Self-Care For the New Year

If you want 2019 to be your best year yet, it’s time to focus on yourself and make the changes needed to do just that.  Everyone talks about self-care thinking it is just going for a facial or massage once a month.  It is much more than that.  Self-care is defined as any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.  First and foremost, self-care is self-love.  It involves becoming your own best friend as well as making some real lifestyle changes to make that happen.

Trust yourself

Learning to trust your instincts is a major component of self-care.  It if feels wrong, don’t do it.  Don’t be afraid to say yes or no and listen to your inner voice.  Be brave and do things that challenge you.  Say exactly what you mean, and never speak badly about yourself.  You need to be your own cheering squad.

Let go and move on

Letting go of what you can’t control is one of the most difficult things to do for many people.  We want to oversee and micromanage everything in our lives.  However, we can’t make people like us or do what we say or want.  We have to admit this and move forward with the things we can control.  Stay away from other people’s drama and negativity.  Remember the phrase, “Not my circus; not my monkeys.”  Go ahead and unfriend negative people on social media.  Worry about your own life and let others deal with theirs.  Of course you should be supportive, but don’t try to fix other people’s problems or other people.

Don’t be a people pleaser

While we like to do and say things that will make people feel good, we can’t spend our lives trying to make others happy.  We must make ourselves happy.  Smile and laugh more.  Say exactly what you mean, but don’t gossip and be cruel.  Show more gratitude to the people we love in our lives.  Be excited about life.

Make it happen

If you want to have an amazing year, you can’t sit on the couch and wait for it.  You have to make it happen.  Go to bed early and wake up early to greet the new day.  Unclutter your home and your life.  Be fierce and do things that challenge you.  Set goals for your self-care; not just for your career.  If you want to get healthier, plan realistic changes in your diet and exercise that will not stress you out and make you miserable.  If joining a gym is not for you, find something active that you enjoy like walking, swimming, cycling, bowling or skiing.  The point is to make it something that is good for both your health and your soul.  It is an active choice that you must plan, rather than something that just happens.  By adding these activities to your calendar and announcing your plans to others, it will increase your commitment to practicing your self-care.

Start the New Year off right

Self-care is the key to living a balanced life.  It’s not a selfish act.  As the saying goes, if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t be able to care for our loved ones.  For 2019, create a “no” list with things you know you don’t like and you no longer want to do.  Examples might include not attending gatherings you don’t like, not answering your phone during family times and not checking emails at night.  Then set up a 15-day self-care routine that includes one pleasurable or relaxing activity every day and stick with it.  This could be going to the movies, taking a bath, or calling a good friend for a chat.  Compare how you felt before and after the 15 days.  And remember, as with everything, self-care takes practice.  Tell others that your motto for 2019 is, “Sorry, but I am taking care of myself!”

New Year’s Resolutions

Wow, 2019 is almost here!  Time certainly flies when you are a woman juggling it all.  It is time to think about what your New Year’s resolutions are going to be: lose those inevitable excess holiday pounds, take a leap and make that career change, get that promotion… you know the drill.  While we all have the best intentions, more than 80% of New Year’s resolutions are scrapped within a few months’ time.  What can we do to make realistic resolutions and improve the odds of our success?

Are too many resolutions realistic?

Most of us are highly motivated, goal-oriented women; however, in some cases we try to take on too much, thinking we can really do it all, without being realistic.  We end up getting so overwhelmed that we wind up abandoning all of our resolutions from frustration.  Through interviewing and conferring with other successful women, it became apparent to me that it is best to prioritize and try to tackle only three resolutions, instead of 10.  Try this for January 2019.

Resolutions are achievable

Perhaps you’ve heard of “Christmas in July.”  Being the goal-setters we are, why not set three more resolutions halfway through the year as well.  Then, by the time 2020 rolls around, we may have completed six resolutions, instead of abandoning 10.

Look at some of the most successful women in business.  They drive home the fact that setting realistic resolutions, working hard and perseverance allow you to achieve anything.  Sometimes we even have accomplishments that we didn’t even know we were working towards!  They just happen through our efforts or through the help and mentor ship of others.

