November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

How to Reduce Your Risk of Type II Diabetes.

For the 30.3 million Americans living with Diabetes, November is more than a time for awareness. It is a time for hope—hope that researchers will one day find a cure to this painful and dangerous condition. This month, take the time to better understand the signs and symptoms of this chronic disease and your risk factors. With proper lifestyle choices, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing Type II Diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes, or Diabetes Mellitus, is a disease that occurs when one has too much blood glucose (blood sugar) in the body. We obtain blood glucose from the foods we eat and use it as our primary source of energy. In a healthy body, insulin made by the pancreas helps with this energy transformation process. When the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, glucose remains in the blood, never reaching cells or being converted into energy. When too much glucose stays in the blood, it can cause health complications.

What is the Difference Between Type I and Type II Diabetes?

A person with Type I Diabetes does not produce any insulin. The immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy cells, destroying insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells, which prohibits the body from producing insulin.

A person why Type II Diabetes does not produce enough insulin and is unable to use it effectively, a condition that is known as being insulin resistant. Lifestyle factors can contribute to the development of Type II Diabetes, including excessive weight gain and inactivity.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

Symptoms of both Types I and II Diabetes include:

  • Feeling excessively thirsty, resulting in significant water intake
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Sores or cuts that are slow to heal

Also, patients with Type I Diabetes may experience rapid mood changes, irritability, and weight loss, while patients with Type II Diabetes may experience sensations of numbness and tingling in their extremities.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Type II Diabetes

You can mitigate your chances of developing Type II Diabetes by making healthy lifestyle choices, including the following:

  • Manage Your Weight. Individuals who carry excess body fat, especially if stored in the midsection, are at risk of developing insulin resistance.
  • Balance Your Diet. Part of managing your weight should include eating a balanced diet full of healthy grains, lean proteins, hearty vegetables, and fruits. Also, reduce your intake of sodium by lowering your consumption of fried or processed foods and not adding excess salt to your meals.
  • Exercise Regularly. Aim for at least 30-minutes of activity that raises your heart rate at least three times per week. Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen. 
  • Quit Smoking. People who smoke are twice as likely to develop Diabetes as non-smokers.
  • Moderate Alcohol Intake. Too much alcohol can result in weight gain, which could boost your blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Men should not exceed two drinks in a day, and women should not exceed one. 
  • Talk to Your Doctor. Make sure you are visiting your primary care physician as appropriate based on your age and other health factors. Be honest with him or her about your lifestyle habits, and if anyone in your immediate family has Type I or Type II Diabetes. If your physician determines that you may be at risk, together, you can create a sustainable plan to address risky lifestyle factors and help you prevent the development of this chronic, complex disease.

What’s the Deal with Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting

One of the latest get-healthy-and-fit trends generating buzz is intermittent fasting. As with all things trendy, it promises to offer a definitive cure to all your health needs. You may even be hearing about it first-hand from friends, family, and followers. What’s the deal with this health trend? Is it truly something we should all do to optimize our health, or is it yet another overpromise that we can expect to be here today and gone tomorrow?

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting utilizes a repeating cycle of fasting and eating in an attempt to achieve health benefits. There are a variety of approaches and theories about intermittent fasting, but all of them break up the day or week into defined periods of fasting and eating.

Possibly the most straightforward intermittent fasting strategy involves lengthening the period between dinner and the following day’s breakfast—since you’re likely to sleep through most of it. With this model, you may eat your last meal of the day at 8 p.m., and then not eat again until noon the next day, although you can consume non-caloric beverages, including water, black coffee, or tea. In this way, you fast for 16 hours.

What are the Promised Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

Those who advocate for intermittent fasting tout such health benefits as weight loss, improved metabolism, a reduced chance of developing cancer and other diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, and longevity.

When we experience a prolonged period without food, our bodies’ processes change to protect us until our next meal. Those process changes include hormone regulation, cellular repair, and even genetic reactions. During a fast, we also experience a reduction in insulin and blood sugar levels and an increase in human growth hormone. 

 Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?

