14 Work-From-Home Jobs That Will Give You More Time With Your Children

If you feel stuck between spending more time with your children or working to making more money for your family, there is some good news for you: you do not actually need to leave the home in order to bring in more money. You can find an abundance of jobs in all sorts of areas that you can do right from your home, allowing you and your kids more time with each other. From tech, to art, to education, the ways to make money for your family without e leaving your home is limited only by your imagination. Take these suggestions as starting points to get your creative juice flowing and see what other ideas of work from home jobs, perhaps even more fitting for your own skills and interests, that can give you more time with your children. You do not even have to work for another person or company in order to work from home. There are plenty of home-based businesses you can launch and run successfully right from your own home as well.

1. Blogging

If you have expertise, or even just a passionate interest, in a particular topic, you can easily create a blog on that topic and make money through subscriptions and advertising. The key to making blogging work is to publish new posts consistently and frequently, even daily, if possible.

2. Child Care

Caring for other people’s children in your home has the added benefit of giving you more time with your own children as well as giving your children new peers to socialize and play with. Virginia does have licensing requirements for certain types of child care businesses, so be sure to look those up and comply with all regulations to make this business work for you.

3. Computer Programmer or Technical Support

If you can write code, many companies may be interested in your services. Even if they do not need you to program new software, there is still the need to review code and investigate, analyze and fix coding issues that are often experienced in the computer systems that most businesses now rely upon to function. Even if you do not how to program code, if you at least understand code and how computers function, you could still provide support services to computer users, personal and professional alike.

4. Crafting

If you have skills in making things, you can make them at home and sell them both from your home and online. There are many platforms online that allow you to create an affordable online store to establish your business.

5. Dog Walking and Doggie Day Care

Think about all your friends and neighbors who do leave their homes every day to go to work while their pets stay at home all alone. You can provide a valuable service giving these beloved pets the time and attention their owners are simply unable to give at those times by creating a pet care service. It may be best to begin with one pet and grow your clients based on positive word of mouth.

6. Event Planner

Most of an event-planner’s time is spent on the phone, which is something you can do from anywhere, including home. If you like to throw parties or have a knack for keeping things organized and on schedule, you may be well cut out to plan events for others.

7. Freelancing

If you can write, edit or take photographs, you can form a home-based business around this skill. If you have knowledge and experience in tax advising, web design or online or offline marketing, you can turn that into a business from home rather than seeking a job with an employer in that field outside of your home.

8. Interior Design Services

If you have an eye for interior design and have earned a degree in this field, you could market that service to other people and businesses. Most of the work you perform in this job, beyond an initial viewing of the space, you can do right from home. You will need to invest in the necessary software and equipment to be successful as an interior designer.

9. Internet Commerce

These days, you can build an online store and start selling products without ever having to store or handle a single piece of inventory, thanks to models like affiliate marketing and drop shipping. Become an independent distributor of any number of products made by major brand name manufacturers and niche newcomers. Alternatively, you can find objects to sell from wholesale warehouses, charity and thrift shops.

10. IT Consultant or Project Manager

IT consultants advise clients on their information technology strategies and recommend solutions to help them achieve their objectives. IT project managers help businesses to implement and execute new technology strategies to increase performance. Often consultants have gathered years of experience in their specialty before launching their business.

11. School Tutor

If you are particularly savvy in a certain subject, consider tutoring students in that subject. Even if you do not have any specialized knowledge, you could still tutor classes you took in high school or tutor grade school and middle school students in basic subjects.

12. Travel Agent

No longer do you have to travel to a separate agency, let alone even work for one, in order to be a travel agent. Tools for conducting thorough searches of available flights, accommodations and other travel products are now available to any entrepreneurial minded individual with an internet connection. Create your own travel business and help people plan the perfect vacation or specialize in business travel.

13. Virtual Assistant

There is an increasing opportunity, in this fast-paced, technology-driven age, to offer administrative services like answering calls, handling administrative duties and providing technical support. Virtual assistance must be detail-oriented, able to thrive in a high intensity environment and often be available to handle last-minute requests with ease.

14. Web Design

Have you ever built a personal website? Even if you have not, you can learn this skill in a relatively short amount of time. Web design is a task that combines practical, analytical thinking with creative thinking, making for well-rounded and consistently interesting, challenging and fulfilling career. Start marketing yourself by creating an appealing website of your own.

6 Advantages of Renting a Moving Truck

You are getting ready to pack up all of your belongings and move from your existing home to a new one, but are uncertain about the best method of transport. Do you hire a moving company to handle the task for you or do you rent a moving truck and take care of it yourself? There are many reasons renting a moving truck is the best option to choose for your move. If you are on a budget, for example, or you do not have a lot of belongings to move, then it may be more beneficial to rent a moving truck. Other advantages of renting a moving truck include flexibility, convenience and control. When you rent a moving vehicle you have the possibility of insurance coverage for damage or loss to your personal property or injury during the move. Additionally, you may have the opportunity to tow your own vehicle to reduce wear and tear if you are traveling long distance. Renting a moving truck can also give you the satisfaction of knowing you are helping to protect the environment by reducing the number of trips you take in your own car while moving.

