Tag Archives: relationships

8 Ways to Build Strong Relationships

originalIt’s the day after Valentine’s Day. But shouldn’t every day be like Valentine’s Day? We should let our sweethearts know we love them on a daily basis.

What makes a love last life a lifetime? Unlike the fairy tale stories about true love, real-life love takes work. Just like you must maintain your house for it to last, or improve your skills at your job to evolve in your position, you need to continue to build and grow your relationship.

Here are 8 ways you can strengthen and nurture your relationship:

Put your love first
You and your partner are a team. Think of yourselves as the two musketeers. It’s all for one and one for all. Your relationship comes first. Even the little things matter. If you’re having a discussion and the phone rings, let it go and finish what you’re saying. If your spouse wants you to go with them to a company party and you don’t really want to, go anyway.

Learn to compromise
Strong relationships are built on give and take. It can’t be all one person’s way. Like I mentioned above, having a happy, healthy relationship may mean making compromises. No matter how much you love each other, you may not agree on everything. You can agree to disagree. And sometimes you just have to let things go – and so does your partner.

Respect each other
For a relationship to work, you have to be friends. To have an enduring, loving relationship, you must respect each other. It’s important to respect each other’s thoughts, feelings and opinions. Every person is unique. You need to embrace and appreciate that uniqueness. As long as you and your significant other feel safe with each other, you can talk about anything.

Be honest
You may feel like you should spare your partner’s feelings from time to time. You don’t have to be mean about it, but you should be honest. If I ask my husband if my butt looks big, he will tell me the truth. I have learned not to ask him some questions. But I know that he will always tell me the truth – even if I may not like it.

Trust unconditionally
Trust goes hand-in-hand with honesty and respect. If you know your partner will always be honest with you and that he or she respects you, then you know that trust will be there. You probably have friends who constantly question each other’s motives and actions. Without trust, you cannot build a strong, lasting relationship.

Really listen
Make it a point to focus intently and listen to what your partner is saying. Hear what the person is saying and not saying. Watch facial expressions and body postures. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to fix dinner, texting or watching TV and not truly pay attention to what your partner is saying. And listen without interrupting. Sometimes the other person just needs someone to hear them vent.

Be comfortable with yourself
You’ve probably heard the expression, “True love only exists by loving yourself first.” You need to be at peace with yourself to be able to open up to your partner. Once you own who you are, you can give and receive love from your significant other.

Let go of expectations
We grow up with fairy tale images of what love will be like. We think that when we find our true love it will be all magic and happy endings. While being in a loving relationship is one of the most rewarding things on this earth, it’s not always easy. It can be messy. And it takes patience and hard work.

So, make every day Valentine’s Day. Give your sweetie a hug and a kiss, and let them know how much you love them!

Are Your Kids Stressed Out?

KidsHaveStressTooPicIf you’re like most parents, your list of errands and things to do never ends. You run from one activity or event to the next. You’re probably stressed out at times.

Guess what? Your kids may be stressed out, too. The start of school – after a summer of being on vacation – can be a particularly stressful time.

How do you know if your kids are stressed?
A recent survey by the American Psychological Association found that 20% of children have ongoing stress.

Here are 4 questions to ask yourself to determine if your child is stressed:

  1. Does your child have more meltdowns than usual?
  2. Do you notice more fatigue, irritability, headaches or stomachaches?
  3. Is your child sleeping poorly or having more nightmares?
  4. Does your child seem angry?

What can you do to help your child cope with stress? Here are 8 stress relievers you can teach your kids:

Think positive
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of negative thinking. You may also be teaching your kids to think in the negative instead of the positive. Rather than saying, “I hope I don’t fail the test,” put a positive spin on it and say, “I have studied, and I will pass the test.”

Show by example
Kids are perceptive. They watch you and pay attention to what you’re doing. If you show them that you can manage stress in productive way, they will learn that stress is something they can deal with. Make sure they see you finding effective methods of handling stress in your life.

