How Smiling Reduces Stress

How Smiling Reduces Stress

Smiling is more than an expression of how you feel. Simpling reduces stress! A smile can also have positive effects on those you smile at, and could even set the course of your day. It’s crazy how a simple action can have huge rewards. Learn more about how smiling reduces stress and the benefits smiling has on others. A little smile will do you good.

smiling reduces stress

The expression on our face

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In Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People, a book every young twenty-something should read, Dale says “The expression on one’s face is far more important than the clothes one wears on one’s back.” Not only that but Dale also mentions what Professor James V McConnell, a psychologist at the University of Michigan says about smiling, “People who smile tend to manage, teach and sell more effectively, and to raise happier children.”

A campus visit, what I saw shocked me!

A while back I visited my alma mater. When I was there I noticed something strange…no one was smiling. I even did the ‘smile test’ in the women’s restroom, you know, when you smile at someone and they smile back? Well, that’s what is supposed to happen, but it didn’t work! I felt invisible. And shocked for that matter. So I tried again in the hallway. Still nothing! When I went outside, I tried again. Not even a look in the eyes! This was getting quite comical.

When I got home from my campus visit, I told my recruiter friend who visits many college campuses what I experienced and how sad I was about the emotionless students. She told me that it isn’t just happening there, the ‘no smiling’ thing is happening on other campuses too. What the heck? Life isn’t that bad, you’re in college!

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Smiling and stress relief

Stress is a crazy and life-altering thing. We all know that stress can cause us to make poor decisions. It can make our bodies ill and imbalanced. How can we reduce stress naturally and simply? First, we need to understand how some hormones work.

Endorphins are the ‘feel good’ hormones’. They are produced in your brain to help reduce stress, relieve pain, and improve your mood. What naturally releases endorphins? Exercise can help improve your mood and reduce stress. But what if you don’t want to exercise? You can simply smile or even force a smile. Intermountain Healthcare says, “When you smile, your brain releases tiny molecules called neuropeptides to help fight off stress. Then other neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins come into play too. The endorphins act as a mild pain reliever, whereas the serotonin is an antidepressant.”

What’s the big deal about a smile?

Smiling is a natural, automatic expression we reveal when we are happy or when we feel good. Psychology Today says we pretty much need to smile to stay sane! I don’t know about you, but after a pandemic, political warfare, and pure evil, I think we all better get our Smile on.

Here’s a minor example about smiling; when I was in college I remember a time when I was walking through the Arboretum. On the way to class, a stranger smiled at me. As a natural response, I immediately smiled back. In fact, I remember my smile was over-exaggerated because I was so shocked he smiled! Throughout that day I thought of the smile moment and it honestly made my whole day! I even remember telling my roommates that some random guy smiled at me, not like a slimy-lets-go-on-a-date look, but a ‘hey, hope you’re having a nice day’ kind of smile.

Smiling makes us feel good and it boosts our confidence.

I didn’t know how to smile!

In Kindergarten I didn’t know how to smile. Yep. I had no idea. My sisters tried to teach me but I just couldn’t get the corners of my mouth to go up on cue. Who knows, maybe I was stressed as a kid? Anyway, school picture day was coming up. I desperately wanted to smile, but every time I tried, my lips clamped shut and the corners of my mouth turned down.

How did I learn to naturally smile? With lots of tickling by my sisters in front of the mirror, I finally understood the smile. By 3rd grade, I was smiling on demand. Yes, it apparently took me that long to get it down. Who would have known in my Senior year in high school I got voted ‘best smile’. 🙂 

Smile and watch what happens!

If we simply smile more often, we’re going to be happier, less stressed people. Smiling around your kids is a big one. They need to see that you are happy more often than angry. You may have to force a smile at times too, and that’s okay! You deserve to feel good and they deserve it too.

Smiling reduces stress in not only you but in others that receive your smile. Smiling says many things beyond what words, e-mails, tweets, texts, or instant messaging could say. Don’t discredit the smile. Keep on smiling before you forget how to do it, it really does make life a lot more rewarding.

All in all

When you smile, people will be curious about who you are because you look happy. People seek happiness and they want whatever is making you show your teeth. Let’s put our phones down, take our earbuds out, and pay attention to people walking to class or in the grocery store, heck even in the car next to you. Smile and see what they do in return. A little smile will do you good.

Before you go, check out these other posts about reducing stress naturally

How to Reduce Stress in your Life: 10 Breakthrough Tips

Learn How to Relax: 5 Essential Must-Have Tips

How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

5 Best Pieces of Advice for How to Simplify My Life

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How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

We all want to have a happy family, but how do we have a happy family? Every family has its traditions, quirks, and drama. First and foremost, you have an amazing family. Family is fun in it’s own way, simply watch your family and learn what makes it tick. However, there are some seasons within the home walls that can be challenging. How do we navigate through these times? This post will help you bring light to the surface and give you 3 amazing steps to know how to have a happy family.

Put your seatbelt on for a ride that has game-changer effects on how your home and family feel. Learn how to be a better person, how to help your kid, and how to simplify life. Put joy back into your every day. Let’s jump into how to have a happy family.

This is about who?

This is about who? Your family, of course, but more importantly it’s about someone else. Whether you’re a mom or a dad, or someone who has filled that role, how to have a happier family starts with the foundation, and that’s you. No special toy, no vacation, or no incredible treat is going to give your family long-lasting results. The only outcome with that will be a spoiled kid. I get it…that was harsh for me to say; seriously though, how to have a happier family is all about you (the parent).

Who said parenting was easy? You might not like this.

Babies are so cute. But babies grow up to be their own person, just like you. The way babies learn how to grow up is by watching, listening, and copying you. They watch your actions, they listen to every word you say, and to the tone you are speaking. They know how you treat other people, they know your opinions, they know your habits good and bad. Parenting is a responsibility, it’s not all fun and games, or a box to be checked off. So, if you want to have a happier family, then be a happier parent.

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3 Revolutionary Steps to How to Have a Happy Family

Step 1. How to be a happier parent

A happier parent isn’t just a surfaced smile and a tickle attack. It’s much deeper than that, it starts with taking care of YOU and tending to your heart. Important note: There is a delicate balance between working on yourself and selfishness. A selfish parent is a toxic parent. But a parent who takes of themselves to better themselves is a healthy one. This is where self-care really comes into play.

When you are at peace, when you are healthy, when your heart is full, when your relationships are in check, and when you love your job…your kids are going to feel the difference, your kids will copy you, your kids will learn how to have joy simply by watching and listening to you. In other words, if you want something to change in your kid…let’s say their weight, then YOU lose weight. Do that journey together! They need someone to learn from, to walk alongside them, to feel their pain with, and to meet them where they are at.

Step 2. Get rid of the junk

Another thing you can do to help your family be happier is to lose the junk. As silly and simple as this sounds, picking up around the house makes a difference! Clean up the house and get it organized. This sounds all fine and dandy, but where do you start? You start with the things you can see. This means taking a look at your surroundings.

How to clean the house easily is a loaded task. What does “clean” mean? Does it mean dusting or organizing? Either way, get your home feeling lighter and brighter. Here are a few tricks up my sleeve to help your home feel happier and more welcoming.

