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Bad at remembering to take care of yourself? These 25 tips can make it almost automatic.

Most of us want to take good care of ourselves, and we know that good, preventive self-care routines are the best way to do that.

But it can also be overwhelming, stressful, and time-consuming to try to remember all the things that we’re supposed to do.

Have you had enough water? Did you take a minute to meditate? Shouldn’t you get up and take a walk? When’s the last time you ate? Or slept eight hours? How long have you been sitting at your desk?

Knowing that you haven’t done any of these acts of self-care can feel super stressful — exactly the opposite of the effect self-care is supposed to have.

The last thing you need is to stress about how to care for yourself.

But when you have a busy schedule, it’s tough to stay accountable to yourself too, and so it’s easy to let your own well-being — and health — slide. And that is when health problems — brought on by stress, poor eating habits, lack of exercise or something else — can develop.

Luckily, there are lots of hacks out there to help automate taking care of yourself.

They help take the stress out of, well, de-stressing by helping you build a healthy self-care routine and making it a habit that’s easier to stick to.

Self-care isn’t selfish, despite how it is sometimes perceived. Image via iStock.

Here are just a few ideas and apps that can help automatically make self-care a priority — whether you have two minutes or two hours:

1. Do nothing for two minutes (while listening to some soothing waves).

2. Or try this quiet place if waves aren’t your thing.

Just a few minutes of quieting your mind can help relieve your stress and regroup your thoughts.

3. Listen to this comforting rain noise or create your own calming noise.

Image via iStock.

4. Pot some succulents on your phone.

5. Weave colorful silk on the screen at this website.

6. Get up and take a walk outside.

A 2016 study showed that even a small dose of nature, such as a simple walk down a tree-lined city street, can reduce stress. So once a day, if you can, try to carve out a small amount of time to get outside and see some trees or grass — even if it’s doing a small walk around the block, spending five minutes in a park, or parking down the street from work so you can walk by some trees for a few minutes.

7. With the help of an app, remember to stay hydrated.

We all know that we’re supposed to drink water, but remembering isn’t always that easy. Apps like iDrated, Waterlogged, and Eight Glasses a Day — most of which are free — can help.

8. And check out WeTap to find the closest water fountain or fill-up station.

9. Keep forgetting to take lunch? Temple and Time4Lunch can help with that.

10. Challenge yourself to make your lunch the evening before.

That way you won’t have to take the time to make it or buy it when it feels like you just don’t have the time or energy.

11. Track your sleep cycle with a fitness tracker gadget like FitBit or Jawbone or a phone app like Sleepbot.

It’s one step toward building better sleep habits.

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12. Try out the iPhone’s Bedtime function.

It’s located within the alarm clock app, and it will not only wake you up and track your sleeping patterns, but it will also gently remind you when you should start heading to bed to get a good night’s sleep.

13. Schedule some “do not disturb” time so you can focus on yourself without distractions.

For example, Offtime helps you schedule “do not disturb” times when you just need to focus or take a break or when you’re getting ready for bed.

14. Check in with this calming manatee. (He really does help!)

15. Look at some photos and videos of cute fluffy animals online.

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Research suggests that looking at images of baby animals not only can make you happy (because, awwww!) but also boost your productivity and focus.

16. Snuggle a shelter pet.

Studies have shown that petting dogs can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress, anxiety, and loneliness. If you don’t have your own dog (or even if you do!), you can help out at your local shelter (and get lots of snuggle time). And you’ll be helping those animals get some love and attention too, which they need while they wait for their forever home.

17. Check out instructional and motivational videos.

The Coach by CignaTM app can help you reach your stress, health, and sleep goals with over 300 instructional and motivational videos — and you don’t have to be a Cigna customer to use it.

Or check out Happify, a program designed to help you improve your emotional well-being by taking control of your feelings and thoughts through games.

18. Journal every day, and stay on track with apps like DayOne.

Journaling has been shown to have a positive impact on our physical and emotional well-being. Writing in this phone journal is secure and as easy to do as texting on the go. Plus, it will even remind you when it’s been awhile since you last wrote.

