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Staying Sane During the Holidays

Posted by amy on December 22nd, 2013

xmas lightsSoftly falling snow, family and friends gathered round the fire, Bing Crosby crooning in the background—while this may be idyllic holiday season, for most of us it is far from reality.  Instead of joyful carolers roaming the streets we have malls packed with people frantically shopping for last minute gifts, nice family dinners are interrupted by cranky children and non-traditional work schedules, and a relaxing weekend to soak in the wonder of the season is abandoned in exchange for a seemingly endless calendar of parties and events.   The time period between Halloween and New Year’s is inarguably the busiest time of the year.  But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your sanity.  Here are a few tips to help you stay sane and enjoy the holidays.

Sleep

The most important, yet most neglected need.  It’s easy to put off sleep in the hustle and bustle of trying to get everything done and attend all of the parties and events; however, being well rested will help you feel better and have more energy to accomplish what you need to get done.  Also, it’s a good way to help avoid a case of the sniffles.

Avoid the Crowds

That may seem like an impossible feat right now but it is possible.  Malls and stores are typically less crowded on weekday mornings. Also, the closer it gets to Christmas the crazier it tends to get.  You can avoid the whole thing all together by shopping online or creating your own gifts.

Budget

No matter how many people you are shopping for, setting a budget and sticking to it will help you avoid a January full of regrets—and big credit card bills.

Give Back

With so much going on it is very easy to become self-focused, especially the kids.  Take a break from all the commercialism and give back to those who are less fortunate; whether at a food bank or soup kitchen or by donating clothes or toys.

 

Lucy Bakker is a popular blogger and freelance writer from Tucson.  She writes about subjects as diverse as law practices (like http://www.swlaw.com/locations/tucson), restaurant reviews, and home decorating tips.

 

Coping with a Child’s Disability

Posted by amy on November 27th, 2013

The fear of every parent is that something will be wrong with their child.  Being told that their son or daughter has a disability can trigger the same emotions as the death of a loved one.  In fact, most parents, upon learning of the disability, go through the full stages of grief: disbelief/denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

It is only when they reach acceptance of the disability and have fully worked through their own feelings of anger, guilt, and shame, that parents can turn their focus to helping their child.  Parents need to reach a place where they can work to understand their own child’s disability and how that will affect the child’s development, learning, and future life.

boyMedical and educational professionals can help parents through this difficult time. They have specialized training and can guide parents through the process.  They have resources and information that will be crucial in parents making informed decisions about their child’s treatment and development.

Here are a few tips for parents who are trying to cope with a child’s disability

1. Accept that the emotions you are experiencing are natural. Whether you choose to seek professional counseling to help you through the grieving process, acknowledging that you have an emotional reaction is the first step in dealing with that reaction.

2. Remember that you determine the amount of communication and involvement you want to have.  This applies to the medical discussions about your child as well as interactions with educators.  While each will have a certain amount of information that they need to share with you, it is up to you how much detail you can absorb in one sitting and how often you can handle new information.

3. You are entitled to compassion and honesty from the professionals in your child’s life.  Special education teachers and counselors should respect not only your emotions, but your place in your child’s life.  They should be honest about their own shortcoming in knowledge or experience.  They should also be cognizant of potential situations that are emotionally draining for you.

4. You have resources beyond the hospital and/or school.  There are numerous non-profit organizations that can provide you with background materials and research to help you understand your child’s disability.  There are also parent and family support groups and networks that give you the chance to talk to others who are in the same boat as you.  The latter in particular can be an invaluable resource for helping you cope with your child’s disability.

Attending Races: Stress or De-stress?

Posted by amy on September 24th, 2013

Race—the word itself conjures up images of competition, tension, adrenaline; not exactly how most people would describe a stress free environment.  With so many different types of races and so many different types of people it’s impossible to categorize races as either stressful or stress free or how individual people respond to races.  Every experience and every person is unique; however there are a few conjectures that can be made on the subject.

The first, and probably one of the biggest, factors into whether or not an individual would find a race stressful is their stake in the race.  Individuals that have money, a reputation, or something to gain or lose from the result are more likely to find the race stressful than some who is there simply for the enjoyment of the race.  A personal connection, such as having a personal relationship with a race driver  is also likely to increase an individual’s stress during an event.

Atlanta Speedway fansAs race fans know, there are many different types of races out there; everything from cars and motorcycles to horses and dogs and everything in between.  Each spectator is different with some experiencing stress during a horse race but totally stress free during a stock car race, or vice versa.  Others may not experience stress during any type of race while others become stressed at them all. It’s impossible to predict how each individual will feel because it’s based solely on their distinctive personality and emotions.

