, it’s never too late to make a change—and there are many simple things we can all do to enhance our personal wellness and feel good today and every day!

While working toward making a change, it can often be valuable to think of our goal as a habit we wish to permanently incorporate into our lifestyle, rather than something with a specific end mark.

Here are a few ideas to consider incorporating into your daily routine:

  • Drink a full glass of water first thing each morning. Get hydrated and get a fresh start.
  • Set a mantra or plan for each day. Begin your day with a goal in mind, no matter how small or simple it may be.
  • Move as much as you can. Set a timer to move around or at least change position every 30 to 60 minutes each day.
  • Do a good deed for someone else. When someone does a good deed for you, instead of paying them back, pay it forward. A selfless act feels good to giver and recipient, and can help inspire kindness in others, as well!

Cultivating a general sense of wellness can help us feel our best and have more energy to spend on what makes us happy. Focusing on ourselves throughout the year means that we can approach each new milestone with confidence.

Cultivating a JOY{FULL} holiday season

The end of the year is a time of togetherness and reflection. As we spend time with family and friends, we often think back on what the year has brought us, and what we have to look forward to in the new year.

But with age, the holidays can sometimes trigger feelings of sadness and anger as we think about those no longer with us or health conditions that keep us from celebrating the same way we did in years past.

No matter your situation, there are ways for everyone to celebrate the season and get in the holiday spirit:

  • Share stories and look through old photo albums. Telling younger generations about your past experiences can help bring families closer together and honor those who have passed.
  • Be reasonable with your schedule. Don’t agree to attend too much if you think it will tire you. Conversely, if you’re feeling like you don’t have much planned for the holidays, consider volunteering to give back and surround yourself with like-minded people.
  • Stick to your routines. With a lot going on, it’s easy to slip up on certain habits, but following your regular exercise program and eating healthfully (in moderation!) can help you continue to feel your best.

Keep in mind that the best way to spend the holidays is doing what feels right for you. Enjoy the season!

Gratitude goes a long way

Giving back and expressing gratitude are synonymous with this time of year—it’s only natural to look back on all we’ve been thankful for over the past several months as we look forward to the start of a new year. As we gather together over the holidays, we can share these feelings with loved ones and give thanks to each other.

Showing gratitude can be as simple as giving someone a compliment, sharing a meal with a loved one, or trying to see the positives in a bad situation. More formal ways to give back might include volunteering at a local food bank, becoming a mentor, making a charitable donation, or teaching a class.

Ingraining these habits in our everyday lives helps make these feelings more prominent and can encourage others to follow our lead. In addition to helping others feel a sense of purpose and appreciated, giving to others benefits the giver, as well.

It can help:

  • Increase self-esteem
  • Stimulate the release of endorphins similar to the “high” that comes from exercise
  • Gain a new perspective and take your mind off of everyday concerns
  • Grow as a person and develop new skills and knowledge

This month, consider the ways in which you can show your appreciation for those who make your life a little brighter each day. Spread kindness, express your feelings, and enhance self-worth for yourself and others!

Reducing the risk of breast cancer through awareness and early detection

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, now is as good a time as any to make sure you’re educated on the risks and early signs of this disease to help keep yourself or your loved ones healthy. While breast cancer is not preventable, there are several ways to help stay protected and minimize the effect of this potentially deadly condition.

Eighty percent of all breast cancer cases occur in women over the age of 50, with 60% found in women over the age of 65. A woman’s risk of breast cancer tends to increase with age—which makes regular screening and early detection all the more important.

For women between the ages of 50 and 74 years old, a mammogram screening is recommended every two years. This X-ray exam is usually covered by insurance with no out-of-pocket costs, and is the most effective way to detect any signs of cancer as early as possible.

In addition to regular screenings by a professional, it’s important for everyone to be aware of some of the early warning signs of breast cancer, and bring them to the attention of your doctor as soon as possible. Common warning signs include:

  • Lump in the breast or underarm
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
  • Pain in the nipple or breast
  • Redness or discharge from the nipple
  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast

While most incidences of breast cancer are found in women, men are not immune to the disease. It’s important for everyone to be aware of the risk factors and know how to identify early signs in themselves, their partner, or a loved one they care for. This month, educate yourself and promote lifelong health.

Downsizing at any time for simpler living

Downsizing is a popular topic in the world of senior living—a move to a retirement community often involves sorting through decades of belongings and preparing to transition to a smaller space. There are countless consultants and organizations available to help older adults prepare for this overwhelming task.

