The Power of Walking

The Power of Walking

Feature
Let's rewind to early morning this last week. Imagine being shaken awake for a sunrise walk. A walk! Initially, I was startled but threw my shoes on and made my way outside anyways. While walking through the park, looking at the trees and the pond, several things changed. My outlook towards the day was suddenly one of adventure and my body felt restored and recharged. I took a few deep breaths and kept walking along, taking in my surroundings. The power of walking and not only walking but walking outdoors is correlated to enhance overall well-being (Bratman et al 2015). Unfortunately, even just walking has to be built into our day. But what if we change our outlook on being outdoors and even walking. There's opportunity. It could be included…
Read More
Seven Screen-time Strategies to Reduce Health Conditions

Seven Screen-time Strategies to Reduce Health Conditions

Occupational
For many working people, staring at a computer for several hours is the norm in the workplace. That means, hours of screen time not including late night television binges, texts to friends, or surfing the net for recipes. Some side effects of all this time spent with our eyes on screens include: eye strain, headaches, or vision changes. If continued long term it may lead to health conditions type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. Screen time usage strategies: Meet in an environment that supports active listening in place of texting; be certain all screens are at least 20-40 inches away; invest in anti-glare screens; observe routines to identify if a screen is even necessary; use an app, like Moment, to track your phone usage; take eye breaks...walk away from your screen for…
Read More
Losing Things Anxiety

Losing Things Anxiety

Feature
While on a laidback visit with family in Delaware, I came to a hard realization.  Something was not working. I was losing items left and right.  I was losing things like my jacket, the dog dish, and my glasses.  It was a wakeup call.  I became aware things needed to change because I knew it was my anxiety creeping in. Slowly, I put the pieces together to try and wrap my head around this. You would’ve thought that would be obvious after being on my sixth pair of sunglasses and looking at a jewelry box filled with missing earrings.  However, some lessons take longer to learn than others. Keeping track of things can be a full time job.  Luckily, I surround myself with very observant people and a boyfriend who always checks the couch cushion…
Read More
An Experiment To Try Beginners Mind

An Experiment To Try Beginners Mind

Spiritual
This last week before going for a hike I had thoughts enter my head about the following: mud, the dog, making my own trail, and poor boots.  Before starting the hike, I had judgments. This anticipatory, automatic notion of how it has been in the past, how it should be, and what will make the car completely muddy were flooding my mind. At that moment, I paused.  Where had my excitement and intent gone? Isn’t the whole purpose of a hike to let go, be out in nature, gently make your own path, and be open to the world around you? I trudged along but that concept of "beginner’s mind" was one with steady reoccurrence later that week. "Beginner’s mind" is when we approach something with curiosity, newness, and openness. We become…
Read More
Alone Time

Alone Time

Feature
While driving down I-90 with the music low, I took in everything new. Then I watched the yellow line patterns and the steady row of trucks chugging along.  It went from feeling fresh to quickly becoming monotonous. I grew eager to just be home. In that moment, I felt for those traveling as part of daily life - whether long trips on the road, maybe flying or just a timely commute. Over the past two years this has been the norm for my fiancé.  Fortunately, he handles this well because he connects quickly with new people and takes time to explore new places. Upon returning home, people often ask about stories from his travels and new experiences. More often than not in relationships in which one travels, other people tend to overlook…
Read More
Morning Crazies

Morning Crazies

Feature
Planning what I wear to work has been harder over the past year. With shared spaces, what should easily be a 15 minute or less routine, often becomes a hunt.  Where did my favorite top go? Running between laundry baskets or digging into drawers is not uncommon.  I know my role with morning crazies requires a change in multiple areas: environment, obtaining specific items, senses, attitude. Consider reorganizing closet space The closet situation is not working out.  Hangers are a desired item in this bedroom.  I thought back on a time when this was not an issue. Picture a large closet with a glowing light filling it.  That closet brought about borderline morning miracles on a daily basis. Clothing Simplicity The next area to tackle was my mind.  Was my desire to switch…
Read More
Ways To Relaxation On A Daily Basis

