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Healthy Food I Like: Dinner

I wrote about a healthy breakfast that I like a few weeks ago. Whether you believe low-carb, Mediterranean, paleo, whatever is the “best” way of eating, one thing is certain: whole organic real food is what matters the most. No added this or that; no chemicals. Here’s a dinner I like. Baked Sockeye Salmon with pepper and ginger, pappardelle pasta with nutritional yeast, mixed veggies with turmeric sauerkraut. So yummy!

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Someone Who Cares…

Another reason to love Dr. Seuss. When we visited the Dr. Seuss Museum a few weeks ago, there was lots of evidence that Dr. Seuss knew what was important in life. Here’s another example. Let’s all be someone who cares so that things get better.
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We visited the Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, Mass. a few weeks ago. I knew I liked Dr. Seuss. Since at least 1958, he knew what is important:

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08281818373971260217932177621.jpgI found another great company on the right track with recyclable products that do not add to our plastics problem: Black Hog Brewing Co.

And the beer is original and great. I loved the Ginga’ Ninga, a pale ale brewed with fresh ginger. Even the can is beautiful!

And, in addition to the great beer, they use recycled and recyclable plastic six pack rings.

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Love it! You should too. Check out their various craft brews, locations, and store availability at their website: https://blackhogbrewing.com.

A version of this post first appeared here at Attorney at Work.

light nature sky sunset

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In life, especially in some careers and homes, so much of what we must handle can be conflict-ridden, time-sensitive and serious. Add to that our political environment of hatred and our regular news cycle of death and destruction. Is it any wonder that so many of us suffer from depression and anxiety?

One way to combat anxiety and feelings of depression is to increase the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a kind of chemical messenger that helps the brain function. More specifically, serotonin is a “feel good” neurotransmitter and a mood stabilizer that boosts feelings of wellness and balance. When serotonin levels are optimal, you are able to think more clearly, act rather than react, and address stressful situations with calm and clarity. If you have low serotonin levels, you may suffer from anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, agitation or lack of focus.

There’s medication called SSRIs that increase levels of serotonin in the bram, and many of us take it. I took an SSRI for four years. Now that my circumstances are very different than when I started that medication, I wanted to try life without it. Note that I was always functioning and never had thoughts of harming myself, so this was a reasonable pursuit for me. If you are taking SSRIs or any other medication for anxiety or depression, do not stop your medication without discussing it with your doctor. Medication can be necessary for some people and some circumstances. 

I stopped by SSRI about a two months ago. The journey has not been easy. Fortunately, there are ways to naturally increase the serotonin levels in the brain to reduce the negative effects of low serotonin levels. By focusing on these, my life without an SSRI is working. Here are five ways to naturally increase serotonin levels.

1. A Healthy Diet

A healthy, balanced diet is important for optimal serotonin levels. In particular, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, pineapples and complex carbohydrates (like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains) increase serotonin levels. It is also important to limit added sugars because sugar disrupts normal chemical reactions in the brain, which can inhibit serotonin processing and production. Supplement your healthy diet with B vitamins, fish oil, holy basil, rodiola and L-tyrosine, all of which help the brain produce more serotonin.

2. Exercise and Body Work

Exercise is medicine — not just for your body, but for your brain. The most effective way to increase serotonin levels is with exercise. There are no side effects, and it always works. As little as 30 minutes of brisk walking three times each week will help.

In addition, body work methods including massage, acupuncture, acupressure and reflexology relieve stress and boost serotonin levels.

3. Grabbing Sunlight

Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the winter months when there is much less sunlight. This is because the brain has less serotonin when there is less sunlight. Spend at least 15 minutes each day in the sun. Go for a walk before work or after lunch, or sit by a sunny window on the commuter train. You can also purchase a light box for your office or home.

4. Using Your Mind

Thinking about past happy experiences, or looking at photos of those experiences, can boost serotonin levels. The same is true for keeping a gratitude journal and daydreaming about happy times. Spending time with loved ones and doing talk therapy with a trusted therapist are also great ways to get out of your own head and allow serotonin in. And a regular meditation practice (as little as five minutes a day) gives the brain space to relax and produce serotonin.

