How To Optimize Your Heath and Productivity This New Year!


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We all need to grow — not only to stay engaged in our work but also to keep up with our employers’ changing needs. And this is the perfect time of year to set personal development goals and start making progress on them.

No matter what skills you’d like to improve, it’s important to know where to begin. So we’ve pulled together several of HBR’s best assessments and quizzes to help give you a sense of what you need to work on and how to go about it.

Productivity. Time management is a perennial thorn in most managers’ sides. How can you possibly get everything done with not enough hours in the day? A lot of the advice out there presumes that one size fits all. But in fact, your cognitive style — that is, the way you prefer to perceive and process information — can have a dramatic impact on how you manage your time. So before you try out a new program or app, take this assessment to understand your own style and discover productivity tips that like-minded people have found most effective. Then, if you want more information on the different styles, read this article healthTake charge of your own development.

Work/life balance. If your New Year’s resolutions included making more time for family, volunteering more regularly, or even just going to the gym, you’ll probably need to figure out how to fit those activities into your schedule. In this assessment, you can compare your priorities with how you actually allocate your time and energy. Once you’ve answered questions about four key areas — work, home, community, self — Wharton professor Stewart Friedman provides practical guidance and a useful exercise for addressing the critical gaps.

Cultural skills. In this increasingly global world of work, it’s essential to collaborate with people from different cultures. Yet even seasoned, cosmopolitan managers often have oversimplified ideas about how other cultures operate. This assessment helps you see key differences in eight areas where cultural gaps are most common, like communicating, scheduling, trusting, and disagreeing — and shows you how you compare with the norm for your culture in each area. The questions and feedback are based on comprehensive research by INSEAD’s Erin Meyer, an expert in cross-cultural management.

Emotional intelligence. Relationships matter at work, and you need emotional intelligence to be an effective manager. With this quiz, you can test yourself on five critical EI skills — emotional self-awareness, positive outlook, emotional self-control, adaptability, and empathy. In addition to your score on each component, Annie McKee of the University of Pennsylvania shares an exercise to help you enhance your self-awareness by getting feedback from trusted friends or colleagues.

You might also take this assessment on emotional agility — the ability to manage your thoughts and feelings. Everyone has an inner stream of thoughts and feelings that includes criticism, doubt, and fear. By answering the questions in this assessment, you can identify your own patterns when it comes to avoiding or buying into those negatives thoughts. At the end, you’ll receive advice on how to respond more mindfully.

Communication skills. If this is an area you’d like to improve, you’re not alone. The popularity of our grammar quiz shows just how many struggle with writing. Review the 10 sentences and decide whether you think they’re grammatically correct. You’ll find out if you’re right, get feedback on how to improve the broken sentences, and receive a final score benchmarking your results against other test takers.

Finance skills. Of course, it’s equally important to be financially literate, especially if you’re eager to advance in your organization. This 10-question finance quiz comes from the HBR Guide to Finance Basics for Managers. When you finish taking it, you’ll see which answers are correct, and why, so you can brush up on key concepts you need to learn to become a more effective manager.

Managing your boss. This assessment asks what you would do in five “managing up” scenarios. After selecting your answers, you learn which approaches experts recommend. You also receive links to further reading on how to cultivate your most important relationship at work­ — your relationship with your boss.

https://hbr.org/2016/01/the-8-self-assessments-you-need-to-improve-at-work-this-year?utm_campaign=HBR&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

11 Simple, Proven Ways to Optimize Your Mental Health

Stay in the moment.

We all sometimes seek to avoid uncomfortable situations, either by physically removing ourselves or checking out mentally. “That’s normal … it’s just that when you do that very chronically and habitually, it could develop into significant problems with anxiety and depression,” says psychologist Brandon Gaudiano, an associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Experts recommend practicing mindfulness instead to help deal with difficult circumstances and emotions. “It’s paying attention to the present moment and what your experience is,” says Gaudiano, noting that approaches vary. “Bringing awareness, acceptance, self-compassion, curiosity and just noticing non-judgmentally those internal experiences as they’re arising.”

Meditate about the ones you love.

Want to get even more from that wonderful vacation or visit with family? Focus your mind on it. In researching different forms of meditation, Barbara Fredrickson, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, has found that so-called kindness meditation or loving-kindness meditation can improve a person’s emotional well-being and reduce symptoms of depression; she adds that other researchers have found it eases anxiety. “It’s a very simple meditation based on … sending well-wishes to yourself or others,” Fredrickson says, describing it as somewhat similar to mindfulness meditation.

Keep a journal.

Just as mindfulness can help a person recognize and cope with difficult thoughts and emotions in the moment, experts say it’s important to have outlets to process complex experiences. Journaling, or expressive writing, allows a person to put negative thoughts, feelings, aspirations and anything else that might be going through their mind to paper – and, Gaudiano says, to get some mental distance from those experiences. “It has been [shown to be] very helpful in some of the research I’ve done as well for [addressing] anxiety and depression,” he says.

Prioritize – and schedule – positivity.

Pay bills, do work, spin wheels. Check, check, check. Lunch with a friend? Not on the list. “Basically when people make their ‘to-do’ list, they are often thinking of achievement, as opposed to scheduling something in their day that they know is a boost to their positive emotions and their mood,” Fredrickson says. But her own research finds those who prioritize positivity, such as allotting time to visit loved ones or engage in a beloved hobby, tend to be mentally healthier.

Stay socially connected.

Social support plays a vital role in helping optimize our overall mental well-being, Klitzman says. He recommends “surrounding ourselves with supportive people – loving friends and family – and avoiding, if we can, ‘difficult’ people who may bring us down.” By contrast, a lack of social connectivity can put us at risk for health problems that affect body and mind and contribute to premature death. “Lack of socialization is … the leading cause of geriatric depression,” Bhati says.

Don’t wait for a crisis to get your mind right.

Assess your stress.

Avoiding high levels of stress and finding ways to cope can make a big difference. “Many times, we can actively avoid difficult, stressful situations,” Klitzman says, When we can’t, “framing our experiences positively, and trying not to worry (especially about things you can’t change) can also be beneficial – focusing on the positive, not stewing about the bad things that may occur.” Under such circumstances, he adds: “Mindfulness – relaxation or meditation – can also help.”

Sleep on it.

Whether you’re wrestling with serious mental anguish or just smelling the roses, it’s important to get ample rest and practice proper sleep hygiene – room-darkening blinds in the bedroom, TV out. “Poor sleep wreaks havoc on the brain and circadian rhythms, [and it can] alter brain function and gene expression,” Bhati says. In short, whether you’re predisposed to mental health issues or not, skimping on shut-eye can awaken psychological problems that make it even harder to function during the day.

Find purpose.

Just as making time to visit with friends can change the complexion of a day, mental health experts say doing something meaningful and finding purpose can ground a person in psychologically beneficial ways. “Engaging in activities that give us meaning in our lives can further aid us,” says Klitzman, in terms of improving mental health. That might include volunteering to help others, engaging in hobbies as well as doing other things we enjoy, he adds. Bhati echoes that doing things with a sense of purpose or meaning is a proven way to improve mental health.

How Your Productivity Is Determined by What You Eat

Fortunately we don’t have to wait 7 years. Day-to-day changes to our diet can have a massive impact on our productivity. Something like this:

“Adequate nutrition can raise your productivity levels by 20 percent on average.” ~ WHO

When I grew up, there were tons of cliché wisdoms thrown at me. Eat at least 5 different fruit every day. Drink plenty of water. Eat 3 separate meals every day. Do this , do that, that’s “healthy”. I realized recently that most of this I’ve just taken for granted and never looked into it.

Whilst we have uncovered the 2 other major factors that contribute to your productivity, explaining how much sleep we really need and how science looks at the impact of exercise on our brain, it’s time to tackle the probably hardest and most ongoing challenge we all face: nutrition.

How foods interact with your brain

One of the most fascinating things about eating is how various ingredients enter your brain through your blood stream. Whichever elements make it through to power your brain will help you to either focus or lose focus.

Most of what we eat will be broken down to one thing: Glucose. Glucose is our fuel, keeping our brains awake and alert. So at all times, we have a certain glucose level in our blood, kind of like gasoline in a car.

The most important part here is that we are in full control of how we release glucose to our blood and our brains. Certain foods release glucose quickly, whilst others do so more slowly, yet sustainably. For your brain researcher Leigh Gibson found this to be optimal:

“The brain works best with about 25 grams of glucose circulating in the blood stream — about the amount found in a banana.”

And this is the tricky part: the way you can get those 25 grams of glucose into your blood stream is pretty easy. You can eat a donut. Or you can eat a small bowl of oats. There is virtually no difference in the very short term for your brain activity.

