Video: 7 Ways to Fight Loneliness

Did you know feeling lonely can affect your health? It’s been linked with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diminished sleep quality, and more, even after controlling for various other factors, reports University of Chicago Medicine.

And with social distancing in effect, we can really feel lonely. ⁣

I reported on this topic for Sisters From AARP, where I’m a freelance contributing editor— and again, just recently, on my YouTube channel.

In this new video, I reveal seven ways to grow your relationships and feel more connected. Right now. ⁣(Even if you watch this video after distancing has been lifted in your area, the tips still can apply.)

Please watch and share. And feel free to subscribe to my channel.

How are you feeling as we physically distance? ⁣I hope this info helps you or someone you know. ?

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Unconditional Love: Should it Be the Goal?

Love. We want it. Need it. Even during this time of social distancing due to the novel coronavirus. Maybe we need love even more now so we can try to manage issues related to isolation and loneliness. (I’ll have a post on these issues soon.)

But should love be given without any conditions? And can we control who we love? Had another discussion on my YouTube channel with guest Damien Dubose to discuss how adults can show love—whether in romantic relationships, friendships, or with family. We limited the talk to adults, because the relationships people have with children shouldn’t be subject to conditions. But for adults, who decide how to treat us—and for us, as we decide what kind of treatment to accept—the question of love without conditions can get interesting.

Tune into the video to see what we settled on and feel free to tell me what you think. Also feel free to subscribe to my channel (username: lesliequander) for future content.

Finally, no matter what, love is important. But if you’re looking for more practical tips on how to handle social contact now, see this related post from Johns Hopkins Medicine. As we continue to practice social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection, I’m wishing you the best and hope you can stay safe.

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Want Success? Freedom? Why It Starts in Your Mind

I’ve been feeling free. Light. Accomplished. And extra independent. Things I’ve been wanting and working toward are happening. It feels great to see things that I’ve imagined actually come to pass in real life.

And that is the key, in part. The thought. The willingness to believe that good things are coming and that I am—and we are—worthy of them.

Our thoughts matter and can affect our bodies, our lives, and our experiences. This concept shows up in science, in the law of attraction, and even in faith-based teachings.

So if you want to feel free—or more successful, content, or relaxed—a big way to shift is within your mind.

For example, taking time to think kind thoughts about yourself has psychological and physical benefits, suggests 2019 research from the University of Exeter. In the small study, participants who listened to an audio recording that encouraged them to be kind to themselves reported feeling more self-compassion and connection with others. These participants also had a physical response consistent with relaxation and safety, including a drop in heart rate and a lower sweat response. Meanwhile, those who heard an audio inducing “a critical inner voice” had a higher heart rate and higher sweat response, consistent with feelings of distress.

More mind-power info? As you may know, the benefits of meditation, the practice of training and focusing your mind, are myriad and can include helping with stress reduction, pain control, and even improving sleep.

So this July, and beyond, remember: If you have a dream in your heart, think of it positively in your mind. Believe in yourself, put in the work, and have faith. Think of the thing as already yours. ⁣You might be surprised to see the good things that can follow.

⁣So do you believe in yourself? Want some encouragement? Maybe I can help–especially if you have questions about moving up in your career (including full-time or freelance work in writing, communications, or editing) or how to shift your general mindset. Drop me a comment or email me!

⁣P.S. In this photo, I somehow managed to channel the tropics—from the city. Come hang with me on Instagram @lesliequander to see my other adventures. ☺️?

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Writing Tip: Where to Find Inspiration

I’ve been a professional writer and editor for more than a decade. (Where did the time go?!) And I wrote for fun for many years before that.

One question that comes up when it comes to writing and creativity is this: Where do you get ideas? Whether we’re writing on deadline or writing just for fun, our ideas have to come from somewhere. And, in my experience, ideas for stories can come from all around us.

For instance, I wrote about the benefits of training for surgery for The Washington Post after I discovered a related study—and dug in for more research. And I wrote about five tips to protect your hearing for Men’s Health after noticing loud sounds in my own environment.

Recently I went to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to see a ballet. There, I ran into this exhibit of worldwide photos of hope and resilience (see above). It was another example of how surprises can pop up anywhere and at any time–and how we should be open to them. But it also reminded me that inspiration for writing, other creative pursuits, and even life plans can come from all around us. In fact, I think it’s really cool that we can soak up creativity even in our hometowns—without trying hard or traveling far.⁣⁣

(Side note: If you haven’t been to the Kennedy Center, do check it out when in DC—for everything from opera to ballet. This free exhibit via the National Geographic Photo Camp features photos from at-risk and refugee youth and runs through June 20, 2019.)

So here’s the takeaway: Story ideas and life inspiration can come from anywhere. And they can come by surprise. If you’re looking for ideas for your next piece of writing, look around you. Explore your hometown. Travel. Read something you typically wouldn’t. Start a new conversation.

You can find plenty of inspiration if you pay attention.

For more writing tips and daily snapshots, subscribe to this blog or follow me on Instagram!

Or feel free to comment or email me your thoughts or questions about writing and creativity.

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Are You Open to Surprises?

Life’s beauty can arrive by surprise. ?⁣

We can plan and try to predict things all we want (quick shout out to the Type As and planners out there), but things happen all the time that are completely out of our control. Sometimes these things are what we’d call good. Sometimes they’re not. At least not in the moment. But it’s good to be open to surprises in any case, I think.

For instance, I wasn’t expecting to wander upon these magnolia trees this spring. Cherry blossoms get lots of love here in DC—and the thousands of trees donated by Japan decades ago do deserve their own attention. (Trust me, I wrote about those beauties, too.) But these magnolia blooms in the Smithsonian Castle’s garden were gorgeous. I live here, and I had no idea how amazing this would be. I was just planning a quick pass-through, but ended up marveling at these for several long moments.

