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Finding Joy in Learning to Say “No” this Holiday Season

by Le-Vel 0 Comments
Finding Joy in Learning to Say “No” this Holiday Season

This is the time of year when there are so many things to do that you run yourself into the ground with over-commitment. Between work parties, school parties and various social events, plus holiday shopping, family expectations, travel plans, holiday decorating, baking, cooking … well, you get the picture. It seems like every weekend between now and the holidays is maxed out with activities. And, if you have trouble saying no, you may be volunteering for at least half of them and looking towards the holidays as a time of stress, not joy.

Why don’t you give yourself a gift this year? It’s a single word, and one seldom uttered in the English language: No. It takes practice to get used to saying it without apology. But, once you do, you’ll feel a huge weight lifted off your shoulders and find joy in the feeling that you don’t HAVE to do it all.

People usually fear that saying no means that they won’t be liked anymore, or that they won’t be needed. But we over-commit, we can wear ourselves out by running around or even worse, become resentful. The key is not turning everything down, but rather, to find balance and giving yourself some free time so you don’t feel stressed.

Here are a few pointers for learning when to say no, how to say it politely, avoid over-commitment and finding joy during the holiday season and well into the New Year:

Avoid explanation. People feel they need to explain their nos. That leaves them wide open to that unfortunate phenomenon: backpedaling to a yes. When you provide an explanation, it’s easy for people to poke holes in it. Let’s say you’ve resolved to limit your volunteer commitments this season. Then, you’re asked to coordinate a bake sale. You explain your position (“I’m really busy and trying not to over-schedule myself”). Then, the pressure begins: “This won’t take much time at all – just a few hours during the week and one afternoon in December.”

Try this response, instead: “I’m not able to help this year, but thanks.” Or, “Thank you, but I’m not able to squeeze it in this year.” No further details and no apologies. The abruptness of this approach may seem jarring at first. But it’s a polite way to say no and then shut the conversation down.  Leaving it open ended by specifying “this year” means that you aren’t saying that it isn’t worth your time, but you still shut it down by being firm.

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Re-prioritize the parties. Accepting every single party invitation will likely leave you exhausted, stressed and maybe even broke. Select your top two or three. Decline the rest with a simple “Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I already have a commitment that evening.” And, by the way, that commitment could be to sit at home and watch a movie in front of the fireplace!

Make an appearance, then leave. Most people feel that attending their work holiday party is mandatory for their career.  Consider going to the party but not staying the entire time.  Your co-workers will remember that they saw you, but they probably won’t remember when you left.  This approach will also help keep you out of any situations that could cross the line into unprofessional – nobody wants to be the topic of gossip because they had too much eggnog at the office party!  Paying your respects to the people you need to see and then quietly exiting means you don’t have to say no, but you don’t have to commit an entire evening to the party either.

Let the voicemail pick it up. When the phone rings, you might feel put on the spot. But you don’t have to be tied to your phone 24/7. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message, and if it’s an invitation or request, you’ll have time to mull it over before responding.

Establish your own traditions. Let go of others’ expectations for how the holidays “should” be. The made-for-TV version of the holidays might be more stress than you want or need. It’s OK to institute a no-gifts policy with family members, order takeout, skip purchase store-bought cookies for the office or do your holiday shopping online from the comfort of your sofa.  Some of the best holiday memories come from just being together with the people you care about, so keep the focus on what’s really important.

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Consider negotiation. The holidays can be a huge strain on finances – but guess what?  Everyone is in the same boat.  If a friend suggests doing a big gift exchange or going to an expensive dinner, propose an alternative (like a potluck dinner and used book swap) that will be just as much fun and easier on your wallet – your other friends will thank you for it too!

Don’t tell them you’ll get back to them. Avoiding a decision only puts you under more stress, and you may cave in to a yes later. Saying no at the first ask takes the weight off your shoulders and establishes a good precedent.

Happy holidays to you – may your boundaries be firm and your days under-scheduled and overjoyed!

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What Are Antioxidants, Why Care About Them?

by Le-Vel 0 Comments
What Are Antioxidants, Why Care About Them?

We’re always hearing about antioxidants these days, usually in reference to the nutrient-rich “superfoods” that contain them. They’re not just another passing fad; there’s legitimate science at work here.

To understand antioxidants, you have to start with free radicals, something we all have and would be better off without. Free radicals are unstable molecules – usually oxygen molecules — with unpaired electrons. They don’t want to remain unpaired, though, so they wander around the body in search of electrons to “steal” from other molecules. When they take electrons from other molecules, those molecules in turn often become damaged themselves and transform into harmful free radicals. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle.

You’ll find plenty of antioxidant-rich sources in many of the foods you may already eat, but you still may have nutritional gaps that need to be filled.

It’s tough to stay on track with your nutritional goals if you’ve got a busy lifestyle. A good supplement can help you fill in the gaps. The THRIVE 8-Week Experience is formulated with high quality antioxidants, along with plant extracts, vitamins, minerals, probiotics and much more — to provide the nutritional support you need to live life on all cylinders and fight free radicals. In addition, THRIVE Activate, in all three delicious flavors, was designed to, among other benefits, provide your body with support against free radicals.