Ways To Relaxation On A Daily Basis

Feature
We asked about twenty people what they took away form a circus experience.  Responses were diverse: sticky, smelly, animal-abuse!, lights, colorful tents, childhood memories, and overall wonder. Our culture diversity gives way to our social perspectives on things. Mardi Gras or masquerades...even family reunions, no? Sometimes putting on a show lasts for weeks when schedules are hectic and agendas are jam-packed.  Often our internal cues are not addressed, let alone recognized.  This can build up and lead to stress related concerns, crashing, fatigue and eventually burnout.  Unfortunately, this has become all too familiar and accepted in our society. This past summer, I have had the luxury of taking naps. Girlfriends who are pregnant, friends that are moving, and all my employed friends either don't understand, sigh in jealousy or regard…
Read More
Earth Sets A Standard To Our Indoor Experiences

Earth Sets A Standard To Our Indoor Experiences

Feature
According to Merriam Webster, the definition of earth tones is: any of various rich colors containing some brown. This past week I drove across the country from Lake Havasu City, AZ back to upstate NY.  Despite the overflow of boxes, a hermit crab cage and toiletries from the backseat, we had an amazing trip.  The outside scenery flew by and changed frequently from day to day; everything from the desert to a slow and steady rain cloud that followed us.  We finally drove into New York in the middle of the night with nothing but black surrounding us with a soft hue of the moon covered by clouds. On The Drive, I realized how visually influenced I am.  It sets the tone for everything to follow.  The sight and sound…
Read More
Talking to Yourself Will Develop Performance

Talking to Yourself Will Develop Performance

HR Academy, Social
First mail out those letters sitting on the table, complete the employee evaluation, and prepare for the meeting. Then think about my purpose in this job. Those thoughts became words quickly without hesitation one day. I didn’t even realize I had said them until they were muttered. Reassuring, focusing words leads to true responsiveness. Talking to yourself throughout the day is not abnormal. In fact, there is even a term that defines this phenomenon known as private speech. We often learn to do it as kids. Kids talk to themselves while playing.  It serves as an important part of their development. As we get older, it allows us to cement memories or visualize what we are thinking. Buy carrots for the soup. Oh those keys..hmmm. Private speech helps us socially. When we come up with…
Read More
How Much Caffeine is Too Much?

How Much Caffeine is Too Much?

Physical
Hot coffee is one of my favorite ways to start the day.  I love the routine of it, the smells that fill the kitchen and the way milk twirls, turns about until mixed. But the longer lasting reaction is a little more complicated.  I have begun to notice that the effects of coffee, i.e. flying through the fastest workday feeling, also comes with some side effects.  After a few sips, I begin to lose touch with my body and ultimately with where my personal sensory needs are at. Benefits of Self-Regulating: Increasing your focus to what requires your attention To further take care of yourself and your present needs To be able to engage in meaningful life activities Ability to deal with difficult situations that arise Know yourself better. Prevent.…
Read More
Focus and Conquer Those Daily Intentions

Focus and Conquer Those Daily Intentions

Feature
During occupational therapy sessions this last week at the preschool we created a “Determine Your Session” game. The student was given a ball and had to throw it at one of the numbers located on the therapy mat. Once the number was determined, then that child had to do the activity that many times. For example, trace you name in four different colors, jump seven times on the trampoline or roll eight play dough snowballs. This got me thinking – how often does this realistically happen in life? Sometimes we are given several choices throughout our day or faced with daily options that are not too enjoyable. This tactic can help focus and conquer those great intentions. Recently, I was working with kids that have oral defensiveness and the thought…
Read More
Pain At My Shoulder