19. Keep track of what’s bothering you with apps like Worry Watch.

This app works like an anxiety journal, letting you write down what’s bothering you as a first step toward letting that concern go.

20. Go see your doctor and get your four health numbers —blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI) — checked.

That way you won’t have to worry unnecessarily about your health — and you can get help if there is a problem.

21. Let go of bad or intrusive thoughts with games like Good Blocks.

22. Meditate for five minutes — even that’s enough to help shave some of that stress off your day.

Apps like Headspace or Calm make meditation simpler (especially if you’ve never meditated before) by guiding you through it.

23. Practice some office yoga if you don’t have the time to step away from your desk.

24. Volunteer.

Research has shown that volunteering and helping others is good for your physical and mental health.

25. Make a habit list.

Habit List is a one-stop shop to help you develop your own self-care routine. It will help you set goals for yourself — like meditate more or remember to eat lunch — and help you break bad habits. And the best part is that it’s completely customizable.

Of course, self-care is by its very nature personal — so no one thing will work for everyone.

The important thing is to figure out what pro-active steps you want to take to get a better handle on your health and well-being. And, once you’ve done that, the good news is that there are lots of apps, websites, and tricks to get you started.

 

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What will the national parks look like in 30 years? Artist reimagines iconic posters

Effects of climate change aren’t pretty — and that’s the point.

Crater Lake poster before and after climate change

Crater Lake in 2050 features a disappearing snowpack and a dry lakebed. (Photo: Ranger Doug/Hannah Rothstein)

Conceptual artist Hannah Rothstein has always been worried about global warming and climate change, but her concerns increased relatively recently.

“With the current political climate it came to a head,” Rothstein say. “I’m worried what the world will look like in 30 years. It’s a one-way street with a lot of issues I care about. If we don’t start making positive changes, we can’t go back.”

Her concern, combined with her love of the outdoors, motivated her to recreate iconic national parks posters, but based on how they would look in 2050 affected by climate change.

The resulting posters make you do a double take, as they are familiar yet not. Waters have receded, trees are dead, and animals are missing.

Redwoods poster climate changeWith climate change, Redwoods National Park would no longer be home to the world’s tallest trees. (Photo: Ranger Doug/Hannah Rothstein)

Rothstein researched how each of the seven parks she re-designed would be impacted by climate change by studying each park’s official website, reading news articles and digging into scientific studies.

“Doing this research I was so scared. It was a powerful motivator,” she says. “I’m scared about what could happen and will happen very soon. We don’t know how our water will be or our air will be or if pine trees (in the Southwest) will exist. It’s all coming very soon.”

Much of what she found surprised her, but most shocking personally was the pine beetle infestation in her home park of Yosemite.

“I went to Yosemite in March for a friend’s birthday and saw about 30 percent of the trees were brown. Before, maybe, I thought they died because they were just old. Now I know it’s probably because of the infestation.”

yellowstone poster climate changeYellowstone would be marked with disappearing geysers, dying trout and starving grizzlies. (Photo: Ranger Doug/Hannah Rothstein)

For each poster, she lists the potential realities of climate change versus the amazing wonders. It’s “scarce drinking water” and “dying mangroves” in Everglades National Park and “species die-off” and “wildfires” in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Because people often think that climate change won’t have an impact in their lifetime, Rothstein chose 2050 as her timeline in hopes of changing that perception.

“I wanted the effect of climate change to be very real,” she says. “Sometimes we talk about it in such an abstract way and I wanted to show how close it is.”

Rothstein says she grew up going to national parks and loves going to them now. She goes to Yosemite most often, but travels to the parks throughout California and the Southwest and is heading to Glacier National Park in Montana this summer.

“They are special places to me and it’s my religion, really, going out into nature,” she says. “The vast wilderness we have here is something special.”

Everglades poster climate changeDying mangroves and a lost alligator habitat are part of the Everglades in 2050. (Photo: Ranger Doug/Hannah Rothstein)

Rothstein is selling limited-edition prints and donating a portion of proceeds to climate-focused organizations including the National Resources Defense Council and the National Parks Conservation Association. She’s hoping to get her work into natural history museums and nature centers and is turning them into paintings.

