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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.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

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Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.