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02.02.23 | Sage Advice

National Self-Check Month: Checking Yourself Out

Oftentimes, we hear the stories behind what it feels like to lose someone, the whirlwind of emotions like pain, guilt, even the anger we associate with that loss. But what if the person lying on the table were you? Would you have second thoughts? Would you ask yourself, “What could ‘I’ have done better?” If so, then it may be time to start taking care of yourself more, and we’ll show you how.

Checking

Today we generally hear a lot about “self love” and taking the time to commit a piece of our lives to “self care.” What we don’t often hear about is the practice of Self-Checking. This is considered the umbrella term for self love and self care, just with more emphasis on physical awareness and wellbeing. 

Yourself

This means finding some time today to ask yourself important questions like, “Is there pain anywhere on my body?”, “How do I feel currently?”, and “Is there anything out of place?” (Hopefully it’s not an arm or a leg of course) Make sure to examine your body on a regular basis to ensure that you are healthy. Find your personal “normal” and if it at all looks different than the day before, you might need to make a visit to your personal physician. 

Your age, sex, family history, and lifestyle all have an impact on the self-checks you should be performing. Early detection of most cancers, heart problems, diabetes, and weight issues tend to be simpler to address and have better long-term outcomes when detected early. Many people don’t perform self checks because they think they don’t want to know if they’re sick, or believe that they are not at risk for disease. However, the earlier an issue is detected, the more likely a person is to get the treatment that can save their life.

Out

Consider the basic healthy lifestyle habits like, eating well, and getting regular exercise that will contribute immensely to your mind, body and soul. The 9 Vibrant Ways of Living will give you an outline to build these healthy habits.

Most people are familiar with the self-check for breast cancer, but self-checks don’t always mean a physical self-evaluation. Understanding your personal risks and knowing the warning signs that indicate you are not completely healthy are important. There are various cancers that you can be aware of to check for, as well as keeping an eye out for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other health issues that may run more deeply in your family than others. If you need help going through the self-check process, Selfchec is a great step-by-step guide to checking yourself out

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01.19.23 | Sage Advice

aRT Without the Capital “A”

Believe it or not, the little stick figure you managed to draw as a kid on is considered a masterpiece. Okay, maybe not a “masterpiece” per se, but definitely a piece of work you should be proud of, because that same stick figure is doing more than you might think.


Flexing That Creative Muscle

Everyone is capable of creative expression. Regardless of skill level, age, or disability, the benefits of creating art are nigh infinite. Whether you draw, paint, do woodwork, or draw stick figures, making art is good for the mind, body, and soul.

The act of creation has been linked to a reduction in anxiety and stress. It even improves your sense of agency when it comes to imagining solutions to problems you may face on a regular basis. 

Making “aRT”

Painting

Start with what you enjoy — maybe something you’ve done before, maybe something you loved as a kid. But keep an open mind in this process.

Anything that engages the creative mind — reformatting the ability to make and establish connections between unrelated things through visual communication — is good for you.

Here’s a few to get you going: finger painting, cooking, baking, collaging, oil painting, weaving, knitting, crocheting, writing screenplays, scrapbooking — lose yourself in the process and let go of expectations.

Do what lets you express yourself fully in the world of art making. You do not need to complete a project or like what you’re making to feel the various health benefits.

“aRT” Like You Exercise, Like You Eat

Just as you make time to eat, exercise and hang out with family and friends, you should make time for your new found joy for artistic expression. Creativity in and of itself is important for remaining healthy — remaining connected to yourself and remaining connected to the world.

Chicago Methodist Senior Services offer a few more resources for healthy art making, enjoy!

Art therapy
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01.05.23 | Sage Advice

Goal-Making: How to Set Yourself Up for the New Year


Say this affirmation out loud:

 

“I will live within my purpose and make smarter decisions that lead to my own vibrant living!

 


Setting goals doesn’t have to be rocket science, just well thought out. They should be designed to be SMART. Here are 5 ways toward smarter goal making that will set you up for the rest of the year:

 

Specific

 

Measurable

 

Attainable

 

Relevant

 

Timed

 


Specific Goal Making

First, any goal you have should be clear and defined. You need them to show you the way. Make it as easy as you can by defining precisely where you want to end up.

