New Year’s Resolutions Without Stress

It’s almost that time of year again; as 2013 comes to a close our focus begins to shift to New Year’s and the start of new resolutions.  While most resolutions are begun with good intentions, it often doesn’t take long for life to set in, resolutions to be broken, and feelings of failure to take hold.  New Year’s resolutions, in and of themselves, are not bad—what better time than the start of a new year to make some positive changes in your life—but there is more to a successful resolution than just wishing it to be so. If you want to avoid making resolutions that will add to the stress in your life, be reasonable in your goals.

Resolving to lose weight, get in shape, or be healthier is one of the most common resolutions; as well as one of the most easily broken. Despite the many obstacles it is possible to be successful.  To begin it’s important to be realistic.  Vowing to go to the gym every morning at 6am or eliminating all junk food from your diet is probably not realistic.  Begin by committing to go once a week and once that begins a habit then go twice and so on.  Remove junk food from your house and replace them with healthier snack foods, but allow yourself a treat now and then when you’re out with friends or celebrating a special occasion.  Set obtainable goals so you can track your progress.  If you really feel committed sharing your resolution with friends on Facebook or Twitter can help you stay accountable and focused on your goal.

NYE Time SquareNo matter what resolution you set, keep it realistic to your life and time.  Desiring to learn a new language is a great goal but it requires a lot of time and energy and dedication; all of which are hard to come by with a job, family, friends, and life.  Instead of trying to become completely fluent you can utilize a variety of free websites and apps that can help you learn important words and phrases.  It can be fun to learn a new skill; however, you also want to keep in mind what is reasonable and practical in regards to other responsibilities in your life.

Everyone has things about their personality that, given the opportunity, they would change—be more optimistic or adventurous or outgoing.  Each of these qualities is good but so is embracing your unique personality.  That doesn’t mean you can’t make some changes in your life.  Don’t just dream about being more adventurous, seize new opportunities to do things and go places.  Don’t just dream, do.

No matter what your New Year’s resolution will be, resolve to try your best, expect a few bumps along the way, and set clear goals for yourself.  And may this year be the best yet.

4 Reasons Sharing Picture Books with Your Children is Relaxing

In today’s fast paced day and age, it can be difficult to find a moment to relax. Between hectic work schedules, picking children up from daycare and school, and preparing a healthy meal, many parents have difficulty find a spare moment to wind down and spent quality time with their families. If you have small children, an effective way to relax, reflect, and connect with your little ones is to share a picture book with them. Here are four reasons why sharing picture books with your children is so relaxing.

This Activity Causes You to Slow Down

Between working, picking up family members, cooking and cleaning, it is often hard to find time to relax. That is why sharing picture books with your children is so beneficial. By taking your time to look at the pictures and explaining the story to your kids, you are forced to slow down your pace and be in the moment.

reading picture booksAllows Quality Time with Your Children

This activity allows important quality time to spend with your children. Set aside a time each night for you and your children to bond. Not only will this help you relax, but it will help you feel confident in your job as a parent and educator.

The Stories Reminds You of Your Own Childhood

Many picture books are still around from generations past. The stories that were taught to you as a child are still popular today. This can bring back fond memories of your childhood, while creating new memories with your child. The memories connect you with a less stressful time, which enables you to relax in the present.

Listen to Children’s Creativity and Thoughts is Awe-Inspiring

As you are looking through the picture book with your children, let your child explain what is happening. Often their own thoughts and creativity can be simply awe-inspiring. Children are smarter than what many adults give them credit for. Allow your child to amaze you, by telling you a unique and creative twist on a story that has been told a million times over. Not only can this be amusing, but relaxing as well because you do not have to read. Instead your child is reading to you, and educating you on how she sees the world through her own eyes. This activity can be relaxing and eye opening at the same time.


More information about picture books and children can be found by clicking here.

