Presents have been unwrapped; cookies cooked and consumed, memories of joy on faces remain in your phone. But now that the festivities are over and it’s time to start taking down the lights, are you feeling down? It’s no surprise that the decrease in celebration and excitement can certainly affect moods, causing disappointment or even sadness. “It’s not an uncommon phenomenon, so if you are feeling that way, you are not alone,” says Martha Nelson, CHAS Health Behavioral Health Provider.
- Busyness – It’s a crazy hectic time of year. You just finished having so many people to get the perfect present for, the perfect meals, and attended too many functions. It’s such a wonderful time, but also, exhausting. Coming down from the busyness and hype is tough.
- Family – Family is the best! Family is the worst! All kinds of feelings come up during the holiday season and it can certainly take an emotional toll. Do you have family members that are stressful to be around? “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” most definitely applies here. Even the most incredible families can cause some levels of exhaustion.
- Memories – Holidays bring past memories, and often a sense of nostalgia for good times that have passed and loved ones that may be gone.
- Fatigue – Fatigue is a common contributing factor for holiday depression. It can be a packed time of year, with normal routines and exercise out the window. Additionally, it’s cold outside (and so warm under the blankets). No wonder you can feel fatigued. It’s the time of year I personally put off a lot of things in exchange for sleeping in or going to sleep early.
- Sugar and food – So many good treats! So many good foods! During this time of year, there is so much to eat, drink, and be merry with. It’s easy to go overboard, throw your routine out the window, and over eat (or under eat if you swap eating something good in order to splurge on a dessert). The amounts of blood sugar spikes can lead you feeling crabby, hungry and a little bit sad.
Ideas to help cope with post-holiday depression:
- Take what you enjoyed during the holidays and continue it throughout the year. If you enjoyed spending time with friends and family, invite them over soon for a meal, play some games, or watch a movie.
- Have fun! Go to a movie, see a play, go to the Museum of Arts and Culture, ski or do some tubing at Mt. Spokane.
- Start or continue your exercise routine. Sometimes exercise goes out the window during the holidays (sometimes it goes out the window well before the holidays too). But, now is a perfect time to re-start or get in to a new routine. Include a buddy so you have company and someone you look forward to hanging out with and to hold each other accountable.
- If you’ve gained weight, don’t worry about it. There were a lot of good treats around. No regrets. It doesn’t mean you are weak, worthless, or irresponsible, it means there were some awesome cookies around…gotta live a little. Right? However, it’s never too late to get back on track with a healthy eating plan.
- Plan something each week to look forward to.
- Take care of yourself, including eating well (don’t confuse this with not eating), exercising and getting enough sleep. Have a good attitude as well; it’s easily to slip in to negative notions.
- If the post-holiday blues hang on for too long, consider reaching out to a behavioral health specialist. Seasonal affective disorder is a legit issue that many people deal with. As we roll in to 2017, remember to make the resolution to highlight health and happiness.
By Matt Grebe and Martha Nelson
Everyone loves screen time. Whether it is watching a movie, playing a video game, reading the news, or talking with friends, technology is at the center of all of our lives. Media and screen time, like most things, should be used in moderation. While technology use is important in most facets of life today, too much screen time has been linked to obesity, difficulty sleeping, problems in school, aggressive behavior, and bullying. It is important to help your child find a healthy balance. A few simple guidelines can help keep screen time in check for you and your family:
- Remove all screens from the bedroom. Kids with TVs in the bedroom have been found to watch 1 ½ hours more TV than kids without TVs in the bedroom. TVs in the bedroom have also been linked to obesity. Availability of internet and texting in your child’s bedroom gives them unmonitored access to anything on the internet. Keep all screens (including your own) out of the bedroom. Try setting up a charging station for all devices in a common area.
- Monitor what your children are doing during their screen time! Just like you would ask who they are spending time with on the weekend, ask who they are spending time with on social media. It is important to teach children what is and is not appropriate to share on social media. Also, be aware of the websites they are going to and the apps they are using. Play apps and video games with them! Then you know what they are doing and if it is appropriate.
- Make sure screen time is age appropriate and educational. Not sure if a movie or video game is good for your child? Check out commonsensemedia.org. This website is run by a nonprofit organization that provides independent ratings for movies, TV shows, video games, and apps. It provides you with a summary of the game or video and suggested ages for appropriate use.
