A community guide for people who want to feel good.
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Your guide to taking care of your body and all the aches and pains that come with it.

Why You’re Here: Your body hurts and you want to take better care of yourself.

What’s Inside: Consider this Toolkit your starting point to taking big or baby steps to improving your overall health and caring for your aches and pains.

How To Use It: This isn’t a prescription, so feel free to take or leave the ideas we share depending on what your body tells you and which habits fit your lifestyle.

FIRST THING’S FIRST

View your body as more than just this thing that carries you around; notice when it tells you something. Our body needs us to take care of it if we're going to require so much from it. It's not a simple problem to care for the aches and pains, but perhaps combining a few simple changes can create a solution.

DID YOU KNOW?

There could be other reasons you’re experiencing aches and pains. Your pain might be signaling something else happening in your body depending on your recent activity level. For example, you could have sore muscles a day or two following a workout. Often, that’s your body signaling that it’s time to relax, not over-train, while it heals itself, Samantha Clayton, ACE- and AFAA-certified personal trainer, Olympic sprinter, and women’s sprints coach at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. tells Everyday Health.  

Other common factors for day-to-day aches and pains include symptoms to other conditions, including lack of sleep, stress, dehydration, anemia, cold or flu, Vitamin D deficiency, mononucleosis, pneumonia, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, lupus, lyme disease, multiple sclerosis and histoplasmosis, according to Healthline.

WHAT TO DO

The best next step is the one you take, whether that’s a little something you do today, a habit you start tomorrow, or the plan you make for long-term health. Here are some ideas for each.

Today

Take a bath with epsom salts. Do basic stretching to ease the tension of sore muscles. Find a good foam roller. Look up some simple yoga poses.

Tomorrow

Take a closer look at your work set-up and go ergonomic. Set a reminder to repeat your stretches every morning. Research some options for other ways to care for your body —perhaps an essential oil blend that boosts energy or soothes tension headaches, keeping a supply of Tiger Balm patches on hand, or even creating a detox bath regimen. Take an hour to dig around online for the tools you need to stay in alignment.

Long Term

Listen to your body as soon as it's talking to you - and have resources ready for those moments. Know your preferred physical therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist or other healer for the next time your lower back decides to remind you it's in pain. Stock up on essential oils, pain patches, and the best bath bubbles. Don't ignore the small signs that something might need to be tended to. This could also be a sign of chronic pain, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about that.

FAQ

How do I manage stress so my back/neck don't hurt all of the time?

Your stress is connected to your potential back and neck pain. It’s important to first address the stress and come up with ways to improve your back and neck aches. To manage it, get up from your desk more often, moving every 30 minutes for about 1 to 3 minutes. Breathe, work on taking in a big breath. Move your head and chest, arch your chest forward and move your head up looking at the ceiling. Check out your desk set-up. Is your eye in line with your computer? Are your elbows at a 90 degree angle? Make ergonomic adjustments as well as taking action to reduce your stress and back pain.

Tips for dealing with chronic pain while working a desk job?

Give yourself plenty of time to get to work and get ready each day. Start your day off with stretching, moving and doing things that you enjoy. Try to budget your energy so you don’t feel overwhelmed. Get plenty of rest. Make time to laugh and cry. Find your limits and how you can recover on painful days without digging into your off days.

Focus on balance, gentle exercise with exercises such as walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi, pilates or other low impact forms of movement and strength training, according to Mayo Clinic.

What can I do to deal with my desk related back pain?

You don’t want “office bod” — you know that slouchy desk position. Bad posture can contribute to headaches, neck, jaw,  mid back, low back, shoulder and digestive issues. To change that, incorporate simple exercises and walks throughout your day. Take breaks. And when you’re off, try and break a sweat to keep your muscles lubricated.

For the long term, make sure you have support at your office chair so that the back of your chair helps you sit upright. If you feel a gap between your back and lower back add a lumbar pillow for support and keep your legs rested flat on the floor. You want to make sure the weight of your leg is supported so that your back is not strained. A foot stool or cushion can also help aid in discomfort.


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Your guide to boosting your energy.

Why You’re Here: Your energy is low–maybe for the first time, maybe for a long time. Either way you’re ready for a boost.

What’s Inside: Consider this Toolkit your guide to understanding your energy compass, so that you can navigate the ups and downs. We'll give you tools to learn what your energy is telling you and ideas for boosting your energy for the short and long-term.

How To Use It: This isn’t a prescription for all your energy needs, so feel free to take or leave the ideas we share depending on what your body tells you and what habits fit in your life.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Low energy doesn't necessarily mean you're doing something wrong, but it does mean you want to take notice of the factors that impact your energy. Our approach is to consider those factors, and work towards solutions. We believe you can commit to a process and be proactive about keeping up with your energy - not just reactive when it gets you down.

CONSIDER THIS

Adrenal fatigue happens to people facing long-term stress, which can be mental, physical or emotional. It includes symptoms such as body aches, digestive problems, fatigue, sleep disturbances and nervousness.  

You may be experiencing adrenal fatigue if you regularly notice the following symptoms:

  • You feel tired for no reason, especially in the early morning and mid-afternoon.

  • You have trouble getting up in the morning, even after a full night’s sleep.

  • You feel rundown or overwhelmed.

  • You have difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness.

  • You crave salty and/or sweet snacks.

  • You feel more awake, alert, and energetic after 6PM than you do all day.

WHAT TO DO

The best next step is the one you take, whether that’s a little something you do today, a habit you start tomorrow or the plan you make for long-term health. Here are some ideas for each.

Today

Skip the coffee and go for a protein-filled snack instead. We like a scoop of almond butter or a hard-boiled egg with Trader Joe’s 'Everything But The Bagel' seasoning.

Tomorrow

Consider the few things that might be affecting your low energy, and start to track them. Monitor how much sleep you're getting, how much water you're drinking, how much you exercise and any stress you're currently under. How do these factors make you feel? Take some time to map out what your current levels are for each of those areas, and then make some goals if you want to shake any of them up.

Long term

Make a plan to incorporate new behaviors (or dust off some old ones!) that will increase your energy. Commit to better sleep, find new protein-filled recipes or buy a water bottle to help you track your daily hydration. Small changes can make a big energetic difference over time. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about what next steps to take, and if you think your energy level could be part of a larger health problem.

FAQ

I sometimes can't wake up and other days I can get up without a problem, why does this happen?

There are a variety of reasons why you might struggle to wake up some days while it might be no big deal on other days. It might have to do with your overall health and lifestyle. Ask yourself: Is there a reason you aren’t sleeping? What does your sleep hygiene or sleep routine look like?

Often, inconsistent sleep patterns or lifestyle factors can indicate a sleep disorder or common circadian rhythm disorders, according to the Cleveland Clinic. You can also talk to your doctor and look for ways to help diagnose, test and ultimately manage and treat your possible symptoms.

You could have a sleep pattern that needs to be monitored and studied. This could require some testing, including a sleep diary which is created by actigraphy, a method of recording a person’s sleep and having a person wear a wrist motion monitor for anywhere from a few days to weeks. This could involve overnight and daytime testing depending on your sleep schedule. If you work an unconventional work shift, this could also be part of the testing.

Why do energy levels change according to where you are in your cycle especially PMS?

Some women complain that their energy levels change or fluctuate around their periods, according to the Office of Women’s Health. Your hormone levels could be changing, causing your energy levels to go up and down.

On the first few days of your period, your estrogen and progesterone hormone levels are at their lowest. They begin to rise during your period, which could make you more active than in the previous weeks. During the week your period ends, you might notice that your energy level begins to climb back up. Rising estrogen levels indicate that you’re ready to ovulate and your body is ready to release an egg from the ovary.

On that third week, your estrogen levels might peak around the time of ovulation, which is generally about two weeks before the next period for many women. Now, when your estrogen levels fall quickly after ovulation and your progesterone levels begin to rise, your energy might dip and you might feel more tired than you normally do. And that doesn’t mean quit exercising. It actually means that exercise and staying active might help boost your mood and increase your energy level throughout the day. Experts recommend exercising first thing in the morning so you can maximize on your energy level, which is higher in the morning compared to later in the day.