 

Measurable Goal Making

In addition to your specific goal, try using precise statements that measure your success. Instead of saying, “Maybe I’ll go to the gym sometime this month,” say to yourself, “I will go to the gym starting today!”  Without a way to measure your success you miss out on the celebration that comes with having achieved something.

 

Attainable Goal Making

Above all, it is crucial that you set goals that are attainable with reasonable resistance. By setting realistic yet challenging ones, you hit the balance needed for your own personal development.

 

Relevant Goal Making

Now for a little perspective, where do you want to be 3 months, 5 months from now? Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take. Keeping this in mind, you develop the focus needed to get ahead of the curve and stay motivated!

 

Timed Goal Making

One word, deadline. Despite whether you love them or hate them, deadlines work to increase sense of urgency and achievement will only come that much quicker when you set one in stone. 

 

In the end, by de-mystifying goal setting it no longer feels like rocket science. And you begin to make smarter and more informed decisions about your life and wellbeing.

 

Meditating on New Years Resolutions
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12.15.22 | Sage Advice

The Benefits of Befriending Your Neighbors

At Sage Collective, we strive to foster feelings of value and community. And, with engagement in social life as one of the pillars in our 9 Ways of Vibrant Living, it should come as no surprise that we believe in the impact and importance of neighborliness within communities. That’s why today, we’re highlighting the significance behind knowing your neighbor.

Drawing data from a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2019, research shows that a majority of Americans don’t know most of their neighbors — and they barely talk to the ones they do know. Over the last several decades, our connections with our neighbors have been fraying. Because we’re leaving our homes with screens in our hands, and since the pandemic made us even less likely than we were before to stop and chat with new folks, most of the people living around us are strangers.

Befriending neighbors ensures a helping hand in times of need, provides new friends to explore your larger neighborhood and builds strong communities, which leads to healthier, happier and longer lives. Whether you know everything about your neighbor or they’re a stranger to you, here are a few actions you can take to ensure an enriching relationship in your community: 

The simplest way to start a friendship is by sharing a smile. Because smiling is a mood-enhancing action, not only will you feel better and less stressed, but those around you will perceive you as a welcoming person. The easy effort is the best way to start an introduction or continue a conversation where it left off. 

Small talk is something we all love to hate, but embracing the awkwardness of not knowing someone helps a ton with getting to know them! Don’t shy to chit-chat about everything from food and drinks to the latest movies and television shows to find shared interests. 

The bottom line is there’s no downside to knowing your neighbor. Befriending your neighbor only comes with a wealth of benefits. So step outside and start a conversation today!

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12.01.22 | Sage Advice

The Importance of Normalizing Grief

Pain and grief are a natural part of our lives and aren’t just things we see or feel at the end of life. In reality, these feelings surround us daily whether we know it or not, and while they’re typically associated with sadness, they don’t always have to be. And while grief is often seen as taboo, it’s important to alter the conversation around the subject to create a safe and supportive community for all.

It’s critical to know that there is no perfect answer to everything with grief; everyone has to find what works best for them, and this may look different depending on the person. So, try to be patient with yourself, and take every day one step at a time. 

One of the best ways to normalize the process of grieving is simply by acknowledging what you’re going through. Let yourself feel everything, and allow yourself space to feel comfortable sharing those feelings, even if that means you need a break here or there. Ensure that you also have a way to do something with your feelings, which can be anything from talking to friends or family to writing or painting. 

While looking for support from others can sometimes feel selfish, it’s not. Lean on as many people as possible and remember to look for the good in the situation. By being vulnerable, you allow the opportunity to build trust, relationships and support.  

Grief is something we all experience. It’s not something we can hide from, so why not face it head-on and create a safe and supportive experience not only for yourself, but for the world? 

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11.23.22 | Sage Advice

The Marvelous Benefits of Joining a Book Club

Whether you like spending your evenings escaping into your favorite novel or you only get to read a book a few times a year, there’s no question that reading is good for you. Regardless if you’re a devotee of reading or not, one of the best ways to elevate your experience – and keep yourself accountable – is by joining a book club. That’s why today, we’re exploring the benefits that come with book clubs and how you can join your own. 