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5 Fun Tips to Brighten Your Home

1. Open the shades and curtains. Natural light has a way of making you feel better. Check this Healthline post about natural light. Let the sunshine in!

2. Buy yourself some flowers. Flowers can bring bright colors or softness into your home. A vase of flowers is welcoming and a lovely centerpiece. There are great flower deals at ALDI’s, Trader Joe’s, and even Costco. Don’t forget about your local roadside flower stands!

3. String lights aren’t just for Christmas. They look kind of like fireflies! String lights are inexpensive for what they do. String them in a faux tree, along the fireplace mantel, around a window, or along the ceiling! There are endless options for string lights. There are the LED moving lights, those are fun, but they are not what I am talking about. When Christmas lights go on sale, buy a couple of boxes and have fun with them.

4. Clean the house. Yep. Get down and dirty and do a deep clean. I’ve got a post that may help you with this: Cleaning the House: 5 Factors to Understand. It talks about hiring a cleaning person to doing it yourself.

5. Tidy up the yard. This is something your family can do all together. Pick up the garbage, trim the bushes, cut the lawn, start a garden, maybe power wash the siding or deck; make your house look like a home that cares. Did you know the appearance of a building makes a difference in how you feel about that particular place? Make your home welcoming, whether it starts at the street or at the door of your apartment. Get it looking nice.

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Step 3. This step might get hard, but it will change the course of your life

Take care of yourself. I’m not just talking about your looks, yes, that’s important too, but I’m referring to deep self-care. Let me put it this way, your thoughts will eventually become your actions; Matthew 15:17 tells us this. Put POSITIVE things in your mind, through self-talk, good books, positive music, encouraging shows, and clean videos. You need a break from darkness. Your soul needs it too.

Let me explain when you watch or listen to dark videos, movies, video games, foul language, or music; it’s an invitation for darkness to come into your world. Do you really want that? Be aware and look around you. What do you see on your playlist? What do you see in your entertainment cue? Rated R? Horror? Crime? Do you feel that nothing good happens to you? Does something bad happen to you every day? Check out my post on Spiritual Warfare.

Breakfree now!

Allow yourself to break free from the world’s view of you. Tidy up your body by losing weight for good, clean up your diet, and get your body moving. Learn more about yourself and understand who you are, you may want to look back to see if you’re making decisions based on what others want for you instead of yourself. I call this “being stuck in a mold”. Please protect your kids from getting stuck in a mold that’s either coming from you, your parents, or their friends. When you allow your kids to discover who they are, they are going to be a happier camper.

Personal wounds? Listen up!

Address your personal wounds, yeah, I’m talking to you right now, not your kids. How to have a happy family is about the stability of the foundation. Remember that foundation is you, the parent. Please listen with an open heart. This is so critical to your lifelong happiness and joy. We’re all wounded. But the families and couples that are full of joy and peace, are the ones who heal from their past wounds. So if you know how to heal, then you can help your child learn how to heal.

Deep personal wounds bleed into our actions and words, no matter how hard we try to hide them. How do we heal from past trauma? Yes, a counselor can help you, but be careful in finding one. There is only one person who can heal, Jesus. A great way to start the healing process is to pray and ask Him to come into your life. I have a prayer here to help you. Find a church either online or in your community and learn more about Him. He helped me, and I know he’ll help you too.

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Jesus knows

Get to know Jesus. He knows what you’re battling with. He’s waiting for you to ask for help from him, so get to know him first. Read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible. When you feel it’s the right time, ask a friend who follows Jesus to pray with you. During this time, ask Jesus to go to that specific wound and to show you how to heal, to shine his light on it.

If there is anything in the post I want you to remember, it is this part. Jesus will heal if you grab His hand. I highly recommend you ask your church to pray for you and to talk to a Christian life coach or professional Christian counselor. Healing your wounds is a game-changer. Doing this, will not only help you, but it will help the people around you. Feel free to contact me, I’m a certified Life Coach with a Christian perspective.

Uh oh. Are your kids getting in trouble? Buckle up Buttercup

Are your kids getting in trouble at school? Your kid who is misbehaving in school, your kid who is bullying others…(hang tight) this is your problem, not theirs. I’m going to circle around and ask that you do a personal check with what’s going on with yourself. What are you talking about when they are around? How are you talking, are you swearing, are you yelling, are you gossiping, are you judging and being critical? Are you even around? Did you move? A divorce? Change jobs?

Walk alongside your kid. They don’t know how to navigate through major issues. Walk through it together. Learn together. Talk with each other. Pray together. If they’re stressed, help them to know how to manage the stress.

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Finally, the fun stuff!

Whew! We had to take care of business before we got to the fun stuff. But like I said, how to have a happy family isn’t all fun and games all the time; most of the time it’s the little things like opening up the curtains, baking cookies together, communicating, or watching the game with everyone. Kick off the home happiness with a really fun and inexpensive time with your family, do this Scavenger Hunt Challenge. Seriously this is so fun and full of laughs, even your teenager will like it!  

Here are a few posts that you can do with your kiddos to brighten their day and yours for that matter! Please don’t forget to laugh and be goofy every once in a while. They may roll their eyes, but deep down it makes them feel loved. And remember, everyone wants a little “me time”. Be sure to give your kid a little bit of that special time with themselves so they can learn more about who God made them to be.

Kid Activities at Home: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now!

13 Family Games Worth Playing, Plus a little History

8 Best Children’s Books for 4-year-olds

How to have a happy family conclusion

This has been a tough post to write and listen to for that matter. I need this post myself! If you want to know how to have a happy family, to have more joy in your home; then work on yourself. You got this. Your kids will be happier, more confident, and will have peace. Be sure to check out The #1 Way to Simplify Your Life for Good! Pay attention to the simple things that bring light. If you want more tips on simplifying, find some fantastic tips on how to simplify my life in 5 Best Pieces of Advice for How to Simplify My Life. Keep shining your light!

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By CT Copyright © 2022 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.
Cleaning the House: 5 Factors to Understand

Cleaning the House: 5 Factors to Understand

Cleaning the house has been one of the most toxic yet healthy tasks in life. Sure we could pay someone else to do it but stay humble friend. Living in a clean house is not just healthy for our bodies, but for our psyche. Learn how to make cleaning less stressful by understanding 5 key factors.

cleaning the house: 5 factors to understand to make it less stressful

There have been numerous times my husband has suggested hiring someone to clean our house. Each time he brings it up three reasons keep me from saying yes:

1. I would still clean the house before they came to clean!

2. It’s hard to find a good cleaner, let alone one you can trust.

3. It’s one more thing to add to the budget.

Someday I will probably get there, but I honestly don’t have any excuses for why I can’t clean my own house. So if you’re like me, listen up to loosen up about cleaning the house.

Why cleaning the house matters

First off, living in a clean home does a body and mind good. When we don’t dust or vacuum as often as we should, dust mites build up and can lead to allergies. Not to mention lingering smells and sticky surfaces. It’s like a welcome mat for various germs and bugs with large bodies and little legs…that will motivate me to clean!

