Posted by & filed under Lifestyle Tips.

 

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Loneliness can be emotionally challenging, but it is also causes physiological problems in your body.

Research has shown that loneliness lowers the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off illness. It also increases the amount of inflammation in the body, can lead to hardening of the arteries, and can increase blood pressure, putting greater stress on your heart.

As humans, we have evolved to be social creatures. Lack of human interaction can cause physical distress in the body. If you are finding yourself being less social, interacting with other human being less, or find yourself feeling lonely often, you should consider reaching out to friends and family, or trying something new!

Meet Up is a website that is dedicated to bringing people together for any type of event that you can imagine. Type one of your favorite hobbies into the search bar and see what comes up! Personal, human connection is right at your fingertips.

Posted by & filed under Lifestyle Tips.

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Love yourselves for who you are, in this very moment.

Build a positive relationship with your body. “Build a relationship with my body?” you might ask. Yes, build a relationship with your body! We spent our entire lives in our bodies. It’s important to be in touch with how our bodies are feeling and commit time and energy to feeling good. As a woman who spent a lifetime struggling with body image issues and battling to like (much less love) what I saw in the mirror, I have come up with a few things that I do to feel sexy, confident, and beautiful in my own skin.

 

Smile:
Smile at yourself in the mirror before leaving the house in the morning. I felt ridiculous when I first started doing this, but eventually, I began to feel like I was smiling at a friend and that she was smiling back. Now, I never leave the house without sharing that smile.

Also, try smiling at strangers you pass on the street. I find it extremely rewarding to see a person receive my smile and happily smile back. I think of it as a “Happiness Pay It Forward”.


Find Something About Your Body That You Like:
Daily, look in the mirror and find something you like about your body. It took me months of doing this before I could find one thing that I liked. It was my nose; my nose was the first thing that I could look at and think, “Yeah, I like the way that looks; I wouldn’t change a thing about it.” As time passed, the list of things I found tolerable about my body grew, then the things that I liked, then the things that I loved. Now, I wouldn’t alter any of my features; I love my size and shape, but it wasn’t an easy time getting to this point. It definitely took years of mental and emotional dedication.


Don’t Criticize:
Don’t look in the mirror and criticize your healthy body. I find that how I see myself in the mirror is a direct reflection of how I’m doing emotionally. If I’m having a bad day, I’m less likely to look favorably upon my reflection. Picking apart what I see won’t change my physical form, nor will it improve my mood. If I’m not feeling good about what I see, I walk away.


Wake Up First:
Don’t look at your reflection within the first few minutes of waking. Let’s be honest, no one rolls out of bed looking good. So why have the first thing you see in the morning be you looking your worst? I give myself a few minutes to wake fully, splash some warm water on my face, and then maybe I’ll look in the mirror. But usually, it’s not until after I get out of the shower.

[As you can see, the mirror often plays a huge role in self-image.]


Make Good Food Choices:
Choose what you eat wisely. This doesn’t mean I don’t splurge. I absolutely give myself that freedom, but I like to be intentional with what I eat. Sometimes, the delay of gratification principle helps trick me into eating better. I know that when I eat better, I feel better. And when I feel better, I look better, which makes me feel better, and so goes the cycle.


Exercise:

Not to “look good” (although, that is an unavoidable effect of exercise), but to feel good. If your body isn’t healthy, it doesn’t matter what size your pants are, you won’t feel your best. Need help starting or maintaining a fitness regimen? Check out my tips for maintaining a successful exercise routine.


Sleep:
Few things make the days more difficult and our aesthetic more haggard than not getting enough sleep. Get to bed at a decent hour, keep television shows and movies in the living room, and make your bedroom a place for only bedroom activities. You may find yourself falling asleep easier, getting more restful sleep, and feeling brighter in the morning.


Dance!
Dancing with friends or dancing by yourself are both excellent activities, but I specifically recommend dancing by yourself to some of your favorite music. Moving freely in your body helps you build an intimate relationship with your body as you give yourself permission to move in whatever way feels good in the moment. I compiled a list of my favorite songs to dance to, and when I need to get back in touch with my body, or simply need a break, I will have my own little private dance party.