De-stress early
Most people wait until they’re stressed out to use stress-busting techniques. You can teach your kids to know the signs early or take a preventative approach to dealing with stress. For instance, you can use healthy eating, exercising, meditating or other techniques to help  cope with stress.

Unplug
While we rely on technology in many aspects of our lives, it can also add to our stress levels. Try a self-imposed technology cut-off time. Limit screen time for kids, including TV, movies, mobile phones, tablets and social media. You and your kids may be surprised by the things you can find to do when you’re unplugged.

Eat together
At least once a day, make it a point to eat a meat together. It can be breakfast if everyone is up and about at the same time. Or plan on sitting down to eat dinner in the evening as a family. You can learn quite a bit about what’s going on in your kids’ lives if you sit down regularly for a meal and conversation.

Spend time with friends
As adults we spend time with our friends to unwind, complain about our boss or just goof off. Your kids should also build healthy friendships that allow them to be themselves and blow off steam. They can hang out at the park, have sleep overs or just play in the yard.

Take up a sport
Sports are a great way to relieve stress. Playing a team sport can also help your kids build relationships, exercise and have fun.

Enjoy creative activities
Art, music or other creative tasks can help alleviate stress. Even reading a book can be a stress buster.

Relationships can help kids build resilience. Spending time with parents or grandparents playing board games, cooking or tossing a frisbee can help kids handle stress. And it creates happy memories for everyone!

Is Your Life in Balance?

zen-still-life-605551-mI have been feeling really pressed for time this summer. I am working full-time and chauffeuring three kids to multiple sports activities and events. There just isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish everything I need to do.

I went on vacation a few weeks ago and worked a few hours every day that I was gone. I feel like I neglect my kids and husband some days, and I haven’t spent time with friends in months.

When your life gets out of balance, you may feel burnt out, unsatisfied, angry, depressed or stressed.

On the other hand, when your life is in balance you have better over health, you’re more fit, you have a positive outlook, and your relationships are strengthened. You will have greater peace of mind, feel in harmony and be excited to embrace each day.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine if your life is out of balance – and what you can do to bring it back into balance:

Do you feel overwhelmed?
If you feel like pulling the covers up over your head in the morning and hiding from the world, you may need to reevaluate your priorities. Stress and anxiety can keep you from feeling balanced. It might be a good idea to take a break, step back and give yourself some down time.

Here are 9 Intriguing Things to Know About Stress

Do you have a social network?
And by social network, we don’t mean Facebook or Twitter. When is the last time you spent time with friends and just relaxed? Do you spend quality time with your family? Our relationships are important to our sense of well-being. Neglecting friends and family, or having conflict within your relationships, will make it difficult to find life balance. Make sure you take the time to nurture the relationships that matter to you.

Your friendships matter. Here are 7 Reasons Why We Need Friends

Are you out of shape?
Lack of exercise and poor eating habits will take their toll on your mind and body. Letting yourself get out of shape can impact your quality of life and lead to negative feelings that impact your mood and attitude. Eating right and exercising are good for the body and soul.

Get some workout tips at 15 Exercise and Fitness Do’s and Don’ts
Want some healthy eating tips? 10 Healthy Eating Myths and Facts

How is your energy level?
Do you find yourself yawning and wishing for a nap about halfway through the day? Do you wake up groggy in the morning or toss and turn at night? Your sleep habits can impact your life balance. It’s important to establish good sleep habits and make sure you are getting plenty of rest.

Need more reasons to get a good night’s sleep? Here are 8 Serious Dangers of Sleep Loss

Are your finances a mess?
Are you living beyond your means and feeling the pressure of debt? Your financial situation can cause stress, as well as put added strain on your relationship with your spouse. You can get control of your finances by taking a look at your spending habits and creating a budget to help you get back on track.

