Picture of feet walking down the stairs

Get Up and Move!

Chances are that you are reading this article sitting down. Try standing up while you read the rest of this article.

Sitting down for longs periods of time can be harmful to your health in many ways, including being less active. Sitting can put us at risk for some serious stuff like heart disease or diabetes. This is even true for people who exercise regularly.

Moving more throughout the day will…

  • Decrease your chance of back pain
  • Reduce your risk of clots
  • Improve your mental health
  • Make you healthier and happier

As you go throughout your day, we encourage you to try to sit, stand, and move around at regular intervals by…

  • Sitting for 20 minutes
  • Standing for 8 minutes
  • Moving for 2 minutes

Incorporating these small changes will have a lasting effect on your overall health and your mental well-being.

Set a timer for 20 minutes to move. 20 minutes will go by a lot faster than you think.

Tip: There is a built in timer in Windows 10. Just type “Timer” on your start menu in your computer and it will pull it up. You can also find free timer and stopwatch apps for your smart phone in Google Play or the iPhone App store.

A man and a woman look at an ipad

Hidden Gems: Center shares the healing power of laughter

Most of us could use a good laugh right now. Fortunately, now you can enjoy comedy virtually thanks to the National Comedy Center.

The National Comedy Center, located in Jamestown, New York, is the nation’s official cultural institution and non-profit museum dedicated to presenting the vital story of comedy and preserving its heritage for future generations. Opened in August 2018, the in-person museum complex offers an unprecedented visitor experience using state-of-the-art technology, interactivity and personalization to create a true 21st Century museum environment. The museum was recently named the “Best New Museum in the Country” by USA Today, and named to Time magazine’s “World’s Greatest Places” in 2019.

Picture of the front of a building that is the National Comedy Center

Photo of the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y.

Virtual Comedy

While the museum is temporarily closed as a COVID-19 precaution, you can now enjoy the comedy experience from the comfort of home. National Comedy Center Anywhere is a new online museum experience, featuring exclusive content directly from the interactive comedy exhibits.

Explore the story of comedy virtually with the artists themselves as your guides. National Comedy Center Anywhere has rare archival material never-before-seen outside of the Comedy Center Walls. The platform features a selection of free material with the option to upgrade to access more content from the museum.

The Details

  • Visitors can begin their National Comedy Center Anywhere experience now, by visiting ComedyCenter.org/Anywhere.
  • Location: 203 West Second Street, Jamestown, N.Y. 14701; (716) 484-2222
  • Hours: Temporarily closed to visitors. Typical hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Picture of a man lying in the grass listening to music

Mindfulness: Being Present is the Best Present to Give Yourself

With all of the uncertainty we have in the world at this time, it’s even more important to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is truly a state of mind. It’s being present in the moment, focusing on what is going on right now. You can apply mindfulness to all aspects of your life. Being mindful allows you to experience life as it’s happening, without excessive worry over the past or future. Try these tips for practicing mindfulness.

Mindful Eating

  • Avoid distractions such as reading or watching TV while you eat.
  • Focus on your food. Before you dig in, spend a couple of minutes noticing your food.  How does it look, how does it smell, how does it make you feel?
  • Take a bite. How does it taste and feel in your mouth?
  • Savor your bites – sometimes the first couple are the most satisfying. Rate your hunger level from 1 to 10 before you move on.
  • Give yourself permission to enjoy food.

Mindful Exercise

  • Begin by doing something you enjoy or maybe with someone you like.
  • Notice your surroundings. If you’re outside, look for something new. Maybe it’s the flowers or the activity of squirrels.
  • Focus on how good it feels to simply move and be active.
  • Pay attention – to the sounds around you and the breeze on your skin. If you’re lifting weights, pay attention to your form and try to perform each rep perfectly. If you’re doing yoga, concentrate on your breathing and holding a pose.

Mindful Relationships

  • Pay attention to others, listening closely to their words. Try to understand another’s point of view and delay your own reaction and judgment.

