Spring is here, which means planting season is upon us. To celebrate this beautiful time of year and encourage people to get planting, April is designated National Gardening Month. Gardening can be a relaxing and rewarding hobby to take on – so why not get out and play in the dirt.

Here are some simple tips to get your garden growing:

Learn to Manage Your Stress - April is Stress Awareness Month

Stress, for most people, is dealt with daily. Whether it’s work or personal stress, there are ways to reduce your stress levels and live a more fulfilling life.

• Meditate – learn to take a few minutes to clear your mind and ease anxiety
• Breathe – focus on deep breathing exercises
• Slow Down – stop rushing every task and be in the moment
• Reach Out – call a friend or grab a coffee with a coworker to reconnect
• Move It – exercise is a great tension reliever
• Journal – keep a gratitude journal to write down all the good things in your life

April is Alcohol Awareness Month and this year’s focus is on preventing teen alcohol abuse, a growing problem in the United States. According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), reducing underage drinking is critical to securing a healthy future for America’s youth. Their strategy is to educate parents, teachers and the community on ways to identify and reduce abuse.

• Young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.
• Kids who drink are more likely to be victims of violent crime, to be involved in alcohol-related traffic crashes and to have serious school-related problems.

For more information or available resources, visit

There is nothing more refreshing and re-energizing then breaking your day up with a brisk walk in the park. National Take a Walk in the Park Day is March 30, so get out and enjoy your local community park.

• Find a Park - Search the web to find local and national parks around your community.
• Grab a Friend – Call that buddy you’ve been wanting to catch up with and ask them to meet you for a walk.
• Pack a lunch/snack – Change the scenery and unwind and refuel under a tree during your walk.
• Take the kiddos – Use your walk as a learning experience by taking the kids along for a nature walk or scavenger hunt.
• Headed to work? - Pack your tennis shoes and find a park around your workplace to clear your head and ease brain fatigue.

What could be one of the cutest, cuddliest celebration days all year – Puppy Day on March 23!

Puppies, and of course, all dogs, are known to have positive effects on your mental well-being and stress. How can your pooch boost your mood?

• Dogs offer companionship.
• Dogs give owners motivation to be physically active since they must go outside for ‘restroom breaks’ and walks.
• Dogs offer unconditional love to their owners. Having a wagging tail greet you each-and-every day without question is a wonderful feeling.
• Petting a dog has a calming effect on human beings.
• Playing fetch or throwing the ball for your dog takes a person’s mind off stressful thoughts and relaxes them.
• Dogs give owners a sense of purpose and caring. A dog needs to be taken care of and human beings are naturally designed to care for other living things.

Celebrate your furry comrade today with some extra love and a yummy treat!

Many adults and some young children struggle with sleep. Tossing and turning, not being able to shut your brain off, is often the most common sleep issue. How can you remedy the restlessness and get a full night’s rest?

Healthy sleep habits are unfortunately not instinctual. It’s possible that you will have to condition yourself to fall into good habits. Here are some ways to reach that goal:

If you are still struggling after trying to change your sleep habits, enroll in a sleep study in your area. Most local health systems offer these services and could provide an underlying cause to your sleepless nights.

March is Save Your Vision Month and this year’s focus is promoting awareness around digital eyestrain. In 2016, the average American spent seven hours per day on a digital device. The impact this has on your vision is alarming and can cause vision damage and sleep issues.

How can you save your vision? Here are some tips from the American Optometric Association (AOA):

Power down before you turn in: Turn your digital devices off at least one hour before bed.

Unplug with the AOA 20-20-20 rule: When you are using any device or computer, make a conscious effort every day to take a 20-second break and look away from the screen, every 20 minutes and view something 20 feet away.

Step back: Maintain a comfortable working distance from your digital device by using the zoom feature to see small print and details, rather than bringing the device closer to your eyes.

Adjust your device to fit your needs: The AOA recommends reducing the glare by adjusting device settings or using a glare filter to decrease the amount of blue light reflected from the screen.

Schedule an appointment: Visit a doctor of optometry by visiting to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam to detect and address vision problems.

Who knew that there was such a day as Old Stuff Day? What does the day celebrate? Why is it even recognized? It’s quite simple – it’s a day to honor old stuff!

Old Stuff Day is celebrated on March 2 each year as a time to reminisce, declutter and learn. So, how could a day like this be impactful on your life? Here are some ideas:

Reminiscing – Looking through old photographs, notes, cards and yearbooks takes a person back to specific times in their life that could have been happy or sad. Sometimes individuals need to remember those times to move on or accept what once was. Being able to look back at the past can be a motivator to move on in life, so take the time to look through those old boxes, bags and albums.