Want help creating a budget? Read more: Tips to Achieving a Balanced Budget

Do you have bad habits?
Are you controlling or overbearing to your friends and family? Maybe you’re a perfectionist and expect everyone else to be that way, too. Do you smoke, chew your fingernails or overeat? If there are things about yourself you would like to change, then do it! With time and some patience,  you can change those bad habits and replace them with good habits.

Need to overcome bad habits? Learn how: 7 Steps to Breaking Bad Habits

What do you want to accomplish?
What are your goals in life? We all need dreams and plans to keep us excited and motivated. Set goals for yourself and accomplish them. Then, set new goals and challenge yourself to continue to grow and expand your horizons.

Read our blog: 9 Tips to Set and Achieve Life Goals

Finding and maintaining balance in your life is a journey. It’s something you must work at every day. You will have bad days and obstacles will crop up in your path. Give yourself a pat on the back when you accomplish your goals and appreciate the good moments in your life. Continue to seek and strive for balance in your life. You will find that you are happier, healthier and more at peace.

How to Be a Good Friend

True friends relationshipsAs I have gotten older, I have a smaller circle of friends, but I feel like I have closer relationships with those friends. When we’re young, we consider anyone we know to be a friend. Case in point: the typical teenager has 300 “friends” on Facebook.

Your true friends are the people you call when you have big news or just want to gripe about your day. They stick with you through thick and thin – the good times and the bad.

Are you truly a good friend? Could you be a better friend? Here are 9 ways you can strengthen your relationships and become a great friend:

Stop giving advice
Sometimes your friends may just want to vent. They may need your support. You may think that being a good friend means telling your friend how to solve all her problems. However, your friend may start to feel like you’re lecturing her. Let her bounce ideas off of you. Try to offer your opinion only when a friend asks for it.

Excerpt from A Completely Balanced Life:
“Take the time to understand the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of someone before offering advice. Recognize what makes a person unique and encourage their strengths and talents to help them reach their potential.”

Accept others
As human beings, we tend to judge. Your friends may make decisions you don’t agree with, or have bad habits you don’t like. No one is perfect. And, as the saying goes, you need to walk a mile in your friends’ shoes to understand what they have been through. A true friend accepts people for who they are.

Find time
Make time for your friends. We can get caught up in work, family and other obligations. Set aside time for your close friends. Both you and your friends will benefit from the time you spend together.

Be dependable
One of the most important traits of friendship is dependability. You want friends who are consistent and trustworthy, rather than flaky and unreliable. To be a good friend, you need to mean what you say and follow through on your commitments. True friends are the ones you can count on – in good times and bad – no matter what.

Celebrate the good
Friends want to celebrate with you when good things happen. Sometimes, we can be jealous of our friend’s success. Acknowledge your jealousy, then put it aside and be happy for your friend. Real friends are there to cheer on the triumphs of others and share in their joy.

Be there for the bad
This is the true test of a good friend. Fake friends are there for the parties and celebrations. Real friends are there during the difficult times. Your friend may be going through a job loss, divorce, death in the family or depression. True friends stick out the tough times, too.

Just listen
The art of listening is hard. You may think you’re listening when you’re really not. You may already be thinking about what you want to say instead of focusing on your friend. In addition, your friend may not always say what he means. You may need to listen closely to understand what is really bothering him.

Be honest
Close friends are honest with each other. You need to be honest about how you feel. Being honest is not the same as being blunt or hurtful. You can nicely tell a friend that her outfit isn’t very flattering. Or if your friend has been drinking too much lately, you can tell him you’re concerned about it. If your friends know that you have their backs and are looking out for them, they know that your criticism is meant with the best of intentions.

Do little things
Take the time to do little things for your friends. Send a text message to a friend who’s having a rough day. Drop by a friend’s office with a cup of coffee. Invite a friend to lunch, or offer to watch her kids while she goes grocery shopping. Little gestures and acts of kindness can mean the world to a friend.

