Bad at remembering to take care of yourself? These 25 tips can make it almost automatic.
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Cigna 2017

Most of us want to take good care of ourselves, and we know that good, preventive self-care routines are the best way to do that.

But it can also be overwhelming, stressful, and time-consuming to try to remember all the things that we're supposed to do.

Have you had enough water? Did you take a minute to meditate? Shouldn't you get up and take a walk? When's the last time you ate? Or slept eight hours? How long have you been sitting at your desk?


Image via iStock.

Knowing that you haven't done any of these acts of self-care can feel super stressful — exactly the opposite of the effect self-care is supposed to have.

The last thing you need is to stress about how to care for yourself.

But when you have a busy schedule, it's tough to stay accountable to yourself too, and so it's easy to let your own well-being — and health — slide. And that is when health problems — brought on by stress, poor eating habits, lack of exercise or something else — can develop.

Luckily, there are lots of hacks out there to help automate taking care of yourself.

They help take the stress out of, well, de-stressing by helping you build a healthy self-care routine and making it a habit that's easier to stick to.

Self-care isn't selfish, despite how it is sometimes perceived. Image via iStock.

Here are just a few ideas and apps that can help automatically make self-care a priority — whether you have two minutes or two hours:

1. Do nothing for two minutes (while listening to some soothing waves).

Image via iStock.

2. Or try this quiet place if waves aren't your thing.

Just a few minutes of quieting your mind can help relieve your stress and regroup your thoughts.

3. Listen to this comforting rain noise or create your own calming noise.

Image via iStock.

4. Pot some succulents on your phone.

5. Weave colorful silk on the screen at this website.

6. Get up and take a walk outside.

Image via iStock.

A 2016 study showed that even a small dose of nature, such as a simple walk down a tree-lined city street, can reduce stress. So once a day, if you can, try to carve out a small amount of time to get outside and see some trees or grass — even if it's doing a small walk around the block, spending five minutes in a park, or parking down the street from work so you can walk by some trees for a few minutes.

7. With the help of an app, remember to stay hydrated.

Image via iStock.

We all know that we're supposed to drink water, but remembering isn’t always that easy. Apps like iDrated, Waterlogged, and Eight Glasses a Day — most of which are free — can help.

8. And check out WeTap to find the closest water fountain or fill-up station.

9. Keep forgetting to take lunch? Temple and Time4Lunch can help with that.

Image via iStock.

10. Challenge yourself to make your lunch the evening before.

Image via iStock.

That way you won't have to take the time to make it or buy it when it feels like you just don't have the time or energy.  

11. Track your sleep cycle with a fitness tracker gadget like FitBit or Jawbone or a phone app like Sleepbot.

It's one step toward building better sleep habits.

Image via iStock.

12. Try out the iPhone's Bedtime function.

It's located within the alarm clock app, and it will not only wake you up and track your sleeping patterns, but it will also gently remind you when you should start heading to bed to get a good night’s sleep.  

13. Schedule some "do not disturb" time so you can focus on yourself without distractions.

Image via iStock.

For example, Offtime helps you schedule "do not disturb" times when you just need to focus or take a break or when you're getting ready for bed.

14. Check in with this calming manatee. (He really does help!)

15. Look at some photos and videos of cute fluffy animals online.

Image via iStock.

Research suggests that looking at images of baby animals not only can make you happy (because, awwww!) but also boost your productivity and focus.

16. Snuggle a shelter pet.

Studies have shown that petting dogs can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress, anxiety, and loneliness. If you don't have your own dog (or even if you do!), you can help out at your local shelter (and get lots of snuggle time). And you'll be helping those animals get some love and attention too, which they need while they wait for their forever home.

Image via iStock.

17. Check out instructional and motivational videos.

The Coach by CignaTM app can help you reach your stress, health, and sleep goals with over 300 instructional and motivational videos — and you don't have to be a Cigna customer to use it.

Or check out Happify, a program designed to help you improve your emotional well-being by taking control of your feelings and thoughts through games.

18. Journal every day, and stay on track with apps like DayOne.

Journaling has been shown to have a positive impact on our physical and emotional well-being. Writing in this phone journal is secure and as easy to do as texting on the go. Plus, it will even remind you when it's been awhile since you last wrote.  

Image via iStock.

19. Keep track of what's bothering you with apps like Worry Watch.

This app works like an anxiety journal, letting you write down what's bothering you as a first step toward letting that concern go.

20. Go see your doctor and get your four health numbers —blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI) — checked.

Image via iStock.

That way you won't have to worry unnecessarily about your health — and you can get help if there is a problem.

21. Let go of bad or intrusive thoughts with games like Good Blocks.

22. Meditate for five minutes — even that's enough to help shave some of that stress off your day.

Image via iStock.

Apps like Headspace or Calm make meditation simpler (especially if you've never meditated before) by guiding you through it.

23. Practice some office yoga if you don’t have the time to step away from your desk.

24. Volunteer.

Image via iStock.

Research has shown that volunteering and helping others is good for your physical and mental health.

25. Make a habit list.

Habit List is a one-stop shop to help you develop your own self-care routine. It will help you set goals for yourself — like meditate more or remember to eat lunch — and help you break bad habits. And the best part is that it's completely customizable.  

Image via iStock.

Of course, self-care is by its very nature personal — so no one thing will work for everyone.

