We’re heading into the warm summer months here in Southern California, where the sun shines every day from 5-something in the morning until after 8 p.m. in the evening.  Normally, this is plenty of sunshine… if you get out in it.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is still characterized as something that strikes as the sunlit days give way to longer and longer nights.  But there are many people who now suffer from a version of SAD even during the summer.  Either night shift work or just an aversion to go outside leads to depression during summer months.

The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing a doctor, but for at-home treatment, it suggests getting outside within a few hours of waking, sitting close to a brightly lit window during the day, and exercise.  Another way to possibly reduce depression is through Vitamin D.  Either in pill form or sunlight form, this “sunshine vitamin” (which isn’t a vitamin at all) is a huge part of how we feel.

There are only so many natural sources of Vitamin D:

  • 3.5 oz salmon (360 IU Vitamin D)
  • 3.5 oz mackerel (345 IU Vitamin D)
  • 3.5 oz canned tuna (200 IU Vitamin D)
  • 8 oz fortified orange juice (100 IU Vitamin D)
  • 8 oz fortified milk (98 IU Vitamin D)
  • 1 serving fortified breakfast cereal (40-100 IU Vitamin D)

According to Harvard Medical School, those who have trouble digesting dietary fat (or maybe even those who are eating a low-fat diet?) and those with liver or kidney disease will have a hard time getting enough Vitamin D from food sources or supplements (1000-1200 IU recommended per day).  But most of us don’t get enough sunlight, especially during the middle of the day, when UV-B rays are strongest and we can absorb the most.

“But, wait, I’ve been told to cut down my sun exposure!”  Cut it down, yes.  If you’re fair-skinned and live below the 37th degree above the equator, you need about 10 minutes a day of unprotected sunlight.  If you have a tan or are darker-skinned, you will likely need more.

So I’m not going to be giving up sunscreen and smart sun protection, but I’m not going to slather on UV-50 for a lunchtime walk– not if I keep it under 30 minutes most days.

I’m hoping remembering to get my Vitamin D, whether through sunlight, food, or supplements, will help me keep a better attitude.  It will certainly reduce my chances of osteoporosis.

 

****  NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I do my best to do my homework, but please do your own and talk to your doctor before making any decisions about anything I post. ****

Late last night I found out that someone I cared deeply about had passed away earlier in the day.  Her passing wasn’t so much of a shock as the timing (Mother’s Day) and the feeling that I’d somehow been cheated.  See, I was going to visit her soon.  I’d been saying that for over a year… but something always “came up”.  Now I won’t see her again until Heaven.  When I cry today (and I will cry), it will be as much for that missed opportunity as it will for missing her.  I could have gone, just once.  Woulda coulda shoulda…

However, I am working on not dwelling on woulda coulda shoulda.  I have spent too much of my recent past (last five years) living in the past.  This is a waste; I can’t change it.  The very fact that I fantasize about a time machine instead of working on doing better now is a sign that I don’t have a very healthy connection to this aspect of happiness.

On the other hand, to keep saying that I’m going to do something “in the future” is just as vain.  As I was just forcibly reminded, tomorrow isn’t promised.

Far too often I waste my right now with regret or empty hope.  It’s time to change that attitude, step-by-step.

First, when the past rears its ugly head, I’m not going to dwell on it.  I’m going to make sure I’m not repeating a past mistake.  If not, then I’m going to move on.  If I am, then I’m going to make a plan to change what I’m doing.

Second, I’m going to stop waiting for tomorrow to do things.  “I’m going to start eating better… tomorrow.”  Why not start eating better today by putting down that cookie?  “I’m going to do more things with the kids when I have more money.”  Why not find things I can do with them for free right now?  “I’ll do better about being positive once I’ve fixed these other things in my life.”  Why not make a small change to improve my attitude along the way?

Third, I’m going to make a plan every day.  It’s okay if the plan isn’t perfect (I have a bad habit of spending more time in research and planning than in doing), but I need a roadmap.  Plans are there for guidelines; it’s okay if they’re altered.  It’s like taking a cross-country trip (I’ll use this analogy a lot).  You plan ahead of time, figure out where you’re going, etc.  But when you take the actual trip, you enjoy each moment and (hopefully) every little detour.  That’s how I want my life to be.

Finally, I’m going to stop complaining about things.  If I don’t like what’s happening, change it.  Can’t make an immediate change?  Take five minutes to make a plan (no more than three steps) to change it and then let it go for now (you know you just sang a Disney song in your head).  If I can’t change it at all (like divorce orders, for example), then I’m going to have to change how I think about it.  Period.

“If  you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”  — Mary Englebret

If you see me complaining on this blog, call me to task!  Ask me for a plan to fix it.

I’m going to go make a quick plan for my day and then I’m going to spend a day off social media in honor of living in the moment.  My reader, Alice, has been leaving me comments about how she’s doing better off social media and I’m feeling challenged.

What will you do today?

