Monday, November 27, 2017

6 Tips to Stay Balanced Through the Holidays

holiday stress, stress maangement, work life balance, holidays
The holidays are approaching fast and that means days spent shopping, family gatherings, and office parties. The hustle and the bustle of the holidays can often lead to feeling like you’re being pulled in many directions.  Just thinking about the many things, we must do to prepare for that special event can cause an overwhelming feeling. This busy time of year can also lead to irritability, emotional eating and anxiety. Below are some tips to stay stress-free and balanced during the holidays.

1. Have a schedule

Stay organized with a to-do list or calendar that allows you to list your tasks for the day. This frees your mind from having to remember every detail and allows you to check off tasks as they are completed.

2. Prioritize

When developing your to-do list, prioritize the things that are the most important to you and successfully complete those events first. It’s better to do less and be more efficient with less stress than to do more with a great deal of stress and inefficiency.

3. Get plenty of sleep

Lack of sleep can lead to poor concentration, weight gain, depression, and high blood pressure. Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Stop using electronic devices at least 1-2 hours prior to your bedtime. Keep a consistent bedtime to promote better sleep. Try creating a bedtime ritual like taking a warm bath, listening to ocean waves or journaling.

4. Meditate

Meditation is easy and can be done in as little as 5 minutes to be effective. Meditation decreases stress and lowers blood pressure. It also allows you to move the clutter in your brain and help you focus.

5. Exercise

Walking is a good stress reliever and helps to keep your weight down. Schedule time to take a walk and reap the benefits. Just 15-20 minutes can reduce your stress level.

6. Let it go

It’s impossible to do everything and make everyone happy. So, decide which issues are worth your efforts and let go of those things that do not serve you during this time. The holidays should be a time for creating memories with family and friend without feeling like you must make everything perfect.

"This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, joy to fill your holidays!"-D.M. Dellinger

Happy Holidays!
The Balance Doctor

Sunday, November 5, 2017

How to Reap the Benefits of Meditation in 4 Easy Steps

meditation, self-care, work life balance, working moms, stress

Does this sound familiar? You wake up each morning with a list of things that must get done. You rush out the door to work, forget to pack your lunch, spend your day answering emails and going to meetings. Only to have to come home, cook, attend family events, prepare for the next day and then start all over again. We are so used to running from one activity to the next, that we often forget to just slow down and breathe.

If we continue to go about our busy lives without allowing ourselves time to recharge, we run the risk of being chronically stressed. Signs of chronic stress are muscle tension like neck or back pain, headaches, forgetfulness, insomnia, gas and bloating and weight gain. These long-term effects can lead to heart disease, depression, hypertension, memory loss, obesity, stroke and advanced aging. The good news is that there is a way we can reduce our stress levels. We can improve our health by practicing meditation.

Meditation has many physical and mental health benefits. It has been shown to improve blood pressure, sleep, memory, concentration, your mood and reduce stress. It has also been shown to be helpful with improving hot flashes and reducing pain.

There are several types of meditation practices. The simplest form and probable favorite is mindfulness. Mindfulness means to be present and aware of what’s going on around you without distractions. Just think about it. How often do we get to practice mindfulness? We are often distracted by always having our electronic devices close to us. This makes us always available to receive a text, an email or phone call. We are constantly multitasking and not giving our full attention to one thing.

Meditation can helps bring you back to present not only while you’re sitting in silence but also when you go about your day. You develop a continuous awareness and an attitude of what’s important at all times.

So, what happens during meditation? Mindful meditation is a form of meditation where you sit with your eyes closed, legs relaxed or in crossed position and the back straight. For the period of meditation, you would focus on your breathing in and out, and when wandering thoughts emerge, you would return to focusing on your breathing again.

Guided visualization is another form of meditation that can be used for stress relief or personal development. This meditation practice entails sitting in the same position but here you are thinking about relaxing and positive experiences during your session. Your body’s response to these images is to release chemicals that boost happiness and positive feelings. You would imagine being in a certain place, such as on the beach listening to ocean waves or any other visual that inspires you.  

Meditation does not have to be difficult. There is no perfect way to meditate and there are no hard and fast rules. You must be consistent with the practice to see the benefits. It’s a lifelong journey. Here are 4 simple steps to get started

1. Find a quiet place

Make sure your space is quiet and free from distractions. Having the room at the right temperature is important as well. You want to be as comfortable as possible.