Resolutions are adjustable

As we progress, we may realize that the resolution we set was really not what we wanted, so we adjust and reset it.  Nothing is written in stone; we must be pliable and open to change.  We also must be accepting of the possibility that a resolution we have set is just not attainable yet.  If that is the case, then perhaps breaking it down into more realistic “baby steps” will enable us to achieve the desired result in the long term.

Choose your 3

When you are thinking about the three resolutions you want to focus on for January, read some of the profiles of our Women in the Limelight and members both in your industry and others.  Let them inspire you.  Remember resolutions and anything you want can be achieved if you are realistic and put your mind to it.    Let 2019 be your year to shine!

Gratitude Every Day of the Year

With Thanksgiving arriving in a few days, I have been thinking about the importance of thankfulness and gratitude.  Unfortunately, most of us don’t think about this on a daily basis.  If we  were to do so, we would find ourselves happier, more fulfilled and connected to people and things that matter most in our lives. How do we manage to implement gratitude into our busy lives?

Prepare a Gratitude List

Similar to a bucket list, writing a gratitude list is not difficult.  Make a list of people you want to show gratitude toward all year round.   It can be as simple as telling them specifically why you are thankful for them and what they mean to you.  This can be through a quick text, email, a card in the mail, or more importantly, a quick phone call to say thank you.   Showing them gratitude affirms that you are thinking of them throughout the year, not just at Thanksgiving.

Paying it Forward

Showing gratitude to a stranger can create a feeling of joy within you and also start a chain reaction, inspiring others to do the same.  Paying for a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line will not only make you feel like you did a good deed for someone but may come back to you tenfold one day.

Alleviate the Me-First Mentality

It is very easy to get caught up in the “me-first” mentality.  By getting out of that mindset and empathizing, you have the opportunity to make a difference for others.  For example, I have a neighbor who was just diagnosed with cancer. What can I do to help her during this difficult time?  Maybe I can drive her to an appointment, walk her dog after work or bring over a casserole so she doesn’t have to cook.  Putting someone else’s needs ahead of your own will bring you a sense of fulfillment while helping at the same time.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

By jotting down things you are grateful for each night before you turn out the light, you will feel a sense of peace.  Also, you may begin to seek out positives in your day, knowing that you will be writing them down later. This is a win-win situation; focusing on the positives during the day and feeling happiness and peacefulness at night.  Practicing gratitude brings about mindfulness and helps ground us by making us aware of our values and what we are thankful for.

Thanksgiving is a great time to begin a new tradition.  As you gather with friends and family this year, go around the table and tell each other how much they mean to you every day of the year.  Let that spark a daily habit of intentional gratitude that will create an immediate positive change in your world.

Keeping Joy In the Holidays Despite the Craziness of the Season

It’s that time of year again when we start to think about Thanksgiving and all the other holidays that will follow.  My first reaction is a positive one, thinking of all the things I am thankful for this year and every year.  But then, my thoughts immediately turn to the amount of preparation and events that I must get through, added to my already loaded schedule.  Help!  The positive thoughts immediately turn to negative ones as I envision endless to-do lists, dealing with crowded stores, decorating, cooking large meals, running to all types of parties, children’s concerts, entertaining relatives and spending tons of money take over my thoughts.  Talk about exhaustion!  There has to be a better way to manage all of these extra tasks without losing the joy that the holidays represent.  After some research and thought, I have come up with some ways to get through the holidays with a smile.

Keep Your Regular Routine Intact

We all have our daily routine that keeps us grounded and moving forward.  If we steer too far away from that routine, our stress levels increase.  This year, try to keep wake-up times, meal times and bed times as close to normal as possible.  If most of your days are routine, the ones that aren’t will not affect us so harshly.  Sit down with your calendar and try to schedule shopping, cleaning and decorating time blocks around your normal tasks, leaving some flexibility for unknown invitations and events that occur.  If you have out-of-town family or friends who will be staying with you over the holidays, prepare your home so they can easily help themselves to breakfast and lunch.  Have shower needs readily available like towels and shampoo so they do not need to ask.  Print out some information about activities they may want to do while you are at work or handling other commitments.  Maybe they will take your kids with them on an excursion.  Imagine, you may actually have some free time alone to sip a hot beverage, gaze at the tree and listen to your favorite holiday tunes.  I am relaxing already just thinking about that scene.