1. Save Money

Paying a moving company to move your belongings for you can cost you a whole lot more than renting a moving truck and moving yourself. When you pay a moving company, you are usually paying the hourly wages of all the people helping you move plus additional fees such as administration and mileage. In addition, as long as you do not have a lot of belongings to move, you will be able to make the move in a single trip with your rental truck. Hiring a moving company to move your belonging may be more economical if you have so many belongings to move that it might take you several trips in a moving truck to do it yourself. However, some companies charge by the hour and the total cost to hire movers can exceed the total cost of renting a truck for a day to complete multiple trips.

2. Flexibility and Convenience

When you rent a moving truck and move yourself, you can do it on your own time and at your own pace. The truck is there when you are ready to use it and there is no one pressuring you to finish packing, so they can finish a job within a scheduled timeframe. When working with a moving company, you often have to work within their schedule, which tends to be busiest when people are most likely to move, such as in the summer. Furthermore, moving companies typically have strict guidelines for how they want all your items packed before they agree to move them. For example, most moving companies require you to box and seal all items with particular instructions for furniture, glass wear and other items. Not only does this impose upon you to pack everything to meet their needs, but it can also cause less items to fit in the same physical space in the back of the truck. Since professional movers charge more for additional trips, it might be more convenient for you to have the flexibility to decide how you pack your items.

3. Control

Renting a moving truck puts you in the driver’s seat, literally. You are in charge of your entire move, which means that you get to choose how each item is packed. Only you know which items are most precious to you, and only you will protect those items with the care they deserve. In addition, if it rains or snows, you can decide how to keep your items protected, even delaying activity until the weather clears, if you prefer. Moreover, when it is time to unpack the truck, you can make sure everything goes where it belongs in your new home, rather than movers simply dropping each item wherever it seems most convenient for them.

4. Tow Your Vehicle

If you have a car or other vehicle to transport to your new home, you can use the moving truck to tow it, since all moving trucks come equipped with their own ball socket hitch for a vehicle trailer. In towing your vehicle between your old home and your new one with a moving truck rather than driving it, you place the wear and tear of the trip on the moving truck instead of your own vehicle. Towing your vehicle with your moving truck also cuts down on the number of tolls you would have to pay on toll roads, were you to drive the vehicles separately.

5. Insurance Coverage

Many homeowners’ insurance policies and automobile insurance policies will cover you and your belongings while you move. Such protections may not apply, however, if you have a moving company take care of the moving for you. Even if your homeowners and auto insurance policies do not protect you while undertaking a move, you can purchase such insurance from the moving truck rental company.

6. Environmental Friendliness

Unless you hire a moving company that uses green vehicles, chances are that your move is doing the environment no favors. However, when you rent a moving truck from some suppliers, you can opt to receive a truck with a diesel-powered engine rather than one that runs on standard gasoline. Diesel is more fuel efficient, and allows trucks to drive farther on less fuel. In addition, rental truck agencies tend to stock newer model vehicles in their inventory, which means that you will be driving around in a vehicle with better fuel economy and fewer emissions than a moving company that is driving an old fleet.

Tips for Finding a Utilities Company

Customer choice, also known as retail choice, is the option given to some utility customers in the United States to pick their own energy supplier instead of having that choice made for them. In Virginia, many consumers are given the choice of their own energy suppliers for electricity and natural gas services. Virginia refers to the companies consumers can choose from as Competitive Service Providers (CSP). CSPs must be licensed by the State Corporation Commission (SCC) in order to be able to offer services to Virginia energy customers. The existence of these companies and the system allowing consumers to choose between them creates competition in the utilities marketplace that can greatly benefit consumers. Whichever service provider you choose, distribution and delivery of those utility services is provided by your local utility company, which remains what the SCC calls your local distribution company (LDC).

The main electricity utility providers available to Virginia customers are Kentucky Utilities also known as Old Dominion Power, Dominion Virginia Power and American Electric Power. The main natural gas utilities available for Virginia residents and businesses to choose from are: Virginia Natural Gas, Southwestern Virginia Company, Washington Gas Light (aka Shenandoah Gas Division), Roanoke Gas Company, Columbia Gas of Virginia, Atmos Energy and Appalachian Natural Gas Distribution Company.

Consider Virginia Energy Regulations

Virginia is deregulated for certain users of electricity and natural gas. In 2007, Dominion Power, the largest utility in the Commonwealth, convinced the SCC to suspend the right of most electricity customers to choose their own electricity provider. Electricity is still deregulated, however, for Virginia customers utilizing or aggregating greater than five megawatts per year of power and those opting for 100 percent of their electricity to come from renewable sources. Natural gas is deregulated for Virginia residential, commercial, industrial and small business customers of Washington Gas Light Company to allow customer’s choice of variable or fixed rates. Natural gas customers who do not choose their own provider will be automatically assigned to default service provided by their utility company. It is also worth keeping in mind that, in Virginia, it is against the law for your utility service provider to be switched without your consent.