Avoiding Holiday Stress

‘Tis the season not just of being jolly and merry, but of stress, stress, and more stress.  Since the holiday season comes at the end of the year, many people are faced with work and financial stressors at the same time as dealing with holiday stressors, making this time of the year one of the most stressful on the calendar.

holiday stressHere are a few important tips for reducing stress during the holiday season:

  • Be realistic. Remember that the holidays are not a Norman Rockwell painting or a Christmas movie. Bad and annoying things will happen along with the good. Don’t expect perfection and you won’t be stressed about achieving it, or depressed when you don’t.
  • Create your own road map. Sit down with family and decide how you *want* to celebrate the holiday, not just how you’ve always done it or how you think it should be.  Make sure everyone has input and that decisions are made that take all feelings into account.
  • Laugh. One of the best ways to diffuse a tense situation is to find something to laugh about.  There is plenty of holiday humor out there, share it. And be willing to laugh at the foibles of your family — and yourself.
  • Take care of your body.  Don’t let the hassles of the holidays interfere with your daily health regime.  Eat proper meals, not all holiday snacks. Stay hydrated. Get plenty of sleep and regular exercise.  You think more clearly and respond better to stress when you are well-rested and have met the nutritional needs of your body. And everyone knows exercise is a great way to release stress.
  • Be charitable.  Helping others isn’t an obligation. Study after study proves that giving to those in need makes you feel better about your own situation and can even improve mental health.
  • Be honest. Communication about the family’s financial situation, about work obligations, about unrealistic expectations is important.  It is also a good idea to talk about the ways everyone in the family can de-stress during the holidays.  While you may prefer to go for a walk or run, someone else may need a coffee date with a friend, yoga time, or fifteen minutes alone with a good book.  Make sure everyone in the family is on the same page and everyone communicates about their status throughout the holidays.

While it is probably impossible to have a stress-free holiday season, taking the above steps — and coming up with your own — can go a long way to making sure you and your family start the New Year off with more joy and actual peace in your hearts.

Molly Granger is a freelance journalist and frequent guest blogger.  She has covered everything from legal profiles (see here) to education to celebrity interviews.  She also covers current events and in depth features for local newspapers and magazines.

Auto Racing Stress Release

The daily struggle of work, finances, and the responsibilities that go with that can create a lot of stress.  It’s hard not to get caught up in the cycle and become overwhelmed.  Ultimately everyone has their own way of coping with stress. Some may consider a relaxing vacation or a trip to the spa, an evening watching TV or working out at the gym as the ideal stress release, but for others it’s a day at the race track.

auto racingA quick run through the channels and it’s easy to spot a professional racing series like NASCAR or drivers like Scott Tucker.  While the excitement is contagious, it can seem a little out of reach for those that enjoy cars or racing as a pastime.  Fortunately there are hundreds of different types of racing—dirt, midget, stock car, truck and motorcycle, just to name a few—in nearly every city across the country.  For many it is about more than just the race, it becomes a hobby and a passion.

Many of the people that work at local tracks are volunteers. They are there because they enjoy it.  Auto racing combines the love of cars with competition and sport that many, men in particular, enjoy.  Working on your vehicle, perfecting it, and then having the chance to race it against someone else has a unique way of making you forget about troubles at work or other stress you may be experiencing and embrace your time at the track.

Owners and mechanics aren’t the only ones that get to experience the benefits of auto racing stress release.  Drivers have an experience all their own.

There is nothing like the thrill and adrenaline that comes with racing around a track at speeds often greater than 100mph. Your focus, your mind, your everything is out on the track while all else just melts away.

Auto racing isn’t just for the professionals—business men, doctors, lawyers, retail managers, and everything in between—can embrace auto racing.  Even if you’re not ready to embrace the sport as your own yet, visiting the track and watching some races is a great way to see what’s like and enjoy the competition and adrenaline that’s in the air.

