Some healthy holiday cheer (cookies, duh!)

12-days-of-cookies_lemon-012_s4x3-jpg-rend-sni12col-landscapeLife around the holidays always gets hectic. But I think we can agree that it is the good kind of hectic. Christmas is so full of treats and presents, though, it cane hard to approach the month of December without thinking about the massive lack of wellness that could come from celebrating all the Christmas cheer.

If you are anything like me, you know that the most wonderful time of the year is not complete without cookies, so I dug up one of my favorite healthy cookie recipes that I love to deck the halls with. These ricotta cookies have so much cheer and are also on the healthier side that maybe they will help even Santa keep his weight down this holiday season.

Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

Ingredients
Cookies:
2 and a half cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of softened unsalted butter
2 cups of sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container of whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 zested lemon peel
Glaze:
1 and a half cups of powdered sugar
3 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 zested lemon peel

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
To Make the Cookies:
In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then put this bowl to the side for later.
In another larger bowl, combine the butter and the sugar. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until airy and fluffy for around 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until you can’t see them anymore. Then mix in the ricotta cheese, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat until mixed together and then stir in the dry ingredients.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.
Glaze:
Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours. Pack the cookies into a decorative container to achieve ultimate cheer.

Preserving political wellness

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With the election season finished, I believe it is time to revisit and address the emotions we have all felt. Many people were surprised about the results of the presidential election, some are extremely happy; some are struck with grief, anxiety and fear. Political affiliations aside, I believe it is extremely important to continue having fruitful political discussion, even though the votes have already been cast.

The thing I have found most success with in the last few weeks has been having positive political discourse with those who have differing opinions to me. Hearing and truly understanding the other side of any argument is incredibly important, but this does not mean you have to change your view. Empathizing with those who may be afraid isn’t only the right thing to do, it is the only way we can preserve what makes the United States so great; our differences.

Many people have found it very helpful to temporarily disconnect themselves from major news networks and social media, and while this isn’t a permanent solution, it can definitely promote mental and emotional wellness. However, it is important to expose yourself to new experiences and social issues, so permanently tuning out those resources may end up negatively affecting people in the long run.

Psychology Today reports that 52 percent of Americans have experienced stress and anxiety from this election, and they say the way to respond is with compassion for others1. I completely agree with this sentiment. Now, more than ever, it is important to be a good person. Politics and personal beliefs aside, this world we live in needs more goodness. It is on every single one of us to make our community, our country and our world a better place. No political party, religious belief or personal opinion should ever get in the way of being a decent human being.

Here I have listed a couple articles on how to deal with post-election emotions; check them out:

 

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-personal-renaissance/201611/moving-forward-after-the-election

By Ben Eccles

healthy-thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving. It provides a much needed long weekend away from classes, and it allows me to spend time with my family. We all bond over watching football and eating delicious food, while reminiscing over the past year. Today I wanted to give some great advice on how you can enjoy the beginning of the holiday season while also emphasizing wellness in your lifestyle.

Stay Active
This is the one I have most trouble with when it comes to holidays and vacations. I find myself sleeping in late and having family obligations all day and all night. This can be easily fixed by waking up a bit earlier than usual and doing a light work out to prepare you for the long day ahead. It can be as short as 20 minutes! But getting out and waking your body up will translate to an increased mood and better feeling overall.

Tip: Find a Turkey Trot in your area and recruit family members to join you!

Watch what you eat
It is so important to be mindful of what, and how much, you eat during thanksgiving. It is such a food-centric holiday that many people (myself included) can get lost in the type and the amount of food being consumed. Research shows that when given a smaller plate to use, people eat less calories on average. You also want to be mindful of the problem foods such as mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. These are all delicious, but if you aren’t careful, you could be on serving number 4 before you know it. Beer is another Thanksgiving favorite, but just remember that an average 12 liter can has 150 calories, those can add up quick.

Tip: Eat a light breakfast when you wake up. It will fuel your morning workout as well as curb some of your appetite, which means your first serving won’t be as massive.