Pain At My Shoulder

Physical
This last Sunday I went to a yoga class filled with a variety of people.  Regardless of where you are at in life, the instructor gave the most simple and wholesome advice: know your body. It’s by knowing where you are strongest, where you have ached in the past, how you sleep every night, what your job tasks require, where your mind wanders. By knowing yourself, recognizing and being aware, we are able to evaluate and eventually bring changes. This leads me to my right shoulder. Over the past… 10 years… I have had on and off pain at my shoulder which has affected my posture and ability to walk long distances before experiencing pain. I know this of myself and at times I appreciate it and make changes and…
Read More
Reduce Aging Hands With These Reliable Tips

Reduce Aging Hands With These Reliable Tips

Physical
A few weeks ago, an older woman who was previously a nurse held her hands in front of me.  She said, “Look, look at the difference.”  She further explained that the course of moments and experiences weathered her hands. Particularly the right hand, as she is right handed. Hands guide us by driving. They lift and make us stronger.  They write love letters and e-mails to those across the country. Whether evaluating each curve and line closely or running out the door our hands deserve authentic attention and care. Hands are integral to function every day. Reduce the aging process with these five reliable tips: Wash them.  Particularly, with a soap that smells invigorating or maybe relaxing or reminds you of vanilla sugar cookies. Moisturize them.  While doing so, it is a great…
Read More
Six Creative Ways To Invest In a Joyful Day With A Dreaded Commute On The Horizon

Six Creative Ways To Invest In a Joyful Day With A Dreaded Commute On The Horizon

Feature
Once I striped away the spite from a new, yet tedious commute to my weekday routine the challenge was to plan carefully - given traffic, traffic cones and added coffee stops along my route. Yes, some days it is plural. Temporary living conditions includes a culture where long commutes are the norm rather than the exception. I find this unfortunate. Getting my brain relaxed about the commute each day helps sustain energy.  With every sunrise I start anew and there is no cookie cutter answer. Although there are creative ways to invest in a joyful day with a dreaded commute on the horizon. Here are six: NPRs Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! quizzes contestants on weekly news. Hilarious! Ask Me Another shares Puzzles & word games, including limericks. I heart NPR. Listen…
Read More
Post Traumatic Growth

Post Traumatic Growth

HR Academy, Spiritual
This last week while hiking in Connecticut, we came across a man that was hiking the entire Appalachian Trail.  He was asking some other hikers about the best type of hiking shoes and talked excitedly about an apple someone had just given him. We all were in awe at such an introspective and dedicated life choice.  Initially I was intrigued by this man’s story, what brought him to this point and well… a thousand more questions regarding logistics alone. The concept of moving and processing certainly goes together. But this man’s choice really isn't so far off from some of our own journeys. Recently, I heard someone say that we all have a turning point in our life.  We define ourselves by that turning point – essentially we view ourselves…
Read More
How I Dynamically Liberate Spunk Day or Night

How I Dynamically Liberate Spunk Day or Night

Feature, HR Academy
A good friend of mine once asked if I was a night owl or a morning lark.  This reference to my energy patterns was certainly thought provoking. After talking with many people – I realized how many people regard being a morning or evening person as part of their identity.  Lark verses night owl identities significantly results cultural meaning. Essentially, this relational category helps us gravitate towards specific relationships and accomplishments. My energy bursts seem to be in the morning, so one may say I'm a Lark. Sometimes I like to get myself organized and complete all essential tasks (laundry, cleaning, e-mails, workout) that expend a lot of physical or mental energy in this time frame. Evenings are always more geared to the quieter things I enjoy, including going for…
Read More
Clarity On The Meaning of Wellbeing

Clarity On The Meaning of Wellbeing

Feature, HR Academy
What do you consider being well? Is it the ability to run a 5k? To take your dog for a walk? To play with your kids? To sit outside? Wellbeing is all those things. It goes beyond those healthy resources to living a meaningful, full life. It covers having symptoms, signs, maybe even a disease which may require treatment.  But it also includes being mindful, aware, educated and achieving growth to who you want to be on a daily basis. I remember as a kid always wanting to strive for a vibrant life when I grew up.  This included being outside, being active, having close friends and family and learning as much as I could about the world around me.  Those little insights I had at a young age have helped…
Read More
Measured Movement