There are plenty of reasons you should join a book club, but one of the most alluring is the opportunity to make new friends or engage with old ones. If you’re looking to meet others throughout your community, joining a book club is a great way to do so. Beyond engaging with a new crowd, book clubs provide safe spaces to observe and understand new perspectives from the books you read and those around you. 

Not only are you able to engage with others, but book clubs promote brain health! If you’re the type who rushes through books, this will help challenge you to engage deeper with the content and digest what you’re reading better. And by doing so, you and your group will encourage each other to practice critical thinking skills in the discussion!

As we stated early, book clubs can be great for anyone who loves reading but isn’t the best at making time for it. By joining a book club, you’re automatically committing to reading a book within a specific time limit, and you’ll have a whole team of people to keep you accountable. And hopefully, throughout the process, you’ll be able to foster a continuing love of literature. 

If you’re interested in joining a book club but not sure where to find one, ask friends, search local Facebook Groups, head to your local library or bookshop, or start one yourself! 

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11.10.22 | Sage Advice

Health Benefits of Yoga

For those who love to get their daily exercise outside in the fresh air, the cool weather that comes with the winter can make that difficult. Thankfully though, there are plenty of ways you can complete your fitness goals from the comfort and warmth of your home, including yoga! Yoga is a low-impact activity perfect for anyone who wants to get their heart rate up while practicing mindfulness, and of course, it comes with a wide array of health benefits. Here are just a couple: 

Increases Strength

Yoga has been found to improve strength, balance and flexibility. Going through the slow, gentle movements and deep breathing exercises increases blood flow and warms up your muscles. Holding poses helps you develop better core strength and, in turn, improves your posture! And as you stretch your muscles with each pose, you also increase your range of motion and flexibility. Overall, the impact of this exercise leads to increased body awareness as well.

Aids in Pain Relief

For those going through an illness, recovering from surgery or living with a chronic condition, yoga is highly recommended. That’s because the practice has the potential to aid in pain relief — specifically, back pain. Stretching your lower back through various poses is believed to help relieve pain and improve flexibility overall during the healing process. And for those with arthritis: gentle yoga has been shown to ease some discomfort when it comes to those tender, swollen joints. 

Boosts Energy and Mood

As a practice grounded in body-mind-spirit connection, yoga naturally has an impact on your mental health as well as your physical health. Yoga has been demonstrated to aid in stress relief and even lead to a better night’s sleep. It also provides a boost to your overall energy and mood levels, producing better alertness and enthusiasm in its wake.

So, whether you’re looking for a low-impact fitness regimen or seeking a sense of groundedness, yoga is a great and healthy option for everyone. 

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11.03.22 | Sage Advice

Pause, Reflect, and Celebrate Your Wins

Life can often feel as if it’s moving at uncomfortable speeds. From working and errands to relationships you have to take care of, rushing through life can be a lot on your wellbeing. And, if you’re not careful, it’s easy to get misplaced and lose track of your goals, which is why it’s important to remember to pause and reflect every so often before journeying ahead. 

Because lives are more of a marathon than a sprint, pacing yourself to what you feel comfortable with rather than rushing ahead is crucial. Pausing is a great way to take a constructive break on your journey, and it gives you the time to thoughtfully evaluate your accomplishments. Take a look at your goals and purposes and ask yourself if you’re still on track, if you need to speed things up or slow things down and if you have the resources to continue. 

Too often in life, because of busyness and day-to-day, it’s paramount to celebrate your victories, and thankfully, pausing leaves the perfect opportunity to do so. It’s crucial to remember that no matter how big or small they may be, you should be proud of every accomplishment and victory you achieve. Take a moment to celebrate each one and reward yourself for your efforts!

While it’s essential to evaluate achievements and celebrate victories, it’s also important to acknowledge your mistakes so you can learn from them in the future. While some mistakes are obvious, others are hidden by bias, but in all cases, you should look at every mistake as an opportunity for learning, not a failure. Besides, learning about your previous mistakes ensures a lesser chance of repeating them in the future!

Taking a moment to pause and reflect gives you a chance to ensure that you’re still on the track for success, no matter your goals. So, as much as you may want to rush to your dreams, it doesn’t hurt to take a break – it helps!

