tumblr_mh666j8NFI1qdgauwo1_500It’s been just over a year since I took a leap and quit my clock in and clock out job. I worked there for over five years and the work was becoming less and less satisfying. My hours were continuing to get cut, the work I was handed was intended for the brainless and those who just wanted to skim by to get a paycheck, and my confidence was dwindling by the second. I missed trying to come up with something amazing instead of something just to get the job done. My creative soul was being extinguished and it hurt bad!

I can remember moving here from Los Angeles to be with the man who is now my husband. In LA, I had a two hour commute there and two hours back. I worked as a graphic designer, creating hangtags, labels, and other little tidbits that you find on clothing. It was a blast working long hours, putting together over the top presentations to wow the customers, and to see the Los Angeles skyline glimmer in the sunrise as I took that turn off the 10 freeway. It was exciting and I felt that I had made it, but I needed to follow a different part of my heart. So, I moved here.

First couple of days of being here I landed a job as a graphic designer for a man who ran a small local coupon book. It was good for about a week until I had someone over my shoulder every time my hands hit the keyboard. Designing for the coupon book was fine, but then I started designing for his new printing company, car magazines, and the list goes on, all while he was over my shoulder. The paycheck was what kept me there, until six month later I asked for a raise and got the response, “You will get a raise when you can read my mind.” I left that moment and called my boyfriend balling. I had no back up plan.

Every day I checked to see if jobs were posted online and each one I contacted. One interview I went to, I was told that there was going to be some manual labor and I was actually excited about that! Putting together signage that you designed seemed like an awesome job. But, I was told, “Well, you’re a pretty girl and we don’t know if you can do that”.  Another interview came months later and I was told, “I don’t look like a typical designer”.

Finally the job I stayed 5 years at came along. I was beyond excited to work at a print shop and learn the ins and outs of printing. I worked so hard, coming up with ideas every week, but was shot down. I didn’t let it get me down, and I continued working 150%. In June of 2009, I got married, went on a honeymoon, and came back to a job that had cut my hours. I received one raise 9 months from when I started working there, and my hours were continuing to get cut back. The work was not challenging, the environment was toxic, and my fire was going out. Freelance graphic design work was coming in sporadically, and it was always fun. I just felt that it wasn’t enough for me to continue to pay the bills.

The search had started again for a job, while working for the print shop. I went to a job interview and was asked more questions about what my husband did than about my qualifications. Unless, you would count one of my qualifications as not having kids, because “kids get sick and then you have to take time off”. Several months later I went to another job interview and didn’t get the job because I had too much experience, so they hired a kid straight out of college.

It wasn’t until one night I woke up next to my bedroom door screaming at the top of my lungs. My heart was pounding, I felt like I was going to pass out, and I was terrified. I felt completely cornered, depressed, and hopeless. My health, mentally and physically, was hurting and I was in a very bad place. What was I going to do? I decided I was the only person in charge of my life so the next day I quit my job.

Now, I own my graphic design business and I am happy. No, I am not rolling in dough by any means, but I do have electricity and food, a wonderful relationship, and creative ideas flowing. There is still so much for me to learn and I am scared but more excited. The biggest hurdle for me is to continue to believe in myself and to grow that confidence back to where it used to be. Thanks to the wonderful support I have, I am able to do what I love.

Sending happiness out to everyone!

Jenny

Advertisements

Walk, Bike, Pogo This Way!

IMG_4008

Last week I walked to work and it felt great. Yesterday, I rode my bike to work  and I could not stop smiling! I felt like a kid again! What I am trying to get at, is this Things To Do Thursday, try getting somewhere, anywhere, differently.

Here are some options:

Walk – The great part about walking is that you only need a decent pair of shoes, which makes it completely cost-efficient.

Bike – You will get there much more quickly than walking, but cost does go up a little (unless you’re into fancy walking shoes). It’s easier and easier to find a bike at a yard sale or Target!

Skate – Rollerblades or the traditional quad skates are amazing. I know rollerblades may not be the coolest right now, but if you grew up in the 80’s & 90’s like I did, you know you still want to use them.

Carpool – When I lived in Los Angeles I only dreamed of having a co-worker or someone that worked around LA that I could carpool with. I even thought of putting a car seat in my car, but that would have been completely horrible and not to mention illegal. Even if your commute does not take two hours to get there, carpooling is fabulous for your mind and your wallet.

