How Hiking Can Help

How Hiking Can Help

For those of us longing to break away from the daily grind and reconnect with nature, hiking and camping can be a way to revisit youth, revisit the earth, and remember how to get along without the little luxuries of city life.


Here are three facets of hiking that can sharpen your senses while on the trail and when you’re back at work.

1. Keeping a map and compass

It may sound old-fashioned, but some remote areas have no cell signal, no 4G, not even a smidge of wireless. That means that everything depends on either your innate ability to find a route, or the tools you have on hand.

Many people who first begin to hike, camp, or get back into nature find that their sense of direction is better than they thought. GPS trackers are found to actually decrease our ability to understand our surroundings. Some of us are better at navigating than others, but if you take a GPS device and use it as a last resort, rather than a first reference, it may improve mental mapping ability.


2. Bringing meaning to sustenance

It’s easy to remember to stay hydrated, but nothing reaffirms the importance of water so effectively as planning out and carrying water supply for 3-7 days.

Pre-made dry meals at REI can be a good start to preparing camping food, but definitely pack dried fruit, dry oatmeal, and other foods than can be prepared easily with the addition of water. While hiking lately I realized how important water is to our bodies, and also, I realized how much water food contains! Some foods are far better than others at boosting blood sugar and hydration levels. Hiking forced me to consider and appreciate these foods more closely.


3. Preparing for a different world

Sunscreen and bugspray may seem so happenstance, but on the trail, they become essentials. Even if you’ve never had a sunburn, hiking in high mountain regions can expose your skin to the kinds of radiation that are usually filtered by the atmosphere in lower terrain. And if you plan on going anywhere like a lake in Wyoming, be prepared for mosquitoes that are as big as june bugs and as numerous as gnats.

The act of hiking itself with a proper preparation can certainly boost moods and creativity.


Hiking is a liberating experience, even if it takes work and planning. It’s freeing and empowering to be out in a world of independence, and it’s also liberating to return home and find a renewed appreciation for amenities such as, say, electricity and running water. With any luck, we can all be lucky enough to take a hike from time to time!



Train for a Fall 5k: A Nurse’s Guide

Train for a Fall 5k: A Nurse’s Guide

The heat is on this summer, but one of the best times to run a 5k race is in the fall. Charity Turkey Trots and Halloween-themed 5ks are among the fun events runners can participate in during fall.  The system in this blog can help you train for any 5k event.

The biggest hurdle to athletic training for most nurses are long shifts and already-existing sleep deprivation.  While some nurses I know are already marathoners (even ultra marathoners, triathletes, ect) this guide is meant to help a beginner.

If you’re not a runner, you can train for and enter a 5k run-walk instead. Most 5k runs, in fact, support walkers and joggers.


The first key: alternating high-impact and low-impact training days


The key to training for a 5k: alternate, alternate, alternate! Choose a day for a high-impact training session, then devote the following day to a slower, more recovery-focused training session. An example formula to follow: running for twenty minutes on Tuesday and Thursday, and on Wednesday, running and walking for twenty minutes.

Or, if you are working up to being able to run for twenty minutes straight, spend twenty minutes of running/walking in alternation on your high-impact day. The following day, simply go for a twenty-minute walk. 

The other key to a 5k training regimen: a rest day. Or two! Experts suggest training five or six days a week, and leaving one day to rest and rebuild your muscles.

If the alternation system makes sense, but the motivation train has passed you by, these strategies can help:


1. Run/walk with a friend of a similar fitness level


The buddy system works. Having a friend to count on and having a friend count on you as a supportive source can really make a difference in a training regimen. You don’t have to run together every day, but even just once a week can help.


2. Sign up early!


Find a fun race, a charity jog, a costumed Halloween race, or a 5k that is dog-friendly and sign up online as soon as you can. Just entering the race and being sent your registration materials can make the goal of running a 5k more ‘real’ and tangible, making it more motivating to train for.