The Harvard School of Public Health reports that while studies of periodic calorie restrictions in animals have been shown to increase lifespan and improve reactions to metabolic stress, there have been less definitively conclusive results from human studies. One risk of intermittent fasting is that a participant will overeat during non-fasting periods to compensate after a period of feeling hungry. If a primary goal of the fast is weightloss, such behavior can result in cumulatively higher calorie consumption, thus impeding the intended weight loss.

How Can I Tell if I Should Try Intermittent Fasting?

As with all diet and exercise routines, do not attempt to make any changes without first consulting your doctor. He or she will explain to you what your specific benefits and potential risks may be of intermittent fasting. Whether your goals are weight loss, longevity, or mitigating the risk of developing a catastrophic condition, your doctor will work with you to put a safe and effective health and wellness plan in place that you can execute together.

Acid Reflux: Risks, Warnings, and Treatment Options

acid reflux

For many food enthusiasts, there is nothing better than a hot, spicy meal of food, drenched in sauce and mixed with peppers—but there’s also nothing worse than the pain and discomfort that follows. For those living with acid reflux, post-meal bliss can quickly turn into a burning, painful sensation that no amount of cold water can quench. If heartburn is frequently heating your chest, read on to review common symptoms, learn what may be causing your flare-ups, and understand your treatment options.

What is Acid Reflux?

Also known as acid indigestion or pyrosis, acid reflux is a common condition marked by a burning pain that appears in the lower chest area. The pain occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the food pipe. This misdirection of acid occurs when a valve that exists at the entrance to the stomach—the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) does not close all the way when food is moving into the stomach. If the LES remains partially open, stomach acid can travel up through the esophagus.

When an individual experiences acid reflux more than twice per week, the condition is known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

What are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux?

The most common symptom of acid reflux is a painful burning sensation that resonates from your stomach, up through the chest and into the throat. Other symptoms of acid reflux may include:

  • A bitter or sour acid material that backs up into your throat or mouth, known as regurgitation
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Burping
  • Incessant hiccups
  • Bloody vomit
  • Bloody or black stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Wheezing, dry cough, hoarseness, or chronic sore throat

How Common is Acid Reflux?

The American College of Gastroenterology reports that over 60 million Americans experience heartburn at least once per month, and 15 million Americans experience it daily. Acid reflux is the most common gut-related medical complaint treated by U.S. hospitals, as the related chest pain is often so severe that patients misconstrue it as a sign of a heart attack.

What Causes Acid Reflux?

Lifestyle choices, such as diet, obesity, and smoking, are the most common causes of acid reflux. Acid reflux may also be caused by such factors as:

  • A hiatal hernia, a stomach abnormality in which the upper part of the stomach and LES move above the diaphragm, allowing stomach acid to move up the esophagus
  • Eating large meals
  • Laying down or bending over immediately after a meal
  • Eating certain foods, including onions, garlic, mint, chocolate, tomato, citrus, and foods high in fat, or drinking such beverages as coffee, tea, alcohol, or carbonated drinks
  • Pregnancy
  • Some medications, including ibuprofen, aspirin, and some muscle relaxers and blood pressure medications

Treatment Options for Acid Reflux and GERD

For occasional heartburn, lifestyle choices, such as quitting smoking or reducing your consumption of spicy, irritating foods, may reduce the frequency with which you experience heartburn. Chronic heartburn, however, can lead to severe complications, such as an inflammation of the esophagus, known as esophagitis, which can further cause bleeding, ulcers, and chronic scarring that narrows the esophagus, eventually making it difficult to swallow.

If you are suffering from heartburn pain regularly, talk to your doctor. He or she may diagnose you as experiencing GERD and may recommend, in addition to lifestyle changes, and over-the-counter prescription medication, such as antacids that neutralize stomach acid. In more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe an H-2-receptor blocker medication that reduces acid production, or a drug that both blocks acid production and heals the esophagus— known as a proton pump inhibitor.

If your heartburn symptoms are frequent and disruptive, make an appointment with one of our Nova Health compassionate care providers today.

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Woman sleeping how much sleep

For many of us, sleep is a commodity—and we can never get enough of it. If you’re like most, you can’t help spending an extra fifteen minutes scrolling through your social media feeds when you know you should turn off the lights and go to bed. Couple that with a morning routine that has you waking up early to get your kids ready for school and commute to work, all before 8 a.m., and most days, you’re left feeling sluggish and foggy before you get to your 11 a.m. staff meeting.

