The Benefits of Yoga to Reduce Stress

by Liz Nierzwicki , Solace Yoga Studio, Mishawaka, IN

The documented benefits of yoga are growing. People come to yoga for many different reasons: stress, fibromyalgia, arthritis, body aches and pain, for example. Doctors even recommend it for reducing back pain, depression or fatigue. Perhaps the most immediate benefit of yoga is its ability to reduce anxiety and stress and to calm the central nervous system.

Yoga tops walking. Through a 12-week study on a yoga group and a walking group, psychologists and neurologists at Boston University’s School of Medicine found that compared to the age-old stress reliever of walking, yoga appears to have a greater impact in relieving stress and anxiety. 

Boosting key amino acids has a calming effect. Gamma-Amino Butyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid which acts as a neurotransmitter. It inhibits nerve transmission in the brain, calming nervous activity. GABA has a quieting influence in the central nervous system and the rest of the body. Without GABA, nerve cells fire too often and too easily. Anxiety disorders such as panic attacks, seizure disorders, and numerous other conditions including addiction, headaches, Parkinson’s syndrome, and cognitive impairment are all related to low GABA activity.

Breathing is a powerful stress reliever. Scientists are still studying the different ways GABA is released in the body, but it is known that it is released through exercise and deep breathing.   Some yoga classes are gentle and some are more powerful, but a yoga instructor will help you settle in at the beginning of any class and tune in to your breathing. Is it fast and shallow? Is it slow and deep? The state of your breathing is a good indicator of your state of mind and stress level. Throughout an entire class, you will focus on your breathing, paying special attention to slowing down and elongating the breath and therefore calming the body. 

Yoga rejuvenates. As the nation suffers through bad economic times touching nearly every single person – whether through unemployment, foreclosures, or worry about money – people are looking for an antidote to rising stress levels. Many have turned to yoga. People are traveling less, eating out less, and many are even trying to find ways to stay healthy so they do not need to spend money on doctor visits. One of my students has an extremely stressful job and recently she told me that she absolutely “needs” yoga, she can feel a difference in her body and mind when she can’t make it in to a class.  The studio has become her place for rejuvenation.  

Handling stress or anxiety is not something that is taught to us, and many people  handle it the wrong way. Yoga can help people tune in to their body in a deeper way and notice imbalances in mind, breathing, and body aches which will in turn help them to stay balanced and better equipped to handle stress when it arises. 

 Liz Nierzwicki is a WBOM member and the owner of Solace Yoga Studio in Mishawaka, Indiana offering classes for all levels of yoga experience, including hot yoga classes. For more on the health benefits of yoga visit their web site at www.solaceyogastudio.com or contact Liz at liz@solaceyogastudio.com

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Protect Data and Documents and Prevent Information Overload!

by Monica Abair,  U.S. Business Systems, Inc, Elkhart IN

In today’s information age, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the immense volumes of information and documentation required to carry on your business every day. Here are a few tips to help you reduce the paper in your world and capture some efficiencies.

  1. Only save what you need. It’s obvious! Try to eliminate saving paper in a traditional filing system. Electronic documents are just as good as paper and are usually easier and faster to find. 
  2. When saving electronic documents, start by planning a sensible folder structure and then name the documents something pertinent. There is nothing more irritating than scouring through your computer hard drive or a file server looking for a mis-filed, mis-named document that you need now, only to find it somewhere that it should never have been. Running documents through a process that allows for search capabilities is also essential to fast retrieval.
  3. Set encryption and security levels on sensitive documents. This helps maintain compliance. When working with HR information, health care records, financial information or any other personnel data, protecting that data from dissemination or distribution is vital to the health of your business. The fines for infraction are enormous and should not be taken lightly or overlooked.
  4. Back up your files often on removable media. That way you can take all of your documents with you off site. Keeping all your back ups on site is a dangerous risk.  In the event of a catastrophe, all of your information will simply be destroyed twice unless you have an offsite storage procedure!!
  5. Integrate an electronic document process and initiative throughout your business. By utilizing powerful workflow tools, you can automate many business processes and remove the requirement for people to carry paper around your business in order to get things done. Talk to a Document Solutions Specialist to assist you with a system that best suits your needs and fits within your budget. They can provide you with expertise beyond storing documents.

