DON’T LET THE TIME CRUNCH STEAL YOUR PRODUCTIVITY THE SHORTEST DAYS OF THE YEAR
In December, the days are shorter than ever, not because they’re less than 24 hours long, but because this month has the least amount of daylight when compared to other months. The “shortest” day of the year is on Dec. 21, when the sun will set at 4:48 p.m. During these shorter days, it’s tempting to just go home, hunker down for the afternoon, and call it a day. But I’m sure if you’re like me, you still have stuff to get done even after the sun goes down, whether that be Christmas shopping, chores around the house, or anything else. Even though the days are shorter, we can’t let the daylight hours rule our schedules. The daylight is scarce enough now that I drive to work in the dark in the morning and leave work as the sun is setting in the evening. In a way, it feels like the movie “Groundhog Day,” where no day is really any different from the last. And, since I’m inside during all the daylight hours, it just feels like the winter drags on with no respite from the dark. It feels like there’s a time crunch that doesn’t exist during the summer. I think in our heads, we feel like we have to get all our tasks and errands done within daylight hours. That certainly makes sense, anyway. Our
brains are wired to power down when it’s dark even when night time comes sooner during the winter. Even on the weekends, it’s still a struggle to fit everything in the time we have. “THERE MIGHT NOT BE AS MUCH DAYLIGHT, BUT THE DAY IS NOT ANY SHORTER. WHILE OUR AFTERNOONS MIGHT BE DARK, WE CAN STILL KEEP OUR PLANS FOR THE DAY IN MIND AND NOT LET THEM STEAL TIME AWAY FROM US...” That’s why now, more than any other time of the year, it’s important to have a plan of attack — a road map through your day. Take account of the chores and activities you can only do when it’s light out, like working in the yard, and set aside time on your days off to get to those things. I can’t tell you how much more I appreciate raking the leaves in my yard on a weekend when it’s light out, rather than trying to get it done in the dark after a workday at 6 p.m.
change in perception. There might not be as much daylight, but the day is not any shorter. While our afternoons might be dark, we can still keep our plans for the day in mind and not let them steal time away from us and get as much out of our days as possible. Whether your December plans include holiday shopping, time with family, or Christmas parties with friends, we at Campus Commons PT hope you can accomplish everything you wish this holiday season. Have a safe, fun, and merry Christmas, and a happy New Year!
But, for all the tasks we can accomplish without daylight, I think what we honestly need is a
THE JOY OF A GINGERBREAD HOUSE EVERYTHING YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT THIS HOLIDAY TRADITION
THE ORIGINS OF GINGERBREAD Ginger was first cultivated in ancient China, then traded into medieval Europe. There, Europeans incorporated it into culinary traditions and used it to bake cookies into elaborate shapes and works of art, including figures of animals and people. The gingerbread house first appeared in the early 19th century in Germany. Although historians don’t know an exact date, it’s speculated that it gained popularity around the same time that “Hansel and Gretel,” the popular fairy tale recorded by the Brothers Grimm, was published. THE LARGEST GINGERBREAD HOUSE In 2013, the world record for the largest gingerbread house in the world was broken. The house, topping out at 21 feet and covering 2,520 square feet, was built by Traditions Golf Club in Bryan, Texas, to raise money for a
Of the many seasonal traditions that sweep our nation, few are as creative, delicious, and satisfying as building your very own gingerbread house. Whether you’re looking to create a simple table decoration or bake a tasty treat to nibble on, everyone can enjoy this holiday activity!
local Level II trauma center. To construct the house, builders created a recipe that required 1,800 pounds of butter, 2,925 pounds of brown sugar, 7,200 eggs, 7,200 pounds of flour, 1,080 ounces of ground ginger, and a few additional ingredients. BUILD YOUR OWN! While you don’t have to challenge yourself to beat the Guinness World Record, you can still have fun creating your very own gingerbread village. Starting your gingerbread house from scratch can be a fun activity for the whole family to enjoy. Give the kids a chance to mix the ingredients, roll out the dough, and set out plenty of candies and frostings to use, and remember to have fun! If you’re looking for unique gingerbread house ideas, take a look at 20 gingerbread house ideas at TasteofHome.com/collection/ gingerbread-houses.
WHAT KIND OF PHYSICAL THERAPYWOULD SANTA NEED? KRIS KRINGLE IN THE CLINIC
When you really think about it, Santa Claus might have one of the most physically demanding jobs on the planet. He has to fly to every house in the world, all while sliding down chimneys and putting presents under trees. If Jolly Old St. Nick doesn’t do some warmups and conditioning to start off Christmas Eve, he might need some physical therapy to get him back in toy-delivering shape for next year. ON DASHER, ON DANCER ... For starters, Santa might need some time to get his rotator cuffs rehabilitated after driving his reindeer all night. The motion of pulling the reins up and down might be something akin to using battle ropes at the gym, especially for how long Santa stays in the driver’s seat. He may be sitting down, but even when he’s not traipsing across rooftops or sliding down chimneys, Kris Kringle is still getting a workout. COMIN’ DOWN THE CHIMNEY ... Sliding down chimneys is a whole workout in and of itself. If we assume there aren’t many handholds or footholds, Santa probably has to put his back against one wall, put his legs on the opposite wall, and slowly walk down. This motion probably really works the core, calves, and thighs
after one chimney, but after every
chimney in the world? Santa’s definitely risking tearing a muscle.