As the week ahead of your next period approaches, you might feel less energized because your estrogen and progesterone levels are falling, unless you are pregnant—then this is not the case. Physical activity can often help your PMS symptoms improve if your energy levels are on the lower side.

You can take steps to help track your energy cycle and come up with solutions to help improve it throughout your cycle. Try tracking your menstrual cycle and energy levels using a fitness journal during each workout. By tracking you should get a better sense of when you have higher or lower energy during the month. If you take hormonal birth control, including the patch, shot or vaginal ring, you might not notice differences in your energy levels going up and down as much as if you are not birth control.

Talk to your health care provider about other ways you might be able to increase your energy level during your cycle.

Why do my energy levels flux during the day inconsistently?

It’s normal for your energy level to dip and jump up during the day. This happens because of your circadian rhythm, the biological clock that manages your brain. Morning is often when you are most alert, then by afternoon you might feel more tired—that’s actually a biological response to what our ancestors might have needed to avoid heat stroke in the afternoons under the hot sun. That means you might want to tackle your most important, brain-heavy tasks in the morning and save your more routine, less concentrating duties for the afternoon and evening.

It’s important to keep a sleep and healthy eating schedule, don’t sacrifice sleep, which restores your energy levels and keeps you more consistent. It’s also important to understand the connection between your energy levels and emotions. If you are low on mental energy you might not be able to do the things you like to do that make you happy, such as exercising at the gym or taking a walk. Eating a balanced diet, one that includes a variety of unrefined carbohydrates, proteins and fats, with lots of vegetables, whole grains and healthy oils, should help you maintain your energy level and prevent fatigue, according to Harvard Health. Certain types of foods in particular amounts can help keep your energy level up. Eating small meals or having a small portion of fruit or nuts can also help sustain you and increase your energy level during the day. Drinking water, limiting alcohol and using caffeine to your advantage are other ways you can increase or maintain your energy level throughout the day. Since caffeine is a stimulant, it can increase or decrease your energy levels depending on the amount you consume. Having a cup of coffee before a meeting or beginning a project can also increase your ability to focus, but it’s also important to be careful of having caffeine products after 2 p.m. (or noon if you are sensitive to caffeine).


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Your guide to understanding your gut and making it healthier.

Why You’re Here: You’re struggling with digestive issues, you want to be proactive about your gut, or you’re just intrigued by the buzzword that everyone’s talking about.

What’s Inside: Consider this Toolkit your starting point for tackling your gut health, one step at a time. We created it knowing that the best way to understand something fairly complex is to break it down into smaller pieces and start where you feel comfortable.

How To Use It: This isn’t a prescription, so feel free to take or leave the ideas we share depending on what your body tells you and which habits fit your life best.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

You’re not going to get gut healthy overnight, but you can get started and make progress. With topics as complicated as gut health, our approach is to start wherever feels the most attainable and least intimidating. Not sure? Listen to your body. If you’re bloated, start there. If you’ve been sick a lot recently, look into immunity and gut health. If you have no idea what’s related to gut health and what isn’t, start with an overview and consider what you’re eating, too.

CONSIDER THIS

Gut health isn't just about your digestive system, it's also been called "The gateway to health" and "The second brain" because it can be influenced by more than what you eat and it can influence more than your usual stomach problems. When you think about your gut, it's important to have a more holistic approach. It can feel more overwhelming but will be more effective when it comes to finding solutions.

WHAT TO DO

The best next step is the one you take, whether that’s a little something you do today, a habit you start tomorrow or the plan you make for long-term health. Here are some ideas for each.

Today

Cut down on tap water by replacing your water filter or getting a new one altogether. We like SOMA - especially because it keeps us on schedule for changing out the filters. Eat some dark green veggies - you don’t even have to eat a salad to do it.

Tomorrow

Start a gut healthy habit like drinking Apple Cider Vinegar or kombucha, eating fermented foods such as kimchi, yogurt or taking a probiotic. If you’re trying out ACV, we suggest starting small with a teaspoon of ACV in a glass of water with a little bit of lemon.

Long Term

Learn more about your mysterious gut, talk to your doctor about your lifestyle, diet and stress level, and find out if you might have  leaky gut. Find gut healthy do's and don'ts you buy into and recipes that you can rely on. Drink ACV in the mornings and be mindful of keeping fermented foods in your diet. “Eat Dirt” by Dr. Josh Axe, or “Mind-Gut Connection” by Dr. Emeran Mayer are good places to start.

FAQ

What’s the deal with bloating?

Bloating can feel like an air bubble is trapped inside your stomach, or like you have a tight belly and you often feel full due to gas. You might be constipated and not even know it. And many women are facing a chronic underlying condition that goes beyond bloating, according to John Hopkins Medicine.

You might have fewer bowel movements than you usually do—a symptom of constipation. Even if you do have regular bowel movements you can still be constipated, however other symptoms include pain when you start or finish a bowel movement, stool that resembles rocks or pebbles or not feeling like you are empty following a bowel movement.

When you’re constipated you might feel abdominal pain and bloating, often because as the stool sits in your colon, that gives the bacteria longer time to ferment there, so you get gassier and more bloated.

People who are gut sensitive, have IBS and might experience symptoms such as cramping, pain or diarrhea.

It’s also important to recognize that, sometimes, you can mistake and mix up bloating and inflammation. The reason is that both conditions are associated with similar symptoms, and both could signal other real issues your body might be facing.  

There are a few steps you can take to address bloating. Make sure to have an annual pelvic exam with your doctor, sometimes gynecological conditions can cause bloating, including problems with your ovaries or uterus. Changing your diet can often be the first line of defense. So, talk to a health professional about changes you might make to track your diet and find out if you might be allergic or having physical reactions to any foods.

Why is sugar so bad?

Sugar can a have a series of impacts on your body depending on what you have going on, how much you consume and what those sources are. Eating whole foods that have natural sugars, including fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy is OK, according to Harvard Health. That’s because your body can digest these foods slowly. Added sugars, however, are another story.

Having too much sugar can be bad for you, especially if you have diabetes or a diabetes-related condition, including high blood fat levels, then consuming sugar will increase your blood sugar and triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. This is a risk factor for heart disease, Dr. Zachary Bloomgarden, professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, tells Live Science. People who have diabetes are struggling to produce insulin or are resistant to it. Eating sugar will increase blood sugar without insulin. But it’s also in conjunction with blood sugar, triglycerides and lipid levels.  

Sugar also has a lot of calories. And if you drink soda, for example, or any food high in added sugar, then you’re consuming a lot of calories. Cutting sugar can be a way to help repair your gut health and also address any possible stress or depression.

How is my gut health related to my stress?

Chilling out can ultimately help repair any stress-related gut health problems. Your immune system is connected to stressors you might experience, sending out messages to your brain and causing inflammation by sending inflammation messages to different parts of your body. So, if you are stressed all the time then your gut might be weakened and less able to respond to foreign agents. A 2014 PLOS study even found that bad sleep alters the microbes in your intestines. You can start to address that by getting consistent sleep and breaking a sweat to try and immediately address your stress level and gut health.  

What are some affordable foods that are good for my gut health?

Eating well for your gut doesn’t mean you have to eat pricey foods. Fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, miso, tempeh (naturally fermented soy beans), yogurt and pickles or pickled cucumbers are all affordable options that can help improve your gut health by incorporating them in your diet.  


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Your guide to owning your sexual health and pleasure.

Why You’re Here: You have decided there is more to sex than what we learn in the movies, and you feel like you have a right to know about it (you do).

What’s Inside: A bit more info than most of us got in our sex talks (if we got one at all) - how to learn what you like, how to communicate it to a partner, and how to take care of your body so you can enjoy every move without getting nervous.

How To Use It: We hope this toolkit is the gift that keeps on giving. Parts of it may apply now in your life, and parts of it you may want to come back to depending on your age and where you are at with your body.  