Over the stretch of a normal 8 hour day however, the differences are spectacular. After eating the donut, we will release glucose into our blood very quickly. We will have about 20 minutes of alertness. Then our glucose level will drop rapidly, leaving you unfocused and easy to distract. It’s like putting the foot down on the gas pedal until you’ve used all your fuel.

The oats on the other hand will release their sugar as glucose much slower. This means we will have a steady glucose level, better focus and attention levels. Another important factor are your Leptin levels. Leptin will signal to your brain how full you are. If you are now guessing that a donut won’t signal your brain to be full for a long time, whilst oats will, well, you are right:

What we are also measuring here as the difference between a donut and a bowl of oats is called your “glycemic index”, coined by the Franklin Institute:

“Foods with a low glycemic index number gradually release glucose into your bloodstream. This gradual release helps minimize blood sugar swings and optimizes brainpower and mental focus”

In fact, the lowest glycemic index of all comes from Soy, at only 18 and the highest comes with white rice of 88 or jelly beans at 80. Thorin over at Lifehacker also looked into some more longterm insights of how eating affects your brain.

What really matters with eating: when, where, and who you’re with

That’s funny now. We’re going through all this stuff about blood streams and brain fuelling only to find out it doesn’t actually matter?

Rest assured, it still matters, yet the context of when, where and with whom we eat has an equally powerful impact on our eating activities and hence our creativity.

Let’s start with the “when”. The most important part here, is that you make sure you are never hungry. To put this better: Hungry judges give in fact harsher sentences.

For our case, being hungry, or skipping breakfast can ruin several hours of your productivity until you get your first bite. Let’s take a look at this study:

All the children in a class were told to skip breakfast one morning, and then, by random assignment, half of the children were given a good breakfast at school. The others got nothing. During the first part of the morning, the children who got breakfast learned more and misbehaved less (as judged by monitors who didn’t know which children had eaten). Then, after all the students were given a healthy snack in the middle of the morning, the differences disappeared as if by magic.

Eric Barker, one of the best productivity and lifehack bloggers out there, put it like this:

“Across the board, yeah, food puts you in a better mood. To be more exact, research has shown that 2 cheeseburgers = one orgasm.”

Using context to control your eating is one of the most important aspects. If you are like me, you always end up eating portions that are too big, which makes me overly full at lunch and very tired a few hours afterwards.

One of the best proven techniques here is to eat from a smaller plate. Why? Because Delboeuf has told us so a long time ago with his illusion experiment of thinking the right circle looks bigger:

The portion on the smaller plate will always fill you up more. This can make the difference of 1 hour of productivity gained each day, simply by reducing the size of your plate and being less full. Joining the small plate movement is definitely something worth trying.

Another aspect comes in regarding the people you are with as Barker points out:

“Eating with overweight friends? You’ll eat more. Is your waitress overweight? You’ll eat more. Are you a woman eating with a man? You’ll eat less. Wide variety of food? You’ll eat more.”

3 most important aspects to get the most out of eating food

It’s time to get our hands dirty. I think we’ve got a basic understanding of how food determines our daily productive output. But what are the best ways forward to act on this information?

  • Reorganize the positioning of food stored in your cupboard:  One of the most interesting aspects about eating is that we are extremely likely to eat what is in close sight. In fact famous researcher Brian Wansink mentions that “You are 3 times more likely to eat the first thing you see in your cupboard than the fifth thing you see.” Make sure you organize your food in way that brain powering foods get more exposure. It’s an incredible trick to start eating better food that will give you more daily alertness.
  • Learn to graze: From the first section in this post, we’ve learnt that the brain needs very specifically portioned amounts of food. Too much will give you a spike that rapidly declines. Too little won’t bring your brain up to speed. A great way to go about it, I’ve found, is to make your 3 daily meals a bit smaller (potentially by making the plates smaller). And then add 2 very specific, healthy snacks in between meals to keep your brain plugging away at full speed. This way you don’t have to change your core habits too much, yet can still fuel up your brain more efficiently.
  • These foods will give your brain the most power: For the whole post, we haven’t actually looked into which kinds of foods you should consume specifically. Here is a great list of brain powering foods, that you can eat, especially for snacking. The WHO particularly emphasizes the following: Dark Chocolate, nuts, seeds; Nuts, seeds, chocolate; Fish
Some further brain powering foods are the following: Blueberries, Raw Carrots, Whole Grains, Avocado

Quick last fact: What you eat will also decide your grandchildren’s productivity

As a last quick tip, here is something that blew my mind. Yes, what you eat will affect your productivity today. But even more so, it will also determine the productivity of your children and grandchildren’s productivity:

“Evidence indicates that what you eat can affect your grandchildren’s brain molecules and synapses,” Gómez-Pinilla said

What you eat, can according to Gomez-Pinilla rewire your genes, and the more you strengthen the synaptic connections, the better your kids and their kids will perform.

https://blog.bufferapp.com/the-science-behind-how-your-nutrition-will-decide-your-productivity-for-today

What you eat affects your productivity!!!

Think back to your most productive workday in the past week. Now ask yourself: On that afternoon, what did you have for lunch?

When we think about the factors that contribute to workplace performance, we rarely give much consideration to food. For those of us battling to stay on top of emails, meetings, and deadlines, food is simply fuel.

But as it turns out, this analogy is misleading. The foods we eat affect us more than we realize. With fuel, you can reliably expect the same performance from your car no matter what brand of unleaded you put in your tank. Food is different. Imagine a world where filling up at Mobil meant avoiding all traffic and using BP meant driving no faster than 20 miles an hour. Would you then be so cavalier about where you purchased your gas?

Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance, which is why a poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon.

Here’s a brief rundown of why this happens. Just about everything we eat is converted by our body into glucose, which provides the energy our brains need to stay alert. When we’re running low on glucose, we have a tough time staying focused and our attention drifts. This explains why it’s hard to concentrate on an empty stomach.

So far, so obvious. Now here’s the part we rarely consider: Not all foods are processed by our bodies at the same rate. Some foods, like pasta, bread, cereal and soda, release their glucose quickly, leading to a burst of energy followed by a slump. Others, like high fat meals (think cheeseburgers and BLTs) provide more sustained energy, but require our digestive system to work harder, reducing oxygen levels in the brain and making us groggy.

Most of us know much of this intuitively, yet we don’t always make smart decisions about our diet. In part, it’s because we’re at our lowest point in both energy and self-control when deciding what to eat. French fries and mozzarella sticks are a lot more appetizing when you’re mentally drained.

Unhealthy lunch options also tend to be cheaper and faster than healthy alternatives, making them all the more alluring in the middle of a busy workday. They feel efficient. Which is where our lunchtime decisions lead us astray. We save 10 minutes now and pay for it with weaker performance the rest of the day.

So what are we to do? One thing we most certainly shouldn’t do is assume that better information will motivate us to change. Most of us are well aware that scarfing down a processed mixture of chicken bones and leftover carcasses is not a good life decision. But that doesn’t make chicken nuggets any less delicious.

No, it’s not awareness we need—it’s an action plan that makes healthy eating easier to accomplish. Here are some research-based strategies worth trying.

The first is to make your eating decisions before you get hungry. If you’re going out to lunch, choose where you’re eating in the morning, not at 12:30 PM. If you’re ordering in, decide what you’re having after a mid-morning snack. Studies show we’re a lot better at resisting salt, calories, and fat in the future than we are in the present.

Another tip: Instead of letting your glucose bottom out around lunch time, you’ll perform better by grazing throughout the day. Spikes and drops in blood sugar are both bad for productivity and bad for the brain. Smaller, more frequent meals maintain your glucose at a more consistent level than relying on a midday feast.

Finally, make healthy snacking easier to achieve than unhealthy snacking. Place a container of almonds and a selection of protein bars by your computer, near your line of vision. Use an automated subscription service, like Amazon, to restock supplies. Bring a bag of fruit to the office on Mondays so that you have them available throughout the week.

Is carrying produce to the office ambitious? For many of us, the honest answer is yes. Yet there’s reason to believe the weekly effort is justified.

Research indicates that eating fruits and vegetables throughout the day isn’t simply good for the body—it’s also beneficial for the mind. A fascinating paper in this July’s British Journal of Health Psychology highlights the extent to which food affects our day-to-day experience.

Within the study, participants reported their food consumption, mood, and behaviors over a period of 13 days. Afterwards, researchers examined the way people’s food choices influenced their daily experiences. Here was their conclusion: The more fruits and vegetables people consumed (up to 7 portions), the happier, more engaged, and more creative they tended to be.

Why? The authors offer several theories. Among them is an insight we routinely overlook when deciding what to eat for lunch: Fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients that foster the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in the experience of curiosity, motivation, and engagement. They also provide antioxidants that minimize bodily inflammation, improve memory, and enhance mood.

