Apps To Boost Your Mental Health

The holiday season can be a stressful time for many people. From family gatherings to financial pressures, there are plenty of things that can cause anxiety and stress.

But there is one thing that can help you avoid some of the holiday stressors: technology.

From apps that help you stay organized to ones that provide on-demand mental health support, there are plenty of ways that technology can help you during the holidays.

Apps That Help Your Mental Health

Reduce The Chaos

Apps like iStratus can help you get a grip on the chaos.  Use it to keep track of your schedule and to-do lists. This can help you stay organized and avoid feeling overwhelmed by all that you have to do.

Still Your Mind

Use a meditation app like Headspace or Calm to help you relax and de-stress. Taking just 10 minutes out of your day to meditate can make a big difference in how you feel.

Track Your Mood

Using a tracking app like Moodscope or P Tracker to track your moods throughout the holiday season can help you identify stressors and figure out ways to avoid them. Don’t forget to make a note about what was happening at the time of your mood.  Were you in a great mood because you had just finished a run or were you feeling insecure because you were spending time with a certain person?  Tracking your mood can help you uncover your more dangerous triggers.

Just Breathe

Use an app like Breathe2Relax to help you control your breathing and anxiety levels. This can be a great tool when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Don’t stress that you can’t still your mind.  You don’t have to.  All you have to do is breathe.

Seek Professional Help

One of the best things to come from technology in the past couple of years is apps like TalkSpace or BetterHelp where you can get on-demand mental health support. If you’re really struggling, these apps can put you in touch with a therapist who can help.

How Are You Sleeping?

Getting enough sleep is so important for your mental health. The Sleep Cycle or Pillow apps can help you to track your sleep and get better quality rest. This is important all year long but especially when trying to maintain your mental health during a stressful time.

Sweat It Out

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mood and not a bad excuse for getting away from the people and situations that are causing your stress. MyFitnessPal or Fitbit will help you to track your physical activity and make sure you’re getting enough exercise.

Diet Plays A Role In Mental Health

Eating healthy can help improve your mood and reduce stress levels. Use an app like Fooducate or HealthyOut to make healthier food choices. You may find that small changes go a long way toward helping you feel calmer.

Nothing Beats A Good Book

Sometimes all you need is some quiet time on your own. Use an app like Goodreads or Pocket to find books that can help you relax and escape from the stress of the season.

Sing Along

Use Pandora or Spotify to help you create holiday-themed playlists full of festive music. Listening to uplifting music can help improve your mood and reduce stress.

Discover Your Creative Side

Sometimes all you need is a few minutes to stop focusing on the stress of the day. Use an app like Color Therapy or Pigment to color and de-stress. This can be a great way to take a break from all the holiday preparations and relax for a few minutes.

Remember Why You Work So Hard

Use an app like 1 Second Everyday or Timehop to create video montages of past holidays. This can help you remember all the good times you’ve had and appreciate the present moment.

Create New Habits

Fabulous or Streaks are apps that help to develop positive habits that can help reduce stress. This can be anything from taking a few minutes each day to meditate or journaling about your stressors.

Harness The Power Of Gratitude

We love the Gratitude Journal or Happify apps.  These apps help you to focus on the positive things in your life. This can help shift your mindset and reduce stress levels.

Back To Breathing

We know we mentioned taking a breath earlier but honestly, it cannot be overstated.  We also love Breathing Space or Stop, Breathe & Think to find quick and easy stress-relief exercises. These can be great to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.

Creating A Calming Playlist

Two more meditation apps that are loved are Calm or Relax Melodies to create custom relaxation sounds and sleep preludes. This can help you fall asleep easier and get better quality rest.

Be Understood

Not being understood can add a whole new level of stress.  Using apps like Google Translate or iTranslate to help you communicate with family and friends who speak different languages can help reduce stress and facilitate communication.

Connect With People You Love

Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime are great apps to help you stay connected with loved ones who live far away. This can help you feel less alone during the holiday season.

Coordinate Your Plans

Use an app like Cozi or Life360 to coordinate holiday plans with your family and friends. This can help you avoid stress and stay organized.

We do believe that apps are a great way to help boost your mental health but keep in mind that sometimes apps don’t work to solve what is happening in your life. Sometimes you need more help.  That’s okay.  If you are experiencing unusual levels of stress and anxiety, ask for help.  A therapist, warmline, or suicide prevention hotline can help.

Strategic Goal Setting

As the end of the year approaches, you may be looking forward to the new year. A new year offers you the opportunity to look back at how you did this year and look forward to what lies ahead. This is why at iStratus, we start the goal-setting process in November.  Before our days are filled with holiday parties, shopping, and family obligations, we like to take the time to focus on reflecting on previous goals and setting goals for the new year.

