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7 Ways to Stop Being So Clumsy

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You knock over a glass of wine. You tumble trying to put on leggings. You trip up the stairs. Sound familiar? You probably have a clumsy streak. (Jennifer Lawrence, we’re looking at you.) But the good news is you don’t have to resign yourself to a life full of of bruises and stains.

Clumsiness is related to a few different factors, including your reaction time, processing speed, and level of concentration, explains Charles “Buz” Swanik, PhD, director of biomechanics and movement science at the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences. When life gets in the way of those functions—think too little sleep and too much stress, for starters—it can throw you off balance, literally. 

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to make yourself less prone to mishaps: “We have enough evidence within psychology, neuroscience, and biomechanics research to know that people can definitely make changes and prevent accidents before they happen,” Swanik says. Below, he suggests seven ways control your inner klutz.

Know when to take a breather

A little bit of stress can be a good thing, Swanik says. “It does help you concentrate, and focus, and increase your situational awareness.” But excessive amounts of stress can slow down your processing, and even affect your peripheral vision. “You don’t know where to look, or what to attend to that may be unsafe,” he says. “You may over-focus on whatever is stressing you out and avoid seeing potential danger.”

The catch-22? Your favorite way to clear your mind may actually set you up for an accident, Swanik says. If you de-stress by going for a run, for example, consider doing a few minutes of meditation or deep breathing first—so by the time you hit the pavement you're more alert, and don't risk getting hurt.

"It's funny, because the tradition is to get athletes all psyched up before a big game, but that's actually probably the last thing we should be doing," Swanik says. "We should be trying to keep them calm and anxiety-free. They probably would think much better and be smarter on their feet."

RELATED: 19 Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Train your brain

Swanik's research has suggested that people with not-so-great memories, and slower reaction times and processing speeds tend to have more coordination problems than folks with more efficient cognitive functioning. Fortunately, there are apps for that: Swanik recommends doing a Google or app search for "brain games." You'll find many options designed to improve memory and reaction time, he says. "[These apps] can help people foster some change."

Build up your core

Several studies on collegiate athletes have found that having less core control may increase the risk of lower extremity strains and sprains, says Swanik. And research on older adults suggests core strength can help prevent injuries: “When you put senior citizens on a core strengthening program, they usually have fewer falls," he says. "Your core is the center of everything." Try adding plank variations and moves like superman and bird-dog to your regular exercise routine.

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Think ahead

“YouTube is full of videos of people who have really not weighed the consequences and the risks of a situation before attempting to do something,” Swanik says. “Thinking ahead about what’s about to happen next, as basic as it sounds, is probably the best advice we can give people.”

That’s because accidents happen fast. Like, really fast. “We probably only have a quarter or a tenth of a second where a person makes a mental mistake and has some kind of injury,” he explains.

If you're feeling especially clumsy, make an effort to be extra-aware of your actions: Standing up from your seat? Check to see if there's anything you might knock over on your way up. About to climb stairs in high heels? Slow your pace and watch your footing. “Even if it’s just crossing the street, you should be actively thinking, Is this a good time to send a text message?” Swanik says.

Monotask

Do one thing at a time, simple as that. "Once you start to multitask, you get into a more dynamic and complex environment," he explains, "and it’s increasingly difficult to be deliberate [over] any one thing that you’re doing."

RELATED: 7 Exercises to Fix Muscle Imbalances

Be patient when you're trying something new

You know those stories about amazing athletes who join a game of beach volleyball, or start fooling around on a skateboard, and end up blowing out an ankle or knee? Clumsiness is often the result of diving into a brand new activity too quickly, Swanik says. "From a motor control standpoint, if you plan to try something that requires a new set of skills, you really need to be extremely patient," he says. "Think of it as a novel environment, an unfamiliar situation where you need to really slow down and assess how your skills parallel whatever it is you're doing.”

Swanik has seen this in research on collegiate athletes who are starting a cross-training regimen. "Some athletes will be unable to negotiate the new task physically and mentally, and they have coordination problems, and boom, injury."

