Winter Salad “Keep me Warm”
For Pomegranate Vinaigrette:
- 1 tbsp. shallot (finely minced)
- 1 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
- 2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. thyme, fresh and chopped
- 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp. water
For Salad and Squash
- 1 squash
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. thyme, without stems
- 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
- Several twists of freshly ground pepper
- 6 cups radicchio
- 6 cups endive
- 1 cup of baby arugula
- 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
- 1/3 cup roasted and slivered nuts (walnuts or pistachios)
- 1/3 cup of crumbled soft fresh goat cheese
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- To prepare dressing: combine all ingredients in a bowl, add olive oil and set aside.
- To prepare squash: preheat the oven to 375 °F (190 °C).
- Peel, seed, and cut the squash. The pieces should be about half an inch.
- Put pieces of squash on the baking sheet. Sprinkle oil and toss squash to coat with oil.
- Arrange squash in one layer. Drizzle thyme and seasoning.
- Roast for about 30 minutes until it becomes tender. Then chill squash.
- Combine squash, arugula and radicchio.
- Add vinaigrette dressing and mix it carefully.
- Put the salad on the plate and serve with nuts, crumbles of goat cheese and pomegranate seeds on top.
What to Wear to Work in a Winter
If the thought of dropping temperatures and slushy streets have sent you into a winter outfit rut, you’re not alone. Dressing for work underneath a giant puffer coat can sometimes feel a bit uninspired, so take note from these well-dressed women who have their cold weather looks on lock.
1. Borrowed From The Boys.
Style a menswear-inspired blazer and trousers with a pair of sleek stiletto boots for the perfect masculine-meets-feminine contrast.
2. Shop The Look: Borrowed From The Boys
3. The New Pencil Skirt
Trade in your basic black pencil skirt for a soft ruffled maxi version as spotted on Victoria Beckham. Pair the statement-making piece with a button-down and knee-high boots.
Morgan ruffle skirt, $79, asos.com.
4. Fur Meets Floral
Transition a floral maxi dress into winter temperatures with the help of a fur chubby and velvet boots.
5. Shop The Look: Fur Meets Floral
6. All Suited Up
Layer a thin turtleneck underneath a classic pantsuit to keep warm both in and out of the office.
Free People turtleneck, $40, revolve.com.
7. The 9 to 5 Coat
Invest in an oversized coat to layer over all your office looks this season.
Totême coat, $700, net-a-porter.com.
Rotavirus & Stomach Flu
Officially called gastroenteritis, stomach flu is an infection of the digestive system — and is totally unrelated to the regular flu (influenza), which affects the respiratory system. Stomach flu is the second most common illness kids get, after respiratory infections like colds. Although unpleasant, stomach flu is usually not serious. It’s usually caused by viruses, but can also come from bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, as well as some parasites.
Stomach flu causes inflammation of a child’s stomach and digestive tract, usually triggering vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. “Babies and young children are especially prone to infection because their immune systems are still forming, so they haven’t yet built up the antibodies to fight off germs,” says Rita Steffen, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.
What Is Rotavirus?
Rotavirus is one type of bug that causes stomach flu and may make children sicker than other types (like adenovirus, enterovirus, astrovirus, and Norwalk virus). Until recently, most children had been infected with rotavirus once by age 2 and nearly all had had at least one bout by age 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This particular bug is responsible for about 400,000 doctor visits and 200,000 emergency room trips in the U.S. every year. However, a new rotavirus vaccine may drastically decrease the number of cases once it becomes widely used.
Rotavirus between November and May, especially if he’s regularly exposed to lots of other kids in situations such as daycare or playgroups. Rotavirus is very contagious and can easily spread among kids and teachers. As with other viruses, there’s no quick treatment — you have to let the bug run its course. Keeping your child hydrated is the best way to help him feel better. In severe cases, a baby can become dehydrated in as little as six hours.
What Are the Main Symptoms of Stomach Flu?
