Kern County native creates app meant to protect farmworkers from heat-related illness

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teen engineer

Farmworker’s days are long, their work is tedious and sometimes weather conditions turn the job into a dangerous one. 

“I heard their stories of swollen backs and how their feet would ache after work and just the kind of brutal conditions they worked in, especially back then”, said Faith Florez.

Florez grew up in Shafter, a small farming community in Kern County in a family that is all too familiar with working in the fields and the risks of the job.

“My grandma Estella, she picked roses, cotton, almonds, and then my poppa, her son went on to again pick roses cotton almonds and migrate between seasons between the fields,” she said.

So, the high school senior, who now lives in Los Angeles set out to make a change at farms throughout the central valley.

“I don’t want to hear about a farmworker that died because they were too far away from water and shade,” said Florez.

Flores created the Calor App, which will let farmers now when they could possibly be in danger.

“The application is ultimately designed to prevent instances of heat stroke amongst agricultural workers,” said Florez.

Calor, the Spanish word for heat, began with a simple idea for Florez.

“It definitely wasn’t an overnight thing,” she said.

Her idea, became more of a reality when she submitted it as a proposal to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, where a group of graduate students unanimously hose to take on the project.

“I went into it super passionate,” Florez said.

Continue onto ABC News to read the complete article.

SAWPA Celebrates World Water Day, Reminds Hispanic Customers Water is Safe

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Hispanic man fills a glass of water at his kitchen sink

Riverside, Calif. – This World Water Day, March 22, the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA) wants to remind its customers in the Santa Ana River Watershed (SARW) that the tap water that comes to their home is safe to drink.

“Billions of people around the world are still living without safe, clean drinking water,” said Mark Norton, SAWPA Water Resources & Planning Manager. “While a sustainable global solution is in development, we want to remind our customers that their water is safe and tested daily to ensure it meets the highest state and federal standards before it reaches them.”

The Santa Ana River Watershed, which stretches 75 miles from the San Bernardino Mountains to the Pacific Ocean in Orange County, is home to a large immigrant population. These immigrants come from countries where tap water is not safe to drink. Therefore, they still rely on boiling water, bottled water, water stores, and water vending machines.

Bottled water is tested less frequently than water from tap-water providers and is stored in plastic containers that can leach toxic chemicals. There are no testing standards for plastic bottles leaching toxins into the water or testing for possible bacteria that might form in water bottles.

Additionally, corner water stores are supposed to be monitored and regulated, but often inspections are not consistent, and the water quality can be unreliable. Customers’ water jugs and bottles used to collect water from stores and machines are often used multiple times, and may contain bacteria as well.

“Customers can also save money when they choose tap water; a gallon of tap water is less than .03 cents versus up to $2.50 for a gallon of bottled water,” continued Mark. “Spending more on bottled water doesn’t guarantee better quality. We recommend investing in a reusable water bottle to fill up with tap water or even use a home filter if you prefer the taste of filtered water.”

Avoiding tap water also has health risks as often water is substituted for sugary, high-calorie drinks, such as soda, juice, and sports drinks, which can lead to diabetes and obesity.

All tap water in Southern California and across the United States undergoes mandatory daily testing at certified laboratories to ensure it meets or exceeds standards. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that public tap water providers conduct comprehensive water quality testing by certified laboratories as well as provide annual water quality reports to its customers.

Established in 1993 by the United Nations, International World Water Day is held annually on March 22 as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of fresh water resources.

CNET en Español Honors the Top 20 Most Influential Latinos in Technology

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Selected by the CNET en Español editorial staff, the list is comprised of professionals in STEM or creative fields that meet the following criteria: born in Spain or Latin America, or in the U.S. of Hispanic origin; working in the U.S. or at a company with operations in the country; and those who are in senior positions and involved in the decision-making processes or play key creative roles in the technology space.