The takeaway: If you're a a die-hard runner about to hop on a spin bike for the first time, ease your way into the new workout, and recognize that the movements may not be what your body is used to.

Get more sleep

Though never easy, clocking more shut-eye is a no-brainer: “We know that even losing a few hours of sleep is almost like drinking alcohol," Swanik says. "The effects are so profound and fast and deleterious that I would really caution people to make sure they’re getting enough sleep to avoid any sort of accident, whether it’s just being groggy while sipping coffee and spilling it, or something much worse.”

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At Least 10 Pregnant Women in Dallas Have Zika Virus, Officials Say

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By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, June 23, 2016 (HealthDay News) — At least 10 pregnant women in the Dallas area have been infected with Zika, Texas officials confirmed Wednesday.

All of the women contracted the mosquito-borne virus while traveling abroad, Dallas Health and Human Services officials told CBS News.

In related news, the U.S. House on Thursday approved a $1.1 billion funding package to combat the Zika threat, the Associated Press reported.

The bill still needs to be approved by the U.S. Senate, and it remains to be seen if President Barack Obama will sign it. Obama originally asked Congress for $1.9 billion, and Democrats and the White House have voiced opposition to certain provisions of the package.

Even though there have been no local transmissions of Zika reported yet in the United States, the number of cases of infection among pregnant women keeps climbing.

As of June 9, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there are 234 cases of pregnant women on the U.S. mainland who have been infected with Zika, which typically involves relatively mild symptoms in most adults. However, it can cause devastating birth defects in babies that include microcephaly, where an infant is born with an abnormally small head and brain.

In Latin America, thousands of babies have already been born with microcephaly. And researchers reported Wednesday that fears over Zika-related birth defects may be driving up abortion rates in Latin American countries affected by the virus.

In Brazil and Ecuador—where governments have issued health warnings on the danger to the fetus from maternal Zika infection—requests for abortion in 2016 have doubled from 2010 rates, the researchers reported.

The other 17 Latin American countries covered by the new study had their rates rise by more than a third during that time, according to the report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers noted that because data on family planning in Latin America is often hard to come by, their numbers may underestimate the surge in abortions since Zika’s emergence.

“The World Health Organization predicts as many as 4 million Zika cases across the Americas over the next year, and the virus will inevitably spread to other countries,” noted study senior author Dr. Catherine Aiken, of the University of Cambridge in England.

But no nation has been more affected than Brazil. As a result of the Zika epidemic, almost 5,000 babies have been born with microcephaly there.

However, the CDC warned last Friday that infection rates are rising in Puerto Rico. Testing of blood donations in the U.S. territory—”our most accurate real-time leading indicator of Zika activity”—suggest that more and more people on the island have been infected, according to CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.

“The real importance of this information is that in coming months it’s possible that thousands of pregnant women in Puerto Rico could become infected with Zika,” Frieden stressed. “This could lead to dozens or hundreds of infants being born with microcephaly in the coming year,” he added.

“Controlling this mosquito is very difficult,” Frieden said. “It takes an entire community working together to protect a pregnant woman.”

Because the virus remains largely undetected, it will be months before affected babies begin to be born, Frieden said. Some will have microcephaly or other brain-related birth defects. But many will appear healthy and normal, and there’s no way to know how they might have been affected, he explained.

Zika is typically transmitted via the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. But, transmission of the virus through sex is more common than previously thought, World Health Organization officials have said.

Women of child-bearing age who live in an active Zika region should protect themselves from mosquitoes by wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using mosquito repellent when outside, and staying indoors as much as possible, according to the CDC.

More information

Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on the Zika virus.

This Q&A will tell you what you need to know about Zika.

To see the CDC list of sites where Zika virus is active and may pose a threat to pregnant women, click here.


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Sugary Drinks and 'Bad' Carbs May Increase Risk of These Types of Cancer

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By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 5, 2016 (HealthDay News) — People who consume a lot of processed carbohydrates—think snack foods and sweets—and sugary drinks may face heightened risks of breast and prostate cancers, a new study suggests.