The early signs of stomach flu can be easy to miss, especially in babies and toddlers. Be on the lookout for these red flags:
- Vomiting (more volume than usual everyday spit-up)
- Watery diarrhea
- Fussiness or irritability
- Acting more tired and sluggish than usual
- Decreased appetite
Older children may also complain of tummy cramps, muscle aches, and headaches. Symptoms generally set in one to three days after your kid’s been exposed to the bug, and can last anywhere from a day or two up to 10. The main risks from stomach flu are not from the symptoms themselves (although unpleasant), but the fact that upset stomach can make your child very dehydrated.
How Might a Child Catch Stomach Flu?
Stomach bugs are highly contagious. Playing with an infected child is the main way the virus spreads, since germs can live on toys and clothes for hours or even days. If the infection results from bacteria or parasites, your child may have consumed contaminated food or water (most likely while overseas or camping, for example).
What makes stomach flu particularly virulent is that children are contagious before they actually show any symptoms. Also, adults — with their heartier immune systems — may harbor the germs and pass them along without ever getting sick themselves.
So what can you do to stop the spread? “We can’t stress enough how important hand-washing is,” says Stanley Cohen, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at the Children’s Center for Digestive Health Care in Atlanta, Georgia. For a thorough scrub, use soap and warm water and rub your hands together for at least 15 to 20 seconds (sing “Happy Birthday” for a gauge of length); this helps prevent passing germs around your family.
It’s a good idea to wash not just after using the bathroom, but after coming home from public places like malls or movie theaters or after being around other kids on playdates, for example. Show your toddlers and preschoolers how to wash properly, and ask their childcare providers whether kids are required to clean their hands throughout the day (not just after using the bathroom and before meals).
Wiping down changing tables, potty seats, and toilet bowls with bleach may help, but not always. “Rotavirus can be quite resistant to cleaning products,” says David B. Nelson, MD, chair and professor of pediatrics at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. “That’s why the vaccine has become so important in preventing illness.”
What to Know About the Rotavirus Vaccine
In 2006 the FDA approved RotaTeq, an oral rotavirus vaccine (that means no shots) for babies. There are a number of different strains of rotavirus, but four are responsible for most infections in the U.S., says Nelson. The vaccine specifically targets these four strains.
In studies, the vaccine prevented 74 percent of all stomach flu cases caused by rotavirus and 98 percent of severe ones. It also reduced hospitalizations by 96 percent. The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend babies receive the vaccine in three doses, at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months. While the benefits of the vaccine are clear, as with any drug, there are a few things to keep in mind. Talk to your pediatrician if you have any concerns.
- There are slight side effects. Within a week of getting a dose, babies are slightly more likely to have mild, temporary diarrhea or vomiting than those who did not receive the vaccine.
- Your child can still get stomach flu down the road. The vaccine only prevents the four most common strains, so kids who have been vaccinated can still catch different types of rotavirus or other bugs that cause stomach flu. However, symptoms will likely be less severe in children who’ve been vaccinated, says Dr. Cohen.
- Be extra careful during post-vaccine diaper changes. “Healthy babies may shed the virus in their stool — even if they don’t exhibit any side effects,” says Dr. Cohen. Make sure you’re vigilant about hand-washing and diaper disposal in the first few days after each vaccine dose.
- It’s not right for all kids. The vaccine is not recommended for babies with suppressed immune systems because it can make them sick. It is also not approved for use in older babies or children — all three doses must be completed before your infant is 32 weeks (7 months) old.
When to Call the Doctor for Stomach Flu
If it’s your baby’s first bout with stomach flu, call the doctor right away. This way she can rule out bacterial infections, which may require treatment with antibiotics. If your doctor suspects that the infection is viral (as most are), she won’t prescribe any meds.
The pediatrician will likely ask you about fever. Most docs want to see babies under 3 months with rectal temperatures of 100.4 F. or higher. If your child is between 3 and 6 months, you should alert the doctor if your child has a rectal temperature of 101 F. or higher. If your child is older than 6 months, let the doctor know if your child has a rectal temperature of 103 F. or higher.
