5 Ways to Manage Secondhand Stress in the Family

If secondhand stress originating in your family is something you’ve been dealing with, it could be causing damage to your health and wellbeing without you even knowing it. Whether you’re getting caught in the middle of family feuds or you are left extinguishing fires, those negative vibes can latch on and get absorbed by your body. This can eventually fester into both physical and emotional problems for you, in addition to impacting your level of happiness. How can you prevent or avoid this? Here are some ways to help manage secondhand stress in the family and take better care to safeguard your own health.

Exercise Frequently

You’ve probably heard by now how important exercise is for maintaining optimal health. And, well, it’s true! There’s just no way around it — exercise is fundamental to improving your health and coping with everyday stress. Being active on a frequent basis not only lowers stress levels, but it also gives you a healthy way to release pent-up energy while setting a positive tone for the rest of your day (or the next). Start each morning off on the right foot by taking care of your body and mind first with physical exercise (you can exercise at any time, of course).

Meditate & Breathe

Another very beneficial way to help manage secondhand stress in the family is by meditating. Carve out ten minutes each morning or evening to sit, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Try to deepen your breath by inhaling as much as you can and exhaling all the way by pushing out your stomach. This helps to quiet your mind and lull it into a more peaceful state.

Alter Your Focus to Block Out Negativity

Sometimes, when a situation or conversation has occurred that’s upsetting, it can play over and over again in your mind like a broken record. When your mind starts to do this, recognize it and immediately change your focus by thinking of something positive that makes you smile. It could be your dog, your partner, or your upcoming vacation. Whatever it is, find something positive and happy to think of whenever your mind starts to wander off into a negative whirlwind.

Change How You Respond

Sometimes, how we respond to situations can drastically impact the outcome.  When your partner arrives home in a bad mood or if a family member is venting, take a moment to pause before you respond. Rather than biting back, try to be compassionate and offer some positive suggestions and words of encouragement instead. This can help calm them down while removing the power behind their negativity to influence how you feel.

Make More Time for Yourself

It’s important to take care of family, but it’s equally important to remember to take time to yourself. Make a point to carve out more time do things that make you feel good, like hanging out with friends. Spending time around those whose company you enjoy more frequently can help you manage your own stress and minimize the effects of your family stress.

If you’ve been struggling to manage secondhand stress from family, make sure to try these steps to protect yourself from the negative effects that it can have on your wellbeing.

Telltale Signs You Need to Make a Lifestyle Change

It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race of life and find yourself stuck in a rut that doesn’t resemble what you had dreamed of doing or becoming. In order to live a happy and meaningful life, sometimes, it’s necessary to alter it’s direction significantly.

The moments that make you stop and reflect are usually the most prominent signs that it’s time to alter your course. Read on to learn some of the most common symptoms that should show when you need to make a lifestyle change.

It’s Hard to Get Up In the Morning

Most of us dislike when the alarm goes off in the morning. But, if you find yourself seriously despising the idea of getting out of bed and facing another day, take note that it’s time to make a lifestyle change.

You Feel Unmotivated

When you feel overwhelmed and dispassionate about your life, often this can manifest into a desire to avoid doing just about anything. Retreating home and feeling unmotivated to do much else means that your body and mind have become somewhat numb to your lifestyle, which is never a good way to live.

You Feel Negatively About Everything

Feeling cynical about the world around you, whether it’s your job, your finances, or engaging with the people you meet day to day, is an indication that you’ve reached a severe level of dissatisfaction within your life. When you can’t find anything positive to say, a change of direction is a must.

You Don’t Put any Effort into Yourself

Taking care of yourself should always be your number one priority. After all, you’re the most important thing in your life! When you stop putting any effort into improving as a person, you begin to stagnate. When you stagnate, it can become very easy for negative feelings to take over, which can eventually turn into a form of numbness.

You Continually Feel an Immense Amount of Stress

Stress is a normal part of life, but feeling an immense amount of it on a constant basis is dangerous for both your physical and mental health. If you’ve been just barely able to cope with the amount of pressure that life is throwing your way and your mental health is suffering as a result, this is one of the most important signs to recognize when it’s time to make a change.

It’s hard to make major changes to your life, especially if you’ve been in a similar lifestyle for a long time. That said, it’s much better to take the time and effort to alter the course of your life than to stay complacent. While we often trick ourselves into thinking we are comfortable, comfort is something you should never settle for. We all deserve to live our best life, and with the right motivation, support, and willpower, it is something we can all achieve.

