What does wellness mean?

You’re a very complex and unique individual. What does your health look like? Everyone’s perfect picture of health will look just a little different. Wellness isn’t about being the skinniest or most buff person in the room, it’s all about being happy and feeling healthy, and finding workouts that work for you. It’s also not about eating a salad for every meal of every day. A good rule to follow is, “everything in moderation”; practice living a life that you love that is healthy and sustainable in the long-term. 

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Wellness is a very holistic thing with many important aspects. Your wellness isn’t only physical but also very much about how you’re feeling mentally. Many times, when one vital part of your life is off balance, it puts off the rest of your life. 

Some (but not all) vital aspects of your wellness include your relationships and support system (romantic and not, including your family), your physical health, the status of your employment and ability to afford the necessities of life, your resilience in life and to hardships, and your overall mental health. Chances are that you have more of these portions (and others) than what you think or realize- that’s something to be so thankful for and to cherish.

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Wellness isn’t the absence of disease, it’s the best state of health for you, your body, and your mind. It’s not something people come by easily, it’s something that you’ve got to consciously work for each and every day.

Any journey to wellness isn’t paved without bumps. There will be setbacks and frustrations, periods of confusion and disappointment. That’s where your resilience and support system comes in! This is nothing to be permanently discouraged about because you will persevere through it.

I hope that whatever your specific picture of wellness is, that you are steadily and relentlessly working toward or to maintain your picture of total health. If you aren’t there yet, it will all come together for you, be patient! You are doing great, keep it up!

Everyone enjoy this lovely Thursday!



Secrets to Unleashing Your Self-esteem

  • Start using positive affirmations and self-talk. When you say bad things about yourself, even in a joking manner, it creates a negative thought process in your mind and effects your self-esteem. Instead, try telling yourself that you are doing your best and that your best is just perfect. Go over the things that you’re doing well instead of focusing on the negative.
    • Interrupt those negative thoughts right when they begin, before they’ve been able to build momentum and become harmful. Try thinking something positive instead, change your environment, read a book.
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  • Celebrate all your wins. Whether it’s small or big, all your victories and accomplishments are deserving of celebration. It’s important to reward yourself for all your hard work!
  • Forgive yourself for, and forget mistakes you may have made in the past. Your past doesn’t define you, nor should it define how you are living or feeling today. You deserve to be happy, feel better, and be free of those things. Learn from them, forgive yourself, and move on.
  • Don’t compare yourself to other people. It’s never fair because you’re not comparing apples to apples. Everyone’s life is different. You need to see that you are doing such a great job right where you re, and celebrate for your peers who are in other places also doing great things.
  • Utilize great self-care! Good self-esteem is built on top of the groundwork of treating yourself right. Be kind yourself and treat you like your best friend would. 
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If you’re anything like me and struggle with your self-esteem, I hope you can use this post as a reminder that you are worthy of love (especially from you!), you’re doing great things, and that self-esteem takes some work and practice. Hopefully some of these things you’re familiar with and a few of them you can start trying. Every day is a journey and I’m right there with you!



Greatest life lessons (thus far):

  • Someone very wise once told me that instead of dreading something big coming up at work, I should change my perspective and continuously tell myself how lucky I was to have this opportunity or what a positive impact I was going to have on my peers. Just this small change in perspective has been successful in changing my whole outlook (and amount of fear/apprehension) on situations
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  • Even though this is one that I still sometimes struggle with, one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned is not to compare your life or journey to any other person’s. That comparison is never going to be parallel or equal and it’s always going to end up with your feelings hurt, not to mention that comparisons are just not good for your mental health! Wherever you are, you are doing your best, you are kicking butt, and you’re right where you should be.
  • Although procrastination sounds like fun, looks like fun, and is easy to talk yourself into, IT IS NOT A GOOD TIME. Just get started on a task, especially if it’s a huge one, and especially if it has a deadline. Nobody likes to sweat, missing out on sleep, filled with regrets wishing they’d just passed up procrastinating! You’ll feel a weight lifted off you once it’s complete and have avoided all of that anxiety.
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  • Live your life to please yourself. It’s unfortunate but it’s true: not everyone will like you; not everyone will approve of what you’re doing in life. I’ve been very fortunate that the key players in my life and most important people to me have been in the stands cheering me on the whole way. But there have definitely been people all along the journey questioning me and my decisions. Life is way too short, it’s so important that you’re living for you.
  • Be kind to everyone. It’s so very easy to be kind to people and we just don’t know what other people are going through. Some small reaction out of irritation from one person could ruin another person’s day. It’s important to be mindful how our actions impact other people’s lives.
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  • Love with your whole heart, all the time.In my opinion, there’s not much more powerful than love and I embrace all the people I am lucky enough to receive it from constantly. There’s a lot to be said for reminding someone that you love them.