5. Taking Two for Well-Being

Ideally, you’ll work the above tips into your daily and weekly life to increase and sustain your serotonin levels. But as a gift to yourself, try to take one day each month for a mental health day. As my friend Vanessa Price advised in “A Matter of Time,” take two days if you can. Use the first day to catch up on stuff. Don’t let your colleagues or clients

know you are working so that you have time to handle existing tasks without new tasks being added. Then use the second day as a true day off to boost your serotonin levels by finding some peace and mental clarity.

Look for the Helpers

I was listening on Audible to The World According to Mr. Rogers. If you haven’t been learning more about him in light of the recent documentary, now is a good time to do so. One of my favorite things he shared in his book was this thought:

He was discussing how it can be difficult when we see so many terrible things happening in our world. We see it and hear it everywhere. TV, radio, email, social media, real conversations. We learn about all the terrible things that people can do. Mr. Rogers’ advice, which was given to him by his mother, is TO LOOK FOR THE HELPERS. Every terrible thing is followed by someone rising up to help. Focus on the HELPERS. Focus on what they do to help. Decide to be a HELPER yourself.

Thank you, Mr. Rogers. That is excellent advice.

Come Out & Play!

A version of this post first appeared here at Attorney at Work.

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We know that free-play is important to the development of children. But it’s also really important in the life of an adult. You may think that you don’t need to play, that you don’t have time to play, but there are good reasons to incorporate play into your life in order to be successful in life and in work.

What is play?

Brené Brown, researcher and author of Daring Greatly, describes play as anything that makes us lose track of time and self-consciousness. In other words, something that you experience as fun! Researcher Stuart Brown, MD (who is not related to Brené Brown), describes play as time spent without purpose. Unfortunately, I agree with Brené Brown, when she responds to this idea with “this sounds like the definition of an anxiety attack. I feel behind if I’m not using every last moment to be productive, whether that means working, cleaning the house or taking my son to baseball practice.” Agreed. I mean, I barely have time to do all the purposeful things I need to do. Why would I waste time doing something that has no purpose!? Because play is important.

  1. The importance of play.

Play itself – meaning the activity in which you are engaging – need not have a purpose in the sense that it is not directly related to your productivity, not related to getting things done, and not related to achieving your financial or career goals. But it does have a purpose: creating the space in your mind where ideas can be born, perspective can improve, and the self is nurtured. In other words, play refreshes your mind and body, increases energy and prevents burnout, triggers creativity and innovation, and helps you see problems in new ways. But that’s not all.

  1. Play is directly related to your success.

Research shows that “playing” relieves stress by triggering the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. As we know, success at work is highly dependent upon the quality of your work, not just the quantity. And the quality of work is dependent upon your well-being. So, ultimately, play is vitally important to your success, in life and in work.

  1. Wanna come out and play?

Play is different for everyone. It should be something that you enjoy such that you lose track of time. It could be an organized sport, like basketball or tennis. Maybe it’s brain-games like chess, crossword puzzles, or Sudoku. It could be a creative endeavor like painting, drawing, or scrapbooking; or performing arts such as an improv or dance class. Or maybe it’s something that gets you moving but is more meditative, such as snorkeling, yoga, or hiking. The possibilities are endless.

  1. Incorporate playfulness into your work.

Your work is serious, but that doesn’t mean that you need to be serious all the time, even in the office. When you hit a “glitch” in a matter or project, take some time out to “play” to reset your mind and come back with a fresh perspective on problem-solving. A small basketball hoop could help, or an air-hockey table in an extra conference room. Ask a colleague to join you, as playing with colleagues encourages teamwork and builds comradery.

  1. But what if it’s been so long since you played that you can’t remember what you like to do for fun?

Never fear. Even if you haven’t engaged in an activity simply for the fun of it in a really long time, most likely there was a time in your past when you played. Think back to that time – maybe it was when you were a kid – and make a list of all the things you enjoyed back then. Which still sound appealing to you? Coloring? There are lots of great adult coloring books available. Playing pretend? Maybe try an acting class, or go see a play. Playing with your family pet? Perhaps volunteer at a local animal shelter. Photography? Pull that camera out and get out in the world and take some photos. Playing board games? Organize a monthly game night with friends. LEGOs? There are some seriously awesome LEGO sets available. Get creative. Try something you liked in the past, or try something new.

In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” When was the last time you played? No matter how long ago, make today the next time you play!

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