Category Archives: Healthy Living

In Defense of Valentine’s Day

February! Beautiful, icy February. If February was a weekday, it would be Tuesday, stuck there in a wintry freeze, lurking after the delicious revelry of holidays and the proud resolve of the first 31 days of year. In the colder regions, February does not often inspire much beyond cracked fingers, templed in prayer for the warmth that comes with Spring.

The culmination of the holiday season also leaves us with a six-month stretch with few holidays to pencil into the calendar. And so I find myself unapologetically in love with the red and pink displays that fill stores during this time of year, head over heels for the frothy holiday that many write off as the over-commercialization and hyper-commodification of sentiment.

It is humorous to me that, after nearly four months of Christmas songs and a season now based in large part on gift purchases, people scoff at Valentine’s Day. Why should a holiday about loving people inspire such hostility, such animosity? Why is it easier to swallow the exploitation of theological thought, whereas one feels that to co-opt the most intimate of emotions is a personal affront: “You can tell me that Christmas requires me to spend thousands of dollars in gifts for family, friends, my doorman, and my hair stylist, but don’t presume to tell me that I need to buy chocolates to show my love for my partner!”

Who could hate this!?
Who could hate this!?

And another group of naysayers exists, those who view Valentine’s Day as a cruel promotion of coupledom, who seem to find that the affront lies, not in telling people how to celebrate their love for a partner, but in pointing out that they have no partner to love.

Someecards.com - Understanding all sides of the Valentine's Day debate
Someecards.com – Understanding all sides of the Valentine’s Day debate

Both of these camps have it wrong. According to a quick Wiki-glance, the most popular account of “Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry, and for ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.” Today, when we are bombarded with shocking anti-gay statements from those who should seek to provide comfort to others, and when we fight to allow all people to have the right to make a life with whomever they choose, and to be free of persecution, this story should resonate.

According to that same entry, it was not until the High Middle Ages when the day was even associated with romantic love and, in later centuries, the day became a chance to share words of affection, treats of confection, and, of course, flowers.

Roses are red, violets are blue... I love roses.
Roses are red, violets are blue… I love roses.

But is that really so bad?

I have always loved Valentine’s Day. The years when I stuffed into over-booked, over-priced restaurants, I loved it. The years when I spent it at home watching movies with girlfriends, I loved it. The years when I was happily in love, or newly out of love, or pining for someone who would likely never receive any card from me – I have always loved it.

Even the Simpsons love Valentine's Day!
Even the Simpsons love Valentine’s Day!

Because Valentine’s Day need not only be about romantic love, nor should it be. In fact, our pre-holiday Hallmark consumption indicates that it is not that at all. An estimated 190 million valentines are sent each year, with about 95 million of those being sent to family members other than a spouse (like a parent or a child). Half of the consumption, then, is spent to share our feelings of platonic or familial love! How amazing!

American Greetings and I love Mom.
American Greetings and I love Mom.

To generously paraphrase Shakespeare, King of Love Sonnets, if Valentine’s Day is already your holiday of love, love on! But if you have shunned this holiday in the past, I would beg you to reconsider.

Love is not solely confined to romantic love, and we should not limit the sharing of our feelings of affection to our romantic partner, when and if we choose to have one. Valentine’s Day is about sharing affection and love for all of the important people in our lives.

This year, send a love note to your best friend, write a Valentine to your sister, pen a silly sonnet for your cubicle-mate.

And to that final group of naysayers, those who scoff at Valentine’s Day with a “we should show our love to people everyday”: YES! We should share positive feelings of affection – of love – everyday. But just as Thanksgiving is not the only day of the year on which we indulge and overeat, or Mother’s or Father’s Day should not be the only day on which we show gratitude for our parents, Valentine’s Day is not the only day of year on which we appreciate the people around us.

At Panera, you can celebrate Thanksgiving every day.
At Panera, you can celebrate Thanksgiving every day.

Still, I am grateful for the opportunity to send lovely notes, to receive flowers, to wish strangers a happy something-day, and to wear red. I look good in red. If anything, it shows off my pale, dead-of-winter coloring. Which I love.

February is also an excellent time for Game of Thrones marathons.
February is also an excellent time for Game of Thrones marathons.