“The response has been phenomenal. I’ve been excited to see how meaningful it has been to people. Generally sadness is the most overwhelming emotion, but I also hope they are inspired to change,” she says.

“Obviously these images are very sad and I’m aware of that, but I want people to remember that it is possible to create the positive change we need. We need to find the energy and gusto to fight, because it is possible. But we need to start acting now.”

 

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People with pre-existing conditions had an emotional response to Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue.

by  –

Becca Atherton first saw the operating room when she was a baby. Over the next 24 years, it became a familiar sight.

Atherton, who suffers from Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart disease, and pulmonary atresia, a respiratory disorder, estimates that she takes 50 pills a day and has endured four open-heart surgeries in her young life. Together, she and her mom watched Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue detailing his newborn son’s health emergency.

“We looked at each other when he started talking about pre-existing conditions and we were both like, ‘Finally!'” Atherton says.

After Kimmel’s monologue went viral, hundreds and Americans whose lives have been touched by chronic childhood illnesses took to social media to thank the talk show host for giving voice to their stories — and speaking up for their rights.

The speech captured an experience familiar to millions of families from all walks of life — from the terror of finding out your child has a life-threatening illness, to the gratitude for the work of local hospitals and medical professionals who treat those illnesses, to the importance of funding the National Institutes of Health.

It was Kimmel’s emotional plea to save affordable insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, however, that struck the strongest chord with his audience.

“If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make,” Kimmel pleaded at the end of the emotional monologue.

on behalf of my family, thank you for the lovely and loving tweets about our son Billy and for your donations to http://www.chla.org 

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that more than 1 in 4 Americans under 65 have conditions that would render them uninsurable under a pre-Affordable Care Act insurance model.

Kimmel’s speech came as congressional Republicans are considering changes to their health care bill that could allow insurers to charge patients with pre-existing conditions higher rates. A recent amendment to the bill would allow states to wave provisions of the ACA that forbid insurance companies from factoring health history into plan pricing.

Atherton, who received the same diagnosis as Kimmel’s son when she was a baby, believes Congress could do more to demonstrate they believe their plan is right for their constituents.

Becca Atherton. Photo via Becca Atherton, used with permission.

“If your new health care plan is so amazing, then prove it by giving up your government funded health care plan and join the rest of us on your new plan,” Atherton says.

A Virginia performer, who goes by Jolene Sugarbaker, says they don’t understand “people saying they don’t want their tax money going towards people getting care, but don’t mind it going towards a wall.”

Sugarbaker, who had Tetralogy of Fallot surgery at 8 years old, worries that under the new plan, poorer Americans with chronic childhood illnesses won’t be able to give their children the kind of care Sugarbaker received or will go bankrupt trying to pay for it.

Andrew O’Brien, a Maryland father whose 2-year-old daughter Keely nearly died from a congenital heart defect when she was an infant, said Kimmel’s monologue “brought back feelings and memories,” from the most difficult weeks of his family’s life.

O’Brien, a Republican, believes the ACA needs “real changes,” but doesn’t want to see protections for patients who require intensive, ongoing care through no fault of their own scrapped.

“To go backward now and deny people the ability to obtain insurance based on a pre-existing condition would be really harmful,” he says.

Andrew O’Brien (R) with son Liam, daughter Keely, and wife Jenny. Photo via Andrew O’Brien, used with permission.

He would like to see Congress craft a new bill that fixes the things that don’t work with the current law, while keeping its most popular and effective provisions — like the backstops for customers with pre-existing conditions — in a way that isn’t “overly partisan.”

While the health care debate continues to rage in D.C., for people with such conditions and those who love them, Kimmel’s contribution might wind up being invaluable.

Atherton, who will eventually need another heart surgery, hopes Kimmel’s monologue will raise awareness of people like her — and what they stand to lose if their health coverage goes away.

“These are people’s lives you’re dealing with,” Atherton says. “We have worth.”