How much sleep do you really need every night? We all hear stories of billionaire entrepreneurs who claim only to need (need) three hours of sleep every night, but is such little sleep realistic or healthy? How can you tell what your personal, optimal amount of sleep is, and more importantly, how can you get it? We’ve got the 411 on all the Zzzs.

How Much Sleep Do You Need at Night?

The average adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep at night, but according to the National Institutes of Health, is only getting seven. The difference between how much sleep you get and how much you need is critical because the amount of sleep you can get by on is not the same as the amount of sleep you need for optimal health and wellness.

Age Matters

It is important to note that throughout your life, the amount of sleep you will need will fluctuate. Consider the following recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation:

Average Sleep Needs by Age

AgeHours NeededMay be appropriate
Newborn to 3 months old14 – 17 hrs11 – 19 hrs
4 to 11 months old12 – 15 hrs10 – 18 hrs
1 to 2 years old11 – 14 hrs9 – 16 hrs
3 to 5 years old10 – 13 hrs8 – 14 hrs
6 to 13 years old9 – 11 hrs7 – 12 hrs
14 to 17 years old8 – 10 hrs7 – 11 hrs
18 to 25 years old7 – 9 hrs6 – 11 hrs
26 to 64 years old7 – 9 hrs6 – 10 hrs
65+ years old7 – 8 hrs5 – 9 hrs

Can You Get Too Much Sleep?

If you believe you may be suffering from the opposite issue—obtaining too much sleep every night—know that you can overdo it. New research shows that sleeping too much may be linked with health hazards that include:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression
  • Increased inflammation
  • Increased pain
  • Impaired fertility
  • Higher risk of obesity
  • Higher risk of diabetes
  • Higher risk of heart disease
  • Higher risk of stroke
  • Higher all-cause mortality

How to Find Your Sleep Sweet Spot

Since the amount of sleep that you need every night is individualized, to determine if you are getting an optimal amount of nightly rest, keep a sleep journal for a few months. Document what time you went to bed and what time you woke up, and assess you how you feel the next day. If you are getting optimal rest, you will feel energized and mentally acute. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you will feel low-energy and mentally fuzzy.

If you already know you need to commit to longer nights’ sleep, click here for tips on healthy sleeping habits you can start today.

Nova Health: Ribbon Cutting and 100 Free Flu Shots

The community partner in wellness hosts ribbon cutting and flu shot giveaway, commits to keeping patients at the center of care

EUGENE, Ore. – October 21, 2019 – Nova Health, a comprehensive provider of quality urgent care, primary care, physical therapy, and musculoskeletal services in Lane and Douglas Counties, announced its rebrand from the Eugene Urgent Care, Prime Care Partners and Atlas Physical Therapy.

Eugene, Roseburg, Thurston, Junction City and Pleasant Hill Urgent Care among other primary care and physical therapy clinics in Lane and Douglas counties are now known as Nova Health. As a longstanding member of the community, the rebrand and name (nova, a new star is defined by the collaborative formation of a new entity that is stronger and brighter than its individual components) represents the company’s unified commitment to providing immediate access to outpatient medical care under one umbrella, including rural and underserved communities.

“As Lane and Douglas counties’ partner in health and wellness, we are excited to reaffirm Nova Health’s partnership with our community,” said Bill Clendenen, Nova Health Chief Executive Officer. “We know that this community has a choice in where they go to receive care and Nova Health remains focused on a bright future in healthcare that revolves around what our people do best: caring for our patients.”

The rebrand has been marked by updated Nova Health facility signs and updated marketing materials at all 14 clinic sites. Current and future patients can now easily identify Nova Health clinics, reassuring they will receive quality, patient-focused medical care.

