Holiday Survival Tips!

 

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The holidays are a time for family, friends, food and fun, but this time of year can also be hectic and stressful. The hunt for the perfect gift… Feuding relatives… Freezing cold weather… Endless hours in the kitchen… Don’t let the holiday season stress you out this year!

The holidays present unique challenges in maintaining mental health, so we’ve compiled some tips to make it easier for you this year.

 

Limit Stress and Anxiety
Don’t let your holiday to-do list take over your life.

Set limits.
Establishing boundaries on what you will do and what you won’t do in advance of family gatherings will make it easier to say “no.” Understand that it’s okay to refuse last minute additions to your already full holiday to-do list.

Ask yourself do I really HAVE to do this?
If we all had unlimited time, energy and resources this season, the holidays would still not be as shiny and perfect as a Macy’s winter catalog. Use your time and energy wisely as to not burn yourself out. When looking at your to-do list items, ask yourself is this something that HAS to be done? What are the consequences of foregoing this task?

Don’t dwell on how things could have been, accept them for what they are.
If you couldn’t afford to get your kids that super expensive game console they wanted, it’s okay. If you ran out of time to cook your aunt’s favorite dessert, it’s okay. Set realistic expectations for yourself and loved ones. Understand there are things beyond your control, and that’s okay.

Take time for yourself.
The holidays are generally about family and doing for others. Despite all that’s on your plate this season, don’t forget to ensure that your own mental health needs are being taken care of. Take time for yourself when needed.

 

Fight the Winter Blues
Days are darker and colder and we’re spending a lot more time indoors. Incorporate the following into your routine to battle the low energy levels and down feelings we often experience during winter months.

Limit Caffeine and Alcohol.
• Alcohol is a depressant, and can make an already low mood even lower. Limit your alcohol intake, and avoid binge drinking.
• Try replacing your coffee with caffeine-free tea, as caffeine can suppress levels of serotonin and negatively impact your mood.

Plan Activities.
• When it’s cold and dark outside, it’s easy to get sucked into the pattern of work, couch, remote. Try to plan at least one outing each week. Whether it’s by yourself or with friends – get out of the house!

Eat Healthy.
• Avoid processed foods like white breads, rice and sugar, which can lower energy levels and affect your mood. Remember to drink lots of water and eat more fruits and vegetables.

Exercise.
• Aim to get moving for at least 15-20 minutes a day, whether it’s simply taking a walk around your neighborhood, stretching while catching up on TV shows or exercising with your favorite workout video on YouTube.

Light.
• Soak up some sun! Get out of the office for your lunch break, sit by windows whenever possible and keep the curtains open in mornings and afternoons.
• If you aren’t able to get any natural light, try light therapy with artificial light boxes.

 

Click here to print our Holiday Survival Tip Sheet!

5 Ways to Celebrate All Your Hard Work

Do you know that Labor Day was designed to observe the economic and social contributions of American workers? No matter what you do or who you are, you are a part of our American economy and work hard each day to help sustain it. And what better way to honor that working than to take a full day to take care of yourself –a Mental Health Day!

Here are some tips to get the most out of your day off:

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  1. Shopping: Next to Black Friday, Labor Day hosts some of the best sales of the year. And it’s a perfect time to get all those back-to-school needs for your family. Here is what you can expect from 2013 Labor Day Sales. Remember that your favorite online stores give discounts as well—it’s a great way to avoid traffic and long lines!
  2. Swimming: Summer weather is going to quickly turn cooler . Make sure you take advantage of it while it is warm! Find a community pool near you and take the family. It is cheap and fun. Remember the sunscreen and drinking water!
  3. Hit a Home Run: Participate or go watch a sports game. Baseball and preseason football are in full swing get out on the field. Better yet, take the kids to a nearby park and teach them how to pitch, ride bikes, or throw a Frisbee.
  4. Go to the theater: Both live theater and the megaplex are certain to have shows playing. Check out what is playing near you and take a friend to enjoy the performance with you.
  5. Stay Home: If crowds, traffic, and organizing schedules stresses you out, STAY HOME! There is nothing wrong with taking a day off just to relax. Perhaps you want to catch up on the latest episode of your favorite TV show; maybe you need a few extra hours of sleep, maybe the dishes have been piling up and you just need to clean them to feel a little better—these are all perfectly good ways to spend your day off.

