Tag Archives: Winter

8 Quotes to Ignite Your Passion

Do you have a case of the winter blues? It’s spring but the weather around most of the country isn’t acting like that. That makes it a little bit difficult to get into the warmer spirit of Spring – we get it. But the grey coldness is ending and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. To help you reach it, we want you to get warm. Not just temperature wise, but indulge in your favorite activities. Reach out to your favorite people. It’s time to get close to the things that make you feel the warm fire in your heart.

That also means getting in touch with your passions. What makes you vibrate with energy? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What makes you feel like your best self? If you aren’t sure here are a few quotes to inspire you to find what you’re passionate about and ignite it in time to stave off the last of winter and propel you into Spring.

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To connect with others following their passions, check out these intents on Intent.com

Better Than Before: How Diet Effects Mood with Elizabeth Somer

Elizabeth SomerQuite frankly, with the type of winter we have had so far in New York – and continuing to have, now into March – I sometimes think that only a trip to a Caribbean island will make me feel better! Thoughts of a swim in the warm ocean, lying around the sun-drenched white sand, and having one (or ten) of those drinks with the little umbrellas will undoubtedly do the trick. But obviously most of us can’t hop right on a plane to a tropical island. And, snow and cold aside, why aren’t we enjoying winter, anyway? Sledding, skiing, skating aren’t just for watching during the Olympics! And after all, being Better Than Before is all about living in the moment.

I took my query to Elizabeth Somer, author of the bestselling Eat Your Way to Happiness, and highly sought-after and respected source of nutritional information and lifestyle changes. I was hoping she could share some good news on how to keep in a good mood – not to mention not gain twenty pounds from all those hot chocolates with mini marshmallows – while we wait and wait…and wait, for spring.

JWM: Let’s start with the obvious basic question: Why does our mood often plummet during the winter?

ES: At its foundation, it’s biological. The seasonal drop in sunlight throws brain chemistry out of whack, making some of us more anxious, depressed, and tired this time of year. We snap at the kids, sleep more, crave sweets, and as a result, gain weight.

JWM: Can depression, mood swings, and chronic irritability be symptoms of more serious problems than just winter blues? Other than PMS or menopause, that is.

ES:. Yes, it could be Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. The winter blues and SAD rest on the same continuum, differing only in their degree of severity. In other words, a person suffering from winter blues might feel grumpy and tired, while someone with SAD suffers serious depression, with feelings of desperation, anxiety, and exhaustion. If your depression interferes with important aspects of your life, such as your job or relationships, or if you have feelings of hopelessness, these are possible symptoms of SAD that should be discussed with a physician.

JWM: Who suffers from it? Other than we confirmed hypochondriacs, of course.

ES: Approximately 10 to 20 percent of Americans battle the winter blues. The reasons why our moods slip and our appetites take over by mid-winter could be simply that we’re cooped up, bored, and restless; or it could have a deeper cause, resulting from a drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood and hunger. Whatever the reason, most people have some kind of behavior change in the winter. Children and teens can suffer from the winter blues, too.

JWM: What could be some of the signs?

ES: The main ones are obvious – depression and fatigue that lingers. Or, ask yourself the following: Has your mood plummeted along with the temperature? While you stare forlornly out the window at another bleak, winter day, is your spouse dozing rather than playing with the kids? Do you find yourself power snacking on Skittles by the 5th day of rainstorms. If so, you could be battling winter blues or SAD.

JWM: Are there foods and activities — other than Skittles– that you recommend that can boost our mood in these darkened days?

ES: Absolutely. First of all, you might consider finding more light. If your mood improves while vacationing down South, for example, it’s probably more the sunshine than the trip. [Or the drinks with umbrellas.] The researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, are among those who have linked dark winter skies to low levels of serotonin, which makes some people drowsy and more prone to depression. Ample sunshine hitting the retina of our eyes triggers a cascade of events in the brain that raises serotonin levels. Voila! Moods improve! Up to 80% of SAD and winter blues sufferers report at least some relief when exposed for 30 minutes to 1 1 /2 hours daily to sunlight or a specialized light box that emits light 5- to 20-times brighter than typical indoor light. Check out the internet for a local resource for these lights.

JWM: How about diet? Any suggestions?

