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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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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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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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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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07.07.22 | Sage Advice

The Importance of Personal Freedom and Independence

Independence and freedom are critical for everyone, but the older we get, the more significant their effects can have on us. While being independent is understood universally as having freedom, for individuals – specifically adults – the word can have a much deeper meaning and impact. Today, we’re diving into just how independence benefits us all as we continue to age. 

There’s no question that with age comes a plethora of changes to our minds, bodies and surroundings, and independence is sometimes the only thing we feel we have control over. Maintaining that control over our independence is just one aspect of ensuring you are living vibrantly and comes with its own rich benefits. 

Elevates a Sense of Purpose

Because independence is such an empowering, enriching privilege, it’s extremely powerful in granting a sense of purpose to those who have it. The opportunity to create goals, large and small, in hopes of accomplishing them is one of the most significant reasons for this characteristic. Whether you’re aiding in the lives of your family, friends or community, or working on yourself, having the freedom to set objectives provides a powerful sense of purpose. 

Encourages Relationship Development 

It isn’t easy to keep up with the newest technology and cultural developments, especially as an older adult. Building and maintaining relationships that provide access to the right resources is crucial for personal independence. Whether you have a family that helps you stay in the loop by navigating you through the latest technology or a neighbor who checks in on you every few days, community and independence go hand in hand for empowering a vibrant life. 

Enables Individuality

While a sense of purpose and relationship building is essential, independence has a significant impact on how you feel as an individual. When the divisions in your life are left out of your control, it’s not hard to feel a loss of yourself and your freedoms, which is why it’s critical to maintain a vibrant lifestyle and your sense of self, no matter what environment you find yourself.

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06.09.22 | Sage Advice

Sage Collective’s Guide to Summer Wellness

We believe supporting healthy eating, outdoor activity, and self-care is always important, but summer is arguably the best time to practice all of the above! The warm weather and all that comes with it makes the season the perfect time to focus on individual wellbeing. Today, we’re sharing what you should be focusing on this season to guarantee nothing but the best for your body and mind:

Hydration

The key to a healthy and enjoyable summer is staying hydrated. While hydration is consequential during any season, it’s especially important to pay attention to in the summer months. Daily fluid intakes vary by the body, health condition, medications and even daily activity, but the consensus is that drinking water should become part of everyone’s daily routine throughout the summer. 

While drinking water is an amazing way to keep hydrated, there are plenty of other ways you can do so. Eating foods with high water content, like cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit and peppers, and taking probiotics are great ways to prohibit dehydration. And, if you aren’t a water drinker, try adding a few different ingredients like fresh lemons, berries or other fruits to add delicious flavor without the artificial preservatives or sweets!

Skincare

Protection from the sun and its harmful UV rays are essential for everyone during the summer months. While it does come with its benefits, like Vitamin D, when exposed to the sunlight for too long without protection, your body becomes more prone to wrinkles, dryness, age spots and even forms of skin cancer. 

That’s why it’s critical to protect your skin with anything from sunscreen to the clothes you wear. The key to skincare in the summer begins with sunscreen. SPF levels of 30 or higher are usually recommended, as well as reapplying throughout the day, but what’s most important is that you like what you’re putting on your body. Other ways to help avoid the sun’s harmful rays is by wearing lip balms, hats, sunglasses and other skin-protecting cosmetics. 

Practice Self-care

Because of the warm weather, longer days and more energy we feel during the summer in general, it’s the perfect time to start adding more self-care into your routine. Find some time in the long day to begin developing your exercise routine or encourage yourself to eat healthier by planting fresh fruits and vegetables in your garden. 

This is the best time to begin any new healthy lifestyle habits that can keep running through the end of the year and spend more time focusing on yourself. 

The bright sunlight, fresh air, and longer days are just some of the reasons why summertime is one of the most fulfilling times of the year. But don’t forget to focus on your health and wellness throughout the season!

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05.05.22 | Sage Advice

May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

Every year, millions of people deal with the daily struggle of living with a mental illness. One in five adults in the United States live with a mental illness, and because they are so prevalent today, the spotlight is beginning to shift to explore just how society collectively can work together to setback the concerning numbers. 

Throughout May, we will be celebrating National Mental Health Awareness Month. First celebrated in 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month remains as significant as ever for a myriad of reasons. Mental illness often goes ignored unless tragedy strikes. This month-long observation helps shed a spotlight on the importance of caring for mental health and the weight of taking it just as seriously as any other disease. 

Not only is it critical to care for your own mental well-being, but also those around you. Regularly checking in on family, friends, and even neighbors can leave a profound impact on each of their lives. However, maintaining good mental health includes everything from your food choices and physical activity to your sleep schedule and stress management

By taking the initiative to care for yourself and your loved ones and being open to discussing mental health with others, the more normalized it will become, creating a healthier, more vibrant world. Although the stigma around mental health treatment still exists, thanks to celebrations like National Mental Health Awareness Month, more and more people are beginning to learn to be more open about their mental well-being. 