Creating strong, lasting relationships takes nurturing and hard work. Good friendships require balance – give and take on both sides. Could you be a better friend? What tips do you have for being a true friend?

6 ways to beat stress for better health

Stress juggling too many responsibilitiesWe all deal with stress. It can be a juggling act to balance all of our responsibilities. Your boss just dumped a bunch of work on your desk on Friday afternoon. The car battery died. One of the kids is sick. The property taxes are coming due.

Sometimes everything piles up at once, and you feel overloaded. You may not be able to keep all the balls in the air, and it seems like too much to handle. You can’t avoid stress. It’s just part of life. However, you can control how you deal with it.

Stress can cause you to gain weight and can even shorten your lifespan. By learning to manage stress, you can live a much happier, healthier and more productive life.

Here are 6 ways you can make changes in your life now to help you beat stress for better health:

1. Balance your lifestyle
How you live your life affects your stress level. If one aspect of your life is out of balance, it can lead to stress and dissatisfaction – not only in that area of your life but also in other areas. For instance, if your work schedule has become extremely hectic, it will impact your personal life. Your spouse may wish you could spend more time together. You may miss your kids’ sports or school activities due to work.

Here are some areas to work on to help you find more balance and reduce stress:

Look at your schedule. It’s important to create a balance between your personal needs, work, and your family and friends. Our relationships with others are an integral part of our happiness. Start by looking at your commitments. Maybe you need to adjust how and where you spend your time. Make more time for you. Or plan more activities with your family or friends. There may be things you don’t need to do at all. Sometimes just saying no when you’re feeling overwhelmed can be the greatest stress reliever.

Get enough sleep. Your body uses sleep to rest and re-cooperate from the stresses of the day. Your body and mind need sleep for many other healthy reasons, too.

Eat healthier. By eating healthier you have more energy, may lose weight or maintain your weight, and will feel better about yourself. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats and protein can also help boost your immunity. Staying healthy is one of the best defenses against stress.

Make the time to exercise. If you can work exercise into your daily routine and make it habit, you will feel healthier and reduce stress. Even moderate exercise, such as walking, can help lower your stress level.

Find a sense of purpose. You may feel stressed if you aren’t doing anything that’s meaningful to you or that you truly enjoy. You may find a sense of purpose through your family, friends, a hobby you love, work or by volunteering. Your purpose should make you happy to get out of bed in the morning and fulfilled at the end of the day.

These are a few of the areas in your life that can get out of balance. It is also important to make sure you are financially and spiritually balanced. You may find it helps to set goals and improve your habits in order achieve more.

2. Get organized
Being surrounded by clutter can also contribute to stress. If you feel you are constantly searching for things or simply feel overwhelmed by all of the “stuff” in your life, then take the initiative to clean up the clutter and reduce your stress.

You can also improve your time management skills. I know I am often guilty of procrastination. I put things off or do unimportant tasks to avoid what I should be doing. The next thing I know, I haven’t gotten anything worthwhile done. By managing your time more effectively, you can prioritize what is urgent and what can wait. You can also get more things done in a shorter amount of time. That leaves more time to do the fun things!

3. Change your mindset
It’s easy to get caught up in negative thinking. Situations that are out of your control or not even your fault suddenly start to cause you unnecessary stress. Negative thoughts can trigger your body’s stress response. Changing your mindset to more positive thinking can help you cope with stress more easily.

4. Learn to relax
When you feel stressed, take time to relax. It may mean simply closing your eyes, breathing deeply and thinking positive thoughts for a few minutes. You can envision yourself in a place that makes you happy and relaxed. Sit outside and soak up the sun for a few minutes. Go for a quick walk and let your mind wander. You can also use different types of relaxation techniques to help you reduce tension.

5. Disconnect
We live in a plugged-in world. While all of our high tech devices – TVs, cell phones, computers, tablets – can help us stay connected and make work and life easier, they keep us connected all the time. Turn off the computer and cell phone and take a break from technology every once in a while. Spend time with family and friends without the distractions. Go outside and do nothing. Enjoy just being.