Before Setting Your New Goals

Before setting your goals for the new year, look back at your goals from last year.

  • Which goals did you meet? 

Celebrate those wins.  This is a part of goal setting that people too often overlook.  Rewarding yourself for achieving a goal sets you up for success in your next set of goals.

  • Which goals did you not meet?

Inevitably, we will not meet some of our goals.  Analyzing why is a helpful way to move forward.  Was the goal realistic?  Were you close to achieving the goal?  Did you decide it just wasn’t important? Understanding what happened will help you make better, more strategic decisions when choosing your goals for next year.

For the rest of this article, we will share 10 of our favorite tips for setting goals for all areas of your life.

10 Tips For Goal Setting

1) Set realistic goals

When it comes to setting goals, it’s important to be realistic. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new year and set unrealistic goals that are impossible to achieve. This can lead to frustration and disappointment, so it’s important to set goals that you know you can reasonably achieve.

2) Set specific goals

It’s not enough to just set a goal to “lose weight” or “save money.” These goals are too general and it’s difficult to measure whether or not you’re achieving them. Instead, try to set specific goals such as, “I will lose 10 pounds by March” or “I will save $500 by the end of the year.”

3) Set achievable goals

In addition to being realistic and specific, your goals should also be achievable. This means that they should challenge you but not be so difficult that they’re impossible to reach. For example, if you’re a smoker, setting a goal to quit smoking by the end of the year is an achievable goal. However, setting a goal to never smoke again is probably not realistic or achievable.

4) Set timely goals

Your goals should also have a timeline attached to them. This will help you stay on track and motivated to achieve your goal. For example, instead of setting a goal to “lose weight,” set a goal to “lose 10 pounds by March.”

5) Set goals in writing

One of the best ways to increase your chances of achieving your goals is to write them down. This makes them more concrete and real. It also gives you a reference point to look back on when you’re feeling discouraged.  We write our goals in the iStratus app so it is always convenient to find them.

6) Set goals in different areas of your life

When you’re goal-setting, it’s important to consider all areas of your life, not just one. This includes setting goals for your personal life, professional life, and physical health. By goal setting in different areas, you can create a well-rounded life and achieve a sense of balance.

7) Set goals with someone else

If you’re having trouble goal-setting on your own, try doing it with someone else. This could be a friend, family member, or even a professional goal coach. Having someone to help you stay accountable and motivated can make a big difference in your success.

8) Set goals that are meaningful to you

It’s essential to set goals that are meaningful to you and that align with your values and beliefs. This will make it more likely that you’ll be motivated to achieve them. For example, if one of your values is health, then setting a goal to lose weight or quit smoking would be more meaningful than setting a plan to save money.

9) Set goals that are challenging but reachable

Your goal should challenge you but not be so difficult that it’s impossible to reach. This sweet spot will help you stay motivated and focused on achieving your goal. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, setting a goal to lose 10 pounds by March is challenging but reachable. However, setting a goal to lose 100 pounds by March is probably not realistic or achievable.

10) Take action steps towards your goal

Once you’ve set your goal, it’s important to take action steps towards achieving it. This could include making a plan, setting a timeline, and finding resources to help you. Taking action steps will help you move closer to your goal and increase your chances of success.

Download the iStratus app today to start setting your own goals and keep track of them.

Ideas For A Spooky, Fun Halloween Party For Kids

Halloween is almost here and you have been tasked with hosting the neighborhood Halloween party. Don’t panic! We have you covered with these 15 themed party ideas and 5 spooky snacks for a fun Halloween kids’ party.

Halloween Themed Parties

1) Scavenger Hunt

Host a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt. Hide Halloween-themed items around the house or yard and have the kids search for them. Be sure to hide enough that every kid gets the chance to find something. You may also want to form teams to add even more fun.

2) Make It A Race

Host a Halloween relay race. Divide the kids into teams and have them race against each other while completing Halloween-themed tasks.

3) Costume Contest

Host a Halloween costume contest. Have the kids show off their Halloween costumes and vote on the best ones. You can make this more fun by creating different themes based on age groups.

4) Dance, Dance, Dance

Host a Halloween dance party. Put on some spooky tunes and let the kids dance their socks off. This may be more fun for older kids than for younger ones.  Get the kids involved by asking them to help with a fun playlist.

5) Get Crafty

Host a Halloween craft time. Get creative with some Halloween crafts like making ghosts out of tissue paper or decorating pumpkins with paint or markers. If you have older kids, enlist their help in maintaining a sense of order with the younger kids.