Read the Price to Compare on Your Current Bill

Your current utility bill may contain information for you to compare prices. This information details the baseline price for services from that provider. You can then use that information as a benchmark to compare against that same information from other providers.

Call and Ask Questions

Do not just rely on the information you read about various CSPs on the web and in their mailed content. These are all promotional materials designed to highlight a company’s greatest qualities and downplay its worst aspects. To really get a feel for how well a CSP will serve your unique needs, call the company, speak with a person and ask how they would address your specific needs. Some of the questions you may want to ask include:

  • Whether the CSP is SCC licensed
  • Whether the price is fixed or if it adjusts, and if so, how
  • Whether any other fees are charged
  • How you are going to be billed
  • Whether any incentives or special offers are currently running
  • Whether a budget plan is available
  • With what sources the energy provided is produced
  • What other services the CSP offers

Read the Fine Print

Before you commit to switching to any new CSP, make sure that you read all the fine print, including the contract’s full terms and conditions. You want to make sure that there are no hidden charges, restrictions, limitations or other undesirable aspects of the agreement before you sign on the dotted line. Virginia energy regulations stipulate that you have 10 days after switching to a new CSP to change your mind about the provider without fear of penalty. However, after that period, you may incur a penalty if you cancel service with that CSP before the contractual term expires.

Seek or Form an Aggregation

Business associations, non-profit organizations, communities and individuals can form utility buying groups, known as aggregations, that allow their participants to receive lower rates on utility services from some CSPs by signing up with them in volume. In order to offer an aggregation in Virginia, the aggregator must also be SCC licensed.

Improve Your Credit

Utility companies may look up your credit information in order to decide what rates to offer you. In order to ensure that you get the fairest rate quotes possible, do all you can to build up your credit. Some utility companies may charge customers with poor credit or no credit a deposit for services, and, if you cannot come up with the deposit, they might require a letter from another person promising to pay your bill if you default on it, known as a letter of guarantee. Other companies may deny customers service, if their credit is low. If your spouse has a poor credit history with a utility company, you may still be able to order utility service from that company yourself, provided you can prove that the two of you were not living together when your spouse’s utility account went into default, you attest that you had never seen those bills and you paid the overdue balances on those bills as soon as you found out that they were past due.

Five Benefits of Having a Home Office

One of the main decisions that entrepreneurs have to make is whether or not they want to rent out or buy an official office space, or if it makes more sense to run their businesses from their home. In most situations, new entrepreneurs will always opt to use a home office whenever possible. Thanks to the rise of internet businesses, it is much easier for new businesses to operate out of a home, since they really do not need the physical office space to sell goods or services. Usually, the biggest determining factor for businesses is whether or not there is enough space at home to dedicate to a home office. If there is not, business owners will have to look for a permanent space to set up their business.

There are many advantages to operating a business from a home office in Virginia. Some of the benefits have to do with tax benefits. Other benefits are monetary or convenience based.

Home Office Tax Deductions in Virginia

One of the most appealing aspects of having a home office comes from tax benefits. When a portion of the home is used for business purposes, homeowners are able to make various tax deductions for the office. In order to claim tax deductions on a home office, the business owner must meet a few basic requirements. The first requirement is the home office must be primarily used for business purposes, and it must actively be used.

If the home office is used for anything besides business work, the homeowner is unable to claim the space as a tax deduction. Business owners that have a separate property for their business may still be able to claim a home office, as long as they meet the previous requirements. For example, some business owners have a separate property for meeting with customers and clients, but they still perform the majority of business related work from their home office.

In addition to deducting a physical office space, business owners may be able to deduct other structures in their home, such as a garage, studio or barn. As long as these spaces are used exclusively for the business, homeowners may claim a business-related tax deduction.

Eliminating or Reducing Travel Expenses

Reducing travel expenses is another convenient factor to consider when owning a home business. Many business owners greatly reduce their travel expenses for work, since the majority of their workday takes place at home. Depending on the business, the owner may be able to completely remove work related travel expenses. Not only does this save a great deal of money in gas and car maintenance, but it is also incredibly convenient for business owners that do not have their own vehicle. In addition, business owners do not have to worry about waking up early every day just to make it to work on time.

Reducing Distractions at Work

Many workers have a difficult time being productive outside of their homes. In a traditional workplace, there are a lot of possible distractions which can reduce productivity. Business owners that work from a home office can set up their work space to their exact specifications. Office noise and off topic conversations are eliminated so they do not have to worry about being distracted by a coworker, or another commotion in the office.

Balancing Home Life and Work

A common problem for business owners with children is finding someone to watch their children when they are at work. There are many other situations where business owners typically have to worry about attending to something at home during normal work hours, such as waiting for a plumber or being available to sign for a package. When working from home, business owners are typically able to set their own hours. This is very convenient for business owners that normally struggle with managing their work life and their personal life. Business owners that have meetings with clients from other time zones will have a much easier time arranging meetings when they work from a home office, since they will not have to worry about staying past work hours just to meet with a client.