Researchers said the study, reported Tuesday at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting in San Diego, does not prove that “bad” carbs cause cancer.

But given that breast and prostate cancers are two of the most common cancers in the United States, the connection gives more reason for people to cut processed foods from their diets, said lead researcher Nour Makarem.

“The carbohydrate quality of your diet matters for a number of reasons,” said Makarem, a Ph.D. candidate in nutrition at New York University.

In general, health experts already recommend limiting sugary drinks and processed carbohydrates, and eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, fiber-rich whole grains, and “good” unsaturated fats.

So the new findings—considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal—add more weight to that advice, Makarem said.

She pointed, in particular, to the link her team found between sugar-sweetened drinks (both soda and fruit juice) and prostate cancer risk. Compared with men who never drank sugary beverages, those who had them a few times a week showed more than triple the risk of developing prostate cancer.

And that was with other factors—including obesity, smoking, and other diet habits—taken into account, Makarem said.

Still, it is difficult to weed out the effects of particular diet habits on cancer risk, said Marji McCullough, strategic director of nutritional epidemiology for the American Cancer Society.

“Few dietary factors apart from alcohol and/or obesity have been consistently related to postmenopausal breast cancer and prostate cancer,” McCullough said.

The question of whether carbohydrate quality affects cancer risk—independent of obesity—is important, according to McCullough. But it’s also a “challenging” one to answer, she said.

The new findings are based on nearly 3,200 U.S. adults whose diet habits and cancer rates were tracked for more than 20 years. During that time, 565 people were diagnosed with cancer.

At first glance, higher carb intake was tied to a lower risk of breast cancer. But the picture changed when carb quality was considered, Makarem noted.

She said that women whose diets emphasized healthy carbs—vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and legumes—were 67 percent less likely to develop breast cancer, compared to women who favored refined carbs. Refined carbs include many baked goods, white bread and white potatoes.

When it came to prostate cancer risk, men who regularly drank sugary juices or soda were more than three times as likely to develop disease versus men who steered clear of those drinks, the findings showed.

That does not prove sweet drinks directly contribute to prostate cancer, Makarem acknowledged. Still, she said, many studies have implicated the beverages in the risks of obesity and type 2 diabetes—so there are other reasons to cut back.

“Plus,” Makarem said, “it’s an easy change to make in your diet.”

The American Beverage Association took issue with the findings.

“The authors of this study abstract acknowledge their findings do not show that beverages cause any disease,” the group said in a statement. “Moreover, the study was limited to one demographic group that is not reflective of the population of the United States.” (Most study participants were white.)

The beverage association also said that the American Cancer Society cites multiple potential risk factors for breast, prostate and colon cancer, so singling out diet is difficult. The group also said that because the study hasn’t been published in a peer-reviewed journal, “very few study details are available” and it’s therefore tough to draw firm conclusions.

Sugary drinks weren’t the only diet factor that mattered, though, according to the researchers. Prostate cancer risk was also heightened among men whose diets were generally high in “glycemic load”—which, Makarem said, basically means they ate a lot of refined carbs.

The study also implicated “processed lunch foods,” including pizza, deli meats, and burgers. Men who ate those foods four or more times a week were twice as likely to develop prostate cancer, compared to men who had them no more than once a week, the researchers found.

According to McCullough, it’s hard to know whether certain foods, per se, contribute to breast or prostate cancers—or whether, for example, it’s overall calorie intake and weight gain that are the true culprits.

But the bottom line, Makarem said, is that whole, “high-quality” foods are a generally healthier choice than processed ones.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more on diet and cancer risk.


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Lack of Sleep Could Be Doing This to Your Heart

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We’ve all pulled the occasional all-nighter without a second-thought about what might happen to our bodies in the process. Our friends at Shape Magazine share their findings about lack of sleep’s health consequences.