ES: Eat Regularly: Don’t attempt to skip breakfast in an effort to cut calories. You’ll overeat later in the day, struggle more with mood swings and fatigue, and battle a weight problem in the long run. Be sure to eat breakfast, but make it light and include some carbohydrates, such as cereal, fruit, and milk. Then have lunch. Something as simple as a sandwich, nonfat milk, and a piece of fruit will fuel your brain, body, and mood.

JWM: One way a lot of us make the cold hours pass better is with something to nibble on. What about snacks?

ES: Snack, but not on sweets. A voracious sweet tooth during the winter months also might stem from low serotonin levels. Chowing down on sweets works temporarily – serotonin levels rise and we feel better. But that high is followed by a crash, setting up a roller coaster of highs and lows that causes overeating and weight gain. Replace these foods with more nutritious sweet treats, such as fresh-sliced kiwi mixed with nonfat strawberry-kiwi yogurt, a half papaya filled with lemon yogurt, fresh fruit layered in a parfait glass and topped with a dollop of low-fat whipped cream, or nonfat milk whipped in a blender with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

JWM: But how about people who have a sweet tooth? As you said, sugar is counter-effective in the long run. What should they do?

ES: One way to sooth your mood and save your waistline is to switch from fatty sweets to high-quality carbs, such as whole grain breads and crackers, brown rice, oatmeal, or starchy vegetables like corn or potatoes. Plan a mid-afternoon all-carb snack, such as half a whole wheat English muffin with jam, 3 fig bars, or drizzle honey over a toasted cinnamon bagel to counteract the desire to eat sweets at this crave-prone time of day. Also include carb-rich foods in your meals, such as pasta primavera or marinara, whole wheat couscous, or yams cut into strips and baked on a cookie sheet to make ‘French fries.’ (Serotonin also improves sleep, so a serotonin-boosting evening snack, such as air-popped popcorn or a scoop of sorbet, will help you sleep better, too!)

JWM: There is a lot that has been written about omega-3 fat DHA elevating your mood. How do you feel about that?

ES: You can definitely boost your spirits by taking either omega-3 fat DHA supplements of food rich in it. Research shows that this fat helps boost mood all year long, especially in the winter. In fact, DHA curbs depression by up to 50% in people who are the most difficult to treat; and even helps those who just battle a bit of grumpiness. Interestingly, researchers have found that people who are depressed have much lower levels of omega-3 fats in their blood, fat tissues, and brains — up to 36% lower than happy people. In fact, as omega-3 levels drop, so do levels of serotonin, leaving people grumpy, blue, and downright depressed. If your DHA levels are low, you have a 2.6 times greater risk of getting really crabby and blue compared to someone who keeps those levels high. On the other hand, up your intake of omega-3 fat DHA and serotonin levels rise and mood improves. The evidence is so overwhelming that the American Psychiatric Association in 2006 recommended omega-3s be included in any treatment for depression.

JWM: What are the best foods for omega-3 fat?

ES: You can get all the omega-3 fat you need from flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil, leafy greens or soy to help lower your risk for heart disease, but those foods will do nothing for your mood or memory. That’s because there are three omega-3 fats, and they are not all created equal. It is only the omega-3s in fish, especially DHA, which will boost your mood. Aim for 2 servings of omega-3-rich fish such as salmon every week, choose foods fortified with DHA, and/or take a daily supplement that contains at least 220 milligrams of DHA.

JWM: If we don’t see any improvement in our mood or appetite after a few weeks on a high-carb menu, what should we do?

ES: Try substituting some of those carbs for more protein. New research from the National Institute of Mental Health shows that some people don’t experience a mood boost when they eat high-carb diets. So, if you still feel grumpy after a week’s worth of the high-carb choices, try cutting back on the carbohydrates and  increasing protein intake by adding a slice of turkey or a glass of milk to the meal. Protein has a satiating effect that keeps you full longer and curbs cravings in some people.

JWM: A lot of people drink coffee to improve their mood. But for some, like me, it has the opposite effect. What are your thoughts about this?

ES: It’s better to limit coffee. While caffeine is a great pick-me-up, if you are drinking more than 3 small cups a day, it could be fueling fatigue. For the person who is sensitive to sugar or caffeine, simply removing these substances from the diet may be all it takes to reduce or even eliminate depression, according to research from the University of South Alabama. How coffee affects mood is unclear, although caffeine is a drug that affects the nervous system. Cut back or eliminate coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, colas, and caffeine-containing medications, such as Excedrin, Dristan, and Dexatrim.