January Reflection

As the first month of the year winds down, it allows for a nice moment of reflection. Days, weeks, even months, seem to pass by in a blink. While we recommend keeping a gratitude journal – and making it a daily practice – we know that getting started can be tough, especially if you have a lot of other goals and resolutions that you wish to achieve.

This week’s reflection is just as relevant for those who have kept a gratitude journal and those who haven’t. All it requires is that you spend a few moments looking back over the past month, and that you pinpoint a few standout memories from the first 31 days of 2015.

Find yourself a quiet place, and a comfortable place to sit. Fold yourself into whatever position suits your needs, just as long as your back is straight and you can take some deep diaphragmatic breaths. Allow yourself to settle in for a minute or two, focusing only on your breathing. Enjoy the feeling of your belly expanding as you take air in, and, as you exhale, enjoy the peaceful feeling of the completion of that breath, pausing before you inhale again. Once you have slowed your breathing a bit, and feel focused, turn your attention to the past month.

Even if you had a tough month, overall, there have surely been some moments of joy, of celebration, of connection, that can elicit feelings of gratitude and warmth when you look back at them. Perhaps you had a great family dinner just before everyone headed back to work and school after the holiday break. Maybe you joined a running club as part of a get-fit resolution, and you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy conversations with your new friends during long runs. Maybe just this morning you found yourself smiling back at your puppy, amazed at his ability to greet every day with unbridled joy and thrilled that he shares that joy with you.

In your mind, walk back through the last 31 days. If you remember a less-than-terrific moment, breathe in as you remind yourself that it was just a moment within a full, well-rounded month, and as you exhale, let go of your thoughts about it, turning to another, more positive moment.

Allow yourself to smile as you recall moments of loveliness. Smile as you remember laughing at lunch with your father, smile as you think about getting a hug from your friend, smile when you remember how proud you were when you finally made a perfect poached egg. Big or small, these moments made up the happy parts of your month. Smile as you think of them, and continue to breathe deeply.

After a few minutes, or when you feel ready, take a final few deep breaths, and open your eyes. Spend a few minutes jotting down the strongest, most positive memories, the ones that made you smile most. We recommend keeping track of these memories in a hand-written notebook (ideally one specifically for writing down highlights of 2015, and gratitudes from the year; you’ll love looking back on it in 2016). But even keeping a running Word document on your laptop will make for a nice repository of memories.

Try this meditation on the last day of each month. Give yourself permission to make mistakes or work with your calendar; if you end up running through your memories a day early or a day late, that’s fine!

Just be sure to set aside a few minutes, and you will have many happy answers to the age-old question, “Where does the time go?”

Resolution Roadblocks

It’s almost February, you’re not sure how the time flew by so quickly, and your “I’ll start tomorrow” mentality has led to a list of 2015 resolutions that never came to be. Chances are, you fell prey to one of the following four mistakes we often make when trying to bring about change in our lives. Here, we will help you to identify which pitfall(s) you need to watch out for next time – and provide suggestions for how to get back on track… in time for a fresh start in February!

  1. You overreached.

The Roadblock: So losing 5 pounds a week and getting an extra 2 hours of sleep a night didn’t pan out? No surprise there! Setting high goals is great; setting unrealistic or, worse, unhealthy goals is not. While you might wish for a smaller waistline by morning, losing more than 1-2 pounds per week is considered unhealthy by most experts. And changing up a regular routine often takes time. You need to acclimate to change, and do it in a way that is doable, not drastic.

The Alternate Route: If you’re not sure of what would be a realistic goal, take some time to do research (Google is your friend), ask an expert (a doctor would be best for weight loss or sleep concerns), or write in and ask us – we’ll do our best to help you craft a realistic and healthy plan for personal and professional change. The key is to focus on incremental steps and small changes. For the goals above, you could set a healthier plan to include moderate exercise and smaller, but still healthy, portions, or you could try going to bed 15 minutes earlier for Week 1, another 15 minutes earlier for Week 2, and continue on from there.

Recalibrate: Don’t scrap your plans just because you aimed too high. Take a look at your overall goal and figure out one small behavioral change that you can make to see results. Don’t try to achieve 100% out of the gate; think 5% change and add more from there.