Public Transportation – I am envious of New York or countries where public transportation is king! I would love to hop on a subway or grab the “whatever it may be” into town. To be able to mingle with different people, aromas, and sights on a daily basis would be such a mind massage!

These were the only options I could come up with…besides Pogo, which I do not need to elaborate on. If you have any other ideas in mind, please let Polka Dot Tango know!!!!

Jawbone UP

IMG_3516

For months I had been talking about this Jawbone UP and constantly going back to the website to see if it would be worth purchasing. With a tagline of: Know Yourself. Live Better, you wonder, do I really know how healthy I am? So, one day I came home and there was a Jawbone UP sitting right next to my phone. “Someone” had enough of me talking about it that they went and purchased it for me. 🙂

So far, I have had the UP for about two weeks and I do feel better and have lost some weight, but not because the band did it, rather because I did it. Because I was able to see what I ate, how idle or active I was and maybe I am a bit of a carb lover, I was able to live a little healthier. I like to call my UP band my reminder. Yes you have to manually log in your food intake and some workouts, like weight lifting, but they have designed it to be soooooo easy. Also, it is very detailed so you don’t feel like you are getting a completely inaccurate reading.  In order for the entire UP system to work you need: a Jawbone UP band, the UP app, and of course yourself.

Here is a list of what the Jawbone UP helps you track:

Sleep and Nap Tracking

24/7 Activity Tracking

Food & Drink Tracking

Mood Tracking

Insight Engine

Idle Alert

Smart Alarm

10-Day Battery

Water Resistant Design

Day and Night Form Factor

Power Nap

Simple Sync

IMG_3589

This is what your home screen will look like on your UP App. This image was taken at the end of one of my days so that you can see how it logs everything in a simple chart. The purple column represents the amount of sleep I got, the orange represents my activity, and the green is my food and water. See how the orange column says 122%? I have a goal programmed into the program of reaching 10,000 steps a day, which can be difficult considering I am at a desk all day. I exceeded my goal this day and so the app lets me know!

IMG_3590

By clicking on the orange (active) column, it will give you the specifics on your entire day. Now, you don’t have to wait until the end of the day to see all of your stats, you can plug in your UP band to your phone, computer, or iPad, at any time and it will five you a reading up to the time you plugged it in.

IMG_3591

When clicking on the purple (sleep) column, this lets you know way more than many think they could know about their sleep.

IMG_3592

The green (nutritional) column, shows you if exactly what you ate. I obviously ate too many carbs and protein that day, but I’m not going to cry about it. It’s a real eye opener to see where you are getting your nutrition from.

IMG_3593

This is the screen that comes up when you are entering your food. Beyond Breakfast & Pastries, there are 7 more categories to choose from. Each category has a wide range of items to select from. In fact, there hasn’t been one food that I have not found. Better yet, at the top of the screen there is a scan button. You click on that and scan the barcode of the item you are consuming and all the info comes up, you just have to adjust how many servings you had. You can also take a photo of the food you ate, just in case you want to recreate it again.

IMG_3594

This image shows the more manual side of things, where you would log in anything that you did. Just like the nutritional part, there are a wide range of activities and you can adjust the intensity of your workout, the duration, etc.

Being active all my life and then becoming accustomed to being sedentary has been a hard transition for me. The Jawbone UP has helped me to remind myself that it is important for me to be healthy and not to just completely veg out. I would recommend this product for anyone who has enough drive to living a healthy lifestyle themselves, but needs just a little something to keep it up.

 

 

Go Ahead and Get a Move On!

Artwork by Laura Laine. Click on image to view more of here amazingly beautiful work.

Artwork by Laura Laine. Click on image to view more of here amazingly beautiful work.

For this Things to do Thursday, Polka Dot Tango decided that one thing everyone should do is make a decision. Each and every day, we are faced with decisions, big and small. Do I want to wear my hair up today or down? Do I really feel like I need a venti or should I just stick with my grande? Should I sell my car or just enjoy not having payments? Should I quit my job or keep it? The only thing in common with these questions is that you have a choice. The difference, some could ultimately change your life.

