Boomer Women: Getting In—Getting Out of Debt

Boomer Women: Getting In—Getting Out of Debt

“Debt is the worst poverty.”—Thomas Fuller

Single, sixty-three-year-old Lois felt buried under a veritable landslide of debt.

How did this happen?

How did Lois sabotage herself financially?

Lois lamented: “I thought my mid-life years would be stress-free and blissful. It was so easy to get into debt. But will I ever, ever get out of debt?”

There are millions of families in most countries in the world facing the same dilemma. Rare indeed are the persons who manage to live their lives without shouldering a large, sometimes unmanageable, burden of debt.

Getting into Debt

How does one get into debt? Simple! It is a way of life. Governments, multi-national corporations, small businesses, families, and individuals have all come to accept debt as usual.

Pride often creates debt. Debt creates strain. Strain leads to other difficulties. So how does one live in a world that’s debt-oriented and, at the same time, stay out of debt?

Perhaps the first lesson to be learned is pure sales resistance. One cannot enter the door of most financial institutions without being assailed by posters offering loans.

Credit cards are readily available.

Banks are competing to offer the lowest interest rates to entice you to give their services a try.

Over the spectrum from loan sharks to reputable banking institutions, there are millions of successful, aggressive persons who are in the business of selling money.

To them, money is a commodity—like groceries—and their job is selling it to you.

Learn to say NO.

Debt Management

Many formulas exist to define an acceptable ratio of debt to income, but these vary greatly. For instance, some economists feel that a family may comfortably allocate 30 percent of gross income to pay for shelter, such as mortgage payments.

But this formula may not be feasible for the very poor.

So general formulas are often too vague. Consider the whole problem of debt on a personal level for the best outcome.

Some debt may be acceptable, such as buying a house at a reasonable rate.

Other forms of debt may be unacceptable. Debt management includes the ability to reject them. Perhaps the best rule is: Do not buy what you do not need and cannot afford it.

Avoid impulse buying. Even if something is half price, it is not a bargain for you if you cannot afford it.

Follow These Tips to Get Out and Stay Out of Debt

There are plenty of ways to get out of debt. I discuss a few in this article.

  • Establish a working relationship with a reputable bank.
  • If you must borrow down the road, this will likely get the best interest rate.
  • Start paying off debts in some organized way.
  • Project your anticipated personal cash flow over the next 24 months. Be realistic.
  • Include every bit of income you expect to have.
  • List debts in order of priority.
  • Allocate on a fair basis so that each debt receives at least some payment.
  • Set a target date to pay off each debt.
  • Pick up a side hustle.
  • Sell off high ticket items (jewelry, fancy electronics).
  • Be ruthless!
  • Ask:
  • Can the grocery bill be shaved?
  • Can vacations be cut?
  • Can luxury items be enjoyed less often?
  • Can you negotiate a lower interest rate on credit cards—either temporarily or permanently?
  • Don’t shop too often. Experts say you will spend less if you only buy once or twice a week.
  • Don’t stay too long. Supermarket surveys have indicated that for every minute you remain in the store for over 30 minutes, you spend 50 cents extra.
  • Discuss your plan with a bank loan officer. He may be able to show you how to improve your strategy. He may even suggest a debt consolidation plan, which comes with a fixed interest rate.

Money Talks!

The world over, people put their trust in money.

Money is in and out of your pocket like a flash!

Yet money is a necessary item in your life.

Money can bring you some temporary measure of happiness if you can see money for what it’s worth. But if you overestimate the value of money and make it your chief goal in life, it can be calamitous!

Take Control of Your Money

If you feel overwhelmed or confused about how to get started, I’d like to recommend a useful resource:

www.DaveRamsey.com

Dave Ramsey is a seven-time bestselling author on finance and money.

He also hosts a popular radio show and podcast.

On Dave Ramsey’s website, you will find a plethora of information, including tools, classes, books, and live events designed to help you control your money.

You could start with an assessment on the site that creates a customized plan to help you with your money issues.

Not only does Dave Ramsey provide advice on debt and budgeting, but also savings, retirement, and taxes.

You should check out Ramsey’s site!

Or you may prefer to use one of the top-rated money management, personal finance, and budgeting apps:

  • Mint
  • PocketGuard
  • Wally

Finally—Think Before You Buy!

Personal debt is out of control.

The world over, people put trust in money.

But money can be gone in a flash.

It’s as if money has wings and flies away.

But as I’ve cautioned in this article, great care should be taken as to how you spend your money. If you are budget-minded, think before you buy, trim down to the essentials, learn to live on less, and are resourceful, you can get out of debt—and stay out of debt!

A 10-Week Plan to Learning How to Relax

A 10-Week Plan to Learning How to Relax

“We will be more successful in all endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.” –Thigh Nhat Hanh

Towers Watson, a leading global professional services company that helps organizations improve performance through competent people, risk, and financial management, revealed its latest “Health, Wellbeing, and Productivity” survey. The survey showed that of those employers able to measure well-being, 86 percent thought that excessive workload or extended hours were the most significant causes of stress.