Climbing a mountain takes planning - and it can't be done in one step. Commit to small steps, focus on incremental changes, and soon, you'll be at the top.
Climbing a mountain takes planning – and it can’t be done in one step. Commit to small steps, focus on incremental changes, and soon, you’ll be at the top.
  1. You underplanned.

The Roadblock: Your plan to eat nine servings of vegetables a day was great… but by the third time you tried to convince yourself that the two pieces of lettuce on your burger counted as two servings, you realized you weren’t quite meeting your goal. Often, this type of roadblock is the result of underplanning, another enemy of change. If change was easy, you’d probably already be doing the things you want! In this example, you would need to plan meals in advance to be sure that you are getting enough veggies. Living life as you have been probably won’t put you in contact with more carrots on a daily basis.

The Alternate Route: Change isn’t something you can wish for and forget about. It requires planning and, depending on the goal, will likely require regular check-ins. We suggest setting aside 10 minutes each week (or, if necessary, a few minutes each day) to check in on your progress and plan ahead. The vegetable problem above might have been solved if the goal-setter spent time every Sunday night planning and preparing meals and snacks for the week. An hour spent chopping up and bagging raw veggies, prepping vegetables to use in recipes throughout the week, or cooking and freezing easy-to-reheat meals would help our health-focused friend to reach their vegetable goal.

Recalibrate: Stay positive, and assess your situation: how could some easy advanced planning help you to work toward your goals this week? Do you need to schedule time to prepare something, or rearrange obligations to fit it in? How often do you need to check in on your progress? Will once a week do, or should you take a moment every morning or evening? (Hint: to start, we recommend a daily check-in!) Consistency is the key to lasting change. Get used to a new habit by making it a part of your regular routine and soon, it will be second nature.

Deciding you want to eat more vegetables each day won't magically lead you to encounter carrots on a daily basis. Planning is necessary!
Deciding you want to eat more vegetables each day won’t magically lead you to encounter carrots on a daily basis. Planning is necessary!

 

  1. You did it alone.

The Roadblock: I have a lot of friends who don’t like to share their resolutions. They’ll tell me, “I have them, but I don’t want to announce them. You know, in case I fail.” These are often the people who, a few weeks into January, declare that resolutions are silly and don’t work.

The Alternate Route: Not meeting a goal shouldn’t come as a surprise to people who eschew support. While it’s certainly not impossible to go it alone, people are much more likely to stick with a goal if they have people helping them. Wouldn’t it be easier to meditate every day if your partner did it with you in the morning? And “announcing” a goal – even to just a few key people – has been shown to help people stick to their plan. I like to think of this as a Center Stage effect. If you know people are watching, you are less likely to slack off. I use the Center Stage effect when running. If I stay on a relatively busy road where I am likely to run into people, I am less inclined to stop running or take a break; I power through. Put me on a side street, however, and I’m working stretches into my routine every ¼ mile!

Recalibrate: Pick one goal, make sure you check above to ensure that it is realistic, healthy, and that you have planned properly to ensure success – and then enlist the help of a few friends. The people who care about you also care that you reach your goals and achieve the success you desire. Let them help you!

 

Don't keep your goals a secret! Social support will help you to achieve your goals! Open up those files and put your friends on the case!
Don’t keep your goals a secret! Social support will help you to achieve your goals! Open up those files and put your friends on the case!
  1. You lacked confidence.

The Roadblock: If you don’t start, you can’t fail, right? Often, fear of failure can stop us in our tracks. If we lack confidence that we can bring about the change we desire, it can be enough to derail us completely. The good news is that if you’ve set incremental, realistic goals, have planned accordingly, and have a friend (or three) who you can count on to cheer you on, you now just need to tackle what might be the biggest threat to your confidence: YOU!

The Alternate Route: Concerned that you can’t do it? Now is the time to play a little game… with yourself. Look back on other times that you have brought about positive change in your life, big or small. Did you raise your GPA when you weren’t sure you could? Did you lower your cholesterol to avoid taking medication? Did you sign up for a sports league when you were new in town? Have you ever changed a routine, improved a situation, or lessened a stress in your life? Great! Then you are more than capable of bringing about other positive changes, including the seemingly insurmountable ones that pop into your head when you hear the words “resolution.” And don’t forget that focusing on incremental change – taking small steps and celebrating each success – will also give you the confidence boost you need to keep going!