Write a comment to share your plans with us! And have a great holiday celebrating you.

20 Ideas for a Stress-Free Staycation this Summer

staycation

We all need to get away sometimes, but the reality is that life doesn’t always let us escape for long, expensive vacations. Perhaps your spouse is in school or the kind of job that leaves limited free time. Maybe you just graduated college and don’t have a lot of funds set aside for plane tickets and hotel expenses. Perhaps you prefer not to travel long distances with your children. Maybe you are taking care of an ailing parent. Or maybe, as much as you try, balancing work and life isn’t as easy as you would like.

These very real situations make it all the more important to remember that there are lots of little adventures that fit into our busy schedules. So if you don’t have a vacation already planned for this summer, take one of these staycations—because you deserve it!  And, just like a vacation, don’t forget to block out the time on your calendar.

Play a round of mini golf

Spend a day at a local pool

 Find a trail and go hiking or for a walk

Go for a bike ride/wagon ride with your family

Go camping

Rent a canoe or kayak and go for a little ride

Rent some fishing poles and go fishing

Go to the zoo

 Visit a national park

 Go to a baseball game

 Visit a farmer’s market and make a meal

 Take a historical tour of your city

Go to a science or space museum

Visit an aquarium

Go to a drive-in movie theater (don’t forget to bring snacks from home!)

 Take a tour of your city’s capital building (call before you go)

Set up a tent in your backyard and have a slumber party

Find free movies in the park (they are usually hosted by the city)

 Go star gazing.  Find maps and look for constellations

Stay the night with Grandma & Grandpa, with an Aunt or Uncle, or with a good friend

*If you have a great idea for a summer staycation, please feel free to share it with us! 

A New Way to Find Success

IMG_1614 (2)Recently, I was working as a dance and exercise teacher at a camp in West Virginia that was designed to help overweight children and their families learn healthy lifestyle habits.  One of the concerns that families continuously brought up was the development of their children’s self-esteem.  They were worried that since their children attended school and lived in environments where they were constantly judged and mocked because of their size they would begin to develop poor self-image and self-esteem.  They wanted some advice on how to stop this from happening.

One of the things that I told them is that self-esteem is learned.  If we are continuously failing at things, or are unable to complete the small tasks necessary for success then we start believing that we are failures.  This contributes to the development of poor self-esteem.  Therefore, one way to build positive self-esteem is to participate in the little hobbies and activities that allow us to reach achievements, no matter how small or large. These experiences teach us that we are successful, and give us the confidence that we will succeed at other things in the future. And, we must always remember to keep trying. We are not failures just because we can’t achieve success on our first, second, or even third try.

IMG_1625This is why I think that dance can be such a mentally healthy activity for anyone.  Besides the physical health benefits, dance provides a mental health boost as well. Becoming successful at dance takes work, dedication and discipline.  Each little step and move you master gives you a sense of achievement. The experience of success, found in most hobbies including dance, can help us become more confident and take advantage of more opportunities in the future.  So this week, step out of your comfort zone and find a new way to find successes– maybe take a dance class at one of the many studios in the area.  It will help you gain confidence and feel better about yourself, while also providing a great work out.

 

My Mental Health Day Thanks:
Amber Shriver; Artistic Director of Connect the Dots Dance Company
http://connectthedotsdancecompany.weebly.com/

Independence from Pet Stress

July

The Fourth of July can be one of the worst days for animal stress. The evening is full of loud noises that can easily scare animals. This, along with crowds, family parties, and daytime party-prepping may make you and your pet feel a little overwhelmed. In fact, because of runaways and neglected pets on this busy holiday, the rate of lost pets in shelters increases 30% every July 4th. So to make sure your family– including your pet–has a wonderful time this Independence Day, here are a few helpful pointers.