Avoiding Startup Costs

A common problem business owners have is finding the money to start their business. In many situations, the greatest challenge for business owners is not with their product, but with finding a space to rent. Even renting a small business space is very expensive. Another downside with renting a property is that the business owner typically has limited control over what he or she does with the space, since the business owner does not actually own the area. In addition to renting a space, business owners have to provide equipment for the space as well. Business owners still have to spend a little money on their home offices, but typically the majority of the necessary equipment is already there.

The Most Common Ways Homes Are Burglarized

In Virginia, home security is a vital concern for homeowners. Even in smaller neighborhoods, there is the risk of a burglar attempting to break into a home. While the type of neighborhood may influence break-ins, a lot of thieves analyze individual homes instead of looking at a specific community. Fortunately, there are many different steps that Virginia homeowners can take to help reduce the chance of someone breaking into their home. In order to provide the best possible level of home security, it is important for Virginia homeowners to understand exactly what sort of things burglars look for when they are staking out a home.

Understanding what burglars look for helps homeowners better secure their home. There are many easy steps that homeowners can take to deter burglars. Without understanding how burglar’s target homes, homeowners will have a difficult time finding a security system that works, and may end up wasting money on something that does not actually protect their home.


A common misconception is that the majority of burglars break into a home by forcing the door open or going through a window. While these are some of the ways that burglars can break into a home, one of the first things that burglars actually check is the garage. Many homeowners make the mistake of leaving their garage open, which gives burglars the perfect chance to slip inside. Even if the garage door is closed, homeowners should be sure the doors are adequately locked.

Outdoor Keys

Another common mistake that homeowners make is leaving a key to their home out in the open. Many homeowners like to leave a spare key hidden under a rock or a welcome mat. This is very convenient if anyone in the house loses their key, but it is also incredibly easy for burglars to find the keys and break into the house. Burglars know all of the common spots where homeowners typically store their keys. Even households that try and find a clever spot to hide the key are putting the house at risk, since all it takes is an observant burglar to spot where the key is hidden.

Relying on Lights

A common defense to prevent burglary is to set up motion lights outside of the house. In some situations, motion lights can be an effective deterrent against burglars. The biggest issue with these lights has to do with where they are placed around the home. Many homeowners like to place motion lights on the outside of the home, right on the ground. These lights are referred to as flood lights. The problem with flood lights is that burglars can easily disable them. All the burglar has to do is go over to the light and unscrew the bulb. The lights only end up shining for a few seconds before they are disabled, which greatly reduces their overall effectiveness. Place motion senor lights in a place that is too high to disable quickly for the best protection.

Doors and Windows

If the garage is locked, or if the home does not have a garage, most burglars will attempt to enter the home through a door or window. One of the first things that burglars look for is any sliding glass doors around the house. Many homeowners leave these doors unlatched, which makes it easy to get inside. In addition, many homeowners rely too heavily on deadbolts. Deadbolts are typically much more effective than traditional locks. However, a cheap deadbolt is incredibly easy to navigate around by simply sawing through the lock.

Doors without a deadbolt are even easier to break into. A lot of burglars will simply kick a door in if it has an inferior lock. Typically, burglars prefer to kick in a door because the sound is not as alarming as glass breaking. A loud bang may be unexpected, but neighbors or anyone else passing by likely will not suspect a burglary is taking place. With glass breaking, the sound is much more distinct and usually prompts an investigation. In addition, breaking glass is much more dangerous, since the glass can cut the burglar as he or she is entering the home.

Afternoon Burglaries

Another common misconception regarding burglaries is they primarily happen at night. A lot of burglars operate in the afternoon hours, since this is a time where household members are most likely to be at work or school. Burglars will look for obvious signs that no one is home. Some common signs include no cars being present in the house, or all of the lights being off inside of the house.

Even if burglars see lights, they will likely investigate to see if someone is home. One of the most effective deterrents for burglars is hearing a television or radio coming from the house. There are a couple of different home security products which mimic these common sounds when no one is home. These devices are especially helpful for households that live in a secluded area or do not have any neighbors around in the early afternoon.


Another common tactic for burglars is to check how much mail is currently in a mailbox. Households that have several days of mail are perfect targets for burglars, since it indicates that no one is home. These homes are great targets, since burglars can take their time and find the best way inside the house without having to worry about rushing. Households that are going to be away for long periods of time are strongly encouraged to ask a neighbor or friend to stop by and get the mail, so burglars cannot easily tell the house is empty.

11 Surprisingly Unhealthy Food Items to Cross off Your Grocery List

Food labeling is not always as straightforward as it appears. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration only requires certain information be disclosed which can leave room for food brands to make claims that are not supported by fact. There are very few regulations, for example, for what foods can claim to contain antioxidants, and there are currently no standards for to prevent a food from being labeled “heart-healthy” or “immune enhancing”. Foods labeled “low-fat”, “low-calorie”, and “low-carb,” may still contain a host of unhealthy ingredients, despite not having much fat, calories or carbs. It is important to do your own research before believing a claim presented on a foods label. Discover these surprisingly unhealthy foods you may have stocked in your refrigerator or pantry.