Thanksgiving isn’t about restricting yourself or feeling bad about how much you ate, but it can be very beneficial to think before eating. Get out and toss a football around, get a good night sleep, and enjoy the time you have with your loved ones. The holidays are a time to be happy and be well, so make the best of it!

-Ben Eccles

Prejudices do not make us well

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In this day and age, some people might argue that racism is dead. “We already freed the slaves,” or “The Civil Rights Movement ended years ago,” is what those people would argue. But with the election today, many of our votes are being cast based on this topic. Needless to say, racism is still a raging issue that affects us all whether we like or not.

In one of my classes today, we had a really long discussion about whether or not racism is reasonable and if it is reasonable to hope for a society someday that does not involve any form of these skin-based prejudices. In the end, we sadly had to come to the conclusion that aiming for a raceless world is a goal set way too high. Sadly. We argued that we could spend years rewiring the way people think or we could teach our kids to be more accepting. But in the end, if there is just one or two outliers, who have an opinion that someone of skin of a different color is less important, the whole ideology would be ruined. Humans are too flawed for a utopian civilization.

But we are not too flawed to be generally decent humans toward each other. And my arguments toward why you shouldn’t be racist might seem like no brainers, but prejudice truly affects us ALL. No matter what side of the story you’re on.

So I want to propose this. Racism does not make us well. It makes us close minded. And that just makes us dumber. It makes us unhappy and anxious, judging people all the time and worrying about being judged ourselves. It makes us struggle, whether we are part of the marginal or the center parts of society. Putting others down doesn’t lift you up, it makes you a lot scummier than the way that you view those you’re bashing. It promotes bullying among kids and hurts their chances of success later on in life. Supporting prejudices does not make you a victim to “oh, it’s just the way the world is,” it makes you a perpetrator too. As Desmond Tutu said, ” If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Even though I don’t think that a racistless society is a reasonable thing to ask for, it doesn’t meant that we can’t work toward being a more inclusive, kinder, better society. Well, duh, you’re probably thinking, but it is easier said than done. I want to therefore challenge you to think outside of your own box. Look at the situation of our planet. Then of our country. Now our city. Even down to our school. If we all took one extra step every day to shed a judgement that we have of someone else around us, how would that affect the world we live in? If we took the time to put ourselves in another person’s shoes, what would we notice that we wished could be changed? What odds are stacked against us? What do we have going for us? What can we do to help each other out through this crazy thing called life?

Well, I guess I don’t really have all the answers this time. I son’t have the magic key to a more equal community. But I have those questions for food for thought. I think that just thinking about this topic is possibly enough of a seed that could grow into a more accepting culture. And if we learn to accept others more openly, that could help us accept ourselves, too. And as you may remember, one of the first steps toward wellness is accepting yourself.

Wellness resources here at MU

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Photo via redleafclinic.com

I have touched on what the main areas of wellness are and even my personal struggle with wellness, but today I want to provide some great resources Marquette offers for a few different dimensions of wellness.

Spiritual:
The Faber’s Center offers a plethora of retreats, support groups and informational gatherings. As a Marquette employee, you are given two retreat days per year to take advantage of these opportunities. The Faber’s Center is also partnering with Employee Wellness to explore spiritual wellness through movement and meditation.

Emotional:
Human Resources at Marquette can connect you with employee assistance programs. Some listed services they can provide are financial and legal consultation, childcare search and eldercare assessment. You can find more information here.

Financial:
Human Resources can also connect you with personalized retirement advice and counseling through TIAA. HR also offers “Retirewise” courses throughout the year. For more information, visit HR’s information page.

Occupational:
Marquette employee development offers GROW courses on anything, from how to use Snapchat to getting to know the Essentials in Skype for business. You can even plan a customized training sessions for your department by contacting the IT service desk. More information is available here.

Physical Wellness:
Did you know Marquette offers golf lessons? They work with all skill and age levels to improve and teach! Employee wellness also offers a whole host of fitness classes that utilize a ton of different exercise modes. Check out these awesome resources if you’ve been looking for a little more structure in your physical activity!