Truth.
Truth.

Recalibrate: By taking the steps outlined in Roadblocks 1, 2, and 3, you can likely eliminate a lot of things that might have been causing you stress. And by focusing on times that you did achieve your goals, you can bolster your confidence further. Now, it’s up to you! You’re the only one who can bring about this change. Consider January as a practice run to work out the kinks. Now focus on getting started in the coming month. Just imagine how great you’ll feel when you’re well on your way come the end of February. Good luck!

hello february

Clippings: What I’m Reading This Week (1/19/15)

The Underrated Appeal of Tess McGill: A “panel” “discussion” of one of my favorite movies, Working Girl. (Highlight: “Speaking of romantic comedies, this movie is usually defined as one. But romance is really not the endgame in Working Girl. Tess isn’t looking for a man; she’s looking to put together a business deal. When Jack (a devastatingly handsome Ford) comes along, she initially sees him as a distraction. She falls in love with him because he’s the first person to ever see her as she wants to be seen: This tough, savvy businesswoman. In fact, the woman who spends the entire film scheming to get married is the antagonist, Katharine (played by Weaver). I love that adorable scene of Jack and Tess getting ready to go to work, but it’s significant that the final shot of the film is Griffith in her new office, alone.”) https://www.yahoo.com/movies/working-girl-perfect-movie-gifs-108085849302.html

Some serious Staten Island Ferry contemplation going on...
Some serious Staten Island Ferry contemplation going on…

Visual Aids: Here’s another breakdown, this time of infographics as a communication tool. This is from an older Harvard Business Review (April 2014), but if you’ve not already read it, check out this really interesting look at what makes a good infographic so convincing. Apparently, “the most compelling infographics… mine relationships among overlooked variables to tell you something unexpected and get you thinking.” https://hbr.org/2014/04/what-makes-the-best-infographics-so-convincing/?utm_source=Socialflow&utm_medium=Tweet&utm_campaign=Socialflow

(from article above, HBR)
(from article above, HBR)

As Smart as You Look: Jessica L. Glazer, here, sharing with you a WSJ article on the things we often do to appear smart, the things people actually look for when trying to gauge your intelligence, and what really works if you’re attempting to come across as the next Girl-or-Boy Genius. (Hint: Sit up straight, make eye contact, and use a middle initial.) (Bonus: this article comes with an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand infographic!) http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-look-smarter-1421189631

(from article above, WSJ)
(from article above, WSJ)

2,000 Calories by Lunch: This terrifying and fascinating New York Times features shows what 2,000 calories equals at a number of popular fast-food and fast-casual restaurants. It is pretty disturbing – until you get to the end and realize that cooking your own food can afford you a full day’s worth of meals for fewer calories than one milkshake from Sonic. (YEESH.) http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/12/22/upshot/what-2000-calories-looks-like.html?WT.mc_id=2015-Q1-KEYWEE-AUD_DEV-0101-0331&WT.mc_ev=click&bicmp=AD&bicmlukp=WT.mc_id&bicmst=1420088400&bicmet=1451624400&ad-keywords=KEYWEEAD&kwp_0=7483&kwp_4=55081&kwp_1=119533&_r=0&abt=0002&abg=1

(from above article, NYT)
(from above article, NYT)

Red, Red Resveratrol: A quick review of a recent study that shows that red wine contains enough resveratrol to “mimic” a workout. Don’t think about skipping the gym altogether, but this might be enough of an excuse to shorten your Friday night workout and make it to the end of Happy Hour! (Apparently, you could also eat pistachios or grapes to get the same effect but… nah.) http://elitedaily.com/news/world/glass-wine-equivalent-going-gym/770635/

(photo from Men's Journal)
(photo from Men’s Journal)

Clippings: What I’m Reading This Week (1/12/15)