Mindful Mind

  • Take a few deep breaths when you are feeling stressed. Think about what is stressing you. Will it matter in five years? Is there anything you can do about it? If not, let it go!
  • For support, try this link https://blog.calm.com/take-a-deep-breath.
Picture of young child sitting at table looking puzzled

Are You Really Hungry or Just Bored or Stressed?

Before mindlessly eating potato chips or chocolate chips straight out of the bag, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry or is this stress or boredom?”

Yes, I’m hungry

If you are hungry, the best thing to do is eat – but do it mindfully. Give the food your full attention.  “When we eat mindlessly it’s as if we are feeding someone else”, says Pat Salzer, RD, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

“It takes more food and calories to feel satisfied if you aren’t focused,” she explains. “Eating mindfully means to pause before eating. Make eating a singular activity versus doing it while watching TV, working on the computer, driving, or reading the paper.”

No, it’s not hunger

If you answer the question with no, I am not truly hungry, you may be eating for other reasons. It may be stress or boredom. Often our mindless eating is for these very reasons. The word stressed spelled backwards is desserts – not cauliflower, kale or rutabaga, Salzer jokes.

“It may help to have a ‘joy list’ or ‘menu of comfort’ that doesn’t involve food to refer to when you need some soothing,” she suggests.

Try substituting some non-food activities to fill the void that you thought was hunger at first.

Add These Items to Your “Joy List”

  • Light a candle
  • Enjoy a cup of tea or glass of water
  • Write a letter
  • Call (yes, call) a friend
  • Meditate, journal, breathe, day dream
  • Take a bath/shower
  • Brush your teeth
  • Play a game
  • Clean out a drawer (probably not one in the kitchen)
  • Get moving: run upstairs, go down the hall, walk around your house
  • Put on some music.
  • Get outside and take a walk
  • Read a non-work-related, entertaining magazine for 20 minutes
  • Take seven slow deep breaths
  • Play with your pets or children

Breakfast and a routine can help

A solid routine that starts in the morning can also help with mindless eating. Eat balanced meals and snacks when hungry. Salzer offers some helpful tips for healthy breakfast here.

Creating a routine can help ensure that you’re making time to care for yourself, adds Amanda Shanahan, RD, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.  “I don’t recommend eating based strictly on the clock, but I would suggest building time into your schedule throughout the day to check in with yourself, ask ‘how am I feeling (stressed, bored, worried)?’ ‘am I hungry?’ ‘what do I feel like eating?” she said.

Have meal options (and snacks) planned out so that you can eat healthy when you are hungry. This can minimize eating your way through the kitchen. Shanahan suggests mixing and matching your meal based on these basics:

Half of Your Plate
• Fruits and veggies – a variety of fresh, canned (low sodium and without added sugar), and frozen (without butter or sauce)

¼ of Your Plate
• Protein – choose from beans, legumes, tofu, nuts & seeds or lean meats and poultry and seafood.

¼ of Your Plate
• Whole grains – have brown rice or quinoa precooked in the fridge or whole grain bread and pasta ready to prepare.

Visit our nourish tips and short mindful eating video for more helpful information.

Man smiling holding phone

Connecting and Lifting Spirits

No doubt, our world has seen dramatic change recently. What we’ve come to take for granted – visiting with friends, attending social events – has been paused as we work to “stop the spread.”

However challenging the past few weeks have been, the resiliency of the human spirit has risen to the challenge. Countless stories are being shared about ways neighbors are helping neighbors and lifting spirits – even while remaining at a distance.

Kent Gooding, from Ontario County, reached out to share a story and video about how his dad, Jack, is spreading happiness and connecting with others in his senior living community. Kent says he is proud and inspired by his dad’s actions. Please read his story, I think you’ll be inspired too.

Proud and Inspired

“Given the uncertainties of our current environment it is easy to get discouraged, but this video lifted my spirits and I wanted to share it with you.

Jack sitting in a chair while his son, Kent stands behind him

Kent and his dad, Jack (photo courtesy of Kent Gooding)

My Dad is 90 years old and is in an assisted living facility in Illinois. Early in life he was a professional musician playing clarinet and saxophone. He gave that up shortly after he met my Mom because he wanted to raise a family in a more stable environment. He kept playing however, mostly at church events. I was always amazed at how we could request any song and he could play it without any sheet music.

