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Take 12 Steps for Health

Take 12 Calendar


July 2016

Step 7: Simply Happy

Focus on yourself and your personal happiness by scheduling some “me” time! Work on finding balance and simplifying your life.

Making Healthy Strides

Interrogative Self-Talk
Questions are powerful because they probe for answers. They remind us of the resources we do have and they activate our curiosity. This powerful strategy works better than affirmations because it acknowledges your negative thoughts and feelings and reduces the need to fight them. Use “Am I…” instead of “I am.”
Positive Affirmations
The reason positive affirmations don’t work is that they target the conscious level of your mind, but not the unconscious. If what you are trying to affirm is incongruent with a deeply held negative belief, then all that results in an inner struggle.

Source: Psych Central, Why Positive Affirmations Don't Work

1-2-3 Breathe

Would you believe that the number one way to reduce your stress level and bring your body into a calmer state is just to breathe? Well, it is! The key for stress reduction is focused breathing. The American Institute of Stress (AIS) endorses several breathing techniques that can be useful for progression in mastering your breathing, reconnecting your body and mind and stopping the stress response.

  • Quieting Response – utilizes visualization and deep breathing (a powerful combination) to stop an acute stress response in its tracks. The entire exercise only takes 6 seconds!
    First “smile inwardly” with your eyes and mouth and release the tension in your shoulders. This is a powerful muscle release in the places where most people hold their muscles tense.
    Then imagine holes in the soles of your feet. As you take a deep breath in, visualize hot air flowing through these holes moving slowly up your legs, through your abdomen and filling your lungs.
    Relax your muscles sequentially as the hot air moves through them up your body. When you exhale reverse the visualization so you “see” hot air coming out the same holes in your feet.
    Repeat throughout the day whenever you need to feel calm and relaxed.
  • Sudarshan Kriya or SKY – incorporates specific natural rhythms of the breath which harmonize the body, mind and emotions. This unique breathing technique eliminates stress, fatigue and negative emotions such as anger, frustration and depression, leaving you calm yet energized, focused yet relaxed.
  • Teddy Bear Breathing (This one is for kids) – Lie on your back, place one hand on your chest and place your favorite teddy bear on your belly button.
    Close your eyes and relax your whole body.
    Breathe in slowly through your nose. Your teddy bear should slowly rise, but your chest should not.
    When you have taken a full deep breath, hold it, count to three then slowly breathe out. Repeat a few times, until you feel relaxed.

Source: The American Institute of Stress, Take a Deep Breath

20 Habits of Happy People

Happy people don’t often divulge the source of their happiness. They have “happiness habits” that have become second nature to them. Bystanders may witness their public displays of contentment, but remain clueless as to the source of their happiness. Here’s 20 habits that happy people have and rarely discuss.

  1. They don’t get caught up in other people’s drama.
    Happy people are often thankful for all the rude, obnoxious, and difficult people they meet in life, because these people serve as important reminders of how NOT to be.  They simply smile and walk the other way.
  2. They give to others whenever they are able.
    In many cases, providing social support is actually more beneficial to our happiness than receiving it.  Happy people know this, which is precisely why they are always looking for ways to help others.
  3. They nurture their important relationships.
    Studies show that even the best relationships dissolve over time; so a close connection with someone is something you need to continually earn and never take for granted.
  4. They leave space to love themselves too.
    Happy people know self-love isn’t selfish.  They put their needs first because they see the power of showing up fully for others.  When you take care of yourself, you are better able to help the people you care about. 
  5. They focus on effectiveness over popularity.
    Being effective means you’ve made a difference.  And it’s this feeling of knowing you made a difference that matters in the end.
  6. They say “no” when they need to.
    So stop saying “yes” when you want to say “no.”  You can’t always be agreeable; that’s how people take advantage of you.   Sometimes you have to set clear boundaries.
  7. They sincerely practice gratitude.
    Bottom line:  Consider how very fortunate you are.  Consider it every day.  The more you count your blessings, the more blessings there will be to count and the happier you will be.
  8. They cultivate optimism.
    The happiest people know failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life.  People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
  9. They don’t attach themselves to every success and failure.
    Be a humble, life-long learner.  Never let success get to your head and never let failure get to your heart.
  10. They develop strategies for coping in hard times.
    How you respond to the hard times is what shapes your character.  You become what you believe.  Look at things objectively.  Find the lesson and move forward.  Don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart for too long. 
  11. They see rejection as protection from what’s not meant to be.
    Happy people don’t take rejection personally.  Trust that something better suited for you is on its way.
  12. They are focused on the present.
    Never let your past dictate who you are today, but let it be a lesson that’s part of who you will become tomorrow.  Just hold on to life and move forward.  We have no way of knowing what lies ahead, but that’s what makes the journey even more exciting – that’s what makes life worth living today. 
  13. They dedicate time to meaningful pursuits.
    Most people do not honor even half of their dreams and end up dying knowing that it was due to choices they made, or didn’t make.  Good health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.  As they say, there are seven days in the week, and “someday” isn’t one of them.
  14. They are fully committed to their top priorities.
    If you’re committed to something, you will do whatever it takes.  Period.  And ultimately, it’s commitment that creates outcomes worth smiling about.
  15. They embrace discomfort for mastery of a desired skill.
    Struggle is the evidence of progress, and happy people live by this.  Why?  Because they feel happy and satisfied when they look back on the progress they’ve made.  The rewards of becoming great at something in the long run far outweigh the short-term stress of mastery.
  16. They take care of their physical health.
    There’s no getting around it: no matter how much you think you dislike exercise, it will make you feel better if you stick with it.  If you don’t have your physical energy in good shape, then your mental energy (your focus), your emotional energy (your feelings), and your spiritual energy (your purpose) will all be negatively affected
  17. They spend money on experiences, rather than needless stuff.
    “Experiential purchases” tend to make us happier for two key reasons: 1. Great experiences improve over time when we reminisce about them.  2. Experiences are often social events that get us out of our house and interacting with people we care about.
  18. They savor life’s little joys.
    Deep happiness cannot exist without slowing down to enjoy the joy.  It’s the simple things in life that can be the most rewarding if we remember to fully experience them.
  19. They embrace the impermanence of life.
    Just because something doesn’t last forever, doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth your while.  Sometimes there are things in our lives that aren’t meant to stay.  Sometimes the changes we don’t want are the changes we need to grow.  And sometimes walking away is a step forward.
  20. They live a life they actually want to live.
    Your hopes, your dreams, your goals… matter!  Make choices that feel right.  Surround yourself with people who support and care not for the “you” they want you to be, but for the real you.  Make true friends and stay in touch with them.  Say things you really want to say to the people who need to hear them.  Express your feelings.  Stop and smell the roses.  And most of all, realize that happiness in most situations is a choice.

