Friday, February 19, 2010

Counselor's Corner: Beating the Winter Blues

I've been thinking a lot about winter lately. Haven't we all? This winter for many, many states has been one for the record books! I wonder when all the snow will finally melt? Today, we have sunshine for the first time in, well, I'm not sure!

This got me thinking about those of us who experience a serious lack of sunshine in the winter and those of us that experience the winter blues. According to the National Mental Health Association, Alaska has the highest rate of suicide than all other states, including DC. Along with this, the highest suicide rate is in the winter time. Along with many other factors, including lack of mental health resources, I, and many other professionals, wonder if the lack of sunlight plays a role in this state's astounding rate of self-harm.

Sunshine has so many benefits. In a world that is so focused on the ozone layer and the harmful effects of too much sun, these benefits are often forgotten. For example, just spending 15 minutes a day outside can give you all the Vitamin D you need. My pediatrician even recommended 15 minutes of play time outside everyday without sunscreen. The sun also raises cortisol levels in the body, a chemical your body produces that improves mood.

So it is winter time, and how do we get more sun? Some people who experience severe depression have purchased light boxes that stem anywhere from $200-$500! That's crazy expensive! Some say go to the tanning bed. I do not recommend this because in order to receive the benefits of light therapy, you need to have your eyes open, and tanning beds can damage your eyes.

My best advice for beating the winter blues is:
  • Get out in the snow and play! In those days that do have sunshine, get out there and play! Remember how much fun you had as a kid in the snow? Now, me personally, I hate the cold weather. But if it is sunny, and I am bundled up, it really isn't all that bad if I am having fun.
  • Sleep in the dark. I highly recommend sleeping, without an alarm clock (i.e. kids) if you can a couple of times a week. When you sleep, try to make it as dark as possible as this helps your body balance cortisol levels.
  • Exercise. Find something that is going to give your heart rate a boost and get your blood flowing. Incorporating fun and family time in your exercise routine helps too. For example, my daughter loves music. We turn on the radio really loud and just dance around the house. I flail my arms and legs and act really goofy, which gives her the giggles. I would never do this in public, but it gets me moving!
  • Find your faith. Lastly, the sun is no substitute for the Son. Having faith and acting on that faith will do more for your mood than any amount of sunshine. Why? Because we were born to serve others, to love others and to worship the one true Creator of our existence. Try volunteering, making something for charity, taking your child to a nursing home, etc., and I guarantee you will be in a better mood.

Happy Sledding!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

How Often Do You Spend Online?

Ok, as much as I would like to be online blogging, I can't. With my job and my family and my church, blogging often takes a back burner. I would love to be able to post more, get more followers, read everyone's blog that I follow, along with facebooking, checking my email, checking my ebay account, etc...Whew! How do you all keep up?! I would love to hear comments from some of you busy mommies and how you are able to keep up with blogging. How often are you online and what time of day do you blog most?

Happy soon-to-be Friday!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ramblings on a Snow Day.

Well, I'm soon off to the work-out-of-home world again. Sigh. The snow has enabled my daughter and me to spend a few more days together, and I treasure them all! I just hope that we don't have too many school days to make up in the summer time. But since I can't do anything about the snow now or how many days I will have to work this summer, I am going to take major advantage of this weather and spend as much time as possible playing with my daughter.

She is at that stage where she is walking everywhere but not running just yet. We call her Frankenstein because she walks around with her arms out for balance. Her favorite thing to do is get into the spice cabinet and walk all over the house holding chili powder and basil. Sometimes she gets to giggling so hard that she just falls over!

Snow has made us lazy, though. She loves her footy PJs, so that's what she stays in on days we don't go anywhere! And she hates her hair pulled out of her eyes, so I don't even bother pulling it back unless she's eating something messy.

Here is a picture of her this past week in her PJs with no hair tie, and in a way-too-big hat that Grandma Marsha made her. It was a great lazy snow day!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monday's Munchies!

Welcome to another addition of Monday's Munchies! I figured since most of the country seems to be covered in snow at the moment, what better way to celebrate than to make some good comfort food. Here is a recipe handed down in my family for chicken and dumplings the shortcut way. This is for those of you who may not have time to boil a whole chicken!

Chicken and Dumplings
2-3 chicken tenders
1 can chicken broth
2 cubes of chicken bullion
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tsp dried chopped basil
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp milk

Cut the chicken tenders into cubes and put them with the chicken broth, bullion cubes, water, and herbs into a large pot. Cook until chicken is done and take out bay leaf. I sometimes like to add a couple of potatoes and celery, and if I do, I add about a cup of water. Bring broth to boiling.

Mix together egg and milk. Add flour until stiff and spread out onto a floured surface. Continue to knead in the flour until you can roll it out without too much trouble. I use waxed paper to put in between the dough and the rolling pin to help keep the rolling pin from sticking. Roll out to about 1/8th inch and cut with a pizza cutter into 1/2 inch squares or bigger if you prefer. They will puff up as they cook. Drop into boiling broth. Cook for 10 more minutes. If you want to thicken it, add mashed potato flakes-a little goes a long way.

Hope everyone stays warm this week!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Another Sunday Inspiration

Welcome back to my Sunday inspirations! In the spirit of Valentine's Day, my inspiration comes from my husband today. I could never have come up with a more suitable companion as he. He and our marriage are living proof that God's plans are best, even if we don't think so at the moment.

When I first met my man, I did not think of him as husband material. I was a freshman in college, and I just wanted to hang out and have fun. We met at a party that a mutual friend invited us both to (I did not want to go). We had so much fun together that first year that we dated. By the time I was a junior, I knew that this man was the one for me. We waited until we finished our Master's degrees to get married. It took us long enough! Now, 6 and 1/2 years after getting married, we are just getting started!

Here is a cute story...when I was in junior high, I prayed for a husband that was tall and dark hair and blue eyes. I specifically remember that strange, selfish little prayer. Low and behold, my love of my life is tall, has dark hair and the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen!

He's my inspiration today because of despite all our differences, he has committed himself in our relationship and our family. That may not seem like much, but in this day and age, that means something. I see so much family trauma in our youth at school, and if you don't think this family trauma is affecting our youth, you are walking around with blindfolds.

Last year was the hardest year for our tiny little family. We had our first child, and a month later a tragic death of a very close relative. We struggled to communicate in our transition to being parents as well as our grief. I started a new job, and for some reason, I am struggling to stay healthy (still trying to figure that one out).

But through all of these changes in our lives, my hunky husband always reminds me that we are okay. He tells me through his actions as well as his words. He is my rock when I think I cannot get up in the morning. Even when I am mad at him, or he is mad at me, we know that this is only temporary. Our marriage is stronger than the circumstances around us at the moment. Thank God for that and for the fact that my hubby feels the same way.