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Take 12 Steps for Health

Take 12 Calendar


May 2017

Step 5: Live Life with Less Stress

Reduce your daily stress level by finding healthy outlets for stress relief, eating properly and getting the proper amount of sleep.

Making Healthy Strides


Have a daily decompression time. Sit quietly and reflect or meditate, and breathe deeply for a few minutes or more each day.

Make your home a comfortable place by creating relaxing areas for everyone to enjoy.


Trouble sleeping is one of the many indicators of stress. Catching up on emails, watching your favorite TV show, chores to finish, a rough day at work, these things and more can keep us from getting an adequate amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation has many negative health effects such as poor concentration and performance, tension, and anxiety. It is important to learn how to manage your stress and practice healthy bedtime habits, here are a few tips:

  • Avoid caffeine: Its effects last hours after consumption. If you cannot eliminate it from your diet, then do not consume any caffeine after 2pm.
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Turn off all electronics an hour before bedtime: The blue light emitted by these devices makes it harder to fall asleep at night, this includes cellphones, TVs, tablets, and e-readers.
  • Talk about it: If you’ve had a rough day, talk it out with your loved ones. The dinner table is a great place to sit down with your family and talk about your day and vent about stressful moments.
  • Exercise: Not only is this a great stress reliever, but physical activity can help you sleep better at night. Make sure to exercise at least three hours before bed so your body has time to cool down. If you exercise too close to bed time, you may have trouble falling asleep because your body is releasing endorphins to keep you awake and active.
  • Establish a bedtime routine: This can include stretching and deep breathing to release any tension from your day or can just mean sitting in bed reading. Do something before bed that makes you feel relaxed; this will make it easier to go to sleep.

Rough days and stress are inevitable, but finding the right ways to cope with stress and making sure it doesn’t affect other aspects of your life, such as family, are key.

Source: webmd, "Tips to Reduce Stress and Sleep Better" and The American Institute of Stress


Mental health is often given a negative stigma and can be difficult to talk about. Families can be dealing with mental health issues without even noticing it. Sleep problems, financial struggles, depression, and lack of hunger/desire for food are some of the signs of depression. It is important to take notice of these signs in partners, children, friends, and coworkers. Communication may be difficult in a family when a loved one is battling mental health issues, however, it is vital. Here are a few other tips if you feel a family member may be going through a mental health struggle:

  • Express love, care, support, and compassion
  • Educate your family on what is going on and teach them how to cope as well
  • Offer to help your family member with everyday tasks
  • Do your research and seek early treatment. This helps tackle any issue before complications arise.
  • Continually ask your family member questions and make sure you have a role in their life. This can help them open up to you.

If you believe your family member may harm themselves, do not wait. Seek immediate help and please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Source:, "Supporting a Friend or Family Member with Mental Health Problems" and web4health, "Effects of Mental Illness on the Family"


Every day we communicate with those around us. We can create more stress to ourselves and those we interact with by communicating ineffectively; this stress can be easily avoided. Take note of these tips and teach your kids at an early age how to communicate in a positive manner.

  • Body language matters: make eye contact with the person you’re talking to, don’t cross your arms, don’t display nervous ticks like picking at your nails or tapping your feet because this will distract the person in front of you.
  • Listen actively: it can be very frustrating when you feel the person in front of you is not listening to what you’re saying. Make note of key points that the person mentions so you can touch on them later.
  • Be patient: sometimes it is tempting to jump in while a person is speaking, but save your comments till the end. Let the other person speak their thoughts before you make a comment.
  • Think before you speak: this adage goes a long way. Take a moment to think about how what you will say will come off and your tone of voice. Make sure your message comes across effectively so there is little room for misunderstanding.

Practicing effective communication skills at any opportunity given will aid in reinforcing them and making them habits.

Source:, "5 Things To Practice for Effective Communication Skills "

Get Info for the 50+ Crowd at the Park Authority’s 50+ Web Portal

50+ Connect, Engage, PlayThe Fairfax County Park Authority has launched a website specifically for residents age 50 or older. The 50+ Engage-Connect-Play portal provides one-stop shopping for information on Fitness & Wellness, Arts & Learning, Gardening & Adventure, Giving Back, and more that’s geared toward Baby Boomers and active seniors.

Learn More at Fairfax County Park Authority - Fifty Plus.


Fairfax County Park Authority Take 12 Sponsors
Take 12 Steps for Family Health
Take 12 Steps for Your Health in 2017 Calendar

Download Your

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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Download the Take 12 Pledge


Take 12 Newsletter

2017 Healthy Strides Community 5k/10K, Burke Lake Park, April 22, 2017


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


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 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.

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
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