There is a separate group that is quite unlike the rest.  This group races as way of relieving the stress of life and work.  They embrace their sport and enjoy the details of it as a hobby.  It is a way for them to unwind, relax, and enjoy life.  They relish the competition and adrenaline and use it is a distraction from daily responsibilities.

Everyone needs a way of getting a break from the routine of daily life and de-stress.  For many going to the races provides that break.  The thrill of the race, the love of competition, and the exhilarating experience each race brings allows them to let go of stress and embrace the adventure that each day brings.

Marty Ash is a frequent blogger and web journalist on diverse subjects. Ash has covered topics as varied as yoga & meditation, educational reform, art, auto racing, and hollywood celebrities.  In addition to publishing features on top news websites and magazines, Ash has created profiles and bios for race car driver Scott Tucker, author Margaret Atwood, actor Jeff Daniels, and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

 

Tips for Making Tax Filing Less Stressful

Posted by amy on August 11th, 2013

One of the most universally dreaded activities for earning adults anywhere is filing income tax returns. Firstly, tax season is stressful for many people simply because of concerns about being able to pay taxes or pay them on time. However, there are some who regard this civic duty as even more burdensome than actually paying taxes.

The process of tax filing can be a real nightmare not just because people generally don’t like math but because the tax code is just way too complicated. Many taxpayers don’t understand things like tax credits or tax liabilities. They don’t know the difference between standard deductions versus itemized deductions. They are not aware of all the types of taxable income that have to be reported to accurately prepare a tax return.

tax formsAlso, filling out a just single tax form requires following very lengthy instructions that run over a hundred pages. For Form 1040 alone, there are 46 lines to go over and a dozen different schedules to be used to report income or deductions. In other words, filing taxes requires a lot of detailed reading and very careful computations that are beyond what the average taxpayer can handle without any sort of help.

In addition, the tax code is ever-evolving so tax payers have to keep themselves updated with new tax laws. Filers are concerned about making mistakes on their income tax returns because of penalties. Just one error on your return could end up increasing what you owe or reducing your tax refund. Some mistakes could also delay refunds.

There are a number of ways to make this tax season less stressful. Consider hiring the services of a professional registered tax preparer to have your taxes done accurately and quickly. Professional help is ideal especially if you have a complicated tax situation. Make sure the professional you choose can guarantee the accuracy of your return and is willing to make amendments of any mistake was committed.

moneyIf you’re income tax return is pretty straightforward and you just need help to ensure the calculations are accurate, you can simply ask people you know who is good in math to double check your figures. Using good tax software is another excellent way to make tax filing easier. You no longer have to fill in a form manually and it lets you file your return online and get a rebate. Using tax software also eliminates math errors and helps precisely identify your taxable income, all applicable deductions, tax credits and liabilities.

Perhaps one of the best ways to reduce stress during tax time is to prepare for it the whole year so you’re not cramming to meet the tax deadline. Always keep financial documents and paperwork organized such as receipts, payment invoices and bills. When you make it a year-round task instead of a seasonal chore, you’ll be better prepared for a less stressful tax season.

Jill Von Suxen is an accountant and tax adviser.  In addition to offering Phoenix forensic accounting and fraud investigation services, she writes about tax issues and business receivership for a variety of blogs and websites.

photo by: EmreAyar

Historic Pontiac and Auto Repair

Posted by amy on July 11th, 2013

Pontiac showroom, York St, Sydney, January 1940, by Sam HoodThe origin of the Pontiac automobile dates back to 1926. It was introduced that year as a “companion marque” — meaning a model or brand of a manufactured product — to GM’s Oakland Motor Car line; however the Pontiac name was first used years earlier, in 1906, by the Pontiac Spring & Wagon Works, and was then associated with Chief Pontiac , who was the leader of an uprising against the British shortly after the French and Indian War.

In 1908, the Oakland Motor Company and Pontiac Spring & Wagon Works Company merged together, forming the Oakland Motor Car Company, manufacturing the Carter car in Pontiac, Michigan. The following year the company was purchased by General Motors, and the first General Motors Pontiac was created as an inexpensive six cylinder car that was meant to be in competition with the less costly four cylinder models. Within months, Pontiac’s sales increased and Oakland’s sales decreased, and the brand became known as the only companion marque to survive its parent when Oakland stopped production in 1932.