The doctor will likely also ask whether your child has any of these signs of dehydration:
- Fewer than 6 wet diapers a day for babies or 8 hours without peeing for older kids
- A sunken soft spot on top of baby’s head
- Few or no tears while crying
- Acting unusually sleepy, sluggish, or unresponsive
- Wrinkled skin
- Dry mouth or cracked lips
- Dizziness, headaches, or muscle pain in older kids
- Urine that’s dark yellow (instead of light or clear)
- Weight loss
If a child of any age seems severely dehydrated, call the doctor right away. The child may need to go to the hospital to get rehydrated through IV fluids.
You should also let your doctor know if your child has been throwing up for more than two days, has diarrhea for more than four days, or has blood in his stool (which can be a sign of a bacterial infection or other digestive problems).
How to Help Your Child Recover from Stomach Flu
Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for viral stomach flu; it just has to run its course.
But replacing lost fluids and nutrients will help your child feel better more quickly and prevent the bug from getting worse. Here’s what to do:
- Keep up the fluids.
For breastfed or formula-fed babies: Let your infant’s belly rest for 15 to 20 minutes after a bout of vomiting or diarrhea, and then try nursing or bottle feeding again. “Breast milk is actually well tolerated by sick babies; plus the antibodies in it can help strengthen their immune systems,” says Dr. Cohen.
For toddlers and older kids: Ask your doctor about rehydrating drinks, like Pedialyte, which are absorbed better than water. These solutions replenish the crucial salts and sugars lost when your child is throwing up or has diarrhea. It’s a good idea to keep some in the medicine cabinet for just-in-case purposes.
Your child may have a hard time keeping down fluids at first. But sticking to small, frequent doses (try a teaspoon every couple of minutes) may help rebalance fluid and salt levels in the body, which can actually help stop vomiting over time.
- Get back to a normal diet. Don’t worry about food while your child is still throwing up. But once his stomach calms down, start him on bland, easy-to-digest stuff (like toast, rice, bananas, and potatoes). Most experts agree that children should resume eating everyday foods (like whole-grain breads and cereals, meats, fruits, and veggies) once they can keep food down. Also, avoid fatty and sugary foods, which are harder to digest and may make diarrhea worse.
- Treat the fever. If a higher-than-normal temperature is making your child uncomfortable, you can use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to bring his temperature down. This may help relieve other aches and pains too.
- Let him rest. Your child will probably be sleeping and napping more than usual, which is normal. But if your baby or toddler has been asleep more than 4 hours (and has been having diarrhea or vomiting), you may want to wake him up to offer fluids. “Remember that infants can become dehydrated more quickly than older kids,” says Dr. Steffen. “Use common sense, like watching for signs of dehydration.”
What Medications Are Safe for Stomach Flu?
Other than using acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat a child’s fever, medications are usually not recommended for treating viral stomach flu (antibiotics may help treat bacteria-triggered cases, but these are much less common in babies and young children).
In fact, most doctors will tell you to avoid using over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications (like Imodium). These drugs work by slowing down the digestive system, which may actually make it harder for your child to fight off a stomach bug. Children should not receive tummy soothers like Pepto-Bismol either. The drug contains aspirin-like ingredients that may cause Reye’s syndrome, a very rare but potentially fatal disease, in children and teenagers.
When/What to Start Eating After Stomach Flu
While your kid’s having trouble keeping food down, stick to rehydrating fluids. Avoid food for a couple of hours after your child throws up, then slowly work in bland foods like toast or rice.
Once these fluids and foods stay down, most doctors recommend that children resume eating everyday foods like chicken, veggies, and rice right away. “A drastic change to your child’s regular diet can actually trigger more diarrhea and make him feel worse,” says Dr. Steffen. And doctors now believe the old stomach flu standby — the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet — is too low in protein, fat, and other key nutrients. Try to avoid sugary or overly fatty foods and drinks, which are harder to digest and may upset your kid’s tummy further.
How Long Will Stomach Flu Last?