Measured Movement

Physical
Over the past few longer and sunnier days, I've found myself wanting to move more.  I seek being outside walking around instead of hibernating.  This sense of longing certainly comes and goes throughout the year - not due to a sports injury but instead due to my own lack of planning (around weather changes, ever changing schedule, not leaving gym clothes out, etc.) Over the past few years I have learned to be patient with myself during those times I am not exercising regularly and instead focus on what does work.  Focusing on phrases such as "I am willing/open to change" help to make this feeling turn into a thought then into a habitual action. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need roughly 2.5 hours a…
Read More
Relaxing is Healthy

Relaxing is Healthy

HR Academy, Occupational
How often do we need to remind ourself that relaxing is healthy? It's an activity worthy to schedule. Europeans do. They shut down businesses for up to 6 hours after noon. Sweden recently introduced a six hour working day (Matharu 2015).  Leisure is one way we occupy our time within those everyday life activities (AOTA 2014). This occupation is a role that holds significant value to work, household management, education, socializing, etc. Questions to Ask: How many times in one day is their a period of relaxation? Is it counterproductive to relax for five minutes an hour during a work day? What is involved in a period of relaxation? Does periods of relaxation cause the feeling of restlessness, as though it's 'waisting time'?   A recent study of 600,000 global men and…
Read More
Provoke Performance With Blissful Sensations

Provoke Performance With Blissful Sensations

HR Academy, Intellectual
It seems there are times in the year that just seem chaotic.  It can be an increased momentum within your personal life, a sudden heavy load professionally or certain once-in-a-lifetime events.  Wedding season, anyone? Planning comes naturally to some.  I grew up in a family where a little bound book documented everyone’s life.  We all knew where we needed to be if we saw the initial to our first name within the family planner. But certainly this may not be genetic or even learned for some of us. Many people plan to prevent, such as preventing bankruptcy during retirement or even preventing an empty fridge by stopping at the grocery store at the end of the work day. Often overlooked is planning to take care of ourselves - whether through…
Read More
12 Posture Tips To Energize, Add Grace, Ease Aging

12 Posture Tips To Energize, Add Grace, Ease Aging

HR Academy, Occupational
Growing up I always remember my mother saying “Stand up straight!” or “Sit up!”  I certainly always tried to be conscious of this – especially since I only reached a maximum of only 5’ 4”.  My sister who hit an early growth spurt was a little more defiant. She hunched, slouched and bent over to be the height of her friends in photos and to meet classmates eye-to-eye. Now that wisdom has set in, I understand my posture will energize, add grace, and ease my aging process. Posture portrays a lot. Postures often are circumstantial. Playing with kids versus meeting a new business partner secures a difference. Centering yourself during meditation is genuine posturing. Physical body appearance may portray confidence, a state of relaxation and a certain amount of poise.…
Read More
How to Empower Your Performance by Seizing These Helpless Moments

How to Empower Your Performance by Seizing These Helpless Moments

Social
I love receiving packages in the mail.  With every opened package it feels like an undocumented holiday.  This last week my laptop was fixed and shipped back to me thus making last Wednesday officially Laptop Day for me! Thank goodness the delivery persons truly did handle my laptop with care so that it could be returned safely from across the country. This last week, I heard someone mention that we should handle all living things with care – including ourselves. This sounded so very simple. From the get-go the social golden rule was to always say “please”.  Being mindful of this throughout the week, I realized how much deeper it was than that. When the alarm went off, I wanted to sleep in and I initially thought Wow, second time this week! Twice during…
Read More
Overcome Floundering With These Seven Sleep Basics

