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01.26.23 | Sage Advice

Control How You Maneuver Your Day With Ultradian Rhythms

Everyone feels the ups and downs of a day. There are typically moments when we’re energized and excited, but we also all have times when we feel stressed and fatigued. Because this is a regular occurrence for many of us, we don’t usually think about the cycle behind those emotions. Today, we’re spotlighting the science of ultradian rhythms and how you can use your body’s natural cycle to reduce burnout and boost productivity. 

What are ultradian rhythms?

While the term ultradian rhythm sounds complicated, the concept is quite simple! An ultradian rhythm, at its core, is a recurrent cycle that dictates how our bodies function daily. The word ultradian means “cycles in a day”, and rhythms apply to the up and down waves the cycles follow. And, like any other pattern or cycle our bodies follow, ultradian rhythms have a powerful effect on our body’s health and wellbeing, and when disrupted, they can affect more than we think. 

What a day might look like

Throughout the day, ultradian rhythm waves naturally move up and down, affecting performance, mood and everything in between. So, when your body tells you that you’re tired and distracted before noon, it’s doing the right thing! At this point, your ultradian rhythm is experiencing a trough and is telling you that you need to take a break. You may also experience an ultradian performance peak during the day, where your energy is the highest it will be throughout the day. 

Many of us learn that a day starts when we wake up, we go go go, and then the day ends, but in reality, the human body can’t function properly with that lifestyle. What we aren’t taught is that once we wake up, our bodies go through the same natural cycles every day, affecting everything we do. 

Start listening to your ultradian rhythm and learn that even when you’re feeling down or low-energy, it’s natural to take a break. So, whether you close your eyes and meditate or walk around the block, the less you ignore your body and the more you learn to understand it, the more vibrant your life will be.

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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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12.08.22 | Sage Advice

Understanding the Swedish Philosophy of Fredagsmys

Swedes are known for their love of organizations, structure and readiness, which is one of the reasons why their culture’s work ethic is unlike any other. Because they value their work time so much, Swedes typically reserve a night a week to unwind and relax, which they call fredagsmys. While the philosophy shares similarities with other European philosophies, the Swede’s tradition is something we should all embrace to live a more vibrant life. 

What It Means

Following a hard work week, it’s a Swede tradition to spend Friday nights relaxing and unwinding. They call this fredagsmys, which means “Friday coziness” in Swedish. A typical fredagsmys will involve time spent with family and friends, playing board games, watching movies and enjoying their favorite snacks and meals.  

There’s no question that fredagsmys contribute to Sweden’s position as the happiest country in the world. Instead of staying in and watching television, Swedes spend Monday through Thursday evenings doing their favorite hobbies and activities, reserving Friday for relaxation. Fredagsmys have been a staple of Swedish households since the mid-1980s. However, today more than ever, Swedes are embracing the tradition as a perfect Friday night recharge. 

How To Embrace Fredagsmys 

There’s no correct approach to fredagsmys, which makes the philosophy easy to embrace. While you can do it alone, the most popular way to participate in fredagsmys is with others. Call up your family of friends and make a fun meal like a taco bar or a grand salad for everyone to enjoy together. 

Fredagsmys is all about going for casual and comfy. After dinner, throw on your snuggliest pajamas, grab a blanket and move to the couch for game night or a movie night with a glass of wine. However you choose to fredagsmys, what matters the most is the quality time spent with others or with yourself. 

We could all benefit from incorporating fredagsmys into our vocabulary and philosophy. At Sage Collective, we believe in the power of recharging, community and high-quality living — and we celebrate all that fredagsmys embodies.

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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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11.10.22 | 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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09.29.22 | Sage Advice

Travel the World From The Comfort of Your Home

Traveling is one of the best ways to experience new cultures and hear from other walks of life. However, because of the global pandemic, many of us haven’t had the opportunity to continue checking off bucket list locations in a few years. And although there’s nothing like stepping into a new place, new travel-like opportunities are beginning to emerge, including armchair travel.

What is Armchair Travel?