JWM: We spend so much time in heated rooms in the winter, leading to not only dry skin, but dry everything. Is that a factor?

ES: Absolutely. Actually, the first sign of dehydration is fatigue, which is the stepping stone for depression. Many of us are mildly dehydrated, because thirst is a poor indicator of your body’s need for water. Drink twice as much water as it takes to quench your thirst, or at least 8 glasses daily. Drink even more water if you exercise intensely or drink a lot of coffee and tea.

JWM: Are there any other supplements that you recommend that can affect our moods?

ES: It is difficult in winter to constantly keep up the proper quantities of fresh vegetables and fruit. So several nutrient deficiencies, including the B vitamins, are more common in the winter that indicate a link to impaired mental ability and mood swings. More than one in four patients with depression is deficient in vitamins B2, B6, and B12, and folic acid. B-rich foods include chicken, legumes, fish, bananas, avocados, and dark green leafy vegetables. A moderate-dose multiple vitamin and mineral, supplies these B vitamins and can fill in the nutritional gaps on those days when you don’t eat perfectly. In addition, preliminary evidence suggests that low vitamin D levels, which can occur due to lack of exposure to sunlight, might contribute to winter blues. So make sure your supplement has at least 1000IU of this important nutrient.

JWM: What about exercise? Please don’t say to take a spin class or use the elliptical machines, my two fitness nemeses in any season!

ES: Any kind of exercise is good. It’s well proven that people who are vigorously active almost every day are at much lower risk for developing any form of depression, including winter blues.

Now if I can get my husband, The Lawyer, to sprint to take omega-3 supplements while drinking a gallon of water, I might have some peace around here before springtime!

A Lesson in Resilience

cherry tree resilienceOne of my brothers still lives on Cape Cod, the place where my 5 siblings and I grew up. This is noteworthy for two reasons – first, he is a scenic photographer – he captures amazing shots of nature; second, Cape Cod and New England has had snowstorm after snowstorm this winter. This has created one of his latest works – the amazing flowering cherry tree in his front yard in each of the four seasons. Amazing flowers in spring, great dense green leaves in summer, amazing fiery reds and orange foliage in fall and the bare brown trunk blanketed under epic snow in winter. This bold tree is resilient; it shows up powerfully in each season. It inspires my intention to be more resilient.

The lesson from the cherry tree is that we too are capable of shining no matter what happens. We are resilient to handle the seasons – and by seasons I mean the constant changes in our lives. We meet sunny days where things are going our way – we flower, we shine. We meet stormy days that seem unfair, unrelenting and scary. When we are intentional and determined about connecting to our inner greatness and strength – to the power deep in us – we find we have access to amazing resilience. This helps us show up strong and committed to life, regardless what comes our way.

It still amazes me that this tree can survive in temperatures from minus 10 to nearly 100 degrees. It stands there and faces what comes, doing what it does best – living its truest self. It doesn’t lament the rains or wind. It doesn’t give up when it snows. It doesn’t wish that its leaves would remain all year – it allows them to change color and sends them off to make room for new ones. It partners with life; it allows life.

We however, like to plan and control everything in life. And when things don’t go according to plan, we find fault. We get angry. We blame. We quit. We feel at the affect of our world – at odds with it.

Or, we could learn from this cherry tree. We could see that we have the strength and resilience to see the blessing in every event, and not to fight with life but live it as it is delivered. “Anyone can be cooperative, patient and understanding when things are going well and life is good. But it is the noble man or woman who can behave with grace and compassion, and even kindness, when times are bad,” shares Garr Reynolds, blogger of Presentation Zen. My intention is to be noble and act with grace, compassion and kindness regardless of what happens in life.

Resilience, or grit, is what enables us to show up committed to life when life sends snowstorm after snowstorm. Resilience is what enables us to show up big to life when our idea didn’t work, the relationship failed, or the job was lost. As the great Japanese proverb says, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” We can choose to bounce back – we can choose to see what was, understand it, learn from it and get back into life’s driver’s seat. We, like the flowering cherry in my brother’s front yard, can just keep on keepin’ on. Resilient. Strong. Committed. Determined. Intentional. Living our greatness and ready for the next moment of life – whatever that might look like.