Don’t Drive Yourself Crazy Reaching For Perfection

We all have visions of the “perfect” holidays which are created from holidays of our past as well as photos and stories we see in magazines and on television.  While it would be wonderful to achieve all of those goals, it is not worth the price you pay to do so.  Sit down and figure out what parties and events are non-negotiable, and what can be considered for another year.  Say “no” when you are being asked to help out at yet another holiday event that you know will push you over the edge.  A sincere regret is enough.  Throw any guilt out the window.  Plan time to do simple things like watching the local tree lighting in your town or driving around the neighborhood to see the lights and decorations.  These are the types of things that create joy.

When it comes to decorating your home, remember that not every inch has to be decorated.  Your home does not have to look like the ones on “The Great Christmas Light Fight” on TV.  Choose a few of your favorite decorations and put those up.  A lovely wreath, a sparkling tree or menorah will create a warm holiday glow.  Thanksgiving and holiday meals do not have to be banquets.  Prepare a menu covering the basic favorites, always being mindful of dietary needs of your quests, so everyone can enjoy.  Don’t feel bashful asking guests to bring a dish to the meal.  It will cut down on your work and allow you to sample other people’s family favorites.  Whenever possible, prepare food ahead and freeze to reduce the stress on the actual day.  The main focus is to enjoy a meal together with loved ones and to remember the meaning of these holidays.  Less food will also help avoid the holiday weight gain when you step on that scale in January.

Dealing with Holiday Emotions

The holidays can bring on many mixed emotions.  Many people feel lonely because they do not have family near or have gone through a recent divorce or loss.  Combat that loneliness by asking friends over for a “Friendsgiving.”  Donating time to helping out at a soup kitchen or other volunteer work is a great way to alleviate feelings of sadness by helping others in need.  Getting together with family can bring memories of past disappointments, rekindle sibling rivalries, or drag us back to old childhood patterns where we feel like we are children again.  If these patterns start to emerge, walk away for a few minutes and remind yourself of the person you are now.  If a family member is “pushing your buttons”, try not to allow them to succeed.  Step away and talk with someone else who has your best interests in mind.

Self-Care

It is absolutely essential to take special care of yourself at this time of year.  If you are feeling blue, pamper yourself with a mani/pedi, spa treatment, a 15 minute nap, a walk outside or curling up with a cup of hot chocolate and a good read.  These are all ways to disconnect and have some pleasure.  Getting run down from lack of sleep, rich and fatty foods and being around crowds for hours in hot stores can make you feel sick and miserable.  That is certainly not how you want to spend your holidays.  Be mindful of yourself, not just your family and friends, as it is your holiday too.

The holidays are only a few weeks out of the year.  In the famous words of the Grinch in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss, “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.  What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”  Let your holidays be filled with joy this season.

Combating the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Have you ever noticed that as the days get shorter, and the hours of sunlight lessen, your mood shifts?  When it’s bright and sunny everyone tends to be in a cheerful mood, but when fall turns into winter and Daylight Savings Time hits, you tend to get into a funk or even a depression.  You may be suffering from a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.  Surprisingly SAD affects 10 to 20 percent of Americans, primarily young adults and women.  The actual cause is unknown, but many believe that the reduced levels of light affect your body’s internal clock and a drop in the levels of melatonin and serotonin can trigger mood changes.

What are some symptoms of SAD?

There are several symptoms that are identifiable as being related to SAD.  You may experience one or all of them.  They include:

  • Feelings of depression, fatigue or lethargy
  • Having difficulty waking up in the morning, or a tendency to want to sleep more often
  • Increased appetite, mainly for high carbohydrate foods
  • Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
  • Loss of desire to spend time with family and friends
  • Trouble concentrating

If any of this sounds like what you are experiencing, be aware that there are treatments!  This does not have to be as debilitating as it sounds.

Some treatments for SAD

Some sufferers who find these problems becoming a daily issue benefit from working with a therapist.  This is a way to have some assistance in dealing with the issues related to the seasonal changes.  You can speak with someone who can give you advice on handling SAD, so it doesn’t become debilitating.  Prescribed medication is another treatment for SAD.  Depending on what you use, it can help limit the depression, and adjust the levels of melatonin and serotonin back to normal levels.