3. Don’t be nervous


Chances are there are hundreds, if not thousands of other people in your same exact fitness boat. If the going is slow for training, don’t despair. It’s a long game, and you’re not the only one playing.


4. Dealing with sleep deprivation and scheduling


The best time to run may be in the morning, depending on your city. But, if time allows and you can find a safe neighborhood to run in, don’t give up the idea of running at night. Usually any time from 7 pm to 10 pm is just fine. If 24-hour shifts make alternating impossible, try going for a 20 minute walk/jog on an off day after getting substantial rest.


 The fastest athletes in the world can run 5ks in 15 minutes, or even faster than that. For most new 5k runners, 30 minutes and below is a superb goal to shoot for. For those of you doing the math, 30 minutes or less breaks down to about 10 minutes per mile.

Though a ten-minute mile may sound easy, the tough part (for most of us) is running or walking three miles in a row. A 5k time in the 21-minute range breaks down to 7 minute miles, all in a row. That’s pretty fast!

If you train with alternating high-impact and low-impact sessions for 5-7 weeks, you’ll be ready for any 5k race. Good luck, and have fun!



Take a Moment with Tea

Take a Moment with Tea

One of the healthiest substances in the world, and enjoyed for thousands of years, tea can perk up a tired day or act as a salve for anxiety. This blog will help you settle in with the best type of tea for the moment.

Green Tea

This ancient blend has been enjoyed so much in our modern time that you can find a green tea with just about any other kind of flavor in it. If you like the idea of antioxidants, but can’t bring yourself to imbibe pure green tea, try a Raspberry or Peach green tea variant.

Green tea can be refreshing hot or cold when brewed with care. As a cold summer drink, try brewing four to six bags with honey and lemon in a liter of water and letting the tea steep for a few hours in a refrigerated environment.

Try: Matcha, Rice, or pure green tea.

Black Tea

Of all teas, black tea contains the most caffeine. If you’re looking for an alternative to coffee, black tea works well as the next step down from the caffeine staircase. A single serving can contain anywhere from 60 mg to 100 mg of caffeine: enough to wake up, but not enough to cause a headache.

Like coffee, Black Tea has been long enjoyed with a dash of cream and sugar.

Try: Earl Grey, English Breakfast, and Mint teas

White Tea

This tea can be hard to find if you’re looking for it out on the town, but it’s popularity has grown in the past few years. Made of tea leaf buds, this tea typically has the lowest amount of caffeine per bag.

For tea-drinkers who like the refreshing, crisp taste of green tea, but dislike the ‘grassy’ flavors, white tea offers the perfect combination of crisp, fruity, and refreshing.

Try: Any kind you can find!

Herbal Tea

Herbal teas include Chamomile tea, peppermint tea, lavender tea, and more. Whichever tea you choose from an herbal section, you’ll find most of them are meant to inspire certain effects, usually without the help of caffeine. Though many of the health claims behind these teas are contested, the flavor alone can be enough to bring calm (lavender) or a jolt of energy (lemongrass).

Try: Ginger, Lavender, Chamomile

The Secret of Social Wellness

The Secret of Social Wellness

A few years ago I joined a site called, a company founded by a health-minded web developer in Seattle, Buster Benson. In fact, our entire office joined the site, all of us sharing and tracking our health goals together.

The rise of health tech and health tracking in products like FitBit and Nike+ proves a long known fact: when your friends are active, you are more active. Or, at least, when you see that Susie from the Surgical Unit is jogging a lot, something deep inside you tells you that you, too, must jog. 

On Health Month, I was surprised at the amount of goals I could add for myself, and went through adding concrete physical goals, such as ‘Run 10 minutes a day’. In addition to the exercise goals, there were diet goals such as “drink 10 glasses of water a day’. 

And on, and on, and so forth.

Yet, I was surprised when I came across a category of goals tucked at the bottom of my goal page. Labeled “Social Wellness” I clicked on this category and opened a world of new goals.

One of the goals under this category: “go on a friend date”. I found myself laughing a bit. Who needs to make spending time with friends into a personal health goal? That’s just life! Friend dates happen all the time, right?