Do You Agree?

Consider these facts:

Fact 1:

One in five workers misses work due to stress.

Fact 2:

Two in 10 workers start the week stressed.

Fact 3:

Managers are too busy and stressed out themselves to help their team members deal with their anxiety and stress.

One solution for workers:

Learn how to relax.

Medical professionals, psychologists, and psychiatrists agree that learning how to relax minimizes many of our anxieties, frustrations, resentments, nervous tensions, and resultant physical disorders.

It takes no specialized knowledge, aptitudes, or preparations to learn how to relax and how to benefit from its soothing, healing and, calming influence.

But, unfortunately, many of us are too busy chasing material wealth to give much thought to our well-being and take time out to relax.

And so, we turn to stopgaps, to the temporary relief of opiates, barbiturates, and tranquilizers. They serve their primary purpose at first, but before long, they become a crutch, a necessity, a constant need.

And, as our system grows used to these temporary measures, we have to increase the dosage or use them more often, and eventually, we become mental casualties.

What Is Relaxation?

What IS relaxation? According to The Oxford English Dictionary: “To make or become less tense, anxious, or rigid; rest from work or engage in a recreational activity.”

A few synonyms for relaxation: To relax is to lighten, to reduce, to curtail, or to modify; to submit, to comply, to slacken, or give way; to rest, to recline, to repose, to let go.

All of the terms mentioned above, refer to relaxation and have an essential bearing upon our mental and physical well-being. We must take time out to rest and to replenish our energies or else we will go to pieces.

One of nature’s ways to guard against complete physical and mental exhaustion is the need for sleep. Sleep is one of the most critical metabolic functions essential to life. It is nature’s way to ensure the body gets the needed rest to replenish expended energy.

We can abstain from sleep for as many as forty-eight hours without apparent ill effect. However, tests show that beyond the first forty-eight hours, there is a growing loss of sustained attentive ability.

When we don’t get adequate sleep, we tend to develop dizziness, headaches, burning eyes, nervousness, irritability, and lightheadedness.

Lack of sleep also contributes to a growing dullness of perception, lack of awareness, and marked sluggishness in average reflect action.

Thus, sleep is a must! Sleep promotes rest under all conditions and circumstances.

However, the amount of sleep required by an individual is dependent upon her age, her work, her daily habits, and her physical and psychological make-up.

One person could require seven or eight hours, and another five or six hours. However, if you cannot sleep, soundly, and naturally during your customary sleeping hours or if you have trouble dropping off to sleep, you will not experience the rest for your tired muscles.

Restful sleep will allow you to let go of tension, of care, of worry, of anger, or uneasiness.

Sleep is one form of letting go and get the release from mental and physical fatigue and nervous tension.

A Relaxation Plan

Another way restful sleep helps us is muscular relaxation. In his book titled Release from Nervous Tension, Dr. David Harold Fink outlines a ten-week plan for learning how to relax.

Here is what you must do—

Weeks one and two:

“Find a time when you will not be disturbed and undress and stretch out face upwards on a bed. Place one pillow under your neck so that your head rolls back toward the head of the bed. Spread your legs a little and place pillows under your knees to bring them upward and outward at a slight angle.

Move your hands about eight inches from your body and put pillows under your elbows, with your hands hanging over the end of the cushions. “You are now in the right physical position to learn how to relax.

Start with your jaw. Let it sag and droop to your chin, but keep the lips together. Close your eyes, and let the lids meet naturally. Now, as you breathe in and out in your usual way, utilize the power of habit in following voiced suggestions and say to your arms: “Let go. Let go. More. A little more. “

Continue ordering them to let loose, to slacken, to let go, until they do.

“Soon, your inhalations and exhalations will slow down, your arms will loosen up and relax with every breath, and you will experience a new sensation.

Your muscular tensions will be lessened and you will gain a new sense of renewed muscular strength, of increased natural tone and vitality. Practice the arm relaxation twice a day, thirty minutes each time for two weeks.”

Week three:

Relax the chest muscles.

“Start with relaxing your arms as you have been doing. When you feel they are heavy and your hands grow warm, start talking to your chest muscles. Ignore your inhalations for the time being. Let them be as usual, but every time you exhale, say to your chest muscles, ‘Let go. Let go. More. A little more.’“

Continue telling your chest muscles to let go until you feel them loosen up. Keep this up for a week, twice a day, for half-hour periods.

Weeks four through seven:

“Start relaxing your back muscles on the fourth week, the leg muscles on the fifth, the back of the neck on the sixth, and the facial muscles on the seventh.

In each case, you start with the arms for a few minutes, then with the chest, and then the others in succession.”

Weeks eight through ten:

“For the eighth week, relax the muscles of your scalp to relieve nervous headaches. Let go of the muscles of your eyes for the ninth week. Pretend your eyes are so loose that they will fall out if you do not watch them, and soon you will be rid of the feeling of eye strain.

