Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Secret To Being Happy

by on February 27, 2014

woman-thumbs-up-625

It’s not surprising that many people these days are stressed or, dare I say, unhappy.

Take a newspaper, for example.  You’ll find negative, and downright depressing, headlines regarding the state of our government, the environment, even the economy.  It’s license enough to put anyone in a funk.

So what’s the secret to being happy?

The answer is far simpler than you would think.  According to NYU professors, Lerner and Schlechter, the secret to happiness is not one singular secret at all, but rather a series of proactive choices you make to fill your life with joy and meaning. Now for many of us, knowing how to identify those decisions can be difficult.  But the field of positive psychology has shown that the following positive interventions can help give you that “happy” head start:

Conscious Acts of Kindness: Hold the door open for someone, stick a dime in a meter about to expire, volunteer to wash the dishes for your spouse or parent.  These acts may seem small, but they reap big benefits.  According to Lyubomirski, Sheldon, & Schkade’s research in 2005, five acts of kindness during one day can contribute to people feeling much happier – with those feelings lasting for several subsequent days.

Gratitude Visit: Take stock of what you have in your life worth being thankful for.  This can be done in a multitude of ways: Keep a daily gratitude journal in which you write down three things you are grateful for or write a gratitude letter to someone you care about.  Researchers found that actively exercising gratitude significantly raised levels of happiness and lowered levels of depression (Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005).

Exercise: This is a no brainer.  Aside from the physical benefits, exercise also releases neurotransmitters in the brain that enhance mood and act as a natural antidepressant, making exercise the ultimate stress reliever!

Meditation & Mindfulness: Part of the reason why a lot of people are so stressed these days is the busy, hectic schedules we keep.  We’re multi-taskers, which after awhile can tax our mental well-being.  Meditation is a phenomenal way to quiet the “noise” in our minds, to better connect with our bodies and to become more aware of our present.  It also has been shown to improve one’s stress reactivity and recovery, attention, concentration and positive affect.  If you are unsure of how to best practice meditation and mindfulness or want to meditate with a group, the PJCC offers mindfulness meditations led by our own Rabbi Lavey Derby, Thursdays from 1:30-2:30 pm.

Now, go on.  Try something!  You can’t guarantee happiness will happen organically. So start small and see if you find yourself with a smile on your face.

 

Hunger Isn’t Just A Problem During The Holiday Season

by on February 20, 2014

shelter-MS-625

The importance Of Helping All Year Long

Whatever your tradition, the winter holiday season seems to bring about abundant generosity in everyone – people hold the door for you, spend hours cooking and baking for friends and families and shower each other with gifts. When we think about families who struggle with poverty, homelessness and food insecurity, it’s important to remember that the need for our generosity extends far beyond the holiday season. Aside from the obvious impact of helping others, volunteering has also been know to combat depression, increase self-confidence, and boost happiness. There is no down side to giving! Continue reading

How To Stay Current in the Job Market

by on February 18, 2014

Fotosearch_KS5545

You’ve got a job. No need to worry. Forget about that resume. Ignore those LinkedIn requests. Networking? Nah, way too busy for that.

Now is NOT the time to get lazy about your career.

Sure you are working and are really busy but ignoring your career can result in being passed over for promotions or worse, being laid off or fired.

Here are some quick tips to help you stay current for today’s job market.

  1.  Networking. To borrow a phrase– just do it! First, start by networking within your organization, go to every company event, take time to meet and get to know people both inside and OUTSIDE your department. Get to know the vendors and clients as well. Connect with them on Linked In. Keep active in your professional organization. If possible, assume a leadership role within the organization. Volunteer, do something for others, give some time to help out.
    Continue reading

Presidential Peccadillos

by on February 16, 2014

Untitled-1

You can’t deny it.  You always look forward to Presidents’ Day, even though you may not really know what the day is supposed to be celebrating.    While many of us rejoice the day off, here to observe this relatively unrecognized holiday are ten little known facts we found about our nation’s presidents. Continue reading

Top 5 Reasons To Keep Your Kids Active

by on February 13, 2014

active-kids-graphic-625

The habits we form as children are sure to either haunt us or help us into adulthood. So, it is very important to provide kids with the decision making tools they need to lead a healthy and active life.