Who hasn’t had a decision that they had settling in the back of their mind, making a grand appearance more often than not? It’s this decision that can leave you feeling worried, insecure, hopeless, and exhausted. There are so many “what-ifs” that create an excruciating professional ping-pong tournament going on in your head. The stress of wondering and planning can leave you debilitated and overwhelmed.  You feel like an enormous weight is on your shoulders. So, let’s just take a moment and refer back to one of the great legends, Dr. Seuss (Click on link to see entire verbiage:

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Laura Laine

Laura Laine

I know Dr. Seuss made up crazy words and insane little characters, but if you think about it, he started out doing ads and then decided to dive head first into his own made-up world. Because of that…he is a household name that only has positive connotations with it! Applause indeed! So, this Thursday, attempt to get closer to having “that decision” made or if you’re feeling wild, just make it. On tinybuddha.com, there are some tips on how to make a decision, and we have selected a few.

Make the small decisions with your head and the big ones with your heart. -Emily Keith

Take a step back and try to stop thinking so much. -Liz Morton

Ask yourself three questions before diving into something new or daunting: What’s the worst that can happen? How likely is that to happen? Can you deal with it? -Long Ho

Consider whether or not you will be able to look proudly into the mirror the next day. -Marcia Jones

But in the end, no one can tell you how to decide or what your choice should be, only you. I promise that once you do decide, you will be excited and terrified, which are both explosive emotions. So run with that energy and from deep down in our hearts we wish you the best of luck!

Laura Laine

Laura Laine

Get Some Energy!

Lesja Chernish. Click on image to view more of her work.

Lesja Chernish. Click on image to view more of her work.

When you wake up, in the middle of the day, at the end of the day, you may experience this certain state which I prefer to call “tired”.  My first passing thought is to crawl into bed and take a nice peaceful nap, but, I have heard this isn’t the best option. After perusing the internet in search of what to write for Wellness Wednesday, I came across a website I used to frequently visit called zenhabits.net. I had forgotten how simple this website is on such a variety of topics. All of course are to benefit your well being. Lo and behold, an article screamed at me, “55 Ways to Get More Energy”. Hello! I could only really think of one, maybe two. I would also like to note that this article is not a direct product of zenhabits.net, but of Greg Go, co-author of Wise Bread‘s new book, 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget. So, take a look and see if any of these 55 interest you in getting some energy into your day! Let us know if this article missed anything or if you know one of these works for you.

55 Ways to Get More Energy

If you’re tired all the time, a change in what you eat (diet) or what you do all day (activity pattern) may be all you need to turn things around 180°.

You won’t be able to do everything on this list all the time — you’d tire yourself out trying to get more energy — but do try them all to see which ones work for you and your schedule. Add a few of these tips to your regular routine. Or mix them up to keep things interesting.

1. Change your socks for refreshment.

It’s an amazing trick. Bring a change of socks to work, and change your socks midway through the day (say, after lunch). You’ll be amazed at how much fresher you’ll feel. This trick is especially handy on days with lots of walking — like during a hike or family outing to the amusement park.

2. Rock out loud.

Whether you work alone or in a room with coworkers, a quick one-song rock out loud session is an effective way to beat back exhaustion.

In a cube farm? Get everyone to sing along! The key is to choose a song that everyone can sing along with. (I like Kokomo.) The energy boosting effect comes from bobbing your head and singing out loud. One song, 3 minutes. That’s a quick boost of adrenaline that lasts for a bit. You’ll be singing to yourself the rest of the never ending project delivery night.

3. Get rid of the stuffy nose.

If allergies have your sinuses blocked, you may be feeling more tired and cranky. An over-the-counter allergy medication should clear up your sinuses (and your mind).

4. Work with your body’s clock.

There is a natural ebb and flow of energy throughout the day. We start off sluggish after waking up, even after a solid 8 hours of sleep. Our energy peaks mid-morning, and it’s natural to want a siesta in the afternoon. We get a second spike of energy in the early evening, followed by our lowest energy point just before bedtime. Once you understand this natural rhythm of energy throughout the day, you can work on the important tasks during your peak hours and avoid early afternoon snoozefests (meetings).

5. Have a piece of chocolate.

Not too much, but if you’re going to have some candy, it might as well be chocolate. We get an endorphin buzz from chocolate (not to mention the energy boost from the slight bit of caffeine chocolate contains). Dark chocolate has more caffeine than milk chocolate.

6. Have an afternoon power snack.

A small healthy snack that is low in sugar and has protein and/or fiber a couple hours after lunch helps you finish off the day strong. Some suggestions:

  • mixed nuts
  • nonfat yogurt
  • apple and peanut butter
  • frozen berrie smoothie
  • trail mix
  • granola bar

7. Hit up the water cooler for inconsequential banter.

A little midday gossip and random banter is a great pick-me-up for your tired mind. It works because it gets your mind on zero-stress thoughts for a while. The mental break for just a few minutes will revitalize you.