2. Sit in a relaxed position

You can sit on the floor crossed leg or legs straight out in front of you. You can also sit in a chair. Find the position that works for you. If you are relaxed, and your back is supported, you will be able to have a better experience.

3. Focus on your breathing

You just want to try to concentrate on being present. This means focusing on something during your meditation practice that keeps you centered and your thoughts in one place. Deep breathing helps to relax you as well as gives you something to concentrate on. Take nice, slow deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you begin the breathing exercise, close your eyes and just concentrate on your breathing.

4. Be mindful of your thoughts

Focus on your breathing and don’t try to be in control of your thoughts. Just let it happen. If your thoughts are racing, allow yourself to come back to your breathing.  If you are using guided visualization for your meditation practice, concentrate on the image that brings you joy and happiness. When your thoughts wonder, allow yourself to come back to the image.

There is no rule as to how long one should meditate, however most experts say at least 20 minutes. If this is your first time, start with 5-10 minutes and then gradually work your way up to 20-30 minutes. Set a timer to help guide you.

Don’t be too judgmental or be too harsh on yourself. This is a stress-free practice and you will learn as you go along. Need more assistance getting started try the Headspace app or use guided meditation apps like Insight Timer. 

Here’s to hoping you find peace, clarity and happiness through meditation.

Meditation is a form of self-care that requires you to make yourself a priority. This free guide provides 5 ways to find time for yourself without feeling guilty about it. Download it here

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Top 5 Reasons Women Put Off Getting a Mammogram and Why It’s Not OK

breast cancer awareness, mammogram, working moms
This month is focused on Breast Cancer Awareness to remind women of the importance of practicing prevention by getting mammograms and performing self-breast exams. A screening mammogram not only can detect breast cancer before you have symptoms, but it also makes it easier to treat if found early. However, many women put off having this life saving test for reasons that are inexcusable.

Here are the facts:

  • 1 out of 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
  • Each year it is estimated that over 252,710 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,500 will die.
  • On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer and 1 woman will die of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
  • African American women have the highest breast cancer death rates and are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women.

If breast cancer is diagnosed at a later stage due to infrequent screenings and lack of routine care, there may be limited and less effective treatment options. Part of self-care is practicing prevention, which means taking the time to visit the doctor for wellness exams and screening tests. So, with all this information, why are we not putting ourselves first and having routine mammograms and performing self-breast exams? Here are some excuses:
I don’t have a family history

Even for women without a family history, there are still other factors that may increase your risk of developing the disease like starting your menstrual cycle at an early age, never having children or having your first child at a later age, older age, starting menopause at a later age, prolonged use of hormone replacement therapy, obesity and alcohol use.

It’s painful

Yes, there may be some discomfort or pressure but it should not be painful. The mammogram itself takes 10-15 minutes. Let’s weight the benefits of getting a clean bill of health or finding a lesion early versus 10-15 minutes of discomfort.

I don’t have time 

This is a terrible excuse for not scheduling a test that may save your life. We must put ourselves first and schedule important tests. Everything else can wait. Put it on your calendar and don’t remove it. Changing this appointment is non-negotiable.  

I don’t feel any lumps when I perform my breast exams

This is only one measure of screening for breast cancer. and is not a substitute for getting a mammogram. Self-breast exams should be combined with screening mammograms. Mammograms can pick up changes in your breast tissue before you can actually discover a lump.

I don’t want to find out

This is simply denial. “Denial does not solve the problem. Denial does not make the problem go away. Denial does not give us peace of mind, which is what we are really seeking when we engage in it. Denial is a liar. It compounds the problem, because it keeps us from seeing a solution, and taking action to resolve it.”-Bill Kortenback  Avoiding the mammogram will not change the potential outcome, it will just prolong finding out earlier about a problem that is easier to combat in the early stages.  

What are the current mammogram screening recommendations?