In today’s business climate, you need to run as lean as possible to maintain a healthy level of profitability. Store the right documents, protect them and eliminate unnecessary paper files.

 Monica Abair is a WBOM member and the Finance Director for U.S. Business Systems, Inc. in Elkhart , IN. U.S. Business Systems provides managed documents services, business process mapping, managed print services and all types of office equipment sales and service. Contact her at 800-291-2561, or visit www.usbus.com

5 Tips to Start Work with an Employment Service

by Ellie Scott Williamson, Williamson Employment Services

As our nation continues to recover from the economic downturn of the last several years, one word continues to resonate for many:  unemployment.  What most people don’t know is that an employment service can be an excellent resource to help them get their foot in the door.  Here are a few tips to get employment seekers started:

1. Be prepared.   Know your job history up to the past 4 employers or last 8-10 years.  Be able to provide contact information for these employers, as well as good character references.  Be prepared to explain any gaps in work history. You will need to provide two forms of ID to verify identity.   Also, be aware that along with an application, skills assessment testing and an interview may be required, so you will need to schedule your time wisely.

2. When you arrive, make a good impression. Dress for the job you want.   Be polite and smile; behave as if you are arriving for an interview for a position you already have in mind.  If you have an appointment, be on time.  Be honest about your work history, skills, and criminal background. In general, you want to put your best foot forward, show a willingness to work, and have a good attitude. 

3. Prepare or update your resume.  Many employment services will require job seekers to fill out an application to sign up with their services. While this can be sufficient in finding work, a resume adds an extra boost.  It is a chance for you to really highlight your skills.  Even if your job history has been sporadic, there are a variety of resume styles available, such as the functional resume, which allows the job seeker to highlight his skills and qualifications first, while also listing work experience secondarily.

4. Understand that employment services offer no guarantee for employment.  Employment services are extra resources in finding work, but remember, there are many qualified job seekers out there looking.  Time frames for job placement will vary, depending on qualifications needed and the number of qualified applicants available.

5. Continue to search for work on your own.  Once you’ve put your application in, your job search is not over.  It is just beginning.  Keep updating your skills—volunteer, take college courses, learn computer basics.  These are all tools to aid a job seeker in being successfully placed in a position with an employment service.

WBOM member Quen Potts is with Williamson Employment Services, located at 1980 South 11th Street, Niles, MI, with additional branch locations in St. Joseph and Grand Rapids, MI, also serving Elkhart and South Bend, IN. For more advice on job hunting, or tips on professional recruitment to fill a need in Your business, call Quen  (269) 684-1454 or visit williamsonemploymentservices.com  

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Dog

by Kathleen Krebs, Fetchers K9 Academy

Choosing the right dog is as important as choosing a pet whose needs you can meet. There are a variety of decisions that should be carefully thought out when contemplating making a pet a part of the family.

1. Make a checklist:

  • Have I chosen a pet that will fit into my home and lifestyle?
  • Do I have the financial resources to take care of a pet?
  • Do I have the time to walk, groom, train and pay attention to a pet?

This avoids an impulse decision. This dog will be part of your life for years to come so do plenty of research before making the commitment.

2. Size and environment matter. If you live in a studio apartment you probably shouldn’t bring home a Great Dane. But don’t let a dog’s size fool you — it doesn’t equate to the amount of exercise that dog needs. Small dogs can require as much exercise as big dogs. They also need a lot of attention.

Apartment dwellers: Are you willing to walk up and down flights of stairs six times a day to exercise your dog early in the morning and late at night.

If you live in a rural area, consider that petite Pomeranian might be the groomer’s worst nightmare with dirt, bugs and stickers constantly tangled in its long, silky hair.

