Looking up

53782388_S 2017Have you found yourself feeling a bit blue as 2017 has gotten underway? If so, you aren’t alone.

One common cause is the “back to work blues.” After enjoying the festivities – and time off work – getting back to the grind can be tough. Another cause is seasonal affective disorder (also known as SAD) or seasonal depression. In fact, some research has shown that about 25% of Americans feel depressed after the holidays.

No matter the cause, finding ways to handle those feelings is important.

First, take care of yourself.

If you ate too much, slept too little, and overindulged in general, it is time to get back in the routine of a healthy lifestyle. Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals. Make sure that you include fresh fruits and vegetables. (Did you know eating them will help your complexion?) Also, make sure that you incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. Whether you join a fitness club or exercise on your own, the important thing is to get moving. Don’t forget the importance of getting plenty of sleep. You’ll give your immune system a boost and help your heart stay strong. Finally, find ways to relieve your stress. Exercise will help. So will getting enough sleep. Massage therapy is another great way to relieve tension and relax.

Second, make an effort to reach out to others.

It may be a natural tendency to want to hide away at home for a Netflix binge when we are feeling down, but it isn’t necessarily the best choice. While having some time to yourself is important, if you find yourself avoiding others and isolating yourself, then it can be a problem. Let a friend or family member know that you are feeling down. Arrange to get together for a cup of coffee or a movie. Plan a spa day for manicures or pedicures or head out on a hike to enjoy nature. Another great way to combat the blues is to make someone else feel better. Whether it is through a random act of kindness or a regular volunteer opportunity, you’ll find that when you help others, you help yourself.

Don’t let the blues keep you down. Taking the first step is sometimes the hardest, but once you do, you’ll find things are looking up!

Busy checking off the boxes of all you have to do?

49712120 - checking on to do list. top view.Go to work. Check. Make dinner. Check. Exercise. Check. Clean the house. Check. Help the kids with homework. Check.

How many more items are on your to-do list for each day? As you are busy checking off those boxes, make sure that you’ve put this one on the list: RELAX.

Can’t find time to relax? Make it one of those daily to-do items. Taking time away from responsibilities – even for a few minutes – will actually make you more productive. Here are some tips to help you make time for downtime.

Use your time wisely. You are busy all day long. We get that. But think about it and be honest. Are you working hard but have less to show for your effort than you expected? You aren’t alone. For a lot of people, prioritizing tasks can be tough. Where do you begin when you have more than one important task? Add to that having to deal with interruptions. (Virtual distractions such as phone calls, emails and texts can be just as distracting as the real distractions of coworkers or kids.) First, have a plan for your day. Decide which tasks are most pressing or have the earliest deadlines. Think about enlisting the help of others for those tasks that don’t require your personal attention. Also, get rid of the distractions as much as possible. Put your phone on silent. Close your email app. Hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door.

Set a daily schedule. Having a schedule for your day will help you make sure you have time for all of those tasks on your list. And it has the added benefit of allowing you to schedule time to relax. Maybe you can fit in a couple of 15 minute walks throughout your day. Maybe you can use the time while your child is having a music lesson to do a little reading. Having a set time to relax will make it easier for you to actually do it.

Revive your brain. Not convinced that you can include relaxation on your to-do list? Research has shown that just as your body needs time to recover from activity, your brain needs breaks too. While resting, your brain is still working. That’s one reason people often discover that it is easier to find a solution to a problem when they step away from it for a little while. According to research by University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras, “prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance.”

Relax. Check. Doesn’t it feel good to check off those boxes?

Happy (healthy) holidays!

47039504 - santa claus resting in a chair in front of a fireplaceThe holidays are here! Has the craziness started for you yet?

With holiday parties and Christmas shopping added to the regular busy routine of work and family, the holiday season can feel a bit less than happy. And healthy? Too often our health isn’t even on the list from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

But you can have happy – and healthy – holidays. Here’s how:

Start by practicing moderation. From how much you drink to how many activities you commit to, limit yourself. When you are at the office holiday party, it can be tempting to get caught up in the festive feeling and embrace the spirit. But whether you are at an office party or a friend’s gathering, you really should be careful about how much you eat and how much you drink. Also, before you find yourself committed to parties or other gatherings every night, you should practice moderation in the number of invitations you accept. At the very least, limit the time you spend at those gatherings.

Get enough sleep. One good reason to practice moderation in accepting invitations is that you still need to keep up with your daily routine. Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. For many people who already have busy lives, the rush of the holidays means that they are getting by on even less sleep. But your body and your brain need plenty of sleep to recharge.

Take time to exercise. Chances are that you will overindulge during the holidays. Daily exercise will help combat the impacts of those extra calories. It will also help keep your heart happy. And simply taking a walk during your lunch hour each day will help you relieve some of the stress that the holidays bring.

Make time to relax. The holidays are a time of fun, family, friends, festivities… and it can all be exhausting. Make sure that you include some quiet time in your schedule each week. If you have children, this can be especially important. Everyone needs some down time. So take a minute, kick back and relax.

Happy Holidays!