Fireworks and Noise

Parades, poppers, fireworks, music, parties—all can lead to unusual and unexpected noise for your pet. Although you won’t be able to get away from the noise completely (nor do you want to miss out on all the fun), there are a few ways to keep your pet’s stress level at bay. Prepare a place for your pet in a secure and isolated place in your house (an inner closet or bathroom perhaps).  Check on them frequently and give them some extra attention. If your pets are overly anxious, you may also try talking to your vet about medication to help relax them.

Parties

Whether you have invited a lot of people over for a neighborhood party or you plan on taking the family to a local park, there is sure to be a lot of people and a lot of activity. A gate left open or an unleashed animal can easily lead to a lost pet, so make sure you take necessary precautions. If you are hosting a party, make sure your guests are aware of where you are holding the pet so they do not accidently leave a door open or designate someone to be the primary dog-watcher for the evening. If you are leaving the house, make sure you have the necessary ties, leashes and collars to ensure that your pet will not be lost in the crowds if you turn away for a second.

Last but not definitely not least, ensure your families safety as well. With everyone safe and stress free, you can have an amazing Independence Day celebration!

 

Cicadas Are Causing Quite the Buzz: Tips to Reduce Your Stress During the Insect Invasion

Picture1For 17 years, cicadas have been nesting underground waiting for the perfect conditions to make their appearance. And ta-dah, that time has arrived. Over the next four to six weeks, those living on the east coast from Georgia to Connecticut will need to find a way to cohabitate with the insects. Cicadas, although great for the local ecosystem (see below), can cause some annoyances in our daily lives including the drum-like “love song” that male cicadas make to attract a female partner. So here are a few tips to help you handle our little uninvited guests:

 

  • Protect trees and gardens: Homeowners who are concerned about their young hardwood or fruit trees (less than 5 feet tall) can protect them by wrapping branches with pond netting or spun polyolefin. Since Cicadas only consume liquid from trees, home flower and fruit gardens are not at any risk.
  • Keep animals safe: We can protect our animal companions from eating cicadas by keeping cats indoors and taking dogs for leashed walks. Although cicadas will not bite animals (nor humans) and cooking-up live cicadas may be a delicacy for some, eating a dead cicada can be potentially harmful to your pet.
  • Dress appropriately: This year, we will see more cicadas than usual. Depending on the area you live in, cicadas are predicted to outnumber people 600 to 1. Because cicadas will harbor in trees and will be emerging from the ground, you may want to consider wearing closed-toe shoes and carrying an umbrella.
  • Children: Cicadas, though somewhat unattractive, are not harmful to children. Let your kids know that the insects will not sting or bite. Actually, the six week period of infestation can actually be a unique learning experience. Children may like to collect Cicada shells after they shed and the rare occurrence may also provide an opportunity to teach kids about unusual species.

Just remember that Cicadas are a benefit to our environment. The Chimney-like tunnels they dig to emerge naturally arrogate the soil allowing more water to reach the trees’ roots. Also, female cicadas dig tiny trenches in young tree  branches to lay their eggs inside. This natural pruning helps strengthen trees so they produce more fruit and blossoms. And when cicadas die, their bodies become a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Remember: cicadas are our friends.

Celebrating Thomas’s life This Memorial Day

It’s been eight and a half years since we lost Thomas in Iraq.  Every year is full of emotionally difficult dates:  the date of his death, November 11th, which is Veterans Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in other English-speaking countries, his birthday on July 6th, and national holidays like July the 4th and Memorial Day.  Memorial Day is publicly celebrated as the beginning of summer and an occasion for sales, but I think most Americans also remember, at least for a moment, that it is meant to be a solemn time as well.  People on my street break out the flags early in the morning and fly them until sunset (those with good porch lights leave them out longer).  I have to admit that I have no memory of what we did in the years before Thomas died, but since his death we’ve developed a routine to deal with the day and to celebrate his life and service.  Since he is buried at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Montgomery County, as he requested, we go to mass there on the morning of Memorial Day, and then cross the cemetery to visit his grave.  As often as not, we find friends or flowers there, showing that others have been there before us.  In the afternoon, we have our own barbeque.  The first year after his death was filled with a number of public events, but we have mostly declined invitations since then.  Thomas was a private person and we think that he would have preferred us to keep it that way.