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Your sexual health is important, whether or not you’re currently sexually active. The time you spend investing in your own sexual health will only add benefit to your sexual experiences, whether they are now or years from now. Accept that what you previously thought about sex and sexual health might evolve a bit here: that is completely normal.

CONSIDER THIS

You are the most important part of all of your sexual experiences. What feels good for you is right for you. And in sexual experiences with a partner, always be sure to communicate. You can learn more about how to talk about sex by visiting the American Sexual Health Association’s website

WHAT TO DO

The best next step is the one you take, whether that’s a little something you do today, a habit you start tomorrow or the plan you make for long-term health. Here are some ideas for each.

Today

Schedule an STD/STI screening. There’s no harm in finding out your status, especially since some STIs can hang out in your system without producing symptoms. Not to worry - getting yourself checked and getting the proper medical treatment is fairly simple. The Centers For Disease Control offers a free search to find a testing location near you on its website, just enter your zip code and find out what your options are in your area.

Tomorrow

Focus on your pleasure - know your body and what feels good! Don’t forget that you are a big part of the dance, and your pleasure is equally as important as your partners. Use positive thinking to affirm your sexuality, tell yourself this: “I approve of my sexuality.” It’s important to really understand pleasure because some experts believe it could help improve overall consent among women. Work on treating yourself well. It’s OK to be sex positive. That’s a good thing. Check out these resources for more information about sex positivity and talking about sex, masturbation and pleasure.

Long Term

Learn the language. Determine what you feel comfortable calling your body parts. Or, if you find you’re not comfortable talking about your body parts as a whole, practice until you feel more at ease. Communicating about what you like starts with you being able to communicate about your body.

Next, practice saying what you like and how you like it - but say it outside the bedroom. Start by telling yourself. If you know it's hard for you to speak up in the moment of passion- have a conversation over dinner about what you really liked in your last sexual experience or what you'd like your partner to do to you. It's helpful practice at communicating and can also get you both in the mood.

FAQ

What materials should I be aware of in sex products?

Keep in mind that items such as sex toys are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Mashable reports. And interesting fact: following the release of the film “Fifty Shades of Grey” there was a reported surge in sex toy-related injuries, according to The Washington Post.  

Silicone sex toys are non-toxic and hypoallergenic, VICE reports. It’s important to understand Phthalates, however, because they can make up 70 percent of the content of many sex toy products. In 2005, the Danish EPA reportedly did a random sampling of 16 toys and found that tested toys were shown to contain trimethyltin chloride, phenol, carbon disulphide, toluene and cadmium. And depending on the compound of materials used, that could present physical reactions from rash to brain damage.

You also try to avoid using sex products—like vibrators and lube—that contain parabens, glycerin and other toxins that might be endocrine-disrupting. Glycerin can change the way your vagina absorbs water and can dry the vagina out.

Online retailers are selling non-toxic sex products and toys, including Smitten Kitten and Sustain, which sells condoms free of nitrosamines. Silicone lubricants should not be used with sex toys but are known as good lubricants on their own.

Where did my libido go?!

There could be a few reasons why your sex drive or libido is down (not permanent!). Changes in libido are normal. You could be facing a lot of stress, depressed or on medications to treat antidepressants. Often, if you take hormonal birth control that can also lower libido. You could also have a vaginal condition you are suffering with that makes you feel pain during sex. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you feel any pain during sex or if you have any pain in your vagina. There could be trauma associated with it. Other reasons for low lobido could be you might have just ovulated, or you could be in menopause.

It might also be time to look at your relationship and how it’s working for you. Do you feel wanted by your partner? Are you having varied sexual experiences? No, not necessarily sleeping with other people, but trying new things? It happens to men as much as it does to women—sometimes sex drive changes. Define what healthy, enjoyable, safe sex looks like for you with your partner. Talk about it, too.

How can I prevent Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) happens when there is too much of a certain bacteria in the vagina and is easily treatable. It is very common and any woman can get it. With this condition, the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina changes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It might be hard or difficult to notice symptoms of BV. Often, women with BV don’t have symptoms. However, if you have BV you might notice discharge is a thin white or gray color, and you might feel pain, itching or burning in the vagina. Also, you could notice an odor that is fish-like, and often comes after sex. Burning while urinating could also be a sign.

To lower your risk of BV, it’s important to keep your vaginal bacteria balance and use only warm water when you are showering or bathing, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Services, Office on Women’s Health. Also, no douching. Douching upsets your balance of good and the harmful bacteria in your vagina and it could make it easier to get BV again after you have treatment. Researchers are still studying how women get BV. It’s more common for women who are having sex, but you can also get it without having sex. You can also get it by limiting the number of sexual partners you have, or abstaining. The Mayo Clinic also recommends not using scented pads, tampons and nondeodorant soaps.  

BV can cause some serious health risks. Those risks include increasing your chances of getting HIV if you have sex with someone who is infected with HIV, and if you are HIV positive you could also increase you also increase your chances of passing HIV to your partner. BV can also increase risks of delivering a baby too early if you have BV while pregnant. It can also increase your chances of chlamydia and gonorrhea, and could also cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant. If you have questions about your risk, talk to your doctor

I've heard the terms clitoral orgasm vs vaginal orgasm, and am thoroughly confused - help?

Not every woman needs clitoral stimulation to orgasm, or even vaginal stimulation to orgasm. So, let’s begin there. Every woman is very different and experiences orgasm differently.

Some women are stimulated in the g-spot, the cervix and the nipples, Psychology Today reports.

Let’s do a quick biology review, too. The clitoris is above the vagina, several inches above the vagina entrance. There is an internal area of the clitoris, which can be stimulated by the G-spot—about 2-3 inches from the vaginal wall. Sometimes it takes women multiple orgasms to reach vaginal orgasm compared to clitoral stimulation and orgasm.


Your Toolkit for Reproductive Health

Your guide to caring for your reproductive health.

Why You’re Here: You know some of the basics about your cycle, but you also have some questions about how it all works inside your lady parts.

What’s Inside: Foundational information to help understand your reproductive health, some tips for stepping into your own empowerment and getting to know your body.

How To Use It: This won’t be specific to your reproductive health, of course - but it could be a good starting point as you begin to understand the parts of your reproductive system that aren’t discussed as widely as, perhaps, getting your period. Trust your own body and (of course) your doctor when it comes to your own specific needs, health goals and solutions Most importantly, ask questions and get answers.

FIRST THING’S FIRST

All the questions - no matter how basic you think they might be - are welcome here. No judgment about asking questions you feel you should know the answers to; at least you’re speaking up. It’s time to break that stigma and get caring for your reproductive health.

CONSIDER THIS

A lot goes down during a menstrual cycle that can affect you. A cycle is about 28 days. We’re breaking down what happens, and although every body and everybody is different, it’s important to talk to a health professional if you think your cycle has something going on.

Day 1

The first day of your period. The blood and tissue that lines your uterus (aka your womb) breaks down and exits your body. That’s when you have a period. Bleeding lasts up to four to eight days for many women. Hormone levels are low, and low levels of the estrogen hormone can make you feel depressed or irritable, according to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health.

Day 1-5

Your ovaries have follicles and inside of  those are fluid-filled pockets that contain an egg.

Day 5-7

One follicle grows while the others stop growing and go back to where they were before, absorbing back into the ovary.  

Day 8

The follicle puts out increased levels of estrogen, growing larger. Period bleeding typically stops by this day. You have higher estrogen levels from the follicle, which make the uterus grow and thicken. If pregnancy happens, the uterine lining is rich in blood and nutrients to help nourish and develop the embryo. Estrogen can help boost endorphins, the brain chemicals that help you feel good and are released during physical activity. You might experience more energy and calmness during this time.