Although I’ve only had 25 years to gather these wonderful tidbits of wisdom, I’m always growing and learning. What’s the greatest thing you have learned in life so far? Is there something you wish you would have known sooner?



8 Mood Boosting Activities You Won’t Want to Miss!

Because it’s Monday and we all (well most of us) have a rough time with Mondays, I thought I’d post some of my very favorite MOOD BOOSTING activities. This is a comprehensive list of my favorite things to do to improve and maintain my great moods!

  • Writing/ blogging/ journaling- especially about great things that are going on or things that I have to look forward to.
  • Girls night, friends night, or family night out. Surrounding myself with my best friends or family always fills my heart with love and lifts my spirits!
  • Doing something good or nice for someone else. I enjoy planning to volunteer when I’m able or helping out friends and family when they need it. Helping people out is always good for your heart.
  • Exercise! Exercising always boosts my mood and helps me to maintain throughout the long work week (Friday can seem a lifetime away!)
  • Learn something new. Self-improvement brings me a lot of joy. Try out something new you’ve been wanting to start. Next on my list is speaking Spanish!
  • Reading. Give yourself a break from reality with the genre of your choice.
  • Plan a trip or project. This one takes more time and is sometimes more difficult. I love to plan trips, big or small. Planning a trip or a fun project around the house also gives you something long-term to look forward to. 
  • Give a loved one a call on the phone. Talking to someone you care for will boost your mood and give you an amazing chance to catch up.

I hope instead of letting this Monday get the best of you, you have taken ahold of it and turned it into a productive, happy, and worthwhile day! Take these activities and challenge yourself to spark a new motivation every Monday (and each day)!

Share with me your favorite mood boosting activities.

Hope you have the very best day! 



Depression in Cancer

According to Printzcancer (2018), The ACTION study conducted by Shridevi Subramaniam found that more than 4 out of 5 patients self-reported having anxiety and depression a year after being diagnosed. Some factors that influenced the severity of the anxiety and depression the patients experienced included the type of cancer they had and how advanced their cancer was. Patients who had cancers in more advanced stages as well as patients with cancers that were more aggressive tended to report having higher levels of anxiety and depression (Printzcancer, 2018).

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Any terminal diagnosis is devastating for a patient and their family to receive. Buzgova, Jarosova, and Hajnova (2015) discuss how it can be difficult for healthcare providers to differentiate between a normal amount of sadness after the delivery of a terminal diagnosis and the development of depression. Nurses play a vital role in the ongoing assessment and early detection of anxiety and depression in these patients. This is because nursing staff builds a rapport with and has a continuing close relationship with the patient and family which gives them the ideal opportunity to screen for these changes and feelings (Buzgova, Jarosova, & Hajnova, 2015).

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According to Cancer Treatment Centers of America (2017), some ways clinical depression can present itself are as a loss of hope, loss of interest in things you normally love, problems sleeping or sleeping all the time, unintentional and significant weight or appetite changes, suicidal thoughts or feelings, and preoccupation with death. If you notice any of these symptoms in any of your patients or their family members, get a trusted person like a doctor or counselor involved. Make sure they are safe and are not having suicidal thoughts or feelings. 