Because mental health is even less commonly discussed in adult communities, we encourage you to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month and help pilot the movement for a healthier, more vibrant world where mental well-being is at our forefront.

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01.12.21 | Sage Advice

Feeling Exhausted? The Science Behind Pandemic Burnout

As part of our 9 Ways of Vibrant Living, we at Sage Collective advocate for stress reduction. We recognize stress as a natural, regular occurrence and aim to help our followers learn to manage, to control and to minimize stress.

But we’ll be the first to admit that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic (in March of what’s officially become last year), stress levels have been higher than ever. If you’ve been feeling excessively stressed, burnt out and unable to focus — you’re not alone. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the science behind pandemic-related stress and burnout. 

There’s a reason everyone’s been referring to COVID-19 as “unprecedented.” We’ve never experienced anything quite like this in our lives. Worrying about a global pandemic, public health and safety, our personal wellbeing and the wellbeing of those we love, not to mention financial concerns, food security struggles and more — it’s an inordinate amount of stress for human beings to take on all at once. And the demand of feeling all these things at once is taking a toll on our bodies.

Allostatic load demonstrated visually
Allostatic load demonstrated visually

Allostatic load refers to the impact of cumulative wear and tear — the impact of carrying all that stress, for example. And allostatic overload refers to the point at which the demand of our stress overtakes the capability of our mind and body to keep up. As demonstrated above, we can look at our allostatic load as a bell curve. Too little stimulation from stress, we’ll be underloaded, understimulated and stagnant as  human beings. But too much stimulation from stress, and we’ll be overloaded, overstimulated and exhausted to the point of burnout.

Many of us are in the throes of allostatic overload. Our bodies have been constantly perceiving a potential threat, and therefore they’ve been producing hormones like adrenaline and cortisone, handy responses to temporary stressors.  However, in the case of a prolonged stressor such as the pandemic, our bodies continually overload themselves with these hormones, which are actually toxic to our physiological systems. 

So your feelings of stress, exhaustion and burnout — they’re only natural. But acknowledging the reality of the problem is only half the battle. How do we even begin to combat burnout and fatigue? 

First, self care is absolutely crucial. Prioritize taking care of your body through healthy habits like regular exercise, healthy diet and getting your best night’s sleep. Prioritize taking care of your mind, too, by making time to practice gratitude and indulge in doing things you love. And secondly, be mindful to take care of others, too. Finding ways to safely connect with friends, family and community will serve as a reminder that you’re not alone — we’re all in this together.

An older African American adult steps aside to take off his mask for a moment
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11.06.20 | Sage Advice

Self Care for Seniors: What Is It, and How to Take Part

Have you heard of the latest millennial craze, self care? Young people all over are encouraging each other to get off of social media for a day, or to order in for the night and binge their favorite TV show, all things they’ve dubbed as acts of self care. 

While these acts may seem frivolous on the surface, they’re actually helping people to take a break from the media cycle, or to celebrate moments of rest. Self care, by definition, encourages people to consciously tend to their own well-being. But most surprisingly of all, this “new trend” isn’t new at all — in fact, it has deep roots and history in the medical field.

A Brief History

Self care began as a treatment course in the 1950s for patients who were mentally ill or elderly and struggled with autonomy. It included acts that helped preserve physical independence, such as simple exercising or personal grooming. This independence opened up the gateway for feeling better in many ways — physically, because patients were able to care for themselves, but also mentally, because independence was rewarding and satisfying.

From the mid 1960s to early 1970s, academics continued to pursue the idea further and how it might pertain to those in high risk professions, such as EMTs and social workers. The idea was that, in order to tend to your responsibilities to others, you need to first take care of yourself and replenish regularly through acts of self care. As Sage Collective’s own Rear Admiral (ret.) James M. Galloway said, “Taking care of yourself ensures you can take your best care of others.”

In the civil rights and feminist movements that followed this time, self care also become a revolutionary and radical act against varied forms of injustice, medical and otherwise. 

Self Care for Seniors Today

So how can seniors reclaim self care, and share in the joy that millennials have found? Our best advice: find what replenishes you, whether it’s physically, mentally or both.

When it comes to your physical health, incorporating moderate, regular physical activity will help replenish not just your body, but your spirit and your energy. Physical acts also include making conscious decisions to eat healthier, to get ample rest each night and to take time to relax. 

As for mental health, experts recommend spending more time in nature to breathe in the fresh air and enjoy natural sunlight. You can also reconnect with a new hobby, or even discover a new one. Dedicating time to activities that you enjoy and find satisfaction in is a great way to embrace the practice, too. And of course: spending time with those you love will always provide a much needed mental boost. 

So don’t be afraid of the trend — self care is for everyone. 

Self care expressed through love, with an older African American man and woman embracing and smiling
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