4 Things You Can Do Every Day to Lead a More Fulfilling Life

Your habits are what define your life. Whether it’s hitting the gym each morning or binge-watching Netflix each night, every reoccurring decision you make equates to how you choose to spend your time and energy. Without taking time to decide consciously what direction you want to go in, life can quickly end up slipping by leaving you feeling unfulfilled and unhappy.

The good news is, if you’ve been feeling dispassionate about your current lifestyle, it’s never too late to start leading the life that you want. To help you make a change, here are a few things you can do every day to lead a more fulfilling life.

Prioritize Your Time

Time is really all we have and, unfortunately, many of us are guilty of taking it for granted. The reality is that it’s our most precious asset. When you don’t take the time to prioritize, reflect, and make space for the things that you enjoy or care about, it’s easy to slip into an unfulfilling rut without even realizing it. That’s why it’s so important to take control of your time. Before you begin your day, spend some time the night before planning out the day ahead so you can carve out time for the things that matter most to you: spending time with your family, planning space for creativity, or setting time for personal improvement.

Practice Discipline

Maintaining discipline is no easy feat but it is necessary, both in your personal and professional life, to keep you accountable. Mastering the art of discipline takes time, which is why it has to be continuously practiced every day. Being able to incorporate more of this into your day-to-day life helps create more structure for accomplishing your goals and discovering the best side of yourself.

Strive to Improve Constantly

If you’re not growing, you’re stagnating and no one enjoys the idea of staying in the same spot several years from now. Striving to improve just a tiny bit each day can equate to giant leaps of self-improvement over the course of even a few months; it forces you to continuously learn, self-reflect, and grow. No matter if you are looking to improve in your work life or your relationships with your family, aiming to improve each day will always lead to a more fulfilling life.

Remind Yourself of Your Life Plan

Another thing that you should be doing every day is to check in with your life plan. Without even a basic roadmap of your future, how can you expect to get where you want to go? The same goes for life. Without being conscious of your everyday habits, decisions, and direction, it can be very easy to land in a spot that you didn’t want or didn’t expect. So keep up with your life plan. Map out as best you can your 5, 10, and 20-year plan to help build your future and start thinking about your unique wants, challenges, and goals. This can help you pave a prosperous future for both you and your loved ones.

The beautiful and sometimes harrowing thing about life is that no one is going to tell you how to live it. It’s up to you — and you only — to take action for yourself and build the future you want for you and your loved ones. Just remember — you’re never alone in life. Everyone around you is going through the same general experiences you are, so take comfort in knowing that we are all in this game together.

Our Tactics for Finding a Better Work/Life Balance

With technology making employees accessible 24 hours a day now, striking a healthy work-life balance can seem next to impossible to achieve. This, combined with the compounding stress of a rising cost of living, an exacerbated competitive job market, and the occasional 50 hour work week, can create some damaging effects on your well-being. Finding balance in life will differ for everyone. The key is to determine how you can find your balance, even when it seems impossible. After all, your happiness and health depend on this! To help you master this balancing act, here are a few of our tactics for finding a better work/life balance.

Learn To Unplug

Sure, technology makes your life more convenient, but it also consumes much of your time, while creating a standard where you’re always expected to be accessible. If you’re always accessible, it doesn’t leave much time for enjoying those precious moments in life, like your child’s soccer game. Start by disciplining yourself to unplug and switch off electronics when your work day is done. If you need to stipulate this to your clients and co-workers, then do it. Having quality time with your friends and family and being able to kick back and enjoy life is important. Otherwise, what’s the point of working so hard?

Prioritize Self Care

The reality is we make time for things that we prioritize. If you’re struggling to find a better work-life balance, it may be time to reassess your priorities. While you’re doing this, make sure to add exercise and mediation towards the top of your list. Exercise not only keeps you fit and feeling great, but it also helps to reduce stress. It releases endorphins which literally make you feel good. In addition to exercise, meditation or yoga are very beneficial practices that help calm the body and mind. Spending a few minutes every day focusing on your own self-care is well worth it.

Stop Trying to Juggle It All

Many business owners and overachievers can quickly get sucked into habits of perfectionism. As you wade through life, there can be many obstacles, changes and unforeseen events that can occur where this idea can get abruptly tossed out the window. Trying to juggle everything with strict standards for yourself can become a severe recipe for burn out. By learning to delegate tasks, you can lessen your responsibilities and create more time and space for life.