ROCKIN’ AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE
Let’s hope years of delivering presents have taught Santa to lift with his legs. In every child’s house, Ol’ St. Nick is going to have to bend down, take toys out of his sack, and place them under the tree. That’s a lot of bending over, which means Santa risks bringing on some serious lower back pain. If he wants to get rid of that, he could really benefit from attending Campus Commons’ Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop. In all seriousness, if you feel some pain when you’re decorating your house, hanging up Christmas lights, or even just out shopping, stop pushing yourself and get some rest. And, if the pain persists, visit our clinic or give us a call at 916-927-1333. Merry Christmas!
DON’T RAISE A CLATTER BY FALLING OFF A LADDER
For many of us, decorating the outside of our houses with hundreds of twinkling lights is a hallmark tradition of the holiday season. It’s how we let our neighbors and friends know we’re really getting into the spirit of the holidays. However, if we want to hang lights from our roofs and our gutters, it can’t hurt to keep some ladder safety tips in mind. POSITION THE LADDER WELL Before you climb to the roof, always make sure your ladder is planted firmly on flat, even ground. This is especially important if there isn’t a lot of even ground surrounding your home. At the same time, keep the angle of the ladder in mind. Moving the base of the ladder back 1 foot from the wall for every 4 feet you extend it upwards is a good rule of thumb. Finally, if you’re trying to get on the roof, make sure to extend your ladder 3 feet beyond the roof’s edge. POSITION YOURSELF WELL Once you’re on the ladder, stay centered on the rungs. Don’t lean too far to one side to hang Christmas decorations, as it’s one of the easiest ways to fall off. Instead,
take the time to walk down the ladder and move it to where it needs to be. The same principle goes for reaching things places that are too high up. Rather than stand precariously on the top two rungs, walk down the ladder, extend it, and walk back up again. BUDDY UP Never hang up Christmas lights all by yourself. If you’re constantly climbing and moving a ladder, you at least need someone to hold the ladder’s legs steady. Otherwise, you risk the ladder slipping and causing you to fall. Plus, having someone there to help means they can hand you things that are out of your reach, making the whole process of hanging lights faster and safer. Falling off a ladder is one of the most common causes of injury during the holiday season, but, by following these tips, you can ensure it doesn’t happen to you. However, if you’re still experiencing some pain from a fall from a ladder, give our clinic a call at 916-927-1333.
TAKE A BREAK
CLASSIC ROAST CHICKEN
Inspired by Ina Garten
• • • •
1 chicken, approx. 5–6 lbs
• • • •
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
Freshly ground pepper 1 large bunch fresh thyme, 20 sprigs removed
1 lemon, halved
1. Heat oven to 425 F. 2. Rinse chicken inside and out, removing giblets if included. Move to a work surface, pat dry, and liberally season with salt and pepper. Stuff cavity with thyme bunch, lemon halves, and garlic head. Brush outside with butter, and then season again. Tie chicken legs together with kitchen string. 3. Meanwhile, in a roasting pan, toss onions and carrots in olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and 20 sprigs of thyme.
4. Place the chicken on the vegetables and roast for 1 1/2 hours. 5. Remove from oven, and let stand for 20 minutes covered with foil. 6. Slice and serve with the vegetables.
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How to Handle the Shortest Days of the Year
Building Your Own Gingerbread House
What Kind of Physical Therapy Would Santa Need?
Ladder Safety Tips for Hanging Christmas Lights
Classic Roast Chicken
Boost Your Mental Health This Season
D WAYS TO FIGHT SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that people experience every fall and winter. If you find yourself feeling blue as the days become shorter and darker, know there are things you can do to boost your mood until spring returns. INCREASE YOUR ACTIVITY Keeping your body active can increase your energy levels, help you sleep, reduce anxiety, and boost your self-esteem. Summit Medical Group states that a person who exercises for 30–60 minutes a day can manage or avoid SAD easier than a person who does not exercise regularly. When you participate in physical activity, your body releases feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which have a morphine-like effect on your brain. If exercising outdoors is not ideal, consider swimming, walking, or dancing instead. GET SOME SUN Exposure to sunlight is also significantly beneficial for people suffering from SAD. Sunlight helps your body produce adequate amounts of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. Getting just a few minutes of sunlight a day through a walk or short jog
can make all the difference. If you live in an area where the winters are bleak, cloudy, and dark, sunlight can be harder to come by. But technology has you covered: You can purchase “sun lamps,” which simulate sunlight without the damaging UV rays. Just set up a sun lamp in your workspace or living area and feel your mood lift. MAINTAIN YOUR ROUTINE Often, it can be difficult to stick with your daily routine during the cooler months. It may be harder to wake up on time in the morning to work out, or it may be too cold outside to go on your daily run. Luckily, you can find small ways to mitigate this. For example, invest in a sunrise alarm clock, which gently wakes you up with a simulated sunrise, or shop for high-quality thermal workout gear. If you continue to suffer from SAD and feel there’s no end in sight, it’s important to seek help from professionals. They can determine the best treatment options available for you.
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