Nova Health will host a ribbon cutting and open house for the entire community to celebrate the clinic’s brand unity and continued care practices. The clinic will also be providing free flu shots to the first 100 people. Details below:

WHAT:                 Nova Health Ribbon Cutting and Flu Shot Giveaway

WHEN:                 October 31, 2019

                             10AM

WHERE:               Nova Urgent Care – Thurston

                              5781 Main Street, Springfield

                              RSVP here on the Nova Health Facebook page

VISUALS:  100 community members receiving free flu shots

                              New signage and clinic tours

WHY:  Recent studies show that young people (ages 18-34) are increasingly relying on “immediate care” services in non-emergency situations including urgent care clinics compared to older generations. Nova Health understands the need for immediate access to medical care is more and more prevalent and is therefore committed to providing such services and options for patients to receive affordable and consistent healthcare.

About Nova Health

Celebrating over ten years of serving patients throughout Lane and Douglas Counties, Nova Health is an outpatient healthcare organization that provides urgent care, primary care, physical therapy services, and musculoskeletal clinic services. Our focus is on providing high-quality patient care to the neighborhoods and communities we serve. Nova Health is a growing company that was established in 2008 with one clinic and nine employees and has grown to 14 clinics all within the Eugene, Springfield, Junction City, Veneta, Oakridge, Cottage Grove, Florence, and Roseburg areas. For more information, please visit novahealth.com.

Media Contact:
Kristine Rice

541-870-3726

krice@novahealth.com

Five Morning Habits of Highly Successful People

5 Morning Habits

Do you ever feel like some people just have it all together? Maybe it’s the dance mom who never seems frantic on Wednesday afternoons with her perfect outfits, perfect hair, and perfectly manicured nails, or the co-worker in your office who is always sitting at his desk sending out brilliant ideas via email before you even make it into the office.

If it seems like some people can produce a type of daily lifestyle efficiency you feel is unobtainable, know that nothing is stopping you from being just as prepared, organized, and optimistic, except for your daily habits. By adopting the following five proven-effective morning habits of highly successful people, you too will be able to do it all with Zen, no matter what the day throws at you.

  1. Follow a Consistent Wake-Up Routine
    Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (yes, even on the weekends) not only trains your body to fall asleep and wake up more quickly, but it also allows you to be consistent in your morning routine. Nothing sets your morning off on a rough start like running late. If you consistently oversleep, you set yourself up for the panicked morning rush and the anxiety it brings or failing to do something you need to set your day off right—like eating a healthy breakfast.
  2. Wake Up Early. Like, Really Early.
    Not only do you want to wake up at the same time every day, but you’ll also want to wake up early. Some of the world’s most successful people report that they wake up at five or even 4 a.m. If you must be at work by 8 a.m., and you have a 30-minute commute, a 7 a.m. alarm won’t give you the time you will need for healthy habits like meditation, exercise, and eating a healthy breakfast. Commit to slowly moving your wake-up time backward, even just five minutes a week until you are part of the pre-sunrise morning crew.
  3. Get Active.
    If you’re wondering what to do with all the extra time you have in the morning, use it to get active. Daily exercise—even 20 to 30-minutes, can help reduce stress, burn calories, and help keep you fit. Not getting enough exercise can leave you feeling sluggish, fatigued, and unmotivated. A morning jog, yoga session, or workout at your local CrossFit gym will leave you feeling confident and ready to take on your world.
  4. Reflect.
    Take time, even if only five minutes, to reflect on what you’re grateful for, and what you hope to accomplish that day. Many successful people rely on a hand-written to-do list to help them organize and prioritize their tasks for the day. Your list may include personal responsibilities, work requirements, or a mix of both. Throughout the day, check-in with your list, cross off what you have accomplished, and adjust where needed. By the day’s end, seeing how many vital tasks you completed will give you a sense of confidence that will motivate you to tackle tomorrow.
  5. Meditate.
    Before you say that meditation doesn’t work for you, know that there is no right or wrong way to meditate, as long as you take even five minutes to breathe with intention and reflect on what makes you feel grateful, happy, or content. For more tips on how to meditate, review this article from our experts.

Our final piece of advice is not to be too hard on yourself if, on any given morning, things go off the rails. Life happens to all of us, and even the best-laid plans often go awry. When life’s interruptions and disruptions occur, recommit to your morning efficiency plan, and try again. We promise, if you ask all the people in your life who seem to be winning the morning, they’ll tell you that even they have bad days too, but their secret to success is perseverance—and now it’s yours too.