For the tenth and final week, learn to relax the muscles of your vocal cords. Practice speaking slowly, softly, in a smooth, calm voice, enunciating each word, each syllable, without any strain or particular emphasis.”

Dr. Fink concludes “. . . Ten weeks is a short time to learn to acquire a new skill. Yet, it is long enough to help you combat emotional conflicts, reduce paralyzing inhibitions, improve your general health, and gain a new sense of freedom from strain and nervous tension.”

Normal sleep and muscle relaxations are healthy ways to reduce nervous tension, to neutralize compulsions, and to minimize inner conflicts.

Try the above exercises.

Follow Dr. Fink’s 10-week plan to learn how to relax as this plan will surely bring you rest, ease, and comfort.

Following Dr. Fink’s 10-week plan to learn how to relax is also sure to improve your mental and physical health.

Boomer Women: Think Like an Entrepreneur and Take Charge of Your Career

Boomer Women: Think Like an Entrepreneur and Take Charge of Your Career

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” —Thomas A. Edison

Not ready to retire?

Sick and tired of age discrimination?

What are some meaningful career goals that you would like to accomplishments before you call it quits?

Is owning a business high on your list?

Perhaps you’re like many women who have tried and tried to find just the perfect opportunity for a business. But you’ve failed.

But all is not lost.

The youngest Boomer woman, born in 1964, turned 55 this year (2019).

Most people hardly consider 55 as “old.”

And even if you do think of yourself as old, starting a business is within your reach.

I love this quote:

 “Successful entrepreneurs find the balance between listening to their inner voice and staying persistent in driving for success—because sometimes success is waiting right across from the transitional bump that’s disguised as a failure”—Naveen Jain.

Are you ready to become an entrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs are managers as well as leaders.

You are a manager and leader of your career; it’s time for you to take charge and develop a strategic, thoughtful, and personal business plan to ensure your success as a business owner.

In the traditional sense, managers focus on planning, solving problems, and working to reach goals. Leaders have a vision—they originate ideas, influence, and motivate.

As an entrepreneur in charge of your career, you must fulfill both the managerial functions and the leadership role.

Thus, in this article, I want to spur you on to think like an entrepreneur and immediately develop a personal business plan (“Failing to plan is planning to fail”—Alan Lakin).

Many times, aspiring entrepreneurs don’t achieve success because they aren’t focused; their search for a new profession is aimless and confused.

Here are 6 key steps to help you take charge of your career:

Step 1: Create a Personal Career Profile

A personal career profile is a self-assessment of your skills, interests, knowledge, experience, and values. Use your profile as a reference tool you can draw from to develop a plan to begin your search for the perfect business opportunity.

Your profile should highlight your strengths, achievements, education, training, motivations, and uniqueness.

What are your top 3 strengths and skills you would like to use? This tool will also be useful when applying for a business loan, should you need one.

Step 2: Write a Vision Statement

Identify Your Core Values. What’s important to you? What’s your dream job? Write out your vision statement, which is the #1 rule of entrepreneurship and leadership = to know where you’re headed. And keep it simple.

Step 3: Believe in Your Services

What can you provide a customer or client? What are you selling? What will the customer or client miss out on if they don’t hire you? In other words, what is your value to your business niche?

You must be completely confident. Perhaps you need to upgrade your technical skills.

Step 4: Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

In addition to your leadership role, as an entrepreneur, you also manage the day-to-day activities of your business.

You will set S.M.A.R.T. goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely—and include flexibility. Make a list of your top 5 short-term goals and your 5 top long-term goals. Setting SMART goals will help you organize your thoughts and provides accountability.

Step 5: Market Yourself

How will you communicate your services and your value? If you work as a freelancer in your desired industry, you should also prepare a target list of clients for whom you would like to work.

One way to make contact and to get referrals to these companies is by sharing your list at networking events or with individuals you meet during your search for new business.

And consider using social media, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as blogs and Web sites to connect with people.

Step 6: Relax and Have Fun

Entrepreneurs work hard, fulfilling both the leadership and management roles of their enterprise. An active search for clients is likewise hard work.

To avoid burnout and feelings of anxiety, you need to take time for health, reflection, relaxation, and fun.

Only practicing deep breathing exercises and meditating will do much to reduce stress and will invigorate you for the long haul. Tip: add your favorite pastime activity to your profile to show that your interests go beyond “drumming up more business.”

Make the Commitment

If you are committed to taking charge of your future career or profession and to doing what’s necessary to manage your search effectively, then think like an entrepreneur!

Uncertain about your future profession?

Not sure where to begin?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Refine your business idea/research
  • Write a business plan/action plan
  • Get financing
  • Create your personal brand story and advertise
  • Start a blog
  • Get a patent on your new invention
  • Start a small business, such as freelance
  • Buy a business franchise
  • Get a mentor who is influential and inspiring
  • Work as a coach or consultant
  • Raise funding for your new business idea (restaurant, bakery, clothing boutique, bookstore, etc.)