Like mowing the lawn, cleaning provides that same kind of instant gratification. Accomplishing a clean house is a huge win, especially if you put your own sweat into it. When I’m cleaning I like to think of all the money I’m saving from paying someone to do it, not to mention all the calories I just burned! Cleaning the house has benefits: weight loss and money management!

5 factors to determine how often I clean

I’m not a deep cleaner every time I clean my house. Deep cleaning and the number of times to clean will depend on your situation. I’ve found there are five factors to determine how often to clean your house.

Pets

If you have a shedding dog or other messy pet, cleaning is probably going to happen more often. To easily clean fur off of furniture, use a dryer sheet, rubber gloves, or a lint brush.

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Kids

The number of kids determines how often to clean. With kids, you must consider their ages. Starting a child out at 5-years-old with an easy cleaning chore helps them understand you’re not their servant. The older they get the more they should help period.  

 

Allergies

If your husband’s allergies flare up, dusting and vacuuming will be more frequent. When my husband sneezes in the morning, I know it’s time to clean. My son has the same issue. I’m getting a lot of miles on my vacuum!

Location

Where you live plays a factor in how often to clean the house. Do you live in a dusty field, near a construction site, or pollen-invested forest? Again, in these instances, allergies could attack.

Personality

And lastly, don’t forget about your personality. Ask yourself these questions: Are you a ‘Laidback Jack’ or an ‘Anal Andy’? Do you like to do things yourself or are you a delegator? What about how you were taught? How often are you entertaining? Get an understanding of who you are and how you want to move forward.

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All in all

When it comes to cleaning the house, get in the right frame of mind. Schedule a cleaning day and make sure your kids or husband understand what cleaning is and what their responsibilities are. Remember your cleaning schedule depends on where you live, who lives with you, and how you’re living!

Before you go check out these amazing posts:

5 Best Pieces of Advice for How to Simplify My Life

Kid Activities at Home: 10 Things You Can Do Right Now!

How To Be Less Busy: #1 Mistake People Make

How to Get Motivated: 4 Critical Tips to Start Anything

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

5 Best Pieces of Advice for How to Simplify My Life

5 Best Pieces of Advice for How to Simplify My Life

How to simplify my life is more than just throwing your stuff out. We’re getting rid of stress and welcoming happiness into our home. Simplifying and organizing are sometimes used interchangeably, but we’re not going to organize today. We’re going to focus on simplifying our space by knowing how to do it without stress or frustration.

If you want to have peace, experience freedom, and have more space, let alone functional space, it starts with who you are and how you operate. You are a smart person, you’re creative, and you have an amazing future. So this task of simplifying is going to need your mind, creativity, problem-solving skills, and an understanding of yourself.

Are you ready to reduce stress in your life? Let’s break through the clutter to seriously unleash your potential to live a do more than exist kind of life in your space.

The top 5 pieces of advice to simplify my life

1. Simplifying your life is a lot harder than you think.

To make simplifying work for you, you must include your brain. To make this experience a fantastic one, you’ll want to do two things: get in the right frame of mind and understand your motives.

Do you want to find things easier? What about getting rid of sour memories to make room for sweet ones? Do you want to create more space? Clean up? Do you want to live lighter? Or do you want to downsize? What is your motive in simplifying?

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2. Ask yourself questions.

Since I’m on a roll with questions, we’re going to keep going! When asking yourself, “How do I simplify my life?” Ask more questions. Let’s say you come upon your old t-shirt from high school ask yourself a few things:

– Why am I holding on to this?

– How is this going to change my life for the better?

– When was the last time I used it?

– Can someone else use it?

– Is this something I could sell this week?

– Is it worth the space in my house let alone mind?

It’s important to ask yourself these questions when you run into something that might be hard to let go of. When push comes to shove, just remember you can’t take it to heaven.

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3. Simplify my life step by step, but not too slow.

Okay, so decluttering and cleaning isn’t a fun thing for you? We all have our dislikes but we still need to do them if we want something done. For instance, I don’t like washing the kitchen floor. However, what helps me get it done is if I put it on the calendar. I can then mentally prepare myself and start visualizing how awesome it would be to have a clean kitchen floor. With that said, take a look at your schedule and block off some time to start your decluttering project. Get serious about your space.

Yes, this kind of task is a big deal. Have you seen those shows about hoarding? There’s a little hoarder inside of us all. Go about this step by step. Maybe tackle the kitchen one day, then the bathroom another day, and so forth. You got this!

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4. Get it out of your living space.

When you start to sort through things, get them out of your living space. By removing it from your living space you’ll get a taste of how much you really miss it or not miss it; plus you’ll see how much stuff you are getting rid of. This is an easy technique that is extremely helpful.

This can be a big eye-opener and can even change your spending and collecting habits for the better! I have been known to do snow angels on the floor after a declutter day.

5. Make 4 piles.

Make piles: keep, donate, sell, and pitch. When you plan on having a garage sale, designate a space to keep all those things…like your garage or closet. Same rule for things to donate or to sell online. As for pitching, start a pile and fill your garbage bin every week until it’s gone.

When all said and done to simplify my life.

We’ve lived in the same house for over 17 years. Within those years we have had four garage sales and numerous trips to the donation center. Every garage sale blew my mind with how much stuff we were keeping and not using! With our quarterly clean-out, I still get amazed at how much stuff we accumulate in a matter of months! As for selling things online, the best place I’ve found to be is to use Facebook Marketplace.

When you get in the right mode for simplifying you’ll be surprised at the things you had kept over the years and the things you still want to keep. This is your living space we’re talking about, so make it the way you’ll love it. When you enjoy how you’re living you’ll be a whole lot happier.

Before you go check out these other posts:

Stress Free Moving: 2 Critical Steps

How to have a happy family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

Benefits of a Garden: 1 huge reason to take up gardening

How to Reduce Stress in your Life: 10 Breakthrough Tips

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Quick Healthy Meals On a Budget? 5 Criteria

Quick Healthy Meals On a Budget? 5 Criteria

How can we make a quick healthy meal on a budget? When it comes to meals I use five criteria to measure success: taste, health, speed, digestion, and budget. These days we need anything that helps! Dive into my secrets to help you get more flavor, more money, and better health. Let’s jump right in.

quick healthy meals on a budget

#1 My secret ingredients to flavor

Have you noticed when you eat something that tastes good, stress doesn’t exist for that moment? Bland food is quite boring and can leave us unsatisfied. Let’s fix the “blaa” with a little “bam-bam”. Here are some of my favorite flavor touches that are easy to use and give you healthy meals on a budget:

McCormick’s Steak Seasoning.

This is so simple and super tasty.

Hot sauce.

My husband is Mr. Hot Sauce. He enjoys Red Hot and Sriracha.

Fresh garlic.

I make my own garlic bread with fresh garlic, I simply use a mincer. It’s a much cleaner and healthier way than garlic powder or garlic salt. 

Oregano.

This herb helps fight bacteria, it’s high in antioxidants, helps reduce viral infection, and has many more benefits.

Salt.

We love our salt but need to watch our blood pressure and bones. Salt helps with fluid balance, nerve transmission, and even muscle function.