Depending on the virus and your child’s immune system, the stomach flu can last anywhere from just a day or two to around 10 days. “Children tend to throw up for just the first day or two, but diarrhea can last more than a week,” says Dr. Nelson.
Stomach flu can also make your child prone to short-term and completely reversible lactose intolerance (the inability to digest an enzyme in milk and dairy products), which may be responsible for lingering diarrhea in toddlers and older kids. “If milk seems to make diarrhea worse, ask your pediatrician what to feed your child,” says Dr. Nelson. You may want to try yogurt instead, which is easier to digest, and return to milk a day or two after.
If your child is still throwing up after two days or has diarrhea for more than four days, check in with the doctor again. She may want to do additional tests to see if a different type of infection or condition might be to blame.
How to Fight Procrastination
Even when you have a mountain of work or a pages long to-do list, it can be hard to get started. It’s so much easier to procrastinate — even if it destroys your productivity.
But whether you need to remove all distractions, take a walk, or revisit your daily goals, there’s bound to be a productivity hack to help you get motivated.
In honor of National Fight Procrastination Day on September 6, we’ve gone through the BI archives to find the best insights on how to beat procrastination and maximize productivity. Here are our 20 essential tips to getting more done:
Streamline email writing. Instead of taking time to compose long emails, try using quick bullet points. Just make sure you’re getting your point across clearly.
Take a short walk. Spending a few minutes outside will help you return to work more focused. In fact, it could boost your productivity by up to 20%.
Eliminate interruptions. Set aside a few hours each day to work uninterrupted. That means no calls, no emails, and no chatting with coworkers. You’ll get a lot more done once you let yourself become fully invested in a project without splitting your attention elsewhere.
Prioritize one thing each day. Tim Ferriss, author of “The Four-Hour Workweek,” fights procrastination by making clear goals every morning. He suggests writing out the tasks that are causing you the most stress and asking, “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?” to decide what should be your number one priority.
Remove distractions. Clear off your desk and close out Facebook and Twitter before starting your work. Eliminating potential distractions will help you get in the right mindset to concentrate. s grabbing a snack once you’ve finished a project.
Break down large projects. Huge tasks can be overwhelming, causing you to keep putting them off. Instead, try breaking down big projects into smaller bits and tackling one thing at a time.
Find your peak time of day. Figure out which point in the day you’re most productive, and keep it distraction-free. Finding these “productivity pockets” will help you maximize your time.
Use the internet to your advantage. Download an app like Evernote that organizes your notes, or one like Selfcontrol that keeps you from checking social media.
Challenge yourself. If you’re bored, you’ll be less motivated to do your best work. Find ways to push yourself and keep your motivation up.
Start a “done list.” At the end of each day, write down what you’ve accomplished. It will help you realize how efficiently you’re working and where you can improve.
Take short breaks. Try the Pomodoro technique, in which you work for 25 solid minutes followed by a three to five minute break to let your brain relax.
Only check your email once an hour. Instead of jumping on every new email the minute it comes in, give yourself specific times to check your inbox. You’ll be able to concentrate on other projects without interruption every time a new message comes in.
Keep yourself accountable. Setting deadlines for yourself is great, but telling another person will keep you accountable for meeting those deadlines.
Try the “under 1o-minutes rule.” If a task can be completed in 10 minutes or less, take care of it right away and move on. You’ll stop pushing off small tasks.
Draw a Venn diagram. GE CMO Beth Comstock uses Venn diagrams to decide where to get started on big projects. She draws three circles for what she has to do, what she loves to do, and what she hates to do, then begins with the overlap between what she has to get done and what she loves.
Get enough sleep. You’re more likely to give in to distractions and waste valuable time if you’re feeling fatigued. You’ll have much more focus if you’re well-rested.
Stay warm. You’re more likely to be productive in a warm office than a cold one, so don’t hesitate to crank up the heat.
Remind yourself why. If you’re struggling to get started on a project, take a few moments to remind yourself why you want to get a certain task finished. It will help you find motivation to get the ball rolling.
Be nice. If you’re too hard on yourself, you’ll push yourself deeper into procrastination. Stop beating yourself up about putting things off and just start.