Declutter – Living in a material world can often cause “noise” in our day-to-day life. Decluttering is a way to purge things out of your space – both physically and mentally. Sort through your “stuff” and offer it to others who could use it, or simply put it at the curb for the next garbage collection. The extra space in your storage closet can be empowering!

Learn – Take advantage of learning your history. Go to a local museum, visit an antique market or learn more about your heritage. A new way to learn more about your ancestors is to participate in a DNA study or online lineage tracking website. You could learn something about yourself by participating in research on your family history.

Whether it’s cleaning the old stuff out or celebrating the memories, making sure your “stuff” isn’t the underlying issue of stress or depression is a step in the right direction. Old stuff can be therapeutic in many ways!

Today more than ever before, the more you can get done in a day the better, right? There are some personality types who thrive on time management and marking through those “to-do’s” each day. But are their accomplished tasks in quantity and not quality? Perhaps.

February 22nd is designated as “Single Tasking Day” and is an opportunity to re-learn the importance of focus. As a society, we are so distracted by all the noise – email notifications, social media check-ins and impromptu meetings, it’s difficult to find time to re-engage the mind and produce quality work.

Here are some ways to focus on one thing at a time:

• Lists – Make a list of what you want to accomplish each day or week. Prioritize so your top items are completed first.
• Schedule – Schedule time on your calendar to focus on priority tasks. This helps to make you accountable for your time and gives you a reminder to focus.
• Distractions – Limit distractions by putting your cell phone on silent, closing your office door and putting your head into the business at hand.
• Respond – Set time each day to respond to unanswered voicemails and emails. Unless the message is pressing, there is no need to stress over immediate responses.
• Breaks – Allow yourself to step away for a few minutes. Take a short walk, have a healthy snack and get back to work with fresh perspective.

Celebrate being able to complete one task well, instead of stressing over trying to get 15 things done at the same time!

A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

Random Acts of Kindness Week is February 12-18 for 2017 and people around the world are finding ways to share the kindness revolution as individuals, students, teachers and business owners. Find a way to celebrate a little kindness this week and always:

• Pay it forward – pay for the next person’s coffee/meal
• Be sweet – bring treats to share with your class or work friends
• Post it – Place a note in an unsuspecting place with words of encouragement & affirmation
• Watch the kiddos – Offer to babysit your neighbor or friend’s children so the parents can enjoy a much needed date
• Go to the jar – In your office, place a jar of positive thoughts and quotes for the team members to pull from when they are having a tough day
• Take care of your elders – Do something for the senior citizens in your life – take them meal, pull the trash can in/out for collection or just make time to sit and talk
• Compliment a stranger – Tell a complete stranger how great they look or that you love their dress

According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, kindness is both teachable and contagious, so be sure to spread some kindness today! For more ideas, visit

A Healthy Valentine is a Happy Valentine

Aw, the day made for love…and chocolates – Valentine’s Day on February 14th. Why not celebrate your love in a different way this year? A healthier way, perhaps.

Skip the boxes of sugar filled delights, roses that will die in a few days and stuffed teddy bear (what adult really needs a stuffed animal anyway??), and opt for a unique experience for you and your special someone. Here are some fun and romantic ideas:

• Participate in a couple’s cooking class
• Make a reservation at a new, local organic restaurant
• Get physical and try a new activity or fitness class together
• Make a donation in honor of your sweetie to their favorite organization
• Plant a new seed – garden together to get ready for spring

These are just a few ideas to switch things up this Valentine’s Day! Think outside the chocolate box and

February is Heart Month and it’s a great reminder that we should all take better care of ourselves – starting with our heart. There are so many factors that play into heart health, so take a proactive approach to help prevent future health issues.

Make sure you schedule an annual check-up. This is an opportunity to discuss issues with your physician and make plans for continued wellness.

Invest in a step tracking device (Fitbit, Garmin, etc.) and get real on how many steps you take in a day. The number can be eye opening and can be a natural motivator to get off the sofa!

Take a look at what you are putting into your body and make healthy changes along the way. Add a piece of fruit or a vegetable each day. Look at lean meat options as opposed to the heavier, fat-filled burger you’re craving.

Stop smoking. It’s simple to say, but addiction is a huge obstacle to overcome. Look for resources for smoking cessation programs in your workplace and/or community. There are ways to stop and it’s so important for your health.

Drink water to keep hydrated and healthy.

