4 Ways Parents, Teachers and Students Can Reduce Standardized-Test Stress

Standardized testing has drawn its share of criticism from teachers, students and parents. One of the most common complaints is the stress that all three groups feel – from preparation through performance.

From a young age, students take these timed tests that measure academic competency and, ultimately, whether they’re college material. Countless articles on standardized testing in the U.S. point out the pressure on students to score well; that teachers are often evaluated by how their students fare on the tests; and that parents get anxiety hoping their children score high.
Amid all this stress comes the basic but difficult-to-answer question: How to deal with it?
“There is a tremendous amount of controversy about standardized testing, and no matter which side of the argument you are on, teachers have no choice,” says Dr. Raj Gupta (www.drrajgupta.com), founder of Soul Focus Wellness Center and author of Wellness Center Solution: How Physicians Can Transform Their Practices, Their Income and Their Lives.  
So teachers, students and parents must deal with it the best way they can. And finding consistently healthy habits to counter these stress inducers is so important. In fact, taking the stress out of the test process can carry over to every aspect of their life. The scores aren’t as important as the quality of life they give themselves in what is a results-oriented world, often to a fault.” 
Gupta offers four tips that teachers, students and parents can use to better deal with test-related stress: 
  • Diet. Poor eating habits contribute to stress. “I see this every day with my three girls,” Gupta says. “Grandma will feed them tons of sugar, and then I come home to find the girls either bouncing off the walls or miserably cranky after crashing from their sugar high. Good wholesome foods that are not processed or refined and are free from trans fats prevent our energy levels from peaking and crashing throughout the day.” 
  • Rest. Getting enough sleep helps keep your body and mind in top shape, making you better equipped to deal with any negative stressors. “Most of your healing and repair takes place when you are sleeping,” Dr. Gupta says. “This is when the body recharges the battery. If you continue to deprive your body of sleep, your immune system breaks down and you get sick.”
  • Exercise. A study conducted by California State University found that a 10-minute walk is enough to increase energy, alter mood, and provide a positive outlook for up to two hours. Exercise also assists in quality sleep. “Exercise is the greatest stress buster,” Gupta says. “Regular exercise can change your life.”
  • Mental attitude. “Stress is like a snowball: If you let it roll, it will gain speed, momentum and weight, and you are over-reacting, making even small difficulties seem like major crises,” Gupta says. He suggests countering a stressful situation with a calming action. Example: when rush-hour traffic is irritating, listen to a self-improvement audio. “Some things we can’t control, but we can control our response to them,” Gupta says. 

“Stress can cause all sorts of health problems,” Gupta says. “It affects all ages, as seen with the implementation of standardized testing. But it can be dealt with on a daily basis, and by doing so consistently, it can help us pass any and all stress tests in the future..”
About Dr. Raj Gupta
Dr. Raj Gupta (www.drrajgupta.com), who has more than 20 years experience as a chiropractor, is the founder of Soul Focus Wellness Center. He also is author of Wellness Center Solution: How Physicians Can Transform Their Practices, Their Income and Their Lives. He has been featured in US News and World Report Health, Woman’s World Magazine and New York Daily News. He has a doctorate in chiropractic from Life University.

One Attorney’s 30 Year Journey to Better Health

A personal story - My journey to better health

By Joy Stephenson-Laws

At some point in your life, you have probably felt what I felt as it relates to your health…Confusion, uncertainty, worry …

My aha moment was in my early 40’s when my doctor of many years started to prep me for what I should expect as I navigate my way through my 40s and 50s. He told me I should expect hot flashes, depression, difficulty sleeping, weight gain, water retention among other things.   He also told me to stay active, eat a healthy diet but I would still have many of these issues.  Everyone does. But when that time came, he would prescribe medications for me to fix those problems.

Bless his heart. He was being “proactive” about my health.

But I was not ready to accept my fate.   I did not want to take medications unless I had to. They may work but have tons of side effects. I prefer to take medication if I have an accident, surgery or an acute illness.

So I spent countless hours trying to figure this all out.  I researched what to eat and what supplements to take, only to end up confused and with more to google. I even felt like a fraud because as a healthcare attorney, I am trained to research credible sources for healthcare information and understand complex issues so I can examine and cross examine medical doctors. But for a long time, I still couldn’t figure out how to keep myself as healthy as I wanted…

(How ironic, right?)