“To be part of CNET en Español’s list of the 20 Most Influential Latinos in Tech for the second time is an honor,” said Pilar Manchón, Director of Cognitive Interfaces at Amazon. “Diversity is a very important aspect at all levels, but even more so in the field of artificial intelligence. My experience tells me that the most innovative solutions and opportunities often emerge from the confluence of different perspectives, disciplines and experiences. Diversity of thought, gender, education and points of view enriches the ecosystem, allows us to widen our perspectives and helps us advance in the right direction.”

This year’s list includes the following (in alphabetical order):

  • Manuel Bronstein – Vice President of Product, YouTube
  • Òscar Celma – Head of Research, Senior Director, Pandora
  • Alberto Cerriteño – Principal Art Director 3D for Everyone, Microsoft
  • Nonny de la Peña – Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Emblematic Group
  • Serafín Díaz – Vice President of Engineering, Qualcomm
  • Luis Domínguez – Avionics Systems Engineer, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Carlos Guestrin – Director of Machine Learning, Apple
  • César Hidalgo – Head of the Collective Learning Group, MIT Media Lab
  • Daniel Loreto – Engineering Manager, Airbnb
  • Diana Macias – Software Engineering Manager, Mobile and Front-end Development, Twitter
  • Pilar Manchón – Director of Cognitive Interfaces, Amazon
  • Jessica J. Márquez – Research Engineer, Human System Integration Division, NASA Ames Research Center
  • André Natal – Senior Speech Engineer, Mozilla
  • Charlie Ortiz – Director of the Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing Nuance
  • Carolina Parada – Principal Deep Learning Engineer, Nvidia
  • Santiago Pina Ros – Software Engineer, WhatsApp
  • Joaquin Quiñonero Candela – Director of Applied Machine Learning, Facebook
  • Enrique Rodríguez – Executive Vice President & Chief Technical Officer, AT&T Entertainment Group
  • Katia Vega – Assistant Professor of Design, University of California, Davis
  • Alberto Villarreal – Creative Lead, Consumer Hardware, Google

5 Reasons to Consider a STEM Major

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By Erin Fox

As you begin to investigate what major you should pursue, you might find yourself drawn to a STEM major. STEM majors are diverse, challenging, and offer a wide array of opportunities. From to biochemists to ocean engineers and meteorologists to applied mathematicians, colleges are preparing students in these programs for future work in exciting careers.

There are many reasons to choose a STEM major.

  • Graduates have flexibility within their profession to pursue multiple career paths
  • Average starting compensation outpaces careers in other fields
  • High level of personal and job satisfaction
  • Graduates make a positive contribution to society. Most importantly? Once students have finished their education, career opportunities abound.

Graduates can look forward to:

  1. Future Opportunities
    Pursuing a STEM major will allow you a wide variety of future opportunities after graduation. For example, pursuing an engineering major opens many doors; a graduate can seek a career in such diverse fields as chemical engineering, computer science, or environmental science. A meteorology major can seek work in a variety of venues – graduates may work in a research capacity for a private company, such as Boeing, while others may pursue work for a government entity, such as NASA or NOAA. Some may choose to work in television broadcasting.
  1. Flexibility
    There are many different areas of specialization within any STEM major. When a student graduates with a strong undergraduate degree, she is preparing herself for any future changes in her chosen field. It is impossible to predict what the future holds. Consider Aerospace Engineering – from day one, students are immersed in hands-on opportunities, such as thermal energy, mechatronics, and rocket propulsion. These experiences not only prepare students for the current workforce but also give them the tools and skills necessary to help evolve their field of study far into the future.
  1. Compensation
    STEM careers are among the highest in initial compensation for recent graduates. According to the American Engineering Association, these graduates earn 87 percent more than the average salary of a non-STEM graduate. Specifically, the average starting salary for mechanical engineering graduates is $58,392 and computer scientists start, on average, at $61,205.
  1. Job and Personal Satisfaction
    Career Cast, an online employment site dedicated to targeted job information, published a list of the Top 10 Best Jobs based on job satisfaction. Based on their research, 8 of the top 10 jobs were within STEM fields. Included in this list are software engineer, mathematician, statistician, computer systems analyst, meteorologist, and biologist.
  1. Societal Impact
    Everyday life is constantly affected by professionals from STEM programs. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics play a role in everything from creating new ways to promote aquaculture to the design of a bridge by a civil engineer. Being on the cusp of modern technology and using a STEM education benefits the world and has an important impact on both local, national, and global matters.

