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Eight Ways to Drive Yourself Calm, Not Crazy

by Diane Berenbaum

Between your work, errands, and family commitments, you may not realize how much stress you’re under. However, your body is well aware of it. According to Henry Emmons, MD, author of The Chemistry of Calm,“When you repeatedly get stressed, your nervous system stays keyed up, so even small amounts of stress can make you feel overwhelmed.” All that tension can disrupt your thinking, wear you down, and may even start a chain reaction of health problems.

Yet, you can bring more calm to your hectic life. Here are eight ways to drive yourself calm, instead of crazy:

1. Identify your stressors, and strive to avoid them
How often do you purposely avoid the things that stress you out? And, how many times do you succeed in these endeavors? If you made a list of the top stressors in your daily life, you might be surprised to find that many of them can be avoided. Or, they can be altered to make them less debilitating.

For example, perhaps your day would run more smoothly if you structured your workday so that you missed rush-hour. Or, be clear about your schedule, so others are aware of your availability. Consider ways you can change your habits or adjust your routine, so you feel less stressed.

2. Do what brings you joy
Think about what makes you happy, and then pursue it…relentlessly! Do what brings you joy. It can be anything, from volunteering your time, to walks with friends, to playing with puppies. It doesn’t matter what it is. If it makes you feel good, do more of it! It will give you a broader perspective and lift you up.

3. Do one thing at a time
Our attention is essentially binary; in other words, we can usuallyl only focus on one thing at a time in any given moment. We often multitask to some degree, but delude ourselves about how well we do it. Yet, research shows that doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity and performance.

Plus, multi-tasking is exhausting. Daniel Levitin, professor of behavioral neuroscience at McGill University, found that “switching comes with a biological cost that ends up making us feel tired much more quickly than if we sustain attention on one thing.”

4. Say “no,” when appropriate
Some people are uncomfortable saying “no” to other people. In fact, they’d rather inconvenience themselves than say “no” to someone else.

Our inability to say “no” is at the root of a lot of people’s stress. After all, if you were able to say no and feel great about it, odds are that you wouldn’t feel overwhelmed. You might even be at a point where you’re psyched about all the things on your plate… and when you’re truly excited about your projects, it doesn’t feel so overpowering.

5. Exercise—work it out with a workout

The Mayo Clinic found that exercise increases your overall health and sense of well-being, And, it has some direct stress-busting benefits:

  • It pumps up your endorphins. Physical activity helps bump up the production of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike can also contribute to this same feeling.
  • It’s meditation in motion. After a fast-paced game of racquetball or several laps in the pool, you’ll often find that you’ve forgotten the day’s irritations and concentrated only on your body’s movements.
  • As you begin to regularly shed your daily tensions through movement and physical activity, you may find that this focus on a single task, and the resulting energy and optimism, can help you remain calm and clear in everything you do.
  • It improves your mood and your health.  Regular exercise can not only increase your fitness level, it can also build self-confidence and relax you. Exercise can also improve sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life.

6. Get more sleep
A lack of sleep can be debilitating. Sleep deprivation can weaken your immune system, which could mean you’re less able to fight off illness. You may also experience more headaches and pains, and you may even experience memory loss.

Consider setting your alarm for 10pm to remind you to get ready for bed. Aim to close your eyes and be asleep by 10:30, or a time that is aligned with your body clock. Your mind and body will be grateful for the respite.
7. Write down your thoughts, dreams, and aspirations
There’s just something about the process of sitting with your thoughts and gathering them into logical sentences that switches your brain into a very deep, almost meditative state. It forces you to think seriously, but at the same time enables you to zoom out and see the bigger picture. I have had many of my greatest realizations (and revelations) sitting somewhere with a pen in my hand.

8. Shift your focus; Focus on what soothes you and don’t forget to breathe
Joseph Campbell once said, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.” When you’re feeling tense, you may get the (unproductive) urge to mentally replay what went wrong, over and over in your mind. Dr. Emmons recommends shifting your focus to your body instead. Find a quiet place to sit down, then take long, deep breaths from your diaphragm, and exhale through your mouth.