6) Movie Night

Host a Halloween movie marathon. Pop some popcorn and settle in for a marathon of Halloween movies like Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, or It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

7) One Word, Two Syllables

Host Halloween-themed charades.  Acting out Halloween characters or scenes is always a fun time. Have the older kids help you come up with the clues.  This is also a great one for creating family teams.

8) Let’s Bake

Host a Halloween baking party.  Get in the kitchen and bake some Halloween-themed treats like spiderweb cookies or monster cupcakes. Enlist the kids to help in decorating the goodies.  Take it a step further by selling these items in a bake sale benefiting the local school.

9) Trivia Night

Host a Halloween trivia party. Test the kids’ knowledge of all things Halloween with a fun trivia game.

10) Game Night

Who doesn’t love a game night?  Host a Halloween-themed board game night.  Break out some Halloween-themed board games like Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate or Monopoly: Nightmare Before Christmas Edition.

11) Let’s Sing

Host a Halloween Karaoke party. Sing your heart out to Halloween classics like “Monster Mash” or “Thriller.”

12) Capture It

Set up a Halloween photo booth for the kids to stop in as they are trick or treating. Be sure to have lots of Halloween props and goodies.

13) Blinding Them With Science

Host a Halloween science experiment party.  Do some spooky science experiments like making magic potions or testing out different types of slime.

14) Party Like A Pirate

Host a Halloween treasure hunt.  Hide Halloween treats around the house or yard, create treasure maps, and have the kids search for the loot.

15) Little Witches Tea  

Have the kids dress up as witches to celebrate the holiday season. Serve fun creepy snacks and Halloween-flavored tea like pumpkin spice or apple cinnamon. 

Halloween Themed Snacks

Is it even a party without Halloween-themed snacks? Here are our five favorite snack ideas for your Halloween party.

1) Mummy Dogs

Simply take hot dogs, wrap them in pre-made croissant dough, and bake. Add ketchup for the eyes.

2) Witch Finger Cookies

This is a Halloween classic. Create cookie dough in the shape of fingers and add green food coloring for an extra eerie effect.

3) Candy Corn Bark

Melt white chocolate and pour it into a glass dish.  Add candy corn and let it set.  Once set, break into pieces and enjoy.

4) Monster Mouths

Slice apples and add peanut butter or almond butter to create the mouth. For the teeth, use mini marshmallows or white chocolate chips.

5) Spider Eggs

Hard-boil some eggs and carefully peel them so that they are mostly white.  Cut a small slit in the top and insert a green olive for the spider’s body. For the legs, use black olives.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Be sure to have plenty of Halloween candy on hand for when the kiddos come knocking. Happy Halloween!

Need a place to store all of your favorite Halloween ideas? Download our iStratus app today!

Preparing For A New School Year

Yikes, it’s that time of year again. Schools will be in before you know it. With the school year comes extracurricular activities, packed lunches, and the mom taxi in full force.  Are you and your crew ready for the hustle and bustle of the next season of life? In this article, we will share our favorite tips for getting a head start 

Ten Tips For A Strong Start To The School Year

1. Get organized

One of the best ways to get ready for back to school is to get your family organized. Make a list of what everyone needs and start gathering supplies early. This will help you avoid the last-minute rush and ensure that you have everything you need. Get the kids involved too.  They know what they enjoyed and what they didn’t last year.  Let them have a voice.  It will help you avoid arguments down the road.

2. Create a routine

A good back-to-school routine will help your family transition into the new school year seamlessly. Try to establish a few key routines, such as regular bedtimes and mealtimes, before school starts. This will help everyone adjust to the new schedule more easily. Consider after school routines as well. If you want a regular dinner hour during the school year, get a headstart now.

3. Set priorities

You can’t do everything and nobody should expect you to. With a busy school schedule, it’s important to prioritize your time. Decide what activities are most important to your family and make time for them. This may mean saying no to some invitations or cutting back on extracurricular activities. Showing your kids now that it’s okay to say no may save them a lifetime of people-pleasing.

4. Get involved

Getting involved in your child’s education is a great way to help them succeed. Attend parent-teacher conferences, volunteer in the classroom, and help with homework when you can. Showing your support will make a big difference in your child’s education. But decide which areas are best for you.  We recently read “The Best Yes” and it does a great job of explaining how to decide the things to say yes to and the things to decline.  What is your best yes?

5. Keep communication open

Good communication is key to any successful relationship, including the one between you and your child’s teacher. Make sure you know how to reach your child’s teacher and that they know how to reach you. This will ensure that you are always up-to-date on your child’s progress.