Clean Out Your Closet:
Get rid of “fat/skinny pants”. They only remind you of how you used to be and what you’re currently not.

On that note, get rid of anything that you don’t feel good in.


Spend Time in Nature:
Whether you wiggle your toes in the grass in your yard, or go for a long hike at Torrey Pines, or walk through the Botanical Gardens at Balboa Park, a stroll through nature reminds us of the beautiful imperfection and gorgeous asymmetry that naturally occurs all around us.


Make a List of the People You Admire:
Who are the people in your life that you most admire? What do you admire about them? Make a list of all of the qualities that you find admirable about them and make a conscious effort to shine those qualities back to the world.


Surround Yourself With People Who Support You:
This may seem like common sense, but don’t be in a relationship with someone who criticizes your body. Be with someone who challenges you to grow (and who you equally challenge) – not necessarily through any verbal communication, but by being healthy together. Don’t be with someone who points out your “flaws”. We find our perfect match in our partners, and our significant others are a direct reflection of where we are at that point in our lives. When I didn’t like my body, I had a partner who constantly criticized my appearance (and who was actually more self-conscious about his appearance than I was about mine).


Surround Yourself With Positive People:
They say we are a combination of the five people we spend the most time with. Are you happy with what that says about you? Once you have found these positive people in your life, make an effort to spend time with them.


Use Positive Words to Describe Your Body:
Say only positive things about your body, even when joking, and only use words with positive connotations (with yourself and others). In fifth grade, a girl in my class made fun of my “big butt”. I held onto that statement and that moment for years (I can even remember what I was wearing). I remember that being the moment that I started worrying about my body and began to have an altered and inaccurate view of how I looked. Even when I began to like my butt, I still would refer to it as “big,” but that word has always continued to hold a negative feeling for me. Discard words like “big” and “fat” and replace them with words like “voluptuous” and “full”.


Speak in Positives and Recite Mantras or Quotes to Your Reflection:
We are all painfully guilty of an excess of negative affirmations from time to time. When stressed or triggered, I may hear myself think, “I’m so stressed.” or “I’m so bad at this.” I know that those things just add to my anxiety, and generally aren’t accurate statements. I find it to be quite healing to repeat mantras, both in my head and out loud. Sometimes I’ll write quotes on my mirror or have an image with a quote on the home screen of my cell phone. Check out this list of my favorite self-affirmations.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of god. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of god within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people the permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

Finally, remember that loving others sometimes sneaks up on you and surprises you. Loving yourself is more deliberate. Take the first step: Embrace yourself.

You’re worth the Love you have to give.

Posted by & filed under Lifestyle Tips, Stress.

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Self-affirmations are based on a psychological theory that describes how people process information or experiences that are threatening to their self-concept. They were first popularized by Claude Steele in the late 1980s, and state that if individuals focus on values and ideas that are important to them personally, they might be more resilient in difficult times.

 

I have compiled a list of my favorite self-affirmations (and a couple quotes):

  • “I love what I see in my reflection.”
  • “I am beautiful.”
  • “I am powerful.”
  • “I am love/loving/lovable/loved.” (You pick whichever applies most to you.)
  • “Because I accept and love myself, others will accept and love me.”
  • “There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it is going to be a butterfly.” (Cheesy as it is, this one helps me when I’m going through hard times.)
  • “Smile as a cause, not as an effect.”
  • “If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to go where you’ve never gone and do what you’ve never done, because both are necessary to have what you’ve never had and be who you’ve never been.”
  • “He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” (This Nietzsche quote is one of my favorite quotes ever.)
  • (keep scrolling for more)

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This is a project that I started alone, but soon realized would be even better if I included the women (and men) in my life to compile this list. Here is what they contributed:

  • I am healthy. I am beautiful. I am passion.
  • I am living in my highest potential.
  • I am confident.
  • I am every woman!
  • I am worthy of everything I want and have.
  • I am proud, I am loved, I am myself, and I am awesome.
  • I am happy.
  • I am Me.
  • I am smart.
  • I am happy, healthy, and whole.
  • I am compassionate.
  • I am enough.
  • I am fabulous!
  • I am powerful.
  • I am at peace.
  • I am kind, I am smiling, I am loved.
  • I am authentic.
  • By letting my own light shine, I give others permission to do the same.
  • I take care of my body because I am worth it.
  • I love myself unconditionally.