Then it happened. One day I discovered and finally understood what nutrients really meant. And I also understood how important they were in helping me avoid issues like menopause, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, cancer etc. Being healthy wasn’t just about vitamins and drinking 8 glasses of water a day.

There are actually 6 key nutrients we need to stay healthy. And only few get talked about in the mainstream. Moreover, the amount of each nutrients we need is affected by age, medications, alcohol, genetics, diet and activity level.

And regardless of how ‘well’ we eat or exercise, if we don’t know what those nutrients are, and what our individual needs are, we are all basically blind men trying to do a crossword puzzle.

Crazy, right?

Let me give you an example.  For years I thought if I eat tons of fruits and veggies, take my supplements, avoid cigarettes and limit alcohol, I would never be deficient in vitamin C. Then I took a test and found out I was extremely low in vitamin C.  I later discovered my body had difficulty absorbing vitamin C from the foods I ate or from regular supplements and I needed a special type of vitamin C.  I took the correct form of vitamin C and now my levels are optimal, my energy levels have improved, I am never depressed, I sleep well and rarely if ever get a cold.

But this is more than just about being deficient in vitamin C. There are other important nutrients we need and a large percentage of us are nutrient deficient – at least 85%.  

So I asked myself, how would I know whether I was in that 85%? How could I figure out if I have the right balance of nutrients from the foods I eat?

I stared at my computer screen trying to determine what to search for next.

I dissected a ton of articles, assembled a team of medical experts and poured over countless medical journals.

Because some things are worth the effort, right?

I spent tons of time trying to find the answer and came across loads of contradicting advice.

I even co-wrote a book when I discovered that most people forgot about the importance of minerals – a critical nutrient.

I tweaked, tested, got feedback, and I kept going. Want to know how it played out? Did it work? Did I figure out how to help myself, my loved ones and you get healthier without facing your doomsday in a doctor’s office? I sure did.

And I’m excited to share it with you.

This is the beginnings of what is now Proactive Health Labs. I realized that part of any healthy routine must start with identifying the healthy foods from which we can get those 6 basic nutrients.

Then we need to do at least annual testing to see whether our bodies are absorbing the right balance of these nutrients from the foods we eat.  And no, I’m not referring to your annual physical where they focus on cholesterol and perhaps vitamin D.  The test I’m talking about identifies if you are deficient in other vitamins such as A, B, C  as well as minerals, fats and proteins etc. and identifies whether you have excess toxins like mercury and lead in your  body.  It may even help you identify the cause of any gut issues.

So please make a commitment to get and stay in the healthy lane with me by sharing your own personal story. Let us work together to see how we can be better consumers of healthcare.

Remember, part of this journey requires that we identify the right foods to eat so we can be healthy

We also have to be ready to find out if our bodies are absorbing the right nutrients so we can function at our best

Maintaining good health while on this journey, isn’t easy, but we can at least work together to take the stress out of it by learning from each other and sharing our stories.

Let’s start sharing and learning so we can all enjoy a happy and healthy life!

Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, is the founder of Proactive Health Labs (www.phlabs.org), a national nonprofit health information company that provides education and tools needed to achieve optimal health. She also is founding and managing partner of Stephenson Acquisto & Colman (www.sacfirm.com), one of the nation´s leading health care law firms.  Her most recent book is Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy, available through Amazon, iTunes and bookstores. She is based in California. 

10 Healthy (and Romantic!) Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Toss that box of chocolates! Forget the flowers! This year, why not show that special someone you REALLY love them with these very alluring, romantic, and healthy alternatives!

The editors and experts at Getfitnow.com offer these fun non-traditional ways to heat up your Valentine's Day!

Colorful and oh-so-romantic, strawberries are packed with Vitamin C, which bolsters the immune system. Serve them with low-fat fruit yogurt, and a cup of green tea instead of coffee. Green tea contains powerful blood-thinning agents called flavonoids, which can reduce the risk of dangerous blood clots by 60 percent.

Yoga expert Gwen Lawrence, author of Body Sculpting with Yoga, says yoga refreshes, relaxes and restores. It increases strength and flexibility. Enthusiasts even claim yoga boosts your desire! So what are you waiting for?

Stock up on a bottle of fragrant massage oil infused with jasmine. Jasmine is a relaxing, sensuous, and alluring scent. Rub those achy shoulders and backs. You'll be steaming up the room in no time!

