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  • Small Changes can Decrease Your Stress
  • Traveling with Baby by Car

    By Melissa Ramsdell for Real Families, Real Fun
    For new parents, you can imagine the pride and delight you'll feel when relatives will meet, and make a fuss over, your baby for the first time.

    But first you have to get there. For many families, going to grandma's house means hours on the road. If your baby is about to take his or her first ride, you'll need some advice. "Preparation is the key," says Vicki Lansky, author of Trouble-Free Travel with Children.

    A rear-facing infant car seat should be the priority item on your packing list. Since half of all car seats are improperly installed, make sure you read the directions thoroughly. For helpful advice, go to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Web site, www.nhtsa.dot.gov. And if you use a second-hand car seat, search for its make on Consumer Report's Web site (www.consumerreports.org) to ensure that it hasn't been recalled because of a safety problem.

    Once you buckle in your baby, you'll need to think of ways to amuse him or her. Lansky suggests tying a bagel to a string and attaching it to the car seat. "That makes a good teething item," says Lansky. Also, "Bring along a large stuffed animal to keep your child company in the back seat." If it's sunny, you can use the toy to shade his eyes. A cassette player with your baby's favorite songs will keep him or her entertained for miles. Bring a blanket, familiar toys, and favorite snacks to quell tantrums.

    For an upcoming visit to a relative's home in Michigan, Snower plans to leave during her eight-month-old daughter's afternoon naptime, so she'll sleep for half of the four-hour trip.

    Traveling by car with a baby probably will take twice as long, but if you follow these suggestions, you may be surprised to find yourself at ease when you arrive instead of feeling frazzled.

    TAKE IT FROM ME:
    If your baby wakes up hungry, stop the car to breast-feed. Safety experts say it's too risky to take an infant out of the seat in a moving car, even for a few minutes.

    © Studio One Networks

    Small Changes can Decrease Your Stress

    by Donna Murphy
    We often think that if we can just get enough time to RELAX, then everything will be okay. Most times we don't get that chance to relax and the amount of stress imposed on our day-to-day lives compounds. With all the self-help books and "Simplify Your Life" titles available, you would think we'd have it right by now. The key to taking charge of your life and reducing your stress is as simple as increasing your self-awareness and incorporating small changes into your daily routine.
    Ex: When you're worried about something, you're likely to have sweaty palms, or an upset stomach.

    By incorporating small changes into your life you create a solid foundation (or better yet, solid steps) from which to take the next step to stress reduction and increased awareness.
    The concept of increased awareness is fairly simple. Think about it, have you ever thought about buying a new car and then all of a sudden you start seeing that car everywhere. What about the new career you're thinking about starting? Once you have your mind set on something, it's like magic; you start seeing it or hearing about it EVERYWHERE. That is the classic example of increased awareness. You're more aware of your needs and wants, so you start looking for them more intently. It happens to all of us, all the time. Now that I've "increased your awareness" to the small changes you need to make, let me offer a few of them here…

    Set Goals - Realistic Ones The function of goals is not to obsess about the future, but to keep you on course. Goals also "magically" attract things or opportunities that help them get met. Think of how many goals you set in a day? How many of those goals get met with or without your awareness? The goals that we think have been set too high are the ones that we tend to give up on too soon. If you feel you can't reach a specific goal, break it down into more realistic, manageable pieces.

    Breathe Right
    We all know that stress is an integral part of life. But we also know that there is good stress and then there is bad stress. The good stress helps us deal with the forces of nature and protects us from adversity. The bad stress creates heart disease, ulcers, hypertension, procrastination, etc. Studies have shown that when you are placed in a stressful situation, your breathing changes, dramatically. The more stressed you feel, the more shallow your breathing will be. Our first instinct is to reach for our hypertension prescription, the antacids, or sometimes the Prozac. A simple, small change you can make to decrease your stress in this situation is to breathe. Focus on your breathing next time you're in a stressful situation. Conscious breathing will increase your awareness to the situation. Changing your breathing to be deeper will relieve that stress, help calm your fear, and often reduce pain.

    Express Yourself
    Many of us were raised to repress our feelings. Those who are unaccustomed to expressing feelings in a healthy way often dealt with them in other, unproductive ways such as alcohol, TV (the couch potato), eating, compulsive working, over exercising, unhealthy relationships, or drugs. If you think about it, your feelings are there to warn you and protect you. Make sure you acknowledge those feelings and increase your awareness to them. That's not to say that you need to involve everyone in your expressions. There are a number of productive ways to express yourself:
    1. Exercise to release your feelings, but don't overdo it.
    2. Write your feelings on paper.
    3. Draw, paint, or dance out your feelings. Creative activities are a great way to productively express those feelings.
    4. Acknowledge your feelings don't ignore them.
    5. Talk about your feelings to someone who will listen.

    As mentioned earlier, your feelings are a warning signal, don't ignore them. Address them, express them (when appropriate), and then move on.

    Simplify your life I realize that in our society, this is easier said than done. If you increase your awareness to what "simplify your life" actually means, then it won't seem so overwhelming. Simplify means to unburden yourself of those things that prevent you from being healthy. Start small and slowly get rid of things that are creating stress (within reason of course).
    1. Simplify your life
    2. Simplify your diet
    3. Give your mind a rest
    4. Give your body a rest
    The small changes described above can be incorporated into your life today. Whether you're at work, at home, out with friends or at the gym think about making one or all of these small changes.

    Donna M. Murphy is an author, publisher, and the president of IRIE Publishing & Productions. http://www.IRIE-Publishing.com

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