6. Encourage independence

As your child starts back to school, encourage them to be independent. This may mean letting them walk to school or taking care of their own backpack and supplies. Helping your child develop independence will prepare them for the future. It is hard as a parent to let go.  Know they will make some mistakes but it is the mistakes that will help them learn the important lessons.  You are actually being a good parent by teaching them an important life skill.

7. Be positive

It’s important to stay positive when back-to-school time rolls around. This can be a difficult time for some children, so it’s crucial that you show your support. Be encouraging and help your child get excited about the new school year. Talk about all the great parts about going to school. Share stories about school when you were a kid.  Have them share favorite moments from last year.

8. Be patient

Back-to-school time can be stressful for everyone involved. Try to remain patient as you and your family adjust to the new schedule. Things will eventually settle down and everyone will find their groove. Because things tend to start all at once you may find that there are a lot of unexpected bumps in the road, but you will survive this.

9. Take breaks

In the midst of all the back-to-school craziness, don’t forget to take breaks. This is a good time to reconnect as a family and relax before the busyness of the school year takes over. Schedule some fun activities or just enjoy some quality time together. What is the one big thing you meant to do this summer and didn’t get around to?  This is the perfect time to just do it.

10. Have fun

Ultimately, back-to-school time should be about having fun. Enjoy watching your child grow and learn and relish in the moments that make this time special. Before you know it, they’ll be off to college and you’ll be wishing for those days back. One of our favorite daily activities is our gratitude moments.  At dinner, we each discuss one thing about our days that we are grateful for.

We know it can feel overwhelming but we believe in you.  It’s going to be an outstanding school year!

Get a head start now by downloading the iStratus app! Start creating lists of to-do before school starts and eliminate some stress.

10 Tips For Planning A Great Family Vacation

Family vacations are fun for everybody except the one who plans them. Between the planning, the packing, and the traveling, it can be exhausting for the one in charge.  But it doesn’t have to be.  With a few simple tips, you can take the worrying stress out of the planning process.

Here are 10 tips for planning your next vacation

1. Start early

The earlier you start planning your vacation, the better. This will give you more time to research different destinations and find the best deals on flights and hotels. We also suggest getting the family’s input early on.  Getting them excited about the choices and finding out what options are most exciting to each member of the family.

2. Set a budget

Family vacations can be expensive so it’s important to set a budget before you start planning. This will help you determine how much you can afford to spend on airfare, lodging, activities, and more. Knowing what you can spend can help you avoid the stress of worrying about money.  Staying within the budget is one of the easiest ways to set boundaries for yourself and your family.

3. Choose a destination

Once you have a budget in mind, it’s time to start choosing a destination for your family vacation. Consider everyone’s interests when making your decision. If you have young children, a beach destination may be ideal. For older kids or teens, a city with lots of activities may be more appealing. But don’t forget that you count too.  And because you are the one who will be working on vacation, be sure you include plenty of fun activities for yourself as well.

4. Book your flights and lodging

Once you’ve chosen a destination, it’s time to book your travel arrangements. Look for deals on airfare and hotels to save money on your family vacation. Booking early will ensure you get what you want and it may save you money as well.  But be sure to look for refundable options.  Easy cancellation matters when you are planning a vacation for several people. 

5. Plan activities

No family vacation is complete without some fun activities planned. Whether you’re visiting a theme park, going on a nature hike, or exploring a new city, be sure to include some family-friendly activities in your itinerary. If you are looking in a bigger city you may find that a City Pass is a good option.  The one in Philadelphia offers 2, 3, or 4-day options with museums and attractions all over the city included.

6. Pack wisely

When packing for your family vacation, be sure to pack essentials like clothes, toiletries, medications, and any other items you may need while away from home. It’s also a good idea to pack snacks and drinks for the trip. Although you may want to check behind the children, consider letting them pack for themselves as well.  Use a checklist to help them.  You don’t have to take on every task.  Accept the help where you can get it.

7. Travel insurance

Don’t forget to purchase travel insurance before your family vacation. This will protect you in case of any unforeseen circumstances, such as lost luggage, medical emergencies, or cancelations. Consider what just happened with the pandemic and you will realize that we never know what might cause our plans to fall through.

8. Do your research

Be sure to do your research before traveling to your family vacation destination. This includes reading up on the local culture, customs, and laws. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the area’s map so you know where you’re going. One of our friends was stuck in Dubai for two days on her way to New Zealand because she didn’t realize she would need a Visa to enter New Zealand.  Knowing these things ahead of time could have saved her time and aggravation.  This is a good time to mention that using a travel agent will not cost you extra and it could save you time and money because their job is to know these things.

9. Stay safe

The most important thing to remember when on vacation is to stay safe. This means being aware of your surroundings, following safety guidelines, and not taking any unnecessary risks.