Many universities are proud of their world class education offered in all of their STEM programs. These programs have been developed to not only properly educate but also strategically prepare graduates for the future workforce. Considering an undergraduate degree in a STEM area of study not only meets a student’s current educational needs but will also help shape his future career and contributions.

Source: adastra.fit.edu

Taking Engineering to a New Level—Q&A with NASA engineer Adriana Ocampo

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Adriana Ocampo, PhD, is the Science Program Manager at NASA headquarters. Take a look at NASA’s Q&A with the accomplished engineer.

Where are you from?

I was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and I was raised in Argentina. My family and I moved to the United States when I was a teenager. I now live in Washington, DC.

Describe the first time you made a personal connection with outer space.

When I was a little girl, I would go on the roof of my house and look at the stars and wonder how far they were away from me. I would also make “spacecraft” with the pots and pans from my mother’s kitchen. I would dress my doll up as an astronaut, and my dog Taurus was my co-pilot.

How did you end up working in the space program?

As soon as I landed in the USA I asked: “Where is NASA?” After my junior year in high school, and thanks to the Space Exploration Post 509—sponsored by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)—I was able to first volunteer at JPL and then work there as an employee during the summer. As I started college I continued to work at JPL. I majored in geology at the California State University at Los Angeles, earning a B.S. there in 1983. I then got my Master of Science in planetary geology from California State University, Northridge. I received both my degrees while working full time at JPL as a research scientist. I’m currently finishing my PhD at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Who inspired you?

My parents were my inspiration. They always encouraged me to reach for the stars and instilled in me the knowledge that education was the gateway to making my dreams come true. Space exploration was my passion from a very young age, and I knew I wanted to be part of it. I would dream and design space colonies while sitting atop the roof of my family’s home in Argentina.

What is a Science Program Manager?

Some of my duties include being the New Frontiers lead program executive. New Frontiers includes the Juno mission to Jupiter, the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the asteroid sample return mission OSIRIS-REx. I am also the lead Venus scientist responsible for NASA’s collaboration with ESA’s Venus Express mission, JAXA’s Venus Climate Orbit and the Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG), which develops strategic plans and assessments for the exploration of this planet.

Tell us about a favorite moment so far in your career.

A favorite moment would have to be my research that led to the discovery of the Chicxulub impact crater. The impact that formed this crater caused the extinction of more than 50 percent of the Earth’s species, including the dinosaurs. I wrote my master’s and PhD theses on this crater, and I have led six research expeditions to study this amazing event that changed the evolution of life on our planet.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the same career path as you?

“Dream and never give up.” When thinking about the great adventure that you have ahead, dream and never give up, be persistent and always be true to your heart. Live life with gusto. I would like to share my mnemonic (STARS) with you from the Girl Scouts book “Recipes for Success:”

STARS

Smile: Life is a great adventure
Transcend to triumph over the negative
Aspire to be the best
Resolve to be true to your heart
Success comes to those who never give up on their dreams

Source: NASA

Latina music exec behind Maluma, CNCO has new, personal mission: breast cancer awareness

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“We just don’t think it could happen to us, or that it only happens to older women,” said Pablo, who’s 37 and recently battled breast cancer.

Clara Pablo is a music executive who has been “living the dream” when it comes to working with top Latino talent, from Ricky Martin and Shakira to Carlos Vives, CNCO and Maluma.