If your dog is going to spend time in the yard, make sure there’s a secured fence so that she doesn’t pay your neighbors an uninvited visit.

3. Consider training. Training your dog is a benefit to you, the neighbors and the greater dog community. Even if you send your dog to obedience training you will still need to dedicate time to work with him on a regular basis. Some dogs also need socialization training if they are shy or skittish.

4. Be prepared to pay for veterinary and other expenses.  Did you know the cost of a pet over its lifetime can be as much as $20,000? These costs range from veterinary visits for routine vaccines and teeth cleanings to unexpected illnesses and accidents. Also consider: Micro chipping, grooming, leashes, dog bowls, food, flea medication, toys etc. You might need to hire a dog walker if you work long hours or need to make accommodations for your dog when you travel.

5. Purebred dog or do you want to rescue a dog from a shelter or foster home? A little nosing around can help to educate you as to which breed or mix is right for you. Ask other dog owners, search the web; ask trainers. Do research to pick the right dog for your lifestyle.

While getting a dog is a big commitment, it’s also the beginning of a long and fulfilling relationship!

Kathleen Krebs is a member of WBOM and owner of Fetchers K9 Academy in South Bend, Indiana specializing in customized dog obedience training to enhance dog-owner relationships for a happier pet!  For more information regarding pet selection or dog training contact Kathleen at (574) 968-8610; Or by email at Kathleen@FetchersK9.com

5 Tips to Unravel the Mysteries of Homeowners Insurance

By Patricia Bailey, Commercial/Personal Lines Agent – Hoffman Insurance Group (IN, MI, OH, IL)

With natural disasters in the news, from tornadoes and hurricanes to earthquakes, even homeowners out of harm’s way wonder if they have the right homeowners insurance.   How much or how little should I have on my policy?  Sometimes people don’t know what coverage they have until they find out what coverage they didn’t purchase.  Here are tips to help you understand personal insurance coverage for the home.

1) Replacement cost vs. Market Value; what’s the difference?  My home is worth $150,000.00, why does my insurance company want me to insure it for $295,000.00?  While Market Value is a valid calculation of a home’s worth for buying and selling, it has little to do with rebuilding after a disaster.  The estimate the carrier provides is the amount to reconstruct your home (like-kind) at today’s cost.  Just keep in mind, the insurance carrier is going to build you a new home, not buy one for you down the street.  Therefore, it is important to insure your home 100% to replacement cost.

2.  The most comprehensive home policy is Guaranteed Replacement Coverage.  In this case, your policy will pay to rebuild your home regardless of the amount of coverage carried.  For example if you have full replacement value of $150,000.00, you carry $150,000.00 coverage for your premise.  If you have a Guaranteed Replacement cost endorsement on your policy and the home is lost in a fire and the house costs $200,000.00 to rebuild, the policy will pay $200,000.00.

3)  Personal Liability coverage protects you and all the family members living with you against claims.  If you own property, there is a risk of being sued. It covers you for your legal responsibility for injury caused to others whether on or away from your own property.  Don’t overlook Personal Liability coverage in your homeowner’s insurance.  Protect your personal assets (wealth) from a suit by having the right amount of liability on your policy.  Additional personal liability limits can be purchased through an Umbrella Policy.  

4) Earthquake Coverage  – to buy or not to buy?   According to some sources, if a truly historic earthquake did strike along the New Madrid fault line (in Missouri), the amount of damage to surrounding states such as Illinois and Indiana could be unimaginable.  Earthquake insurance is a type of catastrophic coverage.  Most policies carry anywhere from a 2 to 20% deductible.  Discuss this coverage in depth and get a quote from your agent. 

5) Homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage.  A Flood Insurance Policy takes 30 days from the date of purchase to go into effect. Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause thousands of dollars in damage.  Flood Insurance can only be purchased through an insurance agent.  A Flood Policy is different from Water and Sewer backup coverage.

The best tip, however, is to talk with your agent about your needs and to learn about the options available to you.

