Improve Your Day – Daily in Just 5 Minutes!

Try these 10 simple ways to lower stress and boost your mood and energy levels. They may just help you find the extra spark you need to meet the challenges of the day.


1. Make your bed. Starting off each day with this small ritual can help create a calm environment for you in your bedroom. Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, writes that many people benefit from making this modest step part of their routines. By checking it off your to-do list first thing, you’ve got one less thing to worry about for the rest of the day.

2. Pack a snack. Before you head out the door in the morning, go into the kitchen and grab a fruit (like a banana, apple or grapes) or a healthy snack (like unsalted nuts or low-fat cheese). This way, when a case of the munchies strikes later in the afternoon, you won’t be reaching for a bag of chips or a candy bar from the vending machine out of convenience. Besides, you know what they say about an apple a day.

3. Clear your desk. You may not be able to overhaul your closet in five minutes, but you can manage to tidy your desk at work. From stray papers to scattered coffee mugs, clutter can make you lose focus and curb productivity. Declutter your outer environment and you may feel lighter on the inside and more motivated to concentrate on the task at hand.

4. Pump up the music. Several studies have found that listening to music can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and boost mood. The right music has the power to change your attitude. So load up your MP3 player and create a special playlist that will make you smile — whether you’re working or working out.

5. Sniff a lemon. For a quick de-stressing trick, turn to an underrated sense — your sense of smell. Japanese researchers found that linalool; a substance found in lemons, has anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce the flight-or-fight stress response. Other scents like basil, juniper, and lavender have also been found to lower stress.

6. Stretch. You don’t have to be a yogi to benefit from light stretching. Lift your arms above your head at your desk. Or better yet, stretch your legs by walking outside. Stretching can help improve your circulation and flexibility and may help ease the tight muscles that accompany stress.

7. Meditate or Hypnosis. Try meditation and deep breathing to relax and turn your mind off. You don’t need any special equipment to practice meditation. Find a comfortable position in a chair or on the floor. Meditating or listening to hypnosis tapes on a daily basis, even just for a few minutes, has been shown to fight depression and ease stress.

8. Keep a gratitude diary. Take a minute every day to write down several things you’re thankful for, whether they’re big or small things. It’s easy to vent about weather, traffic, or job woes, but complaining brings negative energy along with it. Being thankful for what you have can make you appreciate all the positives in your life.

9. Turn off your electronics. Just because we live in a wired world doesn’t mean you need to stay connected every minute of every single day. Staring at computer screens and electronics all day long can zap your energy and encourage inactivity. So log off your email, phones, and the Internet (yes, social networking websites count, too). This is especially important to allow you to unwind and relax before bed.

10. Prioritize. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you have multiple tasks crowding your mind. Make a list and finish your most dreaded duties first to avoid the anxiety caused by procrastination. Make a list and check off each task as you complete it. At the end of the day, a list of accomplishments is a great visual reminder of how productive you were.

The Best Way to Overcome the English Language Barrier in Hospital

If you’re ill and need to access the healthcare system you need somebody with you who can speak English. This is especially important when you first come into the hospital.  In many North American communities there are people who have been a resident for 20 years or more who don’t speak conversational English.  This is fine if you work with others who speak your language and if you’re going to be doing your banking, and shopping in your community that supports your cultural heritage.  However, when you leave your community it becomes a hindrance.

We see it time and time again when someone from a non-English speaking culture becomes a patient and is either alone or the family member also does not speak English.  Staff has to find someone from somewhere in the hospital who speaks their language. The problem with this is they may not be a registered nurse or a doctor.  If they don’t have a medical background the information the English-speaking nurse or doctor is telling the patient and their families may not be translated correctly.  Sometimes as a last resort we may have to ask housekeeping or the kitchen staff to do the translation, but their availability is limited.  Even the “Google Translate “ app, as good as it is, only has basic utility. 

So it’s very important that non-English speaking patients have somebody readily available who will advocate for them in English. It’s also better if they have more than one person who would be available. The English speaking person has to be willing to stay in the hospital for the first 24 hours that the patient is hospitalized, and depending on the gravity of the situation they may have to stay for a longer time.

For example:

A non-English speaking patient with a brain injury or who’s had an operation on any part of their brain would find it very difficult to communicate how much pain they are in or if they feel their symptoms are getting worse.  A nurse would be assessing the patient hourly to see if their level of consciousness is appropriate.  The nurse may have been given basic words on how to ask the patient to show their thumb or wiggle their toes in their language.  However, after many hours of this, patient’s simply become exhausted and could be drowsy for the current assessment.  The nurse may opt to only look into the patient’s pupils and if they haven’t changed in size, wait for another hour in which to make sure the patient shows their thumb or wiggles their toes. However, within that time frame the patient could go sour. 

If the patient had spoken English the nurse could have asked them why they’re not wiggling their toes or showing a thumb or encouraged them to obey another command. But because of the language barrier, it could take longer to realize if the patient was just very sleepy or going into a dangerous coma.   If a family member who spoke English was accessible either at the bedside or nearby, it would’ve been much easier for them to ask the patient to obey and to notice a change in their behaviour and tell the nurse or doctor of their concerns. This is a great help if it is a new staff member taking care of the patient and the patient is still very sick. 

Your advocacy for your relative will help overcome the language barrier if they become hospitalized. Plan for the future, sign up on our home page and get your free “Hospital Handbook”. Have a discussion with your family member about it now, not later. It would be the best thing you could do for them.