New Podcast Coming!

An exciting new podcast is coming in June! Produce for Kids will be launching this new podcast and will showcase current bloggers, Advisory Board members and others.

“With more than 300 blog posts on produceforkids.com and a panel of 12 dedicated expert blog contributors, it only made sense to take this content and bring it to life in audio form,” Amanda Keefer, director of marketing communications at Produce for Kids, said in the release. 

“Our audience is evolving, and we intend to do the same, providing them with the information they need in the way they are choosing to receive it.”

and

Blog and future podcast contributors include registered dietitians Katie Serbinski, Holley Grainger and Jode Danen; psychologist Stephanie Smith; plant-based parenting expert Cory Warren; and meal prep planner Brenda Thompson.

Stay tuned!

How to Pick a Hobby

Last week I wrote an article about why hobbies are an important part of overall mental health. Mostly because we all need a break from the “business” of life once in a while. And it’s essential to find things that we enjoy doing “just because” and not because they have to be done (like working, taking care of family, etc).

But what if you don’t have a hobby? Some ideas about where to start:

  1. Think back to your childhood. Were there things you absolutely loved to do? Gymnastics? Drawing? Singing? Playing with toy cars? Remember those days when you had lots of free time. How did you choose to spend it?
  2. Spend a few days really paying attention to the times in your day that bring you pleasure. Is it when you’re making dinner in the evening? Talking to your best friend on the way home from work? Listening to a motivational speaker on a podcast?
  3. Pay attention to the signs/notices/announcements you inevitably come in contact with everyday. Maybe they’re tacked up at the post office, posted on your neighborhood Facebook page, or in the newspaper you read. There are opportunities all around us. Once you start paying attention to them, are there some that seem more interesting than others?
  4. Once you have a few ideas in mind from the things you noticed above, spend a bit of time learning about 2 or 3 of them. What does it really take to learn the guitar? Would developing a knitting hobby be worthwhile if you are allergic to wool? Is picking up golf within your household budget of time and money?
  5. Choose one and go with it. Oftentimes folks who are new to the world of hobbies believe they need to be absolutely passionate about something before they dive into it. Not so! In fact, people often need to try out several avocations before they find one or two that stick. And of course there’s nothing wrong with switching hobbies on a regular basis. That’s the whole point – they are pleasure for pleasure’s sake. So let go of your expectations and just enjoy!

Happy hobby-ing!

The Importance of Hobbies

What do you like to do when you’re not working, taking care of your family or doing other things that have to be done?

It’s a question that I ask folks in my office all the time. Why? Because hobbies, or avocations, are an essential part of overall mental health. Really!

Much of our time and energy is taken up by things we have to do:

  • earn money
  • take care of children, pets, aging family members
  • clean the house
  • keep the yard tidy
  • pay bills
  • manage our stuff in all its forms
  • eat, sleep, take care of our bodies

Many of these things are enjoyable (hopefully work and family are – at least some of the time!) and provide us with a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Both very important things!

But in order to achieve and maintain good mental health, there also needs to be some room for hobbies, or avocations. These are things that don’t have to be done, but are simply pleasurable and meaningful in their own right. For some folks, hobbies are what gives our life meaning.

Hobbies can provide us with opportunities to grow and learn. They can also give us opportunities to challenge ourselves and stretch the boundaries of our comfort zones. Some of these kinds of hobbies might be things like:

  • vegetable gardening
  • bread baking
  • fiction writing
  • playing chess
  • quilting
  • playing guitar
  • running/jogging

Often, hobbies also provide us with opportunities to socialize with other people who are interested in the same quirky things we are. But the cool thing about these relationships are that they are born out of mutual interests not out of obligation.

Stay tuned for ideas about how to pick a hobby that works for you!

 

 

Talking to Kids About Weight

Fat. Skinny. Over weight. Underweight. Chunky. Slight. Slender. Normal. Chubby. Short. Huge. Teeny. Average. Muscular. Frumpy. Flabby. Round. Skeletal. Portly. Tubby. Stick figure.

There are a lot of words we use to describe bodies. Ours, other people’s, everyone’s. And while we know that weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) can be an important piece of information when talking about someone’s overall health – those numbers are also so emotionally loaded that it can be tough to have a conversation about them without ending up with hurt feelings – no matter what our size.

I have recently started a new series over at Produce for Kids:

ASK THE PSYCHOLOGIST

My first column went live not long ago and is about this very topic. Here’s the question:

Many schools across the U.S. check-in yearly with kids’ BMI (Body Mass Index). What if your child has a bigger build and is a very athletic/healthy eater but falls into the BMI alert category (of being overweight or obese) simply based on weight/height ratio. Do you have any recommendations on talking to kids about this touchy subject? 

Want to read my answer? Check out the whole article here:

Work-Life Balance in Colorado – Not as Balanced as it should be?