We may not realize it, but when we’re stressed out, we sometimes forget to breathe. We’re still getting air into our lungs, but we’re not breathing properly or in a way that is beneficial to our health. Instead of shallow breaths, make them deep and meaningful! When you breathe slowly, deeply and deliberately, your body shifts to a relaxed state.

Exhaling longer than you inhale deepens your breathing, which helps calm your nervous system. Emmons also noted that “You can even practice your breathing when you’re not stressed, so you know exactly what deep-breathing counts soothe you.”

So, take a moment, right now, and breathe in deeply. Exhale slowly. Then, breathe again and repeat. Feeling better already?

Welcome to the Neighborhood: America’s Sports Stadiums Are Moving Downtown


SACRAMENTO — Hours before the Sacramento Kings played their N.B.A. home opener in October, Vivek Ranadivé stood on the balcony of the team’s new fourth-floor office at the $1 billion Downtown Commons. He watched hoops fans stream into the year-old Golden 1 Center. He smiled at guests swimming in the rooftop pool of the brand new, 250-room Kimpton Sawyer Hotel. Below him, the open-air plaza at street level bustled with life.

“Four years ago, this place was dead,” said Mr. Ranadivé, referring to downtown Sacramento, the capital city of the most-populous state in the union. Like many cities, Sacramento’s urban core needed some serious rethinking. “You could have thrown a bowling ball,” he said, “and it wouldn’t have hit a soul.”

No longer. Three years after Mr. Ranadivé, the owner of the Kings, partnered with the city to scrape away a nearly empty downtown mall, and a year after he opened the arena and the 1-million-square-foot commons, Sacramento is a city reborn.

The number of downtown jobs has increased 38 percent, according to the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, a city economic development group. In the last year, 27 new stores have opened and 23 others are scheduled to open this year. So much construction is happening that the city has decided to hire two dozen new employees to process applications and building permits.

And Sacramento is not alone. Across the country, in more than a dozen cities, downtowns are being remade as developers abandon the suburbs to combine new sports arenas with mixed-used residential, retail and office space back in the city. The new projects are altering the financial formula for building stadiums and arenas by surrounding them not with mostly idle parking lots in suburban expanses, but with revenue-producing stores, offices and residences capable of servicing the public debt used to help build these venues.

In Columbus, Ohio, Nationwide Realty Investors has constructed the 75-acre, $1 billion Arena District, with an N.H.L. arena (home to the Blue Jackets), surrounded by 1,030 apartments, 2 million square feet of commercial space for 80 businesses, a minor-league baseball stadium, restaurants and stores. In Cincinnati, the Banks, a new $1 billion mixed-used district, has emerged on the Ohio River shoreline between the city’s baseball and football stadiums. In Inglewood, Calif., a $3.8 billion, 298-acre mixed-use development currently under construction will include a privately financed N.F.L. stadium to be shared by the Los Angeles Rams and the newly located Los Angeles Chargers.

And in Detroit, the $863-million, 19,500-seat Little Caesar’s Arena, home to both the Pistons and the Red Wings, opened last summer in amid the 50-block District Detroit, a $1.2 billion mixed-use neighborhood.

The explosion in mixed-use developments like these is owed, in part, to the urban American economic renaissance. City populations grew faster from 2010 to 2016 than those in the suburbs, reversing a 60-year trend that started in 1950, according to census data. And cities — not suburbs — are the now primary generators of the nation’s economic growth, according to research compiled by the Federal Reserve.

“It’s the one-square-mile effect,” said Bruce Katz, an urban development specialist at the Brookings Institution. “Downtowns and midtowns possess an enormous amount of value in a relatively small geography.”