And, always remember, YOU ARE AWESOME!

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Posted by & filed under Lifestyle Tips, Studies.

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Living with Depression

The NIH estimates that each year, 6.7% of American adults experience a major depressive disorder.

According to a recent study, Acupuncture is as good as counseling at treating depression. Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, which are our body’s natural “feel good” responses, and helps to decrease pain and stress-related side effects. Acupuncture treats the body and the mind, and aims to restore a sense of balance.

If you are one of the millions of Americans struggling with depression, don’t give up hope!
The following is a list of lifestyle changes that can help you win your battle against depression:

Reach Out:
Loneliness is not only disheartening, it is also bad for your health. Camaraderie is important during our times of struggle, and our modern technology makes it even easier to connect with friends and loved ones. Text a friend that you need a pick-me-up, or ask your Facebook friends what their favorite inspiration quotes are.

Get Enough Sleep:
When we don’t get enough sleep, we are more likely to feel lethargic and weighed down. Getting ample rest helps set you up for success for the whole day!

Create a Schedule:
When we feel depressed, it’s hard to get anything done. Setting a schedule keeps you on task and helps prevent sad lulls throughout the day.

Set Goals:
They can be as simple as deciding to cook dinner for yourself tonight or exercising at least 30 minutes on two days this week. Setting attainable goals for yourself will give you a sense of accomplishment and a confidence boost.

Exercise:
Physical activity also releases those “feel good” endorphins. Even two minutes of movement daily can have a profound effect on your sense of well-being.

Get Your Vitamin D:
Studies have shown that decreased levels of Vitamin D can lead to Season Affect Disorder, which perfectly spells the acronym “SAD”. Getting a few minutes of sunlight daily can help boost your mood, especially during gloomier months.

Eat Healthy:
This piece of advice seems to make it onto every Life Improvement list, and for good reason! What we put into our bodies greatly influences how we feel. Remember: garbage in, garbage out. If you want to feel good, focus on eating healthy and getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.

Avoid Emotional Eating and Substance Abuse:
These habits may relieve your symptoms, but it will only be a temporarily solution. Try substituting herbal teas for emotional eating, and if you think you may have a drug or alcohol problem, seek help. Read here for signs and symptoms of addiction and resources for help.

Think Positively:
Our actions and choices follow our thoughts. We often hear people talking about the power of attraction: If you constantly dwell on negative thoughts and speak negatively to yourself, you will have a much harder time having a positive outlook. Thinking positive thoughts can be the first step towards changing your worldview.

Play!
When feeling depressed, the last thing you may feel like doing is playing, but participating in fun and enjoyable activities will remind you of what it feels like to feel good. Finding activities that give us joy are paramount to a happy life.

If you have harmed yourself or are considering doing so, please seek help. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7. It is also recommended that you speak to your doctor about any and all symptoms you are experiencing.

Remember: You are not alone!

Posted by & filed under Fitness, Lifestyle Tips.

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Are you one of the millions of people that have resolved to be healthier in 2015?
To exercise more? Eat better? Stress less? Then good for you! The key is being
able to turn a resolution into a lifestyle.

We all have the absolute best of intentions: We want to be healthier so we can improve our level of physical fitness, live longer, live better, and consequentially, elevate our confidence and sense of self. We often charge full steam ahead into a new workout routine and feel strong and empowered for weeks! But few things kill motivation as effectively as burn-out. As humans, we will go go go until we can go no further, which is why pacing yourself is paramount to success.

This leads me to my first point: Set realistic and attainable goals. If you haven’t worked out in a month, resolving to work out three times a week can easily become overwhelming. Exercise is a lifestyle habit that must be integrated into your schedule. Be honest with yourself about what you are capable of achieving. If you’re starting from scratch, committing to one hour of exercise, one time per week, could be your perfect short-term goal. Achievement breeds excitement, whereas failure leads to waning motivation. Setting realistic goals sets yourself up for success! If you achieve your goal of working out once a week for four weeks, you can then add a second workout per week for four weeks, then a third. If you start out with too lofty an expectation, you may experience disappointment and a decrease in your self-confidence – which is the opposite of what you’re trying to do!