8. Eat lots of berries.

Especially berries that are blue, red, or purple. The color comes from anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant, that boosts energy. Any kind of berry will contain tons.

9. Wear brighter colors.

This trick is related to the mood you project to people, and the reciprocating mood they project towards you. If you wear dark, somber colors, you project a dark, somber attitude, and people will respond to you with a somber attitude. If you wear bright, happy colors, you’ll get that attitude projected towards you, which will boost your own mood and energy levels.

10. Take a power nap.

But do it in your chair. Don’t lie down on the sofa or you won’t get back up. Keep it short: 5-10 minutes max. Any longer and it will have the opposite effect of knocking you out for the rest of the day.

11. Flirt.

It’s fun, it’s harmless (keep it innocent), and it’s effective. Nothing quite gets the heart pumping like a little flirting.

12. Aromatherapy with lavender.

Research has shown that the lavender scent increases alertness. Test subjects were given math tests before and after 3 minutes of lavender aromatherapy. The group completed the tests faster and more accurately after aromatherapy.

13. Wake up at the same time everyday.

Including weekends. This sets your body clock. Otherwise, you’ll be wide awake when you should be asleep. Or worse, asleep when you should be awake (dozing off in a meeting is embarrassing). The key is to go to bed at the same time every night. If you need to reset your sleep cycle in one day, stop eating for the 16 hours before the time you want to wake up.

14. Drink lots of water.

Dehydration is a sinister cause of fatigue because it slowly creeps up on you. If you consistently drink less than 8 cups of water a day, you may be sluggish all the time. Get a 32 oz (1 quart, 4 cups) water bottle. Your goal is to polish off 2 of those a day. Try it for a week and see if your general energy level increases.

15. Use caffeine wisely.

Coffee and caffeinated sodas can boost your alertness, but be careful about letting it be a habitual crutch. The temptation to drink more caffeine to get even more energy will be strong. Eventually you’ll be downing 5 double-shot espressos a day just to function. Drink coffee earlier in the day to avoid insomnia, which will make the next day worse.

16. Avoid energy drinks.

Energy drinks provide a near-instant hyperactivity boost, but they always result in a crash. Energy drinks are like energy credit cards — you’re spending future energy to get short-term energy. The resulting energy deficit gets worse until you hit energy bankruptcy.

17. Eat low glycemic (low or complex carb) foods.

Trade in good, complex carbohydrates (low glycemic index) for the bad, simple carbs (sugar). Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index means the sugar is more easily digested by your body. That results in a spike in energy followed by a low-sugar crash.

High glycemic index foods to avoid include white bread, potato, and high sugar foods (like sodas). Low glycemic foods (the good carb foods) include fruits and vegetables, grains (eg., whole wheat bread), low-carb foods (eg., meats), and pasta. Check this chart of foods and their glycemic index before your next trip to the grocery store.

18. Eat more soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber is the kind that slows down the rate of absorption of sugars. It evens out your energy levels by preventing a sugar high and crash. (By the way, insoluble fiber is the kind that prevents constipation.) Don’t worry too much about which kind of fiber you’re getting — they’re both good for you. Rotate more high soluble fiber foods like nuts, grains, fruits, plant matter (vegetables), beans, and oats into your diet.

19. Get your Vitamin C.

Get a daily dose of citrus fruits (eg., orange juice in the morning) or a vitamin C tablet. Study after study shows the correlation between citric acid deficiency and chronic fatigue. Vitamin C also helps you absorb more nutrients from food.

20. Sniff some citrus.

In addition to the Vitamin C, citrus scents (like orange, lemon and lime) stimulate alertness. So lather on some of that lemon scented lotion.

21. Cover the B Vitamins.

B vitamins cover a range of bodily functions, but most B vitamins are involved in the process of converting blood sugar into usable energy. To ensure you get the proper amount of B vitamins, eat a balanced diet.

22. Quit smoking.

Ex-smokers frequently report an energy boost of 2-3x when they quit smoking. Nicotine affects your sleep, so you don’t get as good a night’s sleep. That makes you cranky, frustrated and tired the next day. Which leads to more smoking. It’s a vicious energy sapping cycle.