Have you ever wanted to visit a different country from the comfort of your home? Well, now you can! Armchair travel provides a sensory experience to those looking to learn about a location without going through the hassle of actually traveling. The virtual activity invokes everything from local sights and smells to mindsets and cultural conventions. 

We’ve had the pleasure of embracing the value behind armchair traveling in our Vibrant Learning Program at Chicago Commons. With the help of DeShunn Bray, our Manager of Programming and Community Engagement, participants in our Vibrant Learning Program have had the opportunity to experience everything from an African safari to a trip to Germany and Columbia. 

Participants of our Vibrant Learning Program at Chicago Commons participating in armchair travel

How to Participate 

Becoming an armchair traveler is easier than it sounds, thanks to the do-it-yourself element of the activity. Start by considering if you’d rather travel alone or gather a group of family or friends to accompany you on your journey; traveling with a group tends to spark more engaging conversations and perspectives after the activity. 

Once you’ve decided who you’re traveling with, make a list of general themes and ideas for your travels. These can include everything, from national parks and landmarks to the location of famous events or your favorite movie. Once you’ve created your list, search for resources to assist you in your travels. If you’re tech-savvy, head to YouTube or take a stroll to your local library to find even more free films and videos. Once you’ve found a video accompaniment, pair your trip with a craft activity and serve a local delicacy to complete the experience! 

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your armchair trip now!

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09.15.22 | Sage Advice

The Season for Slowing Down

With fall ending and autumn right around the corner, it’s time to wave warm weather and long days goodbye and welcome the vibrant colors and brisk breezes that come with the new season. You might also be experiencing shifts in your own life too, which is why it’s critical to continue filling your days with activities that enrich both your body and your soul. Today, we’re sharing how you can ensure vibrant living this fall: 

Get Outside

There’s no better place to be than outside in the fall. Encourage yourself to embrace the outdoors this season by utilizing community paths and trails or taking a trip to an apple orchard or park. Another great way to get outdoors is by planning a hiking trip or a road trip to witness the colors that come with the autumn season. While you’re outdoors, indulge in an awe-walk or a podcast.

Choose In-Season Cuisine 

With fall comes some of the tastiest seasonal produce with fruits like apples, pears and pumpkins and vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash. Visit your local farmers market or store to pick up the fresh produce and cook away! Some of our favorite fall recipes include pumpkin oatmeal, chicken and white bean soup and adobe chicken and kale enchiladas

Slow Down

If summer left you scattered or feeling like you had no time to yourself, fall is the perfect time to slow down and do more for your wellbeing. Incorporate more mindful moments throughout your day and make it a point to spend more time on yourself. Yoga and meditation are both great activities for grounding and reflection, and in the fall, you can do both outsides!

Fall is the season for slowing down. Embrace the cool weather, make the most of the season by cooking up season recipes and ground your mind, body and soul. 

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08.25.22 | Sage Advice

Introducing Our Newest Team Member, DeShunn Bray

With an impressive passion for forming rich connections with others and making significant impact on the communities in which she interacts, DeShunn Bray has always been a catalyst in her field. From working as the former site manager at Willa Rawls Manor to various security and programming roles, her extensive experience and radiating energy made her the perfect candidate to lead our Vibrant Learning Program at Chicago Commons. We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce DeShunn as the newest addition to the Sage Collective team. Get to know DeShunn in her introduction below: 

Can you talk a little bit about your professional background and how it has made you an expert in your field?

I have over 20 years of experience working with seniors and managing senior properties. I’m also a certified manager of senior housing, so with that has come other responsibilities of managing and securing properties. Not only was I managing one-on-one meetings with clients, but I also had a chance to discover their needs. One of my key responsibilities was making sure that everyone has a healthy, clean environment that helps them live more independently. So as a result, I was also responsible for helping provide services that would enhance their living space and every aspect of their quality of life.

What is your role with Sage Collective and our pilot program at Chicago Commons?

My title is Manager of Programming and Community Engagement. So when I walk into an assisted living program, or any program that deals with housing or providing a service with senior citizens, I make sure I come in with my “arsenal” — some excellent references and connections to vibrant living. I ensure that Sage Collective has the resources to carry out the different programs that we provide, including putting together an outline to touch on themes such as health, wellness, culture and arts. 