Phytotherapy, therapeutic light therapy, is considered one of the most common treatments for this condition.  Since the light mimic’s sunlight, it causes a chemical change in your brain that lifts your mood.  Sitting under the light therapy box for a prescribed number of minutes within the first hour of waking up in the morning can help.

Using this, along with visiting a therapist and/or medication can cause improvements in your outlook over the course of the darker season.

Good health, nutrition, supplements, exercise and relaxation can also help to lift your mood and help limit the negative reactions.  Getting enough consistent sleep, and waking up at the same time 7 days a week, will keep your internal clock in proper sync.  Controlling your cravings for carbohydrates by eating a balanced diet and limiting the carbs can help as well.  Carbs, while good, only provide a short term energy boost, but will quickly cause lethargy, which can make things worse rather than better.  Protein is the best source for continued energy.

Create or maintain a consistent exercise routine.  Regular exercise is not only good for general physical health but is also good for stress and anxiety reduction.  Relaxing exercise such as Pilates or Yoga is extremely good for this.  Learning to manage your stress can go a long way to helping reduce the effects of SAD.  By taking time to relax and manage your stress each day, you can prevent depression and overeating.  Make a point to not pull away and stay connected with your friends and family as they will help you remain calm and happy.

Will following the above advice prevent SAD completely?  Probably not, especially if it is something you are prone to.  However, following the above advice can certainly help limit the effects and allow you to live your best life, even in the fall and winter when natural sunlight is at a minimum.  Most of us don’t even realize how fewer hours of sunlight, and more of darkness, can affect our body, mind and spirit.  Everything is connected, so coming up with ways to minimize the effects, and personalize them to you, can help you get through the longer winter months.  In addition, planning what you will do once spring comes around will give you something to look forward to once the days start getting longer again!

 

*Information gained from:  Women’s Health Research Institute, blog, Battling Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The Pros and Cons of Comparing Yourself to Others

Comparisons are an everyday occurrence whether it is comparing in a positive way or coming from a darker place.  Did your family ever say, “Why are you comparing yourself to XYZ?”  Some schools of thought suggest that comparing is a good way to motivate you while others feel it is a road to disaster.  Wonder why?

Cons of comparing yourself to others

Seeing what others have or have accomplished can instigate feelings of jealousy, malicious envy and unfairness.  Instead of feeling happy for someone that we know deserves their good fortune, we allow our own insecurities to take over.  We have to be able to get past our negative thoughts and stop feeling sorry for ourselves.  This person may be at a different place in their lives where they worked hard and legitimately deserve to succeed.  Your feelings of anger and the “poor me syndrome” are preventing you from seeing clearly and can ruin a friendship or potential business contact.  You know the adage, comparing apples and oranges.  Perhaps in the future, you will have moved forward and can realistically compare and contrast with this person.

Pros of comparing yourself to others

Seeing what others accomplish can positively motivate you to set goals and reach the next level.  Knowing that others have achieved something that you want confirms that it is possible and can be realized.  Understanding how someone reached their level of success can be a learning experience and help you prepare your pathway.  Often times, comparing ourselves to others whom we aspire to emulate can create a mentoring situation or camaraderie that can not only help us to achieve our goals, but create an important business contact and friend.

While you may be comparing yourself to someone, keep in mind that someone might be comparing themselves to you.  How would you want to be viewed by another?  Remember, what goes around comes around.  Always seeing the positive (pro) in someone not only makes you feel better as a person, but will show those comparing themselves to you that you are a positive role model and they will want to emulate you.

Quieting an Overactive Mind

Does this sound like you?  You are a professional woman or an entrepreneur, you have an ever-growing to do list, and your mind is always active, running on with thoughts of everything you need to do during the day, week or month.  You feel like your mind is running away from you, but you are not able to catch up to it.  Your stress levels continuously increase and you are not able to quiet your mind to get a good night’s sleep or relax with friends, and as a result your health suffers.

What if I told you that there are ways to quiet an overactive mind?  Yes, these methods will take some practice and time to learn, but ultimately they will allow you to find some peace of mind and keep your sanity in check.

