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Take 12 Calendar


April 2014

STEP 4: Turn Stress Into Success

Small victories can have a big impact, especially when reducing your stress level.

Positive Thinking

Is your glass half empty or half full? How you answer this age-old question about positive thinking may reflect your outlook on life, and it may even affect your health. Some studies show that personality traits like optimism and pessimism can affect many areas of your health and well-being. The positive thinking that typically comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. Positive thinking often starts with self-talk; the endless stream of unspoken thoughts that run through your head every day. These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative.

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include lower rates of depression, greater resistance to the common cold, reduced risk of dying of cardiovascular disease and better coping skills during hardships and stressful times. Here are some examples of negative self-talk and how you can apply a positive perspective.

Negative self-talk

Positive thinking

I've never done it before.

It's an opportunity to learn something new.

It's too complicated.

I'll tackle it from a different angle.

I don't have the resources.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

I'm too lazy to get this done.

I wasn't able to fit it into my schedule but can re-examine some priorities.

There's no way it will work.

I can try to make it work.

It's too radical a change.

Let's take a chance.

No one bothers to communicate with me.

I'll see if I can open the channels of communication.

I'm not going to get any better at this.

I'll give it another try.

Life Balance

Beat burnout with these five tips that will get you on track for the activities that you enjoy most.

  1. Build in downtime. Think of the activities that help you recharge, like a softball game with friends, date night with your spouse or a weekly stroll in your favorite park.
  2. Ditch time wasters. Take stock of activities that don't enhance your career or personal life, and minimize the time you spend on them. Social media or gossiping are good examples.
  3. Outsource whenever possible. Rethink your chores and errands to save time – order groceries online, have your dry cleaning delivered, or get a neighborhood kid to mow your lawn. Trading services with friends, like gardening for babysitting, is also good way to get things done.
  4. Get moving. Regardless of your busy schedule, find ways to sneak in exercise. Walk the dog, take the stairs instead of the elevator at work, or wake up early to hit the gym.
  5. Start small. Big changes can be disruptive, so just try one balance adjustment at a time, like leaving work early one day per week. Little movements can have a big recharging effect.

Success over Stress

Everyone accumulates and handles stress differently. The best way to conquer stress is to avoid it in the first place. If you are unable to do that, try this simple RELAX technique for stress reduction to put you back on a positive path.

Reflect. See yourself in a positive light. Use mediation to unlock your mind and ease anxiety.
Exhale. Deep breaths slow the heart rate and relax the muscles. It also adds a pause to the moment.
Listen. Soothing music relaxes the mind, whereas upbeat music can help to blow off steam. Whichever you prefer, crank it up.
Attention. Be present. Turn off the TV, smartphone, and computer. Try face-to-face conversation with people.
eXercise. Walking, stretching, swimming - whatever type of physical movement you enjoy, do it.

Stress Signs in Children and Teens

Children and teens can associate stress with a variety of situations like struggling to do well in school, making and sustaining friendships or managing perceived expectations from their parents, teachers or coaches. Some stress can be channeled into positive energy to prepare for a big test, a presentation or a sporting event. Too much stress, however, can create unnecessary hardship and challenge. Adults can sometimes be unaware when their children are experiencing overwhelming feelings of stress. Tuning into emotional or behavioral cues is important in identifying potential problems and providing guidance and support to successfully work through difficulties. Here are some tips from the American Psychological Association on ways to recognize possible signs of stress:

  • Watch for negative behavior changes. Minors of all ages, but especially younger children, may find it difficult to recognize and verbalize when they are experiencing stress.
  • “Feeling sick” may be stress in disguise. Stress can also appear in physical symptoms such as stomach aches and headaches.
  • Interaction awareness. Sometimes a child or teen may seem like his or her usual self at home but be acting out in unusual ways in other settings. It is important for parents to network with other adults so that they can come to know how the child or teen is doing in the world around them.
  • Listen and translate. Because children are often unfamiliar with the word stress and its meaning, they may express feelings of distress through other words such as “worried,” “confused,” “annoyed,” and “angry.” Children and teens may also express feelings of stress by saying negative things about themselves, others, or the world around them (e.g. “No one likes me,” “I’m stupid,” “Nothing is fun.”).
  • Seek support.  No one has to tackle overwhelming stress alone. If a parent is concerned that his or her young child or teen is demonstrating significant symptoms of stress on a regular basis, it can be helpful to work with a psychologist. Psychologists have special training to help people identify problems and develop effective strategies to resolve overwhelming feelings of stress.
Step Up!
  • KIDS: Be positive. Say “I CAN” and believe in yourself.
  • TEENS: At least once a week, talk to an adult, like mom or dad, about what’s going on with you, both the good things and your struggles.
  • ADULTS: Celebrate the small victories in your daily life and focus mostly on what you have accomplished.



Healthy Strides
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Check out photos and results from
2013 Healthy Strides Community Race

Take 12 Steps to Family Health

The Take 12 program is free and anyone can participate at any time. This program is designed to:

  • Help you accomplish healthy goals each month, with tips to keep you going for the duration.
  • Give you access to information - free workshops are available each month on different healthy topics and bulletin boards loaded with information are posted at all the RECenters.
  • Provide an opportunity for you to experience fitness and wellness programs offered across Fairfax County.
  • Empower you to make important lifestyle changes... you can do it!
  • Plus, sign-up to receive the monthly e-newsletter, packed with recipes and healthy tips, upcoming events, and opportunities to achieve your Take 12 goals!


Take 12 Steps for Family Health in 2014 Calendar
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12 Months, 12 healthy goals. Don't miss out on this year's great family wellness opportunities in the Fairfax County community! The calendar contains fitness and wellness tips, ways to improve your nutritional habits, and better health ideas for kids, teens and adults. Also, the calendar contains coupons to use throughout the year. STEP UP to better health!


Healthy Workshops and Events are always being added!
Check our events calendar often for great opportunities in the community.

All events are free (unless indicated with a "$") and require advanced registration.
To register, please email Take12@fairfaxcounty.gov.


We are looking for people who have used the Take 12 program and found better health as a result of their participation. We are also looking for any kind of feedback about the program - the calendar, events, workshops, tips, articles - anything that you want to tell us, we're listening! Email us at Take12@fairfaxcounty.gov.


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Did you miss out on the "Take 12" healthy steps from the years past?  Click the links below to see previous year's goals, and start your own program for better health.

2010 Steps Archive
2011 Steps Archive
2011 Calendar Archive
2012 Calendar Archive
2013 Calendar Archive


Email: Take12@fairfaxcounty.gov
Phone: 703-324-8423

Mailing Address:
Fairfax County Park Authority
Attn: Take 12 Program
12055 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 425
Fairfax, VA 22035-1118

All content within www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/rec/take12/ is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Always consult your doctor if you are concerned about your health. Always consult your physician or health care provider before taking any new medication, beginning any program of exercise, or following any health or wellness advice contained herein.

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