Depression and anxiety negatively impacts these patient’s quality of life in so many ways. It causes problems with their abilities to make decisions, creates caregiver distress, and can even manifest as physical symptoms (Buzgova, Jarosova, & Hajnova, 2015). It’s important that these symptoms or decline in quality of life are detected early on, that the patient’s mental health is advocated for, and that we work to help correct the causes of the decline (Buzgova, Jarosova, & Hajnova, 2015).

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In the Quad Cities area, there are resources like the Gilda’s Club of the Quad Cities which has a location for weekly and monthly educational, social, or lifestyle (such as nutrition or stress management) meetings in person. They also offer many resources including a toll-free support hotline. All of these wonderful resources can be found at https://www.gildasclubqc.org/get-support/our-programs/(Gilda’s Club of the Quad Cities, n.d.).

Unity Point Health Trinity has put together an inclusive list of oncology resources that includes tons of local screenings, support groups, and many more online resource options (Unity Point Health, n.d). These can be found at https://www.unitypoint.org/quadcities/services-additional-cancer-resources.aspx

The American Cancer Society also has a spot on their website where your zip code can be entered to see what various resources are available in your area. I typed in “52802” for Davenport, Iowa and a long list of helpful resources came up. They have grief support groups listed, help with locating wigs, help with housing, lists for general assistance, anything the patient might need. There are over 50 pages of resources listed as well as 24-hour live chat and telephone assistance available to people in need (American Cancer Society, 2019a). . This immensely helpful page can be found here: https://www.cancer.org/content/cancer/en/treatment/support-programs-and-services/resource-search.html?zip=52802&city=&state=&programType=&keyword=

The American Cancer Society (2019b) talks about promoting physical activity as appropriate for their ability, making sure to help these patients do things that they love to do, and being there for and encouraging these patients are some of the most important things you can do for patients with cancer battling depression. 

If you or anyone you know is battling cancer and you have concerns, please reach out to them, seek medical help, but most of all please make sure that the person is safe!

You can call the National Suicide Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit them online at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/talk-to-someone-now/ where they have resources for Spanish speaking, deaf and hard of hearing, veterans, disaster relief, and much more.

If you have any outstanding resources please share them here!




American Cancer Society. (2019a). Search for resources. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/content/cancer/en/treatment/support-programs-and-services/resource-search.html?zip=52802&city=&state=&programType=&keyword=

American Cancer Society. (2019b). Anxiety, fear, and depression: Having cancer affects your emotional health. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/emotional-side-effects/anxiety-fear-depression.html

Buzgova, R., Jarosova, D., Hajnova, E. (2015). Assessing anxiety and depression with respect to the quality of life in cancer inpatients receiving palliative care. European Journal of Oncology Nursing, 19, 667-672. doi: DOI: 10.1002/cncr.30669

Cancer Treatment Centers of America. (2017). Cancer-related depression: What is it and what can you do about it? Retrieved from https://www.cancercenter.com/community/blog/2017/03/cancer-related-depression-what-is-it-and-what-can-you-do-about-it

Gilda’s Club of the Quad Cities. (n.d.). Our program. Retrieved from https://www.gildasclubqc.org/get-support/our-programs/

Printzcancer, C. (2018).Studies show high anxiety and depression among individuals with cancer. American Cancer Society, 123(7), 1084-1085. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2015.04.006

Unity Point Health. (n.d.). Additional cancer support and resources in the Quad Cities. Retrieved from https://www.unitypoint.org/quadcities/services-additional-cancer-resources.aspx

Two Week Self-Care Challenge

It probably doesn’t sound like a lot to complete a “self-care task” daily for two weeks, but it might be harder than you think! We spend our days taking the very best care we can of all the people we love, but how often do we check in with ourselves? A quick and daily check in with yourself- time dedicated just to you, can make a world of difference. For this self-care challenge, I want you to dedicate a half hour (or more if you wish and are able!) of your time to one of these tasks listed below. I encourage you throughout this journey to reflect upon how you feel after each of these activities, and to see how this changes you, your mood, resiliency, and happiness over the course of the two-week period! You could even keep a small log or journal about it.