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Vitamins C and E are both antioxidants, as are the minerals selenium and manganese. You can also find plant compounds, like beta carotene and lycopene, that act like antioxidants. Good food sources of antioxidants, which have been dubbed “superfoods,” include wild blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, dark chocolate, kidney beans, pecans, artichokes, strawberries, raspberries, black beans, Red Delicious apples, Granny Smith apples, russet potatoes, black plums and Gala apples. Several herbs also are high in antioxidants: cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, cilantro, basil, oregano, cocoa and ginger among them.

When free radical production gets out of control, our health suffers. The term oxidative stress describes the state at which the body’s defenses can no longer keep up with the production of free radicals.

What drives up production of free radicals? Several triggers, including:

  • Carcinogens like cigarette smoke, air pollution, water pollution, pesticides, herbicides and asbestos
  • Alcohol
  • Deep-fried food; smoked and barbecued food
  • Fatty foods including meat and cheese
  • Excessive stress
  • Radiation and sunlight
  • Some medications, as they break down in the body

So where do antioxidants enter the picture? They help protect the body from the damage these free radicals cause.

Many of us just don’t get enough antioxidants in our regular diet, and that’s where supplements come in.  With THRIVE and a healthy antioxidant-rich diet, you can get more of the fuel your body needs to fight free radicals.

 

 

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Conquering Belly Bloat

by Le-Vel 0 Comments
Conquering Belly Bloat

We’ve all been there, struggling to zip that zipper or button that button with that full, uncomfortable feeling that a bloated belly can get.  Unfortunately, with what most of us eat on a regular basis and our behaviors, belly bloat is a common, yet annoying and uncomfortable condition. What causes it and how can you get rid of it?

A number of factors can contribute to it, most of which are avoidable:

Salt and fat. Consuming too much sodium can lead to water retention, while too much fat can delay the stomach from emptying. The result: You’ll feel uncomfortably full … and bloated.

Carbonated drinks. Those fizzy drinks, including carbonated water and sodas, cause gas to become trapped in your stomach, leading to belching and bloating.

Eating too fast. A good rule of thumb is to spend 30 minutes per meal. Rushing your meals makes you take in more air. If you’re inhaling your breakfast in the car in five minutes, your waistband may be tight later.

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You’re not drinking enough water. Water is probably the last thing you want when you’re already feeling uncomfortably full. But it’s exactly what you need to keep things moving in there. If you don’t drink enough, your body hangs on to what it has, leading to water retention and bloating.

Lactose intolerance. Dairy products can cause stomach issues in those who have trouble digesting lactose, or milk sugar.

Chronic stress. Anxiety can cause hyperventilation, which causes increased air intake. Over the long term, stress also negatively impacts your hormone balance as well as your digestion. The brain is an amazing organ – in times of stress, the “fight-or-flight” response kicks into high gear, and the brain “re-prioritizes” functions. Digestion moves to the back of the line, and as it slows down, bloating occurs.

So what can you do to put a stop to this irritating condition? Here are a few tips:

Eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of three large ones. Your digestive tract will thank you.

Regain your Balance. Thrive Plus Balance is specifically formulated to supply digestive, immune and intestinal function support, improve nutrient absorption, and help you achieve your weight management goals. This powerhouse product also helps reduce toxins and pollutants in your system and increase your body’s naturally generated energy. Use it in conjunction with the Thrive 8-Week Experience for best results.

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Visit the doctor. If bloating seems to occur after you consume milk or carbohydrates, you might consider a trip to the doctor to ensure that lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance/celiac disease isn’t the root of your problems.

Exercise daily. Whether it’s a quick stroll or a full-on exercise class, regular activity keeps you, well, regular.

Belly bloat can make your days very uncomfortable, but they don’t have to be!  Use these tips to reduce bloating and you may start to see and feel the difference.

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Tips for Healthy Habits at Work

by Le-Vel 1 Comment
Tips for Healthy Habits at Work

When you’re sick or stressed, reduced productivity and missed days impact your work.  Americans are busier than ever, and that takes a toll. It’s possible to take control of your well-being, though, when you follow some preventive measures to keep yourself happy and healthy.

Tidy up your workspace daily. Over the years, numerous studies have claimed that your smartphone, desk phone, keyboard and tablet have more germs than a toilet seat. Keep some antibacterial wipes at your desk, and wipe down surfaces daily. A can of disinfectant spray will also help stave off the germs.

Drink lots of water. Keep a large water bottle nearby, and refill it several times a day. Not only will you help keep yourself hydrated, you’ll have to get up to make frequent trips to the bathroom, and a little exercise never hurt anyone.

Get up every 30 to 60 minutes. Working on a big project? Stand up, and move around a bit. Pace around your office if you have one or take a walk around the block.  When you simply get up and stretch, it keeps your body moving.