Many of the models of Pontiac, down through the decades, are now considered historic vehicles today, requiring special automotive repair . These can be valuable vehicles to have, especially if you have a desire to get them into the movies. The Pontiacs of that era had a very specific look that period film producers love. If it’s too much trouble to find a mechanic who can work on Pontiacs from the 30s and 40s, you might prefer a more recent model, such as the Sunfire, which is a vehicle you can work on yourself, as long as you have access to a repair manual.

Clutter and Web Bookmarks

Posted by amy on June 9th, 2013

softwareRunning a search on organization or clutter in a search engine returns millions and millions of webpages. There are countless books, blogs, and even magazines out there dedicated to helping people get a handle on the clutter in their lives, to make their homes, offices, and computers easier to navigate. Clutter is the enemy, whether in a closet, a file cabinet, or an email in box.

While there are tons of television shows designed to helping hoarders and clutterbugs clear their homes, garages, and even offices, it’s not as glamorous to watch someone clean out an inbox or worse, clear out their web bookmarks. There are tips out there for these tasks, and there may even been demo videos somewhere. It’s just not the stuff of broadcast TV. However, removing clutter from one’s digital life is just as important as removing it from the physical environment.

Web bookmarks may seem like an irrelevant area when focusing on a clutter-free life, but is it really? Most people have bookmarks stored in multiple locations. They have web browsers on home and work computers with lists of favorites stored in each. They may have emails or chat logs that they have saved because someone sent them a cool link through it. They may even have social bookmarking account that they use to collect even more bookmarks. When it comes time to find a specific link, they have to check all those different places — and maybe some social networking site where they may have seen a link. Putting all those web bookmarks in a single place with a simple, organized system and periodically removing dead or irrelevant links, i.e., clutter, is a much better way to function online.

Ang Bren regularly contributes to blogs and websites on subjects related to technology and society. He has also written for companies like the one found on integrated solutions

photo by: Ed Yourdon

Treatment for Severe Sleep Apnea

Posted by amy on June 5th, 2013

sleepIt’s called a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, which was first developed in 1981 by Professor Sullivan of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia. The CPAP is use for the more severe cases of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which there are one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while sleeping.

How the CPAPsleep2 machine works is by delivering a stream of compressed air through a hose to the nostril or a full-face mask. The air-pressure keeps the upper airway open, thus preventing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is the pressure of the air that keeps the airways open rather than the movement. Another benefit of the machine is loud snoring that comes with sleep apnea is eliminated as well. There is no cure for OSA , but continued use of an approved CPAP machine will enhance the quality of the OSAs life. Plus, the therapy will not only transforms the lives of the sufferers, but for their bed-partners as well.

CPAP machines and CPAP supplies are widely available to purchase from medical supply providers on the Internet. Some countries require a prescription in order to purchase the machine. In the United States, the cost of purchasing a machine is usually reimbursed by most health insurance providers.

Social sites such as Twitter or Facebook can provide further information.

photos by: thejbird & r e n a t a

Relieve Stress with Exercise

Posted by amy on May 16th, 2013

Stress is something that everyone faces, usually on a daily basis.  It can affect concentration, alertness and cognitive function.  It can also interfere with sleep and lead to increased fatigue, which further impair logic, creativity, and overall brain function.  Prolonged stress combined with biological factors can lead to heart attacks and other serious illness, so finding a way to manage stress is vital to overall health.

fitnessDaily exercise can help with relieving stress, reducing anxiety and even dispelling depression.  Exercise helps stress in two distinct ways.  Most people at one time or another have used strenuous exercise as a way to work out their problems.  This usually involves working out frustration, anger, or other aggressive emotions by exercising until exhausted or through participating in impact sports.  However, there are actual physiological and chemical reactions caused by exercise that help reduce stress, even if the exercise is just a short walk.

Why Exercise Works

Even a little bit of exercise can have a significant impact on stress levels.  For starters, regular aerobic exercise has been proven in study after study to alleviate tension and stress.  Increased blood flow is great for maintaining alertness and improving concentration and has a positive effect all types of cognitive functioning.  Best of all, it helps with sleep so those that individuals are more likely to be well-rested and better able to handle stressful situations.

There are additional benefits to exercise that can help with mental health beyond stress.  For example, exercise helps stabilize or actually elevates mood, which is why people who usually report feeling happier or better after a workout or game.  This is related to the release of endorphins, the brain’s unique painkillers. This can help combat depression and keep stress from escalating into full blown anxiety.

How Much Exercise?