Find your resilience role model – nature, a pet or even a person. Mine is this amazing cherry tree. Let it share its wisdom with you; learn from it and let it inspire you to be intentional and purposeful about living powerfully, positively and resiliently no matter what comes your way.

Snow Problems: Suggestions for Surviving This Wicked Winter

christmas_snowy_road-1809I live in New York City which has been smacked with the worst winter in over three decades. However, if you reside in one of the few areas left that hasn’t been hit with record cold or sleet and snow –yes, I’m talking about you L.A. and Honolulu — no need to read any further. Then again, no matter which part of the country you happen to call home, you are most likely suffering from SAD, the inevitable seasonal affective disorder, also known as winter depression or lack-of-daylight blues. So it’s high time for some much-needed advice to help uplift our spirits. For this, I turned to Colin Christopher, a clinical hypnotherapist and author of the bestselling book, Success Through Manipulation: Subconscious Reactions That Will Make or Break You. Christopher, you see, contends that whether you are simply fed up with slogging through yet another round of slush, or just feeling down from time to time, there are ways to find positives to help you become Better Than Before — before springtime.

After all, even bears learn to cope with the cold — and so can we. To that end, here are Christopher’s tried and true techniques that work to reprogram our minds:

• Change the colors of your environment: Color plays a huge role in setting the mood. This time of year, because of a lack of sunlight, it’s best to surround yourself with vibrant bold colors that will lift your spirit and energize you. Think bright reds, oranges and yellows. Try to avoid grays, light blues and white. This can be as easy as painting a bright accent to a bedroom wall to adding small odds and ends that enhance your office or any other space.

• Pump up the Music: The sounds we hear have a direct correlation to how we feel. Athletes typically listen to high energy music to get them ready to compete, just like many people listen to soothing soft music to get them ready for bed. To boost your mood, listen to music that gets you moving and makes you feel good.

• Drink more water: Dehydration increases blood pressure which in turn increases stress and can quickly bring down your mood. Being hydrated is not only good for your overall health, but even one eight-ounce glass can quickly help raise your spirits.

• Think of happier times: Remembering a happy memory for 10-30 seconds can get you out of a rut. Maybe it’s when you got married or held your child for the first time, or something even simpler like a concert you went to or barbequing with friends and family.

• Look up: It sounds simple, but it works. Sit up or stand straight and lift your chin directly towards the ceiling, sky or other high point. This physical movement gives you clarity of thought and automatically makes you feel good. Enhance this simple technique by inhaling deeply from your diaphragm (stomach area), holding for three seconds and exhaling slowly through your lips and dropping your shoulders as you breathe out. Try reciting a statement like “I feel good” or “I feel strong and confident” as you exhale.

• Use your brain: If spending more time indoors, become mentally engaged in an activity. It can be something as simple as a crossword puzzle or board game. The key is mental stimulation in some capacity.

As they say, the, er, snow must go on, so it’s essential to find ways to keep your spirit alive through it all. Better Than Before believes that while ‘stuff’ happens in life, some of it, like the weather, is entirely out of our control. But if there is something we can do about it, we owe it to ourselves to try. The good news is that this week it’s supposed to be in the mid-forties around here. A veritable heat wave! Now we just have to make sure we can still fit into our bathing suits after all those hot chocolates and chicken pot pies.

Managing the Chill Mindfully

Screen shot 2013-12-17 at 4.31.33 PMClose that door, it’s freezing out! has been the most often heard command in my house this week.  It has edged out, No candy canes before dinner!, Don’t throw ice at your sister!, and even the recurrent Put-on-your-snow-boots-we’re-gonna-be-late!!!!!

Welcome to winter in New England – five plus months of chattering teeth and cracked lips, drippy noses and numb fingertips.  The cold here is called biting for a good reason.  The wind has teeth and its nips can hurt.

This morning I took a quick drive downtown to run errands, nestled cozily in my car’s seat warmers.  I parallel parked and pushed the door open, gasping as a frigid shock of air flooded the driver’s seat.  Heaving myself carefully onto the slippery pavement, I skated to the curb, searching out salty spots to plant my feet.