23. Play to relax.

Playing a game keeps your mind working (versus, say, watching TV), but doesn’t have any of the energy-sapping stresses of work. Go ahead and play that quick game of Scrabble on Facebook, but have a strict time limit if you don’t want your boss to say something.

24. Eat smaller, more frequent meals.

Snack throughout the day. By eating smaller but more frequent “meals”, you will maintain a steady dose of energy instead of experiencing food comas. Don’t snack on fatty and sugar laden junk food though. You may get a short 30 minute burst of hyperalertness, but it’ll be quickly followed by a debilitating crash.

25. Enjoy a cup of tea.

In a recent study, University College London researchers noted that drinking a cup of tea 4-6 time a day reduces stress hormone levels in your body. The study’s results suggest “drinking black tea may speed up our recovery from the daily stresses in life.”

26. Splash some water on your face.

Just letting the cool water hit your face washes off the grime and stresses of the day. You could also jump in the pool or take a shower for the same effect. Showers stimulates the circulatory system and metabolism. Get wet to feel more energetic.

27. Stand up, stretch and take a couple of deep breaths.

Stretch your arms, back, legs, and neck. Take a deep breath through your nose, hold it, and let it out slowly and forcefully. Repeat several times. This will take 30 seconds and will be an instant fix. When you sit back down, you’ll have the clear head and fresh feeling needed to power through the tough/boring task in front of you.

28. Get your world organized.

When your world is organized, you don’t have to expend mental energy keeping track of a million things. Here’s how to take back control of your time and productivity:

29. Look on the bright side.

A generally upbeat and optimistic outlook on life will keep your energy level up. Yes, the worst thing that can happen might actually happen, but giving it too much worry will only drain you. Look for the positive in every situation and you won’t be so tired.

30. Take a mini-vacation.

Take one day and just do whatever you want. No work, no chores, no errands. Enjoy your one full day of vacation, then come back to work more motivated and energetic.

31. Eat a satisfying breakfast but a light lunch.

A heavy lunch, especially one with lots of carbs or fat (like a burger combo) will hit you as soon as you get back to the office. And it’ll be a sluggishness that lasts to the end of the day. Eat a big breakfast instead. It provides the fuel you need for the day, at the time when your body needs it the most. Not only will you avoid the afternoon food coma, the big breakfast will make you more productive in the mornings. Double win.

32. Choose protein over fat or carbs.

Foods with lean (low fat) protein help you feel fuller for longer. It also prevents blood sugar spikes, giving you more steady energy. Lean protein foods include fish and other seafood, lean pork, or chicken breasts (“white meat”).

33. Shed a few pounds.

The things you do to lose weight — exercise, drink water, avoid simple sugars — are actions that also have a positive effect on your energy level. Even better, the actual loss of excess fat provides an energy boost of its own. You’ll feel “lighter” and things that use to make you breathless will now seem much easier. Losing weight provides a double-impact to boosting your energy.

But be careful with fad and/or crash diets. Cutting out too many calories (ie., energy your body needs) too fast will cause you to be even more tired. Take small steps, and make it a lifestyle change so you shed the fat for life.

34. Listen to tunes while you work.

It’s well known that our brain’s pleasure centers light up when we hear music. Throwing on the headphones and listening to any music you like while working will give you a productivity boost.

35. Start exercising.

If you have a fairly sedentary life, just the idea of starting an intense exercise program is exhausting. But if you go slow, literally taking one step at a time, you can go from being sedentary to becoming a runner just like Leo.

36. Eliminate stress.

Stress is draining. Sometimes it’s worth it, like when you’re on a deadline to delivery a big project. Sometimes it’s just a waste of energy. Leo says,

Certain things in our life just cause us to be more exhausted than others, with less value. Identify them, and cut them out. You’ll have much more energy and much less stress. Happiness ensues.

Here’s how to eliminate stress from your life.

37. Have more sex.

Talk about an endorphin rush! If you keep those endorphins flowing regularly, you’ll have more natural energy. Literally, more bounce to your step.

38. Move gym time to the morning.

A lot of people go to the gym after work. Try going to the gym in the morning instead to get energy that lasts all day. Sure, you’ll have to wake up an hour or two earlier, but you get that time back at night. That exercise in the morning gets the endorphins flowing, which keeps you happy and productive the rest of the day. By exercising in the morning instead of at night, you spend the same amount of time at the gym, but get the added benefit of having more energy at work.