Ask Someone to Help

It’s okay to ask for help. The reality is, even though it’s easy to read about ways to strike a better balance, it’s always harder to implement. So, ask someone close to you for help! Having people who care for you and support you through these efforts is how you’re going to succeed in accomplishing them.

Using the Longer Days to Build a Better You

Becoming a better person doesn’t mean reinventing yourself altogether. Change happens gradually by focusing on altering one habit at a time. After all, it’s our habits that define who we are and what we do each and every day. With the longer days upon us, there’s no better time than now to utilize those extra hours of daylight to focus on building your strengths and getting your life in the shape you’d like it to be. Let us show you how you can use the longer days to create a better you and achieve your goals for future prosperity.

Focusing On Your Goals

Now’s the time to dig deep and reflect on your values, wants, and goals. Utilize the extra daytime hours to understand where you are today in your life and where you want to be in the future.

Adjusting to Life Changes

A sudden life change or surprise circumstance can significantly impact your life. Use this time to reflect on recent life changes that may be causing you and your family emotional and/or financial burdens. Taking the right steps now to address the situation can get you back on track and help you to reduce any future impacts that may arise.

Get Active

Having an active lifestyle might be the single most important part of living a balanced, healthy lifestyle. When it boils down to it, we will forever be living within our bodies, and our bodies need constant movement in order to function the way they ought to. Whether you choose to take a brisk walk every evening, go to the gym three nights a week, or run for 30 minutes every couple days, it will benefit every aspect of your life!

Practise Your Creativity

There seems to be a common misconception about creativity that you are either born a creative person or are not. We couldn’t disagree with this more! While it’s true that some people are naturally more creative than others, that doesn’t mean the rest of us are doomed! Being exceptionally creative is an acquired skill, just like being an active listener or being a great writer.

Just like any other skill you might learn, you need to practise continually in order to improve! Learn to think out of the box, approach problems from new angles, and don’t give up trying! You’re more creative than you think – you just need to work at it.

Try Something New

Trying new things, whether they are more related to your personal or professional life, can be daunting either way. As we continue to grow up, we get used to who we already are and what we are good and bad at, but we pigeonhole ourselves be doing so. Trying to develop new hobbies, skills, or learn about new things that interest you is a necessary part of bettering yourself as a person. You shouldn’t ever stop learning – no matter what you’re learning about!

What are You Missing in Your Life?

Feel like there’s something missing in your life? Chances are it could be something that you could solve somewhat easily. If you don’t really know what you need in order to make yourself feel fulfilled, then how are you supposed to achieve happiness? The answer is by being open and willing to explore new things about yourself. By being open to change, you get to learn and discover more about your personal values, your potential, and what you need in your life in order to feel fulfilled.

Here we offer some simple ways to achieve this and gain a greater understanding of what might be missing in your life.

Learn What You Truly Want and Desire

So often we get caught up in comparing ourselves and our accomplishments – or lack thereof – with others. But by doing this, you automatically set yourself up for failure by provoking feelings of failure and self-doubt. When self-doubt is dominating a good portion of your everyday thoughts, how can you expect to explore your actual potential? You must learn to acknowledge your own individual needs and accomplishments without comparing them to others.

Maybe having more time and energy is more important than achieving a high-paying, stressful career. If you’re trying to fool yourself into doing something that really isn’t in line with your values and wishes, then you can bet you’ll end up feeling like there’s something missing, even with a fancy, successful career. Ask yourself more questions to determine what you truly want and then start to listen to yourself!

Be Open to Change

You can’t expect to achieve a different feeling and result if you’re not trying something different. Exploring a different approach and being open to change is crucial for really learning more about what’s truly important to you. If you don’t like something once you try it, then whatever! That’s the whole point of trying new things – discovering what you do and don’t like, or what does and doesn’t work for you. When you find something you don’t like, your narrowing down your identity for yourself, which will make it easier for you to change yourself for the better.

Determine What Your Values are

Everyone has a core set of values that dictate a lot about how we live out our lives, but many of us are unaware of the specific values that we live by. And the reality is that often, the values we hone in on can contradict each other and end up preventing us from achieving a level of happiness and fulfillment that we want. For example, if one of your major values is freedom and another is intimacy, you can see how these two would present some challenges and conflicting results. Being unclear about your values is what often leads to feelings of unfulfillment. So whether it’s love, success, security, intimacy, freedom, or good health, get to know what your hierarchy of values is by writing them out and adjusting them as necessary. Values guide most of our decisions, so if you’re unaware of yours or if you have conflicting ones, they could be preventing you from leading the life you truly desire.