Making my way to the bank, I skidded over the brick sidewalk, involuntarily tightening my lower back muscles with a shiver and tremble, reflexively recoiling from the cold, adjusting my balance to stay upright while defending a blast of wind.  I hustled into the bank and scuffed the salt off my boots, relishing a few minutes of warm reprieve before heading back into the bluster.

As I walked out the door and stiffened immediately, I realized I was fully engaged in an internal battle against the cold – clenching my body so much my back felt achy.  The discomfort triggered my mindfulness practice.  I don’t need this discomfort.  It’s only here to tell me something.  And I’m listening carefully to what it’s saying. 

I took a deep breath, inhaling frigid air into my warm lungs, releasing it as steam through my mouth.  Warm steam.  I could produce warmth.  I relaxed my tense muscles and took a few steps, continuing to walk that way until I noticed my lower back aching and mindfully melted the contraction again.  Thich Nhat Hanh would’ve been so proud of me.

This time I envisioned warm blood flowing freely through my body, heating up my skin and keeping my muscles loose.  Cold isn’t bad.  It’s just another way of being.  Be comfortable, I thought over and over.  I considered my young children who dive into the snow hatless and spend hours digging out forts from the plowed white heaps along the driveway.  Why is it they don’t seem to battle the freezing cold like adults do?  Maybe it’s because joy trumps discomfort.  They’re not surviving the storm; they’re reveling in it.

I walked with this thought for a block or so, doing my best to fill up on joy, when another blast of wind surged, stopping me in my tracks.  My head lowered, my watery eyes squeezed shut, my hands plunged deeper into my coat pockets.  Be one with cold, be joyful in the cold, I urged myself, this time out loud.  I looked up and caught the eye of another soul braving the single digit temps.  “Brace yourself,” he warned.  “The Almanac calls for a harsh winter.”  I smiled and tried to feel thankful for all of the opportunities I’ll have to practice mindful freezing this year.

I climbed back into my car, the radio tuned to Christmas music.  “I really can’t stay…  Baby, it’s cold outside.”  You can say that again.

Ginger Masala Chai Worthy of a New York Winter

chai-tea-e-liquidI recently moved to New York City from California and am (ahem) “enjoying” my first real winter here. Let the wuss jokes begin!

It’s alright. I’m laughing at myself, too. Born and raised in California, used to being fairly tan, gets cold easily, loves sunshine so much she’s basically part lizard… Yep, that’s me. Now instead of donning a windbreaker for misty San Francisco mornings or wearing a hat for fun in the 60 degree Los Angeles winter sun, I’m learning the art of boots, down coats, ear muffs, long johns and mittens. Endless mittens. See you next April, world, because I am officially 75% clothing right now, and I can barely see over my scarf.

It’s going to be a long winter.

In all honesty, though, I love autumn and winter. I love the snow; I love the holidays; I love the feeling of warming up after being cold. It probably has something to do with a nesting instinct. One of the most beloved memories I have from childhood is making nests with my big sister on rainy days and sick days. When it was miserable, grey and raining outside, or when we were stuck in the house with colds and fevers, my sister would orchestrate a grand “nesting.” We’d pile tons of blankets and pillows on the ground, arranged in little cup-shaped seats like an egg carton. And then we’d hop inside the nest with a box of Nilla wafers and tea and watch a Disney movie to pass the time. Pure joy.

I still make nests of sorts, as does she, both literally and figuratively. Sans actual blankets and pillows, I just love making people feel warm, comfortable, and cared for. In any kind of weather, there’s little I love more than bringing people together around a table for delicious food and loving company. But this is a particularly important practice during the cold and dark months when our souls really need that extra swaddling. And many traditional winter recipes do the trick of warming us inside out.

Case in point, spice-infused recipes. This season you’re undoubtedly enjoying foods flavored with all kinds of spices, whether you know it or not. Butternut squash soup, gingerbread cookies, curries and stews, applesauce, etc. Winter recipes tend to incorporate many different spices, for several reasons. In Ayurveda, the winter season is associated with exacerbated Vata qualities, which are best assuaged through warming foods. This can be literally hot foods (like soup, hot cereal and warm drinks) and/or through warm-ing foods, made invigorating through the use of spice.