But this year has been a little different:  still quiet but allowing others to honor Thomas too.  Earlier in the year, my family finally decided that we wanted to have a portrait drawn by Michael Reagan, an artist who lives just outside Seattle.  Mr. Reagan (not related to the president) works from photographs of the fallen.  He takes no money for this.  We had debated literally for years which photo we wanted him to use but a news story earlier this year about his work finally convinced us that we just needed to send a picture and do it.  Unfortunately, we immediately ran into a problem of resolution in the photo.  We (and everyone else) were in the process of switching to digital photography in 2004 and the number of megapixels available then just did not lend itself to capturing fine details.  We sent several pictures by e-mail and finally I ended up sending the original prints, with Michael’s assurance that he would make it work.

It never occurred to me to ask how long it would take to get the drawing back and so I was surprised a couple of weeks ago when I came home from lunch with my younger son to find a large package on the front porch.  Matthew and I carried it in to the house and tried to figure out how to open it without damaging the contents.  Finally, we got through the tape using scissors and pulled out the picture encased in several layers of foam board.  We pulled off the top layer and found the pencil drawing was covered by a layer of translucent paper with notes at the bottom about the kind of glass needed for the frame and the fact that the picture had not been sprayed which left it vulnerable to smearing.  Nevertheless, we peeled the paper back to see the portrait.  I started to cry at the sight of my son’s face, his slightly pointed ears, the shirt collar that was folded up because he hadn’t straightened it, the slightly prominent teeth, his little smile, all so characteristic of him and all so dear.  Matthew held on to me as we looked on this beloved face, and then he took a picture with his phone and sent it to his sisters and father.  We reassembled the package and left for the craft store:  a coupon for framing at a national chain of craft stores was attached and we both felt that the best thing to do was to get that picture framed and under appropriate glass as soon as possible.

Thomas--memorial day

Half an hour later, we were explaining what we wanted to a bemused clerk at the framing counter and to the customer who had appeared right after us (in these situations, everyone has an opinion).  It took a while to select the frame and the matte but we overshot the value of the coupon by less than a hundred dollars.  As we again returned the picture to its packaging, I could feel myself starting to cry a little and the clerk patted me on the back.  “We’ll take good care of him,” she said.

I got a phone message a week later that the picture was ready.  Saturday afternoon, I drove back to the store to pick it up.  A new clerk took one look at my name and knew exactly why I was there.   She brought out the picture wrapped in cardboard.  Yet another clerk drifted up to look as she slit the tape and revealed the portrait.  We all stared at this remarkable drawing.  She knew, maybe everyone in the store knew, this bit of Thomas’s story.  They were very kind and there I was, crying one more time.

And so I was able to bring this little bit of Thomas home again.

 
My Mental Health Day Thanks:
Lee Ann Doerflinger
Mother of Army SPC Thomas Doerflinger, KIA 11/11/2004, Mosul, Iraq

Giveaway Day Winners!

DSCF0094Yesterday was My Mental health Day Giveaway Day! If you were following along on Facebook, you already know all the winners and hopefully found time to read some of the great stress reducing tips and articles we provided throughout the day. But in case you missed it or you want to double check your raffle ticket number(s), below is the full list of lucky giveaway winners.

If you weren’t able to purchase a raffle ticket, there are other ways to support the campaign throughout the year. Our mission is to educate the community about the importance of mental wellness, taking time for yourself, and reducing stress. Eliminating the stigma associated with mental health takes many voices and we are ever grateful for your help and support.