“Beer. Now there’s a temporary solution.” – Homer Simpson: Looking for a great beer bar in your area – or in a city across the country? Well, loo no further. Draft Mag has compiled their Top 100 list of the Best Beer Bars in America. Assuming your resolutions don’t have to do with drinking fewer IPAs, enjoy! http://draftmag.com/americas-100-best-beer-bars-2015/

Max's; Baltimore, MD - Our old neighborhood... (Photo from article)
Max’s; Baltimore, MD – Our old neighborhood… (Photo from article)

Diner Dissection: As a native New Yorker, I was born with a love for any place where I could order egg creams, omelets, mashed potatoes, or grape leaves, any time, day or night. Every neighborhood had its own diner, and sometimes we would choose a location based on bar proximity, or which spot made better pudding. But diners played a pivotal role in my teenage social outings and is still a prominent part of my childhood nostalgic thinking. Here, Ed Levine breaks down what makes a diner – and which ones we should be visiting these days. http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/01/ed-levine-why-diners-are-more-important-than-ever.html

(Photo from article)
(Photo from article)

Leave the keys, bring an umbrella: Would you like your city to be car-free? Or a bit less car-ful!? This article highlights a few cities that are taking steps to reduce traffic and pollution. Would you leave your car at home for a free subway pass? http://www.fastcoexist.com/3040634/7-cities-that-are-starting-to-go-car-free#6

NO CARS!
NO CARS! (NO CARS??)

Clear Eyes, 3-D Printer, Can’t Lose: An amazing story about a husband who used 3-D printing technology to find an alternative to his wife’s possible craniotomy for the removal of a tumor. A true tale of love, dedication, technology, medicine, proactive measures, and perseverance – it’s amazing. http://makezine.com/magazine/hands-on-health-care/

(Photo from article)
(Photo from article)

Go, go, go!: Places to go, people to see… The NYT on 52 places to visit in 2015! (PS: I love that Philly is #3!) http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/01/11/travel/52-places-to-go-in-2015.html?ref=travel&_r=1

St. Vincent & The Grenadines (Photo from article)
St. Vincent & The Grenadines (Photo from article)

#thankoutloud midpoint: gratitude and growth

As many of you know, starting on November 1, we began the first #thankoutloud project. Over the last two weeks, it has been wonderful to see so many people sharing their gratitude for others “out loud,” sometimes in person (and then reported via social media), but usually through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We even had some people thanking colleagues via LinkedIn!

For me, the best part has been reading about the reactions of those who have been thanked. One person reported back her their dry cleaner was pleased to have been recognized for his hard work and attention to detail; another person shared that her Mom cried when she was thanked for providing such a good example of how to balance professional and personal obligations. And some of those being thanked have chosen to comment directly on the post in which they are cited. It’s fantastic to read those (pleasantly) surprised and (extremely) appreciative comments, as well.

We started the #thankoutloud project somewhat organically – by just beginning to post our own person-focused gratitude each night. We let some people in on the purpose of the project, and they joined us. We put up a post about it, and others started sharing thanks each night. We kept posting, and were thrilled to see people joining in without having been solicited – they just saw the impact of the project and wanted to participate.

My own experience with the project has been rewarding and has strengthened the bonds I have with the amazing people in my life. I’ve been varying my “thanking venues” – some days, Facebook, other days, Instagram. Sometimes the “venue” is based on whatever network the person I’m thanking is a part of, but no matter where I post the thanks, spending a few moments a day crafting a thank you note has had an amazing impact on me. I feel a stronger, more specific sense of gratitude each day for those who impact my life in ways big and small. And this month, I’ve felt a strong sense of gratitude for all of those participating in our little pay-it-forward, gratitude-boot-camp experiment.

Thank you for sharing thanks and for increasing the amount of smiles shared each day. And if you haven’t started to #thankoutloud yet – join us! Research shows that you’ll be grateful you did!

If you have joined the project, who did you feel most appreciated your #thankoutloud?! How did they react? I’d love to hear about it!

x Jessica

Food for (Positive) Thought: Breakfast out of Bed

I am not a morning person. In fact, I am so not a morning person that, if I had my druthers, I’d sleep through the whole thing and only wake up once the clock hit 12:00PM. The problem with not being a morning person, however, is that the world keeps turning, even if I stay under the covers.