I recently got to be a part of a story in 5280 Magazine about work-life balance in Colorado. I think most of us Coloradoans like to think of ourselves as laid back, easy going folks who might work hard, but definitely take our leisure activities and relaxation pretty seriously. But turns out that this might not always be the case. Are we becoming more stressed and busy?

Take a look at this:

Colorado Guilt? I’ve definitely fallen prey to that one. Check out the entire article to read all about stress in Colorado.

 

How to Cope With a Bad Boss

Photo Credit: Health eCareers

Have you ever had a terrible, awful, annoying, rude, unfair boss?

OF COURSE YOU HAVE!

At some point in our lives, all of us have had a terrible boss. My terrible boss story includes frozen fish food, piranhas and Christmas Eve – but I won’t get into the details.

Anyway, I recently wrote an article over at Health eCareers that included some tips for how to cope with the bad boss in your life. Here’s a glimpse:

Stop talking so much

When I’ve had bad bosses in the past, my first instinct has been to talk about it. With family, with friends, with the grocery store clerk; with just about anyone who will listen. The trouble with talking about it is, it can take a stressor that takes up eight hours of your day and stretches it to taking up 10, 12, 14 hours, or even more. Why give your boss more power and control than they already have? Try keeping work at work and reclaim your off-work hours for things that are fun, relaxing and pleasurable.

To read the rest of the tips, check out the entire story here.

 

Is Seasonal Affective Disorder Real?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last week I wrote an article about the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Today I am tackling some myths about SAD.

I recently got to be a part of an article over at Psych Central about some of the myths about SAD. Here’s a bit about why it gets so confused by so many of us:

 

 

 

 

Let’s get to the myths:

 

 

 

 

Want to read the rest of the article? Check it out:

Do You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder? Or Do You Just Hate Winter?

I was recently interviewed for an article about myths vs. facts of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Most people who suffer from SAD experience symptoms in the winter months, and it being the dead of winter (at least here in Colorado), this can be a really tough time of year.

But how do you know if you have SAD, or if winter is just long, annoying and unpleasant?

Here are some of the symptoms of SAD:

  • Extremely low energy most days
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low mood
  • Having trouble sleeping/feeling sleepy a lot of the time
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Trouble enjoying previously enjoyable things

These symptoms come at a certain time of year with some predictability and regularity. Most people with SAD experience these symptoms in the winter months when there is less sunlight. But SAD also exists in the summer months when sunlight is plentiful.

SAD is NOT simply a dislike for winter, or a desire to drink hot chocolate and watch Friends reruns. It is a syndrome that has significant impacts on the the sufferer’s quality of life.

Check back in for SAD myths busted.

Re-Imagining Valentine’s Day

Is it a happy Valentine’s Day for you?

For some this is a day to look forward to: Chocolate, romance, roses, hearts – what’s not to love?

For others, this is a day to feel especially lonely.

Instead of a day filled with romance and lovey-dovey love, I like to think of it as a time to recognize all the different kinds of love around us:

  • Love for our parents
  • Love for our pets
  • Love for our children
  • Love for our friends
  • Love for our hometown
  • Love for the Olympians I am so enjoying watching right now
  • Love for books
  • Love for conversation hearts
  • Love for pasta
  • Love for the mountains outside my back door

You get the idea

What are the things in your life that you love?

Giving Up Social Media

How do you feel about social media?

I’m hearing a lot of people talk about it these days.

I hate Facebook!

Instagram is making me crazy!

I wish I could get off social media!

I totally get it. Social media affects almost all of us -even if we don’t have accounts of our own! The constant connection, comparing and sharing – while maybe not all bad – certainly has an impact on our mental health.

  • How we see ourselves and others
  • How we feel about our kids, our parents, and our friends
  • How we make decisions in our lives, both big and small

So what can you do if you want to make a change? Try life without social media?

Start small, but do something. Take the social media apps off your phone. Delete just one social media account. Don’t post a comment/status/photo for just one day. Pick one small thing and do it. Once you get the hang of that, try adding on another goal.

Put it in its place. Do we really need to check our social media accounts every time we have a free moment? Do we really need to take our phones into the bathroom? Probably not. Again start small, but try banning the phone from just one place: Dinner table, bathroom, kids soccer practice, doctor’s waiting room – somewhere that you usually pick up your phone and browse. Try doing something else: Read a book, bring a Sudoku puzzle – or, you could go crazy and DO NOTHING! Just sit and be. I assure you, it is possible.

Notice the changes. While ceasing to bring the phone into the toilet stall won’t radically change your life, decreasing the amount of time (or eliminating it altogether!) you spend on social media will likely make a difference in your mental health.  Try keeping a journal about how your behavior change affects you, both psychologically and physically. If you make note of the good things happening, it will help you stay motivated!

Good luck!