Carla S (#1061): Leroy Neiman Limited Edition Serigraph called “Cal Ripken, Jr.” which commemorates his record-breaking “2131” game.  The serigraph is pencil signed by both LeRoy Neiman and Cal Ripkin, Jr. and comes with authentication information for both the artist and the athlete (note: this piece comes unframed).   Estimated retail value of $3,500.  Donated by Ronald D. Paul Companies, Inc.

James T (#0869): Three hours of financial planning services.  Expiration June 30, 2014 and appointments must be scheduled in advance and at convenience of Monument Wealth Management.  Winner’s name and contact information to be provided to the firm.  Estimated value is $1,200.  Donated by Monument Wealth Management/Mike Jacobs.

Sarah L (#001): Ten passenger Limousine for 3 Hours of Service. Value is $450. Gratuity due at time of service. Expires May 24, 2014. Donated by RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation.

Sarah L (#004): A $400 gift certificate redeemable at any Black Restaurant Group location.  Value is $400. Donated by Black Restaurant Group.

Kathleen R (#048): Four hours of home Maintenance and handyman service. Service available in the Washington DC Area and in San Antonio, TX.  Winner must allow for a few weeks advanced scheduling. Estimated value is $360. Donated by Hassle Free Home Services Inc.

Melanie & Lawrence N (#1478): Nikon Coolpix P7100 10.1 MP Digital Camera. Estimated Value is $350. Donated by Joy Paul.

Susan F (#086): IPad Mini (7.9” display, 16 GB) or New Kindle Fire HD (7” display, 32 GB)* Estimated Value is $229-$329.  Donated/purchased with My Mental Health Day underwriting support from the Jerome S. & Grace H. Murray Foundation.

*Item winner to select color (if applicable) within 14 days of being notified of winning and selection will be limited to the available stock at Apple, Amazon, or MHA-selected retailer.  Prize will be ordered upon receipt of that information from the item winner.  The item will be available to the winner upon receipt of the package by MHA.  Wi-fi/phone service charges are NOT included with this prize.

Amanda Curoso (#1024): IPad Mini (7.9” display, 16 GB) or New Kindle Fire HD (7” display, 32 GB)* Estimated Value is $229-$329.  Donated/purchased with My Mental Health Day underwriting support from the Jerome S. & Grace H. Murray Foundation.

*Item winner to select color (if applicable) within 14 days of being notified of winning and selection will be limited to the available stock at Apple, Amazon, or MHA-selected retailer.  Prize will be ordered upon receipt of that information from the item winner.  The item will be available to the winner upon receipt of the package by MHA.  Wi-fi/phone service charges are NOT included with this prize.

Hope G (#064): Baroni hand crafted Tourmaline Citrine Topaz Crystal necklace. Estimated Value $289. Donated by dmf collection.

Michael M (#124): Visit to the flower wholesaler and one flower arranging lesson with Ellen Seagraves.  To be scheduled at a mutually agreed upon time.  Valid until May 2014.  Estimated value is $250.  Donated by Ellen Seagraves.

Jenifer J. (#098): Hand crafted Gold fill Tourmaline crystal topaz necklace. Estimated Value $239. Donated by dmf collection.

Shadow Graphix (#1506): Three-month membership to Rock Creek Sports Club. Estimated Value $210. Donated by Rock Creek Sports Club.

Elizabeth H (#016): Hand crafted Sapphire Zircon Crystal necklace. Estimated Value $189. Donated by dmf collection.

Carla S (#1065): Four weeks of class and membership at My Gym. Estimate Value $167. Donated by My Gym.

Stephanie A (#082): Golf Lesson at Congressional Country Club and lunch at the Founder’s Pub (Bethesda, MD).  Winner’s name and contact information to be provided to the donor.  Dates and times will be at the discretion of the donor.  Estimated value is $150.  Donated by Haywood Miller.

Amanda C (#1023): Aspen Hill Club (Silver Spring, MD) One Month Couple Congressional Membership. Estimated value is $119. Donated by Aspen Hill Club.

Kathleen R (#046): Two tickets to the Olney Theatre Center production of Rancho Mirage (Showing October 2-October 20, 2013). Estimated Value $113. Donated by Olney Theater Center.