For this reason, I am teaching myself to not only wake up earlier, but to eat breakfast, as well. As we all know by now, breakfast jumpstarts our bodies,helps our metabolism get going for the day, and provides us with energy to make it through the morning.

It took me awhile, but I’ve found a few good A.M. dining options that are easy to make and I thought I’d share them with you. If a bleary-eyed, morning-hater like me can make them with enough time to still hit the snooze button once (okay, thrice), so can you.

  •  Scooped-out Bagel with Light Cream Cheese, Sliced Tomato, and a Chiffonade of Basil
    • Sounds labor-intensive and sorta fancy; is really easy and… sorta fancy. How could you not feel like getting the day going with those lovely little ribbons of fresh basil!? Chiffonade is not just for the evening, my friends.

IMG_6381

  • Frozen Waffle with Peanut Butter
    • I like Van’s organic waffles – and Skippy (non organic) peanut butter. I realize that as a regular Whole Foods shopper I should probably have organic, but I just can’t take stirring that oil around the jar. Especially so early in the day.
    • Fruit on Hand?: Add some sliced banana or some berries
    • Note for those on-the-go: this is a good portable breakfast, too. I take it along while I walk my dog.

vansskippy

  • Oatmeal with dried cranberries and brown sugar
    • If you want to be lazy: make a big batch and reheat it for breakfast the next two mornings. Just stir in a little milk before microwaving.
    • If you want to be indulgent: stir in half and half, not milk.
  •  Protein Smoothie
    • I usually wait to have this until after I workout, but sometimes I split it in half, and have some before and some after. I’m crazy like that. (If you use a Contigo metal coffee cup, your protein shake will stay frozen through your whole workout. Just make the shake before you head to the gym.)
    • If you make one for me: I like ½ a banana, chocolate protein powder, peanut butter, ice, and some milk (as you can see from the picture below).
    • If you make one for you: try out some of these delicious-looking options: http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-recipes/20-super-healthy-smoothie. Let me know which one you like best!

IMG_6382

So, dear readers: Are you morning people? What do you like to eat for your first meal of the day?

Clippings: This Week’s Articles of Interest (Week of 11/10)

PIN-terest: I love this article on a Baltimore hairdresser, Janet Stevens… who spends her evenings studying and replicating ancient hairstyles… and disproving long-held assumptions from archaeological scholars on how Greek and Roman women styled their hair. It’s amazing what can happen when people combine their skills and passions. As Ms. Stevens, says, “Whatever you’re most passionate about when you’re five is what you should do for the rest of your life.”  http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324900204578286272195339456?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424127887324900204578286272195339456.html

golis

What we (should) talk about when we talk about Buzzfeed: Interesting thoughts on the future of Buzzfeed and the power of FacebookWorld from good friend and brilliant media expert, Andrew Golis. https://medium.com/@agolis/this-is-what-we-should-fight-about-when-we-fight-about-buzzfeed-93cc6538657c

Do something today that could make this list: While we’re on the subject of Buzzfeed and their C circle (see above article), here is a list of photos to brighten your day.  http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/see-the-world-differently#11fdyj9

nyt cooking

Dinner and a (cooking guide) movie: I’ve always loved Mark Bittman’s cooking videos, and I’m happy to find that I also enjoy Melissa Clark’s videos, as well. The NYT recipe pages are quickly becoming my go-to how-to guides and Clark’s mini-lessons are simple, short, and amusing. My brother sent this recipe along to me (a not-so-subtle request for his next visit?): http://www.nytimes.com/video/dining/100000003105258/pasta-with-caramelized-lemons.html?WT.mc_id=D-NYT-MKTG-MOD-71835-10-04-HD&WT.mc_ev=click&WT.mc_c= – and I’m planning to use this ice cream how-to this weekend: http://www.nytimes.com/video/dining/100000002967947/ice-cream-basics.html?playlistId=100000001606605

fredrickson book cover

How you doin’?: Visit Barbara Fredrickson’s website to take her Positive Self Test. The quick online test looks at your strongest emotions from the past 24 hours to provide a snapshot of your positive : negative ratio. If you sign up through the site, you can also track your results over time. Fredrickson has found that a 3:1 ratio is needed for one to truly flourish. Not seeing the results you want? Look for assistance (a friend, family member, counselor, or trusted person) and take steps to improve your happiness and well-being! For suggestions, keep reading our page! http://www.positivityratio.com/single.php

Tips for a Positive Start to the Week

Mondays are tough. We often have an earlier start to the day than we did during the two days before, and we often head off to work first thing – and we often aren’t very happy about any of it. Here are a few things to try that might make Mondays more bearable, if not actually enjoyable.