There are different schools of thought with regard to how much exercise is needed to combat stress.  Regular physical activity is a good start, even if it’s just a daily walk around the neighborhood or another form of home fitness.  Medical studies have shown that only five minutes of anything aerobic be enough to trigger the chemicals that stave off anxiety. A ten minute walk may be enough to help stabilize mood and reduce low level depression.

These effects tend to be immediate, but do not necessarily last.  For long-term stress relief, exercise needs to be more structured and regular. Working out several times a week for a prolonged period of time can help keep the brain in shape by releasing the right chemicals, regulating sleep, and keeping stress at bay.

photo by: Ed Yourdon

Positive Affirmations Determine Your Success

Posted by amy on May 8th, 2013

self helpMany professionals such as those at any of the Southwestern Company affiliate companies can tell you that there really is something to be said for affirmations. They may not practice them, but it can be something that they do once in a while, when they remember it, and it always makes a difference. The thing about affirmations is that they shape the way you are prepared to look at the world. If you start out the day telling the world that you love it — and believe that statement, then it is going to take something pretty big to pull you down from that kind of high.

The thing is that you use affirmations every day without knowing it. It is practicing positive affirmations that take hard work, dedication, and help get you to the top of your game. If you wake up every morning saying that you can do anything better than everyone else, and you take the time to learn the necessary skills, and you study all the right things, and you work hard toward your goals, you are going to do it. Here is the key though. If you wake up in the morning and tell yourself that you suck, you can’t do anything right, you don’t know what you are doing, etc., then you aren’t even going to want to read the books, learn the skills, or work hard, because what is the point when you already can’t do anything right. It is all in your attitude, and the attitude you put yourself in.

The benefits of being able to tell yourself that you love everything, and that you can do anything, and believe it when you say it can be seen the next time someone puts you down for something. Instead of worrying about it, meditate and do some affirmations. Tell yourself that you can do well, that you are doing well, that you are great. Say it until you believe it and see how you feel. You won’t be in as bad of a mood any longer. This is important to sales people of all types, because they are constantly facing rejection. A company that hires on people who can keep this good attitude and holds onto those people not only will be around for a long time, but might even win some awards.

photo by: akk_rus

Record Sharing Software for Medical Facilities

Posted by amy on January 1st, 2013

For years, medical facilities had to rely on the paper and pencil to share and promote records amongst various medical professionals, or in patient care directly dealing with patients and clients. While that system was fine, it was also prone to a variety of mistakes, missteps, and inefficiencies in the process.

medical filesLuckily, though, record sharing software is the wave of the future, and has advanced medical care to the point where different facilities can digitally share records and patient information with the click of a mouse and the sharing of a document or record. This, in turn, has greatly improved patient care across the board and allowed medical facilities and doctors in private practice to greatly improve their medical care and service to patients with a wide variety of illnesses and issues.

There are a few great benefits and innovations related to advances and improvements in record sharing software for medical facilities, but none more important the HITECH Act recently passed in the United States. HITECH, or Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health, promotes and encourages doctors and facilities to adopt electronic health records and electronic medical records for their patients, while providing them resources and help to do so. The HITECH Act correctly understands that EMRs are much cheaper, more cost effective, and more reliable than the old paper records when it comes to adequately caring for and taking care of patients.

There are many advantages to electronic medical records, namely the fact that doctors can seamlessly share records and condition information on patients with other specialists and facilities. By improving and making easier the communication streams between doctors and clinics for patient care, the general patient experience and medical care is greatly improved. No longer are doctors working in silos; today, they are communicating across platforms with each other to best understand what each patient needs in terms of care.

On the other hand, though, security is a concern with EMRs, as there have been recent cases where electronic health records have been hacked, lost, and more. While technology and security will always go hand in had as concerns and causes for potential issues, it is nevertheless troubling to consider the possibility of hacking and stolen data in electronic medical records. That is one major disadvantage that must be improved upon in 2013 to ensure that patients have not only great access to care, but the best security and safety possible in guarding their private health records from falling into the wrong hands.

Nevertheless, electronic medical records are here to stay, and more and more doctors and clinics are making the switch permanently. While technology will continue to improve, patient care and recording devices will only improve along with it, making electronic medical records not only the wave of the future, but the highest quality solution when it comes to caring for patients across platforms, and from various doctors, clinics, and hospitals all working together to provide the best quality care and support.

Summer Brent is a journalist and blogger. Summer’s work enjoys writing about medical advances, medical technology, and the impact of software for sites like www.clickpointsoftware.com as well as various tech and medical blogs.

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