A few days before Day 14

Your estrogen levels rise and there is also an increase in the level of luteinizing hormone. This hormone causes the mature follicle to burst, releasing an egg from the ovary—aka ovulation. Women are most likely to get pregnant by having sex on the day of ovulation or during the three days before ovulation, and sperm are ready to fertilize the egg once it is released. A woman’s egg lives for 12 to 24 hours, and men’s sperm can live up to three to five days in a woman’s reproductive organs. This is a time when you might feel your very best emotionally and physically.

Your breasts might hurt during your cycle, and you might experience what’s known as cyclic pain. It comes with hormonal fluctuations and accounts for pain during menstruation. That typically happens about two weeks before your cycle, according to Dr. Robin Smith. In addition to cyclic pain, there is also noncyclic breast pain, which is something a doctor must evaluate, Smith says.

“Fortunately, the risk of cancer is low, but it's not insignificant. About 2 to 3 percent of women who come to a clinic for evaluation for breast pain—usually that's reasonably severe breast pain—have a cancer at the site,” Smith says.

Vaginal discharge  tells you where you might be in your cycle. The hormones that contribute to the changes in your cycle create cervical mucus — it’s the goo stuff on your cervix that ultimately comes out of your vagina as discharge. Depending on where you are at in your cycle, your cervical mucus can change in texture, color and amount. This also changes during ovulation.

At least 75 percent of all women will experience a yeast infection, according to the NIH. This can make your discharge appear yeasty or have a different smell than you might be used to. If you have questions about discharge, or what you have happening around your period, talk to a healthcare professional about your concerns.

Checkups are a major preventative care measure and a huge way you can take action and care of your reproductive health.

Gardasil shots

The HPV vaccine, or Gardasil, is a multiple dose vaccination depending on a child’s age, Dr. Abbey B. Berenson, M.D., Ph.D., Ruth Hartgraves Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology explains to the U.S. Office of Women’s Health.

Boys and girls need to finish the full vaccine series of two or three doses for the vaccine to be effective. The HPV vaccine is administered in multiple doses, but the number of doses depends on a child’s age. Children 9–14 years old need two doses, and they should get the second dose six to 12 months after their first dose. Teens and young adults 15–26 need three doses of the vaccine over six months. They should get the second dose one to two months after their first dose and the third dose six months after the first dose.

Pap smear

It’s recommended that women ages 21-29 have a Pap smear every three years, according to Dr. Lisa Valle, D.O. in Los Angeles. From ages 30-65 a Pap smear is recommended every five years by ages 40-44 it’s important to have a mammogram. Once you are 55+, it’s recommended to have a mammogram each year.

WHAT TO DO

Today

Know Your Cycle - Get an app that tracks your period, so you can start answering the doctor when they ask the date of your last menstrual cycle. And know your body - Get out a mirror and get to know what you look like down there. Knowing what your normal is for both your cycle and your body are crucial in owning your reproductive health.

Tomorrow

Know Your Resources - Make a plan to learn more about the resources available to you, such as:

Long Term

Know Your Needs - Perhaps you have certain health concerns, or you’re embarking on a new season that concerns your reproductive health (new sexual partner, first mammogram, etc.). It can feel like puberty all over again, but this time without a parent overseeing the process. Map out the next phase of your reproductive health by identifying what you want to get out of your next women’s wellness checkup. Some guidelines for your checklist:

  • Research + find a doctor or an OB-GYN, if you don’t have one already.

  • Make a list of questions to ask at your appointment - What are you concerned about? Is anything abnormal about how you’re feeling or how your body looks? Did you have any big changes in your life? Are you taking any medications? What’s your diet? How are you doing?

  • Phone-a-friend - Ask around to your trusted community and see if anyone else has experienced what you have questions about. Find out how they got the answers and take a similar or different approach depending on what your body and intuition tells you. Most likely, you are not alone in this health question.

FAQ

What are my options for birth control if I don’t want to go on the pill?

If you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, the most effective way is to abstain from sex. But because this isn’t the Victorian age, we’re explaining the realities of birth control and which options might be best for you—and that’s whether you have information you need about the pill, or if you’re not interested in going on it. There are health reasons to and not to go on birth control pills.

Birth control pills are an effective way to prevent pregnancy if they are taken correctly, according to Planned Parenthood. Often, birth control pills are not solely prescribed for birth control. There can be health benefits to using the pill, including combination and progestin-only pills that regulate menstrual cramps, lighten periods and lower your risk for ectopic pregnancy. The combination pill can also prevent acne, bone thinning, cysts in both breasts and ovaries, endometrial and ovarian cancers, iron deficiency (anemia), PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and serious infections in the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your reproductive concerns, consider requesting a blood test to understand the complexities of your system before choosing a birth control form that works for you.

Using the pill, the patch and a shot are good for preventing pregnancy when they are used perfectly, however people can sometimes have errors or make mistakes (Not you? OK OK!).

Condoms also help prevent pregnancy during vaginal sex, those are always highly recommended to help prevent STDs as well. Implant and IUDs are often considered most foolproof, or convenient in terms of preventing pregnancy. The most effective form of birth control method to prevent pregnancy is the IUD or implant, plus a condom, according to Planned Parenthood.

As for all of your health concerns, talk to your doctor about what type of birth control option might be right for you.

What other options are there for treating PCOS through diet or naturopathic routes?

When approaching healing with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), it is important to note that it might take some time or multiple doctors to even be diagnosed. Symptoms include ovarian cysts, weight gain, cystic acne, irregular periods, depression—and these symptoms can often go unnoticed or undiagnosed. So, once you’ve had a blood test, discussed options with your doctor, then it’s a good idea to look into your choices from there.

PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder and it is also the most common cause of female infertility. Researchers aren’t completely clear what causes PCOS, but it involves a combination of disorders connected to having more male hormones and irregular ovulation. About 70 to 80 percent of PCOS cases are genetic, and research shows it’s common that if a mother has it then her daughter could possibly, too.

In taking the naturopathic approach to healing PCOS, it’s recommended to start with diet and eating whole foods—real food. Weight loss is generally the best method to help ease PCOS symptoms and begin healing.

You don’t have to be outrageous, but it’s important to start eating vegetables, leafy greens, seeds, legumes, nuts. Processed food contains medium to high levels of sugar, so it’s important to avoid those high sugar items. Adding iron-rich foods, supplements, and even an Apple Cider vinegar routine can also help to improve your PCOS symptoms. By cutting sugars, starchy vegetables, carbs and dairy, you can also change your PCOS symptoms. And also, consider cutting the coffee—research shows it’s been shown to increase levels of estrogen in women and throw off cortisol and insulin levels in women with PCOS.

Exercise is another natural way to approach PCOS. Not only does exercise increase endorphins, it also helps to boost insulin sensitivity, which lowers the risk for diabetes and other health complications associated with insulin production. Exercise also lowers cholesterol, improves sleep and regulates hormones and weight loss.

How do I deal with Endometriosis pain?

Endometriosis is a condition with tissue lining the uterus is formed to line outside the uterus, often in the pelvic cavity. Like PCOS, this condition can be hard to diagnose, The Guardian reports.

If you have endometriosis, you might not just experience painful periods or infertility, but painful sex, painful ovulation, abnormal bleeding, fatigue, chronic pelvic pain.  There is no cure and it affects about 10 percent of women at reproductive age. There is also no one cure all to relieve pain, and all women are different. There are three main treatments for endometriosis: surgery, hormones and pain management. It’s important to discuss your concerns and ask what treatment options could be best to help address your pain. Endometriosis pain can affect different women differently, so the approach most often does depend on the pain level.

You can learn more about ways to address endometriosis pain by visiting endometriosis.org.

How to get rid of those horrific sharp cramps that makes you not be able to do nothing but ball up in bed?

It’s very common for women to experience menstrual cramps, according to Mayo Clinic. That throbbing, super painful feeling that makes you want to ball up in bed is annoying for some women, but also dehabiliating for others. It’s important to identify your pain level, talk to your doctor about how it’s impacting your activity level and overall life. Often, cramps can be caused by conditions such as endometriosis or uterine fibroids.