His assisted living facility is quarantined now and yesterday he decided to play “What a Wonderful World” on his clarinet. A staff member captured it on video and sent it to my family. On top of everything else, Monday was the anniversary of my Mom’s passing. Their 70th anniversary would have been in May. I was both proud and inspired by this.”

Click on the arrow in the box below to watch Jack’s performance


Do you have a story about caring, unexpected gestures from friends, neighbors or strangers? If so, please share your story in the comments below so everyone can share in the inspiration.

Oatmeal Applesauce Bread

Print Recipe
Oatmeal Applesauce Bread
  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Spray loaf pan with olive oil spray or wipe with oil, sprinkle with flour to coat, and set aside. In a large bowl, stir oats, flour, baking soda, and cinnamon together.
  2. Add applesauce, water, honey, and oil. Stir until well combined, then pour into prepared pan. Smooth top of batter so that it’s even. If desired, sprinkle salt and sugar on top.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, checking at 30 minutes to see if it is done. (It will be browned on top, but not burned, and moist in the middle).
Recipe Notes

Serves eight. A serving is 1 slice. Each serving contains about 237 calories, 4 g fat (0.6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 192 mg sodium, 43 g carbohydrates, 5 g sugar, 4 g fiber, and 7 g protein.

Tomato Rice

Print Recipe
Tomato Rice
  1. Place all ingredients except Italian seasoning into a medium-sized pot on the stove. Heat on medium high, whisking until tomato paste is dissolved.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low. Cover, and then simmer. After about 10 minutes of simmering, stir, and then check again after 15 minutes, stir, and reduce heat to low.
  3. After 20 minutes, stir, and check again. If the rice is cooked, remove from heat and fluff with a fork. If it is not cooked, cover and cook for five more minutes. After 25 minutes, stir and check again. If it is still not done, let it cook for five more minutes, and by 30 minutes, it should be done, with almost all the water absorbed into the rice. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and serve.
Recipe Notes

Makes 8 servings. A serving is ½ cup. Each serving provides about 92 calories, 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 77 mg sodium, 19.5 g carbohydrates, 1 g sugar, 1 g fiber, and 2 g protein.

Dog sitting on the floor beside couch with sneaker laces in mouth

Snuggles, Physical Activity and Companionship: Pets offer Health Benefits While Working from Home

Decreased blood pressure, increased feelings of companionship and opportunities for exercise – all these benefits and more come with owning a pet.  According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the routine of having to meet your pet’s daily needs breeds responsibility and a feeling of accomplishment.

Dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and more all have benefits for their owners. Studies have shown that just petting an animal triggers dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin in human beings, which reduce our stress levels and help us remain calm. The American Heart Association notes that health benefits of owning a pet include decreased blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and feelings of loneliness. It doesn’t hurt that dog ownership leads to increased exercise and outdoor time, and any type of pet allows human beings to experience decreased feelings of loneliness and help them feel supported.

There are plenty of pet owners who can attest to the truth of these studies. With more time now spent at home, pet owners are finding the extra activity, and all those extra snuggles, are doing them some good.

The Pets We Didn’t Know We Needed

Peter Kates, of Erie County, didn’t want to adopt a Havanese puppy last year. “I didn’t think we needed a dog, but I can’t imagine him living with anyone else,” Peter said.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Peter and his family adopted Henri as a type of a therapy pet for his daughter, Madeleine, who has some health issues, including frequent migraines.  One day, Henri made a beeline for Madeleine’s left ankle and began licking furiously. Less than 10 minutes later, Madeleine had one of her migraines. Now, whenever Henri does this, they know a migraine is coming on, Peter says.

Picture of a white guinea pig

Pearl Kates (photo courtesy of Peter Kates)

If this puppy love fills Peter’s home with warmth, his past and current guinea pigs – Nutmeg and Pearl – push it to overflowing. Nutmeg, lived to seven and a half years old – almost double the average life expectancy of the furry rodents. These insanely loyal and loving pets keep the Kates’ busy.  “They’re very social animals, like tribbles in Star Trek,” said Peter. “They interact with you, they have personalities, they have unique behaviors, and they’re just great pets.”