The Days are Getting Shorter—Are You Feeling the Effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SADs-Seasonal Affective Disorder

We’re in full Fall swing, which means baseball playoffs, pumpkin spice everything, cool, crisp weather, and shorter days. If you’re like most people, even if you love Autumn, you secretly crave more hours of sunlight every day. Why? Our bodies naturally crave the energy and mood-boosting power of the sun. When we start to experience fewer regular hours of daylight, especially as Fall turns to Winter, it can begin to impact your mood, especially if you are sensitive to a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). What is this moody condition, and how might it be affecting your internal happiness-o-meter? Read on to find out.

What is SAD?

SAD, often referred to as major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern, is a type of depression that’s associated with the changing of the seasons. Those who experience SAD most often feel a decline in their mood in the Fall and Winter months. While experts still need to conduct more research on the causes of SAD, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) believes the condition may be triggered by reduced exposure to sunlight, causing a chemical imbalance in the brain and a disruption of the circadian rhythm (our internal clock).

While the APA reports that only about five percent of Americans experience SAD annually, it can plague their mood for up to 40 percent of the year.

SAD Symptoms

Symptoms of Fall and Winter SAD may include:

  • Regular feelings of depression or hopelessness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Being easily agitated
  • Reduced interest in hobbies and activities
  • Feelings of low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating

In the most severe cases, SAD can result in thoughts of death or suicidal ideation.

What to Do if You Believe You are Experiencing SAD

If you notice a recurring, negative impact on your mood and emotional wellbeing during times of the year that experience less consistent daylight, talk to your doctor. He or she will be able to diagnose whether or not you are experiencing a seasonal, or more persistent form of major depressive disorder, and can prescribe a treatment plan. Common treatments for SAD include:

  • Psychotherapy – Treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help patients understand and manage their reactions to certain situations and environments.
  • Prescription Medication – For some, antidepressant medications help to increase serotonin levels, improving mood, and lessening feelings of depression.
  • Bright Light Therapy (Phototherapy) – During this treatment approach, a patient sits in front of a lightbox for twenty minutes to an hour daily, ideally in the morning hours, during the times of the year when they typically experience SAD. The light exposure may help to restore the patient’s normal circadian rhythm.
  • Lifestyle Changes – Changing one’s routine to maximize exposure to sunlight may also help improve mood. Committing to an afternoon walk, changing window dressings to allow more natural sunlight into rooms, and sitting near a window during work hours are all helpful tactics. Obtaining regular exercise and eating healthy also help to stabilize and improve mental health.

The days are only going to keep getting shorter until we reach the Winter solstice. If you believe you may be feeling the effects of shorter, darker days, make an appointment now to talk to your Nova Health provider. Together we will build a plan so that you can maximize your enjoyment of every day, regardless of the season.

Five Reasons to Get the Flu Shot This Year (and Every Year)

6 Reason to get the flu shots this year

You can recognize the symptoms the moment you feel them coming on. Flushed skin, accompanied by unexplainable chills. Muscle aches that seem to seep into your bones. Exhaustion that you’d think could only be precipitated by the completion of an ultra-marathon. It’s the flu, and this Fall and Winter, if you don’t want to be among the millions of people diagnosed with influenza, talk to your doctor about getting the flu vaccine. If avoiding these uncomfortable symptoms isn’t enough of a reason to get vaccinated, here are six more reasons to get the flu shot.