Finding out what’s missing in your life can be achieved by getting to know yourself better. Let go of comparisons, be open to change and new opportunities, learn what your values are, and start to really listen to yourself. It’s all for a better, more satisfied you!

Spring in Calgary: Here’s What’s to Come

If you’re sick of the winter weather and can’t wait until spring, why not get a head start on planning out your springtime calendar of events? It’s one of the best ways to boost your mood and get your mind focused on better, warmer days (that are just around the corner). Here are some things coming our way during this spring in Calgary!

Baskerville: Sherlock Holmes Mystery

Looking to enjoy an evening out with a dinner and a show? This might just be what you’re looking for! This adventurous, comedic spin on The Hound of Baskerville showcases the witty talents of Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Watson at work solving a string of troubling murders. This event is hosted at the Stage West Theatre restaurant where attendees can indulge in an entertaining evening and dinner. Prepare to be thoroughly entertained – take our word for it!

For more information, visit http://stagewestcalgary.com/baskerville-sherlock/

The Secret Garden on Stage

Starting April 17th, you can catch this classic tale by Frances Hodgson Burnett performed live on stage at the Max Bell Theatre. This classic story follows a young orphan child who is sent away to live on an estate with her uncle. While exploring the grounds, she stumbles upon a key and a secret garden, which opens up a world of family secrets and wonders. Sound intriguing? It lives up to the hype!

For more information on show times and tickets, visit theatrecalgary.com

The Suncor Stage One Festival of New Canadian Work

On Friday and Saturdays from May 25th until June 9th, 2018, you can enjoy free one-play acts by Canadian artists. Hosted at the Lunchbox Theatre, this event has been operating for more than three decades, allowing artists to showcase their talents, with many achieving great success. If you’re looking to discover up and coming talent before they make it big, this is right up your alley.

For a full list of details on show times, visit http://www.lunchboxtheatre.com/stage-one-festival-of-new-canadian-work

Dirty Laundry: Sunset Soaps

Looking for a good distraction from the chaos that’s happening in the world right now? The Dirty Laundry Sunset Soaps is the perfect way to do just that! This lively and entirely improvised staged soap opera that’s based in 1942 offers a unique and entertaining twist, a twist that focuses on the glamour and lights of Hollywood – aimed to help people forget about the ongoing war at the time (WW2). It’s witty, funny, and thought-provoking, providing the perfect way to spend an evening during the spring.

There’s a ton of things to do during the spring in Calgary, and if you love theatrical performances, you definitely won’t be disappointed. Be sure to check out these upcoming events, and keep your eyes on the calendar of events for Calgary as more activities are added.

Benefits of Using Donor-Advised Funds

Want to donate but not sure how? More and more people are setting up donor-advised funds as a way to give back. These are funds that donors create by depositing securities, assets, or cash, and then relaying the money to charities over time. They’ve become increasingly popular because of their immediate tax deduction, and they’re an easy way to donate non-cash assets, like stock, as money. But charitable giving provides more than just financial advantages. People are recognizing the benefits of using a foundation to achieve their personal goals while distributing their wealth in ways that benefit others. To find out more about the benefits of using donor-advised funds and how charitable giving can improve your life, read on.

All Donations Make an Impact

When you give to an effective donor-advised fund, your donation is pooled together with others. What might seem like a small contribution can actually create a really big impact. The size of your donation combined with those of others can result in large-scale donations, which can drastically improve the lives of others.

Charitable Giving Improves Your Health

Research has shown a correlation between donating and improved nervous and immune systems, along with a heightened self-image. Donating also increases your ‘happy’ hormones. So doing something good for others makes you feel great while actually contributing to better overall health and wellbeing.

Increases Your Self Worth

Charitable giving can also increase your own self-worth. When you donate to others, it makes you feel like you are contributing to something that is meaningful to you. Many have regarded donating as one of the most fulfilling and rewarding acts one can do.

Donating Sets an Example

Donating to charity can show others, especially your children, that you care about people and want to make a positive difference in the world. You can also instill a desire in your children to share and be generous to others.

It’s a Good Use of Your Inheritance

As millions of baby boomers start to retire, there will be an enormous wealth transfer passed on to their children. And the generation Xers and Millennials are no strangers to volunteering and charity giving. It’s been a steady part of their culture since elementary school, food drives, and volunteering for credit. With a sizable wealth transfer, a donor-advised fund is an excellent way to use some of the inheritance to make a real difference in the world.