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#2 Methods for healthy meals on a budget

My second criterion for reducing stress in the kitchen is to create a healthy meal using the right tools. There are a ton of kitchen gadgets, but we’re going to keep it simple and focus on five ways to cook and heat up a meal.

5 Ways to Cook & Heat Up a Meal

Oven

Baking fish and starches instead of frying save us a lot of heartaches…literally…and calories for that matter. Roasting potatoes, squash, and even cauliflower are super easy and a healthier method. Simply cube the veggie, toss it in olive oil with a little salt, set the oven at 350 degrees, and bake for 30-40 minutes. Test with a fork for your liking. You may like my Warm Kale Salad Recipe!

Air Fryer
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If I’m in a hurry yet want a break from the microwave, I opt for the Air-fryer or the toaster oven. I use them for warming up homemade waffles, a small batch of cookies or brownies, garlic bread, sweet potato fries, a small pizza, and chicken nuggets. Both cooking devices automatically shut off when the timer is done, so I can put my dish in it and forget it. The air fryer is awesome for making camping more comfortable. We use this one.

Grill

We use our grill all year round and we live in Michigan! To keep grilling safe and healthy, it’s important to keep it clean. Be sure to scrape the grill with a brush before using, and clean the grill at least three times a year if you’re a heavy user; meaning, giving the grates a good soak in Dawn dish soap. One of our favorite dishes is bacon-wrapped chicken legs, this recipe is a keeper!

Microwave

Yes, I use the microwave to warm up meals when I’m in a hurry. My main reasons for the microwave are frozen veggies, chicken nuggets, and microwave popcorn. Microwaves have come a long way and are safe to use.

Cast Iron
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This is my secret weapon in the kitchen when it comes to speed, taste, and easy cleanup. This pan, as my son would say, is ‘Beast’…meaning cool. When it gets hot, it stays hot. And cleaning it is a piece of cake, no soap! Simply rinse and heat back up on the stove to dry. Easy peasy! I love my cast iron pans. Salmon in a skillet recipe is totally bussing.

Fried Walleye Recipe
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#3 Speed

I do love my Crockpot, but I only use it maybe once a week. There are loads of kitchen gadgets promising this or that; we get excited for a few weeks then tuck them away in an abyss cupboard. Keep it simple in the kitchen, and stick to the old fashion way of cooking. You’ll find it actually goes pretty fast. My favorite crockpot recipe is Simple Game Day Sloppy Joes.

Cast iron pan

I wasn’t joking about old fashion. Everyone should have a cast iron pan. Read the benefits above.

Boiling water

The old saying to put a wooden spoon on top of the rim of the pan to make the water boil faster? Well, it works. Simply lay a wooden spoon across the top of the pan, kind of like a bridge. In about a handful of minutes, the water is ready for the pasta.

Freezer meals

I’m not a fan of freezing meals unless it’s leftover chili or stew. Lasagna is another good freezer meal, but other than that, it’s easier to resort to the grocery’s freezer meals. You should venture into your freezer and clean it from old food every quarter.

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#4 Digestion

There are a lot of factors leading to diarrhea, gas, bloating, constipation, acid reflex, and cramping. They range from food allergies, food sensitivities, food combining, eating too fast, the lack of digestive enzymes, hormones, bile acid, autoimmune disorders, gut flora, leaky gut, and/or viruses and bad bacteria.

My first strategy in figuring out why I feel icky is to eliminate the most common inflammatory foods: dairy, gluten (wheat), nuts, soy, and eggs. Most likely one of these foods is your trigger. Food elimination will take time, but it’s worth it when you figure it out.

Disclosure

*Please note, I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to be. I share information I have either experienced myself or am extremely interested in, and then I keep things simple and give you the nutshell version. Please consult your physician before jumping into new things.

Just so you know, it takes about three weeks for cow’s milk protein to vacate your system. For wheat, it takes two weeks to feel a bit better, but around three months for it to be out of your system. For soy and eggs, it’s two weeks. Here’s a good post from All Ways Well on how to go about it. Keep it simple, your body will love you, and you’ll help it heal!

#5 Budget: 6 ways to save on meals

1 – Join store membership

One of the ways I save money on meals is to join the store membership. In fact, one of my stores kicks back $7.00 after I reach a certain goal. They also have online coupons. Not to mention member-only specials! And you can even shop and scan with the app. They might know what you buy, but they’ll also send you coupons to match your shopping list.

2 – Buy what’s in season

Another way I save is to adjust my menu with what is growing in season. For squash dishes, I delay until fall and early winter. Strawberry pie is good in March. Here is a quick guide to knowing what fruits and veggies are in season so you know when you’re getting the best deal on them. Download my In-Season guide now.

3 – Go to different stores

A third trick is to go to different stores to get the best price. For instance, the coconut milk ice cream I buy isn’t on sale at my normal store, but it is on sale at my secondary store. This may be a lot of running around, so you’ll have to make the call whether it’s worth the gas, but I find this technique helpful. I have about five go-to stores to get the best deals. But how do you remember where you got what? You can download the Where I Buy Memory Guide from Freebies and tuck it in your planner or handbag.

4 – Buy store brand

Buy store brand. There is not much difference in taste and quality from name-brand goods to store brands. Simply look for the store brand and compare prices. You can even keep track at how much you save!

5 – Watch the ingredients

Watch the ingredients! Yes, you can save money by reading the nutrition label. How? Some food manufacturers use ingredients that are addictive, like High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and MSG…not to mention salt and just plain sugar. When you eat more, you buy more of it! Steer clear of HFCS and MSG. I know they’re tasty but they don’t do you any favors from a wallet and health perspective.

simple finance journal
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6 – Don’t skimp the protein

Don’t skimp on the protein. Sure some proteins can be expensive, but so are second helpings and snacking! When our bodies don’t get protein we are hungry all the time, which can lead to overeating, weight gain, and crankiness…yes, carbs do that. Make a point to eat some kind of protein at every meal. To save even more money, buy protein in bulk at a membership store like Costco or Sam’s. Be sure to look at the price per unit to make the best decision.

Sources of protein include nuts, dairy (unless you’re sensitive), seeds, chicken, fish, pork, beef, turkey, tempeh (soy), quinoa, broccoli, and lentils.

In conclusion

When it comes to meals, use your head not your stomach. My five criteria get the job done for me. I go for taste, health, speed, digestion, and budget. My hope is that you found some new ideas to test out. As an added bonus, here is a 5-day menu plan based on all my criteria. Enjoy!

Before you go, check out these awesome posts:

7 Surefire Ways to Save Money Grocery Shopping

How to Help Money Problems: 9 Must-Do Steps!

How to have a happy family: 3 Revolutionary Steps

Stay Connected

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

6 Simple Ways to Save Money on Valentine’s Day

6 Simple Ways to Save Money on Valentine’s Day

Let’s save money on Valentine’s Day this year. You’ll get my 6 simple ways to save money on Valentine’s Day along with a little history about February 14th. Explore my simple and inexpensive gift ideas for you, your family, and your friend; but first I gotta tell you what I learned about this ‘loving’ holiday, it certainly surprised me!