Hope G (#066): A $100 Amazon gift card. Estimated value $100. Donated by Cindy Flanders.

Adrienne Fierro (#091): A Washington Redskins  autographed “Limited Edition 2012 Team Laser Signed” football. Estimated value $100. Donated by the Washington Redskins.

Nick A. (#0929): Circa at Dupont (DC Restaurant) Gift Certificate for $100.  Estimated value is $100.  Donated by Circa Dupont.

Mark and Ann B (#0900): Circa at Dupont (DC Restaurant) Gift Certificate for $100.  Estimated value is $100.  Donated by Circa Dupont.

Ronald D Paul Companies (#1458): Hand Crafted picture frame welded combining brass and copper elements. Estimated Value $100. Donated and hand crafted by Gary Rosenthal.

Teddy A (#0934): A $100 gift certificate to Newton’s Table. Value is $100. Donated by Newton’s Table. Expires 4/11/14.

Michael D. (#0928): Baroni hand crafted inlaid pearl five ring set. Estimated Value $99. Donated by dmf collection.

Madelon J (#104): Baroni hand designed gold five ring set. Estimated Value $99. Donated by dmf collection.

Shu-Ping C (#1072): Baroni hand designed moonstone oval ring. Estimated Value $99. Donated by dmf collection.

Yoko Consulting (#1504): One hour massage with Val Ford at Ninotch Spa in Bethesda. Estimated value is $95. Certificate excludes Gratuity. Donated by Val Ford and Ninotch Spa.

Mary K (#0923): Roger Bernadina autographed baseball from the Washington Nationals. Estimated Value is $85. Donated by the Washington Nationals.

Anthony C (#0877): Two space-available passes for The Studio Theatre production of Baby Universe: A Puppet Odyssey. (Showing June 26th-July 14th, 2013). Donated by The Studio Theatre.

Ronald D Paul Companies (#1456): A $50 American Express Gift Card. Estimated value $50. Donated by Joy Paul.

Stephanie A (#084): A $50 gift certificate to Clyde’s An American Bar. Estimated Value $50. Donated by Clyde’s Restaurant Group. Expires 5/2014.

Steve S (#0962): A $50 gift certificate to Old Ebbitt Grill. Estimated Value $50. Donated by Clyde’s Restaurant Group. Expires 5/2014.

Carla S (#1066): A $50 gift certificate to Tower Oaks Lodge. Estimated Value $50. Donated by Clyde’s Restaurant Group. Expires 5/2014.

Alexa H (#0939): Two Day Passes or Two Open Climb Passes at Climbing Earth Treks Centers. Estimated Value $50. Donated by Climbing Earth Treks Centers.

Lee H (#010): Two Day Passes or Two Open Climb Passes at Climbing Earth Treks Centers. Estimated Value $50. Donated by Climbing Earth Treks Centers.

Amanda C (#1022): A gift certificate for a free manicure and pedicure from Nails by Timothy. Estimated value $40. Donated by Nails by Timothy.

Richard M (#0891): A gift certificate for a free manicure and pedicure from Nails by Timothy. Estimated value $40. Donated by Nails by Timothy.

Abbey K (#062): Baroni hand designed green and blue crystal silver chain earrings. Estimated Value $40. Donated by dmf collection.

 

11 Ways to Reduce Stress in Your Daily Life

stressEveryday can be My Mental Health Day. Of course we have responsibilities, work, and other chores to take care of but it’s important to take time for ourselves each day, even if it is only a moment or two. Why? Because our ability to reduce stress, prevent anxiety, and live life in a way that makes us happy depends on supporting our mental health. And, the best way to do that is to take time for ourselves doing the things we love. Our days are so jammed-pack with everything we NEED to do that taking a break for a mere five minutes can seem easier said than done.

So start with the little things: drink a cup of your favorite tea while you are typing away on the computer or sing along to your favorite song while driving home from work. Even though you are accomplishing what you NEED to do, you are still giving yourself a little mental health moment by doing something for you at the same time.