Some women experience intense symptoms, including painful throbbing or cramping, pain that begins in one to three days before your period but peaks 24 hours after your period arrives and tampers off in about two to three days. Some women have a dull, continuous aching feeling or pain that feels like it’s radiating in the lower back or thighs, nausea, headache, dizziness and loose stools.

By addressing the cause, Mayo Clinic says, you can reduce the pain. And, some women tend to have cramps lessen in age, often improving after they give birth.

You can also make changes to your diet that can help lessen your period pain when it comes back to that time of the month. By eating more fruits and vegetables, and also adding anti-inflammatory spice turmeric you can approach that monthly pain with a better defense system. Go old school and get a heating pad. You might want to also consider an anti-inflammatory medicine such as Ibuproferin (Tylenol) or Naxoproxen (Aleve)—and you take this before the pain reaches a 10. Add vitamin B and fish oil supplements. Relax, try massage, take a bath or warm shower. Try out acupuncture. Gentle exercise like swimming, yoga, pilates or walking might also help, according to the National Health Institute. If you smoke, it’s important to quit because it’s thought to increase period pain. The NHI also recommends transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS), which is a small battery-operated device that sends a mild electrical current on your tummy to help reduce pain.


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Your guide to finding your chill.

Why You’re Here: You are stressed the f*ck out, and you are desperate for any tips or directions  that might help you find your chill.

What’s Inside: Some practical tips for de-stressing your life and getting back on track, along with a few solutions you might not have tried before.

How To Use It: We’re laying out a few tips or steps that could resemble items on a to-do list you didn’t even know you had, and that might seem… stressful. Approach each piece as you feel inspired to - be open to reducing stress but don’t force anything you are uncomfortable with and add to the stress. This is your timeline, and no one is pressuring you to address your stress except you.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

While it may not always be your fault that you’re feeling stressed, it is still within your power to work on adjusting the levels of how you are impacted so that it doesn’t completely wipe you out. It’s trial and error - different destress techniques might work in different seasons, and that’s OK. Trust your ability to care for yourself.

CONSIDER THIS

In a Refinery29 and Secret study of 1,000 millennial women published in 2016, stress, especially financial stress, plays a large role in women’s stress levels. In fact, 87% of women ages 18 to 34 found finances and money to be stressful. What’s important to recognize is that coping mechanisms that you can teach yourself are part of the healing process and a main way to reverse stress in your life.

WHAT TO DO

The best next step is the one you take, whether that’s a little something you do today, a habit you start tomorrow, or the plan you make for long-term health. Here are some ideas for each.

Today

Body Scan Meditation - Take some time to scan your body. Sit with your feet planted on the ground - or even by laying with your body completely flat on the ground. Start at the top of your head and slowly scan your entire body, all the way down to your toes. Notice tension or tightness. Are any muscles sore? Are you hungry? Go slowly over each limb and every organ, and give it a few moments of attention. Give it a quick shake or roll. Keep your eyes clothes and your brain mindful of what you actually feel in your body. Once you assess your needs, try to take care of those parts of you today - if your back is in pain, perhaps focus on your posture throughout the day and adjust.

Tomorrow

Digital Detox - Start simple. Delete all your notifications. See how it helps to minimize your interruptions and help keep you less distracted, neuroscientist and Boundless Mind co-founder Ramsay Brown tells Do The Good Stuff. Try it. See what happens.

Also, use your phone more as a tool. Delete the apps you don’t use or like. Give your phone a quick clean up and double-check your settings.

Long Term

Stress Tests -  Stress tests are conducted by a health professional who monitors your heart while you exercise, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.  This helps to identify heart problems and help diagnose coronary heart disease. The test can detect several problems, which could indicate that your heart is not getting enough blood pumping to it during exercise or that there are abnormal changes in your heart rate or blood pressure. It’s also possible to check for shortness of breath, especially if they happened during exercise that was low level, or changes in your heart’s rhythm.

FAQ:

What are some of the physical symptoms of stress?

Stress can manifest in a variety of physical forms and symptoms. It can change your body, behavior and mood. Often, people having physical symptoms of stress might have headaches, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, fatigue, upset stomach, anxiety, restlessness, mood changes from stress, change in sex drive, anger or irritability, depression, sadness, overeating, undereating, displays of anger, drug or alcohol abuse. Lack of attention or focus, feeling overwhelmed, withdrawing socially and exercising less are also physical symptoms or ways you might respond to stress.

I want to start seeing a therapist. What factors should I consider?

If you want to see a therapist, first off, that is wonderful and congratulations. Remember at times it might be very comfortable and sometimes it might be very uncomfortable. However, seeking help, guidance from others and working to better yourself in all aspects of your life is a way to exponentially grow and become a better person not only for others but for yourself.

You can explore different types of therapy and treatment options, and check out Do The Good Stuff’s guide to therapy and finding a therapist. Do some research, find out what you’re looking for and ask questions. Figure out if this is just you or if this is involving someone you are close to.

Am I burnt out? What do I do if I am?

Are you chronically stressed? Do you wake up at odd hours reflecting on work assignments or upcoming deadlines? This could be a sign of burnout. It happens. If you are, identify those symptoms you feel, including forgetfulness/attention problems, insomnia, anger, anxiety, depression, increased illness and chronic fatIgue. Pay attention to whether you feel detached or apathetic. You can take action by addressing the issue and making lifestyle changes to help the problem, not worsen it. Start with the basics of sleep, eating, drinking water and exercising. From there, start saying no, set boundaries and begin unplugging. Those are concrete ways to help heal burnout.


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Your guide to catching more Zzz’s.

Why You’re Here: You and your Zzz’s aren’t cooperating these days, and you really want to hit the reset button.

What’s Inside: A bit of a ‘sleep audit’ —a few ideas for evaluating what might be the cause of your restless nights, and some helpful tips for figuring it out so you can finally sleep.  

How To Use It: Take these tips, but do understand there could be more to your individual needs and you should talk to a professional. Our advice is great, but you need to find solutions that fit your life and your specific environmental or health history needs. We want you to have deep and plentiful sleep, but you know yourself best. So if anything in here doesn’t fit your needs, that’s all good. Talk to your doctor about what might work best for you.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

You don’t need us to tell you that sleep is important. We’re not here to lecture - we want to help you master your sleep. Because there are enough things to worry about in life; sleep shouldn’t be one of them.

CONSIDER THIS

Ask yourself this: Are you sleepy? Answering this can help you navigate a better night’s sleep.

There’s no such thing as a ‘sleep bank’. You can’t just overload on the sleep over the weekends and consider it even. What your body actually needs is a regular bedtime and a regular awake time. It helps your circadian rhythm by reinforcing these patterns. The time we wake up is the anchor to our days,and following that helps regulate the circadian rhythm of our bodies. Regardless of when you fall asleep, try to wake up at a consistent time to send your body the cue that it’s time to get up. Try to eat at consistent times throughout the day, and do not eat too close to bedtime. You can also start a relaxing bedtime routine to help improve the quality of your sleep.

WHAT TO DO

The best next step is the one you take, whether that’s a little something you do today, a habit you start tomorrow, or the plan you make for long-term health. Here are some ideas for each.

Today

Set an alarm! Choose a time to wake up that is good for your work or school schedule, and something that is feasible everyday. And if you’ve gotten too used to the default ringtone on your iPhone alarm app, try switching it up with something new.

Tomorrow

Commit to waking up at this newly set time every day this week, no matter what time you fall asleep. You can adjust your alarm later if you need, but try it for 7 days and see how it goes.

Long Term

Pay attention — whether you think it affects your sleep or not, start to log some key factors each day: what you consume, when you workout, how much screen time you have before bed  or any other habits you want to track. You can try bullet journaling to log it all, and then aggregate some data after a couple weeks. If you notice any consistent deterrents to your sleep, look into how you can  adjust them.

Some other long term tips we got from the team at Moonlit Skincare:

1.  No phones in your bedroom (or at the very least, charge it overnight on the other side of your bedroom). Limit your screen time before you get in bed.