Go with light lunches and snacks. A workday isn’t the time to load up on pasta or other heavy fare for lunch. Instead, think lean protein, vegetables and fruit. A light snack, eaten during late morning, afternoon or both, can help fuel your body and mind. Aim for between 150 and 200 calories – and follow it with plenty of water.

Keep your energy going all day with the THRIVE 3 Simple Steps.  The 3 step THRIVE Experience is a great way to start your day and keep thriving so you can be productive all day.  Don’t miss these steps every morning.

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Make your workspace a mini gym. Keep light hand weights or bands at your desk, and use them periodically – while you’re brainstorming for a project, for example. It might just inspire a brilliant idea.

Ban the candy bowl. Lots of folks keep bowls of candy on their desks. Sure, a good piece of chocolate helps on a stressful day. Problem is, you’re forming an everyday habit. Make a new one focused more on healthy snacks like fruit or nuts.

Skip the deskside lunch. If you can step away from your desk at lunchtime – you’ll be better off. Your brain needs a break, and in fact, studies have shown that productivity increases among employees who leave their desks at lunchtime. Getting outside is best; spending time in nature reduces anxiety and can stimulate creative thinking. Your lunch hour is also a great time to squeeze in a walk.

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Nothing feels better than getting the blood pumping after sitting in an office chair for a stretch, and movement is sure to get your brain in gear for the remainder of your workday.  For Le-Vel Brand Promoters, Le-Vel’s Cloud Office makes it easy to stay plugged in when you’re on the go, so there’s no need to sit at a desk for lunch.

Walk and talk. Got a one-on-one meeting with a colleague? How about scheduling a walk instead of sitting on the phone? It may just lead to a more productive, relaxed and candid conversation.

Take the stairs. Make it a point to take the stairs any time you have the opportunity – as you’re moving between meetings or leaving in the evenings. Each flight of stairs adds up to one healthy habit.

When it comes to health, an “all or nothing” approach will only set you up to be discouraged. Instead, seek out opportunities throughout your day to make smarter choices. You’ll be happier and healthier for it.

 

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How to Relieve Stress Quickly: 1-Minute Stress Busters

by Le-Vel 0 Comments
How to Relieve Stress Quickly: 1-Minute Stress Busters

Sure, a yoga retreat, beach vacation or spa treatment would be nice to take whenever you start to feel stressed.  But most people have to determine how to relieve stress quickly without those dreamy options.  With a few easy techniques, you can actually learn how to relieve stress quickly and by taking your stress level down a notch or two in just one minute – and without spending a dime. Try these burnout-busting techniques for quick results and you’ll be feeling less stress in no time.

Tips on How to Relieve Stress Quickly

Slow, deep breaths. Breathing from the abdomen can induce the relaxation response, so your heart rate and blood pressure slows, while blood flow increases and muscles relax. You can try deep breathing from your office chair. Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Breathe in through the nose and exhale through the mouth. The hand on your abdomen should be moving more than the hand on your chest.

Neck stretches. Clasp your hands behind your head, and gently pull forward. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Or, for a side stretch, let the right arm hang down while you place the left arm on the right side of your head, and pull to the left gently. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, then switch sides.

Shoulders down. Most of us never notice how high our shoulders are. Simply lowering your shoulders can reduce your tension.

Look out the window. The view outside sure beats the computer screen. Turn your gaze outside, and take a few moments to observe the sights. Shifting your attention provides a momentary distraction from your stress.

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Close your eyes. You may not be able to take a vacation now, but you can travel anytime in your mind. Most of us have a “happy place,” or a destination where we’d happily travel on a moment’s notice if given the opportunity. Visualize that place and all of its sights, smells, sounds and textures.

Change your screensaver. This is particularly effective if you don’t have a window nearby. Whatever kind of scene relaxes you, you can probably find a screensaver that captures it, and some feature rotating images. Take a few moments to enjoy those scenes when you first log on to your computer in the morning, and periodically throughout your day.

Music or nature sounds. For many of us, it’s best to skip the lyrics and stick to instrumental music; lyrics can be distracting and otherwise clutter the mind. Think quiet background music that’s not intrusive. Slow classical music, for example, has been shown to slow the pulse, lower blood pressure and decrease stress hormones.

Quick burst of exercise. While stress reduction often results from slowing down, sometimes getting the heart rate up can also calm us down. Grab a jump rope or run in place for 60 seconds of cardio. The activity will get your endorphins flowing.

Laugh. Recall an occasion that you made you laugh hard, and relive it in your mind. Or find yourself a good cat video. Even a few seconds of laughter can help lighten your mental load.

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Take a moment of gratitude. Gratitude shifts your attention away from negativity, puts life into perspective, and reminds you that life is bigger than a single moment.

Pay someone a genuine compliment. Get out of your own head, and focus on someone else. You may have just made someone’s day in the process.

One more tip on how to relieve stress quickly: Whenever you’re tempted to let stress rule your day, ask yourself whether this will matter one year from now, one week from now, or even tomorrow.  Often daily stressors feel big in the moment, but will not affect us long term.  It’s best to focus on the long game and where your future is headed.

Do you have tips on how to relieve stress quickly?  Comment with your ideas.

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