Here’s Why This Small Greek Island Is One of the Healthiest Places in the World
It’s always fascinating to take a peek into how people around the world live differently, whether it’s how they work, sleep, or even date. Cultural habits and patterns also contribute to how healthy people are in various countries, cities, and societies, with some of the most successful tactics making their way into the mainstream (like the Mediterranean diet and Ayurvedic eating plans). We caught up with healthy lifestyle expert, Emmy-winning TV producer, and author of America’s longest-running syndicated fitness column Marilynn Preston, who swears by the lifestyle lessons she learned in Greece. Read on for the details, plus her tips for how you can incorporate some of her observations into your daily grind.
4 Healthy Habits to Adopt from the Island of Ikaria
Preston spends time in a small Greek community two times per year, and she explained to us why Ikaria is one of the healthiest places in the world. The island — one of the world-famous Blue Zones — boasts residents who regularly live well into their 90s. Even more, Preston tells us that Ikarians are energetic and happy right up to the end, with low rates of diabetes, heart disease, and dementia. “It’s much more about their lifestyle than their genes,” Preston asserts. Here are four ways she believes anyone can incorporate some of the Ikarians’ ultra-healthy habits.
1. Slow down. “To live longer, slow down,” encourages Preston. “On Ikaria, watches are as useless as speed bumps!” She tells us that locals live however they like, on their own time and at a comfortable pace — working and unwinding whenever they feel like it. “I learned that on my first visit there, having lunch with friends at a wonderful little taverna in the port of Agios Kirikos. We all ordered Greek salads. Some of us are still waiting,” she jokes. To do the same, Preston suggests trying your best to embrace a concept she calls “slow tourism”: “Remove your wrist watch. Hide your phone. Whoever you go, pay attention to details: the special sweetness of the honey; the pleasure of a fine wine; how it feels to simply relax under a 500-year old oak tree. Let your mantra be the Greek expression ‘siga–siga,’ which means ‘slowly, slowly.’”
2. Eat your greens (and lots of them). Can you believe that more than 150 varieties of wild greens grow on this Greek island? Preston credits their antioxidants as a health benefit, telling us that Ikarians enjoy their greens with a splash of olive oil or in salads and pies. Yummy!
3. Learn to love tea. Coffee may bring health benefits, but Preston says that Ikarians love of tea contributes to their superb health. “Ikarians drink endless cups of tea made from wild mint, chamomile, and other local herbs high in compounds that significantly lower blood pressure and decrease their risk of heart disease and dementia.” Try kicking off your day with a cup, treating yourself to a sweet afternoon pick-me up, or unwinding with a type of tea that’ll promote relaxation before you head to bed.
4. Move more. There’s no need for SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, or Crossfit in Ikaria, because locals reap some of the same benefits by simply going about their regular routines! “Many people on the island of Ikaria live in mountain villages that require vigorous walking,” Preston observes. “They also keep terraced gardens, take care of animals, and get lots of exercise every day — without thinking about it.”
3 Fun and Healthy Activities to Do on the Island of Ikaria
If you’re lucky enough to visit one of Preston’s favorite places, the magical island of Ikaria, she suggests indulging in these activities. You’ll love experiencing local culture and will leave feeling happier and healthier than ever.
1. Attend a feel-good festival. “The village feasts are called panygiria, and Ikaria is world-famous for their unforgettable all-night singing and dancing celebrations of the saints, the Virgin Mary, and the love and gratitude they feel in their lives,” Preston shares. “If you’re lucky to get to one sometime, tread lightly, and act kindly. These aren’t meant to be drunken brawls!” Preston tells us that Ikaria is a traditional Greek island with many non-traditional elements. You can expect to find that women are seen as equals, social relationships mean everything, and some villages operate at night so residents can sleep in the day. “Ikarians really know how to party!” Preston gushes. “Come for the dusk-to-dawn dancing, the singing, and the marvelous island food, including marinated goat, herb-roasted potatoes, just-picked field greens (always!), and the legendary local red wine. It’s 16 percent proof, but you won’t feel like counting after the first glass.” Opa!
2. Explore the great outdoors. “Just this year, CNN named Ikaria the number-one nature island in all of Greece,” Preston notes. “For such a small place (the island is only 99 square miles), the diversity is incredible.” She says you can expect to find beautiful rivers and lakes, mountains and forests, and waterfalls and gorges along miles of unspoiled trails. “You’ll need a detailed map, so look for the hiking guide The Round of Races on Foot as soon as you arrive,” Preston advises, “and wear strong enough shoes to take the ups and downs of the trail.” Prefer a more organized adventure? “Visit discoverikaria.com for a great selection of programs that include hiking, biking, climbing, surfing, and beach-hopping by boat.”
3. Take a cooking class. Ready to experiment with all of the fresh greens? Preston can’t recommend cooking lessons on Ikaria enough: “One of my favorite things to do whenever and wherever I travel is to take a cooking lesson in the local cuisine, and Ikaria is a marvelous place to do that. You’ll get a full-bodied taste of the culture, the people, and the customs while learning to prepare some delicious recipes that fit easily into your suitcase and can be the centerpiece of a great Greek dinner party once you get home.” Our mouths are watering just thinking about it.
(Photos via Getty)
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com