39. Purge low-value tasks from your todo list.

If you have a ridiculously long todo list that is impossible to get all the way through, you’ll feel tired just thinking about the todo list. If you want to actually cross off tasks from your todo list, you’ll need to throw out the crap tasks that you don’t want/need to deal with. Either delegate those tasks, move them into a second “nice but not critical” list, or just admit that they’re probably never going to get done and move them to the “maybe/someday” list. Shortening your todo list to just the most critical, must-do tasks will give you the “energy” to start knocking out those tasks.

40. Avoid the mid-day cocktail.

If you want to function in the afternoon, avoid alcohol at lunch. Even if it’s just one beer. Alcohol’s sedative effects will take hours to recover from, killing the rest of your afternoon.

41. Get a massage.

Loosen up those tight muscles and you’ll feel more relaxed. A more relaxed you means a happier and more productive you. Trade a quick shoulder rub with a coworker after lunch to perk both of you up for the rest of the afternoon.

42. Dress up.

Feeling better about yourself has a magical way of giving you more energy. Put just a tad more effort into looking your best for work, and you’ll get compliments from coworkers that will make you feel better — and make you a perkier, more energetic worker bee.

43. Don’t drink yourself to sleep.

Alcohol keeps your body from entering deep sleep, so even if you get the same hours of sleep, you won’t feel as rested. Limit alcohol the hours before bedtime to get the best night’s sleep.

44. Get a thyroid test from your doctor.

If you are chronically fatigued, it may be a symptom of hypothyroidism. That’s when not enough thyroid hormone is produced, with fatigue as one of its symptoms. Visit the doctor if you’ve been tired for a long time and haven’t had a checkup in a while.

45. Take a walk outside.

Getting outside for some fresh air, a change of scenery, and a quick walk to get your blood going will do wonders for your mood and motivation. Seeing the sun is a signal to your body that it’s not bedtime yet.

46. Lower your blood pressure.

Besides being a risk factor for a heart attack, high blood pressure makes you fatigued. If you haven’t seen your doctor lately, go in and get your blood pressure checked.

47. Rotate yogurt into your diet.

Yogurt with live cultures keep your digestive system clean, which helps your body absorb all the nutrients from food. That makes you healthier and more energetic. Yogurt is also a good low-fat snack.

48. Have a laugh.

Laughter is great medicine for exhaustion. Make sure you laugh regularly to keep your mood up. Seek out funny people or subscribe to a daily email joke. I like the geeky comic xkcd for a quick smile. What’s your favorite quick funny pick-me-up?

49. Add more cardio to your gym time.

The aerobic exercise gets your blood pumping. It builds stamina and endurance, which is useful for both triathalons and neverending department meetings.

50. Take up yoga.

The stretching, slow controlled movements, and focus on breathing reduces tension (and stress). The benefits include better sleep, feeling more relaxed, and being mentally sharper.

51. Eat eggs.

When people have eggs (mostly protein) for breakfast, versus bagels (all carbs), they feel more energy and eat less at the next meal. Protein makes you feel fuller without feeling stuffed, and they provide a steady stream of energy for your body (versus the quick high and crash of carbohydrates). Eggs are a great for breakfast or as an addition to a lunch salad.

52. Get a good night’s sleep.

We need 7-8 hours of sleep to be fully rested. Consistently sleeping less than 6 hours a night builds up a “sleep debt” that is hard to recover from. If you’re getting enough sleep, it should take you up to 30 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re falling asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow (or while sitting at your desk), that’s a symptom of sleep deprivation.

53. Get more ginseng.

Ginseng is well-known to have energy boosting properties. It is an adaptogen, which means it build resistance to stress and boosts energy. A ginseng supplement or sipping tea with ginseng can help improve energy.

54. Socialize.

Turn off the Internet and go socialize with friends. Humans are social animals, and we need regular socializing to keep ourselves in peak health and energy.

55. Get on your toes.

Roll up and down on your toes. This stimulates your circulatory system, which will deliver much-needed oxygen and fuel (glucose) throughout your body. You’ll be more energized and sharper. You can do this right now.

Good Health IS a Laughing Matter!