Let’s calculate your hours worked per year.  Say you only work your 40 hours each week and you get two weeks of vacation each year.  No overtime.  No missed lunches.  No second job.  You work 50 weeks at 40 hours a week, or 2000 hours.  Then you take off a few Federal holidays (companies vary, so I’ll use ten as an easy number to calculate) and lose another 80 hours.  So you spend 1920 hours a year at work.  That’s a lot of time for a place that USA Today says just 30% of people are engaged and inspired to be.

I’m pretty lucky.  I don’t hate my job.  It’s not my dream job and there are other jobs I’d prefer, but, overall, I enjoy where I’m at.  According to the UCR Wellness Center, that makes me pretty healthy:

  • Do I enjoy going to work most days?  Yes.  I like who I work with and I enjoy my general job definition.  I’m not crazy about working in the middle of everyone (introvert) and it’s not my chosen sector (construction/retail sales), but the job is good.
  • Do I have a manageable workload at work?  Most days.  Occasionally I become three people (covering for others) and that’s not the best.  But my general workload is quite manageable.
  • Do I feel that I can talk to my boss and co-workers when problems arise?  Overall.  I suspect this is more a personality issue on my end than a problem with work.  I’m just not good at confronting problems if it sounds like I’m whining.

The assessment doesn’t take into account a sense of accomplishment at work, which I think is important, and using your talents.  My job does tend to skip those for the most part.  So I work a second “job” (largely  unpaid as yet) where I edit and write on the side.  I have more goals for that side occupation than I do for my “real” one.

Short-Term Goals (3 Months)

* Finish writing my novel AND editing it

* Finish editing for my main side project

* Finish the catalog at work

Mid-Term Goals (1 Year)

* Shop out the novel.  If no one has picked it up, self-publish by May 2015.

* Regularly edit and set-up for a professional editing business

* Learn the accounting processes at work

Long-Term Goals (5 Years +)

* Publish at least once a year (novel) and enter short-story contests at least twice a year

* Develop editing business to making money

* ??  at work

 

Like I said, most of my occupational goals are in the writing and editing fields, so it’s obvious where my heart is, but that doesn’t pay the bills, so I’ll stick with it for now and just try to keep it healthy.  How did you do?

Since financial health is one that I consider necessary to happiness (but UCR does not?), I had to find a financial assessment tool.  I went with the New York Times article here just to get me going.

  • Is your net worth growing?  Um, no.  Five years after divorce started and I’m only starting to dig myself out of the hole I made.  But my potential to have my net worth grow has improved.
  • How is your debt-to-income ratio, your savings fund, and your emergency fund?  Debt has improved (very slowly); I have nearly non-existent savings and emergency funds.
  • Are you spending more than you earn?  No.  I spend exactly what I earn, some of that including paying down debt.
  • Am I adequately insured? No.  No vision or dental insurance, only medical.  No renter’s insurance.

There are  a few other questions (which I welcome you to go look at yourself).  The basic answer, however, is that I’m not financially healthy.  I knew that.  My goal is to improve my financial health.  This is going to take time.

Short-Term Goals (3 Months)

* Follow a budget (I’ve been making one)

* Put a set amount into savings each month and don’t touch it

* Develop a debt-reduction plan

Mid-Term Goals (1 Year)

* Have a set plan in place to get rid of all debts

* Have all the necessary insurances

* Have a will and a death plan (I should look up what the proper terminology for that is, too).

Long-Term Goals (5 Years +)

* Get rid of all debt.  Five years is plenty of time.

* Have a good savings account and an emergency fund.

* Develop my 401k so I might actually be able to retire by age 95.

 

Like I said, financial health is probably my weakest area, but I know it is a huge component of happiness, so I’m going to work on it hard.  How did you do?

I think this is probably the area where I naturally do the best.  I’d be thrilled that I’m doing well in an area, except that it’s pretty lopsided.  I depend on my brain.  My dad had Alzheimer’s.  I don’t want to be so dependent on my mental ability that I have nothing else.

The UCR Wellness Center assesses intellectual wellness as:

  • Am I open to new ideas?  I love new ideas.  I write speculative fiction.  I boldly seek out new… ideas.
  • Do I seek personal growth by learning new skills?  In the last six years, I’ve learned three entirely new skillsets.  I’ve also lost skill in others, but I’m still growing.
  • Do I search for lifelong learning opportunities?  Yes.  There are amazing free classes available from places like EdX, Coursera, and others.  When I’m not taking online courses, I’m learning by reading.
  • Do I look for ways to use creativity?  I am a writer and songwriter.  I’d like to act.  I don’t have much in the way of visual arts, though.  That should probably be a long-term goal.

Short-Term Goals (3 months)

* Take class on Becoming a Resilient Person

* Write actively each day

* Look for an opportunity to act or perform musically

Mid-Term Goals (1 Year)

* Find a visual skill I enjoy and learn how to do it

* Take at least one class each quarter

* Use the skills I develop

Long-Term Goals (5 Years +)

This is another area where I’m going to leave it open for now.  I might start to develop longer goals in this area, but I already engage in a learning lifestyle.  I need balance first.

How did you do?

Maybe I was avoiding this one.  I know my spiritual assessment is not going to be good.  I have been slipping steadily for the last six years (you make one wrong choice and it can take a lot to get back to making the right choices).

Still, if you’re not growing, you’re going backwards, and I want to grow.