6 simple ways to save money on valentine's day

Valentine’s Day originated from a Roman festival. It had nice intentions of celebrating the coming Spring. Because as we know, with Spring comes rebirth. The Romans capitalized on this season and promoted fertility at this time. Side note; if you have a November birthday, your parents probably practiced the Roman tradition. LOL! Anyway, what I didn’t expect was a dark side to this ‘lovers’ holiday.

The Dark side of Valentine’s Day

This Roman festival included, what sounds like, arranged marriages by a lottery. Say what? All I can picture is taking a ticket at the meat counter and waiting for someone to call my name and hope and pray I was attracted to him. This does not sound very romantic, but they did it!

And according to legend, there was a priest whose name was Valentine. The story isn’t clear of whether the priest secretly married people behind the emperor’s back to spare men from war, or if the priest signed a letter to a jailer’s daughter “from your Valentine” which created havoc. Either way, the emperor, Caludius II Gothicus, martyred him! Yes murdered the guy named Valentine.

As for cupid, he represents the Roman god of love. Are you as confused as I am? This holiday is messed up, murder, love, lottery, and a naked baby with a bow n arrow. The Romans back then had some mental issues.

What We’re Spending

I get it that we’re celebrating this guy, Valentine, but “Be My Valentine” or “Will you be my Valentine?” sounds weird to me now that I understand the back story. Frankly put, these days, retailers use the holiday to get more business. In 2019 53% of all Americans spent a grand total of $30 billion. Heart-shaped candies and decadent chocolates get me all the time, but I spend maybe $25- $50 on Valentine’s Day, that’s including dinner. However, the average person spends about $225 on one person. There is nothing wrong with that. Your significant other’s love language may be ‘gifts’. But if you’re on a tight budget there are other ways to go about showing your love.

Save Money on Valentine’s Day with Simple Ideas

Valentine gift ideas under $25

The Card

The average cost of a Valentine’s card is $4.99. That can add up with kids and even pets. Yes, they have cards for pets. Three kids alone plus a dog could cost $20. Ouch. Here’s a different idea, back in the day, my husband and I were strapped for money, and so instead of buying each other a card, we took a picture of the card in the store then shared the pictures with each other. I know that sounds lame, but it was actually quite fun. There are many benefits to this: it’s inexpensive, saves the environment, and you can keep it on your phone forever! In fact, if you found more than one perfect card, you can take a picture of that one too!

As for kids, homemade Valentine’s are the best. Any kind of gift made with our very hands means so much more than something you buy. You can Google a joke or cute saying and incorporate that into a homemade card.

The Gifts

Unless it’s your birthday on Valentine’s Day, big gifts are out, at least in our home. Money doesn’t buy love. Time does. Time with your spouse, friend, kids, and pets says a lot more than the latest video game. What are they going to remember more? The gift and who got it for them? Or will they remember the memory of playing Battleship and Clue and the epic popcorn-launch-in-your-mouth game? Actually, the Game of Clue might be appropriate for Valentine’s Day…remember Roman times? Here’s my skinny on gifts and what we do in my family. Candy.

The Candy

Candy is instant, enjoyable for everyone, and easy. Get whatever is their favorite sugar bomb. I know it’s not the healthiest, but skip dessert and have the candy instead…don’t forget portion control. My son loves those Sweetart Hearts, my husband is all about Nerds, and me, well, my hands-down favorite of all favorites is See’s Candies. Seriously, these are the best chocolates I’ve ever had. AND they are gluten-free! If you don’t have a retailer near you, you can order online, believe me, it’s worth it. They are SO good!

The Flowers

If candy isn’t your thing, flowers do make a great gift. Here’s the kicker. Keep the flowers simple. They don’t have to be red roses. The jester is what counts. Recently, my husband stumbled upon white roses at Trader Joe’s. He got a dozen for like $7.00. Can’t beat that, and they lasted a long time. They were beautiful. Thank you Trader Joe’s! The other option with flowers is to go for the carnations. They are a simple flower that comes in a variety of colors. A large bouquet is about half the price of a dozen roses (roses not from Trader Joe’s). I personally like to mix carnations and roses together like in this picture.

The Touch

Besides the gift of time, sweet treats, and flowers, touch is just as important if not more. Touch is another language of love. It’s definitely my husband’s. Intimate time with your spouse or boyfriend is probably all they want for Valentine’s Day. Stop spending your money on other things, just give him some lovin’. As for kids, snuggles or tickle-attacks while watching “Be My Valentine Charlie Brown” serve the best of both worlds for child and mom/dad. Feel goods with hugs and laughs with tickles are a joy to the heart.

Click for details.

Save money on Valentine’s Day dinner

Let’s talk about dinner. If it’s just your spouse/friend with you, you’ll spend an average of $50 at a restaurant. And don’t forget to tip! Oh, did I mention the babysitter? As for time, Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest nights at restaurants. You may have to wait for a table. I didn’t even mention traffic or weather. A different option is to have a candlelight dinner at home. This saves time and a great way to save money on Valentine’s Day. I know it may sound boring, but that’s up to you. Dress up, get some music playing, and have your kids wait on you and play restaurant at the same time. It’s something different to try this year. At the grocery, you’ll spend at least half of the amount on a meal than at the restaurant. Get some steak, salad, and garlic bread. Start up the grill and “By the Power of Grayskull, I HAVE THE POWER!” Yes, I have dated myself with He-Man. Dinner at home can be fun for everyone!  

Final Tips for a Great Valentine’s Day

Lastly, decorating with construction paper hearts tapped on the sliding glass door gets everyone in a loving mood. This is an easy way to save money on Valentine’s Day. You don’t need to go all out with decorations. Keep it simple. It’s a gentle reminder that Valentine’s Day should be fun and not filled with a martyr. Now, don’t forget the chocolate! For more ways to manage money, be sure to check out my post on money here!

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By Christy Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved. 

7 Surefire Ways to Save Money Grocery Shopping

7 Surefire Ways to Save Money Grocery Shopping

Save money on grocery shopping every time you shop. Let’s get to be better shoppers so when inflation hits we’re not going hungry. I’ve got seven surefire ways that will help you to know how to grocery shop and save money. It’s not just coupon clipping anymore. You’ll be amazed at how much you save by making these simple adjustments. Let’s jump right in.

7 ways to save on food

1 – Join store membership

One of the ways I save money on meals is to join the store membership. One of my stores kicks back $7.00 after I reach a certain goal. They also have online coupons. Not to mention member-only specials! And you can even shop and scan with the app. These memberships offered at your store may know your buying habits, but you’ll save money using them.

2 – Buy what’s in season

Another way I save is to adjust my menu with what is growing in season. For squash dishes, I delay until fall and early winter. Strawberry pie is a March and April thing. There are lots of options. Big shout-out to farmers to make this all happen. Thank you farmers! Here is a quick guide to knowing what fruits and veggies are in season so you know when you’re getting the best deal on them. Download my In-Season guide now.