  • Read a good book.
  • Journal.
  • Reflect upon and write a list of things you’re grateful for.
  • Meditate.
  • Listen to your favorite music and relax.
  • Take a warm bath with lavender (or whatever is your favorite scented Epsom) salts.
  • Go for a walk or work out.
  • Talk with a loved one.
  • Take a total social media or cell phone break!
  • Make a coffee date with a best friend or a loved one.
  • Write down and recite some positive affirmations.
  • Prepare and take your time enjoying a healthy snack.
  • Take a nap.
  • Give your best friend a call on the phone.
  • Listen to your favorite playlist!
  • Create a work of art!

These tasks are relatively easy to complete but done daily can help to completely rewire your brain toward happiness and relaxation. I know we all have lives and things that get in the way but I challenge you to continue to try to complete some of your favorite tasks off this list 4 times a week (more if you can!) to treat yourself the very best you can.

What’s your favorite thing to do to take really great care of yourself? I love to journal and walk outside. I hope that you’re able to stick with this challenge for the full two weeks and even beyond because you deserve all the love and care in the world!



Gluten Free (GF) Snacks That Will Change Your Diet!

Whether you’re intolerant, have an allergy, or are just trying to be your most healthy self, cutting gluten out of your diet may feel very overwhelming when you first begin your journey. I know I was certainly overwhelmed when I was first diagnosed with my allergy. I would arrive to the grocery story, gluten scanning app open and ready, scanning things I thought might be appropriate. I would be constantly disappointed and confused when things would say “may contain gluten” or “contains gluten”. I thought I’d never be able to be normal again. I went through a several month-long phase of eating mostly vegetables because I just wasn’t figuring out what was suitable to my new lifestyle needs. I hope no one else has to endure this kind of confusion or defeat, and to try to ensure that they don’t, I’ve compiled some of my very favorite gluten free snacks!

– Quest protein cookies. Not all flavors are gluten free, however it’s labeled on the wrappers. My go-to flavors are the peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, and chocolate chip.

– Olly protein bars. All of these are vegan friendly and gluten free!

– Rice cakes and peanut butter! I love to add some chocolate chips or raisins as well when I am craving something sweet. 

– Homemade trail mixes. I love to add all kinds of mixed nuts to this (my favorites are cashews, walnuts, almonds, and plain sunflower seeds but you can add anything you like! Be sure that they are regular nuts, nothing added so that there isn’t any hidden gluten). I also love to add raisins, various dried fruits (be sure these are labeled GF as well), chocolate chips, and sometimes even some GF granola! Kind makes an awesome assortment of GF granola.

– Pickles wrapped in GF deli meat. This is one of my personal favorites! It’s definitely one that has to be eaten in moderation, though as it’s very high in sodium. My favorite GF deli meat is Boar’s Head.

– Cucumbers, your choice of cheese, (add pickles if you’d like), and GF deli meat. Another amazingly delicious one that should be consumed in moderation.

– Fruit salad. Pick 5 of your favorite fruits, slice them up in a big bowl at the beginning of your week and you’ll have snacks for days!

– Most corn chips are GF and you can enjoy them with salsa and queso! Always a classic.

– Sabra hummus and vegetables! You can use any veggies you like but my favorites to use are carrots, cucumbers, and celery.

– Popchip potato chips. These are GF and addicting! I have a tough time eating just a few.

– Popcorn! If you’re looking for an extra crunch you can add in some regular M&Ms or peanuts.

– Apples or bananas and peanut butter or almond butter.

– Vanilla Greek yogurt with the GF granola and fruit of your choice.

– Gluten free pretzels.

I hope this short list helps to guide you to make fun and healthy gluten free choices and gives hope to those of you who have been struggling starting off your GF journey. Anyone have any gluten free favorites they’d love to share? I am always on the lookout! 🙂