It’s Almost Back to School Time!

Back to SchoolMost of the Central Florida school districts will be kicking off the 2017 school year in the next week or two.  It’s hard to believe it is that time already!  This can be both an exciting and a stressful time for kids and parents.  We have a few tips to help ease you into the school year like a pro and make a great start for your kids (and you!)

  • Planning ahead is crucial! The more you can try to get prepared for ahead of time the better.
  • Start getting your children back to their school sleep routine now. This will help ease them back into it so it is not so difficult for them to fall asleep/wake up when the school year starts.
  • Post a family calendar so everyone can keep track of all of the activities the school year brings. Consider posting a second homework calendar to help keep everyone focused on what the kids need to do and when they might need some help from Mom or Dad.
  • Consider organizing some playdates with some of your kids’ classmates. Hopefully they are going back into the school year together so this will help reestablish those friendships that may have gotten neglected over the summer.
  • Check through last year’s school supplies in case there are things that didn’t get used. This can save you some money when you go shopping!
  • Use this time before school officially starts to get your kids accustomed to laying out their clothes for the next day the night before, packing things that will be needed in the morning before bed, etc. This will hopefully make those hectic mornings run more smoothly!
  • Make an inbox for school related documents. Teach your child to remember to put things that need a parent’s attention in the inbox and remember to check this inbox every day for things like permission slips or homework that needs review.
  • Make an age appropriate rewards program for your children. This will help add motivation for your child to meet important goals.
  • Don’t forget to carve out time for fun activities and happy family time. Don’t let yourself or your children get too burned out by working constantly.

Follow these tips along with anything else you can think of that will work with your family routine.  Don’t be afraid to give your child age-appropriate tasks to be responsible for during the school year.  This will help give your kid a sense of ownership and control over their day.  Most importantly, remember to work together as a family unit!  This can be a hard time for families, but you are all there to support each other so lean on one another when needed!

We wish you all a happy and successful start to the school year!

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Three Natural Therapies for Falling Asleep Easier

iStock_72421373_LARGE-500x333Not being able to fall asleep can be very frustrating, especially when you consistently struggle to get a good night’s rest. Insomnia and other sleep disorders can affect your health, and while sleep medications can bring on the zzz’s, you should not be relying on medications to help you sleep in the long term.

Try these techniques to help prepare your body for sleep:

Mind-body Therapies – Techniques such as yoga, meditation, tai chi and deep breathing techniques can help you relax and calm your thoughts. These techniques foster a greater mind-body awareness.

Natural supplements – Certain natural supplements and herbs can help reduce anxiety and help your body prepare for sleep, with less risk of developing a dependence on using them than if you were to take sleeping pills. Some popular natural sleep aids include melatonin, magnesium, chamomile tea and L-theanine. Try not to take the supplements every day, and only take them when you need extra help falling asleep.

Get On A Sleep Schedule – When you stick to a sleep routine, your brain learns these patterns and can better prepare you to fall asleep (kind of like the famous Pavlov’s dog experiment). Stick to the same bedtime every day (weekends included) and wake at the same time every day to set your biological clock. Also, develop a routine to help train your brain that it is time for bed: put on pajamas, drink some chamomile tea, read a book and brush your teeth. Your brain will learn these cues and prepare for sleep.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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Fourth of July Safety

Can you believe that it’s Fourth of July weekend already?  Many people will be getting togetfireworks-dc-56a236c45f9b58b7d0c7f731her to enjoy celebrations and valuable time with friends and family over the long weekend.  There will be much fun to be had in communities and towns all over the country.  We hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday and also a safe one.  Below are some safety tips to keep in mind to make sure your holiday is fun and without any incidents.

 

  • It is best to view fireworks at a public event
    since these shows are managed by professionals.
  • If you do decide to have fireworks at home, make sure they are never given to children, that there is water nearby, that fireworks are never pointed towards any person or animal, and that you never try to relight a dud firework.
  • Barbecue grills should always be supervised while in use.
  • Never grill indoors.
  • Use tools with long handles that are specially made for the grill.
  • If you are heading to the beach or pool, make sure you check weather conditions.
  • Do not swim while under the influence of alcohol and do not swim alone.
  • Ensure that children do not dive headfirst into shallow water or water of unknown depth.
  • Beware of rip currents if visiting the ocean.
  • Wear sunscreen when outdoors to protect your skin.
  • Stay hydrated and be sure to drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty at the time.
  • Pets can become frightened with the sounds of fireworks.  Make sure your pets are safe and secure inside.

We hope that these tips help ensure that everyone has a safe and happy holiday.  We wish you lots of fun and time with loved ones!

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How to Make it Easier to Spring Ahead

Over the weekend Daylight Saving Time took an hour of sleep away from us.  While many people enjoy the extra light in the evenings, it often takes people a few days to adjust to the change.  Here are some tips to help you ease into the time change.

