Spring seems to be feeling shy and reluctant to make an appearance this year. Nevertheless, this is an excellent time to begin spending more time outside. It is no secret that both adults and children are nature deprived, but they may be unaware of all the health benefits they are missing.
Some interesting benefits to being outdoors include:
- Improved mood: The increased light and fresh air are natural stress reducers and decrease depression. Many studies have shown that being outdoors significantly improves your mental health.
- Better vision: Most people’s eyes are overworked and fatigued from staring at computer monitors and small electronic screens. Research has found that spending time outdoors gives your eyes a break from focusing only on nearby objects.
- Improved concentration: Studies have shown that children diagnosed with ADHD had better concentration after spending time outside. Alzheimer’s patients also demonstrated improved mental function when given regular opportunities to be outdoors.
Some of the other potential benefits that have been identified are: improved blood pressure, weight loss, decreases in autoimmune disorders, and faster healing. All of these things add up to very good reasons to go outside and promote better mental and physical health.
10 Ways to Enjoy Spring
- visit a butterfly garden ~ learn about your local butterflies
- picnic in a meadow ~ diagram flowers
- make bird feeders ~ which seeds attract which birds?
- plan a garden ~ gardens are fun projects
- enjoy the farmer’s market ~ discuss: benefits of organic, small business, trades/skills
- field trip to a strawberry farm ~ learn benefits of fruit
- zoo ~ see the new baby animals
- plan a field trip to a local honey bee farm ~ learn about pollination
- photograph (draw) new blooms ~ try different media
- go camping ~ visit your state parks
Source: The HomeSchool Village
If you are looking for a healthy, delicious alternative to traditional hamburgers this is it! This recipe is a crowd favorite here at Brookhaven Retreat. Not only are these burgers tasty, they are high in fiber, protein, and other nutrients to keep you full and satisfied. Try this recipe the next time you are thinking about grilling burgers outside or just looking for a new weeknight dinner idea!
Recipe from our very own Brookhaven Retreat chefs!
Have you ever felt discouraged? Most of us have from time-to-time. Discouragement is unique in that it is often the by-product of a failed attempt or a loss. When we try to do something and do not succeed, it can bring discouragement. This is different from feelings of depression or anxiety. Discouragement causes us to feel like giving up. Our “get up and go” just isn’t there anymore. We begin to feel as though there is no value in continuing to work toward our goals. In fact, we have difficulty identifying our goals.
When we find ourselves in this slump, it is important to do two things:
- Identify what triggered the discouragement. Was it a job loss, financial set back or end of a relationship? Identify the trigger and create a plan to better deal with the situation in the future. Not every discouraging event can be avoided, and learning to constructively deal with disappointment is a skill that is only perfected by overcoming obstacles.
- Look at all you have done well, and celebrate those things. We all make errors in our judgment at times. We have to allow ourselves to be human. Mistakes teach us. They help us grow, and therefore should not be viewed as entirely negative. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, and determine in your heart to learn and grow. Celebrating past accomplishments and the positive aspects in your life takes the focus away from the negative and turns it toward all that is good and right in your life.
Discouragement is a natural part of life, but it should not be allowed to remain for long. If you are struggling with issues of ongoing discouragement, it may be time to seek professional depression help from a treatment center. Life is a precious gift and you deserve to enjoy it to its full potential.
Many times in our lives we make decisions only to later second-guess them. We often look at the choices we’ve made and wish we had chosen differently. This can leave us with a mountain of regrets. “If only” becomes our mindset. “If only I had chosen another career.” “If only I had chosen a different mate.” “If only I had stuck with that particular diet plan.”
The problem is “if only” doesn’t change what is. We made the choices we did based on the experience and information available at the time. Hindsight will always be 20/20, and there is little to be gained from looking back but depression.
We also tend to idealize the fiction outcome of our “if only” thinking. We imagine that our lives would have been so much better had we made different choices.
While that may be true in some cases, it may not be in others.
Typically we find that every choice has its own set of challenges that come with it. That perfect career, perfect mate or perfect diet plan isn’t perfect at all. They have unique challenges within them as well.
When tempted to fall into “if only” thinking, instead take a moment to really explore the potential outcomes of your alternate choices. If we are honest we will acknowledge the grass on that side of the fence still requires mowing.