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06.16.22 | Sage Advice

Simple Ways You Can Expel Stress This Summer

As one of the pillars for our model of 9 Ways of Vibrant Living at Sage Collective, we believe stress reduction is crucial to living a vibrant life. And while stress is a normal component of life, our focus isn’t to eliminate it but rather to learn how to manage, control and minimize it. Today, we’re spotlighting four tools everyone can utilize this summer and throughout the year to reduce stress:

Get Outside

Spending time outdoors is one of the easiest ways to relieve stress throughout the summer. While sunshine is accessible year-round, summertime is when you can benefit the most from the vitamin D it supplies! Vitamin gain leads to stronger and healthier bones and boosts immune systems. Research has even found that exposing yourself to fresh air and natural light for as little as 15 minutes a day helps to decrease emotional distress. 

Spend Time With Friends and Family

Time outdoors isn’t the only thing you should be adding to your daily routine in the summer. Another way to assure less stress and anxiety is by spending more time with your friends and family. As the proverb goes, “it takes a village.” Community and safe spaces are extremely significant to our wellbeing, especially when going through a stressful time. So, setting aside time to spend with family and friends is a sure way to help you stay stress-free! 

Reflect on Your Day

Whether it’s prayer, meditation, or simply practicing gratitude, taking time to reflect on your day is another way you can expel stress. As little as ten minutes of any of those activities can leave a profound impact on how you view your days, even when you may be facing stress. Along with reflecting on your own, taking opportunities to practice acts of service is another powerful way to relieve stress while engaging with your community and building relationships!

Take a Nap

Naps aren’t reserved for just little kids and are much better for our health than many people realize. Along with being a great way to break up your day and provide a much-needed break, naps have been found to lower the risk of heart disease, increase the body’s energy and lower stress! Naps don’t have to be long either; studies show that the most beneficial nap length for our bodies is only 10 to 15 minutes.

Living with stress isn’t enjoyable for anyone, but once we utilize the correct techniques and tools, controlling and minimizing stress is much easier than it sounds.

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04.14.22 | Sage Advice

Literary Art: Our Favorite Picks This Spring

With a new season comes an endless list of exciting refreshing reads. As we continue to spotlight the importance of family connection, identity and storytelling through our Vibrant Living Program, we’re thrilled to spotlight some of the latest works of literacy art that celebrate each of those themes. Here are our picks: 

The Trayvon Generation, Elizabeth Alexander

Author Elizabeth Alexander reflects on the traumas of racism and racial violence in this passionate literature mix. Pulling soulful works from Lucille Clifton and Gwendolyn Brooks and a blend of expressive visual art, Alexander spotlights both the tragedies and hopes for what she refers to as the Trayvon Generation. Named one of New York Times’ and TIME Magazine’s most anticipated works of the year, The Trayvon Generation is an essential pick filled with eye-opening short stories and powerful lyricism. 

Because Our Fathers Lied, Craig McNamara

Families often consist of complicated relationships built from years of conflict and confusion. In his latest book, Craig McNamara shares the roots of his estranged relationship with his father, Robert S. McNamara, one of the architects of the Vietnam War. Through this courageous telling of love and neglect, McNamara captures a tale of multigenerational friction, sure to make any reader reflect on their own kindred connections.

12 Notes: On Life and Creativity, Quincy Jones

Known for his legendary music, Chicago native Quincy Jones explores literacy art with his latest project, 12 Notes: On Life and Creativity. The self-reflective novel features Jones sharing his wisdom on discovering a creative muse and using it to uplift yourself and those around you. Jones unveils his intimate creative process and shares a personal guide filled with lessons intended to embolden readers.

Finding Me: A Memoir, Viola Davis

Acclaimed actress Viola Davis finds a refreshing way to share her heartening life story in her first memoir, Finding Me. Davis, who believes that sharing stories “is the most powerful empathetic tool we have,” courageously documents her journey from living in poverty and turmoil to becoming one of the biggest stars in the world. Finding Me is more than just a deep reflection of life; it’s also an empowering story of expressing oneself and discovering identity.  

Whether you prefer reading alone, with a companion or in a book club, don’t hesitate to pick one or two of these books up for yourself this spring. And as with all good reads, spread the word to friends and family when you finish a book you really love!

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