You don’t want work to feel like work. What is it that Confucius said?

“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

What’s your passion? What do you go to bed dreaming about every night?

Indeed, dreaming alone will not ensure success; only taking action will help you to accomplish your goals.

But if you procrastinate, you’ll never realize your ultimate career aspirations.

You must get out of your comfort zone and do it now!!

Follow the 6 steps in this article and take charge of your career.

Think like an entrepreneur!

Caregiving Wives: Secrets to Well-Being, Hope, and Optimism

Caregiving Wives: Secrets to Well-Being, Hope, and Optimism

“Hope is being able to see that there is more light despite all of the darkness.”—Desmond Tutu

Martha’s emotions were fried, wasted, washed up.

She felt that if she stayed one more day, hour, or minute in caring for her husband, she would wither and float away.

For Martha, this wasn’t everyday stress, but the anxiety to the extreme.

To quote Fiona Wood in Six Impossible Things, “It’s like she was a jar with the lid screwed on too tight, and inside the jar were pickles, angry pickles, and they were fermenting, and about to explode.”

Martha felt like packing her bags, walking out, slamming the door behind her, and racing down the street without looking back.

But leaving was impossible. Martha’s husband was bedridden dependent on her for every little thing—even wiping his nose when he sneezed.

Thus, Martha seemed at the point to where she was sinking into severe depression.

She felt hopeless and trapped.

What could Martha do, short of seeking the advice of a mental health professional? After all, depression and despair could lead to all sorts of health issues up to and including suicide.

In this article, I will discuss seven ideas Martha can use immediately that will ease her anxiety and increase her sense of emotional well-being.

However, first, I would like to share a story that illustrates the benefits of hope and optimism, which is something Martha desperately needs.

Benefits of Hope and Optimism

Secrets to Well-Being, Hope, and OptimismHope is more than mere desire and better than mere expectation. Hope is indispensable if you want to endure a difficult situation without giving up or sinking into a deep depression.

Hope is strengthening in that despite difficult circumstances, you wait patiently for the hoped-for thing.

In Martha’s case, she would hope for a positive diagnosis of her husband’s condition.

Would he get better?

But hope does not have to be passive. To sit and wait is the same as “wishing” that gets you nowhere. You must work. To hope means to have positive thoughts about your future and to be willing to take steps necessary to make it happen.

Hope in Action

I read a book by Jose Saramago titled Blindness, published in 1995. The book won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998. Many consider this book Saramago’s dystopic vision, which means an imaginary place or society where everything is profoundly unhappy and miserable.

I’ve never read a more disturbing book. There’s mass blindness that pictures a loss of humanity.

Here is a brief plot summary as described on wikispaces.com:

Blindness tells the story of several individuals engulfed in a widespread epidemic of ‘white blindness,’ in which they only see bright white. The police quickly intern all the blind in an old mental hospital facility.

To stay with her now-blind husband, an ophthalmologist’s wife fakes her blindness into a new hell. A story of survival against an army of “liquidators and sacrifice ensues during which the last remaining seeing woman leads the internees to safety.”

So much happens to the characters in this book (the characters have no names, only descriptions). For instance, though helpless and interdependent, their behaviors are reduced to no more than animals.

The characters act worse than savages; they fight over food, commit rape, and murder. There is a total breakdown of what makes people human.

I’m not a literary scholar qualified to debate the themes and symbols of this book, but as a layperson, and one who enjoys reading good literature, I would describe Blindness as a book of horror!

As it turns out, “the doctor’s wife” never loses hope. In her compassion, she claws and scratches and schemes and even commits a murder herself.

In the end, when there seems to be no way out of “hell,” it is she, as the only person in the asylum not afflicted with blindness, that leads the group out of the asylum and helps them survive in the city.

The critical thought here is “hope.” No, hope isn’t passive; it’s a willingness to put into action steps to shape and invest in your future; it’s a positive outlook on your future.

However, the author Jose Saramago is an atheist Communist and believes religion is the cause of all humankind’s ills—including violence.

“Hope” means an expectation or desire for something to happen and as a possession of the Christian faith that hope is for everlasting life.

But as an atheist, did Saramago intend that one of his main characters should have hope?

Do atheists have hope?

We know that for many of the religious, hope gives peace of mind for what lies ahead. But atheists will say hope can be found apart from religion as there are many things to hope for: health, wellness, and happiness; for the power to make a better life for self and family, and so forth.

So even though, Saramago, as an atheist, would suggest no thought of religion or faith in a higher power, there’s no question in my mind that in his book Blindness, it is the “hope” that propels “the doctor’s wife” to take action—and win.

What Can Be Said About Optimism?

“Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.”—William James

Are you a glass half empty or a glass half full type of person?

Optimism means to be hopeful and confident about the future or your success in some endeavor—to expect a favorable outcome.