3 – Go to different stores

A third trick is to go to different stores to get the best price. For instance, the coconut milk ice cream I buy isn’t on sale at my normal store, but it is on sale at my secondary store. This may be a lot of running around, so you’ll have to make the call whether it’s worth the gas, but I find this technique helpful. I have about five go-to stores to get the best deals. But how do you remember where you got what? You can download Where I Buy Memory Guide and tuck it in your planner or handbag. Now you’ll never have to remember where you got what again!

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4 – Buy store brand

Buy store brand. There is not much difference in taste and quality from name-brand goods to store brands. Plus you can save a substantial amount of money. Next time you’re at the store see for yourself and compare brand name prices with store brand.

5 – Watch the ingredients

Watch the ingredients! Yes, you can save money by reading the nutrition label. How? Some food manufacturers use ingredients that are addictive, like High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and MSG…not to mention salt and just plain sugar. When you eat more, you buy more of it! Steer clear of HFCS and MSG they could be triggers for your indigestion. I know they’re tasty but they don’t do you any favors from a wallet and health perspective.

IBD help

6 – Don’t skimp the protein

Don’t skimp on the protein. Sure some proteins can be expensive, but so are second helpings and snacking! When our bodies don’t get the protein we’re then hungry all the time, which can lead to overeating, weight gain, and crankiness…yes, carbs do that. Make a point to eat some protein at every meal. To save even more money, buy protein in bulk at a membership store like Costco or Sam’s. Be sure to look at the price per unit to make the best decision.

Sources of protein include nuts, dairy (unless you’re sensitive), seeds, chicken, fish, pork, beef, turkey, tempeh (soy), quinoa, broccoli, and lentils.

7 – Forget the delivery shopping

I know this is a luxury, but it’s not necessary to survive. Prices using this service go up at least 10% per item. Then you have the annual dues, not to mention the tip for the shopper. And, yes, you need to tip your shopper or your delivery person. When you go to the store yourself stick to your grocery list, with no exceptions. Eat a snack before you leave home or work so you’re not hungry while you shop. Going to the store yourself will allow you to check the freshness of produce and meat, plus it will give you a chance to choose healthier options, read labels, and discover new products; not to mention, to get out and interact with your local grocery store.

In conclusion

When it comes to knowing how to save money grocery shopping, use your head, not your stomach. Know ahead of time how much you have to spend. Understand what meals you need to cover in the week ahead. Study the grocery store deals. You can save money grocery shopping by making just a couple of simple adjustments.

Check out these other great posts on how to save and manage money:

How to Manage Money Better

How to Help Money Problems: 9 Must-do Steps

Stay Connected

By CT Copyright © 2022 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

How to be Smart and How to Teach Your Child

How to be Smart and How to Teach Your Child

Some people are born smart, others learn how to be smart. Being smart isn’t an amazing test score, that just says you can take a test. Being smart is how to navigate through this world with the intent of making it a better place. We are reminded of stories of people who become self-made millionaires with only a high school diploma. How to be smart has nothing to do with your GPA. But it does have to do with skill and navigation, not to mention aligning your passion with your work. So how do we learn this and how do we teach our young children?

How to be smart

A skill every child and adult can develop is how to learn to be aware of their surroundings. We are naturally born with instinct; however, if you really want to succeed in life, you must learn how to pay attention. With phones, electronics, and puberty, learning how to pay attention is hard for a kid. It’s also frustrating for a parent!

This life lesson of being aware of our surroundings can enhance our ability to succeed in communication, life skills, and survival in many different situations. I’ll teach you how to help your child and yourself become more aware of using your eyes and ears and how sight and sound play an important part in how to be smart.

A fun way to get started

CTFishon

“Shh…walk softly on the dock, we don’t want to scare the fish,” my dad instructed. It was a summer morning. The lake was like glass, not a movement of the wind. Today, at seven years old, I was going to learn how to fish. And the most important fish skill of all: awareness. Some fishermen would argue with me and say patience or the type of bait is more important, but truly it comes down to paying attention. For instance; how do you know what bait to use? How do you know where to fish? Because you are aware of how the fish responds.

We got into our boat, started the motor, and trolled to our fishing spot. My dad whispered instructions on how to bait the hook. He showed me how to adjust the bobber, and he demonstrated how to be quiet watching for signs of a hungry fish.

I wasn’t just learning how to fish; I was learning how to become more aware of my surroundings.

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What exactly does it mean to “be aware”?

Wikipedia explains it like this: Awareness is the ability to directly know and perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns.

As the world drives to go faster, it’s hard to take it all in, but knowing what to look for can make you a heck of a lot smarter than others around you. The trap we get ourselves into is that we get so focused on our to-do lists, phones, and work that we forget to stop and look around to see what’s happening in our relationships, our children, and our overall path in life. And we wonder why nothing is changing.

There were two major events that helped me understand how important it was to be aware of my surroundings. One was fishing. The other was when I endured a rare sickness.

How being sick helped me

How to be smart doesn’t always come naturally; it is a skill that can be learned. When I was pregnant with my son I happened to have a rare pregnancy disease that robbed me of energy, joy, and time. My body suffered, so much so, the tiniest movements made me vomit. For months on end, I was nauseous, weak, and dumbfounded that this was happening to me. Not only that, but my body was snatched of nutrients and vitamins that my body was actually eating itself. Have you ever heard of muscle wasting? That’s when your body eats itself because you’re not getting enough nutrition from food…in which food wasn’t staying down. It was extremely difficult for others to understand what I was going through, especially if they had been pregnant before without having issues. Just remember everybody is not the same.

However, this is how my sickness helped me. While going through this torturing sickness I noticed the love and compassion of others. Never had I paid attention to it before because I wasn’t the receiver of it. My awareness of how powerful a card was, how impactful a visit was, how humbling a listening ear was, and how a small smile from a stranger made me feel gave me joy, it gave me hope, and it taught me what really matters in this world.

Not only that, but I also became more aware of the power and reality of spiritual presence. My faith grew stronger every day I suffered; I became more aware of His grace and protection. But I had to seek Him to get it. If I hadn’t endured this suffering my eyes would have missed these little gems of light in our broken world.

How to be smart with your eyes and ears

Open your eyes

You probably were thinking you’d get a list of sudoku puzzles or crosswords puzzles to make you smarter, yes those games will exercise your brain, but they don’t teach you how to love or sense that others around you are dying for a “hello”. With that said, open your eyes and learn how to look for things.

find on Amazon

The simple exercise helps us to pay attention to even the smallest details. Do you know those “Hidden Picture” games in kid magazines? Or the Where’s Waldo books? These games are great exercises for enhancing our skills of paying attention. I would qualify myself as a Master Finder, not only in these games but in finding things around the house and in the store. Having the challenge to find something gets me going. This may sound silly and childish, but these games work at helping you become smarter.

Find on Amazon

Lately, my tween son is in that phase of asking me where everything is. My answer varies from, “It’s your responsibility to keep track of your own stuff” to “If you can’t find it, you can’t have it.” When in fact the item he is looking for is literally right in front of his face. I’m not trying to be mean by not helping him find it, I’m trying to teach him the skill of looking, to be aware. He obviously needs to brush up on this skill.