Rather than stay at home, venture to a quiet and cozy bed and breakfast or spa where you can spend the weekend hiking, cross-country skiing, or mountain biking. Perhaps even do some "forest bathing" as recommended by Nina Smiley, author of Mindfulness in Nature.

Cook a delicious low-fat, low-calorie meal together. Experiment with healthy cuisine from around the world. Add some real spice, too! Onions, garlic, and ginger are rich in compounds that destroy viruses and bacteria.

Rather than beer or other alcoholic beverages, opt for a glass of red wine. Red wine is rich with anti-oxidants called phenolics, and red wine drinkers have a 50% lower risk of diabetes. Find out more about including red wine in your diet in the new book The Mamma Mia! Diet.

Exercise classes are not only very motivating, they are a great way to meet new friends who share a common interest in exercise and health. Treat yourself to new workout attire, while you are at it.

Over time, running shoes wear out. The soles no longer act as shock absorbers and the shock gets passed along to your bones and joints. Terri Schneider, author of Runner's Workout Handbook, recommends a brand new pair of running shoes as a great fitness gift which also helps prevent injuries.

That's right, dancing is a great way to burn calories together. Try the twist, the foxtrot, or--if you are daring--the tango, the most romantic of all dances. Want more? Dancing can burn over 300 calories per hour.

While non-traditional ideas are great fun and can be healthy too, don't put yourself under needless stress by forgetting to give your special someone a Valentine's Day card! Love can be a tonic for all of life's challenges, so don't take it for granted.

GFN Logo


Getfitnow is the leading internet destination for health and fitness. Experts in nutrition, exercise, and wellness contribute to a community devoted to healthy living.

For more visit www.getfitnow.com
On Facebook
On Instagram
On YouTube

Are Your Everyday Cleaning Products Putting You at Risk for Autoimmune-Related Health Problems?

Would you be surprised if I told you that the very products you might be using to rid your home of dirt, germs, grime and bacteria might actually be causing you and your family more harm than those elements would themselves? Would you be concerned if I suggested that your everyday household cleaning products could not only aggravate chronic health and immunity issues, but could even cause the onset of autoimmune related illness? Well, the good news is that these risks can be mitigated if you know what to look for and there are tests available to gauge reaction to the potentially harmful toxins and chemicals we tend to invite into our homes. The key is to understand what we’re dealing with.

In his foreword to The Autoimmune Epidemic, Dr. Douglas Kerr, M.D., Ph.D. professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, says, There is no doubt that autoimmune diseases are on the rise and our increasing environmental exposure to toxins and chemicals is fueling the risk. The research is sound. The conclusions, unassailable.” 

There are several possible factors that may link chemicals and toxins to autoimmune disease.  Among those factors, the following hold the most relevance:

• Leaky guta condition where the protective lining of the digestive track becomes compromised, allowing bacterial toxins, partially digested food, and toxic waste to pass through. Exposure to toxins can exacerbate this condition, which often leads to autoimmune reactivity and eventually disease, if not treated.

• Of the more than 80,000 chemicals currently used in the United States, most haven’t been adequately tested for their effects on human health (NDRC, 2017). Not good!

• If it doesn’t come from nature, it shouldn’t be consumed, ingested, inhaled or exposed to the skin. Remember, our skin is an organ and it is porous, so it will absorb what it touches. If the ingredients listed on the bottle are a scientific mystery to you, it’s always safest to avoid it. 

Does all of this information mean that we should quit cleaning our houses and cohabitate with dirt and dust mites? No, of course not. But it should make you think twice about what exposure to harsh chemical cleaners and other products such as air fresheners and laundry detergent can potentially do to your health. The best solution for improving your autoimmune health and preventing the onset of autoimmune reactivity and disease is to use alternatives to chemical products. Baking soda, lemon or lemon oil, vinegar and castile soap are examples ofgreat natural products that will safely get the job done. There are also an abundance of organic and natural cleaning products for sale at most grocery stores.

If you have increased chemical sensitivitiesan autoimmune disease or a family history ofautoimmune disease; toxicity and overexposure to chemical agents should be considered and testing is recommended. Cyrex Laboratoriesclinical laboratory specializing in functional immunology and autoimmunity, offers advanced, innovative tests designed to detect and monitor autoimmune reactivities and their possible triggers. Array 11identifies the loss of immune tolerance associated with toxic chemicals exposure from household cleaning products, makeup, lotions and more, which may lead to inflammation and autoimmune reactivity. This blood test assists in setting guidelines for the avoidance of specific chemicals to reduce the risk of igniting the autoimmune process, and monitoring the effectiveness of the clinical management of protocols.