Which underscores an important point: If you’re serious about achieving top workplace performance, making intelligent decisions about food is essential.

The good news is that contrary to what many of us assume, the trick to eating right is not learning to resist temptation. It’s making healthy eating the easiest possible option.

https://hbr.org/2016/01/the-8-self-assessments-you-need-to-improve-at-work-this-year?utm_campaign=HBR&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

How We Can Individually and Collectively Help Save Our Environment!


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Last time, we spoke about how Grove as a company has started projects and different green initiatives to help our local and collective environments! We know the value in keeping our homes and planet beautiful. This month we want to expand on this and delve into ways as can personally help our environments! Simple and often less costly ways that will not only keep your individual life clean, but it will aid in the collective process of cleaning up our planet! As we know, the shape of our environment is often a direct image of our own lives!

The statistics are overwhelming. Scientists continue to study the effects of climate change and the media reports daily on pollution, extinction, and the myriad ways humans are destroying the planet. Given the dismal reality, it can be tempting to throw our hands up and assume we can’t do anything to improve the situation.

But that’s where we’re wrong. While the most dramatic changes will need to take place on corporate and governmental scales, there are a number of ways the average person can make his or her daily routine more eco-friendly, from actions as simple as using smaller plates and as unexpected as shopping online. In fact, a healthy lifestyle and an eco-conscious one often go hand in hand (extra bonus: being eco-friendly is often easier on the wallet).

Some of the most important environmental efforts include conserving energy and reducing water consumption, but here we’ve chosen to focus on some less obvious (but equally significant) habits.

We have collected actions and steps from different sources who are begging for this information to be received by the public! This is our home! We must fight to keep it beautiful and clean! http://greatist.com/happiness/ways-help-environment

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Action One: Scale Back Car Use

In the last few years, Americans have started driving a lot less, turning to alternatives such as walking, biking, and public transportation. While many people make that choice to save money or to get fit, it’s also a great way to reduce the amount of dangerous greenhouse gases (which are responsible for a large chunk of climate change) we release into the environment. One powerful way to minimize the environmental impact of driving is to trade in your clunker for a more eco-friendly vehicle. Another (less costly) option is to use the tips below to drive less every day.

1. Start cycling.
Maybe it’s because of the marketing of snazzy accessories for cyclists, like the invisible bike helmet and gloves that light up with turn signals, but the number of Americans commuting by bike has increased significantly in the last decade or so. That’s a really important development when it comes to protecting the planet, since biking instead of driving can reduce more than 90 percent of greenhouse gas emissions . (Plus, cyclists can save thousands of dollars annually compared to car owners.). New to the roads? Check out this handy-dandy infographic to get biking (safely) in no time.

2. Walk it out.
When it comes to making eco-friendly choices, throwing on a pair of sneaks uses significantly less energy than cruising down the highway. Obviously walking isn’t always a viable choice (think road trips to visit family across the country), but there are some simple ways to sneak more foot action into your daily routine and cut down on carbon emissions from your vehicle. Try walking through the drive-through (idling vehicles are particularly wasteful), parking your car as far away from the store as possible on shopping trips, or walking from store to store if your destinations are close together.

3. Pick public transportation.
True, half an hour squeezed between a crying child and an adult armpit is not always ideal, but perhaps we can find solace in the fact that by giving up the comfort of the driver’s seat, we’re making a substantial contribution to the health of our environment. In fact, a single person who swaps a 20-mile round-trip commute by car to public transportation can reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 4,800 pounds. (That’s the equivalent of 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the average two-adult, two-car household.) Plus, it’s the cool thing to do nowadays: Between 1995 and 2012, American public transportation ridership increased by 34 percent. The most energy-efficient modes of travel tend to be train and bus rides, followed by riding alone in a car, and then flying in a plane.

4. Come together.
The only thing better than singing alone in your car is having someone else to ride with and point out that you don’t actually know the right lyrics. Carpooling is another easy way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions—one source estimates that if you join just one other person on a 50-mile round-trip drive to and from work, you’ll reduce your monthly emissions by almost 10 percent. Enlist a coworker or use one of these apps to find a commute buddy and save the environment together.

5. Combine errands.
While the number of Americans cycling and using public transportation may be increasing (see above), not too many report practicing less obvious fuel conservation habits, like combining errands when driving is necessary. But taking one big trip to pick up groceries, drugstore items, and dry cleaning instead of making each a separate adventure is one easy way to cut down on gas emissions. Perhaps surprisingly, taking multiple short trips starting from a cold engine can use twice as much fuel as one longer trip with a warm engine.

6. Shop virtually.
Online shopping: The perfect way to purchase that self-help book we’re too afraid to pick up in Barnes & Noble—and save the planet at the same time. One survey found as many as 70 percent of online shoppers say they prefer to buy from their favorite retailer online. Kudos to them, since buying online almost always involves less energy use and fewer carbon dioxide emissions than in-store shopping.

7. Telecommute.
It’s still unclear whether working from home (an increasingly popular option) always saves more energy than working from an office simply because you don’t have to drive there and back. Some experts say employees use twice as much energy at an office than at home; others say those who work at home make up for it when they spend extra time turning on lights, opening refrigerator doors, running the dishwasher, etc. Another eco-friendly option is to join or create a co-working space, so that telecommuters can confine their energy usage to a single room or building close to home.

8. Record your trips.
Think of it as a travel journal, except you don’t have to go anywhere that requires a passport. Simply keeping a diary of where, when, and how long you’ve driven can help you pinpoint the trips that aren’t exactly necessary (or that could be combined), thereby cutting down on fuel use and gas emissions.

Action Two: Reduce Food Waste

Everyone’s talking about how much food Americans eat, but we hear less about how much food they don’t. In the United States, we throw out about 40 percent of our food every year. In fact, the amount of global food waste produced each year is more than enough to feed the nearly 1 billion hungry people in the world. Instead of filling empty plates, that wasted food usually ends up in landfills and eventually turns into a destructive greenhouse gas called methane. What’s more, wasting food means squandering the resources (like water and energy) that went into the production of that food. Luckily there are many easy ways to be more careful about our consumption and reduce the amount of food waste we produce on a daily basis.

1. Make a plan, Stan.
Most of us know not to hit the supermarket hungry (Five bags of Doritos? Totally necessary.), but tackling the aisles with a list can also prevent us from loading up the cart with items we’re just going to end up throwing away. The best idea is to plan the week’s meals in advance, figure out what ingredients are required for each, and write them all down on a list. As long as you actually stick to the meal plan, there shouldn’t be much food left over!

2. Keep track of the trash.
Start logging a weekly record of every food item you toss in the garbage. That way, you can notice patterns (e.g., every week you throw away half a gallon of spoiled milk) and tweak your shopping habits accordingly. Certain apps can help by letting you know when something in your fridge is about to expire.

3. Donate to food kitchens.
If you haven’t yet tailored your weekly food purchases to your eating habits (see numbers 1 and 2), think twice before trashing all that grub. Unfortunately there are individuals and families in need all over the country who would really appreciate the head of lettuce you were just about to toss. Start by finding a local food bank and asking what kinds of food donations they accept.

4. Understand expiration dates.
It’s important to understand what expiration dates on food products actually mean, so that you don’t end up throwing away a perfectly good loaf of bread. Expiration dates actually refer to the product’s quality, not safety. And there’s a difference between the “sell-by” label (the deadline for retailers to sell the product) and “use-by” (the date when the product starts to lose its quality and flavor.) There are a bunch of techniques you can use to extend the shelf life of everything in your kitchen, like keeping the fridge and freezer cool enough and unpacking groceries as soon as you get home from the store. Disclaimer: We are not advocating that anyone eat curdled yogurt for the sake of saving the environment!

5. Learn to love leftovers.
Few people want to eat the same thing for dinner five nights in a row, but throwing away the remainders of last night’s meal just to avoid boredom isn’t the most eco-friendly option. Instead, try getting creative in the kitchen and experiment with new dishes you can make using whatever’s still hanging around. Or freeze leftovers so you can eat them down the road.

6. Create a compost pile.
Even those who don’t live on a farm or in a house with a backyard can do the eco-friendly thing with their trash. Composting means recycling nutrients back into the ecosystem, which keeps food out of landfills and waterways and enriches the soil. Some communities have local composting programs, so ask around to find out how to get involved with yours. Or start your own compost indoors. (It’s possible to do it in a way that doesn’t stink; we promise.)

7. Take it home.
As restaurant portion sizes get larger and larger, it’s getting harder and harder for some of us to lick our plates clean. Impress fellow dinner guests with how eco-savvy you are and come prepared with a container for taking home whatever you don’t finish. (Otherwise, the restaurant is probably just going to throw away your leftovers.) Bonus: That’s one more meal you don’t have to cook this week.

