Army H.E.A.L.T.H. Arsenal
January, 2014

Gratitude Journal 365, is an app that serves as a place for users to record what they are thankful for each day. Users also have the ability to upload pictures to their journal.

Expressing daily gratitude has been linked with increased energy, optimism, and enthusiasm. Additionally, those who regularly keep a gratitude journal experience lower levels of stress and depression.

Gratitude Journal 365 is available in the app store for iPhone ($1.99).

Sleep Corner

Holidays are synonymous with traveling for many of us, particularly those in the military. Visiting family and friends can interfere with your (and your child’s) sleeping pattern. Those traveling to a different time zone or staying at multiple houses are at a particularly high risk of sleep disruption.

Here are some tips to help you maintain a regular sleep cycle while away from home:

  • Plan travel time around your    family’s sleep schedule. If you    (or your children) are a    morning person-leave in the    morning. If you are a night    owl-travel at night.

  • If staying with relatives    means sleeping in the same    room as your child, it may be    helpful to remind them that    they will go back to sleeping    in their own room when you    return home. Just provide a    little reminder that the    sleeping situation is only    temporary.

  • Bringing things from home    can help create a relaxing    environment. Pillows,    blankets, and sounds    machines and all great to    bring along (if you have the    extra space).

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  • 8 Ways for more joy & less stress during the holidays

    For many, the holiday season is a joyful time of year that’s filled with fun social gatherings and plenty of festive food and drinks. Unfortunately, all of these fun outings can bring on extra holiday stress. Causes of holiday stress can range from hectic schedules to anxiety over spending time with relatives. Learn how to cope with seasonal stress by using these 8 tools:
    1. Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way. On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally (Jon Kabat Zinn). By purposely paying more attention in the moment, you will soak up the time with your loved ones and be less distracted by competing thoughts or digital distraction. Try to put your phone, laptop, etc. away as much as possible.
    2. Exercise. Exercise releases endorphins which are your body’s own natural “feel good” mood enhancers. Any exercise can help reduce stress, but certain exercises are more effective at reducing stress for certain people. Some find that high intensity exercise, like running, helps them decompress. While others are more attracted to the calming effects of yoga or lower intensity hiking.
    3. Plan. If being around large crowds is a source of stress or anxiety, plan to shop on your lunch break or early on the weekend, when the crowds won’t be as large. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of gifts you need to buy, start by making a list and organizing the gifts you want to buy at each store. Having a systematic method may help put your mind at ease.
    4. Just Say No. It’s unreasonable to assume that you can attend every party, bake sale, and holiday event you are invited to. Don’t be afraid to say no. Prioritize the most important things and let the rest go.
    5. Stay Energized. The easiest way to stay energized is to eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise and sleep. Holiday schedules can be very demanding, so make sure to incorporate healthy meals and exercise into your family’s schedule as often as possible. Going to bed and getting up around the same time every day will also help ensure that you’re feeling your best.
    6. Manage Expectations. It is helpful to have an open mind, especially during the holidays. Meeting up with family and friends you haven’t seen in a while can often bring unexpected surprises. Things change and people change. By keeping an open mind, you will be better prepared for whatever situations are thrown your way.
    7. Get Outside. Lack of exposure to the light (especially the sun) during winter months can lead to SAD (seasonal affective disorder). SAD, is a type of depression which is thought to affect the part of the brain that controls sleep, appetite, sex drive, mood, and activity levels. The good news is that for many people, simply increasing exposure to the sun or buying a light box can greatly reduce SAD. Taking a walk or going ice skating are great ways to get outside and spend time with your family.
    8. Sleep. This one seems like a no brainer, but considering that 48% of Americans report occasional insomnia, not getting enough sleep is obviously an issue for many people- and the holidays are no exception. Busy schedules and/or kids who like to wake up early can cause insomnia, but try to create a schedule and stick to it as best as possible. One of the best things you can do for your sleep cycle is to keep it regular.

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    Ask An Expert

    Q. How can I politely refuse high calorie, unhealthy foods at holiday gatherings without hurting the feelings of my friends or family?

    A. It is important to recognize that in most situations, others mean well and are not purposely trying to sabotage your eating plan. Therefore, it may be useful to share with them the progress you have made and the benefits you have noticed since eating healthier.

    To handle social events, try to problem solve beforehand so you are prepared with ways to handle pressure to overeat. Discuss your health goals with family, friends, and guests so that they are less likely to become offended if you do not partake in certain dishes. Tell others that they can best help you by offering support and limiting temptations, and they are more likely to value this role.

    Practice a polite, but firm, “No, thank you”, or suggest something else they can do to help you such as “No thanks, but I’d love a glass of ice water.” Of course, there may be that sweet family member that just won’t be satisfied until you have a slice of her special holiday homemade dessert. In this case, you may find it easier to go ahead and have a little, or tell her you would love to take some home for later. Each situation will be unique, but if you keep your health goals at the front of your mind, you will find it easier to cope with these social pressures.

    Mindful Moment

    Mindful eating during the holidays will allow you to appreciate and savor holiday treats and will prevent you from mindless overconsumption.

    Bottom Line

    This year, don’t let the stress brought on by the holidays bring you down. Following our 8 steps will help you to be more mindful of common stress triggers which can help to relieve some of the holiday burden.

    As wonderful as spending time with family and friends can be, it can also be disruptive to everything from sleep patterns to diet and exercise routines. The best way to overcome this barrier (without hurting feelings) is to create a plan ahead of time and to explain your health goals to your family and friends. Usually, they will be very understanding and supportive.

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    Featured Recipe:
    Lightened Up Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 whole wheat pie crust
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease an 8 inch round pie pan. Roll out dough and press into pie pan.

    In a large bowl, whisk together egg, egg whites, honey, and spices. Add yogurt and pumpkin puree and whisk for 2 minutes. Pour filling into crust.

    Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Start checking pie after 40 minutes to ensure it doesn't burn. Allow pie to cool completely before serving.

    Nutrition Information:
    Servings: 8      Calories: 231      Carbs: 26g      Fiber: 4g      Sugar: 23g           Fat: 9g            Protein: 6g         Sodium: 138mg     

    Featured Exercise:
    The 12 Days of Fitness HIIT Challenge

    Pumpkin pie recipe adapted from The Smoothie Lover
    12 days of fitness adapted from Tribe Sports