By tapping into that good vibe that we possess at Sage Collective, I also help our participants believe that life hasn’t ended and that every day is a great day. So when our participants’ family and friends see them thriving, it’s a way for them to say, “This is what I still like to do. I’m just a little older, but I am still the same person.’’ Through the programing, participants gain the ability to say with assurance what they need and I’m elated to provide them with that type of confidence and language they need to be able to communicate better with everyone. 

You’re also doing grassroots outreach throughout the community. How meaningful is this type of outreach for organizations like Sage Collective?

Well, you can talk about it, but our thing is to be about it. We have to go out in the field and connect with people on their level, sit down, have a conversation with them, have a conversation with the community, and say, “This is what we need in our community.” So connecting with the public, the Aldermen, builders, and even larger corporations allows Sage Collective to advance our service to others that may be in real need of tackling isolation and depression. If we come in and show them the type of programming we’re doing, we could get funding. And so connecting with different organizations and bringing those resources to the community, where there are underserved seniors or disabled communities is key to what we should and will be doing.

It’s very fulfilling work to walk out of the door and have a purpose. And that’s one of the things that we at Sage Collective make sure people understand — that they do have a purpose in life —  and it should extend beyond what the nation is saying or thinking.

Speaking of purpose and along the lines of Sage Collectives beliefs and values, what unique values held by Sage Collective drew you to work for them?

The fact that Sage Collective has implemented a new way of thinking. Humans have to constantly think differently to allow themselves to change. I can go to YouTube now, and I can download two-minute workouts, 15-minute workouts, and 20-minute workouts and Sage Collective helps put those resources out there so that seniors can know that they don’t always have to tap into their budget and do something expensive to improve their health. Why wouldn’t someone want to be a part of an organization that’s not trying to buy them, not trying to make them spend a whole lot of money to improve their lifestyle, to improve their health, to help connect them with others?

What are you most looking forward to most as a new member of Sage Collective’s team? What do you hope to accomplish in your time ahead?

Making change leaves a legacy. So it’s a great feeling coming on board with a team that shares the same beliefs that I have and takes them to the next level. Even though I am living with the purpose of securing myself and others, I’m also changing the way people look at their futures. And there’s not a lot of people preaching that or teaching that. And I love the concept of being that person that can walk through the door and make you smile and laugh. 

One woman in the Vibrant Living Program made me smile last week when she told me that I had brought out a feeling she had been missing because she was listening to blues music and remembering their younger years. So I think knowing that somebody cares, and then incorporating their feelings into the next lesson, into the next program, into the next adventure, who doesn’t want to be a part of that? So I see myself being that person, taking the time to understand my clients, and then being right there on the level with them. And as far as Sage Collective, as long as they’re in business, I want to be there.

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08.18.22 | Sage Advice

The Enigma of Heirloom Foods

Like everything, foods evolve with time, changing in flavor, color and even shape. And yes, while we’re cautious to eat any of those weird looking foods, they’re often filled with a plethora of flavor and nutrients. Today, we’re exploring heirloom foods and why you shouldn’t let their appearance hold you back from trying them.

What are heirloom foods?

Have you ever noticed that weird-shaped carrot or the odd-colored tomato at your grocery store? Those are heirloom foods! Like all other aspects of life, as time passes, agricultural products and systems change, progressing the popularity of some foods and lessening the use of others. This leads to the emergence of heirloom foods – foods that may have been commonly eaten throughout previous generations but are less so today. 

Why you should add them to your diet

Heirlooms don’t only come with unique looks, but they also provide many nutritious benefits other foods don’t have. The genetics within the plants also typically provide them with pest, disease and weather resistance. 

Whether you’re snacking on an heirloom vegetable, fruit, or egg, each food is also sure to be filled with flavors you haven’t experienced before. The taste is what draws many to the established foods. Beyond their flavor, buying heirloom foods is also a great way to support local farms in your area that may grow them instead of buying usual produce from large-scale farms. 

Don’t hesitate to grab those colorful potatoes or weirdly shaped tomatoes next time you spot them out, you could be missing out on a flavor-filled heirloom treat!

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