Overcome Floundering With These Seven Sleep Basics

Feature
The American Occupational Therapy Association dedicated an entire issue to sleep.  Rightfully so, it usually takes up a third of our day, if you're lucky.  Within the article, it is cited that 10-15% of Americans suffer from chronic insomnia and 5% suffer from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Those statistics are alarming - there are a lot of sleep-deprived people driving, working and attempting to function in everyday life.  Certainly good habits around sleep are important but sometimes that is easier said than done. Sleep Basics Make sure the bedroom is a restful place.  Have inviting comfortable linens, a heavy blanket, your favorite pillows. Avoid stimulants or exercising 2 hours before bed.  But do be sure to include exercise daily to help establish an appropriate sleep rhythm. Establish a consistent nighttime routine and…
Read More
People, Places, Things: Be Exposed to the Vibrant

People, Places, Things: Be Exposed to the Vibrant

HR Academy, Social
A good friend of mine called me to recite her new health goals.  As suspected, they were the the same ones I've heard over the past few years: lose weight, save more, be nicer to her boyfriend. I completely support her in all of these but I had to wonder, why is it that we (certainly myself included!) focus intently on the same things and seemingly end up right where we started? Life is filled with several natural new beginnings. Feelings of renewal and focus, a chance to start anew and have a sense of a fresh clean slate occur often. We are creatures of habit. Many of the things we are interested in changing are engrained within our environment we surround ourselves in. What happens around us becomes a…
Read More
How Sounds Reclaim Life, Boosts Performance, and Surrenders Agony

How Sounds Reclaim Life, Boosts Performance, and Surrenders Agony

HR Academy, Intellectual
One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.  BOB MARLEY Our inner ear provides us with a lot of information about the world around us. This sound travels through the ear by means of the auditory nerve, then to be processed by our brain. Even if we were blindfolded, we would be able to identify if we were in a large stadium versus a small confined room based on the sounds and how that sound travels through space. Music has the ability to produce an orienting response. Sounds reclaim life, boosts performance, and energizes perception. Picture grandma dropping a pan and automatically everyone in the room turns to see what it is - they orient towards that sound. Although we usually view loud noises as environmental…
Read More
Food Can Be A Trigger

Food Can Be A Trigger

Physical
It is that season when there is always something baking in the oven or a tea kettle boiling for tea or cocoa. Family mealtimes are emphasized and social gatherings are regularly scheduled. The work offices are stocked up with cookies or treats in shining, foil wrappers. Holiday treats and celebrations bring a sense of community, nurture our bodies and feed our soul. But what about those who have difficulties or disordered eating habits? The increase in food can be a trigger or stir up anxieties. Recently, I found out a person very close to me was having such difficulties.  She reported always having such emotional pain followed by physical pain of overeating and then ultimately this effected her self-worth.  This was difficult to discuss and shows bravery on her part.…
Read More
How To Stop Pathetic Future Meltdowns From Stress

How To Stop Pathetic Future Meltdowns From Stress

Spiritual, WholeBe Toolkit
She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails. -ELIZABETH EDWARDS Spreading newspapers and pulling out handfuls of goopy seeds are the welcomed precursors to carving a pumpkin.  Next, time will be spent together at a large table, calling dibs on a favored leg or wing to eat while simultaneously someone slowly carves the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. The next two months holds such focus on others: giving presents, cooking and creating New Year’s resolutions to better ourselves, the community and the organizations we believe in.  Carving time in our schedules for ourselves quickly goes by the wayside. It is easy to schedule a massage or a hair appointment and denote that time as “me time.” Often it is spread out,…
Read More
Connect the Dots to Relief