Yet Pablo, 37, a marketing executive for Walter Kolm Entertainmentand a former Univision director of talent relations, has been involved in her most personal and important campaign to date — spreading the word about the importance of breast self-exams and routine checkups after she was diagnosed and was treated for breast cancer.

Pablo used the power of social media to launch her own campaign, “Te Toca Tocarte,” meaning “it’s time to touch yourself,” inspired by her blogger friend Nalie Augustin’s breast self-examination video “Feel it On the 1st.”

“I wanted to replicate Nalie’s campaign to the Spanish market, and tell women that early detection is key,” Pablo said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is the number one cause of death in Latina women, particularly women under 40.

For Pablo, Latino communities don’t have enough conversation about cancer despite of how much it affects them.

“There’s so much shame, not enough awareness in the Hispanic community. We just don’t think it could happen to us, or that it only happens to older women,” she said. “We have to change the stigma because, yes, it can happen to anyone.”

With positive spirits and over 101K Instagram followers, Pablo has helped raise awareness among Latinos.

The campaign encourages women to put their hand on their breast to do a self-exam, and take and post a photo using the hashtag #TeTocaTocarte on the first of every month and tag others to do the same — hoping to show that self examinations can be simple. The campaign also seeks to encourage women of all ages to get a mammogram, get tested for the hereditary BRCA gene and communicate with others.

Spanish on-air talents such as Evelyn Sicaros, Carolina Sandoval and Clarissa Molina posted selfies in solidarity with the cause. Even Puerto Rican-pop singer Luis Fonsi (“Despacito”) and his wife, supermodel Águeda López, showed support for their good friend during her appointments, even after she finished her radiation.

It was in August of 2017 that Pablo felt a lump on her right breast while watching television.

“I was immediately alarmed,” Pablo said. “I texted my gynecologist, went in to see him the next morning, and within the week I was getting a mammogram and ultrasound,” she told NBC News. “I remember the lady doing the ultrasound, just seeing her face change.”

After a biopsy at the Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida, the doctor told Pablo they had found a stage 1 tumor in her breast. She was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC), a common type of breast cancer last summer.

“It felt like somebody had just punched me in the gut, really hard,” Pablo recalled.

Although she has two aunts who are cancer survivors, the thought of having breast cancer had not really crossed Pablo’s mind.

Pablo traveled regularly for work and was in the middle of planning a trip to visit her boyfriend’s family in Europe.

“One week, I was planning this trip, and the next, planning how my entire life had suddenly changed,” Pablo said. “The timing of it all was poetic — it showed me your life could change in any second.”

On Oct. 1, 2017, Pablo commemorated the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month by posting a a photo on Instagram to announce her cancer diagnosis. Within 48 hours, the post went viral.

Continue onto NBC News to read the complete articles.

It’s Cool to be Kind: 5 Cyberbullying Prevention Tips

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Here are 5 cyberbullying prevention tips. Number one is The Golden Rule.

1. The Golden Rule. It’s important to remind ourselves that behind every username and avatar there’s a real person with real feelings. The “golden rule” is just as important online as it is in real life. Kids can take the high road by applying the concept of “treat others as you would like to be treated” to their actions online, creating positive impact for others and disempowering bullying behavior.

2. Promote Kindness. It’s important to teach kindness. But it’s just as important to model the lessons of kindness that we teach. How you and your friends treat each other online can model behavior for younger generations. Respect others’ differences and use the power of the Internet to spread positivity.

3. Move from bystander to upstander. Often kids want to help out a target of bullying but don’t know what to do. According to StopBullying.gov, only 20-30 percent of students notify adults about bullying. Encourage kids to speak up against and report online bullying. If they find themselves a bystander when harassment or bullying happens, they have the power to intervene and report cruel behavior. Kids can choose to be an upstander by deciding not to support mean behavior and standing up for kindness and positivity.