  1. The Flu Shot can Help You Save Your PTO for Vacation Time. Your human resources office wants you to keep your germs at home as long as you are experiencing symptoms such as a cough with mucus, fever, exhaustion, vomiting, or diarrhea. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever breaks. That means you could end up using five to seven of your annual paid time off (PTO) days to recoup from the flu. Wouldn’t you prefer to use those days for a family trip to Gold Beach?
  2. The Flu Shot Will Keep Your Friends and Family from Blaming You for Getting Sick. The flu is highly contagious, and like most illnesses, you may be contagious before you even realize you’re sick. Once someone in a family or social circle gets the flu, they earn a reputation as patient zero, which means everyone else around you (who failed to get vaccinated) and gets sick will blame you for spreading the bug. And who needs that kind of negativity in their life?
  3. You May be Eligible for an Age-Appropriate Flu Shot. Medical experts recommend that everyone over the age of six months obtain an annual flu vaccine. For those over age 65 who may be most susceptible to the flu and its symptoms, an alternative flu vaccine is available that offers even greater protection.
  4. The Flu Shot in Optimized Annually. Every year, the CDC assesses the risk associated with the wide variety of flu strains that scientists have identified and creates an annual vaccine designed to offer the best protection against the most strains believed to be prevalent in the coming year. That means if you received the flu vaccine in a previous year, but still got sick, you may have contracted a strain that wasn’t accounted for in your vaccine. It can happen, but it doesn’t mean flu vaccines aren’t effective. The CDC reports that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40 to 60 percent among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine. That means the odds are in your favor that this year’s flu vaccine will keep you safe.
  5. The Flu Shot Can Save Your Life. In the U.S. alone, over 200,000 people are hospitalized due to the flu every year, and 36,000 people While the most susceptible populations include seniors, children, and those with other health complications and chronic illnesses, everyone should be aware of the risks of flu contagion.

When to Obtain the Flu Vaccine

Flu season officially occurs from October to May. Since it takes two weeks for the flu vaccine to protect you from contagion fully, doctors recommend that patients obtain the flu vaccine by the end of October. To help protect our community, Nova Health is offering flu vaccines at all of our 14 clinics throughout Lane and Douglas counties. Make an appointment or walk into any of our urgent care centers to take advantage of all the health benefits of the flu vaccine this year (and every year).


Find a Nova Health Location Near You

Do You Avoid the Gym Because You Feel “Gymtimidated?”

Gymtimidation how to avoid

Try These Confidence-Boosting Tips.

It’s no surprise that gym memberships spike in January when millions of Americans make fitness their New Year’s Resolution. What may surprise you, however, is that 80 percent of people who join a gym in January quit their routine by month five. For many, it’s not the sore muscles or even the membership costs that cause people to bail on their annual commitment. It’s a genuine emotional factor: gymtimidation. It’s a state of nervousness and anxiety that keeps people out of the gym and missing opportunities to get the 30 minutes of regular exercise that we all need three to five times per week. If you’ve found yourself avoiding the gym because you feel less fit, less capable, or uncomfortable in the gym environment, you’re not alone. But that anxiety ends here.

Why Do We Feel Gymtimidation?

Causes of gymtimidation are many and various. A survey conducted by a women’s magazine found that:

  • Two times as many women as men experience feelings of insecurity and intimidation at the gym
  • 44 percent of women fear the weight circuit specifically
  • 14 percent of women are made uncomfortable by glances from male gymgoers
  • 20 percent of men and the majority of women are most afraid of appearing out of shape compared to peers

There are many ways to get your 30-minutes of daily exercise, including walking, using fitness videos at home, and jogging in your neighborhood. However, if your schedule and lifestyle make the most convenient and safest environment to get fit, then don’t let your fears or insecurities keep you from pumping iron, taking a class, or hopping on a treadmill. Instead, try these gymtimidation-reducing techniques to take control of your confidence and max out your reps.

  1. Find a Gym with a Comfortable Vibe. Every gym—from international brands to local, privately owned businesses—has its own unique culture. Some create environments for people looking to maximize muscle gain, while others foster a culture of acceptance. If a you-do-you atmosphere is what you need to succeed, then shop around until you find a gym that fits your needs. For women, if a female-only gym would help you avoid insecurities around men, there are options available to suit your comfort zone. 
  1. Take Advantage of Your Free Training Session. Most gyms offer new members a free personal training session to help them learn their way around the equipment and train them on how to use the weight machines with proper form. Take advantage of the freebie session and learn how to properly use the machines so that you don’t find yourself avoiding them out of uncertainty or insecurity.
  1. Go With a Friend. If the idea of braving the gym (and that strange machine that looks like a torture device) makes you squirm, then take your best friend with you. Take a class together, use side-by-side ellipticals, or master the weight machine circuit as a team. By leveraging the buddy-system, you’ll feel less alone and exposed and can focus on the reason you’re at the gym in the first place—your heart health.
  2. Scope it Out. If walking into a gym and seeing dozens of people confidently and competently doing their things makes you want to turn around and run back out, take a breath, and tell yourself that you don’t need to rush or immediately jump into activity. Take a lap around the gym. Learn the layout of the room. See where all the equipment is, and decide what you want to focus on (Cardio? Strength training? Stretching). By giving yourself time to acclimate and assess, you can overcome your initial flight reactions.
  3. Remind Yourself that Many of Your Fears are in Your Head. Confidently tell yourself that no one is judging you. Honestly. Most gymgoers are focused on their personal goals—not the progress of their peers. Sure, you may find yourself catching sideways glances from Zumba classmates, and you too may find yourself marveling at the fittest man or woman in the room, but unless anyone actively harasses or intimidates you, your comparison fears are in your head. Of course, if someone does harass you, report them to management. That breaks the unspoken gym code.