The American Cancer Society now recommends now that annual mammograms begin at age 45. The new guidelines would look like this:
  • Women 40 to 44 discuss mammography with their doctor, and have the option of starting annual screening if they want it or their risk factors warrant it.
  • Women 45 to 54 receive annual mammography screening.
  • Women 55 and older receive screening every other year, and only discontinue mammography when life expectancy drops below 10 years.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends women age 50-74 get a mammogram, every two years.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends mammograms every 1-2 years starting at age 40 for women at average risk, but no later than age 50 and this should be a shared decision with your provider.

When to start mammogram screening, should be a personal decision between you and your physician based on the risk factors that are specific to your personal and family history.

Remember, under the Affordable Care Act screening mammograms are covered 100% without a copay, deductible or co-insurance. However, if you do not have insurance and are between the ages of 40-64, you may qualify for a free or low-cost mammogram through CDC's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program  or by calling 1-800-CDC-INFO

To join our community of professional moms who want to take back their life and put themselves first click here.  

Sunday, October 1, 2017

5 Ways to Create Your Own Happy

happiness, work life balance, working moms
Have you been searching for happiness and not sure what it feels like? Are you wondering how it really feels to be truly happy? How would your life be different? Happiness has been defined by some researchers as a state of well-being where life has meaning and is satisfying. Happiness does not mean feeling good all the time, because we know that this is not possible. We also know that happiness cannot be found through acquiring material things or quickly changing your current situation. Happiness is an emotion that is not brought on by what you attain or how successful you are. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Happiness can lead to your success and help you with achieving your goals. We know that to maintain happiness we need to practice habits that lead to a fulfilled, satisfying life.

According to research by Sonja Lyubomirsky, in her book The How of Happiness, 40% of happiness is within our control, 50% is determined by “set points” (genetics) and 10% by circumstances. So, if 40% is within our control what steps can we take to create our own happy.

5 Steps to Create Your Own Happy

1.           Change your story- If 40% of what bring us happiness is within our control, then you have the power to change your story. Look at your current situation and determine what story you are telling yourself. What thoughts would you need to change to bring happiness into your life? Every day you make choices about your personal life, your career and relationships. These choices are within your control. You choose whether you are going to wake up and exercise or take time for meditation and prayer. You choose if you are going to try to adopt a positive attitude or pay it forward. You choose if you are going to continue to define yourself based on past experiences. You can cultivate happiness by changing your story and adopting the attitudes and choices that bring you joy.

2.           Enjoy the journey- It has been shown that people who choose to live in the present and not dwell in the past lead happier lives. Enjoying the journey means embracing your successes and accomplishments and those of your loved ones. It means remaining optimistic. It also means taking one day at a time, instead of stressing over the future and what you cannot possibly foresee or have control over.

3.           Me Time- Taking time for yourself can also bring happiness. Self-care is important as it reduces stress, allows you to tap into your own feelings, wants and desires and allows you to be more satisfied with your life. Self-care is living a healthy lifestyle through healthy eating and exercise. It’s taking time to enjoy your favorite hobby or activity. It’s also taking time off from work and caring for others, to just have time for yourself.

4.           Relationships- Having positive, meaningful relationships can bring happiness. Relationships provide support and a sense of community. Happiness can be achieved when you spend time with loved ones. The closeness of loved ones through physical contact like hugging can be a positive emotion booster. Happiness can also be achieved by helping others through volunteering and other acts of giving back in our communities. People who have positive relationships are less likely to be stressed and more likely to lead joy filled lives.

5.           Gratitude- Practicing gratitude is another step you can take to increase happiness. It’s a great way to continuously remind you of all that you should be thankful for. Practicing gratitude lowers stress, improves sleep, and boosts your mood. You can journal with pen and paper or use an app. Consistent daily journaling of 3-5 things that you are grateful for, can change your story and create happiness.

Now that you have discovered 5 steps to create your own happy, what action will you take to create a life of meaning and joy? To help you take the first step, I have created a worksheet to get
Download the worksheet here. Enjoy the journey.

Friday, September 8, 2017

5 Back to School Tips for Working Moms

back to school, working moms, work life balance
Now that summer is over, it’s back to school time for over 25 million working moms in the U.S. and their children. Independent of the number of working adults in the household, mothers continue to carry the lion's share of household and care-giving responsibilities. That means trying to juggle both work and back to school related responsibilities like homework, after school activities, sports practices and games, teacher conferences and PTA meetings. Just thinking about balancing it all can bring anxiety and worry. Most children today participate in one or more sport or after school activity like music lessons, advanced academic courses and dance lessons jut to name a few. So how do you manage it all?