8. Use a smaller plate.
When dining from a buffet, it can be tempting to load up on absolutely everything, even if we know we can’t reasonably eat it all. Avoid temptation by starting with a smaller plate that fits less food, and trick your brain into thinking you’ve gotten your money’s worth.

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Action Three: Use Less Food Packaging

We’ll give you the bad news first: Food packaging makes up almost two thirds of total packaging waste in the United States. (All those cheese stick wrappers and yogurt containers!). That means a whole lot of waste ending up in landfills, which means more methane released into the air. The good news is that many companies are becoming more aware of how much food packaging they use and taking steps to reduce it (edible wrappers, anyone?). Individuals can pitch in too, so check out the tips below to see how you can cut down on your packaging use pronto.

1. Carry your cups.
Given the U.S.’s caffeine obsession, it’s no surprise that the average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups per year. This is an area where we can make a huge difference in the amount of waste we produce just by toting our own travel cup. Bonus: Some stores (even Starbucks!) provide discounts for bringing your own mug.

2. Bulk up.
It’s a goal at the gym, and it should be our mentality when food shopping too. One big bag of rice uses less plastic than five smaller ones, so consider purchasing bulk quantities of foods that last a long time (think pasta, cereal, and nuts). Just be sure to store them properly so they don’t go bad before you can use them.

3. Make it metal.
Bakers, beware: Using a new disposable aluminum tin every time you make a cake is hardly the way to reduce food packaging waste. Instead, consider investing in some metal and ceramic baking pans that you can re-use.

4. Let loose.
Eliminate an easy-to-overlook source of food packaging waste by buying loose tea instead of individual tea bags and investing in some related equipment like a tea infuser. (It’s also worth noting that tea bags are typically stored longer, meaning the nutrients tend to disappear over time.)

5. Go naked.
When shopping, look for products with minimal to no packaging, or at least packaging made from recycled items. That means buying loose fruit and veggies instead of tomatoes wrapped in plastic and cereal that’s housed in just a bag (not a bag and a box). If you do choose packaged products, check the label to see if the packaging was made from recycled materials. And be sure to recycle or reuse (see the next tip) any cardboard, paper, or plastic packaging when you’re done with it.

6. Choose to reuse.
It may be tempting to toss those takeout containers and peanut butter jars, but that plastic and glass can easily be saved and reused for other purposes, like storing all those bulk goods that you stocked up on (or using an empty pickle jar as a way to display photos). Just be sure to check the number on the bottom of the container to make sure it’s safe for reuse with food products, since some plastics can leach toxins when they’re used for too long. (Numbers 2, 4, and 5 are generally safe; numbers 3, 6, and 7 aren’t.)

7. Get crafty.
Sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than stripping a new product of its packaging and throwing all those Styrofoam peanuts and bubble wrap in the trash. But these items can easily be reused for some more creative purposes—for instance, bubble wrap can insulate plants from the cold and packaging peanuts can be stashed between blankets for extra warmth on wintery nights. Or just save ’em for the next time you need to ship something.

8. Forego the forks.
If you’re ordering takeout at home, there’s no need to use plastic forks and knives. One of the easiest ways to be more eco-friendly is simply to ask the restaurant not to include napkins, utensils, or condiments with your order.

Action Four: Eat Locally

The definition of “eating local” varies, but it typically involves efforts to consume foods that were produced closer to home and becoming more cognizant of where our food comes from. One of the main benefits of eating locally is reducing the amount of energy it takes to ship food, since right now American food travels an average of 1,500 to 2,500 miles from farm to table. And food that comes from a local farm or farmer’s market generally uses less packaging than food from a grocery store. Eating locally also means supporting farmers who care about and protect the environment and wildlife. Plus, there’s some evidence that eating foods produced locally may be more nutritious. Eating locally doesn’t have to mean donning a pair of overalls and opening your own farm—check out these tips for making local food a bigger part of your daily diet.

1. Grow a green thumb.
As the price of supermarket produce continues to increase, more and more Americans are taking matters into their own hands and learning to grow their own food. The practice has a number of benefits: Perhaps most significantly, it reduces the use of fossil fuels involved in transporting produce all over the world. Those who grow their food without pesticides and herbicides also save the planet from extra air and water pollution. While cultivating a backyard garden might be ideal, even apartment residents can start by growing herbs on a windowsill and creating a compost pile.

2. Make it to the market.
Skip the produce aisle at the supermarket and instead visit your local farmer’s market for a variety of locally grown foods. Don’t have time to browse? Consider getting together a group of friends or coworkers and signing up for an online farmer’s market—you can choose the fruits and veggies you want and see where exactly they’re coming from.

3. Join the community.
Community Supported Agriculture is a great way to bring farm-fresh ingredients directly to consumers. Participants sign up for a share, and every week, they pick up a box filled with local, seasonal food from a nearby farm(s). It’s delicious, nutritious, and sustainable, so see if there’s a CSA near you.

4. Dine locally.
No, that doesn’t (just) mean eating at the locally owned coffeeshop around the corner. Part of encouraging local eating is supporting restaurants that serve locally grown food. You can find out more about a restaurant’s practices just by asking the server or by doing your own research.

5. Get into gardening.
If starting your own windowsill herb garden seems intimidating, find some support by joining a community garden, where everyone works together to cultivate fresh produce and keep the neighborhood green. Visit this site to find one near you.

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6. Savor the season.
One of the easiest (and tastiest) ways to eat locally is simply to eat the fruits and veggies currently in season where you live. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint by minimizing the distance the produce has to travel to get to your plate.

7. Make preservation your jam.
Here’s one tip that surprised us: It’s possible to freeze certain fruits and veggies for up to a year and a half! The key is to freeze them when they’re at their freshest. You can also learn to can fresh produce or turn it into jams and pickles. Here’s to berry oatmeal to brighten up frigid winter mornings!

8. Start small.
As with any health habit, it’s best to set one realistic goal related to local eating instead of overhauling your whole diet. Think about five foods you currently consume (anything from apples to eggs) that you can buy locally on your next shopping trip. Eventually that number may expand to include the contents of your whole fridge.

Action Five: Shop With the Environment in Mind

Just because you aren’t hitting up the local farmer’s market doesn’t mean your shopping excursion can’t be eco-friendly. Experts say consumerism contributes to climate change by using up the material resources used to produce new goods, destroying ecosystems, and generating tremendous amounts of greenhouse gases when those goods are transported around the world. “Green purchasing,” on the other hand, means making decisions with the environment in mind, whether at the mall or the supermarket. It’s all about the little things, like checking for labels that say “recycled” and taking a tip from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis when we purchase a new coat.

1. Bring your own bag.
Although it might seem convenient to grab a plastic bag at the cash register, the habit is actually pretty wasteful. One source estimates that plastic bags have three times the greenhouse gas impact of reusable bags. Worse, a few years ago scientists discovered a gigantic mass of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean, which is an especial threat to marine life. Make a more eco-friendly choice by bringing your own reusable bags on your next shopping trip—they’re way trendier than the plastic stuff anyway!

2. Clean safely.
There’s little more satisfying than a freshly washed kitchen. But beware the bleach—common household cleaning products are among a number of indoor pollutants that can hurt the environment as well as human health. The next time an urge to get rid of those stovetop stains strikes, consider concocting your own non-toxic cleaning products (that work just as well as the chemical-filled stuff) or doing some research to find the most eco-friendly agents.

3. Be pretty eco-friendly.
Don’t freak, but the FDA doesn’t actually regulate the ingredients in most personal care products (makeup, perfume, lotion, etc.). And many of these products contain chemicals that are potentially dangerous to humans and their environment. Some products also contain palm oil, an important environmental resource that we’re using up too quickly. Before beautifying, take a look at the safety information for some common personal care items. Then choose items with ingredients that are friendlier on your body and the environment (and support the companies who make them).

4. Choose used.
Okay, so there are some things we’d rather not reuse, toothbrushes and underwear among them. But there are many times when it’s possible to save money and the planet by purchasing a used product instead of a brand-new one. Buying used goods means reducing your carbon footprint, since new products are typically shipped across the globe. Plus, used goods typically come with less packaging. We’re fans of used furniture (you just can’t get that antique look at IKEA) and books (who doesn’t love reading the inscriptions on the inside covers?).

5. Say “bye” to the bottle.
Greatist readers already know the importance of proper hydration, but guzzling all that H20 doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment. Each year, 17 million barrels of oil are used in the production of disposable water bottles. Be part of the solution by investing in a water bottle (BPA-free if possible)—and actually remember to carry it with you! Want to go a little further? Take CamelBak’s Ditch Disposable pledge today.