Journaling

Grab your favorite notebook or journal along with a special pen, find a quiet place, pour yourself a soothing cup of tea or coffee, open the journal and put pen to paper.  Allow your thoughts to just come out onto the paper.  Do not censor anything.  You are not making a list of what needs to be done, but rather creating an empty space in your mind to clear away the constant jumble.  You are writing a stream of consciousness where everything you are thinking is going onto the paper, thus freeing your mind from the stress.  By learning to journal on a daily basis, even if only for 5 minutes, you will learn to release yourself from the constant jumble.

Meditation

This used to be the realm of the religious, but meditation has become more and more commonplace as practitioners are realizing the soothing and relaxing benefits.  Much like journaling, meditation takes time to learn to do right and to truly shut down your mind.  With regular practice, and some good apps, you can learn to quiet the mind, allowing you to be open to what can be called “divine downloads” where you get knowledge of what your role truly is.  Meditation allows you to spend anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes in a state of rest, closed off from the “real world” and open to what is going on inside of you.

Yoga

For years Yoga has been identified as exercise for meditation.  In most yoga practices, you go through the movements, or asanas, in a slow, purposeful pace.  Due to the movements, it allows you to meditate as you work on your flexibility, strength and stamina.  Each pose has a purpose, and as you develop proper technique, you also gain more sense of self as well.

Runing/Hiking

Do you like the outdoors?  What about being alone in it?  One excellent way to clear the overactive mind is to get outdoors and take a hike or go for a run.  Both of these allow you to get wonderful exercise for the body, but also for the mind.  You have to focus on what you are doing, so you are not able to focus on what is running through your mind.  The repetitive movements help you release your stress, release endorphins and get exercise at the same time.  They are both soul clearing.  As with yoga, both running and hiking can be meditative.

Walking on the Beach

Have you ever taken a walk on the beach?  Did you know that just walking in the sand, or sitting on the beach listening to the waves is soothing and relaxing?  In fact, many people purchase sound wave machines that make the sound of waves washing on the beach.  This sound can be more meditative than any other.  The act of digging your toes in the sand, listening to the waves, hearing the cries of the seagulls flying overhead and just tuning out the rest of the world is a great way to clear the mind.  It allows your mind to calm down, and stop running for a time.  Spending an hour in the evening, maybe at sunset, taking in the colors of the sky changing from day blue to dusk yellows, oranges, reds, and more, can truly sooth the overactive mind.  Why not even do yoga on the beach for a double relaxing time.

Sound Machines

Since this was brought up already, getting a sound machine that has sounds such as the waves on the beach, birds singing in the breeze, a rainfall in a jungle or even the sounds of a waterfall could help relax and quiet the mind.  These machines play “white noise” which blocks out the everyday sounds and can pull your mind away from what it is thinking.  Play the machine at night to relax you and help you fall into a quiet, deep sleep.  These machines are also good for meditation, by quieting the mind and pulling you deeper into the meditation.  Have you noticed that when you go for a massage, a majority of offices will have something like this playing in the background to relax you, even before the massage begins?

Massage

Getting a massage can be extremely relaxing and soothing.  From the time you are on the table, with a practiced massage therapist, or even a good friend, you are pulled into a sense of calm and soothing.  A good massage will relax not only the body but the mind as well.  It will remove all of the stress, knots, and even center the body and mind.  Give yourself a treat of an hour or more therapeutic massage and allow yourself to feel all the stress pull away from your body.  This will also help clear the mind and allow it to shut down at least for a short time.

The above 7 forms of relaxation are just the tip of the iceberg.  Everyone has their way or ways that work best for them.  These are just a few to get you started.  Try them and find what works best for you.  You may even come up with some of your own.  Once you have found something that works for you, please let us know what it is and how it relaxes you.  We love to hear from you, and know that others will benefit from your research into how to quiet your mind

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Bragging vs Self-Promotion

Do you have trouble self-promoting because you feel it is too much like bragging?  As children, we are often taught that no one likes a braggart.  As a result, women may feel that they have to refrain from promoting themselves.  In the professional world, we must promote ourselves if we want to move forward.  In some cases, our work speaks for itself, but in many cases, if we do not self-promote, people will never know who to credit for the great job.

Why are women hesitant to self-promote?