How to Relax While Driving

drivingLong road trips may include beautiful scenery, interesting roadside attractions, and heavily anticipated final destinations that make all that driving worth it. However, they also include seemingly endless hours sitting in one position driving over potentially bumpy road conditions and dealing with other drivers.  This can lead to physical stress and strain as well as emotional stress — who hasn’t had a buildup of tension after following a semi-truck at 40mph on a one-lane highway with no opportunity to pass?

Luckily, there are things that drivers can do on long road trips to help them relax both body and mind.  Some of these techniques can also be useful during a daily commute, if you are a racer like those racing for or any time one is trapped in a car for longer than 20 minutes.

1. Breathe

This may seem obvious, but breathing is usually an unconscious activity. The simple act of taking a few conscious, deep breaths can relieve tension. Try picking a signal, such as every time you change lanes or whenever you see a green car and take 3-4 deep breaths, imagining the tension leaving your body on each exhale.

2. Tense-Release

When there is a break in traffic, or when you’re stopped at an intersection or red light, tense up your entire body, including your toes, fingers, and even face and hold it for 5-10 seconds as tightly as you can. Then with one big exhale, release all that tension at once.

3. Stress Valve

If you’re alone in the car, gather up all your stress and then release it in one big noise. This could be a scream, a shout, a roar or any other loud, physical noise that feels right. Another option is to put on a raucous song and sing along at the top of your lungs. This latter technique works well if you have passengers along for the ride as they can join in and you can all let off some steam together.

4. Improve the Environment

If you’re going to be in the car for hours, make it a pleasant environment. Listen to enjoyable music, either quiet and relaxing or loud to release stress, or a soothing audio book. You may also want to invest in air fresheners or introduce calming scents such as peppermint or citrus.

5. Drink & Eat Regularly

On long drives you want to make sure you stay adequately hydrated and have nutritious snacks and small meals. Heavy, large meals can lead to physical discomfort and sugary snacks can lead to energy crashes.

While it is essential that drivers incorporate some or all of these to help them relax, passengers can also employ these techniques for long drives, especially if they will be switching off to take the wheel later in the drive.

Motorcycle Ownership

motorcycleThere is certain coolness factor associated with owning a motorcycle. This dates back to the legendary road films of the 1960s and 1970s where bikers were depicted as free spirits and rebels who escaped the humdrum prison of normal life. There is also an element of danger attached to driving or even riding a motorcycle that can add to the appeal of owning one.

Anyone who takes the step from dreaming about a motorcycle to buying one needs to realize the responsibilities that are associated with their new status. They need to invest in motorcycle books to help them with upkeep and minor repairs. They will likely need to pass a safe driving course in order to even get their license to drive a motorcycle. Each state has different requirements. They will need to buy protective clothing, such as boots and a helmet, to reduce their chance of injury in a minor spill.

A good portion of motorcycle owners take great pride in owning their motorcycle. They join clubs to go on rides with other bikers. They will undertake any and all maintenance for their bike themselves, instead of handing their baby over to a mechanic. Some become so attached to a specific bike that they would rather do a complete engine overhaul on an old motorcycle rather than replace it for a new one.

Wade Ramsey is a sportswriter who loves motorsports, including motorcycle and ATV racing as well as American Le Mans and Formula One.  He has written countless interviews with racers like Scott Tucker and Lucas Luhr and covered hundreds of races for sports and racing sites.

photo by: driver1998

Legal Career Options

legalNot everyone who works in an orange county law office is a lawyer. There are a variety of legal careers available to anyone with an interest in the justice and the law.

Court reporters and paralegals are probably the most well known careers in legal assistance. There are also some highly specialized professions, such as legal nurse consultant and compliance specialist who must combine a knowledge of law with regulations and issues related to specific industries. Individuals who are fascinated by the actual courtroom rather than the nuts and bolts of the law should consider pursuing careers as a trial consultant or jury consultant.