Balancing Daisy, Prince, Poppy and a Laptop

Liz Kiniorski, of Monroe County, says her photogenic Shih Tzu, Daisy Starlet Sparkle Fluffy-Pants is popular not only in her home but with the general public through her own Instagram page.

“She has more Instagram followers than me,” Liz said. “She’s just starting to build her brand.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Liz and Daisy do everything together, from going to community events to hiking on trails. Working from home with Daisy has had its ups and downs, though, Liz says.

“She loves that I’m home all day, but wants a lot of attention,” she said. “She will stare at me while I’m working and if I don’t give her attention right away, she will tap me gently with her paw until she gets the attention she wants… I’ve figured out a way to balance my laptop on the corner of my couch so when I am catching up on emails or reading reports, she can lay in my lap.”

And with no coworkers to socialize with, Daisy is now Liz’s go-to break buddy. “We go for a lot of walks each day,” Liz said. “She might be anxious for me to get back into the office!”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Adding to the excitement is trying to work with two 6-month-old kittens, Liz said. She got Prince and Poppy-Pinkerbelle in October. “Last week I had to untangle Poppy from the curtains during a conference call,” she said. “Prince really wants to type on my laptop.”

How do your pets help you work from home?

Share your story in the comments below.

A child playing with cookie dough

14 Ways to Spend Your Leisure Time

Even though going out to movies, concerts, large social gatherings, restaurants are on hold while we practice social distancing, there are many ways to continue to enjoy leisure time activities – albeit on a smaller scale.

Looking for some fun, creative thing to do? Here are a few recommendations:

1. Cook!

“Shop” your pantry for ingredients and create! Grab a cookbook off the shelf or search the internet and try something new. Explore your inner-gourmet, or if quick and easy is more your style, you’re bound to find something to please your palate.

2. Dine out at home!

Many local restaurants remain open for take-out or delivery orders. Support local restaurant businesses by ordering out or purchase gift cards for future use. Visit your favorite local restaurants online or call ahead to see if they’re offering take-out or delivery service and check out the menu! Many local newspapers and Chambers of Commerce post lists of take-out/delivery restaurants on their websites. Or check out the website Local for Later for restaurants in Upstate, NY.

3. Catch a Flick

If ever there was a time for guilt-free binge watching, it’s now! Watch a show or series, check out a movie, concert or documentary. Cable and streaming services offer entertainment 24/7.

4. Read!

Many libraries offer E-books. Sign in with your library card and download or get a membership. Here’s a link to the Onondaga County Library System, Monroe County Library System, the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress for information about how to check out their E-books and audiobooks. Whatever your favorite genre, biography, fiction or non-fiction you’ll find a library of choices online.

5. Take a virtual tour

Visit a museum or zoo – online. A quick online search will identify options – many offer live streams.

6. DIY

Are you a home improvement or DIY fan? Since you’re home – now may be a good time to catch up on a project or two.

7. Brighten your space

Crafty? Try your hand at a new craft project. You’ll find lots of ideas online. Craft projects can brighten your space – and your spirits.

8. Roll the Dice

Board games aren’t boring! Dust off a game and have some classic fun.

9. One piece at a time

Complete a puzzle – maybe one of those 1000+ piece ones!

10. Get moving!

Take a walk around the yard, check out an online exercise class or download an app.

11. Harness your green thumb

Plant a garden – in the yard or a container. An herb garden can add color to your space and your recipes!

12. Connect Virtually

Schedule a virtual visit with friends and family via Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp or another platform.

13. Share ideas!

Share ideas! Ask others what they’re doing to keep busy. You may pick up a new hobby – or be inspired to tackle the “to-do” list!

  • Colleen Garofalo of Syracuse tackled something she’d been wanting to do. “I cleaned out some cabinets and drawers in the master bath over the weekend. Got rid of two bags full of stuff and organized what was kept,” she said. “It looks amazing! Going to move on to the next room this weekend!”
  • “We got a head start on fall/winter clean up,” said Sara Rink of Rochester. “We have other weekend warrior jobs planned since we are not as mobile to escape. Power washing concrete, digging moss out of the walkway and re-sanding, what to do with the deck – ugh!” The time at home has given her time to plan. “It helps when the sun is out! We do hope this will pass very soon but making plans to better our surroundings is a good fresh start.”