Females are often taught that “tooting their own horn” is a negative and a form of conceit.  We have been brainwashed that appearing strong willed, experienced, and skilled is rude and brash.   Unfortunately, this prevents women from moving forward and gaining the higher level positions or raises.  By being truthful through self-promotion, you are making a positive statement about yourself.

The difference between self-promotion and bragging

Despite what you may have learned as a child, there is a difference between self-promotion and bragging.  It is a very fine line.  Self-promotion is about emphasizing the facts to prove what you are stating.  For example, stating that with you as leader, your team managed to turn 5 new clients over the last month.  It is proving that you have a track record of leading teams to success by showing how many of your team members are in the top 10 in sales for the quarter.  Accurately announcing goals reached and improvements that have occurred because of you, your knowledge and confidence should proudly be displayed on social media or other avenues connected to your career.

Bragging, on the other hand, involves making ourselves better than we are.  We “puff” ourselves up to be greater than the quality of our work and others, and make claims with no hard data to back them up.  Ultimately, bragging is creating a false narrative to make us seem bigger and better than we are and in most cases is due to insecurities.

Let’s examine the scenario of your team bringing in 5 new clients over a period of a month.  Bragging would be that you, alone, were responsible for turning the new clients, while self-promotion relates that under your leadership, your team achieved this.  Do you see the difference?  Using our other example of having the most team members in the top 10 in sales for the quarter, a braggart would give herself all the credit for those quarterly sales statistics.  The self-promotor gives the credit to her team for their hard work, which under her coaching, enabled them to move into the top 10.

Tips for mastering the art of self-promotion

  1. Discover your strengths and own them.  Make sure you are seen for your talents, and let others see you using them.  Don’t be afraid to speak up in meetings and contribute ideas.  Volunteer at a company event where you will be seen by upper management.  Establish yourself as a thought leader in your company by writing articles for LinkedIn or your company newsletter, making sure you share them with your boss.
  2. If you have developed a trusted office friendship, have this friend give you a shout out in a meeting or email about your recent success.  Reciprocation is always appreciated, remembering that “one hand washes the other.”  This could be as simple as her commenting on what you did to assure that the project went more smoothly than it had in years past.  By

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    having each other’s back, it allows both of you greater positive exposure.

  3. Stop downplaying compliments!!  Rebuffing compliments is another thing women have been taught to do.  We are socialized to be modest and humble.  Instead of saying “it’s nothing”, accept and own the compliment, looking the person straight in the eye and saying thank you.  At the same time, give credit where it’s due to others for their successes and thank them for their hard work that has helped you move forward.
  4. Don’t hesitate to keep track of career accomplishments.  Create your own kudos file where you keep your contributions, awards, education, training and more.  Unfortunately, many women don’t start this until it’s too late and they have forgotten more than they remember.  Keep a running list of everything you have accomplished in your professional career.  This way you have back-ups of anything you bring up in a performance meeting or interview.
  5. Keep learning.  In today’s environment, technology is always changing and not keeping abreast can stall your progress.  See if there are new courses, degrees or certifications you can take to improve your potential for promotion or leadership.  Keep track of every course or certification you have as this may help your case for promotion or locating a new position.
  6. Don’t be afraid to speak up in meetings.  Give suggestions for improvements or recommendations for new solutions.  If you have a specific knowledge base, don’t hesitate to bring it up if it fits with what is being discussed.  And don’t sound hesitant or unsure of your remarks.  Speak with authority and be strong about the potential for success with your ideas.

Change doesn’t happen overnight

Remember that it is not possible to change learned behaviors overnight.  However making and practicing these changes can cause an improvement in your professional life.  Try one tip at a time and see how it works.  Slowly add in each different tip and see where it leads.  Mastering the art of self-promotion is a sure way to move from one professional stage to another.

Summer Skin Care

Summer is the season to enjoy being outside, but it’s important to modify your skin care routine to accommodate the changing weather and exposure.  UVA/UVB rays are harmful all year long but are especially damaging during the summer months when our exposure levels are higher due to time spent outdoors and warmer temperatures.  Summer can cause oily skin to become oilier and dry skin to become patchy.  As we bring out lighter-weight clothing for the summer, we also need to use lighter-weight skin care products as well.