The other day I was laughing so hard at some stupid joke my co-worker made, I had tears running down my cheeks and I was kneeling on the floor. I could barely catch my breath and could not utter a word, yet I felt awesome! How is it that laughter has similarities to being in pain but it feels so good? This had me doing some research to see if there was even such a thing as benefits of laughing. I mean, yeah, it makes you smile, but is there more to it? Guess what? There is a heck of a lot more to it!!!! I checked out the Mayo Clinic’s website and they seemed to have the most realistic knowledge of the benefits of laughter…

Stress relief from laughter

A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data are mounting about the positive things laughter can do.

Short-term benefits
A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:

  • Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.
  • Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.
  • Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Long-term effects
Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long haul. Laughter may:

  • Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can impact your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.

How to improve — or gain — a sense of humor

Are you afraid you have an underdeveloped — or nonexistent — funny bone? No problem. Humor can be learned. In fact, developing or refining your sense of humor may be easier than you think.

  • Put humor on your horizon. Find a few simple items, such as photos or comic strips that make you chuckle. Then hang them up at home or in your office. Keep funny movies or comedy albums on hand for when you need an added humor boost.
  • Laugh and the world laughs with you. Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good.
  • Share a laugh. Make it a habit to spend time with friends who make you laugh. And then return the favor by sharing funny stories or jokes with those around you.
  • Knock-knock. Browse through your local bookstore or library’s selection of joke books and get a few rib ticklers in your repertoire that you can share with friends.
  • Know what isn’t funny. Don’t laugh at the expense of others. Some forms of humor aren’t appropriate. Use your best judgment to discern a good joke from a bad, or hurtful, one.

To help everyone jump start their laughing, I decided to get some jokes collected for you. They may not be side splitting, but I will guess that at least one side of your mouth will curl up in a smile!

How do you make a tissue dance?     Put a little boogie in it!

Two cannibals are eating a clown.    One says to the other: “Does this taste funny to you?”

What do you get when you play country music backwards?    “You get your house back, you get your car back, you get your wife back, you get your dog back…”

What do you call a cow with no legs?    Gound beef.

Tell Polka Dot Tango your favorite corny joke!!!

 

Why So Villainous?

Artwork by Wendy Chew, http://mashi.deviantart.com/

There are days when I think, “Man, I’m surprised someone hasn’t slapped me!” just because for some odd reason, I am cranky. I constantly wonder if it’s sleep, that time of the month, stress, the outfit I am wearing, whatever, that is causing me to lash out. My usual solution is to keep my mouth shut until the day is over with, but after doing some perusing, I found an article on the Dr. Oz website that was all about crankiness and supposedly 6 reasons as to why you feel like a villain!

Ever feel like you hate everything and everyone? Or you reach your boiling point so quickly that chemists should study you? You’re not alone – more and more women are finding themselves extra cranky. Luckily, science has some explanations and solutions to offer. Learn the most common causes of crankiness and how to fight off your bad mood.

 1. Your Hormones

If you’ve noticed that your bad moods occur around the same time every month, the culprit could be your hormones. As women move through their monthly cycle, their ovaries produce the hormones estrogen and progesterone. One week before your period, your progesterone levels are at their peak and then they suddenly drop, which triggers crankiness.

PMS, short for premenstrual syndrome, is thought to be caused by these fluctuating hormone levels. Another change in hormone levels occurs during menopause, where your progesterone drops down to zero. This fluctuation can also lead to irritability.

 Solution: If you experience crankiness around these times, you have to build up your defenses. Studies have found that omega-3s can help prevent the symptoms of PMS and menopause. Take 600 mg of DHA omega-3s daily.

 

2. Caffeine

Consuming caffeine, even in moderation, can cause anxiety. Caffeine stimulates the brain, which makes it addictive. When people become addicted to caffeine, they may experience symptoms of withdrawal including headaches, fatigue and moodiness.

 Solution: You should only consume 200 mg or 2 (8 oz) cups of caffeinated beverages a day.

3. Not Eating Enough

Your brain needs glucose for energy. If your blood sugar levels are too low, you might feel sluggish, irritable and experience difficulty concentrating.

 Solution: To prevent low blood sugar, eat healthy snacks every 3 hours.

4. Your Bedroom

The correlation between sleep and your mood is no secret. But you could still be tired and cranky regardless of how early you hit the hay. Studies have shown that even dim light, for example the glow from your TV, reading lamp or even your alarm clock, in the bedroom may increases cases of depression. This light decreases the production of the hormone melatonin. Without steady levels of melatonin, your normal sleep patterns can become disturbed. Think about this the next time you wake up on the wrong side of bed.