What do new moms, college students, paramedics, and ER docs all have in common (besides having to deal with puke on a regular basis)? They all routinely need to make it through the day on no or very little sleep. And while no one thinks pulling an all-nighter is good for your health, there’s actual evidence that it hurts your heart.

Getting less than three hours of sleep during a 24-hour period causes immediate heart problems, according to a new study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. Researchers looked at 20 healthy adults, testing their hearts before and after they worked a 24-hour shift during which they weren’t allowed to drink coffee, take caffeine, or eat anything that might have a stimulant effect, including nuts and chocolate (possibly the hardest 24 hours ever). After missing just one night of sleep, people’s hearts showed signs of increased strain, they had increased blood pressure, and their heart rates were elevated — all warning signs of cardiovascular problems. The researchers also found increased levels of thyroid hormones and cortisol, indicating high levels of stress, another known contributor to heart disease.

The results clearly showed that working when you should be sleeping takes a short-term toll on your heart, said study author Daniel Kuetting, M.D., of the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology at the University of Bonn in a press release. But, he added, more research needs to be done to see how long the negative effects last and how much sleep it takes to return to normal. It makes sense, however, that repeatedly skipping sleep would set you up for ongoing health problems, especially when done the way most people do it in the real world — with gallons of coffee, diet soda, or other stimulants, which make the heart work even harder.

Bottom line? When in doubt, sleep it out. And if your job (or kid) requires you to be up all night, try to do it as infrequently as possible and make sure you’re doing other things to keep your ticker in top shape, like exercising and eating a heart-healthy diet. (Try these Top 20 Best Foods For Your Heart!)

More from our friends at Shape Magazine:

15 Toppings and Ingredients That Boost Your Smoothie Bowl
Pulling Just 1 All-Nighter Might Have Some Serious Health Consequences
Workleisure: Activewear You Can Actually Wear to the Office

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I Refuse to Work Out, but I Do These 4 Things Instead

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I truly hate running. I’ve tried every fitness class my city offers — and living in one of the fittest cities in the country means I have a lot of options. And at-home workouts? The living room in my tiny San Francisco apartment is about as wide as my wingspan. I don’t work out, but I am still the healthiest and most fit I’ve been in my adult life.

I know that fitness means something different for everyone, and I am not saying that working out is something people shouldn’t be doing, either because they want to, because they need to, or both. But when it pertains to my own fitness regime, I can knock it, because I sure as hell have tried it all.

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Growing up, I was active and athletic. I participated in an array of sports — from basketball, track, dance, and gymnastics to swimming, diving, and horseback riding. I was also an active nanny for years, and anyone who has kids or works with them knows that keeping up with two toddlers is more work than running a marathon. I loved it all and never once thought of what I was doing as a workout or as something that I had to push myself to do. Then my focus shifted significantly. No longer was I a high schooler with time to spare and a metabolism the speed of light — I was a determined college student dedicated equally to my GPA and happy hour, and then I was a postgrad professional looking for a job. When was I supposed to be squeezing in a trip to the gym, especially considering the fact that getting myself there was like pulling teeth?

Still, I tried everything to stay healthy and in shape. I bought fitness videos and watched countless online workouts for people who hate working out, for people who live in small apartments, for people who don’t know body balls from barbells. I signed up for individual classes at yoga, barre, and cycling studios, experimented with different gyms, took boxing lessons, and even tried my hand at aerial silks (which were by far my favorite!). Still, nothing quite did it for me. I skipped classes, made excuses, and ultimately felt worse about myself because I simply couldn’t muster the motivation everyone around me seemingly had for fitness.

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What I realized about myself is this: I hate exercise that feels like effort. For me to get a good workout, the results need to be incidental, not intentional, which is why fitness activities that aren’t focused on the workout aspect, but more on the fun, appeal to me most. So I stopped working out. I implemented a few simple things into my daily routine — simple being the operative word here — and I have never felt healthier, more in shape, and happier since letting go of other people’s idea of what fitness should be and instead doing what really works best for me. Here’s how I did it.

I stay constantly active and on my feet.