6. Cherish the old stuff.
Toaster on the fritz? Consider trying to repair the problem before running out to purchase a new one. Need a pair of speakers for a party? Think about borrowing the neighbors’ instead of buying your own. In general, try not to label newer as better and make a more eco-friendly choice by using what you already have (or what someone else already has). You’ll reduce the amount of resources (including water and energy) necessary to create new products and the transportation required to ship new goods around the world. And you’ll avoid clogging landfills with mountains of your discarded doodads.

7. Be less energetic.
While we’re not suggesting that anyone rip out their refrigerator and washing machine and go buy replacements, it’s worth noting that modern appliances are significantly more energy-efficient than those manufactured even 10 years ago. When purchasing a new appliance, look for the Energy Star label, consider products that run on natural gas instead of electricity, and avoid buying appliances that are bigger than you need (like oversized air conditioners and refrigerators).

8. Treasure the trees.
Nowadays we’re lucky if we actually remember how to write with pen and paper. But when we do purchase paper products, it’s best to look for labels that indicate an item has been made using sustainable methods, meaning it protects against global warming and the destruction of wildlife. The same thing goes for the purchase of wood products (like furniture)—make sure it’s been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council—and less obvious paper goods, like tissues and toilet paper.

The Takeaway

The most important idea to remember is that saving the planet can start right now, with your next trip to the supermarket or commute to work. While it might not seem like parking a few blocks farther from the store will make much of a difference, over time, all these changes add up to a really positive impact on the environment. No effort is too trivial—so pick one of these new habits and take action today!

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Help Grove Keep South Carolina and America Beautiful!!!


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Grove is dedicated to keeping our city, state, and country the beautiful land it is! Often, we take for granted our incredible environment and all it does for us, literally our lifeline! More than often, we mistreat and misuse what this planet has given us! We forget it is our solemn jobs to keep clean and fight for the protection of our very own home! This planet is full of beauty, wonder and mystery, yet we trash and poison it daily, all of us! We must make daily and constant efforts to watch our environmental footprints and do whatever we can to both clean up and prevent further mistreatment of our world!

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Millions of volunteers and people worldwide have already started, but the number needs to be billions! We have a powerful voice in making local, grassroots change happen, which is where it has to start! Whether it’s planting trees and flowers by the thousands, recycling millions of pounds of recyclable materials, reclaiming acres of urban vacant lots or restoring miles of rivers and shorelines, we must take real action—and these actions will have meaningful impact in communities of all sizes!!

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We can start anywhere. In any case, it’s best to start first within and at hone. But this needs to expand into the towns and cities! Whether the place is a community garden, a city park or a vacant lot, public places can provide a neutral space in which people can come together with a shared purpose of community building. By continually improving public spaces while caring for neglected ones, positive social and economic change occurs in communities across the country.

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Further, we are not only destroying our own home, but we are destroying the home of millions of other species that we share this planet with! Pollution is one of the primary ways in which humans have caused drastic modifications of wildlife habitat. Historically we have regarded the air, water, and soil that surround us as waste receptacles and have given little consideration to the ecological consequences of our actions. As a result, wildlife populations are confronted with a bewildering array of pollutants that we release into the environment either by intent or accident.

In some cases wildlife populations have suffered severe losses or even faced extinction due to pollution. For example, the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and brown pelican all nearly became extinct before scientists discovered that the synthetic chemical DDT was the cause of devastating reproductive failure in these species. Oil spills, such as the fouling of the coast of southern Alaska by the grounding of the Exxon Valdez, take an immediate toll on many species with the misfortune of living near such blunders. Toxic metals can kill adult members of wildlife populations and cause the production of deformed offspring, as seen at Kesterson Reservoir in the San Joaquin Valley. Acid rain has caused hundreds of fish populations to disappear from lakes in the northeastern U.S. and Scandinavia. Notorious instances of the impacts of pollution on wildlife are happening daily!! We must fight the origins and effects of synthetic chemicals, oil spills, toxic metals, and acid rain.

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Check out these 50 things we can individually do to really make a difference.
http://www.50waystohelp.com

We have started already with various service projects throughout our office and within our community. We often host charitable events and donate to effective causes and outreaches, we host street clean ups around our city and have successfully made a positive impact in numerous areas, we’ve sponsored and installed in our own office many GREEN projects to keep our offices and warehouses as efficient and environmental as possible and we are only at the start of our efforts!! Help us in the fight to keep our home beautiful!

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Taking care of our Earth is no longer an option – it is a necessity. At times the challenge feels so overwhelmingly complicated that we give up before we even get started. Have you ever felt that way?
Maybe you were active in earth-friendly activities in the past but didn’t feel your efforts were making a difference and you’ve abandoned them – or perhaps you just aren’t as conscientious as you once were.
Taking responsibility for our actions is becoming more and more crucial. And with each of us making the commitment to start with small steps, together we can make a huge difference.

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Healthy Living This Summer!


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1. Give Your Diet a Berry Boost

If you do one thing this summer to improve your diet, have a cup of mixed fresh berries — blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries — every day. They’ll help you load up on antioxidants, which may help prevent damage to tissues and reduce the risks of age-related illnesses. Blueberries and blackberries are especially antioxidant-rich.

A big bonus: Berries are also tops in fiber, which helps keep cholesterol low and may even help prevent some cancers.

2. Get Dirty — and Stress Less

To improve your stress level, plant a small garden, cultivate a flower box, or if space is really limited, plant a few flower pots — indoors or out.

Just putting your hands in soil is “grounding.” And when life feels like you’re moving so fast your feet are barely touching the stuff, being mentally grounded can help relieve physical and mental stress.

3. Floss Daily

You know you need to, now it’s time to start: floss every single day. Do it at the beach (in a secluded spot), while reading on your patio, or when watching TV — and the task will breeze by.

Flossing reduces oral bacteria, which improves overall body health, and if oral bacteria is low, your body has more resources to fight bacteria elsewhere. Floss daily and you’re doing better than at least 85% of people.

4. Get Outside to Exercise

Pick one outdoor activity — going on a hike, taking a nature walk, playing games such as tag with your kids, cycling, roller blading, or swimming — to shed that cooped-up feeling of gym workouts.

And remember, the family that plays together not only gets fit together — it’s also a great way to create bonding time.

5. Be Good to Your Eyes

To protect your vision at work and at play, wear protective eyewear. When outdoors, wear sunglasses that block at least 99% of ultraviolet A and B rays. Sunglasses can help prevent cataracts, as well as wrinkles around the eyes.

And when playing sports or doing tasks such as mowing the lawn, wear protective eyewear. Ask your eye doctor about the best type; some are sport-specific.

6. Vacation Time!

Improve your heart health: take advantage of summer’s slower schedule by using your vacation time to unwind.

Vacations have multiple benefits: They can help lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones such as cortisol, which contributes to a widening waist and an increased risk of heart disease.

7. Alcohol: Go Lite

Summer’s a great time to skip drinks with hard alcohol and choose a light, chilled alcoholic beverage (unless you are pregnant or should not drink for health or other reasons).

A sangria (table wine diluted with juice), a cold beer, or a wine spritzer are all refreshing but light. In moderation — defined as one to two drinks daily — alcohol can protect against heart disease.

8. Sleep Well

Resist the urge to stay up later during long summer days. Instead pay attention to good sleep hygiene by keeping the same bedtime and wake-up schedule and not drinking alcohol within three hours of bedtime.

It’s also a good idea to avoid naps during the day unless you take them every day at the same time, for the same amount of time.

There they are: Eight super simple ways to boost your health this summer. Try one or try them all. They’re so easy you won’t even know they’re — shhhh — good for you.

BUT:

Do you feel lack of energy in the mornings as well as during the day? Do you want to increase your energy levels and enjoy a more active life?

Active people can get a lot of work done with enthusiasm and tons of energy. The quality of work such people produce can also be great because of the huge amount of energy invested behind their efforts.

They enjoy a life of stamina and hard work. Most achievers and winners of this world have not been lazy or shy of doing what needed to be done. They are likely to put their best effort whenever the situation demands it.

If you want to be like such people and want to remain active throughout the whole day, then following tips should come in handy to you. If you want to learn how to become active and improve your stamina then read on.

You can increase your energy and activeness levels by leaps and bounds if you consistently adhere to these simple energy enhancing tips backed by latest research.

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Tips to Become More Active Everyday:

1. Get early morning sunlight: This can be excellent for your body’s health as well as enjoying high energy levels throughout the day.

The early morning sunlight can be really beneficial to us. It is recommended that we bathe our bodies in sunlight for atleast 30 minutes each day.

Some tips to do this are to go for a walk early in the morning, or sit by a sunny window sipping your morning coffee, or to sit in the garden reading the newspaper!