Unique gifts and experiences for Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day gift giving can be difficult, especially for those hard to shop for and who “have it all”. As experiences continue to trend and new luxury items and services emerge, we hunted down some unique gifts for this year’s Valentine’s Day, sure to wow even the toughest sweetheart’s desires.
Paris Perfect, France. With many of their apartments offering direct views of the Eiffel Tower, Paris Perfect luxury apartment rental and concierge service is an ideal way to stay and play inLa Ville-Lumière. For Valentine’s Day, everything from exclusive reservations at top restaurants to the delivery of champagne and macarons directly to the apartment can be arranged through the Paris Perfect Team concierge service. Private Chefs are available for a gourmet romantic dinner and amorous photoshoots can also be reserved with the stunning Parisian backdrop.
The Milestone, London. Located in the heart of London, The Milestone is a quintessential five-star property. Views of Kensington Palace and Gardens are a picturesque backdrop to an award-winning afternoon tea, while nearby luxury shopping and London’s museum district are minutes away. Whether enjoying perks of the Royal Engagement Package (such as Royal Afternoon Tea, chauffeured Bentley ride, horse-drawn carriage ride around London, private tour of Kensington Palace and photo session in front of the palace) or ordering a hot bath drawn in your room after a long day of activity, this British experience will be one to remember for a lifetime.
Four Seasons Chicago. The 79th element on the periodic table is King Midas’ favorite: gold. Referencing the precious metal, Four Seasons is offering an indulgent $25,000 “Element 79” package for Valentine’s day. Couples can enjoy the Presidential Suite, an in-room welcome amenity of Cristal Rosé wine, 80 minutes couples massage in a suite, 80-minute Gold Coast Ultimate Secret Facial, 18-Karat Yellow Gold Classic Chain Pavé Diamond Cuff by John Hardy and 5-course dinner for two from Allium Executive Chef Sean Murray with wine pairings served in-suite.
Falconry, Ashford Castle, Ireland. Birds of a feather… enjoy falconry at Ashford Castle, Ireland together. This unique experience is one of many to be had on property, from Ireland’s first school of falconry to the equestrian center and fly fishing, nine-hole golf course and exclusive Hideaway Cottage (in addition to the 83 guest rooms of the castle). The “Valentine’s One-Night Package” includes a full Irish breakfast, candlelit dinner for two in the George V dining room, and a dozen red roses and bottle of Champagne in-room. Whether unwinding in the cinema or taking a romantic stroll across the scenic estates, Irish eyes will be smiling at this romantic escape.
Strawberry Chocolate Kissss Martini Tipsy Scoop Ice Cream. Booze and ice cream combined make for a decadent Valentine’s Day indulgence. Hand-crafted and small batch, these 5% alcohol volume treats were inspired by favorite cocktails. The Strawberry Chocolate Kissss Martini is strawberry ice cream infused with whipped cream vodka, chocolate liqueur and chocolate kisses. No one should count calories on Valentine’s Day so couples should dive in.
Copper Mountain Night Ski. Copper Mountain Ski Resort brings adventure and romance together for an experience under the stars. Upon arrival at Copper’s newly transformed mid-mountain lodge, guests will enjoy a live acoustic performance and champagne. Following dinner, couples can carve the snow under a canopy of the Rocky Mountain Region’s wide-open skies.
Vaglio Timepiece. For timepiece collectors, Swiss Made watches are a must. The Vaglio Collectors Edition is an automatic mechanical timepiece crafted in 316L Stainless Steel with scratch proof Sapphire bezel. A luxury brand, Famiglia Vaglio donates a portion of each transaction to established charitable organizations such as The Parkinson’s Foundation and The American Cancer Society.
PRIV. An on-demand beauty and wellness app, PRIV will have users primed for a Valentine’s Day date or a night out with the girls. From blowouts to manicures, massages to men’s grooming, the vetted beauty and wellness professionals have their services at your fingertips with this app. PRIV is currently available in NYC, DC, Chicago, Miami, LA/OC, Austin, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.