Even outside of Ayurveda, there’s a very practical reason to eat more spice during the winter. It’s cold, there’s a bug going around, you’re sniffly and sick…Voilà, spices curb cold and flu symptoms! Ginger, for instance, is an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-bacterial. It can help boost your immune system, loosen mucus, open your sinuses, and relieve sore throats. That’s a lot for one little root!

Keeping the health benefits in mind, as well as the essential need for warming and nesting that we all experience during this season, I offer you chai.

“Masala chai” is the Hindi term for a drink made with black tea, milk, and lots of spice. It is a drink that has been consumed in South Asia for centuries and is traditionally much less sweet and much more spicy than what you’d get at your local coffee shop. I can’t necessarily vouch for the total authenticity of my recipe, as I’ve never been to India, but I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Ginger Masala Chai

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups of milk (I like organic whole milk, but soy, almond, or oat work as well)

2 cups of water

3 tablespoons of loose leaf, unflavored black tea (the stronger the better; I like Darjeeling)

1/4 teaspoon Wakaya Perfection ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of saffron

2 whole, crushed up cardamom cloves

3 teaspoons of Turbinado sugar (or Agave, honey, etc)

Instructions:

Get two saucepans going on the stove on medium heat. Pour the milk in one and the water in the other. You’ll need to work in both pots simultaneously. As the milk begins to warm, add the pinch of saffron, pressing it between your fingertips gently before dropping it in the saucepan.

Once the water in the other pot begins to boil, add the loose tea leaves and reduce to a low simmer. Let steep 3-5 minutes. While you’re waiting, add the sugar to the milk and stir until it dissolves. Once the tea is ready, place a strainer over the milk and strain the tea water into the milk saucepan. Now you’re working in just one pot.

Start building the spice. Add the ginger, cinnamon and any other spices you want to the pot, saving the cardamon to the side for the end. You can try the chai to see if it has the right spice/sugar ratio, and adjust until it’s just right. Bring the pot to a boil, and as it begins to bubble up, throw the cardamon in and turn the heat off right away. The chai will stew for a second, cooling down slightly, and the cardamon will infuse the drink just enough without overpowering it.

Serve in two mugs and enjoy! Stay warm, everyone!

Tips For Taking Care Of Your Winter Clothes

Winter laundry has its own distinct character and needs. Things get cold and wet, dirty, and crusty. We wear heavier weights of clothes of course, and our washers get a real workout. It seems like mine is going constantly. To make your winter clothing last longer, feel great, and smell fresh, follow these simple rules for laundering cold weather clothing.

 

 

Wool. Wool can be wonderful but lots of people avoid it because they mistakenly think it cannot be machine washed. For the most part, this is not the case, but check the label first. If it says that you can machine wash it, for best results and to keep it from becoming scratchy, use a perfume and dye-free detergent. Add a towel or two as well, which will help absorb the great amount of moisture wool can hold. Always wash wool on the gentle cycle. Lay woolen items flat to dry. 

 

Knitted Items: Hats, Scarves, and Mittens. Many of us own knitted items that can get dirty in wet weather. While you can’t typically throw knitted items in the washing machine, they are not difficult to hand wash. Fill a sink with cold water and add Woolite or another gentle hand washing cleanser. Work the detergent through with your hands for a few minutes. Drain the sink and rinse in cold water. Wrap the items gently in a towel to remove excess water, then lay flat to dry.

 

Coats. If your outerwear is made from wool, take a fabric brush to it and stroke it for several minutes, wherever the wool looks dull, worn, or dirty. This is often a good way to perk it up between trips to the cleaners. If it is made of another material, try spot cleaning (in an inconspicuous place first). The most likely areas to become dirty are the collars, cuffs, and around the button holes. A good scrubbing of these areas is likely to make it look much better. Just be sure you have another jacket ready to wear before this type of cleaning, as it may take a couple of days for it to dry off. Wet cuffs and collars are not pleasant!

If your jacket or coat is machine-washable, turn it inside out to protect the exterior as much as possible from the harshness inflicted upon it by the machine. However, you should still allow it to air dry as the heat from the drier can destroy the lining.

 

Prevent Fading by washing like colors together. Even dark clothes that have been worn a number of times can transfer colors to lighter colors, and you can easily end up with gray socks that were once white. You can also use a number of products that are on the market now such as Cheer with Color Guard.