I remember when my kids were in school (they’re in college now), they were involved in sports, dance, school clubs and volunteer organizations, in addition to a rigorous academic load. To keep them involved would mean driving them to their activities, picking them up, making sure homework was completed, completing paperwork sent home and keeping track of grades. After some trial and error, I decided on a system that worked for me and my family. Below are some tips that helped me to balance the school year and not become overwhelmed.

Set Aside Time for Paperwork

The first month of the school year is the most challenging. During this time, you are receiving forms from teachers to complete by a certain due date, requests for supplies, calendars from coaches about practice time and games and everyone is trying to get adjusted to a new schedule. To try to stay on top of all the paperwork, I selected a time each day where I could focus on school forms and requests. If possible, I recommend, sitting down with your child, if they are old enough, and review the teacher expectations and requests with them. This ensures that your child is aware of your expectations as well as that of the teacher and you make sure they understand what is being asked of them. During this time, you can keep all the forms organized and respond to them right away instead of putting them in a pile to address later.

Create a To Do List

Create a to do list of what is needed. If school supplies, sports gear or other items are needed by a certain due date, include it in your to do list and assign it a due date and tag. I love the app Swipes. I just started using it for my own to do list items and it works well. You can move list items into groups or tags like work, home, family. You can also prioritize your tasks by importance and receive reminders when the tasks are due.

Create a Family Calendar

An electronic calendar like a Google shared calendar works well. The shared family calendar is where I would enter all activities; that included doctor’s appointments, games, practices and activities. If there are dates that your child's school already has on their calendar like back to school night, a trip, school closings, put these on the calendar as well. Everyone gets a notification with a shared calendar. This is great for sharing with your spouse, partner and older children. You can then decide based on your work schedule who is in a better position to take on what responsibilities. If there is a conflict, knowing ahead of time is key, as then you can pull from your resources of neighbors, friends, family for car rides and other responsibilities. If an electronic calendar does not work for everyone, you can download and print it month by month and put it in a place visible to everyone in your home.

Coordinate Activities

Decide with your child what activities are most important. We can stretch our children and ourselves too thin, if we’re not careful. Your child’s success does not solely rely on how many activities they are involved in. Some children are taking on several activities ranging from music lessons, to sports, to advanced math and science courses. Don’t get me wrong, activities have been shown to enrich a child’s life. Organized activities can help them to develop social skills, leadership skills and help them to improve academically. But we must recognize when it’s too much. So how do you know? Here are a few questions to ask yourself. Is my child falling asleep all the time? Is he or she struggling with their grades? Do they have enough free time to help balance their busy schedule? Do they have enough time to spend with family and friends? Are they happy?  It’s more important for your child to be well rounded and happy, than to be stressed out and involved in more activities that they can handle. In the end, having regular, meaningful connections with your children will help them better deal with life’s challenges and excel.

Plan Meal Times

Mealtime is a great time of the day to connect with your children. As busy families, mealtime often happens on the road and is not spent together. Breakfast or dinner can be a time to catch up on what's happening in your child's life, to reconnect with stories or shared memories and to create a time to have discussions on events happening in the world. I know that having every meal together may be tough. The best way that I achieved this was to plan it in advance. Look at everyone's schedule and see what days and times work best. Have a list of easy meals that you can prepare in under 30 minutes when you are in a bind for time. Also have healthy snacks that easy to package so that they can be taken while traveling to activities. My favorite time saver is cooking 2- 3 meals on the weekend in preparation for the week to help decrease the stress of thinking about what to cook during the week and to save time.

I hope these tips are useful for you and your family. Have a great school year!