But lately the downsizing trend is not limited only to those who are preparing for a major life change like a move to a retirement community. Simplified living has become a way of life for people of all ages. Removing unnecessary belongings can help relieve stress, cut down on cleaning, and allow for more time to focus on life experiences rather than tending to belongings.

In 2014, Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo released The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which quickly became a bestseller in a society that has become obsessed with “stuff.” In her book, Marie shares how to joyfully declutter your home and surround yourself with things that make you happy. Her purposeful approach to simple living promotes happiness and creating an intentional home space.

This trend shows us that we don’t have to wait for a major life transition to start the downsizing process. Eliminating clutter and being mindful of what we bring into our home can provide benefits for anyone.

The tips below can help you get started whether you’re looking to simplify certain areas or prepare for a big move.

  • Limit the amount of space you’re willing to give certain items. Only allowing yourself to keep enough books to fit on a bookshelf can make it easier to determine which ones are most important to you.
  • Keep additional clutter from entering your space. Opt out of catalogs, subscribe to paperless billing, and consider the usefulness of freebies and giveaway items before accepting them.
  • Follow the one-year rule. If you haven’t used something in the last year (or two), especially clothing, it’s unlikely that you will use it again at all.
  • Save digitally. If something holds sentimental value to you, take a photo of it to keep forever. Similarly, take time to digitize old photos and videos to free up physical storage space and keep your memories intact online.

Simplifying over time can help make a move all the more easier when the time comes. Create intention in your home!

Guest post: Reducing clutter

Our lives are filled with extraneous stuff that clogs our minds and space. To take back your life, begin by examining which kinds of clutter need to be cleared from your life:

Physical clutter—Symptoms: piles, stacks, and layered surfaces. Remedy: Purpose your space. Dig out and create a baseline you can maintain, and then assign a home to each category of items.

Time clutter—Symptoms: Out-of-control schedules, over-commitment, and lack of prioritization. Remedy: Discover your life’s purpose and priorities, and then align daily activities around that bigger picture.

Financial clutter—Symptoms: Overwhelm, fear, and resistance to tackle a project. Remedies: Invest in organizing your permanent filing system, establish a better flow of incoming paper, and create customized systems for recurrent tasks.

Relational clutter—Symptoms: Endless drama, neediness, anger at others, or unhealthy relationships. Remedy: Forgive yourself and others, and surround yourself with those who bring out the best you!

Emotional clutter—Symptoms: mental torment, circular thinking, stress, confusion, depression, and the like. Remedy: Pursue emotional healing. Trade in the lies and hurts of the past and present for truth.

Spiritual clutter—Symptoms: racing on the hamster wheel of life, harried days disconnected from our spiritual nature. Remedy: Align your spirit, soul, and body.

Pick one or several areas of life clutter and begin “clearing clogs” today!

Vicki Norris, president of Restoring Order®, is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, and speaker. Her team of professional organizers serves home and business clients in Washington and Oregon. You can watch her organizing segments on KPTV’s Fox 12 More Good Day Oregon. Visit RestoringOrder.com for more information.

Exercise for adapting needs

As we get older, certain conditions, injuries, or simply the effects of time may keep us from moving the way we once did.

Aging bodies have different needs. The activities you may have once enjoyed as exercise may no longer be feasible. But learning to adapt to these changes can help keep exercise an important and effective part of your life.

Staying active is essential for maintaining or improving your well-being. In addition to reducing the risk of falls and cardiovascular conditions, physical activity helps release endorphins to relieve stress, boost self-esteem, and improve moods.

In September we celebrate Active Aging Week, and this year’s theme is “Explore the Possibilities”—a great reminder to think outside the box when it comes to your physical activities and find the options that work for you.

  • Focus on balance. Be sure to incorporate balance exercises like tai chi or Pilates into your routine for a low-impact workout with significant results.
  • Take a seat. Chair yoga and other seated exercises can still provide tremendous benefits and are ideal for those who are unable to stand for prolonged periods of time, or get down onto the floor.
  • Dive in! Aquatic exercise is easy on joints while helping to strengthen your core, legs, and back. Water-aerobics classes can also help enhance cardiovascular health.
  • Think outside the gym. It’s easy to incorporate walking and stretching into everyday life. A stroll through a mall or museum, a dance class, or spending time in the park with grandchildren are all ways to get moving without even feeling like you’re exercising.

No matter your abilities or strengths, the most effective type of exercise is one that you enjoy. To successfully incorporate workouts into your daily routine, consider which activities make you happy and which you’ll look forward to doing each day.