Have both short and long-term goals, and revisit your goals often: at least monthly. An example of a short-term goal could be to work out once a week for four weeks; the subsequent long-term goal could be working your way up to four workouts per week in four months time. Achieving physical fitness all about managing expectations, setting reasonable goals, having a plan to meet those goals, and then working hard to get where you want to be! Remember to find support for your fitness endeavors, as accountability is important to achieving your goals: Find a workmate to go on lunchtime walks with, start working with a personal trainer who develops a routine specific to your goals, or take a neighborhood stroll with your partner after dinner. You may find it advantageous to have a buddy to encourage you to reach your goals, to work hard alongside you, and to be successful with you.

Find exercise in unexpected places: Try taking the stairs to your office at work, or do light squats while you wait for the elevator. Forgo the escalator at the airport for the staircase nearby. Park at the far end of the parking lot so you have to walk further to get to the grocery store. Do 50 jumping jacks before your shower in the morning. Play with your kids on the playground, or with your niece and nephew at a family party. Physical activity can easily be incorporated into your everyday life, as well as a fun activity for the whole family!

A final key to success in physical fitness is to Enjoy your exercise; dreading your impending workout won’t get you pumped up. Personally, I looove my Zumba classes. I enjoy the music and the dancing and the fun of the routines, and before I know it, I’ve worked out for an entire hour! I also love yoga and how it both strengthens and relaxes my body, but sometimes I decide to do cardio and lift free weights instead. My point is, I have found many physical outlets that I enjoy and that give me a good workout. On any given day, I have several enjoyable options to chose from. Perhaps Zumba and yoga and cardio and weights aren’t your thing, so find out what is – You’re going to have your body for the rest of your life, so you might as well figure out what motivates you to take the best possible care of it!

As always, never try to push through pain. Pain is a sign that something isn’t working as it should be, and is your body’s way of saying “Stop!”. It is also recommended to consult your physician before starting a new exercise routine. And remember what our buddy Lao Tzu said, “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

Today is the day to visualize the life you want, and to do what you can to point yourself in that direction.

Posted by & filed under Lifestyle Tips.

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Happy Holidays! Seasons Greetings! Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Happy Hanukkah! Joyous Kwanzaa! Happy Solstice! and Happy Festivus! Whatever your chosen holiday greeting, I hope you find every opportunity to enjoy this time of the year!

Besides stress, our shared struggle of the holiday season is finding ways to eat good food in healthy proportions. Whether it’s the plates of cookies at work, the gifts of chocolates we receive, or the potluck and dinner parties we attend, we are faced with lots of delicious, yet often regretful calories. In my personal opinion, part of living life to the fullest includes allowing ourselves to splurge on the yummy treats that make our taste buds smile, if taste buds could smile, that is. The skill comes in knowing how to curb your cravings and limit your splurges.


Here are my tips to keeping your splurges to a minimum and your enjoyment to a maximum!

Just a Taste: When you feel like eating something unhealthy, ask yourself the honest question, “Do I really want this?” and give yourself a few seconds to think about it. If the answer is no, then you can choose to skip it. If the answer is yes, then consider easing in with a small taste: Take one piece of chocolate instead of two or three. You can always go back for more!

Small Serving Size: Make your initial servings small, because, as we mentioned seconds ago, you can always go back for more later. We fall into the trap of caloric over-indulgence when we want to try “All The Things!” Make sure your plate isn’t completely piled high with food, or better yet, eat off of a smaller salad plate. And remember, you’re not attempting to starve yourself or restrict your calories to an unhealthy degree, you’re simply trying to make sure your eyes aren’t bigger than your stomach.

