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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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01.26.23 | 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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12.29.22 | Sage Advice

2022: A Year in Review

2022 was a year of growth for Sage Collective as we continued evolving and celebrating exciting milestones. Today, we’re reflecting on the past year and sharing our proudest achievements:

Vibrant Learning Program

Throughout 2022, we were able to continue strengthening our close relationship with Chicago Commons, another long-standing trailblazer for change in the community. Building upon our past work, we excitedly launched our Vibrant Learning Program with Chicago Commons Adult Day Services in late February, which continues to be a resounding success. 

For the past eight months, our team has had the privilege to get to know program participants and help grow their understanding of everything from new technology to different cultures. Learning themes touched on traditions, storytelling, family connection and freedom, and engaging activities included armchair travel and digital painting. 

Expanding Our Team

Along with the launch of our programming, we warmly welcomed new team members throughout the year. Leading the Vibrant Living Program, DeShunn Bray brought with her an impressive passion for forming rich connections with others and making a significant impact on the communities in which she interacts as our Manager of Programming and Community Engagement. Her amazing energy is something both our team and the participants in our Vibrant Living Program cherish. 

We also welcomed Camille Love as one of our newest Board Members. The transition of long-time member Angela Higginbotham from our Board created such an opportunity for Camille and added to the related expertise of Sage Collective as it pursues ways of encouraging the adoption of healthier lifestyle choices among older adults in underserved communities. 

We can’t wait to continue sharing this journey with you and see what 2023 brings!

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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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10.27.22 | Sage Advice

Why You Should Be Eating a Global Palette

Cultures across the world are shaped by many things, like religion, technology, and economies, but a culture’s cuisine is often its greatest treasure. A global palette not only opens the door to learning more about a new culture, but also helps share the story of some of the world’s longest-lived and healthiest communities. And while every culture varies in diet, each exemplifies its unique take on living a vibrant life. 

In America, healthy eating is typically visualized through a Eurocentric lens, often reflecting things such as greens and smoothies. However, there’s more to healthy eating than just those popular linkages. Understanding the significance of cultural cuisine helps to explain that food for many across the world is much more than just an energy source and, instead, a representation of heritage and ancestry.

North African cuisine in Egypt, Morocco and Algeria, in particular, benefit from the influence of various cultures around the area, from the French to the Turks. Cultural dishes combine hearty ingredients like olive oil, fresh veggies and rich spices all bringing a plethora of nutrients to those who relish the delicious meals. 

In Japan, where the longest-living people on the Earth live in Okinawa, people have been following a similar cultural diet for centuries. Low sugar and dairy paired with meals consistent in rice, veggies and fish ensure that every meal is complete. And, even with limited fruit in their diet, the health throughout the culture still thrives. 

Italian culture is a perfect example of how misconceptions about healthy eating are proven wrong. Although the culture is known for its pasta and pizza, Italians are also known for their use of fresh, quality ingredients. While carbs fill many of their meals, the use of high-quality local vegetables and cheeses proves that even when you might not think you’re eating the healthiest, you still technically can be!

A quick look around the world is a great reminder of the health benefits and significance of immersing yourself in the foods of other cultures. And even if a cuisine may not read the healthiest on the outside, the thought and care put into it may be much more significant than we often realize. 

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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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