1. Bran Muffins

Bran has been touted as a healthful dietary fiber since the 1980s. When bran is made into a muffin, however, it is combined with a great deal of sugar and fat, not to mention other, less healthful grains like all-purpose white flour.

2. Diet Soda

The only healthy thing about diet soda is that it does not contain calories. It does, however, contain artificial sweeteners, many of which have already been found in ongoing research studies to be associated with negative health effects, including metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and stroke and coronary artery disease.

3. Dried Nut and Fruit Mixes

While fruits and nuts on their own are most certainly healthy, in the process of turning them into a marketable mix, most manufacturers add large quantities of sugar and salt to increase their palatability. That does not even take into consideration any high-calorie add-ins like coconut or chocolate some might contain.

4. Energy Bars

Energy bars are more like desserts than snacks, being made primarily of refined flour, corn syrup and sugar. Often, these bars even have chocolate or other candy coatings to make them more appealing. Although sugar and chocolate are ok to consume in small portions, check the nutritional facts before buying an energy bar to see just how many calories and grams of sugar are included.

5. Frozen Yogurt

What makes yogurt so healthy is the live and active beneficial bacterial cultures it contains that supports the digestive system. When yogurt is processed into frozen yogurt, it is heated first, which kills off all the healthy cultures. There is also the problem of overconsumption. People tend to eat more frozen yogurt than they would ice cream. Consumers do this because of its purportedly healthy nature, however, eating a large portion of any food is not good for your health.

6. Granola

While many of the ingredients in granola might be healthy on their own, the act of making them into granola produces a less healthier result. Part of the reason for this is portion control. In small portions, nuts, seeds and fruits are extremely healthy, but in large quantities, they can add too much fat and calories into the diet. As such, granola is a calorie rich food, containing around 160 calories in a single quarter-cup serving, and can be high in fat as well. Such numbers do not even account for the high sugar, fat and calorie add-ins many granolas contain, like yogurt, chocolate, coconut and fruit coated in sugar.

7. Multi-grain

Multi-grain breads, crackers and cereals may contain some grains other than wheat, but they also contain a lot of wheat. More importantly, they are still refined grains, and it is the refining of grains that makes them less digestible and saps out much of their nutritive qualities. Rather than multi-grain products, look for whole grain products, in which much of the digestive enzymes and nutrients in the grains are still intact.

8. Peanut Butter with Reduced Fat

The fat that peanut butter contains is actually a combination of healthy fats that benefit the body, namely monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Reducing or removing these fats makes the product less healthy, not healthier. In fact, the result of removing these fats is a decrease in flavor for which manufacturers usually compensate by adding sugar.

9. Rice Cakes

Rice cakes are not necessarily bad for you. They are just not good for you in any perceivable way. Rice cakes contain almost no nutritional value and lack fiber to help make you feel full. Even worse, flavored rice cakes are essentially delivery systems for the heavy doses of sugar and salt used in these flavorings.

10. Smoothies and Super-Juices

Despite the appealing promises of energy, clarity, immunity and weight loss that super juices and smoothies offer, there is not enough sufficient evidence supporting those claims. There is, however, evidence that juices are high in sugar and contain less fiber, unlike eating an actual piece of fruit, which balances the two. Moreover, the high sugar content in these drinks can cause blood sugar levels to dramatically spike and then crash.

11. Veggie Burgers

Not all veggie burgers are unhealthy, but a vast majority of them are not healthy. Many veggie burgers contain a great deal of fillers, like cornstarch, yeast extract and gums, and lack sufficient vegetables, which contain the fiber that would make the body feel nutritionally sated. A veggie burger should have no greater than 500 mg of sodium, 7 g of protein and 150 calories.

Tips for Integrating a Gym Workout into Your Daily Schedule

Everyone knows that fitness and exercise are key to a healthy and long life. What, then, keeps so many people from including fitness and exercise into their daily routine? Typically, the answer is time. Most people are too busy to fit everything they need to do into their lives, much less what they want to do. So, how does a person with a busy schedule find a way to fit in a gym schedule? Too often, fitness falls by the wayside because more important things demand your attention. The problem with this is that fitness is at least as important as all those other demands, if not more so. It is through fitness that you improve your health and your ability to attend to all those other important demands, not to mention to enjoy your life for as long as possible. The first step to fitting a gym schedule, or any type of fitness routine, into your schedule is recognize it for the priority that it is. Until you genuinely perceive it as important for your life, it will never be the right time to start. Incorporating fitness into everyday activities is a great way to start making simple strides towards your routine. You will find that you can actually fit a gym workout into your busy daily schedule.

Incorporate Fitness First

Going to the gym for your workouts may be your ideal, but that does not mean you have to wait until you are able to get to the gym to start incorporating fitness and exercise into your daily life. Park on the far side of the parking lot at work and walk to the entrance. Opt for the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Walk to the post office rather than driving. Stand at your desk at work every hour and stretch for several minutes. What tasks like these do is activate fitness in your life which helps you propel yourself toward a more regular gym routine.