Be Conscious of Your Portions: Never eat directly out of a bag or box of food. When we can’t see how much we’re eating, we can easily end up binging. (Flashback to finals week my freshman year of college when I was surprised to peer down into an large, empty box of crackers that I had opened a mere three hours earlier. I had ingested a few thousand empty calories without even realizing it.) Pour a reasonable amount into a small bowl, look at each bite before you put it in your mouth, and finish chewing thoroughly and swallowing before you pick up your next bite.

Politeness: Remember, it’s okay to say “No, thank you.” Just because the host offers you a piece of her famous pumpkin pie that she spent three hours making, doesn’t mean you’re obligated to eat a whole piece. You can easily find compromise in eating half a piece or trying just a bite.

Wait to Splurge: Be aware of your social schedule for the next 48 hours. Is there a potluck at work this afternoon? Then perhaps plan on a healthy breakfast, eat a piece of fruit for a snack, and schedule a healthy dinner. Are you going to a Christmas party tomorrow night? Maybe today you should focus on getting plenty of nutrition in your meals, so you can be unrestricted and guilt-free at your party tomorrow! One of my keys to dietary success has been waiting until the evening to eat anything that would be categorized as a “splurge”. If all day long, I eat plenty of good, nutritious, health-full foods, then I don’t have to worry about eating an entire chocolate bar after dinner or savoring a bowl of cheesy-poofs. And when you go for those splurge items, don’t have other distractions present. If you’re watching TV or checking your e-mail, you probably won’t get as much enjoyment out of your yummy treat.

Stock Up on Fruits & Veggies: As we are running around during the busy holiday season, we are often scrounging for our next meal or snack. Keep a good supply of your favorite fruits and vegetables at home and the office. Even if you’re busy busy busy all day, you’ll have accessible nutrition on-hand. Personally, I always keep plenty of apples, bananas, cutie oranges, carrots, and bell peppers around. They’re delicious and nutritious!

Add Some Protein: This point is riding the coattails of your fruit and vegetable supply. Simply add a scoop of peanut butter or some hummus to your fruit or veggie, and you have a healthy snack with protein. Fruits and veggies are wonderfully nutritious, but their calories won’t sustain you for hours on end. The energy that we get from protein (nuts, seeds, tofu, beans, yogurt, cheese, meat, etc.) is more long-lasting and can better sustain you throughout the day. My favorite morning snack is an apple with almond butter, and afternoons usually find me with a bell pepper and hummus. Looking for a family activity? Making your own nut butter or hummus is as easy as having a food processor and doing a quick recipe search online!

Don’t Forget to Eat!: We all know that we make poor food decisions when we let ourselves get too hungry, so plan ahead. Are you going to be running errands all day? Keep a bag of trail mix in your purse, desk, or car, and be sure to reach for it when you start to feel your energy wane.

Take Your Time: It takes approximately fifteen minutes for your brain to recognize that your stomach is full. Chewing your food thoroughly is not only good for you, but will also allow you to eat slowly and intentionally, be more in tune with your digestive process, and recognize the signals before full becomes “too full”.

Be Grateful & Appreciative, & Enjoy!: Before you take a bite, consider all of the lives that have interacted with your meal: the farmer or rancher who grew the plants or raised the animals, the multitude of people who packaged and transported the items from them to the store or farmer’s market, the person who bought the food and prepared the meal, and even the person who set the table and placed the food before you. So many people were involved in getting these delicious items to YOU! Now, consciously enjoy each taste. Can you detect the nutmeg in your grandmother’s yams? What about the cinnamon in your cousin’s traditional apple cider? Do you like the sliced almonds that your spouse added to the green beans this year? Appreciate all the delicious tastes and aromas that are presented to you, consciously tap into your senses.

 

Please note that I am not a dietician or nutritionist, just a healthy woman sharing the tips that I have discovered throughout my personal journey towards a healthier life.

Posted by & filed under Home Remedies, Lifestyle Tips, Stress, Studies.

newsletterneckshldrtension

 

Are the holidays both a figurative and literal pain in your neck?
Acupuncture is here to help!

