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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

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Joy

Tea time: how this boutique blends cultures from around the world

Ethically sourced, modern clothes for kids that embrace adventure, inspire connections and global thinking.

The Tea Collection combines philanthropic efforts with a deep rooted sense of multiculturalism into each of their designs so that kids can grow up with global sensibilities. They make clothes built to last with practicality and adventure in mind. But why "Tea"?

Let's spill it. Tea is a drink shared around the world with people from all different cultures. It is a common thread that weaves the world together. The Tea Collection was born from a love of travel and a love of sharing tea with different people in different places. Inspired by patterns from around the world, these clothes help children develop a familiarity with global communities.

Tea sources their materials ethically and ensures that each of their partners abide to strict codes of conduct. They have a zero-tolerance policy for anything "even slightly questionable" and make sure that they regularly visit their manufacturing partners to ensure that they're supporting positive working conditions.

Since 2003, The Tea Collection has partnered with the Global Fund for Children and has invested in different grassroots organizations that create community empowered programs to uplift kids in need. They donate 10% of their proceeds and have already contributed over $500,000 to different organizations such as: The Homeless Prenatal Program (San Francisco, CA, USA), Door of Faith Orphanage (Baja California, Mexico), Little Sisters Fund (Nepal) and others in Peru, Sri Lanka, India, Italy and Haiti.

But the best part about the Tea Collection? They're also an official member of the Kidizen Rewear Collective, which believes that clothes should stretch far beyond one child's use. They have their own external site for their preloved clothes that makes rewearing affordable. Families can trade in gently used Tea clothes and receive discounts for future products. Shopping the site helps keep clothes out of land fills and reduces the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

By creating heirloom style clothing made to last families can buy, sell, and trade clothes that can be reworn again and again. Because "new to you" doesn't always have to mean never been worn. And let's be honest, we all know how fast kids grow! Shopping preloved clothes is a great way to keep styles fresh without harming the environment or feeling guilty about not getting the most out of certain styles.

But don't just take our word for it! Head over to the Tea Collection and see for yourself!

Upworthy has earned revenue through a partnership and/or may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through links on our site.

Education

Teacher of the year explains why he's leaving district in unforgettable 3-minute speech

"I'm leaving in hopes that I can regain the ability to do the job that I love."

Lee Allen

For all of our disagreements in modern American life, there are at least a few things most of us can agree on. One of those is the need for reform in public education. We don't all agree on the solutions but many of the challenges are undeniable: retaining great teachers, reducing classroom size and updating the focus of student curriculums to reflect the ever-changing needs of a globalized workforce.

And while parents, politicians and activists debate those remedies, one voice is all-too-often ignored: that of teachers themselves.

This is why a short video testimony from a teacher in the Atlanta suburb of Gwinnett County went viral recently. After all, it's hard to deny the points made by someone who was just named teacher of the year and used the occasion to announce why he will be leaving the very school district that just honored him with that distinction.

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