Stop Procrastinating

The more proactive way to say this is to just do it. Start with whatever you are able to do wherever and whenever you are able to do it. Try not to make a big production number out of exercising or going to the gym. Do not worry about how long you will be there, or which exercises you will do and how much of them. Just show up and take it from there. Even if you do one set with one rep of one exercise, it will be more than nothing at all, and likely the beginning of something greater.

Make it Simple

Try to find a time in your schedule that would be most convenient for you to go to the gym. Maybe you do not have a lot of time available to drive by the gym, but if you break down your weekly workout into smaller, more manageable steps, then you might be able to work it in seamlessly. Instead of trying to fit in two or three hour-long workout sessions, try five 20 minute sessions. It is best to choose a gym that is close to your home or office.

Make it Social

Most things are better when shared with another person. In fact, the gym itself is a social environment that many people find helps them stick to a fitness routine because they have the support of so many other people around them doing the same thing. This group dynamic is why many people join a gym rather than workout at home. You can boost that social benefit even further by going to the gym with a partner or friend. An exercise partner can help you stay focused, motivated and committed to the routine, in large part, because of the accountability you feel to your partner. Consider taking lunchtime walks with coworkers or joining a dance class with a neighbor. Another way to use the social dynamic to help you schedule a gym workout into your schedule is to create a challenge for other people to join. Form a friendly competition between yourself and others in your family, neighborhood, social media circle or at work. This gamification of working out adds a sense of incentive and reward that can help compel you to fit more time at the gym into your schedule.

Make it Enjoyable

Just because working out has “work” in the name, does not mean it has to feel like work. Listen to music while you exercise. Integrate activities you already enjoy into your workout. If you like to ride a bicycle, then take a spin class. If you like to dance, try something like Zumba. If you like to swim, find a gym with a pool. The more you can integrate your gym workout with activities that you already enjoy, the more you will start looking forward to your workouts and finding ways you can to fit them into your daily schedule.

Tips for Combating Anxiety

Many residents in Virginia suffer from anxiety. Dealing with anxiety is very difficult, in no small part because one of the most common symptoms of anxiety is an overwhelming feeling of dread and restlessness. Many medical professionals use anxiety as a general term, since it is something that everyone can easily relate to. However, when giving a professional diagnosis, there are six different types of anxiety.

Types of Anxiety

The first type of anxiety is generalized anxiety disorder, which refers to a constant fear or paranoia throughout the day. The second type of anxiety is a panic disorder. With a panic disorder, the recipient suffers from repeated and spontaneous panic attacks throughout the day. They also have a constant fear of experiencing an additional panic attack. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is one of the more recognized types of anxieties. This type of anxiety is characterized by feeling compelled to perform certain actions and will experience anxiety if they are unable to complete them. Phobia is a specific fear triggered by an action, activity or object. Social anxiety disorder refers to the fear of being seen in a negative light in public. The last anxiety is post-traumatic stress disorder, which occurs after a severely traumatic event. Regardless of what type of anxiety you may have, understanding how anxiety is dealt with can be the first step towards managing the condition.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Anxiety

Combating anxiety can be very difficult. One of the reasons that so many patients struggle with anxiety is because they have a hard time distinguishing an anxiety attack from general stress. Many patients mistakenly believe that their symptoms are simply a result of a stressful event in their life. There is a big difference between simply being stressed and experiencing an anxiety attack.

Some of the emotional signs of anxiety include a constant feeling of apprehension, which makes it very hard for the sufferer to focus on anything else. A consistent feeling of danger is another sign of anxiety, which often leads to sufferers feeling restless or irritable because they are constantly looking out for something that could harm them.

There are also physical symptoms associated with anxiety. In many cases, patients will experience dizziness, upset stomachs, fatigue, muscle tension, and headaches. Some anxiety sufferers are unable to sleep because of their anxiety. In the most severe cases, patients will experience shortness of breath and may suffer from uncontrollable tremors or twitches.

Anxiety Attacks

In addition to the general symptoms of anxiety, patients may also suffer from anxiety attacks. Anxiety attacks can be very severe. Emotionally, patients feel like they are losing control of their thoughts, which leads to an overwhelming sense of alarm. Other times, patients will become detached and feel like they are completely removed from reality.

Physically, patients may experience chest pains and have difficulty breathing. Temperature changes are very common during an anxiety attack as well. Anxiety attacks can cause nausea and stomach cramps. Patients may also feel like they are going to faint, or experience difficulty with their basic motor functions.

Medical Treatments for Anxiety

One of the ways that doctors or counselors help patients with anxiety is through medication. Anti-anxiety medications are sedatives which help to calm the patient down and ease his or her anxiety. There are many different types of anti-anxiety medications. Typically, they take between 30 to 90 minutes to have an effect. Patients that take anti-anxiety medication must tell their doctors when the medication is not working, or if the medication is making their anxiety worse. There are many different types of medications to choose from, which means it can take several attempts to find the right medication to help the patient. Other times the medication may work fine, but the dose is not enough to help with anxiety.

The other type of medication is antidepressants. Despite having similar names, the two types of medications have very different purposes. Antidepressants effect the chemicals produced in the brain of the patient, specifically targeting chemical imbalances which can cause an anxiety attack. Each type of medication has different advantages and disadvantages. Doctors will do their best to pick the medication which best applies to the type of anxiety experienced by the patient.