There are lots of financial benefits of donating through donor-advised funds, but that’s not the only reason to do it. You can bring more meaning and value to your life, improve your wellbeing, and do some real good in the world. When you’re ready to put your money to good use, contact us at The Beacon Group at Assante Financial Management Ltd. We can help you decide which donor-advised fund is right for you!

Decluttering After the Holidays

After all of the gift-giving and festive parties have passed, the holidays can end up taking a toll on the state of your home. With the new year just around the corner, there’s no better time than now to get rid of the excess junk and start with a fresh, clean, organized home. When you take on the task of decluttering after the holidays, use these tips to help you stay committed to your goal to get back to being organized.

Get One, Toss Two

This is a simple and helpful habit to get into – when you receive an item that you already have, you toss two (or donate) in return. When you’re organizing your holiday gifts that you’ve received, start to put this habit into action. For example, if you’ve received a DVD, add two old ones to the “out” pile. The same goes for just about anything – clothing, kitchenware, makeup, kids’ toys, and so forth.

Pay It Forward

When you’re sifting through your items, don’t forget to pay it forward and donate. Create a pile or have a bag on hand to place items to drop off at a local charity so you can pay it forward and provide others with items that you no longer need.

Take on One Room at a Time

The best way to declutter after the holidays is to take on one room at a time. That way you can avoid feeling overwhelmed, which can force you to toss in the towel and give up before you’ve really started. Chip away at your home by only focusing on individual rooms at one time, starting from the top and working your way down to the basement.

Have a Designated Area to Store Items for “Out”

As you move along throughout your home, create an area – either in the corner of each room or maybe just a corner of your basement – where you can place and organize items that are marked for out. This helps keep the decluttering process organized and easier for you to see the progress that you’ve made.

Toss What Hasn’t Been Used in the Past Year

To help you determine what to keep and what to toss, ask yourself each time what you have and have not used over the past year or so. If the answer is a definite no then the item should definitely be placed in the “toss” pile, if there’s no sentimental value attached to it.

Getting organized and clearing out the excess junk is not only great for your home, but it’s also an effective way to help clear out any mental clutter as well.  Get started with your decluttering project to help you stay focused and committed to having a clean, fresh home this coming year.

Financial Planning: Balancing Post-Secondary Education and Retirement Savings

It can be difficult to get a proper investment plan in place to help you save for some of your financial goals like your child’s post-secondary education or your retirement funds. But with some careful planning and a well-designed strategy, you can get your savings right on track. Let us show you how you can start balancing post-secondary education and retirement savings without breaking the bank!

Outline Your Goals

First things first – you should have an idea of how much you’ll need to save. If you want to save for your child’s education, you should research what the typical post-secondary education costs are today. The same goes for your retirement – what is the average amount of savings you will need to live comfortably after you retire? There are online calculators that can help you, but talking to a professional who has expertise and insight is always a wise decision in gaining a more accurate scope.

Look At Your Choices

Once you have a better understanding of the goals you’ll need to achieve; you can then begin putting a savings strategy into place. If you feel overwhelmed by the figures involved, reach out to your advisor. They can help you focus on what’s in front of you, so you can stay on track and determine what the best strategy is. Their job is to help you understand all the choices that are available to you to meet your education and retirement savings goals without putting a damper on your lifestyle.

Start Early

The earlier you start saving, the more funds you will have available when your child needs to enroll in post-secondary school and when you’re ready to retire. For example, if you begin saving $100 per month for your child’s education, you can save approximately $20,000 by the time they go off to college. If you wait too long, then the number starts to decline. The same goes with your retirement savings – start saving now for better returns.

Set And Stick To Priorities

Learning to identify your priorities is another important factor in achieving your financial goals. You will face many moments in your life where you’ll need to make hard decisions between your wants and your needs – is that in-ground pool really worth it or is it better to tuck that amount away into your savings instead? It’s all about setting your priorities and trade-offs straight before you land in some bad habits of putting your wants before your needs. By placing your retirement and education savings toward the top of your priority list, you’ll have a much better shot of reaching your goals.

Be As Frugal As Possible

There are lots of ways to save more money without limiting your lifestyle. You can save by shopping at a discount grocery store, buying items in bulk, by sticking with only one vehicle, taking staycations, and limiting your shopping habits. By sacrificing a little, you’d be surprised at just how much you can end up with.

When you need an advisor to help you balance post-secondary education and retirement savings, talk to us at The Beacon Group at Assante Wealth Management Ltd. Our team can help you organize your finances and help you achieve your financial goals.