2.  If you're having problems staying asleep, eat a high-protein snack like a small tablespoon of almond butter to help level out your hormones.

3.  Sure, an evening bath is super relaxing but the real magic happens when you exit the tub. Your body temperature rapidly decreases, causing your heart rate to also slow down and cause sleepiness. (You can also mimic this by setting the thermostat to a low temp).

FAQ

How much sleep do I actually need?

How much sleep you need depends on your age, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Newborns (0-3 months) need 14 to 17 hours per day; infants (4-11 months) need 12-15 hours per day; toddlers (1-2 years old) need 11-14 hours; preschoolers (3-5 years old)need 10-13 hours; children 6-13 years old need 9-11 hours; teenagers 14-17 need 8-10 hours; adults 18-25 need 7-9 hours; adults 26-64 need 7-9 hours. Older adults 65+ need 7-8 hours.

What natural solutions can I try to get better sleep?

You can try getting an evening or bedtime ritual started before bed to really begin the natural approach to better sleep. Having a routine can help you prepare for sleep, and get you ready for the next day. You can try dropping caffeine, and adding melatonin before bed. Chamomile tea, lavender can also help you unwind before bed. Journaling is also a proven way to try and improve your sleep quality and free your mind before bed.

Any tips for dealing with my end of the day racing thoughts? I can’t seem to shut off my brain the minute my head hits the pillow.

Try journaling to give your racing thoughts a place to be. Keep a notebook. Write down your thoughts. Come up with a routine that puts you at ease and ready for bed. Forbes also says that if you can’t go to sleep after 20 minutes, and you’re tossing and turning, go ahead and move yourself. Go to another room and try reading a magazine or book. Distract your mind, that way you can hopefully have a reset.

Is drinking before bedtime a bad idea?

Anytime you drink before bed you are running the risk that you might wake up to use the restroom in the middle of the night. It’s recommended that you stop drinking about two to three hours before bed if you want to avoid those late night bathroom trips.  


Your Toolkit for Basic Wellness

Your guide to going back to the basics.

Why You’re Here: You want to establish some basic wellness practices that you can rely on to keep you feeling good.

What’s Inside: Consider this Toolkit your crash course in personal wellness 101, helping you identify the needs you have and start practices to meet those needs on a regular basis.  

How To Use It: This isn’t a prescription, so feel free to take or leave the ideas we share depending on what your body tells you and what habits fit in your life.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

When it comes to taking care of our overall health, we’re all about the basics. Basics like drinking water, getting enough sleep, eating your greens and moving your body. These are the pillars of feeling good, and often are swept under the rug in favor of what’s trending. What’s trending can be fun to try on, but the basics will keep you going so that you can do all the badass things you do.

CONSIDER THIS

You remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? In 1943, Maslow proposed five different human needs, categorized as physiological needs (food, air, shelter. etc.), safety, love + belonging, self-esteem and self-actualization. These needs begin with the most basic and then progress towards less basic - i.e. you’re going to need food before you need to realize your purpose in life. It’s outlined as a process - first take care of THIS, then take care of THAT.  Think about Maslow when you’re thinking about the needs you have and the way you can build toward satisfying them, starting with the basics.

WHAT TO DO

The best next step is the one you take, whether that’s a little something you do to care for yourself today, a habit you start tomorrow, or the plan you make for long-term health. Here are some ideas for each.

Today

Drink water. Go on a walk. Eat some greens. Get a good night’s sleep. Use these simple steps gain momentum and you can use to make bigger changes tomorrow.

Tomorrow

Try creating your own hierarchy of needs. Make a plan for fulfilling that hierarchy with small, attainable habits. We love daily routines for this. For example if moving your body is a piece of your hierarchy, you might start by planning a lunchtime walk or a 10-minute workout in the morning.

Long-term

Make a commitment to check-in with yourself: Ask how you’re feeling and revisit your hierarchy of needs. Are you meeting those essential needs with the basics? As life changes it’s important to redefine what your needs are as well as your plan for satisfying them.

FAQ

How often do I go to each of my docs?

Everybody is different and every body is different. Often people go to the doctor multiple times a year, or they wait until they are sick to go, Dr. Jennifer Caudle, a family physician and assistant professor at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, New Jersey tells U.S. News & World Report. Generally, it’s not a good idea to wait until you are sick to see a doctor. But, you can follow general principles to know when the right time to visit your doctor might be. And, if you have special health concerns, there could be different timelines for that based on what your healthcare provider recommends considering what your health status might be.  

Health care professionals suggest focusing on preventative care, which means not waiting until you are sick or in bad shape to treat a health concern. Instead of focusing on the illness, Caudle explains, it’s better to focus on the overall prevention through screenings, tests and vaccines.

Here are several questions to consider as you make choices about how often you want to see your doctor, which doctor and what fits your healthcare needs:

  • When was your last doctor visit? Do you tell your doctor about your stress levels, family and work life, sleep quality and diet and exercise habits?

  • Have you had any changes since your last appointment? Are there any symptoms bothering you physically, mentally or emotionally? Do you have a mole that is larger than when you first noticed it? Are you dating someone new and getting tested for STDs?

  • When did your doctor last follow-up with you? Do you need to do a follow-up?

  • Is there something you want to follow-up with your doctor about? Did you have any recent diagnoses or questions you might want to address to improve your health?

  • Do you have a chronic condition such as heart disease, asthma or diabetes? If so, you need to see a doctor more than once per year depending on how your condition is monitored and controlled.

For women, it’s important to keep up with Pap smears, or cervical cancer screening tests, every three years. Depending on your health concerns and what your doctor decides, they might need to see you sooner.

When it comes to your teeth, visiting the dentist is generally recommend about twice a year, however if you are at risk for periodontal disease, dental experts say it’s important to see your doctor more often and plan on having scheduled visits, The New York Times reports.

Now, about your eye doctor appointments. You are most at risk for developing eye and vision problems at early age and older age, according to the American Optometric Association. Adults ages 21 to 61 should see an eye doctor every two years, depending on eye health and vision concerns.

And if you do not like your doctor or doctors, or for some reason you don’t feel like they are answering your questions, by all means, change your doctor. Don’t be shy about speaking up for yourself and your health concerns. Change your health team and find someone else to help you on your path to healing and general wellness.

How much water should I be drinking?

It depends on your lifestyle when it comes to how much water you should be drinking. Typically health experts recommend 8 cups a day or 64 ounces of water. It’s important to avoid dehydration and also keep in mind that your body needs different things based on your age and health concerns.

For people age 19 and older, The Institute of Medicine recommends the following total water consumption (from foods or drinks containing water):

  • 13 cups of water per day for men

  • 9 cups of water per day for women

For kids:

  • Girls and boys between ages 4 and 8 years should drink 40 ounces per day (five cups).

  • Kids 9 to 13 years old should drink 56 to 64 ounces (7 to 8 cups)—more for the older kids.

  • Kids 14 to 18 years old should drink 64 to 88 ounces (8 to 11 cups)—more for the older kids.

You may need to drink more water if you:

  • Consume things that dehydrate you, such as caffeine and alcohol.

  • Exercise. An extra 1.5 to 2.5 cups of water each day is recommended. You may need even more if you work out more than an hour or sweat a lot.

  • Live in a hot climate.

  • Are pregnant.

  • Live at an elevation greater than 8,200 feet above sea level.

  • Have a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. Your body loses a lot of fluids during these times. If you’re sick after a night of drinking, ditch the coffee and reach for some water or something with electrolytes, such as coconut water without added sweetener, which will better hydrate you.

How do I know if what I’m doing is working?

By setting goals and tracking your changes you can watch how your efforts are paying off. What habits or actions are you trying to change? Using simple tools or styles of collecting and organizing your thoughts could help.

Habit tracking might be a way to help you check if what you’re doing is working. Habit tracking can start as simple as using your calendar effectively to help set reminders and get organized, or even an app specifically tailored to help you accomplish your tasks can help you stay focused on what you want to achieve.