6. Reach out
If you start to feel too overwhelmed, reach out to friends and family. Simply talking to someone and venting your frustrations can help you feel better. You can talk to people you know from church or a religious leader. You may reach a point when you want to talk to a counselor or therapist. It’s okay to reach out and ask for help when you need it!

You can beat stress and live a more balanced, healthy and fulfilling life. How do you cope with stress?

The secrets to happiness

The Secrets to HappinessUnless you’re Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, you probably want to be happy. We all strive to be happy but sometimes happiness can seem hard to find. In today’s world, we have never-ending responsibilities and so much stress.

As a society, we have become more materialistic and focused on collecting “things” to make us happy. But as the saying goes, “money can’t buy happiness.” Although, I’ll be the first to admit that I enjoy retail therapy. Buying a new pair of shoes, a fun outfit – or practically anything – certainly does boost my mood.

However, material happiness is usually fleeting. What is the secret to lifelong happiness? What makes us truly happy? Is it something you either have or you don’t have?

Research shows that we all have the potential to be happy. It seems that there are certain characteristics that lead to a sense of well-being. You can create your own happiness by focusing on these traits:

Optimism
Happy people are filled with hope. Optimistic people embrace all of life’s experiences even if that means making mistakes. They don’t feel like mistakes are a personal failure. Rather, when things go wrong or life gives them a setback, optimists see it as a fluke or something out of their control and an opportunity to try a new approach.

Optimists who see the glass as “half-full” also tend to be healthier which can contribute to greater happiness. Check out our blog, The Power of Positive Thinking, to learn more about the health benefits of a positive outlook.

Self esteem
Happy people have learned to like themselves. Studies have shown it’s not about having friends, close family relationships, or material things. If you can accept yourself with all your flaws, you are more likely to find happiness.

I tend to repeat myself over and over when I’m having a conversation to the point that my friends and family will say, “Okay, I’ve got it!” Or, I blurt out things I wish I hadn’t said and then stew about it later. You have to love your physical traits, too. I am so pale that when I visit someone in the hospital, nurses ask me if I need to sit down. I am learning to accept these things I don’t like about myself, even find humor in them,  and then let them go.

Proactivity
Happy people search out new experiences that will make them happy. They don’t wait around to find joy in life. They have a curious nature and make their own happiness. Think of all the things you’ve discovered that you like or enjoy doing just by trying them, especially when you were younger. As we get older we get more cynical about new experiences. Take a chance and try something new!

A sense of control
People who believe they are in control of their own destiny tend to be more happy. Feeling like you are in charge of how you live your life leads to a greater sense of well-being. Of course, there are things that are out of your control. You can’t control the weather, traffic or other people who annoy you. However, you can control what you wear, how you drive and how you react to annoying people. The more you make your own decisions and manage your own time, the happier you will be.

Extroversion
Outgoing people are happy people and have a greater satisfaction in life. Being extroverted also ties into being self assured. If you are confident and like who you are, you can walk into a room of strangers and start up a conversation. Extroverts also tend to be more content and have a larger circle of friends.

I am more introverted my nature and spend a lot of time “in my own head.” I have had to work at being more outgoing and trying new experiences. I do feel it has built my confidence and made me a happier person.

Love
Having a sense of compassion for others and knowing you are loved is one of the biggest predictors of happiness. We need relationships – whether they are romantic love, the bond we have with our children, or the acceptance of friends. Spending time with others strengthens these connections and contributes to our sense of happiness.

Friendship
Our friends help us accept ourselves for who we really are. When they accept us, flaws and all, we are better able to be more comfortable in own skin. We find happiness from spending time with other people, and from supporting others when they need us. Read more about the power of friendships in our blog, 7 Reasons We Need Friends.