Strong-Arming Local Governments

For years, owners used their team’s popularity or perceived economic importance to strong-arm government officials. In many cases, owners threatened to move their teams if governments did not build them new stadiums along with the roads and public utilities needed to operate them.

A 2016 study by the Brookings Institution found that 45 stadiums and arenas for the four major professional sports — football, baseball, basketball, hockey — were constructed or renovated in the United States from 2000 to 2014 at a cost of nearly $28 billion. Of that, $13 billion was publicly financed with tax-exempt bonds.

But previous projects that foundered, particularly in the 1990s, point up the potential risk of these investments. “What was at work in those deals was the idea that a large public subsidy for a stand-alone facility would keep the team in place and would stimulate economic activity,” said Roger Noll, emeritus professor of economics at Stanford University. “The financial catastrophes that occurred convinced cities and residents that multimillion-dollar subsidies for stand-alone stadiums are a loser.”

Examples of that are legion, particularly for N.F.L. stadiums. In the early 1990s, St. Louis city and county, and the state of Missouri, spent $258 million to build a 70,000-seat domed stadium downtown to attract an NFL team. The city lured the Rams, who played in the stadium from 1995 to 2015 before moving back to Los Angeles. The city, county and state still have $140 million in debt, and millions more in annual maintenance costs to pay until the debt service is completed — on an empty stadium — at the end of 2021.

Urban design specialists also raised their voices in opposition to the old model. They noted that generous public-stadium financing ignored almost every facet of sound real estate development, like location. America was producing a generation of isolated arenas in the suburbs and countryside, ringed by giant parking lots, many of which sat empty much of the year.

That certainly characterized Detroit’s comparatively brief experience with suburban sports stadiums. In 1975, the NFL Lions moved from the nine-acre, 63-year-old Tigers Stadium in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood to the $55.7 million Silver Dome in Pontiac, which was surrounded by over 100 acres of surface parking near the center of the struggling Oakland County city. The team stayed until 2002, when it returned to Ford Field, a $500 million stadium alongside the two-year-old $300 million Comerica Park, the baseball Tiger’s new home on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. Both stadiums were partially financed with taxpayer dollars.

Last year, Little Caesars Arena opened across the avenue, completing a strategic development vision, developed by business and civic leaders in the 1990s, that focused on professional sports as a catalyst for Detroit’s revival. The NBA Pistons play in the new arena after spending the previous 29 seasons in The Palace of Auburn Hills, a 22,000-seat arena in a prosperous suburb 33 miles north of downtown Detroit that opened in 1988.

The Palace held its last event in September and is scheduled for demolition. Its 109-acre site, most of it surface parking, is being rezoned as a campus for high tech business and research.

A Role Model in Kansas City

If there is particularly good model for what’s happening in Sacramento, it can probably be found in Kansas City and the city’s Power and Light District. The $1 billion, 12-block district features a 150,000-square-foot covered plaza, more than 50 restaurants and taverns and hundreds of market-rate apartments. It opened in 2007 next to the city’s publicly financed $263 million, 18,500-seat Sprint Center, which, though it does not host a professional team, has been frequently used as a site for college basketball games, including regional rounds of the annual NCAA tournament.

A decade later, the Power and Light District, developed by the Cordish Companies — whose chief executive, David Cordish, is credited with being a leader in sports-focused mixed-use development — is cited by city officials as the primary reason that a 2.5-mile, $102 million downtown streetcar line in the city center started in 2016. Thousands of new apartments opened, the downtown population increased to 30,000 from 8,000, and city tax revenue soared.