2. Get up at the same time each day: When you get into the habit of getting up at the same time each day, your sleep cycle and body adjusts to your timing.

Initially it may seem difficult, but after a few days or weeks, you can feel it getting easier and easier to get up at the same time each morning feeling refreshed and looking forward to the day.

3. Get up early in the morning and do something: Schedule some important work in the early hours of the morning. We are likely to be fresh and feeling energetic in the mornings.

If we try to make productive use of this time, we can get a lot more accomplished as well as overcome tiredness and feel enthusiastic. Enjoy your morning hours and get something useful done. You will be thankful for the whole day. In the mornings, the distractions are also less.

Becoming the High Energy Person:

The above tips should help you in becoming lively, active and enthusiastic person. Enthusiasm can be the main driving force behind doing something wholeheartedly or doing it without much interest. It can also mean the difference between quality work and careless work.

So often, our tiredness and low energy levels hinder with our enthusiasm and productivity. These tips should stand you in good stead in improving your productivity and quality levels. Try them out to see their effectiveness.

Tips for better Nutrition:

Summer weekends at the beach, backyard barbecues, and outdoor dinners are finally here too, but these gatherings are often loaded with high-calorie pasta salads, chips, ice cream, cocktails and beers. Enjoy your warm weather favorites while keeping your nutrition in check with the tips below.

1. Drink green tea instead of sweet tea. Green tea has a natural component that helps speed up your metabolism. Skip the box tea and opt for the brew-it-yourself with boiling water and a tea-bag-type tea.

2. Serve seafood. Summer is the ideal time to get the freshest catch from your local grocer. Grill salmon, tuna, lobster, steamer clams, and calamari for a low-calorie, protein-packed lunch or dinner.

3. Don’t skip breakfast. When you wake up in the morning, your body is running on fumes. Eating a breakfast with protein, carbs, and healthy fat kicks your metabolism into high gear and provides energy for the day.

4. Enjoy summer fruits and veggies. It’s easy to sink into a vegetable rut, eating the same boring veggies week after week, but with summer comes fresh choices. Including a mix of in-season colorful veggies in your meals gives your body a nutrient kick.

5. Snack at work. Bring snacks to work and graze throughout the day. When you eat more often—five to six times per day—you’re far less likely to overeat and more likely to stay energized.

6. Grab a sports drink. For workouts lasting longer than 45 minutes, drinking a sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes can help you maintain energy, increase endurance, and stay hydrated.

7. Drink healthier beers. If you’re going to indulge, opt for antioxidant-packed craft brews like Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew Ale or Stoudt’s Fat Dog Imperial Oatmeal Stout. To save calories, choose beers with less than 100 calories like Select 55 and Miller Lite.

8. Hydrate often. The summer heat makes you more susceptible to dehydration. Start off your day by drinking two glasses of water and keep drinking at each meal, as well as before and after your workout, to stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you as a reminder to stay hydrated.

9. Cook meals together. Involve your friends and family in your healthy lifestyle this summer. A simple way to start: Plan meals, shop, and cook with your spouse and kids.

10. Downsize your dinnerware. We’re not talking about buying new plates, just using the smaller ones in your set for meals like lunch and dinner. Cornell University researchers found that by switching from 12- to 10-inch plates anyone can reduce calorie consumption by 20 to 22 percent and lose nearly two pounds per month. And that’s without changing any other aspect of your diet.

11. Recover with a post-workout shake. After exercising, blend your favorite summer fruits and a scoop of whey protein into a shake to kickstart the muscle-building process, help your body recover from training, and boost your energy levels.

12. Pre-plan your meals. You plan your weekend getaways and activities for summer. Why not your meals? Make it easy by preparing all of your food on Sunday so that you have enough meals for the week. The best part: You’ll save money.

13. Eat healthy at the beach. Ice cream stands and high-calorie barbecues are bound to put a damper on your diet, so stay clear of these temptations by being prepared. Pack a cooler with ice, bottled water, sandwiches on whole grain breads, pita chips, hummus, yogurt and lots of fruit. You’ll feel healthier and happier after your day at the beach.

14. Give your house a summer cleaning. You need an environment that reflects your healthy way of living and your summer fitness goals. To start, remove unhealthy foods from your home (so you’re not tempted). While you’re at it, stock your office with fruit, nuts, and other healthy snacks.

15. Build a better burger. Create a healthier burger with whole wheat buns, lean meats, and delicious toppings like pineapple, wasabi, guacamole, and feta cheese.

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GROVE HOPES YOU HAVE AN INCREDIBLE SUMMER!!!

Happy Easter! Spread The Love!


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Celebrating Easter

Easter is traditionally a Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. Many Easter celebrations, however, are nonreligious, such as elements like the Easter bunny and dyeing Easter eggs. Because of this, there are a variety of ideas that the elderly and senior centers can use to celebrate Easter regardless of the religious beliefs of the seniors involved. Depending on the background and traditions of the senior, this holiday is a good opportunity to welcome springtime, attend church services, or engage in enjoyable craft activities.

Easter Ideas for Seniors

There are many Easter ideas for seniors to celebrate this holiday. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do anything elaborate, but that even a simple gesture is a great way to mark the passing of this holiday. Also, remember that for many people Easter is celebrated over a period of a few days leading up to Easter Sunday.

Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts for seniors should be easy and simple. Seniors can participate in egg decorating by coloring designs on eggs or using plastic eggs and adding stickers or glitter glue and putting candy inside. After all the eggs have been colored, the eggs can be gathered and donated to a preschool or community organization for a children’s Easter egg hunt. In this way, seniors get to participate in a nostalgic tradition. Making Easter baskets is another way to celebrate the season, as well as baking and sharing Easter cookies.

  • Tip: After making baskets or crafts at a senior center, designate a table to display the creations. You could even have a contest for the best crafts, using several different categories.

Church or Songs

Many seniors may be interested in going to a church service. Services may be available at a variety of times between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. If you are unable to go to church, offer services or music at the senior center. Seniors might enjoy a special day of listening to the piano, hearing Easter songs from the past, or participating in singing. You can also read a traditional Easter poem or publish a whimsical poem in a newsletter for seniors.

  • Tip: Easter songs that seniors may remember include “Easter Parade.” Try a CD by various artists, such as Happy Easter Songs.

Symbolic Celebrations

There are a lot of simple but meaningful gestures that seniors will appreciate for the Easter season. If the senior is in a nursing home, buy an Easter lily as a gift to put into a window. This flower symbolizes hope and life and is connected to the Easter festival. You can also give seeds, or plant flowers with the senior to mark the beginning of spring or go on a bird watching field trip. Candles can also be lit as symbols of new life and rebirth.

  • Tip: Ask the senior what he or she might enjoy as a symbolic way to honor the Easter holiday.

Why Celebrate Easter?

No matter what the background of the senior, there are likely Easter memories just waiting to be evoked. Celebrating Easter is a great way to reminisce about the past and welcome a new season.

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It is also very important to incorporate themes from special holidays into mind-stimulating activities!

Mind-Engaging Activities

A study by the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that it doesn’t matter so much what types of activities seniors engage in. The key is for seniors to participate in new and different activities that encourage them to use their brains, something that people are less apt to do in the later stages of life. Reading and writing can certainly help keep the brain active, but those are activities seniors have been engaging in for decades. Finding a new hobby can challenge the mind in exciting ways. The following is a list of activities that might be new and different to seniors, thereby increasing the mental stimulation associated with each one.

  • Crossword Puzzles: Some seniors may have always ignored the Lifestyle section of their newspaper with the daily crossword puzzle, but now is a great time to start working on it.
  • Painting and Drawing: Even for seniors who never thought of themselves as very artistic before this is a great activity. For newly-artistic folks, it will be tapping into a new section of their brains.
  • Arts and Crafts: Participating in arts and crafts can be a great way for seniors to engage their minds while also improving hand-eye coordination.
  • Bingo: There’s a reason why older people playing Bingo is such a colloquialism. It’s actually a very good brain activity to have to watch for those numbers, especially when they’re doing it on several cards at once.
  • Board Games and Playing Cards: Seniors may not have played Monopoly, Life, Solitaire, or Bridge since they were younger. Now is a great time for them to pick it up again, especially if they play with their grandkids.
  • Telling Stories of Their Lives: It’s not always as easy for seniors to recollect all the fabulous life stories they’ve had. They should be encouraged to record them on video or audio, or even write them down to encourage not only memory, but also writing, spelling, etc. It will also help younger generations to know where they came from, making this beneficial for multiple generations.
  • Computer Activities: Computer activities can provide many benefits for seniors. Since it’s still something relatively new to lots of seniors, many resist it. However, many of those activities and games described above can be done on a computer, providing a new angle on a time-tested favorite activity.