Here are some tips for adjusting your summer skin care routine:

Face Care

Keeping your face clean from dust and sweat is the first priority.  If you encounter breakouts and pimples, splash your face with water 3-4 times per day.  Don’t forget to exfoliate at least once or twice a week using a scrub that is appropriate for your skin type.  Instead of the thick moisturizing creams that you use in the winter, find one for your skin type that is lighter so your skin can breathe naturally.  There is no need to use a heavy nighttime cream during this season.  If you feel you are sweating under your moisturizer and your makeup is sliding off, it is time to find a different one.

Body Care

While you might not think that your skin can get dry in the summer with all the humidity; the opposite is actually true.  Just like with your face, a light-weight scrub and moisturizing routine are good for the body as well.  Sweating can cause skin pores to open allowing dirt and grime to enter.  Stick with the basics to keep skin well-cared for.

Sunscreen

If nothing else, NEVER forget to put on sunscreen.  While it is important to use sunscreen all year round, it especially vital to use it in the summer as exposure to UV rays is higher and you are often outside for longer periods of time.  Using a minimum SPF of 30 is recommended.  Be sure to apply it 20-30 minutes before you leave the house.  Reapply throughout the day, especially after swimming or excessive sweating.  If you have oily skin, sunscreen is still required however using a gel-based sunscreen might work best for your skin.  Remember to apply sunscreen to all exposed body parts, including your scalp, ears and neck.

Lips and Eyes

Did you know that lips and eyes are the most forgotten areas when it comes to skin care?  They are especially sensitive to the sun’s rays and require special protection in the summer.  Make sure to wear UV-rated sunglasses that protect you from 99-100 percent of both UVA and UVB light.  This includes those labeled as “UV 400,” which blocks all light rays with wavelengths up to 400 nanometers.  While some contact lenses provide UV protection, they don’t cover your whole eye, so you still need sunglasses.  Time spent in the sun can adversely affect your eyes including potentially causing macular degeneration.  Apply lip balm with SPF frequently to prevent your lips from dangerous UV rays.  Nivea makes a great one that has SPF 30 and protection from both UV rays.

Sunburn

What do you do if you have taken all the precautions but still end up with sunburn after a long day at the beach?  Mild sunburn symptoms include skin redness and pain.  After about 4-7 days, skin peeling may occur.  Stay out of the sun until the redness fades, hydrate often with water, sports drinks or juice and keep your home cool with air conditioning or fans.  Home remedies for sunburn include cool compresses and baths, some essential oils and herbs like lavender, certain foods or supplements, and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers.  Use lotions that contain aloe vera to soothe and moisturize sun-burnt skin.  Applying cooled, fresh brewed tea to sunburned skin using a clean cloth reportedly helps remove heat from the skin and restore the pH balance.  Vitamin E is an antioxidant and helps calm inflammation caused by sunburn.  Applying vitamin E oil to the skin or taking vitamin E supplements can help calm the sunburn.  Cooled tea bags are beneficial to sunburned eyelids.  Petroleum jelly or Aquaphor ointment will help sunburned lips.  Severe sunburn symptoms called sun poisoning may include skin burning and blistering, fluid loss (dehydration), electrolyte imbalance, and infection and should be treated by a physician.

Summer Nutrition

Did you know that what we eat has a lot to do with how we look and feel?  Eating heavy foods can make you feel more sluggish in warmer weather and can cause your skin to be more susceptible to breakouts and oil.  Eating lighter foods, more seasonal fruits and vegetables and avoiding sugary drinks can help you feel and look better.  As usual, make sure you maintain or increase your water intake to at least 8 – 10 glasses a day for optimal hydration in the warm summer months.  If you’re not crazy about drinking plain water, try adding a few slices of cucumber, lemon, or oranges.  Drinking vegetable juices or other natural alternatives can help keep you hydrated as well.

Clothing

Your clothing choices can either benefit you or not in the warmer weather.  Wearing lighter weight fabrics, such as cotton or linen, can be beneficial when spending time outside.  Tight clothing can cause your body to sweat more and can also cause irritations and itchy skin, which can lead to rashes and skin infections.  Make sure to wear looser clothing to avoid this issue.  Also, lighter colors reflect the sun, so you have a slightly lower chance of heat issues than with darker colors that absorb the heat.