So it is supposedly spring, but as I look out my window, I see snow falling over the tree branches. Oh, what warm spring weather we are having, Mother Nature! Or is this your joke? This bitter cold chill in the air makes me think of all the warm, cozy practices I thought I had shelved until next year. Things like drinking hot chocolate while curled up on the couch with a good book, having a fleece blanket wrapped around my legs, or turning up the heat in the fireplace. While I do yearn for spring and summer, I still love the melancholy mood a good snow flurried day can bring.
I imagine everybody has good memories that are spurred from moments like these, where you look outside and remember the excitement you felt as a child when it snowed. It doesn’t feel like we have had snow quite like we did when I was a kid. Back then it seemed like it was at least a foot or two deep instead of the mere dustings we seem to have now. My brother and I would dress up in two and three layers of sweatshirts, long johns, mittens and scarves to brave the cold. We played for hours until our toes were numb and our stomachs growled with hunger. Then after a quick lunch of hot tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, we put our wet gloves back on and rushed back out where the neighbors waited to make the next great snowman!
Once, my dad, a big kid himself, took a pot outside and stuffed me inside to push me down the biggest hill on our street. He just knew that pot would be slick enough for me to race down the hill on. But unfortunately, there was no racing down the hill, just hands, elbows, and feet flying wildly as I tumbled right down the steep bank. Looking back on that memory, it seems silly that a pot would work, but it is the fondness of those types of memories that warm my heart on such a cold day.
The allusive “they” always say that no snowflake is the same. That is the way I feel about memories. Each one can conjure up an array of emotions and reactions each time they surface. The smile one can bring to our lips or the sadness seen in our eyes are all products of a brief moment in time and our perception of that moment.
I smile every time I see the snowfall because I associate it with that quick tumble down the hill and the fun that was had that day. I like to sit on my couch sipping my hot chocolate gazing out the window and remembering a time that now seems so far away, but so near to my heart that it fills me with warmth. I’m so glad I have those moments to dwell on from time-to-time. A part of childhood I recapture for a brief second. And I relish in the thought that at some point I will share those memories with my own children, or better yet, make memories that they themselves will look back on with the same smile and warm glow on some cold Spring day.
The Value of an Outside Observer
In fourth grade gym class, I fell in love with basketball. I had no previous experience with the sport or any organized sports. My parents were not athletic and did not watch any sports on television with the exception of the Olympics. But from the moment my gym teacher taught us to shoot the ball, I wanted to play.
I asked my parents if I could participate in the local basketball recreation league. They said no. There was no money or time for it. I asked if I saved the money would they let me the following year and they said yes. So, I saved all my allowance for dues and my first pair of high-top sneakers. And in the fall of my fifth grade year, I was allowed to join the league.
My team nickname was the angels. We wore blue and white uniforms. My coaches were married and did it for a love of the game. I came to my first practice excited, but with some anxiety. I knew little to nothing of the game and did not even own my own basketball to practice with at home. After introducing themselves, the coaches asked us to line up for our first drill, right handed lay-ups. I ran and joined the line. I watched the girls in front of me. When my turn came, I took the ball in my right hand and attempted to dribble and take my first shot. I missed. I sprinted back to the back of the line ready to try again, and so began my basketball career.
Over the next three seasons, I continued to play in the recreational league. I loved every minute of it. I had three different sets of coaches. Each provided different styles of game play instruction that helped me develop my skill set. I practiced as often as I could with kids from my neighborhood. A friend had a goal she let me use. In eighth grade, I tried out for the school team and made it. I was beginning to play very well for my age and even earned a starting position.
The summer after eighth grade, the high school team had open practices. I went all summer long hoping to earn a spot on the team in the fall. As ninth grade began, I tried out and not only made the team, I was one of only two freshmen to earn a varsity slot. I was elated! After our first practice Coach asked us to stop by her office to sign some paperwork. Being a freshman and the smallest one on the team, I was last in line. I began to sign the paper when Coach told me to stop. She said to quit joking around and sign the papers properly. I was confused and told her I was signing my name. She became adamant and insisted I use the correct hand to sign the paperwork. Again, I said I was doing it. She looked at me and asked why I was signing with my left hand when she knew I shot the ball with my right hand. I told her I wrote left-handed, but my first coach taught us all to shoot the ball right-handed and that was how I learned to play ball.