Pairing Physical and Mental Activities

The New England Journal of Medicine study mentioned above suggests that the majority of physical activities don’t improve brain function. There is only one physical activity that was shown to improve brain function in the study: dancing. It can be as simple as doing a little dancing in the living room after dinner, or as organized as taking ballroom dance lessons.

To do a new mental activity and combine it with dance could be greatly beneficial for seniors. One such activity that would combine both would be the game Dance Dance Revolution. This is thought of as a young people’s game, but it has so many benefits for seniors if they’re up to it. It not only encourages their brains, but includes dancing skills as well.

Grouping Together

It’s important to remember that the majority of these activities can be done in pairs or groups, which will provide not only mental stimulation, but also social connections to seniors. Encourage the seniors in your life to get together for regular game nights or art activities to keep their minds sharp and their spirits high.

 

                            Good luck, sincerely this Easter! Grove Medical wishes you all the best!

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President’s Day and Black History Month!


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Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.

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PRESIDENTS’ DAY: ORIGIN AS WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY

The story of Presidents’ Day date begins in 1800. Following President George Washington’s death in 1799, his February 22 birthday became a perennial day of remembrance. At the time, Washington was venerated as the most important figure in American history, and events like the 1832 centennial of his birth and the start of construction of the Washington Monument in 1848 were cause for national celebration.

While Washington’s Birthday was an unofficial observance for most of the 1800s, it was not until the late 1870s that it became a federal holiday. Senator Steven Wallace Dorsey of Arkansas was the first to propose the measure, and in 1879 President Rutherford B. Hayes signed it into law. The holiday initially only applied to the District of Columbia, but in 1885 it was expanded to the whole country. At the time, Washington’s Birthday joined four other nationally recognized federal bank holidays—Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Independence Day and Thanksgiving—and was the first to celebrate the life of an individual American.Martin Luther King Jr. Day, signed into law in 1983, would be the second.

PRESIDENTS’ DAY: THE UNIFORM MONDAY HOLIDAY ACT

The shift from Washington’s Birthday to Presidents’ Day began in the late 1960s when Congress proposed a measure known as the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Championed by Senator Robert McClory of Illinois, this law sought to shift the celebration of several federal holidays from specific dates to a series of predetermined Mondays. The proposed change was seen by many as a novel way to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers, and it was believed that ensuring holidays always fell on the same weekday would reduce employee absenteeism. While some argued that shifting holidays from their original dates would cheapen their meaning, the bill also had widespread support from both the private sector and labor unions and was seen as a surefire way to bolster retail sales.

The Uniform Monday Holiday Act also included a provision to combine the celebration of Washington’s Birthday with Abraham Lincoln’s, which fell on the proximate date of February 12. Lincoln’s Birthday had long been a state holiday in places like Illinois, and many supported joining the two days as a way of giving equal recognition to two of America’s most famous statesmen.

McClory was among the measure’s major proponents, and he even floated the idea of renaming the holiday “President’s Day.” This proved to be a point of contention for lawmakers from George Washington’s home state of Virginia, and the proposal was eventually dropped. Nevertheless, the main piece of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed in 1968 and officially took effect in 1971 following an executive order from President Richard Nixon. Washington’s Birthday was then shifted from the fixed date of February 22 to the third Monday of February. Columbus DayMemorial Day and Veterans Day were also moved from their traditionally designated dates. (As a result of widespread criticism, in 1980 Veterans’ Day was returned to its original November 11 date.)

PRESIDENTS’ DAY: TRANSFORMATION

While Nixon’s order plainly called the newly placed holiday Washington’s Birthday, it was not long before the shift to Presidents’ Day began. The move away from February 22 led many to believe that the new date was intended to honor both Washington and Abraham Lincoln, as it now fell between their two birthdays. Marketers soon jumped at the opportunity to play up the three-day weekend with sales, and “Presidents’ Day” bargains were advertised at stores around the country.

By the mid-1980s Washington’s Birthday was known to many Americans as Presidents’ Day. This shift had solidified in the early 2000s, by which time as many as half the 50 states had changed the holiday’s name to Presidents’ Day on their calendars. Some states have even chosen to customize the holiday by adding new figures to the celebration. Arkansas, for instance, celebrates Washington as well as civil rights activist Daisy Gatson Bates. Alabama, meanwhile, uses Presidents’ Day to commemorate Washington and Thomas Jefferson (who was born in April).

Washington and Lincoln still remain the two most recognized leaders, but Presidents’ Day is now popularly seen as a day to recognize the lives and achievements of all of America’s chief executives. Some lawmakers have objected to this view, arguing that grouping George Washington and Abraham Lincoln together with less successful presidents minimizes their legacies. Congressional measures to restore Washington and Lincoln’s individual birthdays were proposed during the early 2000s, but all failed to gain much attention. For its part, the federal government has held fast to the original incarnation of the holiday as a celebration of the country’s first president. The third Monday in February is still listed on official calendars as Washington’s Birthday.

PRESIDENTS’ DAY: CELEBRATIONS AND TRADITIONS

Like Independence Day, Presidents’ Day is traditionally viewed as a time of patriotic celebration and remembrance. In its original incarnation as Washington’s Birthday, the holiday gained special meaning during the difficulties of the Great Depression, when portraits of George Washington often graced the front pages of newspapers and magazines every February 22. In 1932 the date was used to reinstate the Purple Heart, a military decoration originally created by George Washington to honor soldiers killed or wounded while serving in the armed forces. Patriotic groups and the Boy Scouts of America also held celebrations on the day, and in 1938 some 5,000 people attended mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City in honor of Washington.

In its modern form, Presidents’ Day is used by many patriotic and historical groups as a date for staging celebrations, reenactments and other events. A number of states also require that their public schools spend the days leading up to Presidents’ Day teaching students about the accomplishments of the presidents, often with a focus on the lives of Washington and Lincoln.

1.   Presidents Day – February 18
2.   George Washington’s Birthday – February 22
3.   Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday – February 12
4.   Black History Month

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The story of Black History Month begins in Chicago during the 
late summer of 1915. 
An alumnus of the University of Chicago with many friends in the city, Carter G. Woodson traveled from Washington, D.C. to participate in a national celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of emancipation sponsored by the state of Illinois. Thousands of African Americans travelled from across the country to see exhibits highlighting the progress their people had made since the destruction of slavery.  Awarded a doctorate in Harvard three years earlier, Woodson joined the other exhibitors with a black history display. Despite being held at the Coliseum, the site of the 1912 Republican convention, an overflow crowd of six to twelve thousand waited outside for their turn to view the exhibits. Inspired by the three-week celebration, Woodson decided to form an organization to promote the scientific study of black life and history before leaving town.  On September 9th, Woodson met at the Wabash YMCA with A. L. Jackson and three others and formed the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH).He hoped that others would popularize the findings that he and other black intellectuals would publish in The Journal of Negro History, which he established in 1916.  As early as 1920, Woodson urged black civic organizations to promote the achievements that researchers were uncovering.  A graduate member of Omega Psi Phi, he urged his fraternity brothers to take up the work. In 1924, they responded with the creation of Negro History and Literature Week, which they renamed Negro Achievement Week.  Their outreach was significant, but Woodson desired greater impact.  As he told an audience of Hampton Institute students, “We are going back to that beautiful history and it is going to inspire us to greater achievements.”  In 1925, he decided that the Association had to shoulder the responsibility.  Going forward it would both create and popularize knowledge about the black past. He sent out a press release announcing Negro History Week in February, 1926.

Woodson chose February for reasons of tradition and reform.  It is commonly said that Woodson selected February to encompass the birthdays of two great Americans who played a prominent role in shaping black history, namely Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, whose birthdays are the 12th and the 14th, respectively. More importantly, he chose them for reasons of tradition.  Since Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, the black community, along with other Republicans, had been celebrating the fallen President’s birthday. And since the late 1890s, black communities across the country had been celebrating Douglass’. Well aware of the pre-existing celebrations, Woodson built Negro History Week around traditional days of commemorating the black past.  He was asking the public to extend their study of black history, not to create a new tradition.  In doing so, he increased his chances for success.

Yet Woodson was up to something more than building on tradition. Without saying so, he aimed to reform it from the study of two great men to a great race.  Though he admired both men, Woodson had never been fond of the celebrations held in their honor. He railed against the “ignorant spellbinders” who addressed large, convivial gatherings and displayed their lack of knowledge about the men and their contributions to history.  More importantly, Woodson believed that history was made by the people, not simply or primarily by great men.  He envisioned the study and celebration of the Negro as a race, not simply as the producers of a great man. And Lincoln, however great, had not freed the slaves—the Union Army, including hundreds of thousands of black soldiers and sailors, had done that. Rather than focusing on two men, the black community, he believed, should focus on the countless black men and women who had contributed to the advance of human civilization.