Also, these bullet journaling methods can also help you stay on track and help hold yourself accountable. By selecting categories or areas you’d like to focus on with bullet journaling, you can measure if you are feeling changes and watch your progression. You can monitor how you’re feeling so you can be mindful of your progress and celebrate those successful achievements.


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Your guide to managing your health like the adult you are.

Why You’re Here: Maybe it all just feels like too much to deal with sometimes, or maybe you’re looking for some confirmation that what you’re doing is working.

What’s Inside: Some helpful tools to help you navigate a part of life that you probably didn’t read about in a text book or find a proper class for. This is the stuff you learn on the way and resources to help guide you there.

How To Use It: Find out if these tips sound useful to you. Start where you are at. Take small steps to see how you can improve your adulting game.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Healthy habits aren’t something you have or you don’t. They happen when you do the work to figure out what habits you need and then create space for them in your life. That’s where routines come in—and scheduling.

CONSIDER THIS

Come up with a morning or daily routine. Maybe you start by drinking a glass of lemon water, taking a quick walk or doing a few stretches first thing after you wake up. Take your first step toward creating healthy habits that can set you up for a lifetime of success. Follow the morning routine of these women leaders Forbes profiles for their get-it-done style approach to the day. Do you want to try getting up earlier? Or, do you want to see if you can incorporate meditation in part of your day?

WHAT TO DO

The best next step is the one you take, whether that’s a little something you do today, a habit you start tomorrow or the plan you make for long-term health. Here are some ideas for each.

Today

Do some soul searching to identify a few habits you want to start. Identify the routines that will make you feel better by addressing needs you have, not just the ones that are trendy. Think of any of the logistical barriers keeping you from starting new habits or doing what you need to do to take care of yourself. Find out what they are and how you can find solutions to move past them and move forward to achieve your goals.

Tomorrow

Incorporate a few new habits into a simple morning and/or evening routine. Consider subscription services that help you stay on top of taking care of yourself like vitamins, produce and easy, healthy meals.

Long Term

Try out some life automation by setting up automatic payments for your billing or making sure your ongoing appointments are tracked on your calendar so you can set reminders for yourself. Audit the way you spend your time and re-prioritize, re-organize your physical space so it supports your goals. This is key when it comes to improving the space you both sleep and relax at.

FAQ

How to find/incorporate consistent night time routine when you're a night owl?

It’s time to talk rituals for bedtime. It might be hard to adopt your new bed time or habits that help you sleep better, but they can help pay off for a lifetime, Business Insider reports. Start by unplugging before bed, give yourself an hour or two to really be free from the screens and blue light emitted by devices. Don’t work straight until bed, take time to stop and reflect.

Make a plan for your sleep—determine how many hours you would like to sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends sticking to  a sleep schedule, turning down bright lights and avoiding naps, especially in the afternoon. It’s also good to evaluate your room and the space you sleep in—is your mattress comfortable and supportive? Is it cool, between 60 and 67 degrees? Make sure you are also exercising daily, in order to aid your sleep it’s important to have vigorous or at the least some form of exercise each day.

I feel like it takes me forever to start a new habit. Is this normal?

It takes about 21 days to form a new habit. But you shouldn’t always expect your habit to change in that 21-day period. And according to Psychology Today, it’s more complicated than that. You might miss a day. You might get derailed. But that doesn’t mean you’re fully off course or that you can’t pick up or ditch a habit. The importance is not to get discouraged whenever you’re trying to start a new habit and keep trying. Stress reduction methods, including meditation, can also help to form new habits, TIME reports. You also have the power to identify a bad habit and replace it with a good, positive one.

There’s never enough time in the day. How do I find time in a crazy busy schedule?

It’s time to put you on the priority list. Yes. You read that right. Try a few tactics to find time in your schedule: Try waking up earlier, put time or schedule yourself using a calendar, stop feeling bad and start saying no. You can squeeze workouts in during your lunch break, workout with a friend and even make your bedtime earlier.

 

Self-Care.png

A guide to self-care that’s more than face masks.

Why You’re Here: You want to know yourself better, explore your health as an avenue of personal growth and commit to taking care.

What’s Inside: Consider this Toolkit your resource to finding practices of self-care that you need. Included are self-care suggestions that move you where you need to be, which might be forward, or exactly where you are.

How To Use It: This isn’t a prescription, so feel free to take or leave the ideas we share depending on what your body tells you and what habits fit in your life.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

The foundation of self-care is about listening to yourself, knowing yourself and creating space to give yourself what you need. What that looks like is flexible. It may be boxed into face masks and epsom salt baths (which we are into btw), but it can also mean setting boundaries, getting rest or seeking therapy.

CONSIDER THIS

Often, putting yourself first can be difficult—life sometimes gets in the way. That includes your job, car, living situation, family, friends and all the other elements of your life. A 1980 study published in the Journal Med Care found that by monitoring your self-care and tracking how you feel in a journal or simply staying aware of your body can help improve overall practice. Of the 26 women in the study who kept a health diary for four weeks, they showed that self-care was practiced on more than 80 percent of the days when their medical problems were present. This shows that even though it might be hard to make major health changes, monitoring how you feel and paying attention to self-care can help aid in healing health concerns.

WHAT TO DO

The best next step is the one you take, whether that’s a little something you do today, a habit you start tomorrow, or the plan you make for long-term health. Here are some ideas for each.

Today

Ask yourself how you’re feeling and be honest in your answer. Give yourself one thing you need based on where you're at. For example, if you’re feeling stressed, you might take 5 minutes to breathe deeply. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you might take 5 minutes to re-prioritize your to-do list.

Tomorrow

Create a plan for the bigger things you need like finding a therapist, signing up for a gym or scheduling time to exercise with a friend, changing your nutrition plan and committing to more time alone. But don’t just stop there, tell someone about your plan whether that’s a friend, partner or family member.

Long Term

Commit to going back into this space to assess if all of this is really working for you in each new season. Create the support system you need to follow what you learn about yourself into different and challenging new phases.

FAQ

What are some budget friendly self-care practices?

You most likely have a budget, but that doesn’t mean that self-care isn’t achievable. Start very simple: Eating right, drinking plenty of water and sleeping. Once you begin there, you are well on your way to creating a foundation for your self-care at a low cost. Get your social circle involved and ask for support and advice from your friends and family as you begin to care for yourself better. Ask how they self-care on a budget, too. Check out YouTube tutorials to help find DIY solutions for skin care masks, meditation or yoga exercises to help you wind down. Take a walk. Go take your lunch break outside. Open your window and breathe. Watch TED Talks that help inspire you, listen to podcasts that address self-care and motivate you.

It’s free to take stock of your life and the people in it. Try writing your personal mission statement, a tip included in “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Know what you’re about so you can keep up with your life and thoughts. Kiss the people you love (or hug them tightly) and move away from the ones who harm you. Cut out negativity. This can, in time, help you practice healthy boundaries and promote better personal self-care without spending a fortune.

How does feeling lonely impact my health?

There is a surprising connection between loneliness and how it impacts a person’s health, according to The New York Times. Research has found that loneliness can increase your risk for heart disease, arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, dementia and even suicide attempts. Loneliness doesn’t discriminate based on age or gender. In fact, younger people and much older people tend to face loneliness more often, according to a study of 3.4 million people. Feeling lonely might even happen to you when you’re surrounded by people as well.

There are many ways you can address both loneliness and its connection to your health. Some experts recommend taking a class or trying a new interest, getting a pet, doing volunteer work or joining an activity center or group. Taking those steps to improve measures of depression and anxiety helps to create an overall better sense of well-being.

What are some tips for taking care of myself in times of chaos?

You might feel uncertain or afraid during times of chaos in your life. Remember this: you are definitely are not alone. Remember you can fall back on these tips to help guide you toward healing: Maintain your sense of self-worth, remember who you are, recount your inner qualities even when you feel like you struggle to maintain your self-worth. Laugh, have fun and take care of those little things that you need to do (and probably put off). Those little things can say a lot about your overall well-being. Don’t abandon yourself and stay present. Ask yourself this: Is your fear rational?