I would highly encourage anyone to take advantage of these services as they are meant to be used by all in the Marquette community. This is by no means an extensive list of all the services provided by Marquette in these areas of wellness, but it is a great starting point for anyone who wishes to better themselves in any of these areas.

 

Ben Eccles

Spend some time on your spiritual wellness

spiritual-wellness

Recently we have been going through all the different types of wellness and the importance of balancing them throughout your life. What’s more important in our Jesuit school, though, than giving our spiritual wellness some thought?

Spirituality is different for everybody. There is no such thing as a right or wrong way to be spiritual. And with the utmost respect for everyone with varying beliefs, I’m not here to tell you how you should believe in what you believe. But I am here to give you a few suggestions to help yourself and those around you achieve the greatest possible spiritual wellness.

Be openminded. Being solid in faith does not have to mean that you have to be close-minded. What is great about beliefs and the many people around us is talking about viewpoints and learning from each other. By exploring spirituality together, you are able to become more solid in your own faith. Keeping an open mind will also allow those around you stay openminded, which will diminish the possibility of offending one another and core beliefs. Positive discussion can help you understand others and where their faiths come from, as well.

Take time to yourself. In this day and age it is really easy to get caught up in only doing things if you have company. But since spirituality is so individualized, taking on your own beliefs by yourself could help you a lot. Taking the time to read about what you believe, reflect and focus your day to day life on your faith will help you grow in your own spirituality.

Aim to love. I think it can be universally agreed upon that love is the foundation of nearly all faiths. Whether it be love for yourself, your neighbor or the world, compassion can make everyone more spiritually well. If you are practicing love, you will be so much less burdened than if you were instead holding grudges or upholding a dislike toward someone else. This will also encourage those around you to show love too. The golden rule that is also pretty universal is love your neighbor as you yourself would like to be loved.

 

 

Shaking off the stresses

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With midterm exams coming to and end and a long weekend upon us, it is the perfect time to learn about stress relief. Stress is a very elusive term, especially when looking for a true definition. The American Institute of Stress published an article quoting the original definition to be, “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” They go on to explain that the word, almost immediately after it was originally coined, was used in the wrong context very commonly. This only added to the confusion surrounding this word, and in 1951, the British Medical Journal published a piece stating “Stress in addition to being itself, was also the cause of itself and the result of itself.”

As you can see, my research thus far has been very unhelpful in defining stress. I concluded that it doesn’t necessarily matter what it is, but determining what causes stress and ways to overcome it might be more helpful. So here is a list of the most common things that stress people out the most, and tips to relieve that stress:

The Money Issue: This is a big one. If you haven’t yet, go take a look at my blog about financial wellness, there is some great beginner information that could really help relieve some of this stress. I can basically sum up my past article with one word, budgeting. If you aren’t keeping track of every payment and expense you have, we have found your stressor. Ding ding ding.

Constantly Connected: Most people consider their smartphone to be an extension of themselves. They bring it everywhere, and if it dies or runs out of battery, they have a sense of emptiness and an unshakable feeling that they are missing something. You have probably heard this before, but taking work home with you and constantly answering emails is terrible for mental health. I would highly suggest setting predetermined which you will read and respond to emails. If someone (student, co-worker, boss) does email you outside of these times, have an automated message response that lays out your available times for email. If the message truly is urgent, they will call. If it can wait, it can wait!

Lack of Free Time: This is directly connected to the previous stressor. If you don’t have an established free time section in your schedule, Set aside some time right now. This is essential to being a productive worker. Even if you do usually have some free time in your schedule, make sure at least a half hour is alone time. Whether it be taking a nap, reading a book or listening to music, you need time to let your body and mind rest with minimal outside interaction.

There are obviously many more stressors that we experience all the time, but addressing these could have a huge affect on how we feel throughout our day. Make this list for yourself and see what common events stress you out most, brainstorm ways you can counteract this, and start living less stressed.

By Ben Eccles


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