 

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Millennials, Get Off Your Assets To Take Charge Of Your Financial Future

Time for Millennials to find ways to plan their financial futures.

I’m not just picking on Millennials. Well, maybe I am. We have all read about the financial plight of Millennials, who are not only drowning in student loan debt, but other loans and expenses as well. These loans and expenses include car payments, rents or mortgages, and credit card bills. As a Baby Boomer, who has “been there, done that,” I feel your pain; However, it is time for Millennials to focus on the road ahead and find ways to secure their financial futures.

Undoubtedly, the ability of Millennials to save and invest will be met by challenges. According to a study by the National Endowment for Financial Education , “Two-thirds of Millennials have at least one long-term debt (student loan, home mortgage, car loan) Of those [Millennials] with checking accounts had overdrawn their account in the prior 12 months … [and] … nearly 20 percent of those with a self-directed retirement account either took a loan or made a hardship withdrawal … ”

The financial strain you feel today will become a real pain as you move into your golden years, which are expected to last longer than your Baby Boomer parents. Millennials must focus on both the immediate and the future. Baby Boomers like me constantly lecture about financial planning because we know what your future will look like; We’re living it and you may be headed for a rude awakening. We also have firsthand experience about the pitfalls of not planning. Let’s face it, we blew it. As I said before, Baby Boomers “have been there, done that,” and we even got the T-shirt.

Millennials Do not Trust Wall Street

Why should they? The CNN put it, “Wall Street welcomed millennials to the world of investing by showing them the scariest financial crisis since the Great Depression.” This generation saw their parents financial futures devastated. Many parents lost their job, their home and their hope. Millennials also graduated from college, with debt, and often faced work options of being “underemployed.” It’s not just Millennials who distrust Wall Street. Capital One ShareBuilder’s “Financial Freedom Survey” found that “A majority (58 percent) of investors indicated that distrust of the markets and / or financial services industry is negatively impacting their confidence about investing.”

I spoke with Robert (Bob) Stammers, Director of Investor Engagement at CFA Institute . CFA Institute conducted a survey called, ” From Trust to Loyalty .” The survey sought to gauge the trust within the investment community, garnering results from both the retail and institutional communities. Bob indicated that trust and transparency were big issues for Millennials and their survey results supported their comments.

“Millennials lack trust in financial institutions because they have them down with the financial crisis. The recession, and the housing crisis they witnessed had devastating effects on many of their friends and family, “says Stammers.

I believe that many Millennials are ready to move forward, but are just not sure how to go about investing. They are the social generation and get their advice from friends. This is fine for a restaurant, but I’m not comfortable with investing advice from peers who have little knowledge of financial markets.

 

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In 1997, being gay on TV was not OK. Ellen and Oprah look back in this emotional clip.

‘As long as you stay true to exactly who you are, you will be rewarded in ways that you can’t imagine.’by

It’s been 20 years since Ellen DeGeneres uttered “I’m gay” on her ABC sitcom — and changed the world forever.

That hyped episode of “Ellen,” which brought in a whopping 42 million viewers, featured Oprah Winfrey, who played DeGeneres’ therapist, and Laura Dern, DeGeneres’ love interest, Susan.

On a major network with a mainstream audience, those two emotionally charged words were a groundbreaking moment for gay visibility on TV.

Photo by Buena Vista, courtesy of Everett Collection.

The live audience had cheered. DeGeneres embraced Susan in a warm hug. It felt like history had been made.

But it’s easy to forget how wildly different things were for LGBTQ people in 1997.

Coming out of the closet quickly plunged DeGeneres’ career into controversy.

She received death threats — and many. Winfrey was inundated with homophobic and racist calls in the days that followed, too. And Dern? She couldn’t find work as an actor for an entire year following the episode.

ABC began slapping an “adult content” warning at the beginning of each episode of “Ellen” that followed. Conservative groups rallied viewers to boycott the show. Ratings nosedived for the once successful series as backlash ensued. About a year after DeGeneres’ coming out, ABC pulled the show.

Two decades later, though, it’s clear that DeGeneres’ initially painful coming out experience has paid off in more ways than one.