Commit to one healthy lifestyle change and stick to it. Everyone falls of course, so stay positive if you slip up. Changes can be made every day.

Across countries, languages and classes, laughter is a common denominator everyone understands. In honor of Global Belly Laugh Day, we are looking at the benefits of laughter. Does a good belly laugh really improve your health? Laughing does have a direct effect on our health. Not only does a good laugh release endorphins, it also decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells – improving disease resistance. How can you increase the amount of “ha ha’s” in your life? Here are a few ideas:

In a world full of negativity there is still so much to laugh at. Be sure to make time to smile more and encourage others to giggle along with you!

It’s the beginning of a new year and we all have goals and resolutions on our mind. Exercise more. Eat less. Spend more time with family. Budget better. These are all typical examples of the goals many of us establish at the onset of a fresh, new year. But what about our professional goals? Wouldn’t the start of a new business year be a great place to press the ‘reset’ button and make some changes in your career? We put together some ways to help you become more creative, productive and effective in your work life by utilizing resources and balancing work/life:

1. Align your professional goals with your company outlook. Take the time to understand the company goals for the year and draft your work plan to coincide. This way of thinking ensures everyone is working from the same page and helps accomplish tasks efficiently.

2. Use a pen and paper at some point every day. With the age of technology encroaching on every aspect of our lives, sometimes bringing things back to basics is a great way to refocus. Some studies show that writing by hand can calm your brain. Write out your to-do list each morning or take written notes during a meeting and see what a difference it can make.

3. Ask for help. There is nothing wrong with asking for a helping hand, especially in times where you might feel overwhelmed or under resourced. Great companies hire great people, ones who are always willing to help a team member out.

4. Take breaks. Physically get up and move around when you feel your brain is slipping or you are frustrated. Small intermissions throughout your day can help you refocus on the task at hand and clear your mind, perhaps even trigger a brilliant idea!

5. Listen to one podcast per week. Find podcasts on topics that interest you or new concepts you want to try. Podcasts are a growing resource of information and can be valuable if you are researching an idea or process.

6. Have an electronics free zone in your home. As a society, we are overly connected – social media, email and text - so it’s important to disconnect for a brief period each day. Find a space, typically the bedroom, to be electronics free and use that time to not only recharge your phone battery, but your internal battery as well!

7. Use vacation time. So many professionals feel they cannot take vacation time because their work might falter or something might not get done in their absence. Taking a few days off will not affect the overall success of a company, so take your awarded time. It’s important to refocus and spend time with family and friends.

With football bowl and championship games to start the new year, plus trying to stick to those healthy resolutions, finding a tailgate snack that is nutritious can be a challenge. One people pleasing snack with a plethora of vitamins and minerals – guacamole. The primary ingredient in guac – the avocado – has 20 different vitamins and minerals including Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium and Vitamin C. Mix in tomato, garlic and cilantro for added fiber and antioxidants, and you’ve got a snack jam packed with nutritional value.

Here is a quick, healthy recipe:

December 29th is designated as “Tick Tock Day,” for those procrastinators trying to achieve all they set out for in the New Year. Have you fulfilled your goals for the year? Are you thinking ahead to next year with hopes of better planning?

Achieving goals is tough, so be thoughtful in your approach:

• Set realistic and attainable goals. If your goal is to lose weight, start with a healthy target of 1-2 pounds per week. With proper diet and a moderate exercise plan, this goal is achievable.

• Meet with your partner. When setting financial or household project goals, schedule a meeting with your spouse to discuss your plans. Come to the table with ideas and work together to compromise on items you can easily accomplish in the new year.

• Post your goal list. Displaying your list in a location you see on a regular basis will help keep you accountable and on track.

• Check-in on a regular basis. Whether it’s a personal goal or one for your family, set regular check-in times to discuss how the plan is going or re-energize. Weekly, monthly, quarterly – however regular you need it to be, take the necessary time to stay on track.

Make this next year the year of achievement and don’t wait until you hear the clock’s “tick tock”!

‘Tis the season for over shopping, over eating and over scheduling! With so many commitments this time of year, how is it possible to actually enjoy this festive time with friends and family? There are ways to navigate the calendar and celebrate the season.

Utilize a family calendar of events – either hard copy or electronic – and put every party, performance, work event, practice, family gathering, etc., for every member of your family on it. This will give you an overview of everything that is to come and an idea of what can be eliminated from your schedule. It will also help parents learn to divide and conquer if kids have overlapping events.

If you’re planning to buy gifts for lots of family and friends, make a list. Brainstorm gift ideas for each individual ahead of time and consider online shopping to reduce those many trips to the crowded shopping mall.