Patricia Bailey is a member of WBOM and  a Commercial/Personal Lines Agent at  Hoffman Insurance Group serving Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Illinois. For answers to your personal or commercial  insurance questions, contact Pat at 574-277-5511 or  patb@higagency.com.  Learn more about the Hoffman Insurance Group, located in Granger, IN  at www.higagency.com/

 

Avoid Your Own “Debt Crisis”: Tips for Personal Finances

by Rita Miller, CPA , Kruggel, Lawton & Company

The debt crisis and volatile stock market has many consumers worried over the state of affairs in our country.  It’s a good reminder to take stock in your own personal fiscal responsibility.  Here are five tips to help you with your personal finances:

 1. Prepare a personal financial statement.  This simple listing should detail your assets and liabilities at this point in time.  Assets are items such as checking accounts, savings accounts, your home, and personal belongings, including boats, cars, and artwork.  Liabilities are items such as mortgages, lines-of-credit, and credit card balances.  Total the balances and if your liabilities exceed your assets, see a financial planner for help in readjusting those balances!

2. Pay off your credit card debt and make purchases in cash.  This is easier said than done, but it is essential to empower yourself for taking charge of your finances.

3. Plan for the future.  Start small if necessary, with a possible contribution to an IRA.  Ask for help if you don’t know the benefits of different retirement plans.  Keeping up with tax law changes can be challenging, so  talk with a specialist to determine what tax strategies are needed for your personal financial goals.

4. Check your credit report, understand the score, (Your personal banker can help you) and work diligently to keep it in good standing.  Pay bills on time, talking with creditors if necessary to keep your credit status acceptable.

5. Finally, don’t forget others.  Clean out your closets; donate to charity, and take the tax deduction on your personal income tax return.

It’s important to keep track of your finances, so you don’t fall into your own personal “debt crisis”!

Rita Miller is a board member of WBOM and a manager with Kruggel, Lawton & Company, a public accounting firm in South Bend/Elkhart, IN that offers tax and other accounting services. For more information regarding tax tips, contact Rita at rmiller@klcpas.com or go to the web site klcpas.com.

5 Tips to protect your home while you are on vacation

by Pam Proctor, Realtor

Summer vacations are in full swing. If you don’t have a live-in house-sitter, here are some tips to keep your home and its contents safe while you are away.

  1. Stop the mail and paper. Make sure to hold the mail and newspaper if you can’t have someone pick it up every day. Piled up papers and bulging mail boxes are a giveaway that nobody’s home and can be a green light for burglars.
  2. Save energy costs and protect your electronics. Unplug all electronics that don’t need to be on, such as the television, coffee maker, and home computers. This will also protect your electronics in case of an electric surge. Unplug cell phone chargers, too.  Lower the temperature on your water heater.
  3. Make it look lived in. If you can, leave a car in the driveway and use timers to turn on outdoor and indoor lights to give the impression someone is home. Some timers have variable on-off settings. Leaving the porch light on the entire time you’re gone is a bad idea. If you don’t have a timed light, leave an interior light on for the duration of your trip as long as you can’t easily notice it during the day.
  4. Don’t post it. As excited as you may be to go on vacation, avoid advertising it over Facebook and Twitter. Also, keep this in mind while posting updates from your cell phone on vacation.
  5. Ask someone to keep an eye on things. If possible, leave a key with someone you trust, preferably a neighbor, and have them keep an eye on your home while you’re gone. Make sure to offer to return the favor and thank them with a gift when you return. If  your house is on the market, you can ask your REALTOR® to stop by and check in. (While you’re on vacation, it’s a great time for showings because you won’t have schedule conflicts.)

 If you follow these tips the next time you are out of town, you will most likely protect your house and your peace of mind.

Pam Proctor is a board member with WBOM and a realtor with Coldwell-Banker providing residential sales and marketing in and around northern Indiana and southwest Michigan. Pam enjoys working for both buyers and sellers in making their Real Estate experience as pleasant and seamless as possible. Contact Pam at 574-707-9537 or email her at pam@pamproctor.com or visit her web site at www.pamproctor.com/