Therapy Treatment for Anxiety

Another option for dealing with anxiety is through therapy. The goal of therapy is to identify unhealthy or negative behaviors which may trigger anxiety. Therapists work alongside their patients to replace these negative behaviors with healthy alternatives. Therapy is also helpful for patients that are suffering from anxiety, but do not know the source. For some patients, simply having someone to speak with is also a way to help cope with anxiety.

Patients who experience anxiety attacks are encouraged to see a therapist, as well as take medication.

Additional Help for Combating Anxiety

There are many activities that may help combat anxiety. It is important for people with anxiety to remember that not all activities are guaranteed to work. Success will vary depending on personality, as well as the type of anxiety you experience. Some of the generalized tips for combatting anxiety include getting enough sleep each night, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. Getting rest when anxious can be hard, but the body needs strength to deal with an anxiety attack. Maintaining a healthy diet can also help, since that provides the body with the energy it needs.

Anxiety sufferers should also avoid foods and drinks that contain sugar when they are experiencing an anxiety attack. It is also recommended to avoid smoking or using any kind of nicotine products. Patients that feel overwhelmed by their anxiety should try and speak with a friend or family member, if they are unable to see a therapist. Sometimes, simply talking about anxiety is enough for patients to calm down and relax, or feel validated for what they are experiencing.

How to Choose a Primary Care Physician Who Is Right for You

One of the most important health related decisions that Virginia residents have to make is who they see as their primary care physician. Many insurance plans require Virginia residents to have a primary care physician in order to receive any coverage. Selecting a primary care physician is not a decision that should be made lightly. Virginia residents need to pick someone that they are comfortable seeing, and that they can rely upon.

Virginia residents have a number of different choices to pick from in order to find a primary care physician. This is both good and bad. It is good that residents have so many options, but it also makes the process initially overwhelming. Unlike other services, patients looking for a primary care physician should not simply look up general reviews and pick someone based on that. Every patient has his or her own unique needs to take into consideration. There are a few different areas that patients should focus on to help narrow their search.

Why a Primary Care Physician is Important

Some patients are nonchalant about finding a primary care physician because they do not think it is important. However, many medical experts agree that having a strong relationship with a primary care physician is very important for overall health. Patients must feel safe and comfortable with their primary care physician, otherwise they are unlikely to visit them in the first place. Even if they do make an appointment, patients that are uncomfortable with their doctor are more likely to withhold important information, which may affect their diagnosis.

Insurance Compatibility

One of the easiest ways to narrow down a search for primary care physicians in Virginia is to search based on insurance plans. Some doctors may exclude specific insurance plans, so patients should completely avoid these doctors during their search. Patients can call their insurance company to request a list of all the local doctors in the state that accept their insurance plan.

Patients that do not have insurance will have to pay for their medical costs out of pocket. In these situations, patients should try to find a doctor that is within their price range. These patients should also confirm that the physician is comfortable seeing patients without insurance coverage.

Signs of a Good Primary Care Physician

When patients are searching for a primary care physician, they are strongly encouraged to speak with the doctor directly. There are a couple of different things that patients should look for during their initial conversations with their doctor. It is important for doctors and patients to feel comfortable with one another, and to treat each other with respect. A good primary care physician will patiently listen and answer any questions that his or her patient asks.

It is also important for doctors to explain thing in a way that patients can understand. Some primary care physicians are very good at their job, but may not be able to clearly communicate what they are doing to their patients, or what is required of the patients. Given how precise medical instructions can be, patients may be putting themselves at risk if they return to a primary care physician that they have a difficult time understanding.

Questions to Ask the Primary Care Physician

There are a couple of general questions that patients should ask when they meet their potential primary care physician. One of the first questions that patients should ask is about office hours. Many patients feel much more comfortable selecting a primary care physician that works in an office that has evening or weekend hours. Patients should also ask whether or not their doctor is part of a group practice in the office. If so, you should inquire about the other doctors that work in the group. Another question to ask if the doctor is part of a group, is whether or not the patient will always see a specific physician, or if it will change between all the other doctors in the group.

Other important questions have to do with making an appointment. Patients should ask how long in advance they have to call to make an appointment. It is also important to ask if the physician has a specific cancellation policy. Another question that many patients ask is whether lab work or x-rays are done at the office, or if they will have to go someplace else for those procedures.

It is very important for patients with preexisting medical conditions to speak with their potential doctor about those conditions. Patients should try and prioritize doctors that have experience treating other patients with the same condition.

Red Flags to Avoid

When searching for a primary care physician, there are a couple of red flags that patients should keep an eye on. Patients should always check where their doctor received their medical certification. Doctors that are hesitant to reveal information about where they went to school or performed their residency training are likely trying to hide something from the patient.

Another red flag patients should check for is whether or not the doctor has previously been involved in any malpractice claims, or has had any disciplinary actions. It is not uncommon for doctors to have one or two malpractice claims against them, especially if they have been practicing medicine for a long time .Something else that patients should check for is whether the physician is affiliated with any pharmaceutical companies. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean the doctor is more inclined to prescribe medication that comes from that specific pharmaceutical company. Patients that do not want to feel constrained with their medication options should consider a primary care physician that is not affiliated with a specific pharmaceutical company.