10. Have fun

Last but not least, make sure to have fun on your family vacation! This is a time to relax, bond with loved ones, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Keep in mind we said have fun.  Yes, you want your family to have fun but you deserve to have fun as well.  Don’t let the whole vacation be about the family.  Make sure you arrange some time for yourself as well.

As always, we have to remind you that the iStratus app can come in handy when planning.  When you put the flights in the calendar, you can insert your tickets and boarding passes right on the appointment so you aren’t hunting around for them each day.  Having a copy of your passports encrypted on your phone might help you in case you were to lose your passports. Also, having each of your activities with reservation numbers right in your calendar can relieve a lot of the stress of your trip.

Download the iStratus app today!

Activities For Summer

June marks the beginning of summer. Schools will be out soon and the kids will be hankering for something to do. Are you already anxious about filling the days? 

Summer is the perfect time to get out and enjoy some quality family time. There are so many great activities to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of our ten favorite summer activities for families.

10 Summer Activities For Families

1. Go camping

Camping is a great way to bond with your kids and enjoy the outdoors. It’s also a great opportunity to teach them about nature and wildlife.

In the past few years, camping has become increasingly more popular.  So, plan ahead.  Reserve your camping spot ahead of time.  Use the iStratus app to plan fun meals by the fire and even keep a list of the campfire songs and stories you want to share with the kids.

2. Visit a local farm

Spending a day at a local farm is a fun way to learn about where food comes from and how it’s grown. Plus, it’s a great excuse to eat lots of delicious fresh produce!

You may find that there are multiple farms to choose from in your community.  That’s great.  Find out what each offers and plan your farm visit based on themes.

3. Have a picnic

Picnics are a classic summer activity for a reason. They’re simple, they’re fun, and they’re a great way to enjoy the warmer weather. Let the kids get involved too.  Give each one a task, making the sandwiches, making the lemonade, or gathering the utensils so they can feel like they are a part of the process.  This will help you avoid the, “Is it time yet?” remarks from the peanut gallery.

4. Go swimming

Swimming is a great way to beat the heat and have some fun at the same time. If you don’t have a pool of your own, many public pools offer family swim times where kids can swim with their parents. If you are lucky enough to live near a lake, ocean, or river, be sure to take advantage of those as well. 

5. Play in the sprinklers

This one is sure to be a hit with the kids! Set up some sprinklers in the yard and let them run through them to cool off. This is a great way to include the neighbors as well.  Is there anything more fun than sitting on the front porch watching all the children run through the sprinkler?  Oh, yes, that’s right.  Running through the sprinkler is way more fun.

6. Make homemade ice cream

Homemade ice cream is a delicious summer treat. It’s also a great activity for kids, as they can help to measure and mix the ingredients. If you really want to involve the kids, consider the Ice Cream Ball

7. Go berry picking

Berry picking is a great way to spend a summer morning or afternoon. Even your littlest ones will love it. The bonus is that after you’ve picked your fill, you can use the berries to make pies and jams, or just eat them plain.

8. Go on a nature hike

Nature hikes are a great way to explore the outdoors and get some exercise at the same time. They’re also perfect for little ones who might not be able to handle a long walk. One fun way to spend your time in the woods is by identifying local birds or plants.

9. Have a water balloon fight

Water balloon fights are always a hit with kids of all ages. They’re perfect for hot summer days when everyone is looking for a way to cool off. And filling the balloons alone can take up a good portion of the day.

10. Build a fort

Forts can be built inside or outside, depending on your preference. They’re a great way to encourage imagination and creativity, and kids will love spending time in their own special space.

You know it wouldn’t be an iStratus article if we didn’t remind you to use our app to schedule these activities.  Having them on your calendar ahead of time will give the kids something to look forward to and it will give you the opportunity to plan ahead.

Here’s to a wonder-filled summer for you and your family. Download the iStratus app today!

Make Your Mental Health A Priority

May is Mental Health Awareness month. At iStratus, we specialize in helping you simplify your life through our 6-in-1 app. But did you know that we are big fans of self-care as well? That’s right. One of our favorite ways to use the app is to schedule our exercise, our meals, and even our downtime. Now, we are going to share 10 mental health self-care tips to help you make your mental health a priority.

1. Get enough sleep

Most people need around eight hours of sleep per night.  Consider going to bed and waking up at the same time each day to help regulate your body’s natural sleep rhythm. If you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, consider changing the environment.  Add a white noise machine.  Close your shades to make the room darker.  Turn down the temperature or add a fan.  Do whatever it takes to get to sleep.

2. Eat healthy

Eating nutritious foods helps your body to function at its best.  Make sure to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. One of the ways we use the iStratus app to help with this is by tracking our food.  Especially the last meal of the day.  We found that certain foods made sleeping more difficult.  Now we avoid those foods before bedtime.