Everyone has the right to feel good, be healthy, and be confident. Never let anyone intimidate you in a way that creates barriers to healthy lifestyle decisions—even if that person lives solely in your head. By remaining confident and giving yourself time and space to acclimate to the gym environment and learn how to optimize your time, you’ll soon be in a position to help out other newbies when they have questions or concerns. Now, won’t that feel good?

How to Start Meditating Today Without Feeling Silly

how to start meditation today

You may have heard that meditation is the process of quieting one’s mind, concentrating on the breath, and reflecting on things that bring gratitude. How though, can one quiet their mind when they are reeling with a never-ending to-do list, endless family and work commitments, and bottled up anxiety and stress that feels like it will burst? While it may feel impossible to meditate through chaos, this relaxation technique can help you reduce tension and anxiety, helping you manage emotions and remain mindful. The trick, however, is to give yourself a chance to experience its benefits without being self-critical during your beginning experiments. Our feel-silly-free guide to meditation can help you relax and meditate so that you can smile and be happy. 

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a mindfulness technique that encourages and develops concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and calmness.

The Benefits of Meditation

Meditation has been proven to help:

  • Reduce stress
  • Improve emotional wellbeing, positivity, and kindness
  • Control anxiety
  • Improve self-awareness
  • Reduce stress and anxiety-related physical pain symptoms
  • Improve attention span
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Improve sleep

How to Meditate Without Feeling Silly

If you’ve heard about the positive benefits of meditation but have been hesitant to try it because you worry that you’ll do it wrong, or that you’ll feel silly sitting cross-legged, chanting, and thinking happy thoughts, forget what you think you know. First, understand that there is no wrong way to meditate. If you are spending time away from your desk and smartphone reflecting on yourself, your life, and focusing on your breathing, you are doing it right. These tips can help you refine your technique to maximize the benefits of meditation and mindfulness. 

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit quietly. It can be inside your home or outdoors, as long as it is an area that is distraction-free.
  2. Consciously think about your breathing. Feel the sensation of your breath going in through your nose and out through your mouth. Your belly and ribs should expand on each inhale and deflate during your exhales.
  3. Be aware of your body. As you sit and breathe, think about your fingers and toes and all your limbs. Relax your facial muscles, unclench your jaw, and feel the sensation of built-up stress releasing from your body.
  4. Let your mind wander. A mistake people make when meditating is feeling that they have to sit in a void of conscious thought. It’s okay to have focused thoughts when you meditate, as long as you acknowledge and release anything stressful. Try to focus on the sensation of your breath. If your mind needs to wander, think about things for which you are grateful, and cast anxiety-laden thoughts away.
  5. Build uptime. Start first by meditating just for two minutes. After a few sessions, increase the duration to five minutes. Continue expanding your time commitment until you reach a point where you feel you’ve achieved the positive benefits of meditation without losing focus or feeling bored.
  6. Just like anything else, meditation is a skill. Commit to practicing daily meditation every day for one month before you decide if it is a ritual that you can fit into your daily regiment (because it should).

All of us can benefit from mindfulness and relaxation. Give these techniques a try and be kind to yourself if you start to feel self-conscious or silly. With practice, you’ll experience valuable health and emotional wellness benefits of meditation, and will learn to rely on mindfulness techniques anytime life gets hard.