In an emotional episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” airing on April 28, 2017, DeGeneres invited Winfrey and Dern to revisit that groundbreaking moment.

Over the past two decades, far more queer characters have cropped up on prime-time television, acceptance of LGBTQ people has steadily increased among Americans, and millions of people around the country (and world) have found the courage to come out on their own. Even if it didn’t feel like it at the time, DeGeneres’ bravery in 1997 played a role in all of it.

“You are responsible for so much of that changing,” Winfrey tells DeGeneres in the clip below. “You were the bravest woman ever.”

“We’re not supposed to be like somebody else,” DeGeneres concludes. “We’re not supposed to act like somebody else. As long as you stay true to exactly who you are, you will be rewarded in ways that you can’t imagine.”

Watch the touching clip of DeGeneres and Winfrey below:

You can also check out DeGeneres’ emotional interview with Dern as well as the host’s teary-eyed personal recounting of her journey since coming out on her YouTube channel here.

 

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California’s wildflowers are freaking out, can be seen from space

by Melissa Breyer

Superbloom

After years of devastating drought, the Golden State’s bodacious blooms are having a raucous celebration.

The wildflowers in California are exploding, to the delight of flower-lovers the world over. Hundreds of different kinds of wildflowers take to the state’s hills when the conditions allow; but for the last five years the drought has made things difficult for the colorful blooms. With loads of rain this winter, however, the flowers are back and better than ever. So exuberant are they, in fact, that the so-called “super bloom” can even be seen from space!

Bob Wick, BLM Wilderness Specialist and Photographer, writes:

The super bloom has migrated north to California’s Central Valley and the show is simply indescribable at the Carrizo Plain National Monument. The Valley floor has endless expanses of yellows and purples from coreopsis, tidy tips and phacelia, with smaller patches of dozens of other species. Not to be outdone, the Temblor Range is painted with swaths of orange, yellow and purple like something out of a storybook. I have never seen such a spectacular array of blooms. Ever.

WildflowersBob 

KQED reports that the blooming goodness goes from March to July. While it’s over in the places shown in the satellite images taken by Planet Labs, the bloom is just now starting in Northern California’s coastal areas; some parts of the state with later snowmelt, like Lassen Volcanic National Park, will be abloom in the summer.

superbloom© Planet 

If you’re in the area and need a live wildflower fix – we should all be so lucky – see Visit California’s list for peak wildflower times by location. And for armchair flower lovers, you can at least see the view from on-high in the Planet Labs photos above and in the video below.

https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/environment/video/2017/apr/26/wildflower-super-bloom-california-visible-from-space-video-report

 

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A troll attacked a gay lawmaker online. So he called the troll’s grandma.

 by  –

Meet Brian Sims, Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

He’s also the state’s first openly gay lawmaker.

His pride and bravery have won him plenty of fans, but have also opened him up to a slew of hate speech and criticism.

So much so that Sims has gotten, well, pretty dang good at handling the trolls.

One man recently came to Sims’ Facebook page to attack him, but got a little more than he bargained for.

After spewing some horrific insults at Sims via his Facebook page, the commenter (known only as David) got a response that had to have taken him off guard.

Sims called David’s grandma and told on him.

Really.

“David,” Sims wrote in response. “… you shouldn’t have posted your grandmother’s telephone number on your Facebook page so many times. She and I just had a very disappointing chat about you.”

And he was 100% serious.

Sims told Occupy Democrats he was hoping to get David himself on the phone when Grandma picked up. But she promised Sims that David would call him back.

He did, but not before David’s grandmother, presumably, gave him an earful.

“She wasn’t kidding,” Sims said. “I heard from him within 2 hours and while I can’t say we resolved anything, I can pretty much guarantee that Christmas at my home is going to be better than his this year.”

It goes to show: Just because you can say anything you want online doesn’t mean you should.

Unfortunately though, this kind of hate speech isn’t limited to anonymous internet trolls these days.

The world might be a better place if everyone stopped before they judged, harassed, attacked, or smeared another human being and thought: ‘What would my grandma think?’

 

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