So, can optimism improve your health?

Most of us have to deal with the daily pressures of everyday life. These can lead to frustration, even panic. A pessimistic person sees defeat or a setback as permanent—also blaming herself for the situation. An optimistic person has hope and confidence in the future.

In a 30-year study of over 800 patients by the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, U.S.A. scientists found that optimists had better health and lived significantly longer than others.

The researchers also found that optimists coped better with stress, and therefore, less likely to develop depression.

Other benefits of optimism include:

  • It promotes a sense of happiness and wellbeing
  • It promotes self-confidence and boosts self-esteem
  • It enables you to take action to change or improve situations
  • It helps better feelings about money
  • It allows you to bounce back quickly from any adversity
  • It enables you to enjoy your work regardless of your job
  • It promotes peace of mind in situations over which you have no control

However, being optimistic is not easy, especially in an environment where problems stack up for almost everyone. It’s tough to think positively.

Three Tips to Feel More Optimistic

  • Focus deliberately on the positive when you find yourself thinking that you won’t enjoy something or you won’t succeed in some project. Consciously reject the thought (you “can” control your thinking; nobody can make you or force you to feel one way or another).
  • Seek out those that view life positively (the glass half-full attitudes).
  • Write down three good things that happened to you every day; always be grateful.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine.” –Proverbs 17:22

Seven Tips to Emotional Well-Being

  • Reduce Stress. Here are four easy ways to reduce stress: 1) breathe deeply; 2) focus on the moment; 3) reframe your situation; 4) keep your problems in perspective.
  • Meditate. You can find numerous how-to videos on YouTube, both long and short meditations, depending on how much time you have. Meditation gives you a quiet internal space, you need to be calm and peaceful, no matter your situation.
  • Exercise. Try both aerobic (jogging, fast walking, tennis) and muscle toners that include calisthenics and therapeutic exercise. Exercise delivers oxygen to the body cells, improves blood circulation, and overall health. (Always check with your doctor first before engaging in any form of exercise activities.)
  • Sleep. Better sleep = better health. Conversely, not getting enough sleep harms the body. Sleep is vital to your physical, social, and mental well-being. Lack of sleep can lead to forgetfulness, irritability, looking and feeling run-down, and depression. (See resources below.)
  • Eat well. “Good nutrition creates health in all areas of our existence. All parts and interconnected.” –R. Colin Campbell. Vitamins and minerals have no calories. Food has all the vitamins and minerals you need. If your diet lacks a vitamin or mineral over a long period, you will develop a deficiency. (Speak with your doctor for diet and nutrition recommendations, including supplements.)
  • Create positive emotions. Yes, you can choose how to feel. Here are seven ways to do so: 1) concentrate on positive things; 2) talk about positive things; 3) laugh; 4) seek the company of positive thinkers; 5) treat yourself compassionately; 6) focus on helping others; 7) forgive.
  • Act the love. When caring for your spouse, one way to keep love alive is to call to mind his positive attributes: Was he a good provider? Was he kind towards others? Was he respectful? Was he generous in spirit? Considering questions such as these will help you to feel empathy for your loved one.

Finally, dear caregiver wife, you are performing a heroic work. It can be difficult.

You will, on occasion, have feelings of pain, fear, anxiety, overwhelm, and sadness.

Whatever your feelings are, you should acknowledge and honor them.

If your emotions are to the extreme, please seek professional help.

But I assure you that if you follow the ideas I’ve shared in this article, you will be emotionally healthy, have a positive attitude, and compassion for your loved one.

Your heart will overflow with joy, love, and happiness.


 

Resources:

Exercise: A Guide from the National Institute on Aging (free). Call 1-800-222-2225

Fitness over Fifty: An Exercise Guide from the National Institute on Aging (Hatherleigh Press 2003)

The No Sweat Exercise Plan, written by Harvey Simon, a member of the Harvard Heart Letter editorial board, is published by McGraw Hill

Sleep quizzes: https://thesleepdoctor.com/sleep-quizzes

The Ultimate Guide to Better Sleep: https://kriscarr.com/blog/sleep-hygiene-guide/

www.Sleep.org

Find more ideas in my new book:
A Family Caregiver’s Guide: 7 Secrets to Convert Negative Triggers to Positive Emotions   Find it on www.Amazon.com

 

 

Are You Sitting Your Life Away? 7 Tips to Reduce Health Risks

Are You Sitting Your Life Away? 7 Tips to Reduce Health Risks

“Sitting while socially engaged might be something that’s very good for you. Likewise, sitting for a few minutes to decompress after a stressful day could be good for you.” –Jacqueline Kerr, Ph.D., associate professor of family and preventive medicine at UC San Diego

Are you sitting down while reading this article?  If so, we immediately have something in common because I’m sitting in front of my desktop computer writing.

How long have you been sitting?

What is sitting too much?