A contented feeling
A feeling of security or contentedness comes from feeling good about where you are in life. It’s recognizing that you can be happy without being rich, having the biggest house on the block or being the most popular. Happy people are simply content with their current situation. It’s okay to have goals, wishes and dreams but your happiness doesn’t have to hinge on them. You can be happy right now.

Spirtuality
People who are spiritual tend to have greater life satisfaction. Life may have a bigger meaning beyond our knowing, so it’s not worth worrying so much about the little things. Religion can have a positive affect on both your mental and physical health. Studies show that those who pray or attend religious services regularly are less likely to have hypertension, anxiety disorders or depression.

Altruism
Giving without expecting anything in return is one of the truest ways to find happiness. Because even though your reasons for giving are altruistic, you can get so much in return. Having a positive impact on someone else’s life can help you feel better about what is going on in your own life. For more details about the rewards of giving, read our blog 5 Surprising Benefits of Giving Back.

A purpose
Happy people enjoy what they do. They don’t do it for money or glory. They do it because they love it. Your purpose should be your passion. It may be the work you do for a living. It could be your purpose is being the best mother and wife. You may enjoy teaching kids or mentoring others. Your purpose makes you excited to get out of bed every morning. Simply put, it makes you happy.

We all have the potential to be happy. By focusing on these traits and characteristics you can create your own happiness. What makes you happy?

8 ways to build strong relationships

build strong relationshipsHappy Valentine’s Day! Since today is about letting our sweethearts know we love them, it seems like a good time to talk about relationships.

What makes a love last life a lifetime? Unlike the fairy tale stories about true love, real-life love takes work. Just like you must maintain your house for it to last, or improve your skills at your job to evolve in your position, you need to continue to build and grow your relationship.

Here are 8 ways you can strengthen and nurture your relationship:

Put your love first
You and your partner are a team. Think of yourselves as the two musketeers. It’s all for one and one for all. Your relationship comes first. Even the little things matter. If you’re having a discussion and the phone rings, let it go and finish what you’re saying. If your spouse wants you to go with them to a company party and you don’t really want to, go anyway.

Learn to compromise
Strong relationships are built on give and take. It can’t be all one person’s way. Like I mentioned above, having a happy, healthy relationship may mean making compromises. No matter how much you love each other, you may not agree on everything. You can agree to disagree. And sometimes you just have to let things go – and so does your partner.

Respect each other
For a relationship to work, you have to be friends. To have an enduring, loving relationship, you must respect each other. It’s important to respect each other’s thoughts, feelings and opinions. Every person is unique. You need to embrace and appreciate that uniqueness. As long as you and your significant other feel safe with each other, you can talk about anything.

Be honest
You may feel like you should spare your partner’s feelings from time to time. You don’t have to be mean about it, but you should be honest. If I ask my husband if my butt looks big, he will tell me the truth. I have learned not to ask him some questions. But I know that he will always tell me the truth – even if I may not like it.

Trust unconditionally
Trust goes hand-in-hand with honesty and respect. If you know your partner will always be honest with you and that he or she respects you, then you know that trust will be there. You probably have friends who constantly question each other’s motives and actions. Without trust, you cannot build a strong, lasting relationship.

Really listen
Make it a point to focus intently and listen to what your partner is saying. Hear what the person is saying and not saying. Watch facial expressions and body postures. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to fix dinner, texting or watching TV and not truly pay attention to what your partner is saying. And listen without interrupting. Sometimes the other person just needs someone to hear them vent.

Be comfortable with yourself
You’ve probably heard the expression, “True love only exists by loving yourself first.” You need to be at peace with yourself to be able to open up to your partner. Once you own who you are, you can give and receive love from your significant other.

Let go of expectations
We grow up with fairy tale images of what love will be like. We think that when we find our true love it will be all magic and happy endings. While being in a loving relationship is one of the most rewarding things on this earth, it’s not always easy. It can be messy. And it takes patience and hard work.

So, give your sweetie a hug and a kiss today, and let them know how much you love them!