Candlelit Dinner on the Beach, Soneva Resorts The Maldives & Thailand. This barefoot-only resort is perfect for taking in the open-air cinema, spa, dive center, 24-hour chocolate rooms, and butler service. Picnics on private islands, sunset dolphin cruises, cooking classes, and a romantic Valentine’s Day champagne cruise followed by a gourmet dinner on the beach accompanied by live music all are enough to take your breath away.
Theater Seat Dedication at the Wolf Theater. For a gift that is as eternal as your love, a personalized dedication plaque on a seat in the Television Academy’s Wolf Theater is just the ticket. This tax-deductible gift is also a gift to the community, helping to foster the dreams and talent of future industry leaders by supporting the Television Academy Foundation’s North Hollywood campus. Donation levels are in $5,000, $10,000, and $25,000 levels and are limited.
FattyCakesNY. This customizable Build-Your-Own cake platform for cookie cakes is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth. Shipped wrapped and sealed in an insulated box, the cakes, cookies and jars are shelf stable for up to ten days, or if you really want to delay gratification, frozen up to two months. Each of these mouth-watering creations is three layers, with options such as chocolate chip, red velvet, peanut butter or vanilla confetti sprinkle as the cookie base and five toppings from a vast selection menu.
Picasso EBF Resin Choker. PONO is the Hawaiian word for righteousness in all its forms: quality, morality, goodness and virtuousness. Directly inspired by the technique of Picasso reconstructing sculpture from separate forms, the color, texture and light in this unique capsule collection is created in collaboration with award-winning costume designer Dan Lawson and PONO’s Joan Goodman.
Bleeding Heart Beer. Exclusively available in Loveland, Colorado, the delicious Bleeding Heart is this year’s signature Valentine’s Day beverage. A Cherry Chocolate Brown Lager from Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, this beer is a one-of-a-kind love potion. Each year Grimm Brothers brew and taps a new Valentine’s Day beer the first day of February, making Loveland a great Valentine’s Day excursion for any beer lover. Get it while it lasts on tap in participating Loveland restaurants and bars and in cans at participating Loveland liquor stores.
Caviar Taco. Parallel 37 at The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco is serving an UltimateCaviarTaco. The dish was created by Chef de Cuisine and Charlie Trotter alum Michael Rotondo as an elevated take on classic street food. The taco is carefully composed with fresh Hamachi tartare and topped with Osetra caviar. 24-karat crème fraiche finishes off the plate for an indulgent, yet delicate touch. For an added layer of luxury, guests can enjoy the taco with a pairing of Clase Azul Ultra Tequila.
Kube. Thomas & Darden announced that KUBE™, a first-of-its-kind wireless speaker designed for the outside world, is available for purchase. KUBE provides premium, professional-quality audio and is built on the simple notion that sound should complement space instead of competing with it. The result is rich, full sound that makes any outdoor environment more inviting. KUBE’s exceptional sound is inspired by the places you gather and designed to feel like it’s emanating from the surrounding environment. Whether on a yacht, in a park or at the beach, KUBE allows people to hear music the way it was intended. With a clean design aesthetic and weatherproof construction, KUBE is a natural fit in outdoor environments. Available Feb 6th.
Healing Honey spa treatment. On Wednesday, February 14, 2018, all who receive a treatment between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm will receive a complimentary glass of prosecco and special Valentine truffles from local chocolatier Norman Love Confections. Sweethearts can treat their honey to an indulgent Healing Honey Treatment, featuring a massage with local Winter Garden Honey Farm honey. Those experiencing the Healing Honey Treatment on Valentine’s Day will receive a small bottle of the signature honey. In addition, couples who experience a 50-minute Couples Massage on February 14 will receive a complimentary Luscious Lips enhancement to ensure the sweetest, smoothest kiss. The couple will also receive a complimentary lip gloss from the signature line Kaplan MD.
Greek Yogurt With Oranges and Mint
Add oranges, honey, and mint to plain yogurt and you have yourself a healthy and delicious treat for under 200 calories.