Connect the Dots to Relief

Intellectual
This past week, I attended a course that focuses on preventing and managing undesirable behaviors.  As part of the exercise it stated: Connect all dots using two lines: . . .   Fairly easy. It creates a line.  Next was connecting two rows of dots, for a total of six dots.  The instructions read: Connect using 4 lines: .             . .             . .             .   It created a square.  Not too challenging just yet.  The last challenge was to still only: Use four lines to connect 9 circles:   I am a very literal person so I assumed the idea was to have every dot connecting to every other dot.  Therefore it…
Read More
Impact of Decision Making

Impact of Decision Making

Feature, HR Academy
At times we realize the weight and impact our decisions have - not only on ourselves but also on the world around us. Does decision-making begin with logic? Every waking minute decisions are made.  In the past, I had a supervisor state that every decision made has one end goal: regulate body sensations.  Therefore, if we choose to sit on the ground verses in a spinning office chair, decide to sip hot coffee instead of drinking a cold fizzy soda, or blast a favorite song in the care instead of sitting in silence - the impact of decision making is driven by our sensory system. This intrigued me but I honestly felt it was over simplified. There are populations that have difficulty expressing decision making or choosing sensations to support…
Read More
Everyday Functioning For Kids and Adults With Sensory Concerns

Everyday Functioning For Kids and Adults With Sensory Concerns

Social
Life is constantly changing around us.  Things like the temperature, lighting, and noises are always being processed.  Although a lot of this happens on an autonomic level, for persons with sensory processing concerns, standing still can be overwhelming and effect everyday function. Occupational therapist Catherine Armani-Munn, MS OTR/L explores the challenges of everyday functioning for kids and adults with sensory concerns. Bethany: What year & where did you graduate? Catherine: I graduated from Keuka College in a 5 yr masters program.  My undergrad was in Occupational Science and in 2010 I graduated with my masters in Occupational Therapy. I also got a minor in ASL (American Sign Language) in college which has helped me a lot in the field, especially working with the autism population. Bethany: What is  your background and…
Read More
Texture Helps Us Make Sense of Our Environment

Texture Helps Us Make Sense of Our Environment

Feature
  Since being sold in the 1990s, the family farmhouse has changed hands twice and continues to be renovated. My German relatives originally came to NY in 1904 to start a farm and family.  This last week I was able to go back to visit with my Yaya (grandmother) and boyfriend.  All the memories of the interior were vivid but there was no longer that physical reminder.  Outside, the barns still stood but were certainly in a further state of collapse and seemed so much smaller compared to my memories. Over a diner breakfast, Yaya reminisced and mentioned that her favorite rooms in the house were her bedroom and the kitchen.   As she talked about why, she consistently got hung up on the feeling of the quilt, lighting, the kitchen…
Read More
When It All Becomes Overwhelming and You Start to Shut Down

When It All Becomes Overwhelming and You Start to Shut Down

Feature
Sometimes I'm scared of my body.  I'm not always sure what pains I will wake up to or what thoughts will wander into my head or even what colors will come out of my nose.  This past year, I've become more in tune with this while living in the Mojave desert.  Lake Havasu City is a very different climate compared to back east - coming in at about 10-18% humidity according to my hermit crabs' barometer.  This has left me at times dehydrated, congested, raspy, and/or wiped out.  Nonetheless, it has helped me become very aware of any changes internally and how the environment affects me. This is something I'm glad I'm beginning to realize now.  It's important knowing who you are and how you react under the most trying…
Read More
Why Storytelling Results In A Creative Wellbeing

Why Storytelling Results In A Creative Wellbeing

Feature
As a kid, on the weekends we use to break out the dress-up box and slip on dresses, fur coats, trench coats & top off our look with an old lady church hat. Between the five girls on the Baxterly Ave block, we would throw double weddings or funerals or explore the backyard filling containers with worms and twigs or lightning bugs. Every day was another adventure and a chance to create a new story. This played a huge role in life. Stories bring us understanding and give us freedom from ourselves.  They let us explore another world without leaving the comforts of our everyday life.  In essence, we all have our own story.  We tell stories every day.  Although now there are no longer elaborate dress-up tea parties or…
Read More