  • clock-alarm-clock-bell-dial-38297If you feel sleepy in the afternoon after the time change, go ahead and take a short nap if possible.  Just do not time this too close to bedtime.  Try to avoid sleeping in an extra hour in the morning and give your internal clock some time to adjust.
  • Now is a good time to start a habit that will help you far beyond Daylight Saving Time – try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.  While getting some extra sleep on weekends is tempting, regulating your sleep schedule will help you get the most out of the time you are asleep and help make falling asleep and waking easier.
  • Dim lights in the evening and open curtains when you wake up.  You can also take advantage of dimmer switches to keep your light level less bright in the evening.  This will help relax you in the hours leading up to bedtime.
  •  Exercise at some point during the day.  Even something as simple as walking can lead to better sleep.
  •  Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.  Though alcohol may make you sleepy, it can interfere with your sleep cycle.  Also avoid large meals too close to bedtime.
  • Come up with a bedtime ritual to help you relax and get sleepy before bed.  This might include a warm bath, reading, or soft music.

Following these tips will not only help you ease through the Daylight Saving Time transition, but they are good practices to follow all year long to promote better sleep quality.

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How to Find Reliable Health Information Online

We’ve all done it, you have pain or a symptom that you’re concerned about and the easiest laptop-small-500x333resource to go to is at your fingertips- Dr. Google.  The internet has so much information it’s difficult to know what to trust.

What websites can you trust?

  1. Sites that end in .gov like cdc.gov or cancer.gov. These are linked to federal agencies that address research and training needs for health care topics.
  1. Non-profit sites that end in .org like familydoctor.org are often powered by a reputable organization, such as the American Academy of Family Physicians, so you know your source is credible.
  1. Websites from trusted medical institutions, like Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic, have detailed information about many health conditions, symptoms, treatment options and more.
  1. Look for the HON code symbol at the bottom of the website which means the website has been certified for its credibility by the Health On the Net Foundation, a non-governmental organization that certifies health and medical websites.

Red flags to look for:

  1. Websites that are not authoritative sources and don’t cite their facts
  1. One-sided, biased or outdated information
  1. Claims of a miracle or secret cure based on testimonials

If you have a medical concern, the internet can provide useful background information to help you make informed decisions, but always consult a physician to be diagnosed. Don’t base your medical decisions solely on what you find online or what friends tell you.

Talk to your physician before making any changes to your medications or treatment.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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Three Myths About Sleep Aids

Sleep plays a vital role in your health and overall quality of life. The amount of sleep you get can impact your relationships, job performance and overall happiness. Insomnia is fairly common. Nearly 50 percent of Americans report occasional insomnia, and almost 20 percent struggle with it every night.sleeping-man

In our quest for some shut-eye, we sometimes sabotage our own sleep. If you are relying on any of the methods below, you could be inadvertently robbing yourself of sleep.

Having a “nightcap” before bed

It’s a long-standing misconception that alcohol helps you sleep. While a nightcap might help you feel sleepy, as the alcohol metabolizes in your system, it really messes with your ability to stay asleep. Alcohol before bedtime will cause recurrent awakenings and suppresses the rehabilitative stage of sleep, known as REM. Don’t cheat yourself; avoid alcohol before bed.

Watching TV to fall asleep

Watching TV or using your phone in bed is one of the worst things you can do when trying to fall asleep. It’s all tied to the blue light emitted by these screens. It prevents the release of melatonin from the pineal gland in your brain, which is what makes you feel sleepy. This is especially a problem for adolescents who take their phones to bed with them.

Using sleeping pills

Long-term reliance on sleeping pills is not the answer to your sleep problems. While it is OK to take an over-the-counter sleep aid if you’re having a few nights of bad sleep, you should not be relying on it nightly. If you are taking sleeping pills, try to wean yourself off of them slowly by lowering the dose and then start to reduce the number of days that you take it. If your sleep troubles persist after two to four weeks, talk to your doctor.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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Why Your 2017 Goal Should Be Behavior Change, Not Losing

change-your-mind-to-lose-weight-500x334Instead of making lofty promises to lose weight this New Year, you can be much more successful if you focus on changing your behavior.  The reason most resolutions aren’t achieved, or are only short-lived, is because we don’t define how exactly our behavior will change.  Our goals are often vague, unstructured or don’t define actionable steps.

Set SMART Goals

The most effective goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. For example, if your primary desire is to lose weight, a SMART goal would be to keep a food journal and write down everything you eat, each day, for a week.

Once you have your SMART goal, take steps to monitor your behavior and adjust as necessary.

Plan For Slips

It would be unrealistic if we didn’t anticipate slips, or lapses, as we work on building new behavior. The most important thing is not to be hard on yourself when slips happen. Reflect on what contributed to the slip and find ways to navigate through the challenges.

Reward Yourself

Define what success looks like for you and reward yourself for the behaviors that support your goal. For example, at the end of the week if you met your goal six of the seven days, treat yourself to a movie, pedicure, shopping or whatever you like.

Seek Support

If you find yourself continually coming up short on weight loss goals, or if the idea of starting a weight-loss plan is too overwhelming, you may want to consider enlisting some support. Health care providers can advise you on diet, physical activity and medications that may help.

You may also want to consider a weight management support group. It’s empowering when you are successful and when other people recognize that success.

Source: UCF College of Medicine

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