For more information on ways to balance work and home download my free guide. Know another mom who could use these tips, use our share buttons below.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

6 Things Working Moms Need To Achieve Physical, Mental and Spiritual Balance

We know as working moms how important work-life balance is. It requires a combination of physical, mental and spiritual well being. If you're physically healthy you have the stamina and drive to keep going everyday. If your mental state is healthy you can become resilient in the face of adversity. If you are spiritually grounded, you know that all things are possible because of a higher power working in your favor. In order to achieve balance in these areas we need the right tools. Here are the 6 things working moms need in their toolbox to achieve physical, mental, and spiritual balance.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Volunteering To Recharge Your Passion For Work

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give”-Winston Churchill

Long hours coupled with work and family responsibilities can often leave us feeling drained. If we are not careful about balancing our work and personal lives, we can experience dissatisfaction with our career and a lack of focus and drive. A recent article written in by Ran Zilca, the Chief Data Science Officer at Happify, Inc. found that after analyzing data from their app, two things were important to being satisfied with work: having a life outside of work, and having the money to afford it.

Our spirit and passion for work can be reignited with volunteering. Volunteering allows you to have a life outside of your professional work. It enhances the mind, body and spirit through physical, mental and social activities. It allows you to get back in the saddle,find joy again and develop a new outlook.

There are many benefits to volunteering:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

15 Ways To Spring Into Action and Achieve Balance

Spring is here and with any season we witness change. Daylight lasts longer, flowers bloom, the air is warmer and the streets are filled with families walking and riding bikes. Spring can be a wonderful time to get rid of old habits and adopt long lasting healthy behaviors that allow you to reconnect with loved ones and reclaim your sense of well being.

“I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen.” –Anne Lamott

Listed below are 15 ways that you can reignite your soul and create the inner balance and calm that you desire:

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Simple Ways Working Moms Can Be Present With Their Children

As a working mom we know how important it is for us to have regular, meaningful connections with our children. We're not just talking about the routine mom duties like dressing them, getting them out the door and off to school, making sure they eat and excel academically. But the memories that will last a lifetime, that sustain us when we have to work long hours and when we are away if duty calls. These are memories that we also want our kids to have to make them feel like they are always connected to us, to let them know that they are at the top of our minds and that they matter more than they will ever know. It doesn't have to be complicated. We can create simple ways to be present with our children. When we decide to show up and be present with our children without distractions, we show them they are worthy of our time and attention. We begin to foster positive relationships and an entry into their world. You may begin to see them opening up more, listening more attentively and behaving in a calm manner.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

4 Ways Working Moms Can Reduce Overwhelm and Avoid Burnout

wokring moms, burnout, stress
Burnout among women juggling the responsibilities of a demanding career and home is at an all-time high. There are many reasons for this increase such as working lounger hours, having less time for family and social interactions and increased personal demands. Burnout doesn't happen overnight. A series of stressful events, and life changes happen over time that build up to a point where you feel like you can't escape. When we are facing overwhelm, stress and burnout, not only do our careers suffer but our physical, mental and spiritual health suffer as well. So how do we get to an state of well-being in our personal and professional lives? Below are 4 tips to help working moms reduce overwhelm and prevent burnout:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

What Are You Doing to Protect Yourself Against Colon Cancer

March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. A time to increase knowledge about the benefit of obtaining a colonoscopy to detect polyps which can lead to colon cancer. Current recommendations call for screening of all adults age 50 and over and for younger people with family history. African Americans should start screening at age 45. However,current information shows that colon and rectal cancers have dramatically increased in younger people in the past 40 years. According to a recent USA today article, a study by the American Cancer Society revealed that cases involving younger adults have risen to 29% for rectal cancer and 17% for colon cancer. About 11,000 people in their 40's and 4,000 people younger than 40 were diagnosed in 2013. This puts the Millennial and Generation X adults at risk.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Doctor's Prescription For a Balanced Life

When work takes over our lives, achieving balance becomes difficult. We can no longer focus on the things that bring us joy, peace and a sense of purpose. If we are constantly playing the same song in our heads about how work is so consuming and how we don't have time to enjoy the things we love to do, then we remain stuck. When we remain stuck, we miss the opportunity to display our talents in other areas for the good of mankind and for our own sense of fulfillment. We need to change the story and begin to find ways to create balance. One way is to find an interest outside of your career. This requires taking the time to reflect on what brings you happiness. Since our careers may not give us the joy, sense of purpose and happiness we're looking for, we may need to find outside interests that fill those needs.

A Woman Who Takes Care of Herself, Teaches Her Daughter to Do The Same

“My happiness is tied to how I feel about myself. I want my girls to see a mother who takes care of herself.”- Michelle Obama When ...