How to be smart at finding things

Tip #1: when finding certain objects whether it be inside or outside is to look for a piece of the object, not just the whole thing. Rarely is the entire object going to be visible? Look for a part of it. This technique works for fishing and hunting too.

Tip #2: envision yourself finding it. What reaction will you have? Will you pause and whisper to yourself that you found it or will you yell in excitement? Visualize yourself finding the object.

Tip #3: Lastly, but firstly, pray to God in helping you find whatever it is that you’re looking for. He knows exactly where it is, why not ask him to help you find it. Most importantly, listen for his ques and hints of where to look.

Seriously these tips work. And it not only applies to finding objects, but it helps you to know how to look for things or pick up on cues of others. It’s all in the details.

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Use your ears

Like using your eyes, use your ears too. Ears come in handy when it’s dark or when you’re lost in the woods. I know this is obvious and basic, but life is fast and there are some things we just plain forget to tell our children. Have you heard the lesson about listening for the road when you’re lost in the woods? How about listening for a car coming when you’re riding your bike on the road?

When talking with others, listening is key in becoming smarter. In fact, if you shut your mouth and let the other person talk, you’re already smart. People who talk a lot generally have lower self-esteem. Just know that gives you an understanding and a direction in how to navigate the conversation. While you’re listening to others talk, ask them questions, be curious, they obviously need something, and having you listen to them is just what they might need. This, folks, is smart. Help your friend get out what they need to and help them come to their own conclusion in solving their problem.

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”

― Roy T. Bennett

Tips with listening

Tip #1: If you’re in a strange place, unplug the earbuds. Pay attention to the sounds around you.

Tip #2: If you’re having a conversation with someone, listen to what they’re trying to tell you. There is more behind the words they say. Like when I was enduring the sickness. People understood that what I was really telling them was that I felt alone and needed comfort. Be aware of what they’re really trying to say, then act on it.

Tip #3: As in fishing or hunting, use your ears for clues of where they are. Is there a splash in the water? Are there leaves rustling or twigs snapping?

In conclusion

Be aware of the peace that is offered daily by nature, the kindness that is freely given by others, and the small blessings that are awarded without reason. This, my friends, is how to be smart. I encourage you to stop and look around; for I know you’ll be amazed by what you see and find and to build this skill as much as possible, for it will help you in more ways than one.

By CT Copyright © 2016 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

Teaching Generations How to Work Hard – 4 Tips

Teaching Generations How to Work Hard – 4 Tips

There have been recent conversations in our home about what it means to ‘work hard’. Different generations have different definitions, I get that, but I think we can all agree that hard work takes four things: integrity, sweat, humility, and sacrifice

When I put an image to ‘working hard’ I picture the Brawny Man in the red flannel shirt with sleeves rolled up. Or I picture Pa from Little House on the Prairie; again he had his sleeves rolled up. Why do I associate rolled sleeves as hard work? It seems I’m not the only one. According to the Cambridge Dictionary to roll-up-your-sleeves signifies a person is ready to work.

Are your kids missing out?

When I was a teen I was taught to work first, then play. I also was taught that having a job was important and that you had to work for what you wanted. There has been a lot of chatter about Millennials (people born between 1982 – 2004) not knowing how to work hard. This disturbs me. For one, I’ve met many millennials that have two jobs and living on their own. They’re hard workers, they’re happier, and they’re confident.

Working hard gives me pleasure. I feel good about myself and I love the feeling of accomplishing something. At the end of the day, I can say with a smile on my face, “I put in a hard day’s work!” But are some Millennials missing out on this natural high?

In a study by Vanderbilt scientists, they discovered that people who were willing to work hard had higher dopamine levels than those who were not keen on the idea. Remember dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy and good. In other words…a University of Connecticut researcher, John Salamone states, “Low levels of dopamine make people…less likely to work for things. So this work-hard-bit has to do with your brain.

Teach how to work hard

Here are four tips to weave into the lesson of how to work hard:

  1. Make realistic attainable goals.
    • This is a small example; my young son was shooting hoops. He wants to be a great basketball player, so I said he couldn’t come in for dinner until he made 5 shots in a row from where he was standing. I gave him a realistic goal, one that challenged him, and one that would give him great pleasure. So what happened when he made his goal? He jumped up and down and cheered! Need a little help in making goals? Check out my free printable in Freebies.
  2. Focus on your dreams. What drives you?
    • If you want it bad enough, you’ll naturally work hard to get it. How bad do you want “it”? That diploma, that promotion, that certification, that house, that small business, that weight loss?
  3. Exercise and eat healthy foods.
    • This one has to be one of the easiest ways to get motivated to work hard. If you feel good, you’ll be more confident, make better decisions, be more alert, and be more creative…and probably make more money. Here’s a post I wrote on weight-loss and how to get started.
  4. Integrity.
    • By simply having strong moral principles, being honest, knowing what is right from wrong, and following through with commitments will help you. It’s hard work to have integrity, but when you do the right thing you again trigger the dopamine.

Step by Step Guide
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Let’s hold each other accountable to use our gifts, abilities, and morals to work hard, to make a difference, to be driven, and to be part of the big picture. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to roll-up your sleeves.

By CT Copyright © 2017 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

5 Valuable Ways to Manage Mental Health in Youth

5 Valuable Ways to Manage Mental Health in Youth

Mental health is just like taking care of our physical health. It’s not a bad word, it’s not “crazy”, and it isn’t something to take lightly. How to manage mental health is a daily exercise, just like going for a walk or drinking water for our bodies. How to manage mental health in youth is a whole nother ballgame. I’ve got five valuable ways you’re going to want to check out to know how to help manage mental health in your teen or child.

manage mental health in youth peace sign

Children are resilient, you think?

As parents, we are told to feed our children a variety of foods, to get enough sleep, and to exercise. We want them to learn how to read, do chores, and know how to share toys. But what about their mental health? No one told me as a parent to teach my child how to deal with stress, depression, or low self-esteem; we were told children are resilient. Yet, are children really resilient?

In some instances, yes we all are resilient. But with traumatic events that cause deep wounds, resilience isn’t going to work. From a loss of a friend, a major illness or injury, physical or verbal abuse, or embarrassing events, some experiences or words, for that matter, will stick with them and affect their psyche. Heck, it happens to us parents! No one wants to be depressed, let alone their child or teenager. But how do we help them know how to manage mental health?

There are many things we can try at home before jumping to a therapist and prescriptions. **Please know I am NOT a professional counselor, nor am I trying to be. I share information I have either experienced myself or are extremely interested in. I like to keep things simple. This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician before jumping into new things.**

How to manage mental health in youth: the first steps

For young children knowing how to manage mental health starts with them watching you do things. They aren’t going to naturally know how to manage depression, they need you to encourage them, to show them, and walk alongside them.

My parents were big outdoor people. My mom gardened and my dad worked in the yard; we were outside doing projects and playing all the time. I learned at a young age how to develop a relationship with nature. It was not until later in life I realized how important that relationship was going to be. Nature is my #1 go-to because that’s what my parents did. For instance, gardening is essential for my mental health. There is something about putting your hands in dirt that helps reduce stress. I learned this from my mom.