Accepting yourself is a major step, Tiny Buddha describes. Recognize the things or people that make you feel good. Be compassionate toward yourself and re-focus using your self-care as a guide. Focus in on time for you - that could be time to nap, time to sit quietly or even separate yourself from social gatherings if you feel like they are not nourishing you. Build compassion with yourself. Say I love you to you. Believe it when you say it. It can be powerful, and it might not be something you are saying to yourself. Watch how it changes you.
 

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Your guide to exercise that feels good to you.

Why You’re Here: You're looking for ways to switch up your exercise routine, or are searching for some movement and techniques that will help you in achieving specific goals.

What’s Inside: Tips on how to get started moving your body and the huge health benefits.

How To Use It: Use it to create a new rhythm in your life, one that believes in starting with - and frequently revisiting - the basics of movement. Some of this might feel familiar; let that be OK.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Moving our bodies is good for our health in the ways we all agree on, but it is also practice for getting to know our bodies and seeing what our bodies can do. That's a powerful experience that is valuable to working beyond our limits- whether or not our body composition ever changes. It starts with listening to our bodies and making our exercise plans based on what we need, creating movement driven by the benefits of that we feel rather than just what we see.

CONSIDER THIS

We believe it's all about listening to the ways you move your body. That can mean moving beyond the expectations of a set plan or the latest trend, and allowing your body to have a say in what it does. If it's good for our brains, our hearts, our posture, and our physical selves then call it good. That might mean Zumba, pilates, a bike ride, yoga or even a walk around the block.

WHAT TO DO

The best next step is the one you take, whether that’s a little something you do today, a habit you start tomorrow or the plan you make for long-term health. Here are some ideas for each.

Today

Move for a few minutes. It doesn’t have to be perfect or part of a grand plan, just move your body to get out of your head and remember you can do it. Try a desk workout, walk down your street or do a quick HIIT or yoga video.

Tomorrow

Work on starting a habit by setting a goal that works in your real life and rewards the effort you put in to show up like “I’m going to move my body for 10 minutes, three times a week,every week.” Find resources to make it happen like an app (Aaptiv, Seven, YogaGlo), a workout studio (ClassPass helps you try a bunch) or a workout buddy. Remember to set yourself up for success by getting the food, water and sleep you need to keep your body moving.

Long Term

Pay attention to the ways regular movement makes you feel physically and emotionally. You might notice a boost in confidence, a deepened connection with your body and increased productivity. Don’t brush off those benefits! Remember them when you need motivation.

FAQ

I have a hard time exercising when I’m stressed. Any tips?

When you’re stressed or feeling anxious, try a simple yoga flow to help cool yourself down and reconnect with your body. You can try following a set of exercises or you can simply lay down and reconnect with your body doing a body scan meditation.

I just started working out and I feel like my muscles are struggling to keep up. What can I do to help take care of them so I can keep moving my body?

It can be amazing when you’re new to working out because you have all these activated muscles, but you can also have very sore muscles and joints. In order to keep your body moving and taking care of yourself so you can properly heal, try incorporating foam rolling, Epsom salt baths, essential oils or stretching.  

I’m thinking about joining a gym or hiring a trainer. What should I look for? Any red flags?

Joining a gym or hiring a trainer is a personal choice, and can sometimes be informed by your budget, lifestyle or work environment. Find out what the gym offers, do they have group fitness classes you would like to take? Do they have any amenities or special training you’re interested in? Find out how much it costs to have a trainer and find a trainer you might be interested in working with. Often, gyms will allow you to train with a trainer when you first join, so see if that is something you want to try. Watch out for red flags, including checking to make sure they have the proper credentials. Don’t ever start cold without any type of warm-up or continue training with anyone who makes you feel pain in the wrong places.  

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Your guide to navigating the systems that have a stake in your health.

Why You’re Here: You’re struggling to navigate the systems that have a stake in your health–health insurance, healthcare professionals, the newest gym craze advertising for your dollars.

What’s Inside: We created this Toolkit to give you a new framework for understanding these systems and operating within them to get what you need. We don't know your specific circumstances, but this is a good place to start.

How To Use It: This isn’t a prescription, so feel free to take or leave the ideas we share depending on what your body is telling you and what habits fit in your life.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

Knowledge is power - find out your current health care options if you don’t what they are. Ask your employer, or visit healthcare.gov to see how you should enroll and what plan might work best for you. The more information you have then the more you can use them. Learn how to advocate for yourself within whatever healthcare system you are enrolled in is important, and could ultimately save you both time, stress and money. Check out the rest of this toolkit to take the power back and get what you deserve.

CONSIDER THIS

Only about 4 percent of Americans can speak about health insurance terms, and about two thirds of American households are under-insured. Insurance companies are difficult to understand, even for experts who study their policies, so check to make sure your plan has the things you need and investigate how to make your coverage plan work for you.

WHAT TO DO

The best next step is the one you take, whether that’s a little something you do today, a habit you start tomorrow or the plan you make for long-term health. Here are some ideas for each.

Today

Call your insurance provider to learn what your health coverage offers you. Do you have an HMO or PPO? Know the difference so that you can make an appointment for a free consultation. First, make sure that doctor takes your insurance provider so you don’t accidentally start getting billed. You can find out if a doctor is part of your insurance network by checking your provider’s website or checking with the office before you go into the consultation. Make a list of the things you want to know and find out perks you can might be eligible for  based on your behaviors (flex your power). Ask your company’s HR or check with your insurance provider if you have any questions at all about how your coverage plan works. Empower yourself by knowing what your deductible is and how to get in touch with the right doctors in your network.

Tomorrow

Start a habit that puts your health first and you in control. Ask questions. Work through your list, ask friends for recommendations, check your insurance card for important numbers and information you might need both for a doctor’s visit or emergency room trip. Check out healthcare.gov for more information or call to ask questions and get answers.

Long Term

Learn the different types of coverage available to you. ap out what you want and what  those solutions might look like.Make a plan to stop your gym membership and create a solution that works (at-home workouts, new bike, etc.). Think about what’s best for you and not just the best branding or short-term fix.

FAQ

How do I know what my insurance covers?

Simply ask. Find out what your deductible might be. Your deductible is what you owe the doctor’s office after your visit and after the insurance company takes the bill. If you don’t know what your insurance company is, or how your coverage plan works, then check with your employer (if that’s how you receive your insurance). Ask your employer for additional information about your plan, and see if they have any resources or people at the company you can talk to about your options and ways you can best plan ahead for your coverage.

In case of an emergency, go straight to the hospital or call 911. It’s important to immediately treat the situation and your insurance company cannot charge you more for going to an emergency room at an out-of-network hospital.

Staying “in-network” means that you’re selecting a doctor from your insurance provider and within that plan. Check your insurance card, what numbers are listed on the back? What are you curious about coverage wise? Call those numbers and find out more information, see how you can book an appointment for any of your concerns. Take preventative care to set up a scheduled visit if you haven’t been to the doctor in a long time. Check out this roadmap to health from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid. Try printing it out, mapping out what you’re most curious about and get answers to your questions.

To enroll in healthcare coverage in the U.S., or to find more information about your current coverage plan, visit healthcare.gov.

What are my rights for breastfeeding at work?

A federal law makes it mandatory for your employer to give you break time and location to breastfeed. It must be private space, other than a bathroom, where you can express milk. Most hourly and some salaried employees should fall into that category. Talk to your employer. Ask if they have a handbook at your company that you can refer to, see what the policies are around family leave and if breastfeeding is specifically mentioned. If it’s unclear what the policies might be at your job, then you can learn more from the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee at usbreastfeeding.org.

Should I have my medical records? Who should have them?

Under HIPAA, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, you have the absolute right to review or receive copies of your medical records. It’s also your right to keep your medical records private. Your doctor’s office should have your records. You can request copies as well. Everyone is really different when it comes to tracking their health records and it’s up to you on your health journey.