Proposed State Budget Increases Fail to Address Critical Issues in Higher Education

by Taylor Myers

Policy and Research Analysis

On January 10, 2018, Governor Brown released his final budget proposal, a $131.7 billion spending plan for the next fiscal year. The proposal earmarks $18.5 billion in General Fund appropriations for higher education. Following its release, California Competes published an initial analysis of the new budget which highlighted an expansion of investments in full-time student success and innovations targeted at the millions of workers who lack a college credential. While there are many reasons to be optimistic about the proposal, as a policy blueprint, it fails to address several critical issues for improving student access and success across the state:

1. Investing in college completion is critical to promote degree attainment and close the degree gap.

California needs 2.4 million more credentials and degrees by 2025 to remain economically competitive and closing this gap requires every segment to significantly increase degree attainment. The state has historically been inconsistent with imposing enrollment goals on CSU and UC, and has never imposed a strict completion or attainment goal on the segments. This year is no different—the Governor’s budget does not include any enrollment growth or completion rate expectations for either the UC or CSU.

2. Strong policies to support on-time completion and transfer should support the cost of non-tuition expenses while students attend full-time.

Research suggests that full time students who work between five and ten hours per week are less likely to see their academic performance impaired by their jobs than students who work more than 20 hours per week. However, many students need to work longer hours to cover living expenses. Incentive programs that seek to increase full-time attendance, like the proposed consolidated grant for full-time Community College students, should consider the difficult decisions students face when deciding between academics and work. The California College Promise may address this challenge for students who are eligible for regional college promise programs; regions may use their local programs to support students for a second year of full-time attendance, or to cover non-tuition costs. For students who do not qualify for the California College Promise, or who are not additionally covered by a regional college promise program, a solution has yet to be offered.

3. California’s competitive economy depends on increasing degree attainment, which can’t happen without statewide cross-segmental coordination and aligned data practices.

This spending plan doesn’t address the need for statewide, cross-segmental coordination of higher education systems. Several legislative attempts to create one have been introduced, including the current measure AB 1936, authored by Assembly Members Low and Eggman. Over the last several months, policymakers have shown interest in revisiting the Master Plan for Higher Education and in considering more aligned goals for the state’s public higher education segments. But despite demonstrated enthusiasm from policymakers, the budget does not address the need for statewide coordination.

Nor does it include any impactful provisions for data collection and sharing – it leaves institutions to continue to serve as gatekeepers and stewards of information on student and programmatic outcomes. Currently, state policymakers and researchers have no way of efficiently and robustly evaluating the impacts of the state’s higher education investments. California desperately needs a statewide longitudinal data system to evaluate the impacts of the myriad of programs receiving funds from the state.

As they continue to refine the state’s 2018-2019 higher education budget, policymakers should consider the efficacy of the policy changes proposed in the current budget in the absence of the critical components discussed above. Addressing the needs of California’s diverse student population and ensuring equity in educational attainment and economic opportunities requires significant investment from the state in meaningful segmental or institutional goals, stronger higher education finance policies, intentional cross-segmental coordination, and a robust longitudinal student data system.

How Better Data Can Help Colleges Re-engage Those Who Leave Without a Degree

“Every number is a student, and every student has a story.”

Nele Hempel-Lamer, director of the CSU’s new Certificate Program in Student Success Analytics, offered this insight in her welcoming remarks at a recent convening at which we were invited to speak. It was an important reminder to those in the room who were starting on a pilot program to learn new skills in using predictive analytics to better serve students that the data they are looking at have a rich context that surrounds them. As the faculty and staff members from CSU East Bay and San Francisco State discussed current practices and issues in using student data, it was clear that there is a lot of innovation happening on the ground as well as a lot of room for improvement in the quality and breadth of the data that are collected.

Whichever way you choose to look at the data, there is a large population of adults that are ripe for outreach to be brought back into the fold of higher education…

As we discussed where California stands in closing the degree gap and what role the CSU specifically has in closing that gap, we looked at the large number of Californians in the workforce who have not completed college. There are many ways that this number can be cut: 2.5 million Californians aged 25-34 are in the workforce with only a high school diploma. 5.6 million adults over the age of 25 started college but never finished. Whichever way you choose to look at the data, there is a large population of adults that are ripe for outreach to be brought back into the fold of higher education, if they are going to keep pace with the increasing demand for degrees and credentials in California’s economy.