Gratitude Journals

Rather than grumbling about our early rising or activities for the day, try listing your gratitudes (keeping your gratitude journal) first thing. I am constantly recommending that people keep a gratitude journal, and my general advice is to make the list before bed. But the challenge that Monday presents to most people lends itself well to gratitude journals.

Unsure of how to come up with gratitudes first thing in the morning, before – you might say – anything has even happened? Well, how about these: Did you wake up from an alarm that you set? Congratulations! I used to work with children in need who would ask how they were supposed to get to school on time when their family had no alarm clock (plug-in or via phone) to rouse them from sleep. You have one? Fantastic! Happy day! Did you get up, stumble to the bathroom, and turn on hot, clean water for a shower? Get grateful; 780 million people lack access to clean water for drinking or cooking, never mind taking a long hot shower to start the day. (In case your Monday math skills are a bit fuzzy, 780 milion is 2 1/2 times the US population.) But lucky you! You got up and had a shower. Terrific day! Did your kids’ bus come late, leaving you waiting outside, checking your watch, and wondering if you would make it in on time? Maybe. But did you also get another precious few moments to see your children, a rare chance to talk with them for a bit longer in the morning? Yes? Well, look at that! Three gratitudes and we haven’t even addressed the fact that you likely had food to eat, coffee to drink, clean clothes to put on, and and job to go to in the first place. If you’re employed, even if you would prefer to be employed elsewhere, that’s something to be grateful for. We can always change our career path (more on that later), and we can always change our mindset (more on that later, too.) Changing our mindset about things – like how we view extra moments with the ones we love or how we view Monday mornings – can make a world of difference to our happiness.

Went Wells

And if gratitude journals aren’t your thing? Research shows that keeping a list of What Went Well works, too (Seligman, 2011). And yes – this can be done shortly after waking, or on your way to work. Did your alarm go off? Great! Better than that time the power went out and you slept through a meeting. Did you actually get to bed on time last night? Hooray! Nice way to kick off the week. Keeping track of what doesn’t suck, what doesn’t let us down, can be very effective, especially when we spend a lot of our time focusing on what didn’t work out. Start the week off with a bang by focusing on the better stuff.

Fresh Air

As we close out summer and look forward to changing leaves, cozy sweaters, and pumpkin spice mania, we must also accept that evenings come sooner and days grow shorter. Try getting outside every morning, especially while the weather still permits a 10 minute walk sans parka! Take some deep breaths, close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you (even city sounds are more interesting if you close your eyes and pay attention), and enjoy a few moments of fresh air. Several years ago, I was living in a lovely apartment building with the luxury of an attached, indoor parking garage. Each morning, I would get into my car, drive to work, park underneath my building, and take the elevator to my office. Each evening, I would reverse the process. I liked that I could avoid what was at the time a miserable winter chill, but it took almost a week of this routine for me to realize that I had had virtually no fresh air for days, only filtered, heated air in either my apartment, office, or car. I also hadn’t allowed myself the opportunity to interact with people outside of my office or home! Getting outside provides us with a chance to increase our luck, develop our creativity, and better our health (info on all of that coming soon). So go for it: have your morning coffee outside, park further away from the office, get lunch from somewhere a few blocks away rather a place close by, take the kids to the park, or enjoy some quiet time on a solo run tonight. Making this a practice on Monday makes it more likely that we will continue this healthy habit throughout the coming week.

So there you go! A few easy things to try today. Take a moment during lunch to start a gratitude or went well list, and then make sure to get outside. And if you simply can’t get away from whatever is keeping you busy today (do try again tomorrow!), just “set wide the window… [and] drink the day.”

x Jessica

"Set wide the window. Let me drink the day." Edith Wharton