Seek the advice of your health care professional and raise any concerns with them. Proactivity is the best way to combat the effects of health issues and risk factors. Everybody can benefit from eliminating toxic elements and chemical-laden cleaning products from our environment.


Dr. Chad Larson, NMD, DC, CCN, CSCS, Advisor and Consultant on Clinical Consulting Team for Cyrex Laboratories (joincyrex.com). Dr. Larson holds a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Southern California University of Health Sciences. He is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He particularly pursues advanced developments in the fields of endocrinology, orthopedics, sports medicine, and environmentally-induced chronic disease.

Mermaid Retreat Time! (ps discount code inside)

Hello Mermaid Friends! 

My name is Maria and I started a mermaid production company called Sirenalia. I just wanted to stop by to tell you about our real life mermaid retreat in Belize this February! If you like Mermaid Mondays as much as we do you'll like a whole mermaid week in paradise. 

Join us and be magically transformed into a mystical mermaid (or merman!). Every attendee has the chance to model in our lifelike silicone tails. Our retreats have so much to offer our attendees beyond the included meals and lodging! The retreat is an all-inclusive getaway on a remote tropical island, and guests can expect both above and underwater photo shoots, mermaid yoga, and magical underwater adventures like snorkeling. 

Just for Living Faerie readers we have a discount to save $150 on the trip. Use the code Faerie150 at checkout! Come hang out with us, and check out our video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5z23MD8teCA

Maria from Sirenalia

Emotional Bubble-Wrap for Young People Changing Homes

Moving can be hectic. It’s a contact sport. It’s physically and emotionally demanding at a time when you are supposed to still carry on the rest of life . . . jobs, dinner, rides to soccer. It’s a full-time job on top of a schedule that doesn’t have room for “another” job. So, in all of that, it’s easy to make mistakes with the kids and their involvement (or often lack-thereof) in the move.  As if there weren’t enough to think about, dealing with temper tantrums, outbursts, and sometimes intangible ways of fearful expressions, by kids in the middle of a move only adds to parental stress.  Below are some straightforward suggestions that parents can follow while moving children from one home to another. It all comes down to one fundamental component: involvement.
  • Let their wish-list be heard. Have kids identify what they love most about their current home and what they most want to see in a new home. Although this won’t erase all anxiety, there are often simple things that can be created to help with the child’s transition (e.g., a room color, a swing set, furniture you are moving with you anyway).
  • Bring the kids to see the new property. Often, and understandably so, children are left with babysitters while parents view homes. Although this is logical for the hunt, once a property is under agreement and you know where specifically you are moving, set a time to go to the house. Between inspections, measurements, etc., there should be ample times when it’s appropriate for them to come to check it out.  At a minimum, this will allow their anxiety to be focused and hopefully more specifically identified than that of the unknown. This is also a good idea in respect to visiting a new school, if applicable.
  • Let them pack.  Putting all the kids’ stuff in a box and telling them it will be at the next mysterious place creates uneasiness over what’s happening with their stuff.  In Lily and Andrew are Moving, a children’s book designed to identify and work with kids’ moving anxieties, each family member gets a “color.”  The color-coded stickers are then placed on that member’s belongings/boxes for easy identification for moving location. That same color is placed on that family members’ bedroom door for ease of identification.
  • Prepare yourself for extra emotional outbursts and use them as a foundation for conversation. One of the biggest complaints I get from parents is that the kids’ behavior is very poor and it’s yet another stressor during a hectic time. Try to remember that everything going on and the stress you are feeling is undoubtedly affecting them. They may not know how to articulate why. Use these attention grabbers to, well, grab your attention and talk about the move with your child.

Most of all, just understand that the kids are moving, too. So, regardless of whether it’s a positive or negative move for the family, work through their reactions just as you do in your role as parent in any other life event. Trust, though, once everything is in motion, they are far more resilient than their adult counterparts.

Julie Etter is a professional, national award-winning realtor and former middle-school teacher based in Wrentham, MA. She is the author of Lily and Andrew Are Moving (Hardcover, $14.95; Kindle, $11.99), published by JT Publications, LLC. For more information, visit www.treehousebuddies.com