When we are experiencing emotional stress, our bodies will naturally respond the same as they would to an actual physical threat. Our sympathetic nervous system, AKA “fight or flight response,” causes notable symptoms of acceleration of heart rate and breathing, flushing or paling of the skin, and a dilation of muscular blood vessels. Similarly, our bodies often hold a defensive posture meant to protect our internal organs when we can neither fight nor run away. Think about the parts of your body involved in curling up into a tight ball: your shoulders round and lift towards your ears, which creates tension in the muscles of your neck and shoulders, your back rounds forward, and your arms pull in toward your midline. Take away fulling rolling into a ball, and this tensed position is one that we often fall into subconsciously, especially if any significant amount of time is spent in front of the computer.

 

If you suffer from tight muscles in your neck and shoulders, try this:
1. Contract the muscles of your neck and shoulders by raising your shoulders up towards your ears.
2. Contract as hard as you can (pain-free) and hold for ten seconds.
3. Lower your shoulders and actively pull them down and away from your ears.

Notice a difference? That’s because you just performed proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, or “PNF” for short. When we tightly contract our muscles, we active our Golgi tendon reflex, a protective feedback mechanism that causes relaxation of a muscle in response to high tendon tension (in this case, firm contraction of our neck and shoulder muscles). As we actively draw our shoulders down and away from our ears, we activate the muscles that are antagonistic to the muscles we just contracted, stimulating the relaxation of the original contracted muscles. All that to say, actively tensing and stretching your neck and shoulder muscles will help create a softening and relaxation of those muscles.

 

A recent study found that acupuncture effectively reduces referred and local pain in the trapezius muscles. You know those spots on the tops of your shoulders that tend to get knotted and tight when you’re stressed? Those are your trapezius muscles, commonly referred to as your “traps”. Insertion of needles into acupuncture and trigger points in your neck and shoulders stimulates relaxation of these muscles, even muscles that have been bound and knotted up over years of tension, tightness, and subconscious muscular contraction. If you are someone who suffers from chronic or acute neck and shoulder tension, try the exercise above and consider trying acupuncture. You may find the relief you have been seeking!

Posted by & filed under Recipes.

newslettergreenbeans

 

I recently discovered this recipe in The New York Times Cooking section and it is delicious! It’s the perfect side dish for your holiday celebration.

Total time: 25 minutes
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients (makes 4 servings)
• Kosher salt
• 8 ounces trimmed green beans
• 1/4 cup blanched whole almonds, coarsely chopped (I went easier with sliced almonds)
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 large shallot, minced
• 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, thinly sliced
• 1 lemon
• Ground black pepper

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a roiling boil and add a teaspoon of salt for taste. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook until bright green but still firm, about 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to the ice water. When cool, drain again. Pat dry with paper towels until completely dry.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the almonds and the oil, adding more oil if needed to just cover the almonds. Cook over medium heat until the almonds are golden, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the shallot. It will cook in the residual heat.

Coat a large skillet with oil. Heat over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the beans and season with salt. Cook, tossing frequently, until charred dark brown in spots and tender-crisp, about 7 minutes.
Top with the almond mixture, then the parsley. Grate the zest from a quarter of the lemon directly over the beans, then cut the lemon into wedges for serving. Season with pepper and serve.

Enjoy!

Posted by & filed under Lifestyle Tips, Stress.

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One of the easiest ways to address depression, anxiety, and stress is to keep a Gratitude Journal. Throughout the day, or at the end of every day, write down the best things that happened to you, the things that made you smile or allowed you to positively take a pause and reflect. When stressed, we tend to have a more difficult time recalling the good things in our lives. Keeping a Gratitude Journal gives you immediate access to a book of your own fond memories and uplifting experiences. Plus, this is an activity that the whole family can enjoy! Make a Gratitude Journal can be your next family Thanksgiving tradition.

Posted by & filed under Recipes.

butt

Butternut squash is a delicious winter squash that has a sweet, nutty flavor. Many preparations can be found across various cultures, including soups or pies, or simply roasted for a vegetable side dish. This is a quick and simple recipe that pairs well with many holiday dishes.

Total time: 40 minutes
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
• 1 butternut squash – peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Toss butternut squash with olive oil and garlic in a large bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Arrange coated squash on a baking sheet.
3. Roast in the preheated oven until squash is tender and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.