4 Sweet and Healthy End-of-Summer Snacks

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During summer, it is easy to fall into a snacking slump. The weather is hot and you could use a frozen treat like ice cream to cool you off. Instead of snacking on chips, chocolate, or cheese in between meals, consider trying some healthy and delicious snacking options. Healthy snacking has many benefits—it can improve your concentration, increase your energy levels, and help with appetite control. Plus, a sweet treat can make anyone feel better. Try munching on these snacks to boost your mood and your energy for the rest of this summer!

1. Watermelon

Summer is the ideal season for watermelon. Watermelon is great because it has little to no fat or sodium, but it tastes so sweet! It also is nutritious; it contains vitamin A, vitamin C and lycopene (an antioxidant). You can eat it by the slice or turn it into a popsicle by cutting smaller pieces and putting them on popsicle sticks (see http://www.watermelon.org/Recipes/Watermelon-Slice-Popsicles). No matter what way you eat it, be sure to get your watermelon while it’s still ripe!

2. Fresh Fruit Bruschetta

Bruschetta typically consists of tomatoes, onions, and basil finely chopped on toasted bread. Now, you can turn an Italian classic into a summer snack by dicing up your favorite fruits instead! One website, http://www.thecookierookie.com/fruit-bruschetta/, recommends strawberries and peaches, but you can still use tomatoes too. Enjoy this delicious recipe!

3. Homemade Microwave Popcorn

Popcorn is so tasty, but it is not always that healthy when you buy it from the supermarket. Instead of wondering if there’s too much butter, why not make your own? That way, you can control exactly what’s going into your popcorn and how healthy you can make it! With some popcorn kernels, a brown paper bag, and some seasonings, you can follow the steps on http://blog.feelgreatin8.com/easy-homemade-microwave-popcorn/ to make your own healthy popcorn.

4. Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Instead of eating ice cream, try making your own frozen yogurt. It’s a great healthy alternative to cool you down. According to http://blog.feelgreatin8.com/homemade-strawberry-frozen-yogurt/, all you need are strawberries, honey, greek yogurt, and lime juice. Just put everything in the blender until it’s smooth, put it in the freezer until it is the right consistency, and indulge in this guilt-free, low calorie desert!

Why waste the end of the summer away, snacking on fatty foods? With these recipes, you can cool off with some yummy and healthy snacks that are perfect for the whole family. They’ll help you feel more energized and motivated to get outside and have fun!

3 Simple Tips to Ease Anxiety at Night

After a long and exhausting day, do you find that you still have trouble falling asleep? If you’re so tired, you would think that you could be fast asleep within fifteen minutes. As you lay in bed, you might replay conversations from the day or go over your to-do list for tomorrow. Maybe you even worry about the rest of your week and what needs to get done.  You might try watching some TV for a few minutes or start scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed, but that doesn’t help distract you either. It’s possible that anxiety is keeping you up at night. Here are some tips to help you fall asleep faster.

            Visualization: If you feel anxious, you should consider creating a visual for your thoughts. Imagine that you are placing all of your thoughts into a box. Take all of those thoughts and worries from the day, and push them down into the box. Then close it and tape it shut. Imagine placing the box on the shelf. Now, your thoughts are contained, away from the forefront of your mind; they can always be re-opened tomorrow.

            Body scan: If you’re not a visual person, you can try this physical exercise. You can relax your muscles, from your toes to your head. Start by curling up your toes tightly for a few seconds, and then release them. Slowly move up your body, tightening and releasing your muscles section by section (ankles, legs, torso etc). Keep going until you get to the muscles in your head (like your eyebrows). This is a very helpful exercise to relax your body, so that you can settle into sleep for the night.

            Deep breathing: Practicing your breathing is a good short-term distraction to slow down your thoughts. Count four slow, deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you count the number of breaths you take, you are shifting focus away from your anxieties. You can even count how many seconds you breathe in and out for, if you need an additional distraction. It can be a temporary reprieve to rest your brain.

Whether you struggle with anxiety or just need to relax, you can use these tips to decompress at night. Practicing these exercises can ease your mind and body for a quality night’s sleep.

How to Enjoy a “Brief Vacation”

Life always pulls and pushes us in many directions. Between work, school, kids, friends, family, obligations to the community, etc, it’s hard to find the time to slow down in both body and mind. Research has shown that the fast pace of today’s society can make us overwhelmed, exhausted, lacking creativity, and like we have little left to give.

The concept of a “brief vacation”  is a Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skill. The idea is to stop actively managing your life for a brief amount of time (perhaps 15 minutes to two hours?). Instead, you retreat into yourself or allow yourself to be taken care of during this small break.

Brief Vacation means slowing things down—allowing time for exploring, thinking, learning, or just being present in the moment. Maybe spend time outside with family or read a magazine on the porch. The benefits of taking a full day off or even getting an hour alone can make you feel recharged and get clearer in mind and relaxed in your body.

Here’s a challenge for you: come up with a list of five things that you would spend your time doing if you gave yourself a “brief vacation.” Think about things that you enjoy doing, that relax you, or that you used to do and really want to try again. You could write them on a post-it note or make a list in the notes app on your phone. Keep this list with you so that when you hit the point when you say, “I just need a break,” you have ideas handy. Don’t forget about your list, and maintain some “brief vacation” time in your routine. Even planning out a 30-minute break on a daily basis can be more beneficial than you’d think. Having consistency with this technique will help to support your clarity of mind and balance in your life.

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