4. Turn negative to positive. Kids are exposed to all kinds of online content, some of it with negative messages that promote bad behavior. Teach your kids that they can respond to negative emotions in constructive ways by rephrasing or reframing unfriendly comments and becoming more aware of tone in our online communication. Reacting to something negative with something positive can lead to a more fun and interesting conversation – which is a lot better than working to clean up a mess created by an unkind comment.

5. Mind Your Tone. Messages sent via chat and text can be interpreted differently than they would in person or over the phone. Encourage kids to think about a time that they were misunderstood in text. For example, have they ever texted a joke and their friend thought they were being serious – or even mean? It can be hard to understand how someone is really feeling when you’re reading a text. Be sure you choose the right tool for your next communication – and that you don’t read too much into things that people say to you online. If you are unsure what the other person meant, find out by talking with them in person or on the phone

Supporting teachers and their classrooms:
Google has teamed up with DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit with a web platform that is part matchmaker, part Scholastic Fairy Godmother. Teachers post their school project wishes on the platform and people like you—or companies like us—find projects we’d love to sponsor. With DonorsChoose.org, Google has built a $1 million Classroom Rewards program to encourage and celebrate classroom achievement with Be Internet Awesome. Upon completion of the program, K-6 teachers can unlock a $100 credit towards their DonorsChoose.org project. Teachers can kick off the Be Internet Awesome lessons with one called #ItsCoolToBeKind. 💚 Check out the details on DonorsChoose.

Be Internet Awesome is Google’s free, digital citizenship and online safety program that teaches kids the skills they need to be safe and smart online. Parents can find additional resources in English, Spanish and Portuguese, such as downloadable materials for the home at g.co/BeInternetAwesome.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What to know about the latest developments in breast cancer research, treatment and prevention

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicks off on Monday.

Often associated with pink ribbons and 5K walks, the movement has been wildly popular: National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding for breast cancer totaled $520 million in 2016.

The increasing breast cancer awareness comes at a time when women can find substantial improvements in breast cancer treatment.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest developments.

How common is breast cancer?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women (besides skin cancer), and the second most common cause of cancer death in women.

Approximately 266,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer by the end of 2018.

In 2015, there were an estimated 3.4 million women living with breast cancer.

What you can do

We’ve known for a while that your risk of breast cancer gets lower with some lifestyle changes. Women who exercise, don’t smoke, don’t binge drink, stay a healthy weight after menopause, and use the pill for a shorter number of years have a lower risk.

Breast mammography, although imperfect, has been instrumental in detecting breast cancer when it does occur. Recommendations regarding screening are controversial: the question is the age that screening should begin.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) recommends annual screening starting at age 40, while the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) believes that you should be screened every two years starting at age 50.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends annual screening at age 45, with the option for women to be screened when they’re 40 if they prefer. The differences reflect changing opinions on what age the benefits of screening outweigh the risks.

New to the scene is breast tomosynthesis, a 3-D screening tool that received FDA approval in 2011. Research has shown better cancer detection rates with tomosynthesis, and fewer “false alarms,” when women with no disease are mistakenly called back for further testing.

In patients with dense breast tissue, screening ultrasounds can improve detection rates. In patients with the highest risk of developing breast cancer, screening breast MRIs, in combination with mammography, have been shown to improve survival.

Continue onto ABC News to read the complete article.

Young Professionals are Shaking Things Up in STEM

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Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski

STEM—science, technology, engineering, and math—skills have become increasingly valuable, and careers in STEM are among the fastest-growing and highest-paying. Yet Latinas only account for 3 percent of the industry. Meet two young professionals who are making their mark in their STEM careers, leading the way for other Latinas to enter into these much-needed, highly paid fields.

Meet Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski. At just 23 years old, Pasterski had a job offer from NASA. Stephen Hawking cited her research. And she built her own single-engine airplane from a kit in her garage when she was 14. Once it was certified as airworthy, she took it for a spin, becoming the youngest person in history, at age 16, to build and fly her own plane. That same year, she was admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Photo caption: Honoree and physicist Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski speaks onstage during the Marie Claire Young Women’s Honors presented by Clinique at Marina del Rey Marriott. RICH POLK/GETTY IMAGES FOR YOUNG WOMEN’S HONORS

Now, at 24 years old, she has a standing job offer from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Pasterski, a Harvard PhD student, researches black holes, spacetime, and quantum gravity. Her Harvard peers have characterized her as the “Next Einstein.”