- Limit screen time for everyone in the family. All children should spend no more than 2 hours in front of a screen for non-school purposes. Think of things you can do as a family that does not involve a screen: go for a walk, play a board game, go to the park, or read a book together. Any activity that provides family interaction is preferred to screen time!
- No screens after dinner. We know that looking at a screen keeps your body from releasing melatonin. Without melatonin you don’t feel sleepy when bedtime comes. Sleep is important to help with mood, concentration, and learning. If sleep is a problem for your child, try a screen fast (by eliminating electronic device use for a few weeks) to see if this helps restore a good sleep pattern.
Screen use is here to stay. Help your child form good, healthy screen habits!
-Ashlee Mickelson, MD Pediatrician
Who doesn’t love a good bike ride? Especially this time of year, the weather is beautiful in Eastern Washington. Instead of driving to work-using gas and being tied up in traffic- ride your way to work, miss the traffic, get a terrific energy boost, and burn some extra calories while doing it! In fact, biking is shown to have tremendous health benefits, we’ve listed a few for you:
- It’s good for your heart! Cycling is associated with improved cardiovascular fitness, as well as a decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease.
- It makes you strong! Riding a bike is great for toning and building your muscles, especially in the lower half of the body such as: your calves, thighs, and rear end. It’s also a great low-impact mode of conditioning for folks with injuries to the legs, knees, or hips that may prevent them from taking part in more rigorous workout programs.
- It keeps you lean! You can burn a lot of calories while biking, especially when you cycle faster than a leisurely pace. It has also been associated with helping to keep weight gain down and even has the added benefit of increasing your metabolism even after the ride is over!
- It keeps you young! Do you want to live longer for your loved ones? Bicycling is a great way to increase your longevity, as cycling regularly has been associated with increased ‘life-years’.
- It makes you light on your feet! We all love to dance – why not ride your bike to get rid of those “two left feet” your friends are always talking about?Moving both feet around in circles while steering with both your hands and your body’s own weight is good practice for your coordination skills.
- It can put a smile on your face! Any exercise you take part in has a way of boosting endorphins – making you feel better overall, but riding a bike has been linked to improved mental health.
- It gives your immune system a boost! Your immune system is the most important part of your body for fighting off those pesky viruses and cancer cells that attempt to take over your body. Cycling can strengthen your immune system, and could protect against such cancers, illnesses or disease.
Though there are significant health benefits to cycling, sometimes we do it just because it’s fun! And who wouldn’t? I know I do. Why do you ride a bike? Let us know in the comments below.
How do you get prepared for Bloomsday? Training for any race takes dedication and hard work. With Bloomsday just around the corner, we put together a list of 5 things you can do to get prepped for the big race.
- Get started on a running or walking program
There are endless options out there to improve your endurance when preparing for a long distance run or walk, so find one that best caters to your needs and goals. Interval training is a great way to get your heart rate up and give your body the boost it needs to keep running during steady periods of time. If you plan on walking, it’s a good idea to get into a weekly or even daily walking routine to prepare your muscles and joints for the 7 mile trek through Spokane streets—it’s also a great excuse to do some sightseeing as the weather begins to warm up!
- Join a team or get a partner
Exercising with other people can often be a lot more fun than just going by yourself. When we have a reliable teammate or partner to push us, we tend to reach past our own expectations and reach our goals for efficiently. Find someone who is going to give you that push you need and you may just build a lifelong exerciseship.
- Increase your water intake
It is recommended that the average person drinks between 5-8 eight ounce glasses of water a day. When preparing for the big race, it’s important to consistently drink water throughout the day and get in the habit of drinking water BEFORE you are even thirsty. Though Bloomsday doesn’t take place during a hot month, 7.5 miles often takes a lot of sweat—refuel and recharge.
- Visit your physician
Though Bloomsday participants run and walk at all levels, it’s a good idea to visit your health care provider before starting a training program to make sure your heath is not at risk. They can also let you know if your finish time goal is reasonable and give you tips for proper training.
- Start stretching regularly
It is always good to stretch before and after doing any strenuous physical activity, but daily stretching is great at increasing flexibility to prevent future injury. If you don’t have much experience with stretching, taking up a Yoga class or even finding a TV program that teaches stretching, Yoga or Pilates at home could be beneficial to your Bloomsday experience.
Katiah Peterson, Communications Assistant