It’s hard to say “no” during the holidays, but learning to do so, politely, can reduce the level of stress your experience. Most people understand how overextended individuals can become during this time of year, so remember, you can’t do it all (and no one should expect you too!)

Cookie baking, party hostess-ing and turkey basting all come with the holiday territory. Let your local grocer or favorite bakery help with some of the work. Buy those frosted sweet treats instead of slaving in the kitchen for hours. Visit your local butcher for help with the main course. These simple tactics save your most valuable resource – time.

Keep in mind what this time of year is all about – counting blessings with family and friends. Take time to make memories of fun-filled caroling and games, instead of chaos and stress. Happy Holidays!

You probably do not realize how many surfaces you touch in a day – door handles, tables, remote controls, steering wheels, pens and the list goes on. Germs are everywhere and that is why it is so important to develop healthy hand washing habits to combat illness, especially during cold and flu season.

wet your hands with warm, running water.

use a good amount of soap and rub your hands together, scrubbing the top, in-between fingers and under nails.

scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, enough time to hum the Happy Birthday song.

always rinse your hands with clean, running water and use a clean, dry towel to wipe away moisture.

Help your family develop good hand washing technique, especially when preparing food, cleaning up after pets, using the restroom, being in public places and taking out the garbage. If a sink is not readily available, keep hand sanitizer in your purse or vehicle to help eliminate exposure to those nasty germs.

Grandmothers have told their grandchildren for years, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but how true is this old saying? Although there is no successful study that proves an apple a day keeps a person from a doctor’s visit, it is a highly nutritional food and one you should definitely keep in your diet. How can you celebrate National Eat a Red Apple Day on December 1st? Here are some fun ways to enjoy these shiny skinned, delicious fruits:

There are thousands of different types of apples. Take a tour at your local fruit stand or grocer and pick some you have never tried before.

Try dipping your sliced apples in homemade caramel sauce or peanut butter. A great afternoon snack packed with vitamins and flavor.

Try incorporating apples into your recipes. Not only are they great in baked desserts, they are quite tasty in salads and pork dishes.

Gather all the different varieties of red apples that you can find, along with your kiddos, and have a taste test. Cut the apples in bite size pieces and let them pick their favorite.

Eating a balanced breakfast is a healthy habit that helps your metabolism kick in. If you know you are going to have a day filled with food temptations, plan for a well-balanced breakfast to help fill you up.

Many Thanksgiving get-togethers include cheese trays, dips and other appetizing goodies. Stay on course by limiting your intake of these items, so you can enjoy your turkey dinner.

If you enjoy a glass of wine with your holiday meals, try to limit drinking your calories. Pace yourself by having a small glass while the food is cooking and be sure to drink plenty of water.

Make sure half, or more, of your plate is covered in vegetables. Try to avoid vegetables cooked in casseroles, or limit your portion. Select carrots, green beans or leafy greens instead.

Turkey is the centerpiece to any Thanksgiving table. Skip the skin and eat the lean white meat portions to save approximately 45 calories per serving.

Admit it, you wait all year for that piece of pumpkin or pecan pie. Don’t deprive yourself, simply save a little room to enjoy that tasty treat.

Instead of just watching football on TV, get out in the yard and play a game with the family. Not into contact sports? Take a walk around the neighborhood to work off those extra calories.

and it’s the perfect time of year to lace up those hiking boots and set out for a family adventure. Hiking is not only an opportunity for physical fitness, it’s also a great learning and exploration activity for children and adults.

• Research local trails to find the one that works best for you.
• Will you camp overnight? Or is it going to be a day-trip?
• Who all will be going along with you?
• What supplies do you need to stock up on?

• Invest in a quality back pack and learn to pack it properly. A good resource for packing:
• Make sure you purchase good footwear. Research top brands and take a trip to your local retailer to try on multiple types to ensure the right fit for you.
• Check the weather and dress appropriately.
• If camping, make sure tents and supplies are in working order.

• Pack a first aid kit for those unexpected injuries on the trail.
• Stay hydrated by packing plenty of bottled water.
• Sunscreen and bug spray are essential. Don’t forget to put these items in your backpack.
• Pay attention to the trail and your surroundings. Look for any slippery spots or potential hazards that could cause injury.

• Download nature walk printables for the kids. Keep them occupied and help them learn about plants and critters along the way.
• While on your hike, be sure to properly dispose of any trash you produce. Help keep trails clean.
• Share your adventure on social media by tagging @AmericanHiking.