From the beginning, Woodson was overwhelmed by the response to his call.  Negro History Week appeared across the country in schools and before the public.  The 1920s was the decade of the New Negro, a name given to the Post-War I generation because of its rising racial pride and consciousness.  Urbanization and industrialization had brought over a million African Americans from the rural South into big cities of the nation.  The expanding black middle class became participants in and consumers of black literature and culture.  Black history clubs sprang up, teachers demanded materials to instruct their pupils, and progressive whites stepped and endorsed the efforts.

 Woodson and the Association scrambled to meet the demand.  They set a theme for the annual celebration, and provided study materials—pictures, lessons for teachers, plays for historical performances, and posters of important dates and people.  Provisioned with a steady flow of knowledge, high schools in progressive communities formed Negro History Clubs.  To serve the desire of history buffs to participate in the re-education of black folks and the nation, ASNLH formed branches that stretched from coast to coast.  In 1937, at the urging of Mary McLeod Bethune, Woodson established the Negro History Bulletin, which focused on the annual theme. As black populations grew, mayors issued Negro History Week proclamations, and in cities like Syracuse progressive whites joined Negro History Week with National Brotherhood Week.

Like most ideas that resonate with the spirit of the times, Negro History Week proved to be more dynamic than Woodson or the Association could control.  By the 1930s, Woodson complained about the intellectual charlatans, black and white, popping up everywhere seeking to take advantage of the public interest in black history.  He warned teachers not to invite speakers who had less knowledge than the students themselves.  Increasingly publishing houses that had previously ignored black topics and authors rushed to put books on the market and in the schools.  Instant experts appeared everywhere, and non-scholarly works appeared from “mushroom presses.”  In America, nothing popular escapes either commercialization or eventual trivialization, and so Woodson, the constant reformer, had his hands full in promoting celebrations worthy of the people who had made the history.

 Well before his death in 1950, Woodson believed that the weekly celebrations—not the study or celebration of black history–would eventually come to an end.  In fact, Woodson never viewed black history as a one-week affair.  He pressed for schools to use Negro History Week to demonstrate what students learned all year.  In the same vein, he established a black studies extension program to reach adults throughout the year.  It was in this sense that blacks would learn of their past on a daily basis that he looked forward to the time when an annual celebration would no longer be necessary. Generations before Morgan Freeman and other advocates of all-year commemorations, Woodson believed that black history was too important to America and the world to be crammed into a limited time frame.  He spoke of a shift from Negro History Week to Negro History Year.

In the 1940s, efforts began slowly within the black community to expand the study of black history in the schools and black history celebrations before the public.  In the South, black teachers often taught Negro History as a supplement to United States history.  One early beneficiary of the movement reported that his teacher would hide Woodson’s textbook beneath his desk to avoid drawing the wrath of the principal.  During the Civil Rights Movement in the South, the Freedom Schools incorporated black history into the curriculum to advance social change.  The Negro History movement was an intellectual insurgency that was part of every larger effort to transform race relations.

The 1960s had a dramatic effect on the study and celebration of black history.  Before the decade was over, Negro History Week would be well on its way to becoming Black History Month.  The shift to a month-long celebration began even before Dr. Woodson death.  As early as 1940s, blacks in West Virginia, a state where Woodson often spoke, began to celebrate February as Negro History Month.  In Chicago, a now forgotten cultural activist, Fredrick H. Hammaurabi, started celebrating Negro History Month in the mid-1960s.  Having taken an African name in the 1930s, Hammaurabi used his cultural center, the House of Knowledge, to fuse African consciousness with the study of the black past.  By the late 1960s, as young blacks on college campuses became increasingly conscious of links with Africa, Black History Month replaced Negro History Week at a quickening pace.  Within the Association, younger intellectuals, part of the awakening, prodded Woodson’s organization to change with the times. They succeeded.  In 1976, fifty years after the first celebration, the Association used its influence to institutionalize the shifts from a week to a month and from Negro history to black history. Since the mid-1970s, every American president, Democrat and Republican, has issued proclamations endorsing the Association’s annual theme.

What Carter G. Woodson would say about the continued celebrations is unknown, but he would smile on all honest efforts to make black history a field of serious study and provide the public with thoughtful celebrations.

 

Grove is proud to celebrate and recognize President’s Day and Black History month!

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Start the New Year Doing Instead of Dreaming


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It is the time of year where many people will attempt to develop their New Year’s resolutions. Whether you have one resolution or a thousand, wouldn’t it be a fabulous accomplishment to be able to say to yourself that 2014 was the year you stopped dreaming about accomplishing your resolutions and started to do them?

Dreaming about what you want to get done is not a bad thing, but many of us seem stuck in the days after January 1st thinking about losing weight,starting a business, or saving more of our income instead of making it happen.

To help you start the New Year right, here are some ways  to make 2014 a year of doing instead of a year of dreaming:

Change Your Mental Map
In the article, “Leading Again for the First Time,” Dr. Chip Souba makes the assertion that “Sustainable success begins with transforming people first by changing their mental maps and thought patterns.” In my studies of success, the people that are most successful are the ones that change their perceptions of what they can do and as Dr. Souba said, change their mental map.

When you change your mental map, you are not changing what you believe to be true or false, right or wrong, but you are changing how you perceive success in accomplishing your goals. Many of us fall into the trap of thinking that our past failures signify future failures. That is a mental map we have created that has now defined our future. When we change our mental map, we realize that our past failures do not define our future and that we can accomplish the goals we set this New Year.

Increase Your Learning on the Subject
For many of us, the New Year gives us a few days of rest before we have to go back to work. This is a good time to sneak into the library and research your resolutions. I personally like to do my research in the libraries of a large public university. There I have access to search tools and databases that allow me to find peer reviewed articles and data on the topics I am researching. For non-research types like me, our local public library can give us access to:

  1. The forms needed to start a business.
  2. Books on how to get our finances in order.
  3. Exercise and diet DVDs, books, and magazines
  4. Online programs to learn a new language, learn about traveling to other countries, develop a resume, and a variety of other self-help topics.
  5. A staff of people that are paid to help you find information.

If you want to kick your New Year off right, then consider heading to the library to get as much information on the topic as you can so you have the information you need to get a fast start.

Eliminate Wasteful Activities
The primary complaints that I hear from people about why they fail to accomplish their goals is that they do not have enough time. This is coming from the people that hit the snooze button 9 times before getting out of bed, watch two hours of TV a night, and spend every 20 minutes checking their e-mail and Facebook status updates.

Spending some time doing a relaxing activity is not a bad thing, but when you are spending over two hours a day playing Farmville, you have some free time to get more done in your life. I recommend that you spend the next few days trying to cut your TV and Internet time in half and spend that time working on accomplishing your resolutions.

Set Realistic Time Horizons
You didn’t put that 20 pounds on in a week, so don’t expect it to come off the day you start your diet.

We live in a world of instant gratification. Due to the pace of our lives, it has become difficult to accept that being successful in accomplishing your goals takes time. If you are looking to lose weight, then give yourself the room to make mistakes over the coming week. Just because you ate a pint of Ben and Jerry’s doesn’t mean all is lost. It just means you need to be realistic about your goal and strive to a long term goal of feeling better and weighing less.

Whether it is a savings goal, business, or personal, we all try to believe that things can change overnight. They can’t, so we need to make sure that we create time horizons for our goals that push us to accomplish them but don’t set us up for failure.

Recruit Others to Your Cause
If you need help losing weight, then join a support group. Trying to save money? Join a savings club. Want to start a business? Then join a local chamber of commerce. For many of your goals, there are free or low cost groups that you can join that create a support network that will help you stick with your goals.

If there isn’t a group available, then try to find an accountability buddy that will push you to stay in line with your goals. This should be someone that you can speak with in confidence that will tell you when you are keeping to your goals or need to get back in line.

Take Action Now
Don’t wait until January 1st to start your resolution. If you want to lose weight, then get your workout clothes on and take a walk. When you return from your walk, throw away all of the junk food in your house, make a menu for the next month, then create a healthy shopping list for the next two weeks.

If you want to save money in the new year, then why don’t you pull out the credit card and bank statements, figure out what monthly expenses can be eliminated, and make the calls to cancel subscriptions, reduce your cell phone bill, and other subscriptions you are no longer using.

Don’t wait for something to happen, the clock to strike midnight, or a mystic vision to reveal what you are supposed to accomplish in the New Year. IF you want to be successful then pick up the phone, get out and start moving, or pick up the pen in write. Whatever you want to do, get out there and do it right now! It is the best way to get you started in accomplishing your goals.

Grove Medical wishes you and your business success and good fortune this year! May 2014 be the best year yet!