The UCR Wellness Center lists several things for checking your spiritual health.  Even if you don’t think you’re religious, you still have a spiritual side, so this is for everyone:

  • Do I make time for relaxation in my day?  I am actually much better at this than I used to be.  I used to be so OCD that if I wasn’t doing something (or multiple things), I got twitchy.  Now I’ve improved immensely.
  • Do I make time for meditation or prayer?  Ouch.  For some people, this is straight-out prayer or ohm or whatever.  For some it is journaling (including some amazing prayer warriors).  It’s a matter of getting it all out on the table, inspecting it, and dealing with it.  I don’t do this.  Well, now that I’m blogging again, this is a little bit of that, but I worry about what you all think on occasion.  I need to do more praying.
  • Do my values guide my decisions and actions?  They didn’t for a while.  I justified a lot of things with the word “fair” or “I deserve”.  If I really got what I deserve, you’d want to stand back a bit.
  • Am I accepting of the viewpoints of others?  Ooh, I’m actually much better at this, too.  I can’t change you.  I’ve started not even wanting to change others.  If you want your opinion, go for it.  I have mine; I know what I believe and why I believe it.  When people want to have a good, clean discussion about something and we have alternate viewpoints, I can get into the discussion without getting frustrated.

To me, there is a lot more to spiritual health than what is here, though.  Am I carrying around guilt?  Unforgiveness?  To me, those are more spiritual than social.

Here are my goals:

Short-Term (3 Months)

* Do the Beth Moore study Breaking Free (with workbook)

* Find a church

* Spend daily time (15 minutes/day) in prayer– try it as a journal so I focus better

Medium-Term (One Year)

* Join a church and attend regularly

* Re-read Know What You Believe and Know Why You Believe

* Schedule one true “rest day” per week and one true “rest weekend” per year

Long-Term (Five Years +)

* Put the guilty stuff to rest (it may take the whole five years)

* Get to the point of having a discussion without getting upset when someone else is unfair (yeah, another one that may take the whole five years)

* Be at peace with where I’m at spiritually (but still be growing!)

 

I haven’t had anyone share their goals yet.  If you’re following along, have you been making goals?  I’d love to see them in the comments.

Let me take you back almost six years.   I was in amazing physical shape.  I was in the pool for a minimum of 45 minutes a day, five days a week.  I ran three days a week.  I did weights three days a week.  I didn’t sleep as much as I should have, but I slept well.

Then I went through divorce, drove a semi-truck, lived out of a car… well, my physical shape went pretty much to the wayside.

Now, I do bike or walk to work most days (five miles each way), but I feel it.  I haven’t run much since September due to messing up both Achilles tendons.  I do weights or yoga or Pilates, but it’s haphazard.  Sleep?  Let’s not even get into my sleeping habits.  At least that I can partially blame on noisy neighbors.

So, after being in amazing physical health, I went to take the assessment at the UCR Wellness Center site.

  • Do I know important health numbers like weight, cholesterol, blood pressure… no, not a clue.  I don’t even own a scale.  I do know my measurements and I know my blood pressure was at “normal” levels the last time I passed one of those machines at the drug store that does the test for you.  Beyond that… I have no idea.  Except the Achilles tendon issue and a couple of infections, I haven’t seen a doctor for a checkup since I got my Class A license… and that was several years ago.
  • Do I get annual physical exams?  No, but I never have.  If something is working fine, why mess with it?  (I realize that isn’t considered the healthiest outlook, but it worked fine for my ancestors.)
  • Do I avoid using tobacco products?  Yes. Never have, never will use them.
  • Do I get a sufficient amount of sleep?  No, but I’m trying.  I tend to do well at about 6-7 1/2 hours of sleep.  I set myself up for eight, but run well if I can keep it at 6.  Factor in noisy neighbors… lately, not so much.
  • Do I have an established exercise routine?  Not exactly.  I’m working on that, especially since I can now start trying to run again.  So far, I’ve kept it up three days?

So, in general terms, I currently flunk the physical.  Why do I feel a little like Steve Rodgers at his Army entrance physical?

Here are my goals:

Short-Term (3 Months)

* 30 minutes of physical activity, 5 days a week.  Must include at least three sessions of constant aerobic exercise and two sessions of weight-training.

* See a doctor for a full check-up.  *grump*

* Sleep at /least/ six hours a day, six days a week.  If that means I have to throw in a nap, do it.

Mid-Term (1 Year)

* Aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, six days a week.  Weight training three days a week.

* Run a half-marathon in September.  Run a better half-marathon the next year.

* Sleep seven hours a day, six days a week.

Long-Term (Five Years +)

* Aerobic exercise is a way of life.  I should be able to go hiking all day or go for a two hour run with the same level of enthusiasm.   Weight training is also a must.  Three times a week minimum.

* Keep competing.  Maybe I’ll never win a race, but I can at least improve against myself.

* Value my sleep and sleep 7-8 hours every single night.

I think physical health comes more outside of doctors than inside.  There are other physical issues I probably should have included here, but sometimes being transparent to the world is a little overrated for this introvert.  I might add them later.  This is enough for now.

How did you do?