Under 2019 “Trending Articles” on the US National Library of Medicine National Institute of Health (PubMed) website, is the article, “Too Much Sitting: A Newly Recognized Health Risk.”

According to the PubMed article, even 30-minutes of continuous sitting is too long.

Are you sitting too much?

Some studies suggest sitting for a prolonged seven or eight hours may be bad for your health. However, according to the PubMed article, even 30-minutes of uninterrupted sitting can put you at risk.

What Are the Health Risks?

According to numerous studies:
  • Obesity; Too Much Belly Fat
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Stroke
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT); Blood Clots
  • Osteoporosis (weaken bones)
  • Misalignment of the Neck, Shoulders, and Upper Spine
  • Kidney Disease
  • Increased Anxiety (you withdraw from friends)
  • Early Death

Why Is Sitting Too Much Linked with Health Problems?

According to Andrea LaCroix, Ph.D., director of the Women’s Health Center of Excellence at the University of California, San Diego, Harvard Medical School: “Scientists can’t explain it. And they emphasize that a link doesn’t prove that too much sitting causes these diseases. One possibility: Sitting for a long time causes muscles to burn less fat and blood to flow more sluggishly. Both can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other problems.”

To quote Harvard Medical School: “Researchers aren’t sure why prolonged sitting has such harmful health consequences. But one possible explanation is that it relaxes your largest muscles. When muscles relax, they take up very little glucose from the blood, raising your risk of type 2 diabetes. “

One aerobic instructor put it this way, “Blood is getting stuck in your legs, and pooled at your feet. If your knees are bent, you’re further impeding the return flow back to your heart. Sitting too long allows your metabolism to slow down.”

Dr. Barry Braun, director of Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, says, “People who sit the most are most likely to be obese. However, are people obese because they sit too much, or do they sit too much because they are obese?” Thus, in some cases, it’s unclear which way the link goes.

What You Can Do to Stop the Negative Effects of Uninterrupted Sitting

Tip #1: Avoid long periods sat in front of a TV or computer.

Tip #2: Set an alarm clock on your cell phone (on low) to remind you to stand up and stretch every 30 minutes or so.

Tip #3: Stand at your desk for part of the day; talk to your boss about a treadmill desk or set your computer on top of a box.

Tip #4: “Walk and talk” rather than “sit and speak” while on the phone.

Tip #5: Walk around the house, touch your toes, or do a few stretching exercises to relax the chest and hip muscles.

Tip #6: Maintain stuff yourself such as vacuuming, washing your car, and cutting the grass instead of paying others to do your chores to keep the blood pumping.

Tip #7: Exercise during commercial breaks when watching TV.

Does Physical Activity Compensate for Sitting?

No. Exercise is not an “antidote” to excess sitting, experts say.

Marc Hamilton, Ph.D. of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, says “It is increasingly clear that prolonged sitting is bad for everyone, whether they are fit or fat, or active or inactive.

“The experimental studies conducted by us and others are consistent in finding that sitting too much is unhealthy even in people who are not overweight and those who exercise regularly.”

Bottom Line

Based on the expert and scientific studies quoted above, it seems clear that less sitting and more moving overall contribute to better health.

“Too much sitting overall and prolonged periods of sitting seem to increase risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, says Dr. Laskowski of Mayo Clinic.

Who wants that???

So, stand up, walk around, stretch, get out of the chair or off the couch and move your body!

As David Bolton, physiotherapist says, “Motion is lotion.”

Finally

Here’s a link to Bow-flex, fitness advisor, Tom Holland’s YouTube video called “3 Stretches for People Who Sit All Day.” This video is less than three minutes long.

It demonstrates how to stretch the back muscles that get super tight from sitting all day. The video shows how to open up your chest muscles to improve posture, especially if you sit hunched over a computer keyboard for hours on end.  https://goo.gl/jkjFMm

I tried this exercise and found it to be super fun and useful.

Please, do not sit your life away. Think about the cost to your health, the pain, and misery of your body. Keep your joints, loose, mobile, active, and do so regularly—get moving!

Singlehood: The Angst and the Happiness

Singlehood: The Angst and the Happiness

“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.”—Henry David Thoreau

I chatted with a dear friend the other day who in her mid-sixties and had always been single, about the topic of being alone.

She had this to say: “I’ve led an active life with many friends. I have mentored many young women during my long 30-year career and even shared my experience with several men.

“But because of my strong independent streak, I have never been in a long-term relationship with a guy since my late twenties.

“Even now, after having had major hip surgery, while I do find it difficult to do some stuff myself, I own my own home and have lived alone unafraid for most of my life. I feel no sadness.”

Merriam-Webster defines “singlehood” as “the state of being single and especially unmarried.” But most people now use the term to refer to people who are not in a long-term relationship.

In 2017, The Census Bureau reported that a record number of more than 110 million adults in the U.S. were not married. They were divorced or widowed or had always been single. Or, forty-five percent of all Americans aged 18 or older are single.