Lande Ajose presenting at CSU East Bay on February 2, 2018

Participants in the room gasped at these data. They asked very insightful questions about how we track the students who have left college before completing, what the mechanisms are for letting them know that they only need a few more classes to complete a degree, or that they may have already completed a degree and just need to declare it. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to their questions. The reality is that our data systems currently make it difficult to track students when they move across institutional boundaries. When a student leaves a CSU and then re-enrolls for a semester at a community college but leaves again just short of completing an associate’s degree, there is not a system for the institutions to combine their records to complete a degree audit, and it’s not clear who would be responsible for reaching out to the student to invite them back.

This seemingly simple dilemma highlights the need for three of California Competes’ policy priorities.

First, we need strategies for re-engaging students with some college but no degree and helping them toward completion. We could close a significant portion of the degree and credential gap by helping them toward completion. Second, we need an integrated data system that spans all of California’s higher education system. Finally, none of these strategies or data systems will be possible without a coordinating entity that spans all three segments of California’s higher education system.

Moving policy on all of three of these fronts can ensure that there are systems and processes in place to empower faculty and staff to have and utilize the data they need to create more positive stories behind their data.

42 million Americans struggle to find their next meal.

When most people think about hunger, they think of a starving child in a third-world country. Or perhaps they think of a long line of homeless people waiting outside an inner-city soup kitchen.

The truth is: hunger is a HUGE problem everywhere in the United States, but it’s not always easy to see. In a country known for its wealth and prosperity, 42 million Americans struggle to find their next meal.

The face of hunger has changed. No longer is it just the homeless man on the street reaching out for a helping hand, but every day millions of people are struggling to feed their families. No one is a stranger to the economic hardships of today.


Hunger is all around us. Hunger is not limited to a single demographic or geographic region of the country. It is not a problem only affecting the homeless or the poorest of the poor. Hunger is everywhere, and the numbers are staggering.

As the economy continues to put a strain on our wallets, people are being forced to make extremely difficult decisions. What does hunger look like, you might ask?

  • It is your father-in-law who just got laid off and now struggles to pay his mortgage and put food on the table.
  • It is your elderly neighbor who must choose between buying groceries and heating her home.
  • It is your child’s classmate who goes to school each day without lunch and is too embarrassed to ask for help.

Adults who suffer from hunger live shorter, less healthy, and less happy lives. They are more likely to be obese, more prone to mental illness, and more susceptible to deadly diseases. Hunger is terrible for adults, but it’s so much worse for children.


Hunger and malnourishment go hand-in-hand, and kids who miss out on essential nutrients during their critical years of growth will be dramatically disadvantaged for the remainder of their lives. 1 in 6 American children go to bed hungry each night.

According to the Food Research and Action Center, hungry children have compromised immune systems and are two to four times as likely as nourished children to develop health problems—ranging from the relatively minor to potentially fatal. Childhood hunger also impairs cognitive development. Kids who don’t have enough to eat do worse academically, do worse socially, and risk becoming so impacted—even by only temporary food insecurity—that recovery becomes impossible.

Most people tend to think about hunger during the holiday season. We see a ton of food drives occur right around Thanksgiving. But what happens during the rest of the year? Food insecurity is a year-round issue affecting millions of families and individuals across the country.


The summer months are the most difficult time for our nation’s food banks. During the school year, hungry children get the majority of their daily calories from free or reduced price school lunches. When school is out of session, those calories must come from somewhere else. There are summer meal programs, but over 13 million children face a greater risk of hunger during the summer because those programs are difficult to access and underfunded.

Thankfully, the summer is also the busiest season for the moving industry, so Move For Hunger has a great opportunity to fill the shelves of our communities’ food banks. Move For Hunger works to rescue food from people’s homes that would otherwise be thrown away and get it to local food banks where it’s needed.

Want to make a difference?

Click here to Get Involved in our fight against hunger.

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