Enjoy the Summer without the Burn

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The dog days of summer are here. For me, that means I’m soaking up as much sunshine and happiness as possible! I really do mean sunshine AND happiness—we get Vitamin D from the sun, and that increases our serotonin levels. Increased serotonin levels means increased happiness.

The flip side of getting your Vitamin D from sunshine is that you’re also getting an increased amount of harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Those are the rays that give you sunburns and are the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancers.

In order to enjoy the sunshine without the guilt and fear of getting sunburns, wrinkles, and potentially cancer, I follow these steps:

  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection.
  • Enjoy the sun, but bask in the shade.
  • Pretend that every day is derby day, and enjoy wide-brimmed hats.
  • Slather on 50 SPF sun screen ever two hours.
  • Hide behind protective clothing when I can’t find shade—like when I’m gardening or working in my yard.
  • Try to limit my time outside during the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., since this is when UV levels are highest.

For more ways to enjoy the sun without the burn, check out this infographic.

 

Ten Tips for Everyday Safety

CaptureSometimes we get so busy we forget to be safe during some of the easiest tasks. Completing day-to-day activities safely and being aware of our surroundings sounds like a simple way to increase safety in our daily routines, but it can be challenging. Here are ten steps to get you started in creating a safer and healthier environment.

  1. Use proper form. Try your best to remember proper physical form in your everyday routines. Keep things close to you on your desk or in the kitchen to avoid over-reaching, and always use your legs when picking up large or heavy items. (Avoid bending at the waist!)
  2. Be aware of your company safety procedures. Be proactive in knowing evacuation routes, members of the safety committee, and safety procedures at your workplace.
  3. Take regular breaks. Taking a quick break from looking at your computer screen or doing mundane tasks will help to re-energize you and keep you alert!
  4. Check your smoke alarms. Once a month, check the smoke alarms in your home to make sure they’re working and replace batteries as needed. Also, keep a fire extinguisher in a central, easy to access location, and learn how to use it.
  5. Let there be light. Proper, adequate lighting is an easy way to stay focused and clear about what you are doing. Keep hallways and outdoor areas well-lit to avoid obstacles.
  6. Maintain your vehicle. Make time for regular vehicle maintenance, such as checking your exterior lights, getting your oil changed, and checking your tire pressure. This is especially important before taking a road trip.
  7. Ventilate your space. When you’re painting or working on projects indoors that involve materials with strong odors, make sure you have proper ventilation. Open windows and doors, and get fans going to keep air circulating. Also, consider using face masks and taking regular fresh-air breaks, especially if ventilation is inadequate.
  8. Exercise regularly. Exercise routines are a good way to improve strength, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory health, which will allow you to physically function better throughout your day. Research functional exercises to learn more about keeping your body ready for anything!
  9. Be prepared. Thoughtfully determine what you may need to keep yourself healthy and safe during an outing or long day. Do you have sufficient water, clothing, or sun protection? Is your cell phone charged? Does a friend or loved one know where you will be?
  10. Take your time. Giving yourself time to prepare for your day, carefully complete a task, or focus on your routine can save you a lot of time in the long run! Build in extra time when necessary.

Visit PacificSource.com for free online tools and resources to help you better manage your health.

Finding the Time

One of the biggest struggles to consistently working out is finding the time. Eric, one of our operations specialists, looked at the problem only as an operations specialist could. After analyzing his schedule, he found he could create the time, but it required a change is the way he gets to and from the office. Here is his story:

EricLike many of us, it was a challenge for me to fit physical activity into my busy schedule. Between family, work, friends, and a myriad of miscellaneous responsibilities exercise often fell by the wayside. As the inevitable effects of this inactivity manifested themselves, it became apparent that I needed to find the time…….somehow.

Following a thorough analysis of my available time, I discovered that incorporating exercise into my daily commute was the solution. I was unwilling to sacrifice my time in others areas of my life i.e. kids, chores, sleep, recreational activities, etc. but my daily commute presented an opportunity. Given my proximity to work, walking, running, or some equivalent option was not viable. Those activities would have taken more additional time than I could afford. Though, I discovered that cycling to work add only 30 minutes to my commute, round-trip. Logically, it was an easy decision.

Despite the soundness of the logic, I still had some reservations. I had never been much of a cyclist. Of course, I learned to ride a bike when I was young and it was the preferred modus operandi for transportation before I was able to drive, but I never anticipated that it would become a large part of my life. I would see cyclists on the road and derisively snicker at their shorts and matching shirts (I have two sets now) or grumble about their brashness in traffic. Certainly, I never thought that I would become one of THEM.

Also, a major downside to this form of exercise is the initial cost; I had to come up with an initial investment for a quality (aka dependable) bike. Plus, I needed to acquire the necessities like a waterproof bag, lights, helmet, clothing, anti-theft protection, etc. I found it especially difficult to justify this cost because I didn’t have any evidence that I would really like it. Thankfully, I took the gamble and acquired the equipment so I could at least give it a shot. Again, given my time constraints I had to try.

My first few rides were wonderful: great weather, a feeling of accomplishment, the adulation of my friends/family. These were easy days to ride but life-style/routine changes are particularly tough and after the honeymoon stage wore off, it wasn’t always so easy to get excited in the morning for that ride……especially on days when it was cold or rainy.

Thankfully, the vast benefits of cycling daily motivated me through the difficult days and eventually the routine set-in. Now, I don’t even think about the commute – it’s just how I get to work. My energy level throughout the day is considerably higher, my mood is improved, and my productivity is enhanced. Each person is different and finding a physical activity that you enjoy is a challenge. Ultimately, for me, it is cycling and it has enriched my life infinitely………..and it only cost me an additional 30 minutes a day.

If you liked this story, check out Elaina’s story about her family’s decision to switch to bikes for their everyday transportation.