This figure is up slightly in the General Social Survey 2018 data that shows just over half of Americans between the ages of 18-34 (51%) said they do not have a steady romantic partner.

And the people, who did marry, according to the Census Bureau, were taking longer than ever to do so. According to the report, the median age of first marriage rose to 29.5 years for men and 27.4 for women.

By the time today’s young adults reach the age of 50, one in four of them will have been single all their life, according to Pew Research.

Are you single?

If so, and if singleness is a conscious decision, what does this data mean to you?

In the 1950s, society viewed singleness as abnormal. But many today find singlehood just as fulfilling without a partner.

Of course, there are many sides to the issue of singlehood.

What Do the Experts Have to Say?

One expert in the field of singleness, Bella DePaulo, Ph.D., Social Psychologist at the University of California, authored Singled Out: How Singles are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After (2007). 

Dr. DePaulo writes extensively in the literature on this topic, including in Psychology Today.

Also, health journals and online news sites and health-related blogs often quote Dr. DePaulo.

Here are titles of just a few articles that reference Dr. DePaulo and her work:

“Women Single and Loving It,” by Jeanie Lerche Davis on WebMD

“Why More Women Are Staying Single,” by Olivia Willis on ABC Health & Wellbeing

“Five Health Benefits of Being Single,” Medical News Today

“There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be Single,” CNN Health (written by Dr. DePaulo)

Separating Truth from Fiction 

Fiction 1: Marriage or long-term relationships ensure “happily ever after.” By getting married you will be happier, healthier or better off. You will have peace and tranquility. You will have someone to share your life with and will not grow old alone and die alone.

Truth 1: Yes, some studies show that married people are happier on average, but what about an abusive or unhealthy partnership? You will agree that such a situation can be psychologically devastating.

And there is no guarantee that you won’t die alone even if married. After all, how likely is it that you and your partner will die at the exact same time?? 

Fiction 2: Those who say, “Kids in single-parent homes are doomed!” These kids will end up as drug addicts, lawless, and anti-social while parents with two parents have perfectly conflict-free households.

Truth 2: Two-parent homes can provide many benefits. For instance, Sara McLanahan, Professor of Sociology at Princeton University in her research showed that “even a child in a stable single-parent household was likely to do worse on some measures than a child of a married couple.”

So it is true that raising children in a loving environment where they have access to opportunities, resources, and quality time from their parents, they will do well.

However, some studies show little to no differences between the kids raised by two parents and those in a single-parent home.

For example, a national study on substance abuse of more than 22,000 teenagers, found that about 5% of children of two-parent homes had substance abuse problems versus about 6% of children raised by single mothers.

Summary: the difference of 1% meant that the majority of children in single-parent households (94%) are doing fine.

Some situations do cause distress. Single-parent homes, for instance, is a matter of concern because many single parents and their children often will suffer economic need and social disadvantages.

The question often becomes if one parent can raise children successfully.

To quote one single mother of three: “Many nights I would pray to God in tears and say to him: ‘I don’t know what to do tomorrow’”

But unfortunately, single-parent families have become a permanent and noticeable feature in American society. And sociologists point out that the number of single mothers “overwhelmingly outweighs the number of single fathers.”

Regrettably, this can be one of the “angst of singlehood,” if you also happen to be a parent.

Poverty

Another circumstance where singlehood may cause women in particular apprehension is when she loses her partner in death. A significant percentage of older women, for instance, struggle to stay out of poverty after becoming widowed.

In fact, for individuals 65 and over, the poverty rate for women across all ethnicities and races is 15.6% versus 12.2% for men. (Source: Kaiser Family Foundation, How Many Seniors Live in Poverty)

 Singlehood and Psychology

Some who are single want partners. Perhaps they feel lonely. Others are seeking a “soulmate.” While it is true that a kind and loving companion can bring great joy to your life, singles should use caution and not rush into a relationship for the wrong reasons.

Marriage or a long-term relationship is not necessarily the solution to the problem of loneliness. For instance, poor communication can ruin a relationship. Feelings get hurt. One consequence could be that one partner becomes defensive and shuts down emotionally.

Would this not lead to loneliness?

So if you feel lonely, why not address the problem before you become romantically attached to someone? Adjust your attitude and habits. Take the initiative to make friends while you are still single and establish a solid foundation before entering into a long-term relationship.

Avoid Presumptuousness

Many people presume that most single women, in particular, are miserable and pining away for a partner.

Not so!

Let me tell you a funny story:

Another friend, a sharp-looking, self-assured woman in her late 50s, called to tell me how tired she was of men trying to pick her up. One approached my friend at a gas station, another in a restaurant, and a third man at a social gathering—all during one week.

She had me cracking up when she described these gentlemen as pathetic and groveling and seemed ignorant to the fact that not all single women wanted to be “courted.”

She kindly declined all of these advances.

My friend, like numerous others, treasures her solitude. Many single women appreciate the opportunity to express their creativity. They embark on intellectual journeys or engage in activities that involve getting in touch with their spiritual selves on their terms.