Below are just a few of the reasons to help our children eat wisely and stay active.

1. Active kids develop locomotor, non-locomotor, and manipulative skills when they engage in age-appropriate exercise.
Continue reading

5 Tips To Organizing Your Home

by on February 11, 2014

organize-steps-625

The key to being productive is being organized.  Less frustration, less time wasted, more time for fun! Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • There is a place for everything and everything in its place.
    You’ve heard this expression before.  But it is easier said than done!  By creating a place for things like keys, wallets, tissues, and mail you will know when you need to purchase additional items.  I have enjoyed watching many clients happily find books that were ‘lost’, lots of money, and even gift cards!
  • Pick a room or a corner of a room or even just a drawer to start! 
    If you look at your entire home or office as one project you will get discouraged before you start.  Organizing one area will make you feel so successful that you will want to keep going.  I like to start with one drawer.  Remove everything (I mean, every thing!) in that drawer. 
    Continue reading

Fitness Tip: Brain Fuel

by on February 10, 2014

brain-food-625

Eating to Support Brain Function

Research continues to show that adding specific foods to your diet can help support brain function, memory and cognitive skills. Who wouldn’t want that? The Journal of Neurology recently found that the Mediterranean Diet may reduce small-vessel damage to the brain. Try these healthy tips from the Mediterranean Diet not only for your body, but also your brain:

  • Majority of your diet should consist of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Limit red meats and eat fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Use healthy fats like fish and olive oil. A recent study shows that Omega-3 fatty acid found in fish and seafood boosts memory function by 15%
  • Try cooking with olive oil, canola or walnut oil instead of butter
  • Alternate your protein choices; nuts, nut butters and beans are great alternative sources of protein

By incorporating these healthy foods into your diet, you can begin to benefit from their positive effects on brain function. The Mediterranean diet is a great way to explore a healthy style of eating. Give it a try, what do you have to lose?

Sources:
1. Welma Stonehouse, Cathryn A Conlon, John Podd, Stephen R. Hill, Anne M Minihane, Crystak Haskell, and David Kennedy. DHA supplementation improved both memory and reaction time in healthy young adults: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Butr May 2013 vol. 97 no. 5 1134-1143
2. WebMD
3. Tsivgoulis, G, et al. 2013. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet and risk of incident cognitive impairment. Neurology, 80 (18), 1684-1692.
4. Science Daily, March 2013

Note: The information presented here is not a substitute for medical advice. Consult a physician before starting any exercise. We suggest that you discontinue exercise immediately if you feel you’re exercising beyond your current abilities.

Healthy Chocolate Recipes? Yes, Please!

by on February 6, 2014

cacao-coconut-625

Sweets Without The Guilt

The term “Healthy” has a bad rap!  When we hear the term “healthy” we automatically think “tastes bad”.  Right?  But, just because something has that label doesn’t mean it is any less delicious than the less healthy version!

Chocolate, for instance, can be healthy for us but the sugar that usually accompanies it is not.  By using some healthier ingredient options you can have a delicious dessert that won’t taste “healthy”.   Enjoy!

 NO COOK CACAO TRUFFLES

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 Cup Raw Cacao Powder (available at health stores) or Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Cups Almond Meal
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Organic Honey
  • 1 Tbs. Organic Coconut Oil
    Continue reading

Your Heart Loves You. Love It Back!

by on February 4, 2014

 

heart-hands-625

February is American Heart month. It represents an opportunity to think of hearts other than in the context of Valentine’s Day.

During the course of my career as an internist, I have cared for hundreds of patients with heart disease. Believe me, it is better to make some simple interventions in your life now than to wait until you have severe problems. Let me give you one example of a patient of mine I cared for about 20 years ago. Roger (not his real name) was in his late 50’s when he sustained his second heart attack. He was an ex-smoker, worked hard every day in his stressful job to support his family, and had little time to exercise or to take the time to eat healthy. After his second heart attack, he could not walk even half a block before he developed chest discomfort. I sent him for various cardiac tests with the hope that the obstructions in his coronary arteries could be
Continue reading