I am never, ever idle. Seriously, it’s to the point where I risk running into people (and poles) daily because I read while walking through the city. I am constantly on the move, even at work. I get up and down several times an hour and take my laptop to places in the office that allow me to stand (standing desk is next on the list). On the weekends, I make sure to allow myself some downtime with Netflix or a good book, but I don’t waste beautiful, sunny California Saturdays sitting on the couch.

I walk everywhere I can.

I am lucky to live in a place where walking is not only possible but also very practical. I honestly think this is the key to staying in shape for me. I walk everywhere. I have a Fitbit, but my biggest thing about having one is to not let myself dwell on the nitpicky parts of the device. I don’t log every calorie I eat, and I don’t use it to lose weight. I just love challenging myself every day, and having it on my wrist reminds me to take the stairs instead of the escalator and to not waver at the sight of a San Francisco hill but conquer it so that I’m rewarded with an amazing view when I make it to the top. Just this weekend I caught up with my mom on the phone while walking the three miles from my house to Target (totally worth the trek!), then hopped on a bus on the way back home since I had bags. Two birds, one stone.

I eat healthy.

I have a very healthy diet. I eat what I think is probably most similar to a Paleo diet — but I don’t diet. I just try to stick to things that are natural, clean, and not overly prepared, like vegetables, fruits, fish, and meat. I also don’t overeat, mainly because I can’t stand feeling sickeningly full, so I am a huge proponent of multiple small meals throughout the day. It makes the workday go by faster when you get to snack on something every couple of hours, anyway! Sweets aren’t my thing, but I swear by a rare steak every now and then and a postwork glass of red wine. I avoid mixed alcoholic drinks because, to be honest, I can’t stand the sugar, and I drink my coffee black unless I opt for green tea instead.

I make fitness fun.

I’ve stopped pushing myself to go to classes and join a gym, but instead I save my energy for activities that I can get really excited about. I ski, I swim, I dance, and I ride horses any chance I can get. I’m planning my next biking trip across the Golden Gate Bridge, and my last hike took me on a five-hour adventure through a redwood forest in Northern California. I make fitness fun for myself, and in doing so, I’ve learned to love my version of a “workout” so much that I am more in shape than I’ve ever been in my adult life. I am climbing toward my 30s feeling incredibly fit, and what’s more, I’ve finally found a way to stay healthy without hating it.

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Created by Collective: Get the Party Started With Classic Holiday Cocktails

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Spike your hot chocolate for a rocking good time! — A Bubbly Life
Winter sangria will instantly add cheer to your holiday bash — TFDiaries
This apple cider is for adults only! — Belle Vie
Spice up your Champagne with a holiday spin — Whitney Bond
Red-wine-lovers will rejoice over this party punch — BetsyLife
How to make your Dirty Shirley a little more classy — A Cup Full of Sass
Unexpected fruits make for a festive holiday drink — Luci’s Morsels

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Here's How Much You Need to Exercise If You Sit at a Desk All Day, According to Science

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The perils of sitting all day aren’t good. Researchers have shown that remaining stationary for extended periods of time (like at your 9-to-5 desk job) can be detrimental to your health. While exercise is a big part of offsetting the harmful effects of sitting, it was unclear how many gym sessions were needed to help — until now.

A new study, published in The Lancet, shows the ideal formula for counteracting the negative effects of a sedentary job. Instead of a fixed number of hours spent exercising, the ratio depends on how much you sit: people who work a typical eight-hour day should spend at least one hour each day moving; if you sit six hours a day, you should spend half an hour exercising. The research also indicated that the exercise doesn’t have to be all at once — or rigorous. It can be spread throughout the day and be as simple as walking.

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The team behind the study analyzed data from a pool of a million adults over the age of 45 in Western Europe, the United States, and Australia. Using previous data, the researchers examined data from 16 published studies and used it to determine how much exercise is required to compensate for sitting. Their recommended daily exercise goal is higher than previous advice but not necessarily less attainable, given it can be completed throughout the day.