Martin Luther King Jr. quote walking
More inspirational quotes here

It’s not too late for your teen

What if you didn’t have the chance to show your young child how to process foul events? You can help them now. It’s not too late to walk alongside your teenager who might be going through a rough patch. Your teenager needs you more than they did as a toddler. As you know, parents helping teenagers is a delicate balance. Let’s face it, there is only so much a parent can do before your teen gets annoyed.

Forcing them to talk isn’t going to work. But being a non-judgemental friend is going to help. Start by confiding in them. Tell them you’re dealing with something and you’re going to go for a hike or head to the beach. Tell them you need them to come with you, to hang. As much as they refuse, the more they need to come. Show them how you manage mental health. Personally, I garden, walk outside, pray, journal, talk to a trustworthy friend, memorize Bible scripture, and listen to instrumental music. My son knows this because he sees me do it. Comforting hurting people is essential to their mental state, it also helps you too! Here are 6 Easy Ways to Comfort Hurting People. You may find some good stuff there.

The brain

Get a load of this. National Geographic wrote, “Nature provides us essentials like clean water, food, medicines, even recreational retreats… it also helps regulate our weather and climate. But these systems are extremely fragile…we know that once they are gone, there are no replacements.” We didn’t need National Geographic to tell us this about nature. However, isn’t that statement similar to our mental health? Our brains need clean water, good food, and recreational escapes to help normalize our well-being. If we don’t get these things, our minds, too, are fragile and will break.

how to build self esteem
Read the post now.

What’s next?

Probably the biggest step in helping ourselves and our children with mental health management is to digest that we have something going on. Upon discovery, many may experience anger at first, but others will feel relief that they finally figured a piece of the puzzle out. Does that make sense? All in all, when we can embrace it and understand it, we’ll have a better chance of managing it and living that amazing life we always envisioned.

5 valuable ways to help manage mental health in youth

Here are some creative ways to help you and your family manage our mental well-being at home in a natural way. Be sure to check out my post on How to Have a Happy Family: 3 Revolutionary Steps and How to Reduce Stress in Your Life: 10 Breakthrough Tips, these posts have some great information in them.

1. Get outside

Remember that relationship with nature I started talking about? The National Academy of Sciences performed a study that shows a simple 90-minute walk in nature {a place with trees} decreases negative thinking about oneself. Taking a walk in an urban area like a city or industrial park has zero effect. This study reveals that there is a “…pathway by which nature experiences may improve mental well-being and suggests that accessible natural areas within urban contexts may be a critical resource for mental health…”

We may not have 90 minutes to take a walk but I’m sure we can do 20 minutes. The University of Minnesota says there’s “a growing prevalence of depression caused by ‘nature deprivation,” which is largely due to screen time… Push your kids outside. Yes, even your teenagers. Go with them. Just last night my son and I went outside and played with our dog.

More nature quotes & the power of the outdoors

Other outside activities for teens and kids

As for other ideas with your teen, start an outside sport together like tennis, pickleball, or throwing the baseball around. Do a project together outside, like a garden, build a hunting blind, do yard work, or have a campfire. Don’t have a yard? Head to the park. Go for a walk. Take up fishing together. My personal favorite is gathering the family together (all ages) and doing The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt Challenge. This is so incredibly fun and inexpensive. You can download the instructions in my Freebies.

Buy on Amazon.

For little kids, show them how to build a fort, climb trees, make an obstacle course, look for birds or pretty flowers, or play in the snow. When my son was little I liked to grab a camera (a camera separate from a phone) and ask for certain pictures to be taken, for instance, anything that is yellow, rocks, funny-looking sticks, things like that. My son absolutely loved it!

Plant trees or volunteer in a park or nature event. If nature goes away; so will our sanity.

2. Do something kind for the body.

Our bodies take most of the brunt of stress. So instead of cursing your body, bless it! As much as my body and mind are not getting along, I’m still kind to it. When you feel good, you are kinder to yourself and others around you. Do you need to go for a run, have a yoga session, a massage, hot bath, or a cup of tea on the couch? Do something that makes you feel better that is good and pure. This teaches our kids how to comfort themselves when pampering is needed and you are not around.

As for your teenager, you can encourage them by getting them a simple gift that brings comfort, you can get some comfort gift ideas here. And don’t forget the power of prayer. Simply giving it all to our Heavenly Father to sort out, gives us natural peace. I also encourage prayer for protection over the Enemy. Body, mind, and spirit are all connected and affect each other.

John 14:27
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3. Eat foods for your brain

Food matters! Your brain needs fats, the good fats. And getting the clean kind in your body helps your body and brain fight off free radicals…those are the guys that destroy the good stuff. Here is a post about Omega Oils that will help you out. And don’t forget the avocados. I’ve got a great recipe here.

Your brain also needs to be hydrated. Drinking more water really does help with mood and clarity. There are many benefits to water. Stick with filtered water, there is no need to add sweetener or bubbles, your body knows what to do with plain water.

4. Journal

I know this sounds like old news, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Journaling works. When our thoughts are written down on paper, more so than typed, it’s like you’ve given yourself permission to let the hurt get out of you. Encourage your teen to write about their journey. Journaling is a great exercise to help express emotions yet feel like they have privacy. When asked the right journaling questions, there can be a lot of healing. Plus it’s fun to shop for their very own journal.

teen planner
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5. Head to a hobby

A hobby can do loads for mental health. It keeps your hands busy and your mind focused on being creative…and being you! Here’s a post on hobbies with a list of different ones to try. It’s time to get creative and feel the goodness enter your heart.

Anger Management 101

I could end on that, but it’s important to reiterate that a ‘lack of understanding’ usually gets us upset in the first place. Why? Because we don’t understand! That’s why fights happen and judgments lash. We don’t know why people act the way they do, because we don’t live in their shoes. For all we know, they could be sick, have a chronic illness, be abused, have social issues, or be on drugs. And when we don’t know how to manage those things, a mess of emotions implodes and then explodes on others.

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When we have anger about something, we usually want to do something about it. I’m not talking about anger towards a person when you want to lash out at them for saying something stupid, that’s a different post. The anger I’m referring to is about how we react to either ourselves or a cause that affects other people. Some call it anger, others call it passion. You can take it a step further and call it uniqueness. There is this great book by Matthew Barnett, “The Cause Within You”. I highly recommend this book to not only inspire your own life but to motivate how to help others. Super good! And your teen would probably love it.

Moving forward

I’d have to say the majority of people try to ignore their mental state or try to numb it with something else like drugs, alcohol, shopping, or eating. You don’t need me to say those things just lead to other issues. You can also look at these things as signs that your teen is going through a tough season.

If you have tried some natural ways to manage mental health and it’s just not helping, another route to managing our mindfulness would to find a therapist, a Christ-follower if I might add. The only true healer and protector is Jesus. Your church would know of someone, or you can ask some friends. Be sure you straight-up ask them if they know Jesus, if they hesitate with their answer, walk out and find a new one. For more ideas, this post from Mental Health America is a good one!

Just so you know, I’m happy to pray for you and/or your teen. Simply contact me with your prayer request.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly All Rights Reserved.

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