About this time, the assistant coach began laughing. In her all too familiar and exasperated voice, she proclaimed, “ God Bless America! You mean to tell us you have been shooting with the wrong hand all these years!” I sheepishly lowered my head and said, “ I guess so Coach. I didn’t know any better when I started. I just followed my teammates’ lead and did what the coach told me to do.”
While this did begin a new phase in my basketball career, more importantly, it opened my eyes to the value of having an outside observer. Sometimes, we miss the obvious.
The Wonders of Technology
I tend to be a little “lost in a computer world” as my grandmother says. While I know how to operate a computer and use email frequently, I am usually a bit slow in using the newest technology on the market, so it was only last week that I discovered that I could download audiobooks to my smartphone and listen to them in my car via Bluetooth technology. Wow! This has changed my drive to and from work every day!
As a psychiatrist I often advocate for a slower life pace for my patients. I encourage them to slow down, smell the roses, and stop DOING so many things. I tend not to practice what I preach, however, often bringing dense reading materials to salon appointments so that I can be productive while I get my hair cut and colored.
It should therefore be no surprise that I have found something productive to do on my sixty-minute round-trip commute. What has come as a real surprise to me though, is that listening to a book on the way to and from work is relaxing. I come home more refreshed and relaxed than I ever have when listening to the radio or talking to a friend (hands-free, of course) on the phone. My commute is now my escape into another world, listening to the soothing voice of an author reading her written word out loud, to me, in my private space.
In addition to audiobooks, I have discovered numerous podcasts that I can download to my phone. These are free, educational and offer a range of subjects from science to humor to news stories. For those of us with longer commutes an audiobook can help us unwind while learning something new.
This pimento cheese is great on sandwiches, crackers, celery, and more. It doesn't require a lot of ingredients, therefore it is simple to prepare. I do, however, always double this recipe because it doesn't yield a lot. I think it's simpler to use a whole 8 oz package of cream cheese and kind of adjust the rest accordingly, like throwing in an extra handful of cheese and a little more mayo. You'll figure it out.
Brie, White Cheddar, Pear & Arugula Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Sometimes there is nothing better than a good old-fashioned grilled cheese sandwich. Bread, butter and cheddar cheese - one of those trifecta flavor combinations that we often crave. But the grilled cheese sandwich is one of those versatile foods that can take on all types of flavor profiles and still work. Think of all the different types of bread and cheese out there that you could experiment with!
Try swapping out the classic wonder bread with a rustic artisan loaf of sourdough, or my favorite, English toasting bread. What about substituting the classic American cheddar for some aged Vermont white cheddar or smoked Gouda? Our dietician, Ashley, has been telling us all about the theme of this year's national nutrition month "eat right, every day, your way." This theme is a wonderful reminder that simple, nutrition-minded swaps can keep those comfort food favorites in our everyday diet, while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
And eating right my way definitely includes grilled cheese sandwiches! However, when making them at home, I often cut the cheese content with thinly sliced fruits or vegetables, and use a hearty multigrain bread. Below is a recipe for one of my favorite grilled cheese variations that I've adapted from virtuallyhomemade.com.
Receive by Giving
What do you think of when you think of giving? Do images of malnourished children, the homeless, or the less fortunate come to mind? Are the emotions you feel positive or negative?
I was raised in a home with parents who considered it both a joy and a responsibility to give. Though we weren’t wealthy, we were fortunate to have everything we needed. It was out of a heart of thankfulness that they chose to give to the needs of others rather than live extravagantly. My parents knew the importance of having “an attitude of gratitude.” I am very thankful my parents passed this important concept on to me, and I am now trying to pass it on to my children. When we grow up surrounded by plenty, we sometimes forget that not everyone is so fortunate. If we aren’t careful, we enjoy what we have with little thought to those who are hurting and in need. What then is the secret to obtaining this wonderful concept? It is found in the act of giving.
One of the ways we do this in our home is to go through our belongings regularly. When new items are brought into our home, we choose something that is still in good condition to donate to those less fortunate. This is a very simple way to teach children to think about giving to the needs of others, and they will begin to look forward to their opportunity to contribute.
Something amazing occurs when we give to others. The remarkable thing is that it is often most life changing for the giver. When we become aware of the needs of others, we can’t help but acknowledge how fortunate we are ourselves. We also begin to look for opportunities to give. It becomes a part of who we are, and not just something we do. When we choose to give, we are actually opening the door of our hearts to receive.