- 6 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
- 1 large orange, peeled, quartered and sliced crosswise
- 4 fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
- Stir together the yogurt and honey. Spoon yogurt mixture over the orange slices; scatter mint on top.
Servings Per Recipe: 1
PER SERVING: 171 cal., 34 g carb. (5 g fiber), 11 g pro.
How Winter Can Change Your Mood and Lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder
Feel like you’re in a funk? Blame it on the time of year. As many as 20 percent of Americans suffer from some form of winter blues (so nope, you’re definitely not alone). Here are five ways the gloomy weather messes with your spirits.
You Feel Down.
Fewer hours of sunlight means it’s entirely possible that you wake up before the sun rises and leave work when the sun has already set. Talk about a buzzkill. There’s a reason all the darkness gets you down: Light has the ability to fire up your brain’s serotonin levels, just like an antidepressant does, says Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D., one of the leading experts on seasonal affective disorder (SAD). So the opposite—a lack of sunlight—means you’re missing out on the happy neurotransmitter.
You’re Constantly Wiped Out.
Waking up can be a real drag when temps are below freezing and the sun hasn’t peeked through the clouds in days. “There’s a great temptation to just put the covers over your head and hibernate,” Rosenthal says. That makes blowing off your regular morning workout sound really attractive, but skipping it can drag you further into sad mode since you’ll miss out on the endorphins of a sweat sesh. It doesn’t stop there, though. Even when you do finally pull yourself out of bed, you probably can’t shake the tiredness. A study published in Emotion compared the daily diaries of 1,233 people with weather reports and found less-than-ideal temperatures, winds, and hours of sunlight put some people in bad moods. The lack of sunlight specifically made them more tired, most likely because levels of sleep-inducing melatonin are higher on short days.
You’re Anxious and Stressed.
You know those times when you’re in a daze staring at the computer screen at work without really getting anything done? It could be the result of the low energy that hovers over you from Halloween until spring. Before you know it, you could fall behind on your work. Pair that with an uptick in anxiety (thoughts like “I’ll never be good enough” seem to creep up this time of year, Rosenthal says), and it’s no wonder you’re a stress case. What’s worse, it’s tough to break out of the cycle since stress makes seasonal affective disorder worse, and seasonal affective disorder makes you less able to cope with stress, Rosenthal says. Oy.
You Feel Antisocial.
Remember in the peak of summer when you wanted to hit an alfresco happy hour every day after work? Those feelings are long gone when cold weather puts you into hibernation mode (miss you, piña coladas!). “You don’t want to socialize, you want to withdraw from friends and family, and you tend to sort of close yourself off to the outside world,” Rosenthal says. It’s a vicious circle: You have no energy, so you flake out on your dinner plans and stay home, even though socializing would have made you feel better, Rosenthal says.
Your Brain Is Foggy.
Rosenthal calls it “cognitive slacking off.” You likely aren’t doing your best work this time of year because you just can’t focus or think straight. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences tracked brain activity during each of the four seasons and found that in the winter, study participants performed the worst on a task requiring sustained attention.
If you’re facing general winter blues, you’ll find it harder to get things done. “You’ll continue to produce, but it’s harder, it’s a drag, you don’t feel like you’re doing your very best work, so it’s cutting into your productivity and your creativity,” Rosenthal says. If the symptoms worsen—you’re not sleeping or you’re completely unable to work—you may be one of the 5 percent of people with seasonal affective disorder. Your risk depends on the climate where you live (about 1 out of every 10 people in New Hampshire have SAD while only 1 percent of Floridians do), but other things can play a role, such as whether you battle depression and your gender. Women between ages of 20 and 40 are twice as likely to have SAD than men. How unfair is that?
If winter really bums you out, try to find the bright sides of the season: the beauty of freshly fallen snow, cozy afternoons by a fire, insanely comfortable oversize sweaters. “There’s a lot to celebrate in the winter once you get your symptoms under control,” Rosenthal says. Not convinced? At least there’s this silver lining: “When spring comes, it all tends to get better,” he adds.