14. Laugh

And lastly, don’t forget to laugh! As they say, laughter is the best medicine. It helps reduce stress and improves the mood.

For more ideas, check out this recent USA Today article 100 Things to Do When Stuck Inside


Tales of Sleep Transformation

Getting a good night’s sleep can be one of the biggest hurdles of the day. We may stay up late worrying, trying to get work done or simply face bad luck. Not sleeping well is linked with serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, impaired decision-making and of course, less energy. Health experts recommend that adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Feeling like you aren’t getting the sleep you need? Try a new sleep tip tonight!

Here are some expert-recommended tips for getting a better night’s sleep:

  • Keep bedroom quiet, dark, and cool
  • Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bed
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule
  • Exercise regularly
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed

Experts recommended these tips, but do they work for the average person? We asked some of our co-workers to put some of these sleep tips to the test. We challenged them to try out at least one new sleep habit for one week. Then we asked, “How did you sleep?”.

Finally Sleeping Through the Night

Karen Brugno

Photo courtesy of Karen Brugno

Karen Brugno from Monroe County tried avoiding large meals and caffeine before bed and reducing her late-night screen time. Before trying these tips, Karen reported she would often wake up during the night.

But, with the new sleep tips, Karen felt she was sleeping deeper and completely through the night. She also found that not using electronics before bed helped her feel less anxious and sleepier, helping her fall asleep faster. The changes made an almost immediate difference in her sleep.

One of the hurdles that she faced was a late meal after one of her children’s sports events. She immediately noted the difference and was right back to what she calls “choppy interrupted sleep”.

More Serenity for a Sleep Aficionado

Pati Christian

Photo courtesy of Pati Christian

Pati Christian, a self-proclaimed “sleep aficionado” from Monroe County, has a lot of experience trying to improve her sleep. Pati decided to try avoiding electronics before bed. To help her avoid the late-night screen time, she tried to check off her usual screen time to-do’s, like checking her calendar and the weather, earlier in the evening. This way she was already prepared for the next day.

Pati said one of the challenges for avoiding electronics was not responding to text messages. As a child of an elderly, out-of-state parent, Pati wanted to be available if she was needed, but knew that “if there was a real issue, the phone would ring”. Ditching the screen time before bed made Pati feel calmer and more at peace before bed. It also increased the time she slept each night by 15 to 30 minutes more each night. The added sleep and serenity also gave Pati a modest boost of energy during the day.

Finding New Ways to Keep Your Bedtime Routine

Sam Barnes

Photo courtesy of Sam Barnes

For Sam Barnes, from Herkimer County, switching off electronics before bed was TOUGH. Before trying this tip, Sam would often read in bed on her phone or Kindle. Her husband would usually watch TV before bed. That was their routine.

The first couple of nights without screens or reading were rough for Sam. She tossed and turned, feeling out of sorts without her usual routine. Fortunately, Sam found that reading a book before bed calmed the restlessness. To keep up with her new habit, Sam is searching for a screen reader that does not give off the bright light (or blue light) that can harm her sleep.

Rested And Energetic 7 Days a Week

Sharon Palmiter

Photo courtesy of Sharon Palmiter

Sharon Palmiter, from Monroe County, tackled a challenging sleep tip: sticking to a consistent sleep schedule. To make this change easier, Sharon said she needed to be willing to wind down her night, even if there were still things on her to-do list. She worked on prioritizing what needed to be done first when she got home, like walking the dogs or prepping food, over what she could let go for later.

The benefit of sticking to a sleep schedule is that Sharon reports that she can “fall asleep almost instantly and wake up a few minutes before her alarm”. As a bonus, she feels “more rested and energetic seven days a week!”.

Still struggling to get the shut-eye you need?

A free, educational sleep poster is available to view and download by clicking HERE. For more help with sleep, talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist.

Have you tried something to improve your sleep? Share your tips in the comments below.