Happy While Single

Here is a shortlist of the “happiness of singlehood”:

  1. Freedom: to create a trajectory that suits them and fill their life with things that make them happy and fulfilled. They don’t try to please others and can do things at the drop of a hat.They can do whatever they want and however they want. When it comes to careers, hobbies, or education, they have real freedom to choose!
  1. Personal Space: to have time to spend with themselves. It’s not that single people are anti-social or dislike being around others, but they enjoy solitude and never feel bored.
     
    Single people do not crave to be part of a couple (married or in a long-term relationship). They don’t have to compromise with another person. One sociology professor described living alone in your apartment as an “oasis.”
  1. Health Benefits: an interesting article in Medical News Today (2018) stated that because single people do more sports than married couples, they weigh significantly less. They have a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).
     
    A high BMI, as we know, increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.
     
    In this same article, it pointed out that mental health also improved because the single person has an increased sense of self-determination and enhanced personal development.
  1. Social Connections: in its research published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, found that single people (both men and women) are more likely to keep in touch.
     
    Single people assist aging parents, siblings, and close friends more so than married or divorced people. Connectedness protects health; isolation increases the risk of early mortality.
  1. Peacefulness: to enjoy a solitary existence. Similar to “personal space” above, single people like quiet because they can contemplate or think deeply and at length without disturbance. They enjoy fewer responsibilities with others taking up their time and energy.

The Not So Happy While Single

Here’s a shortlist of the “angst of singlehood”:

  1. Loneliness: as mentioned earlier in this article, having a significant other to share their life with is a big concern for some singles. It is not a deliberate choice to be single. Living alone does not appeal to some singles; they desire a soulmate.
  1. Economics: you have twice as much money if you’re married or in a committed relationship. You can share living expenses, vacations, eating out, and so forth.
     
    One single woman says each month her bank account statement and credit card bills remind her that there is “no splitting the cost.”And some single mothers, as I mentioned earlier, often suffer severe economic pressures and other social challenges. Some single mothers complain that it takes a “superwoman” to manage it all.
     
    Also, in the United States, there are more than 1,000 provisions (1,138 to be exact) in federal laws in which marital status is a big plus.
     
    Social security is but one example of the many benefits, rights, and privileges. If you’re married and your spouse dies, some of his or her benefits will go to you.
  1. Emotions: one single woman said, “Being single is the worst feeling in the world.” She had physical needs, such as two people in bed and shared love and caresses. No, she isn’t at all happy being single. And she feels frustrated. Perhaps you agree.
  1. Age: growing old alone scares many people. They fear they will die alone. Anxiety about this seems unreasonable. Anyone who nurtures family relationships and attends to their friends will have these people in their lives when tragedy strikes, and as they age.
  1. Health: some researchers say that married men, in particular, are healthier than single men. In an article published in the Health Daily News on March 23, 2019, entitled, “Single, Free, But Not So Healthy?” states that new research suggests, “Single life has its charm and freedoms, but adults who never marry may not live as long as their wedded peers.
     
    ”Numerous studies going back 150 years suggest that married men were more likely to practice good health habits, such as regular visits to the doctor, compared to single men and thus live longer.But this new survey, conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles researchers, focused on men who never married.
     
    The researchers found that during an eight-year study, those who never married were 58 percent more likely to have died at the end of the study’s eight-year follow up period than those who were widowed, divorced or separated.
     
    The conclusion: that in this study at least, for men, marriage has a significant benefit on health.
     
    Another researcher, Howard S. Friedman, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside disagrees.
     
    Dr. Friedman stated, “We did not find that single men are at greater risk for premature mortality, but rather some men are at greater risk for poor marriages and poor health and that those poor marriages, breakups, and divorces are stressful.”
     
    (Single women, on the other hand, stay healthy despite not getting married.  They tend to have “good social networks” with people they can turn to when they need help.)

Summary

So there you have it. I’ve provided a brief discussion on the pros and cons, or should I say, the “Angst and the Happiness” of singlehood.

For many, singlehood is the way to go. It makes them happy and content to be on their own; they need the freedom, and control and having these far outweigh any potential drawbacks.

For others, they want a partner. They know that marriage is not a “magic bullet,” but feel “incomplete” without a life partner and crave for someone to share their life.

A final point:

Many single people say they are “single-at-heart.”

What does this mean?

Liz: “If you are single-at-heart,” this means single life suits you.”

Cynthia: “I think single-at-heart means you don’t aspire to live as part of a couple (married or otherwise).”

Anna: “I believe single-at-heart means I need my solitude. I need my own space.”

Misty: “Single-at-heart for me means that I find it more fulfilling to spend time on my own rather than spending it with other people.”

*****  *****

Are you single-at-heart?

If you get nothing else from this article, be assured that no matter what you choose—the single-life or a life partner, you can have a life of bliss!

 “I like being single. I’m always there when I need me.” – Art Leo