Need more encouragement? One older study from Emory University Health Sciences Center found that the brain finds unexpected pleasures more rewarding than expected ones. You’ll understand this yourself if you’ve ever gotten a surprise flower delivery (yes, I’m still talking about plants!) or if you’ve ever won an unexpected prize or other reward.

So, here’s to not planning everything. And to being open to the unexpected. You never know what you might find.

See more about this garden visit on Instagram–or follow me there @lesliequander so we can keep up!

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Spotlight: “Will GoFundMe Become America’s Largest Private Insurer?”




Stories of healthcare issues abound, and I’m seeing headlines that continue to pop up. People are suffering, and their insurance—if they even have it—doesn’t always provide all needed financial support. Enter online crowdfunding campaigns, where people ask everyone from friends to strangers to help them pay for expenses, including those for health care.

I recently reported on this topic for Playboy, and medical crowdfunding campaigns continue to mount even into the early days of 2019. These campaigns are helping people who are fighting for their lives or dealing with health complications and bills. GoFundMe, for instance, is one of several crowdfunding platforms that helps people raise funds for personal causes. And with a giving community of more than 50 million people worldwide, it’s reportedly the largest social fundraising platform.

But what’s the future of these fundraising platforms? And who’s really vulnerable to having unexpected medical expenses?

Please click through to see what health care experts and GoFundMe users told me about this situation and its potential effects.


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Health Tip: Why Adults Should Go Out and Play




Why, yes, I will frolic in the snow. 😉

We’ve just had our first snow of 2019 in DC, so I had to go out and play around. It was incredibly nice to venture out into the fresh snow as it fell. I laughed a lot and was glad I didn’t stay inside.

So, when is the last time you acted like a kid and played in the snow, or sand, or grass? (Whatever is seasonal in your part of the world!) As grown-ups (ahem), sometimes we can get caught up in the monotonous, day-to-day tasks of life. But playing is actually good for us, even when we’re older.

For instance, if we regularly go out and get physical (think walking, or running, or jumping around in the snow like I did), it can improve our moods, help lower our blood pressure, and strengthen our muscles.

And if we really have a good time, and start laughing, the laughter itself can help reduce physical symptoms of stress and—over time—laughter can help relieve pain and even improve our immune systems.

Still going…definitely got to 30 minutes.

So adults of the world, go out. And play! A little free time may be just what you need.

Are you getting in enough happy time out and about? P.S. Come see more of my adventures on Instagram at @lesliequander. 


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5 Tips to Protect Your Hearing



So I love getting out to events and listening to live music. But these fun activities can have a down side. Sadly.

If you’re around loud sounds, you should know that you could be at risk for tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss, too. These sounds can show up anywhere, from your favorite sporting events to concerts and bars.

Because this topic is so important, and because it can affect so many people, I wrote about how to avoid hearing loss and damage earlier this year for Men’s Health. Even now, the topic keeps coming up in my everyday life. Maybe because I know so many other music lovers.

The facts: Sounds are measured in decibels (dB). Those higher than 85 dB can permanently damage the hair cells in your inner ear with extended exposure, leading to hearing loss or actual damage. And it can be years before you start to notice the effects.

Please check out my story for five tips on how to protect your hearing. I do these things myself. Then tell me what you think!

Have you ever had a hearing scare, or noticed when sounds were too loud? Taking action now can help you later.


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Training for Surgery? Yes, You Can



These days, Americans train to get in shape for marathons, weddings and backpacking trips. So why not train for surgery? Tens of millions of surgeries are scheduled each year in the United States, and each can result in complications such as shock, infection or pulmonary issues: A 2012 study citing hospital data from the American College of Surgeons on 551,510 general surgery patients found a complication rate of almost 17 percent.

I recently wrote about training for surgery for The Washington Post, and interviewed several doctors to explain why it can be helpful. Posting about the topic here in the name of blog updates. (I promised I’d be back.)

Providers at several hospitals believe better preparation could help patients awaiting elective surgeries—those planned in advance, such as hip replacements or cosmetic procedures, rather than done in an emergency—avoid those problems. They designed programs to help ensure that patients enter surgery in the best condition possible, with preparation including physical and mental components.

If you’re planning a surgery, or know someone who is, please check out the story online. You’ll see the four training steps to consider and discuss with your surgeon, even if your facility doesn’t offer a formal program.



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Yes, I’m Updating My Blog. Yes, It’s Taken 5 Years (!)




Just casually lounging on a table at a luxury rental in Molokai, an island of Hawaii. 😉 SEE, these are the fun, non-bloggy things I’ve been doing.

The last time I was really here was 2013. Wow. With reference to my last (beyond old) blog post, clearly Halle Berry is no longer pregnant. But I do still think sheer fashion can be chic. And the clothes in my closet still support this theory.

Not sure why I was away from my dear blog for so long, but I’m back now. I was busy during these intervening years. Thank goodness.

I mean, I’ve been freelancing for outlets from Playboy and The Washington Post to AARP The Magazine and Men’s Health. 

My day job also changed; I’m now a health writer, so I’m no longer at the luxury lifestyle magazine where I had been senior editor. But I still live in DC, so I can still give you the details on events around town.

And I’ve been on several, big amazing, trips abroad in the years since, including to France, Spain, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, and more.

So, I mean, there’s a bit of an excuse to have been gone so long. But I’M PLANNING TO DO BETTER.

Please stick around and visit to see my thoughts and writing on all things health, lifestyle, and travel. And of course, please keep an eye on my website’s other pages, which I have been updating.

Also come say hi and follow me on Instagram and Twitter. I’m @lesliequander on both (though more often on Instagram, I admit).

Talk soon! Definitely before another five years, I promise.


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