Source: Marc & Angel Hack Life, 20 Habits Happy People Have (But Never Talk About)

Single-Tasking for Increased Productivity

You are familiar with the art of multi-tasking… seamlessly performing more than one task at once, right? Actually, trying to focus on more than one thing at a time reduces your productivity by as much as 40%. That’s the cognitive equivalent of pulling an all-nighter.
On average, employees who do the majority of their work on computers are distracted every 10.5 minutes. Luckily, it’s not all bad news.  44% of those work distractions are self-inflicted and another 23% come from emails. That means you have complete control to cut out (or at least drastically reduce) 67% of the productivity-killing distractions that derail your entire workday. The number one skill that will set you apart from 99% of the world’s highly distractible knowledge workers is the ability to ruthlessly single-task.
Single-tasking might be hard for you, but there are strategies that are not mutually exclusive and most effective when used together to bolster your efforts.  Some of the essential components and strategies of effective single-tasking are:

  • Cutting out distractions.
    • Strategy: Schedule your email time – you’re there to read and answer emails only.
    • Strategy: Work offline whenever possible.
    • Strategy: Turn off all social media notifications, on your phone and computer.
  • Make a single-tasking plan you’ll actually stick to.
    • Strategy: Schedule your daily to-dos.
    • Strategy: Create unrealistically short deadlines to keep the project moving.
    • Strategy: Give your days themes in order to prioritize daily tasks for the week.
  • Dealing with unavoidable distractions.
    • Strategy: Procrastinate on purpose by handling some interruptions at a later time in order to stay focused on the task at hand.
    • Strategy: Keep a “Read Later” list, and compile the list throughout the day.
    • Strategy: Set aside “exploratory time” and allow yourself freedom to read, think and pursue new ideas.
  • Getting back on track when you’ve fallen off the single-tasking band wagon.
    • Strategy: Take regular breaks throughout the day.
    • Strategy: Forgive yourself when a day doesn’t work out as planned.

Source: todoist Blog, Why Single-Tasking Is Your Greatest Competitive Advantage (Plus 19 Ways To Actually Do It)



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Take 12 Steps for Your Health

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Take 12 Steps for Your Health in 2016 Calendar

Download 2016 Calendar

12 Months, 12 healthy goals. Don't miss out on this year's great 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!

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!

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2016 Healthy Strides Community 5k/10K, Burke Lake Park, April 23, 2016
2016 Healthy Strides Community Expo, SpringFest, April 30, 2016
Join Us Nest Year

We are seeking support from local businesses and organizations for Take 12! Steps for Community Health in 2015. Our participants are the same people your business is looking to attract. Take advantage of this opportunity.


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Healthy Strides Race and Expo are
2015 NACo Award Winners


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


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


Take 12 Newsletter


Phone: 703-324-8423

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Attn: Take 12 Program
12055 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 425
Fairfax, VA 22035-1118

All content within 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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