 

Tights are a fabulous and fashionable winter accessory. Keep them fresh, colorful, and long-lasting by hand-washing and drip drying, even if the label says they can be machine washed.

 

Fleece is a popular winter choice but it can be more difficult to keep clean than other materials. For best results, turn it inside out and put it through a rinse cycle twice to make sure all the detergent is washed out.

 

Down Jackets and other down-filled items can actually be machine washed. Twice a season, wash in cold water but don’t use detergent, which can flatten the feathers and make them not look puffy any longer. Put the drier on low and tumble. A tennis ball in the drier also helps the down redistribute evenly.

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / mbgrigby

 

Are You Feeling S.A.D.? Symptoms of and Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder

It’s not your imagination. Late autumn and through early spring brings shorter days and longer nights. This fact, coupled with seemingly endless stints spent indoors, can begin to wear on your psyche and make you feel depressed, sometimes to the point of becoming incapacitated. Experts estimate that some 20% of people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or “S.A.D.”

If you have been feeling unusually “not yourself” for at least two weeks, you may be among this 20% of sufferers. Fortunately, learning to recognize the warning signs and seeking proper therapies will elevate your mood and you will be able to overcome the winter blues.
 
 
·       Sleepiness and Fatigue even when you’ve had plenty of sleep.
 
·       Irritability. An interesting 2006 study “compared groups of people with active SAD and regular depression found that more than 40% of the people in the SAD group experienced sudden fits of inappropriate anger, compared to just 29% in the other group. Those with SAD experienced 19 of these “anger attacks” a month, on average.”
 
·       Increased Appetite. If you are eating much more than usual, this may be another signal that you are suffering from SAD.
 
·       Difficulty Concentrating such as re-reading a passage many times before you are able to recall its content.
 
·       Loss of Interest in Sex. 
 
Treatment for S.A.D.
 
·       Seek the light! Natural light or phototherapy, for thirty minutes in either morning or evening seems to produce the best results for symptoms of depression related to SAD.
 
·       Seek Medical Help and Possibly Depression-Relieving Medications. WebMD says:
o      Antidepressant medications, particularly those from the serotonin selective reuptake inhibitor family (SSRI) family, have been found effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder that presents during summer as well as that which tends to occur during the fall or winter. Examples of SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), and citalopram (Celexa). Common side effects for this class of medications.

So don’t wait until April to feel better! Identify symptoms and seek relief. You’ll be glad you did!

PHOTO (cc): Flickr / adamwgarland

 
 
 

 

Five Tips to Stay Energized During Winter

Cold weather and dark skies can make just about everyone feel lethargic at times. The feelings known as “winter blues,” are more than just your imagination. It’s a real condition called “Seasonal Defective Disorder,” or SAD, and you may feel depressed, without energy, or simply not yourself. Fight off the winter blues with these tips and keep yourself going strong, all winter long.

 

 
Stay Hydrated. You may not feel as thirsty as you do in the summer, but you need to remember to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water, of course, but if you need to warm up and want something tasty, consider a cup or two of hot green tea. Green tea is rich in anti-oxidants, which gets your blood moving and improves your energy level.
 
 

Eat Small Meals Throughout the Day. Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is crucial to maintaining your get-up-and-go. Instead of three large meals, switch to six small meals throughout the day and evening. Select foods that are rich in protein and complex carbohydrates.
 
 

 
Exercise at Least 30 Minutes a Day. Staying moving is good for you on so many levels. Exercising will release endorphins, natural pain-killers and mood boosters. If thirty minutes sounds like a lot to you, break it down into 10 minute increments. Even small changes like taking the stairs can help you maintain a healthy balance, both physically and mentally.
 

Light Therapy. Experts agree that one of the primary ways you can fight the winter emotional doldrums is to be exposed to light. If natural light isn’t possible, then consider investing in light therapy products, which mimic the sun’s rays and are thought to alleviate symptoms of depression .
 
 

 
Keep in Touch and Make New Friends. Resist the temptation to crawl into bed with a bag of cookies and some movies. Even though it may be cold, keep your social connections warm. Go out with old friends. Consider taking a class: cooking, art, music, dancing…whatever you have an interest in. Having other people to talk to is a great way to stay energized.

 

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