But then I took an honest look at my past week. My past two weeks. My past month. Had I spent any time with my friends, outside of work?

I realized slowly that I hadn’t called up a friend in the past 35 days, nor even went out for coffee with someone close to me. Though I’d spent time with my significant other and our dog, as well as my parents and immediate family, I hadn’t actually had a good sit-down-and-chat-about-nothing session with anyone for over 35 days.

I took a deep breath and signed up for the Health Month challenge to have one friend date per week. At least once per week, I would see one of my friends. This had been digitally decreed as soon as I signed up to meet this goal.

The website’s goals and gentle reminders changed the way I thought about relationships. I thought about who I could meet up with throughout the week, and which of my friends I hadn’t seen in a while. Also, I found myself thinking about the immense energy I was pouring into my career. It was worth it, but was I alienating my friends at the same time? I’d say the answer was yes, in my case. 

I didn’t want to become a person who lives in the same town as his/her friends, but doesn’t have any time to hang out. So, I made a change, I started meeting up with friends more often. It was a little hard; just like drinking 8-10 glasses of water per day. That said though, it’s been great!

With the economy being non-ideal lately, it’s no wonder that most nurses stay focused on their career, and the advancement thereof. In the midst of managing daily life and sending a resume to that new hospital on the horizon, don’t forget about one of the greatest mood-boosting, healthy-habit resources out there: friends. 

Five Creative Crafts that Are Good For Your Brain

Five Creative Crafts that Are Good For Your Brain

Here are five creative crafts to get your mind into shape and start flexing your mental muscles. Try these out when you have time, and you won’t be afraid of getting a bit crafty. These crafts may even help improve brain functions such as spacial memory, analogy creation, and overall ingenuity.

1. Origami

Origami – it’s a craft that can be enjoyed with children, adults, and takes nothing more than a square piece of paper. Origami has been enjoyed for hundreds of years, and it can be a healthy exercise for the part of the brain that works with the rotation of three-dimensional shapes.

Origami paper can be purchased from any craft store. Or, you can make your own paper by cutting paper of any size into a square. While there are many origami how-to booklets available, Youtube has many videos that can fully illuminate the folding process involved in cranes, frogs, penguins, and countless other creatures.

2. Magnet Poetry

Though magnet poetry isn’t exactly a sit-down-and-do-it kind of craft, it offers a fun and easy way to create unusual phrases throughout the day. Rearranging the word magnets and making snapshots of them from time to time can be a fun and creative way to think about the day-to-day. Plus, you’ll never lose track of that winning combination.

Usually you can snag a box of magnet poetry at a bookstore, a local giftstore, or online. It’s fun to mix and match differently themed sets too. 

3. Blogging, journaling, or writing

One of the most economical and rewarding creative enterprises of all, writing, can be done in any form you choose. Have an opinion to share as well as knowledge or an interesting perspective? Try starting a blog. You might be amazed at how many people you reach.

If you’re not sure how to get starting, try to set aside at least 15 minutes a day to write. Just sit down with a pen, paper, and as few distractions as you can manage. Like exercise, writing may seem hard at first, but ultimately it will be liberating.

4. Painting and Drawing

Most experts agree that people stop creating art after about age ten. However, even though the act of painting and drawing may be long forgotten for a lot of us, it’s easy to jump back in.

Look for painting or drawing classes at your local school or college. With any luck, the classes will be a once or twice-a-week commitment, with occasional homework assignments. If a class isn’t your style, feel free to go rogue and purchase a few sketchbooks and art markers at your local art store. Set your imagination free!

5. Collage

Before recycling your old magazines, consider this: make a collage! Much like magnetic poetry, the art of rearranging pre-existing artwork or words can be a refreshing activity.

To get started, all you’ll need is a few magazines or books that you don’t mind cutting apart, scissors, as well as a glue stick and tagboard to place your collage on.  When first trying collage, a good first exercise is to cut out your favorite colors then arrange those colors to make something new.