1. Published

    I originally wrote this article a few years ago, but always feel it is worthwhile to share it again periodically as a refresher. People are highly passionate in their beliefs and on behalf of groups they are a part of, and in our current culture, differing beliefs or create quite the stir. Difficult topics can make it a challenge to get our point across the way we intend to - whether we are talking with professionals, supervisors, family members or friends.

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    On Friday, July 23, 2021, the Olympic Games begin in Tokyo, Japan. There are 11,091 athletes estimated or expected to compete. My image of an athlete is an individual who is passionate, dedicated, determined, goal orientated, healthy, confident, motivated, and much more. Being prepared for the Olympics doesn’t happen overnight. These athletes had to have such a positive and strong mindset to be motivated to train during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are not Olympic athletes, but may struggle with being motivated at times.

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    As we are now officially in the summer season, it can be very easy to overschedule our children and ourselves. This is especially true this year as COVID restrictions begin to lift and more events are becoming available again. Enjoyable but exhausting family vacations, summer sports leagues, day and overnight camps, 4-H fairs, library and park recreation programs, and the list goes on and on.  It is very possible to overcommit family members to the point where they do not get to relax, recharge and really enjoy spending time with each other before another busy school year begins.

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    When I hear someone sing beautifully or see beautiful art, I am mesmerized as these are not gifts that I feel I possess.  Though, I still sing in my car and my home. No matter how I sound, it brings me much joy.  However, painting wasn’t something that I engaged in for fear of disaster.  Anyone else have that same fear?  During this past year, I stopped playing sports due to the pandemic and decided to try my hand at <gasp> painting as a new stress outlet. There have been the good, the bad, and the ugly – yet, I have thoroughly enjoyed them all.

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    Since we are still acknowledging Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to share a little bit about mindful movement. Mindfulness is defined as an awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can happen in many ways including types of breathing, visualization, using our senses, practicing gratitude and even through movement! Mindful movement is an effective way to reduce stress and its physical consequences.

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    Something we have all listened to since we were children is, “Eat your fruits and vegetables.” Even though we always heard this from parents or guardians, they rarely gave a reason behind it other than “They’re good for you.” Let’s look at some of the aspects of healthy foods, why they are classified as such, and what foods contain these benefits.

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    “Decide what your priorities are and how much time you’ll spend on them. If you don’t, someone else will.”  - Harvey Mackay

    “It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is what are you busy about?” - Henry David Thoreau

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    Greetings from the Autism Program at University of Illinois. Our friends call us TAP.

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    When someone asks you to think about health, wellness and fitness, you usually think about physical health, exercise or nutrition. Throughout a person’s lifetime, they should not only concentrate on improving and maintaining their physical health, but also be working on their cognitive or brain health. Since this is Brain Health Awareness Week, I would like to share a few things you can do to maintain a healthy brain. Getting enough good, quality sleep is important along with eating a heart healthy diet and exercising regularly.

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    Wintertime brings many difficulties. Wintry weather can be a deterrent to do things outdoors, and it can feel very unmotivating to want to do anything, especially with temperatures at freezing and snowfall being increasingly frequent. However, it does not mean that you cannot stay physically active; you just need to find some workarounds.

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    Do you remember your first childhood friend? Do you still have friends that you keep in touch with from school or work? Humans are social creatures and we enjoy and do better being around others. So, knowing how to make and keep friends is an important skill for young children to learn.

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    The conversation of taking care of one’s mental health has come up often over the past 11 months. Whether we’re experiencing a pandemic or trying to survive in the world, caring for one another makes a difference. This past month I had the opportunity to attend Mental Health First Aid Training to become a facilitator. This program was developed by Betty Kitchener and Anthony Jorm from Australia, and they gave the National Council for Behavioral Health permission to update the material. As a trainer, I encourage others to attend a Mental Health First Aid training, and I will explain why:

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    Resilience:  the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. As much as resilience involves “bouncing back” from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth. The good news is that resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have.

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    Winter is upon us and those longer hours of darkness coupled with the colder temperatures can make many people experience those “winter blues.” Throw in a pandemic where we are isolating from others, and I’m afraid we are going to see more people experiencing those blues and maybe worse this season.

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    Most years, many strive to go home for the holidays. This year, many will spend their holidays in their own home. The home may be a place they live alone, a place with a significant other, a place with children, or a home filled with multi-generations.  Whatever home is for you, and however you are spending your time this year, things may be different.

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    Thanksgiving celebrations may look different in 2020 for many people. I have had many conversations with friends and family about whether to gather.

    This year our attitude needs to be centered on giving people grace about their decisions and focus on expressing gratitude and thankfulness in a variety of ways, even if the holiday looks a little different this year. 

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    The holidays are fast approaching, and what is usually a fun time of preparation and anticipation for many is now clouded by uncertainty with COVID-19. With the surge in cases and the severity of the disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, suggests celebrating Thanksgiving with members of your own household who consistently take measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 or with others virtually to lower the risk of spread.

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    Life has not been easy for most parents who have school-aged children. It has been unpredictable for some parents, not knowing from day to day whether their child(ren) will be in a school building or learning remotely from home.

    Just recently a friend of mine got word that her daycare had to close for two-weeks because of COVID, which meant both her child attending that daycare and her older school-aged child had to stay home from school and quarantine. Forced quickly into shifting gears, my friend arranged to work from home so she could look after her children.

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    We all know someone who is providing care for someone else. They may be caring for an older parent, a disabled adult child, or a spouse suffering from a traumatic injury or chronic illness. Even parents raising children are considered caregivers. Caregivers give of themselves without expecting anything in return, and they rarely think of themselves first.