Summer is a time to enjoy the outdoors, get more exercise, and enjoy spending time with family and friends.  Taking some simple precautions will allow you to enjoy your time more.  Remember to use proper sunscreen for your skin type, change your moisturizers from heavy to lighter weight, and wear lighter weight clothes to avoid heat related irritations.  The sun is at its peak between the hours of 10:00 am and 3:00 pm, so if you do have to be out during those times, remember to keep yourself covered, reapply sunscreen after swimming or sweating, and wear long sleeves.  Also, sunglasses and lip balms are must use items as well.  You can never be too careful with your skin. 

How To Embrace RESILIENCE

Why is it that some people bounce back after disappointment or trauma, and others can’t seem to move past it?  Some claim we are born with resilience, but psychologists say it is not genetic.  They believe that resilience is developed over time through coping mechanisms.  It may also be linked with the amount of adult support we received as children that influences how we recover from negative experiences later in life.

Women as a group are more resilient than men.  Of course, that may be my own biased female opinion however it seems that women have to prove themselves time and again in both their careers and life in general.  Many of us have been knocked down and told we are not good enough or that we can’t accomplish something.  This takes its toll.  There are so many triggers for each of us to surmount.  Being ridiculed or bullied, even in adulthood, wears us down.  The death of a loved one is the ultimate devastation.  While we all handle situations differently, it is true that some are able to bounce back quicker than others.  Feeling pain and dealing with disappointment is part of any healing process.  But being able to rebound and move forward takes a positive mindset, some training and determination.

Don’t Let Stress Get The Best Of You 

There are many contributors to stress and, as we all know, it can cause depression, lethargy and disease.  It is important to get the proper sleep and eat well.  Sleep gives you a fresh prospective to enable you to view problems differently and find solutions.  It also helps you to avoid feeling run-down.  A proper diet fuels your brain and body to give you energy to solve problems.  Breathing techniques and exercise release negativity and trigger endorphins.

Surround Yourself With The Right People

It is so important to surround yourself with a strong social support system.  We need to avoid chronic complainers and people who exhaust us just by being around them.  Avoid people who are stuck in a rut because they will probably drain your energy and bring you down.  We need to surround ourselves with confident people who help us to grow and look towards the next goal.

Avoiding Self-Blame

When things go wrong, we usually blame ourselves.  This defeatist attitude leaves us stuck to the floor in negativity.  If you find you are self-blaming or targeting blame on others, try a reframing technique.  Reframe your thoughts toward what you can do to avoid a repeat of the problem and it will set you on the positive path.

Exercises to Develop Your Resilience

When a crisis occurs, it is difficult to think clearly.  That is why it is so important to create a strategy ahead of time to help you deal with the issue and plan how to move forward.  For example, let’s say you are turned down for that promotion you know you deserve:

    • Immediately after an incident, write down your feelings rather than just replaying them in your head.  This helps you think clearly and make sense of the situation.  Take time to allow yourself to feel the things you have written down.  Continue with your normal routine as best as possible including exercise, meals, seeing friends and regular bed time.  This allows you time to process your emotions but not wallow in them as you will be busy and connected to others.
    • After you have sorted through your feelings, now is the time to start writing down a plan of action to move forward.  It could include things like taking some courses to increase your skills to updating your resume.  It does not have to be detailed at this point.  It is just a first step in opening your mind to future possibilities rather than remaining stuck on the fact that you lost the promotion.
    • Take baby steps and try to work toward at least one item on your list each day.  Be flexible with your goals; and reassess them or prioritize them as needed.
    • Each day, write down a few things that you are grateful for in your life.  Building gratitude may reduce negative feelings and help bolster a proactive mindset.
    • Finally, if you can’t shake your feelings of hopelessness, talk to a therapist or good friend who can help you regain your perspective.  Being a resilient person does not mean that you have to handle everything by yourself.

Following these strategies and exercises can help you develop your coping mechanisms over time and enable you to build up your resilience.  Whether it is a minor difficulty or a major life crisis, the same techniques will help you through.  Learn to be your strongest self and prepare yourself for success, regardless of the crisis you are facing.

*Reference: “How to Bounce Back From Anything” by Elaine Chin, M.D. and William Howatt, Ph.D., Good Housekeeping, July 2018