 Solution: Do a lights-out check before bed. Turn off all the lights and try setting a sleep timer on the TV if that helps you fall asleep. Turn your alarm clock away from you.

5. Your Diet

The comfort food you grab when you’re in a bad mood could actually be the cause of your bad mood in the first place. Diets rich in trans and saturated fats have been linked to increased depression. Additionally, new studies indicate that these diets can negatively affect cognition. Junk food and fast food negatively affect the connections between your brain cells called synapses.

Solution: Look for foods packed with vitamins and minerals that will sustain you throughout the day instead of the fatty, sugary processed foods that may taste good, but leave you with no energy.

6. Your Thyroid

Your thyroid is a gland that makes the hormones that help to regulate your metabolism. In a condition called hypothyroidism, you experience a deficiency of thyroid hormone that leaves you fatigued, sluggish and depressed. The condition has other symptoms including weight gain, increased sensitivity to cold, pale dry skin, constipation, and brittle nails and hair.

 Solution: If these symptoms apply to you, see your doctor and get your thyroid levels checked. Hypothyroidism is treatable.

So, after reading all this, do you think Dr. Oz is onto something or do you think there are other reasons why we get villainous, like someone didn’t tell you that there wasn’t any milk left? Let Polkadot Tango know what you think causes people to be cranky, whether it’s legitimate or hilarious, we want to know!

Journaling Your Thoughts, Dreams, and Worries

Writing is a cheap, flexible, private and portable vice. In spite of what you may think, it requires no particular skills or talents.

Journaling is something that has been an on and off relationship for me. I love to write down my feelings and what events happen in my life, but I often forget. As it turns out, there are many health benefits to journaling. The one that stands out to me without any research from the internet is the ability to give yourself peace of mind before you turn in for the night. It helps to write down whatever is on your mind and get them out of there before they start piling up onto whatever enters your mind tomorrow. For some inspiration, take a look at the Smash Book Brandi started!

On DeepMeditation.net, I found many reasons as to why journaling is so beneficial for us. As well as making journaling not seem like a chore, but rather a reward for yourself.

The Benefits of Journaling

  • It is a companion and best friend
  • Improves mental health
  • Improves communication skills
  • Releases pent-up emotions
  • Encourages reflection
  • Clears the mind
  • It is empowering
  • Helps in the healing process

“Writing dissolves some of the barriers between you and others. If you write, it’s easier to communicate with others.”
– James Pennebaker, the author of Writing to Heal

The main idea behind journaling is learning how to open up about yourself and the issues and situations in your life. For some people this takes a fair amount of practice, while others do it quite naturally. Once you begin, you will observe that the process of expressing your feelings will make you feel better.

There are really no rules to keeping a journal, only suggestions. A journal can be anything you want it to be and there are many types of journals. For example, there are observation journals, travel journals, dream journals and gratitude journals. In the tradition of the Quaker diaries, Oprah Winfrey has long kept a gratitude journal. “I have kept a journal since I was 15 years old,” she has said. “As I’ve grown older, I have learned to appreciate living in the moment.” At night, she lists a minimum of five things she’s grateful for—no matter how small. She says that it’s been instrumental to her success. “What it will begin to do is change your perspective of your day and your life. I believe that if you can learn to focus on what you have, you will always see the universe is abundant,” she adds.

Journaling is a healthy way to cope during stressful times. It could inspire you to enjoy the lifelong habit of journaling regardless of stress. The important thing is that you write from a deep place because the process is about having an authentic relationship with yourself. The more comfortable you are with your true self, the easier it will be for you to handle stress. Part of this process involves trusting your inner wisdom, intuition and heart. If you do this, your true inner voice will emerge on the page.

Not sure how to get going? Here are some tips:

How to Start Journaling

  • Buy a journal and pen that feel comfortable for you
  • Find a safe and quiet place to journal
  • Use a centering ritual (cup of tea, burning a candle, meditation)
  • Date your entries
  • Establish a routine; journal at the same time each day
  • To start journal for 15-20 minutes
  • Write without editing or censoring

Some Journaling Prompts

  • Write about a recent upheaval
  • Write a letter to someone alive or deceased
  • Write about your first memory
  • Describe your first room
  • Write about what makes you happy
  • Write about what makes you angry
  • Write about your accomplishments.
  • Write about a book which changed your life and why