There are several proven ways to support your mental health. Make taking care of yourself a habit by participating in one of the following each day.

  • Connect with others: Call an old friend or go on a date with your significant other.
  • Create joy and satisfaction: Tell a silly joke or take your kids for ice cream cones.
  • Manage hard times: Read a magazine, listen to music, reach out to family for comfort—whatever it may be that helps you through the rough parts of your day.
  • Help Others: Help a friend move across town or volunteer at your local animal shelter.
  • Do a hobby or relax: Paint a picture, play baseball, knit, or take music lessons.
  • Eat well: Junk food can cause stress and sleepiness. Remember to eat your fruits and vegetables.
  • Stay positive: Although times may be hard, focus on what you have rather than what went wrong. Try keeping a gratitude log and remember to tell people how much they mean to you.
  • Get physically active: Take care of your physical wellness by exercising (yoga, biking, running).
  • Take care of your spirit: Meditate or pray, whatever makes you feel more at peace.
  • Get enough sleep: You’re a lot more relaxed and even productive when you don’t skip out on the sleep your mind and body require.
  • Get professional help when needed: Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings or needs. Reach out for help. No one can do everything by themselves.

How do you support your mental health? Share your ideas with us on Facebook and help others find something that may work for them. Go, play, and enjoy the day because today is your “My Mental Health Day!”

Do You Wear Pajamas to Work?

Aly WEAR

Aly Jacobs at MIX 107.3 Morning Show
With My Mental Health Day WEAR Bracelet

The first question I always get regarding my morning show job is, “how on earth do you wake up at 3:30 in the morning?!” That question is always followed by “when do you have to be at work? When does the show end? Do you wear pajamas to work? It must get easier, right?” To put it lightly and g-rated, no it does not get easier…and no I do not wear pajamas to work…anymore. Over the eight years of my career as an on-air morning show personality, there are ways that I have learned how to deal with the stress of the monster that is my 3:30am alarm.

I remember the first time my alarm clock went off at 3:30 in the morning. I was a junior in college.  I looked at the obnoxiously beeping clock like it had 3 heads…like it was speaking a foreign language (other than Spanish)…like it was trying to explain to me the Sequester (yeah I still don’t get it). Eight years later and my alarm is still working- louder than ever.  I used to just come home and sleep the day away after work and in between my classes. That was leaving me groggy, angry, and I was beginning to “sleep eat.” For those who have never woken up from sleep elbows deep in a bag of chips–you’re lucky. It was not a pretty sight. That is when I realized that I needed to channel my “job hour” stress elsewhere. I am head over heels for radio and what I get to do for a living, so I just needed to figure out a way to stay healthy- mentally and physically.

Six years ago I discovered running, and my life has never been the same since. Every day I head to the gym either right after work to sweat out the stress from the day…or, I will take a quick nap and rather than eat or drink my way through the day, I will meet friends at the gym and make it my social activity for the night! From Bosu Bootcamp to Bikram Yoga, Zumba class, or a long run around the Nation’s Capital, working out not only keeps me in shape, but it gives me the mental clarity that I need to stay balanced with my unusual work schedule.

Incorporating exercise into my daily routine has also changed my eating habits. I now love to cook and experiment with different recipes (see below for one of my favorites)! From Cauliflower Crusted Pizza to Kale Chips- cooking is therapeutic and fun…especially after you sweated out the stress earlier! Sure waking up at 3:30 isn’t ideal- but when you find ways to channel the negative into something positive, well then life is pretty great!

Click Photo to Enhance Aly’s Favorite Recipe

recipe--Aly Jacobs

 

Follow my sometimes “stress-free” life at https://alyjacobs.tumblr.com

To buy a MY MENTAL HEALTH DAY W.E.A.R. Bracelet:  www.wearproject.com/    WEARing mine reminds me to take a deep breath and sweat it out!

 

My Mental Health Day Thanks:
Alyson Jacobs, On-Air Personality/Producer WRQX-Mix 107.3
https://alyjacobs.tumblr.com

 

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