The important thing is to figure out what pro-active steps you want to take to get a better handle on your health and well-being. And, once you've done that, the good news is that there are lots of apps, websites, and tricks to get you started.

Learn more about how to take control of your health at Cigna.com/TakeControl.

Pexels / Julia M Cameron
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In the last 20 years, the internet has become almost as essential as water or air. Every day, many of us wake up and check it for the news, sports, work, and social media. We log on from our phones, our computers, even our watches. It's a luxury so often taken for granted. With the COVID-19 pandemic, as many now work from home and children are going to school online, home access is a more critical service than ever before.

On the flip side, some 3.6 billion people live without affordable access to the internet. This digital divide — which has only widened over the past 20 years — has worsened wealth inequality within countries, divided developed and developing economies and intensified the global gender gap. It has allowed new billionaires to rise, and contributed to keeping billions of others in poverty.

In the US, lack of internet access at home prevents nearly one in five teens from finishing their homework. One third of households with school-age children and income below $30,000 don't have internet in their homes, with Black and Hispanic households particularly affected.

The United Nations is working to highlight the costs of the digital divide and to rapidly close it. In September 2019, for example, the UN's International Telecommunication Union and UNICEF launched Giga, an initiative aimed at connecting every school and every child to the internet by 2030.

Closing digital inequity gaps also remains a top priority for the UN Secretary-General. His office recently released a new Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. The UN Foundation has been supporting both this work, and the High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation co-chaired by Melinda Gates and Jack Ma, which made a series of recommendations to ensure all people are connected, respected, and protected in the digital age. Civil society, technologists and communications companies, such as Verizon, played a critical role in informing those consultations. In addition, the UN Foundation houses the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), which advances digital inclusion through streamlining technology, unlocking markets and accelerating digitally enabled services as it works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down...in the most delightful way.

There are certain songs from kids' movies that most of us can sing along to, but we often don't know how they originated. Now we have a timely insight into one such song—"A Spoonful of Sugar" from "Mary Poppins."

It's common for parents to try all kinds of tricks to get kids to take medications they don't want to take, but the inspiration for "A Spoonful of Sugar" was much more specific. Jeffrey Sherman, the son and nephew of the Sherman Brothers—the musical duo responsible not just for "Mary Poppins," but a host of Disney films including "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "The Jungle Book," "The Aristocats," as well as the song "It's a Small World After All"—told the story of how "A Spoonful of Sugar" came about on Facebook.

He wrote:

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Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via Twins Trust / Twitter

Twins born with separate fathers are rare in the human population. Although there isn't much known about heteropaternal superfecundation — as it's known in the scientific community — a study published in The Guardian, says about one in every 400 sets of fraternal twins has different fathers.

Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

"We couldn't decide on who would be the biological father," Simon told The Daily Mail. "Graeme said it should be me, but I said that he had just as much right as I did."

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Blackface has a long and shameful history in this country. We think—we hope—after numerous call-outs and emotional explanations, Americans get the message: blackface is not okay. But that isn't the case, as many were re-made painfully aware, when Dr. Regina N. Bradley, a professor and critically acclaimed writer, shared the shocking auditory version of her new essay, "Da Art of Speculatin'", on Twitter.

Due to outrageous oversight, Fireside—a progressively minded short-story magazine who claim, in their About page, to resist "the global rise of fascism and far-right populism"—hired a young, white male voice actor to read and record Bradley's essay—an essay that identifies its writer, in its very first line, as a "southern Black woman who stands in the long shadow of the Civil Rights Movement."

According to the Washington Post, Rineer spoke in an accent that listeners interpreted as something that would appear in minstrel show, an American form of entertainment developed in the early 19th century, in which white people lampooned Black people, often portraying them as dim-witted and buffoonish, with stock characters including the dandy, the slave, and the 'mammy.' It's incredibly, incredibly offensive. So it's no wonder that, upon hearing the clip, a horrified Bradley fired off an outraged tweet, asking Fireside and Rineer if they honestly thought this is what she sounded like.



How could something so offensive have been approved, one wonders, especially in a year defined by reckoning with racial injustice? For the answer, look to Pablo Defendini, the publisher and editor for Fireside, who claimed, "nothing insidious in his decision… he just didn't listen to the recording before posting it."

"The blame for this rests squarely with me, as the person who hires out and manages the audio production process at Fireside," Defendini said in a statement. "In the interest of remaining a lean operation, I've been hiring one narrator to record the audio for a whole issue's worth of Fireside Quarterly, and I don't normally break out specific stories or essays for narrating by particular individuals."

"My personal neglect allowed racist violence to be perpetrated on a Black author, which makes me not just complicit in anti-Black racism, but racist as well."

As for Rineer, he regrets not breaking a contract rule and contacting Bradley directly about her work. His gut instinct told him not to proceed—that he was the wrong person for the job. Still, upon expressing his doubts to Fireside, he was ignored, and so proceeded with the recording—he'd already signed the contract.

"I made the mistake of reading Dr. Bradley's work and assuming an accent that was not representative of her voice," he said. "I had tried to find a different narrator who would be a suitable representative in my network and via public forums, to no avail, in the week-long time frame I had."

As for Bradley, Defendini's apology isn't cutting it. "Not listening" isn't an excuse—it's deepening the wound. Black Women have been "not listened" to since the dawn of this nation's founding.

"I am angry," she wrote. "Seething from centuries of silenced Black women angry."