Fitting in an hour of exercise a day sounds especially daunting if you have a desk job, but there are plenty of workouts you can complete before and after work. Even if it means taking a 10-minute walk during lunch, your body will thank you in the long run.

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There's a Lump in My Armpit—Should I Be Worried?

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Q: There’s a painful lump in my armpit. What could it be?

Does it look red and inflamed or filled with pus? If so, it may just be an ingrown hair or infected follicle from shaving or using antiperspirant. Avoid shaving and applying product there, clean the area gently with soap in the shower, and apply warm compresses several times a day for a few days, and it should clear up.

RELATED: Viral Photo Is a Reminder That Lumps Aren’t the Only Breast Cancer Symptom to Look Out For

Another possibility: You have a lipoma, which is a knot of fatty tissue that commonly grows in places like the shoulders, neck, and armpits. While you can get them at any age, they mostly form in adults between 40 and 60. They’re almost always harmless and painless. However, one may cause pain if it lies on any nerves. If it bothers you, your doctor can remove it, typically by making a small incision and taking out the tissue.

Or you could have a swollen lymph node. Predominantly located in the neck, groin, and underarm areas, lymph nodes act as filters to trap “intruders” in your body (think germs and cancer cells). They can become painful and enlarged when you have an infection, like strep throat or mononucleosis. The swelling and discomfort usually go away when the infection does. Some women also have small amounts of breast tissue near the armpit, so if you notice soreness just before your period, it may be due to the same hormonal changes that cause period-related breast tenderness.

RELATED: You Found a Lump In Your Breast. Now What?

If the lump doesn’t disappear in a couple of weeks or gets bigger, or if the pain seems to worsen, it could be a cyst, a breast infection or (very rarely) a tumor. See your doctor to get it checked out.

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

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Not Really Feelin' Yourself? Here's How to Fix That

http://www.popsugar.com/fitness/How-Practice-Self-Love-42841304

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Last week I attended an inspiring fitness panel hosted by Nike and Lead Like Her, a platform of empowerment for creative and independent women. Among the panel were some familiar faces from the fitness world — coach and trainer Alyssa Chang, graphic designer and fitness influencer Mickey Roxas, and health coach, fitness blogger, and creative Joanne Encarnacion. These women broke down barriers with more than the typical, canned inspirational answers — they opened up about eating disorders, depression, and unhealthy relationships with weight and with themselves. It got REAL.

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Seeing these fabulous, successful, healthy women show their vulnerable sides was inspiring in and of itself. But, it also made me wonder how they push through those tougher times when they sense negative thoughts and feelings creeping back in — not just to keep appearances on social media, but for their sanity. So, naturally, I was not shy about asking.

Joanne answered so candidly, it was like she was waiting for this question to be asked. And her response made so much sense: in sum, we don’t get enough compliments, and as adults and powerful independent women, we don’t need to wait for those compliments — we can give them to ourselves!

“I always think about how I talk to my kids,” she told us. “I tell them every day, ‘you’re so beautiful,’ or ‘you’re so smart.’ So as children, we receive and are showered with these compliments and these affirmations all the time,” she said. But that stops happening as much when you’re an adult. So what does she do to balance it out, and ward off the potential onset of depression? She has five daily affirmations, and they change from day to day.

“We don’t compliment ourselves enough, and we are trained to not accept compliments,” she said. “I tell myself something every day, even if it’s small like ‘my muffin tops are extra cushy today!’ or ‘my hair looks fabulous right now!'”

Here are a few big ones that she relies on often:

I am a powerhouse, I am indestructible.
I am courageous.
I am at peace with all that is happened in my life, all that is happening, and will happen.
I am the designer of my life, I build its foundation and choose its contents.
I am blessed with an incredible family and amazing friends.

Hitting a rut? Not feeling strong? Affirm yourself. You don’t have to wait for a man, a boss, a family member, a friend, or ANYONE to tell you how amazing you are. It’s OK to be modest and humble, but that doesn’t mean you can’t love on yourself.

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