9 Reasons to Get Your Annual Flu Shot

Every winter, as the weather starts to cool, the message in doctor’s offices and clinics, media outlets and schools to get your annual flu shot is renewed. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 140,000 to 710,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 12,000 to 56,000 flu-related deaths each year since 2010 in the United States. The CDC also notes that the flu shot is a person’s first and foremost line of defense against the flu and its possible complications, recommending that every American older than 6 months of age get a flu shot every year. Millions of people have heeded this call for decades yet, despite this, many people still choose not to get the flu shot. In fact, during the winter of 2015/2016 flu season, the CDC found that approximately 55 percent of the U.S. population failed to get their annual flu shot. Despite the flu vaccine reportedly preventing over 5 million cases of the flu, 2.5 million flu-related doctor visits, 71,000 flu-related hospital stays, over half of the U.S. neglected this important preventative measure. Even just a five percent increase in the rate of people getting the annual flu shot could prevent half-a-million more cases of influenza in the country, as well as 230,000 flu-related doctor visits and 6,000 flu-related hospital stays.

1. Protection for Yourself

The flu shot can prevent you from catching the flu. The flu shot helps your body create its own immunities in the event that you are actually exposed to a live virus. Avoiding the flu can prevent missed work days and help you save money on medications to combat the sickness. Additionally, if you have other chronic illnesses, the flu can lead to serious complications, it is best to protect your overall health by getting the flu shot as early in the year as possible.

2. Protection for Those Around You

Being vaccinated can protect everyone around you. Particularly, young children, infants, older adults and those with chronic medical conditions. In many areas of the country, free or low cost flu shots are available to those with low incomes, or those on a fixed income. Many insurance companies include the flu shot as a free benefit to subscribers.

3. Protection for Pregnant Women and Newborns

The flu shot helps to protect pregnant women from the flu as well as protecting their newborns for several months following birth. In fact, some studies have shown that when the mother takes the flu vaccine while pregnant, her baby’s risk of catching the flu is reduced by as much as one half. Furthermore, instances of acute respiratory infection associated with the flu was reduced by approximately one half in pregnant women on the flu vaccine.

4. Protection Against Pediatric Fatality

Vaccinations can significantly lower a child’s chances of dying from the flu. A 2017 study published in the medical journal, Pediatrics, verified this fact. Children do not have the same resistance to disease as adults making them much more vulnerable when exposed to the flu. Particularly in the school environment, children often pick-up and transfer germs.

This makes it more critical to have young children vaccinated.

5. High Risk Group Protection

If you are 65 years of age, an American Indian or Alaska Native, a pregnant woman or a woman having given birth within the past two weeks, a parent of a child younger than five years of age and especially younger than two years of age, your risk of flu is even greater and, therefore, the necessity of getting your annual flu shot all the more crucial. Other high risk factors include:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Heart disease
  • Endocrine or blood disorder
  • Neurological conditions

6. Milder Symptoms

Even if the flu shot itself makes you sick, there is evidence that the severity of this sickness is milder than if you had not received the flu shot and later caught influenza. For example, a 2017 study in the medical journal, Clinical Infectious Diseases, found the flu vaccine to be associated with shorter hospital stays, shorter intensive care unit stays, fewer ICU admissions and fewer deaths related to the flu.

7. Less Likely Hospitalization

If you do get the flu even though you have been vaccinated, there is less of a likelihood that you could wind up with severe symptoms or hospitalization. In fact, the flu vaccine is comparatively as effective in preventing cases of the flu severe enough to warrant hospitalization, as it was in preventing cases of the flu mild enough to warrant a mere doctor’s visit. These benefits are of particular importance to children and seniors, who could otherwise be at greater risk of such an outcome. One study, in 2014, found that the risk of pediatric ICU admission of children with the flu dropped by almost 75 percent due to flu vaccination, and another study, in 2016, found that adults 50 years of age and older who received the flu shot had 57 percent less risk of being hospitalized for the flu.

8. Reduce Chronic Illness Symptoms

The flu vaccine can help keep people who have chronic medical conditions from experiencing symptoms of those conditions, or from experiencing symptoms severe enough to warrant hospitalization. Reduced instances of cardiac related events in people with chronic heart disease, particularly in those who had a cardiac event within the previous year, and fewer hospitalizations of people with chronic lung disease and diabetes is attributed to taking the flu vaccination.

9. The Flu Changes

This last reason addresses the “annual” part of getting your annual flu shot, that is, why get the flu shot every year? The reason is that the flu virus changes from year to year. Like any virus, it adapts. It develops the ability to resist vaccinations against it. Therefore, the flu vaccination must change to remain effective. The flu vaccine you received this year is not the same as the one you received last year, nor is either the same as the one you will get next year. This is how medical science is able to keep up with this ruthless, virulent virus and why you should get your flu shot every year, not just once in your lifetime.