3. Exercise regularly

Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects.  A moderate amount of exercise is the key to maintaining mental health and well-being. Keep in mind that even a relaxing 30-minute walk can help.  Don’t think you have to get a gym membership, buy fancy spandex outfits, or invest in a coach. Nope. All you need to do is go for a walk.

4. Take breaks 

When you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, take a few minutes to yourself to relax and rejuvenate.  Take a hot bath, read your favorite book, or take a walk outdoors. In our last post, we wrote about meditation.  Spending a few minutes of your break to meditate might be just what you need.

5. Connect with loved ones

Spending time with loved ones can help reduce stress and promote positive mental health.  Whether you stay in touch via text, social media, or in person, quality time with those you care about is crucial for a healthy mind. And might we suggest you avoid those energy vampires.  You know the ones who suck the energy right out of a room.  You deserve people who lift you up, not tear you down.

6. Do something you enjoy

Make time for activities that make you happy.  This could include hobbies, listening to music, playing sports, or anything else that brings joy into your life. Not sure what you love, start being adventurous, and try new activities until you hit exactly the thing for you.  It might surprise you. Underwater basket weaving, anyone?

7. Volunteer

Helping others has been shown to improve mental health and overall satisfaction with life.  Find a cause that is important to you and consider giving your time to make a difference. We recently met a lovely lady at Charity Connect who pairs people with the charity that makes their souls happy. If an organized volunteer position doesn’t suit you, look around.  Find someone who needs your help.  You might be surprised to find the number of people who are just dying for an extra set of hands to help with handyman work, grocery shopping, or mowing the lawn.

8. Reduce stress

Stress can have a negative impact on mental health.  Identify activities that help you relax and make an effort to incorporate them into your daily routine.  This could include yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises. It could also be singing, dancing, or even just saying no to some of the things that are overwhelming you.  Remember, you are worth it. 

9. Seek professional help

If you are struggling with mental health issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for help.  Therapy can be an extremely effective way to address mental health concerns and promote wellbeing. If you had a sore throat or a fever, you would go to the doctor. Mental health is health.  It’s okay to seek help.

10. Take care of your physical health

Physical health and mental health are interconnected.  Make sure to schedule regular checkups with your doctor and get adequate exercise and rest.  By taking care of your physical health, you are also taking care of your mental health.

Mental health month is only one-twelfth of the year.  Don’t let it be the only time you make your mental health a priority.  You deserve to be taken care of.

Live life and roll well with iStratus. Take care of your mental health and download the iStratus app today!

Is Meditation The Answer?

At iStratus, we talk a lot about productivity, cybersecurity, and efficiency. Our app is meant to help with all of these. But we also know that people who use our apps are looking for ways to simplify their lives. They are looking for ways to bring a little peace to their hectic schedules. So, today we are taking a different approach. Today, we want to talk about taking just a few minutes every day to add meditation, why you will be glad you did, and how to get started.

Why You Should Meditate

1. Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.

Today’s world can be busy. Some of our customers tell us that when they wake up, they feel like a starting gun has gone off and they won’t stop again until they get back in the bed at the end of the day.  This constant sense of busyness can lead to too much stress and anxiety. When you meditate, your body releases feel-good hormones like serotonin that help to calm and relax your mind.

2. Meditation can improve focus and concentration.

How often do you find yourself struggling to find the words to finish a sentence, looking everywhere to find your phone only to realize it’s in your hand, or late for an appointment because you simply forgot. Regular meditation can help with that. Meditation can boost mental clarity, helping you stay focused on the task at hand, and more easily avoid distractions.

3. Meditation has been shown to improve memory and cognitive function.

Research has found that regular meditation can enhance various aspects of brain functioning, such as learning, memory, decision-making, and problem-solving skills. We can all use a little help in this area, right?

4. Meditation can increase empathy and compassion towards others.

Whether you are a mom trying to juggle a thousand tasks, an employer trying to manage a growing business, or a college student trying to cram for exams and still have a social life, chances are you have found yourself overwhelmed by the busyness of life that you have snapped at a friend or loved one out of pure impatience.  By practicing mindfulness during meditation, you not only feel less stress but are better able to understand the perspectives of others and approach challenging situations with kindness and compassion.

5. Meditation can help to regulate emotions and reduce negative thinking.

Through meditation, you can learn to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and how to better manage them. This can lead to a more positive outlook on life overall.

6. Meditation supports physical health by promoting relaxation.

When you meditate, your body enters a state of deep rest that helps to improve circulation, lower blood pressure, and decrease the production of stress hormones.