“Be optimistic about what you believe you can do,” Pasterski said in an interview with Marie Claire. In 2013, she was the first woman in two decades to graduate from MIT at the top of her physics class. “When you’re little, you say a lot of things about what you’ll do or be when you’re older—I think it’s important not to lose sight of those dreams.”

Learn more about Pasterski and STEM at physicsgirl.com.

Sources: hertzfoundation.org; and curiosity.com

Meet Nicole Hernandez Hammer. Hernadez Hammer is a sea-level researcher and environmental justice activist who is educating and mobilizing the Latino communityNicole Hernandez Hammer attends the Build series ‘Smart Girls’ panel to understand and address the ways in which climate change negatively impacts them. This Guatemalan-Cuban advocate speaks from personal experience as well as academic knowledge. When Hernandez Hammer was four years old, she and her family moved from Guatemala to South Florida. There, she learned firsthand about the effect of rising sea levels. Photo caption: Nicole Hernandez Hammer attends the Build series ‘Smart Girls’ panel at Build Studio. JIM SPELLMAN/WIREIMAGE/GETTY

During Hurricane Andrew, when Hernandez Hammer was 15 years old, her house—much like the homes of other Latino families near coastal shore lines—was destroyed. She felt “obligated” to learn more about the issue, and went on to study biology and the natural sciences.

Hernandez Hammer was the assistant director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University, authoring several papers on sea
level rise projections, before moving into advocacy. She served as the Florida field manager for Moms Clean Air Force and is now a climate science and community advocate at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In 2015, she was former first lady Michelle Obama’s guest at the State of the Union Address.

Sources: remezcla.com; blog.ucsusa.org

4 Tips on Managing Stress at Work

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Job Stress

Everybody feels stress from time to time at work, but it’s important not to let stress control our lives.

Unmanaged stress can lead to short-term problems like headaches, stomach pains, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. Long-term stress can lead to serious health conditions like depression, obesity, and heart disease.

Here are our four tips on managing stress:

  1. Keep a journal
    Track your stressors; over a week or two, note what’s setting you off and how you’re responding to those situations. Note your thoughts, feelings, who was involved, where it happened, and what you did in reaction – did you eat an unhealthy sugary lunch, did you have an extra glass of wine at night? Taking notes can help you identify patterns and help you break your stress cycle.
  2. Break unhealthy responses to stress
    If you notice from your journal that you are delving into unhealthy activities to manage your stress – junk food, alcohol, avoidance, too much TV – try replacing those unhealthy responses with healthy ones. Exercise is a fantastic way to manage stress. Join a yoga class, sign up to a gym, or go for regular jogs before work. Exercise releases endorphins and makes you happier; it can also take your mind off your stresses and make you feel productive.

Other good responses include: taking time out to read, playing games with your family, or doing activities with your friends. Set aside time to do activities that bring you pleasure.

  1. Create boundaries for work
    In the smartphone age, it can be easy to feel pressured into being available 24/7 for work. Establish some boundaries: Don’t answer emails at dinner, switch off your phone after 7pm, take time out to not think about your assignments. It’s critical to disconnect from work and let yourself recharge.
  2. Meditate
    It’s crucial that you learn how to relax and center yourself. Try meditating and mindfulness activities. If you can’t go to a class, there are hundreds of quality apps you can download to teach yourself. Start with just a few minutes a day to focus, do deep breathing exercises, and let go. It may seem small, but by simply doing this every day, you can apply this same focus to other parts of your life.

The American Psychological Association has great resources for dealing with stress: apa.org/index.aspx

Source: mygwork.com