Trial consultants are only one legal career that addresses the importance of technology in the law. An E-discovery professional deals with electronically stored information, whether on individual computers, servers, or networks. Most lawyers will have at least one legal secretary, but more and more attorneys are hiring litigation support professionals who combine paralegal knowledge with IT skills. One other growing career is that of a Mediator. More and more companies are eschewing the high cost of litigation in favor of arbitration or mediation, increasing the demand for trusted, qualified professionals

Simple Tools to Make Auto Repair Easy

race carEven if you are not a racer like, simple tools can make an auto repair job a whole lot easier no matter what kind of car you are working on. There are quite a few tools that are often used by professionals that make their work a lot easier, but you will never find them referenced in a book like the Chevrolet Cavalier repair book . One of these tools is the magnetic tray . You can use it to keep track of tools, or even better, you can use it to keep track of the screws and bolts or any other small parts that you take off the car.

Most people spend a long period of time after they have taken something apart and put it back together looking for the last screw or something like that. Even those people who are really organized and keep everything in one place know that sometimes things get lost, they roll away or else something else happens. It is dark under the car and usually by that point you just want to stop, but it is dangerous to leave these things undone. With as many small parts as are listed in most repair manuals, like the Ford Expedition Repair Manual , for some jobs it makes more sense. If you can’t afford one of these, at least get a regular tray or something like it that you can put all the small parts in.

Stress Free and Healthy

Stress. It’s something that we have all experienced at one time or another. Whether it is work, family, finances, or life in general we all have things that cause of emotions, tensions, and stress levels to rise. While this is a natural response in the body, experiencing high levels of stress over a prolonged period of time isn’t healthy. A recent article online states that it can lead to serious health conditions such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and high blood pressure; among other things.

To help relieve some of the stress in your life there are a few things that you can do. First consider what is causing you stress and whether or not those items can be removed from your life. Maybe cut back a little at work, create a budget to help manage your finances, or distance yourself from high-maintenance people. Eating a well-balanced diet, getting a full night’s sleep, plenty of exercise and games, and maybe even a specific women’s or mens health supplements can help you reduce stress as well as help your body stay healthy when you do have stress. Lastly consider taking a vacation. We all need to get away from time to time. Planning a relaxing vacation your favorite destination could be just what the doctor ordered.



How Financial Planning Reduces Stress

According to the American Psychological Association, the number one cause of stress in the US is money.  It’s also one of the biggest sources of conflict between couples. Money stress can eat away at self-esteem, destroy marriages, and acerbate physical illnesses.  In short, it needs to be reduced by whatever means necessary and one of the best ways to reduce money stress is financial planning.

The heart of most financial stress is ignorance.  Knowing there is a problem without knowing the extent of the problem is stressful. Attempting to deny that a bill is due or ignoring financial priorities in favor of immediate gratification is stressful.  Walking around wondering how to pay for a major bill without knowing how much money is in a given bank account is stressful.

Sitting down and getting an accurate picture of current finances is the easiest way to eliminate a significant percentage of financial stress.  Knowing where the money is, where it needs to go, and where it actually goes is only the first step in creating a financial plan.

Setting financial goals, i.e., making decisions about what’s financially important, is the next step.  Studies prove that uncertainty is stressful while making a decision, even a bad one, helps alleviate that stress.  So the simple act of deciding where money should go and making a plan of how to achieve goals will reduce one’s stress levels considerably. Social media can be helpful and you can follow financial experts on sites like Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.

Now comes the hard part: following through on that financial plan.  A solid financial plan will require sacrifices in the present to serve future goals. It may involve making hard decisions about priorities and disappointed self, spouse, or even children.  However, staying disciplined and sticking to the plan will provide twofold rewards. The first is the self-confidence that comes from commitment and discipline. That confidence and the positive feelings that go along with it will further reduce stress.  Secondly, actually achieving goals, however small, builds self-esteem and may even release endorphins — the brain chemicals that elevate mood and release stress.

The old saying that success is the best revenge could be rewritten: success reduces stress — and financial planning leads to financial success.

Mia Edwards is a money blogger and personal coach. She enjoys offering household money tips as well as covering financial companies like Chase, Money Mutual, and AIG for blogs and magazines.