7. Meditation can boost immunity.

Research has shown that regular meditation can help to improve immune function by increasing the activity of antibodies and white blood cells that fight infection.

8. Meditation can ease pain and discomfort.

By helping to focus attention away from physical pain, meditation can provide relief and promote healing.

9. Meditation can help you sleep better.

By calming the mind and reducing stress and anxiety, meditation can help to improve sleep quality and duration.

10. Meditation is easy to learn and practice, no matter your age or experience level.

Whether you choose guided meditation, a silent practice, or a simple breathing exercise, there are countless benefits to be gained from adding regular meditation into your routine. So what are you waiting for? Start meditating today!

How To Start Meditating

If you are interested in learning how to start meditating, there are a few steps that you can follow to get started.

1. The first step is to find a comfortable place to sit or lie down and relax your body.

This may involve using cushions or blankets for support or simply finding a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed.

2. Once you have settled into a relaxed position, begin by focusing on your breathing.

You can try taking deep, slow breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth, paying attention to how your body feels with each inhale and exhale.

3. As you continue to focus on your breathing, allow any distracting thoughts or feelings to pass through your mind without getting caught up in them.

Instead, simply observe them and then let them go.

4. If your mind begins to wander, gently bring your focus back to your breath.

Over time, you’ll find that it becomes easier to keep your attention on the present moment.

5. Once you feel ready to finish, gradually open your eyes and take a few moments to orient yourself before getting up from your meditation space.

With regular practice, you will eventually be able to extend the length of time that you can meditate. In the meantime, even taking just a few minutes out of each day to focus on your breath can have benefits for both your mind and body. So why not give it a try? You may be surprised at how much better you feel.

Live life and roll well with iStratus. Download the iStratus app today!

Applying Knowledge

“Applying Knowledge” – this sounds just a little “blasé” doesn’t it? 

However, knowledge is exactly what we need for effective productivity. Honestly, without knowledge, we’d be lost. Over the last three decades, traditional methods of productivity and collaboration have undergone significant changes. These changes were influenced by cultural, social, and technological advances. The ability to analyze, plan, and organize has emerged as a principal source for developing what’s within our minds and memories.

iStratus aims to support one’s knowledge to escape the monotony of “what once was” and generate simple and effective changes. Life becomes less overwhelming because we can check things off the list and in turn, relax with information. The vast amount of material we have crammed into our brains is promptly forgotten, which is rather astonishing.

Why does this happen, you wonder? It is because relevant connections are lost and so the information we’re delivered just doesn’t stick. In this article, we’ll discuss how knowledge is best cultivated, maintained, and applied within iStratus to effectively increase our feeling of productivity.

Engagement is Key 

So how do we engage in things we’re bored with? This might seem like a rudimentary, over-roasted, or redundant question. Yet, engagement is not something that miraculously materializes within us, nor is it necessarily executed successfully. Nonetheless, holding one’s interest is central to it all. Knowing what engages us in what we do is important to ensure something works and we are being productive in succession. We aim to make iStratus visually appealing so that you enjoy using it. If you have any suggestions as to how we could improve our App, we’d love to hear from you! We want to improve how information is delivered to you! We believe enjoyment is the key to knowledge applied by every individual.

“In completing one discovery we never fail to get an imperfect knowledge of others of which we could have no idea before so that we cannot solve one doubt without creating several new ones.”

~Joseph Priestly

Significant Strategies For Applying Knowledge and Productivity 

We want you to feel empowered by your application of knowledge, skills, and practices to ensure productivity. We all know the importance of goals and outcomes. When we are effectively organized, we all can clearly problem solve. Thus this enables us to think critically, work collaboratively, and communicate effectively with a rational, well-balanced mindset. Armed with knowledge, things are easier to fathom. In turn, this also means taking ownership of the process and one’s willingness to expand the mind. Applying technology apps like ours may seem like an impossible undertaking and something foreign. However, like all things in today’s modern world, it can become concurrent with what you already know.

Once Again We Love Empowering

We feel like we say this like a broken record, but we have to stay actively organized for success and to reach meaningful goals. Regardless of what we must address, applying our experience, knowledge, and understanding helps us objectively set our checklists more towards being productive, efficient, and able to solve potential problems which might arise.

Contextualize: Real Life

Aligned to the point above, there is significant evidence to support the fact that productivity is achieved when something is understood and becomes meaningful. Everything you apply within iStratus is in some way personally relevant. The objective is to ensure that we achieve something.

Making progress is important. Our actions acknowledge that everything is: related, everything we do matters, things must be sustainable, life is life, we must roll, be flexible, and on the same hand, maintain productivity. Every checkmark we make matters.

So let’s stay inspired and find the spark within a subject, notion, or task to ensure we “light up” and feel something in an intrinsically, personal way. Applying what we know to a task is satisfying. Our aspirations also need to be considered to achieve goals and our interests are what does this. 

“If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain.”

~Adlai E. Stevenson Jr

We’re a Wired Community: Technology is an Advantage 

At iStratus, we believe technology should be used purposefully to enhance productivity rather than simply automate processes. We need to work collaboratively and creatively to make notable connections within our lives. iStratus aims to be the major tool organizations, professionals, individuals, and students can use to make these types of connections. Today is the moment for us all to consciously invest in what we do.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Happy Hobbies

Humans are social beings, whether it’s with friends, family, or solo. It’s beneficial to engage ourselves in a happy hobby. According to an old cliché: “Hobbies help develop our tastes and our passions in life.”  The best part is they can be just about anything one enjoys. Diversity is the spice of life. 

Few hobbies are ever considered as being productive unless you’re fortunate enough to have incorporated your hobby into your work.  Those types of jobs usually allow one to become more effective and achieve greater happiness in life.

As you probably know, iStratus loves to enhance your proficiency and productivity.  We thought we’d share a list of happy hobbies that you could explore and perhaps schedule into your iStratus calendar.

Hiking or Exploring Trails

Hiking and adventures are usually weekend hobbies for people with a passion for experiencing the beauty of nature and wonder around us. There is much evidence readily available to indicate physical activity has positive effects on mental health. It can have a beneficial effect on your overall productivity at work and home. These types of hobbies allow us to clear our minds of worries and focus on the present.

Paint a Picture

Painting permits individuals to release their creative side. Painting allows connecting to thoughts, feelings, and aspirations. It can lend to some wonderful perspectives towards life. It can also even convert goals into something physical, even within the workplace. Grab a paintbrush! You may not be a master painter, but it’s still something creatively tangible and truly authentic of you.

Cooking Up a Storm 

Not everyone is destined to be the world’s greatest sous chef.  However, cooking culinary delights is one of the most beneficial hobbies out there and an experience everyone should consider dabbling in. Cooking is an escape from daily stresses as it forces us to focus entirely on the product and process at hand. Using iStratus, you can help plan your grocery list and meals well in advance. As a bonus, preparing food ahead of time also means you’re more productive than you thought.

Write. You Don’t Have To Be a Wordsmith

Writing with passion is an incredibly powerful and important form of self-expression. It can help to channel your energies into things you feel fervent about. Pour out your inner thoughts and dreams! Write anything, unlock your creative side, and be as productive and strong as possible.

Knit. It’s Not Just a Hobby For Grandma, Celebrities or Social “Influencers”

Grandma knew knitting was good stuff. Truthfully, Hollywood celebrities have nothing on her. There are plenty of knitters circles in the world – with good reason. Not only is knitting a satisfying pastime, but also it is a superb tool for improving productivity. It encourages planning skills that a modern-day workplace will utilize. Knitting promises a warm and cozy product at the end of your endeavors.

Woodwork is Craft of Creation

Whether it’s a mahogany bookshelf, a fancy pencil holder, or something truly beautiful, woodwork helps boost your self-esteem once the project is started and completed. It also helps increase your productivity in creating a focused vision of the product. Constructing something out of wood that is useful not only helps make life easier but also can make you happier in the process.

Dance Like Nobody’s Watching

It’s awesome to get into the groove. Dancing may not be considered the most useful hobby of all time. However, when you consider the amount of hard ward, sweat, and diligence that go into it, dance is no doubt a rewarding and beneficial hobby.  Learning routines and practicing movement highly helps promote mental and physical productivity. At the end of the day, it increases your happiness in your daily life.  

Garden Greenery

Hand in hand with cooking – is there anything honestly more inherently relaxing, and worthwhile, than gardening? Gardening is not only a productive pastime but also allows you to bring food from the ground to the table. What a marvelous way to boost your productivity!

Gardening allows you to unwind, letting you conserve your energies for other busy days ahead. It also connects us with nature. We’ve only got one amazing world. Let’s treasure and build upon it.

“You never lose a dream. It just incubates as a hobby.”

~ Larry Page

Daydreaming is Not a Waste of Time

Some people may not technically regard this as a ‘hobby’.  However, daydreaming is another thing that stimulates one’s creative side and encourages the exploration of ideas. This process could potentially evolve into the solution or “Happy Hobby’ you’ve been searching for.

Resting the mind can provide clarity, reduce stress, and keep you even more focused and productive with your batteries fully recharged and ready to tackle just about anything.

Begin recording some of your desires with us today. Live life and roll well with iStratus.