All posts by pk_admin

About pk_admin

Penelope Kokkinides is a lifelong New Yorker and health care professional. Here, I plan to share with you the wide-ranging things I find interesting day-to-day. I love to travel, by horseback or jet plane, and hope you will tag along on this journey with me.

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Importance of Sunshine

Winter blues are a real thing. They’re not, however, always something that a little dose of Vitamin D and sunshine can’t cure. Making sure you get enough sunshine in the winter is important to living a healthy life.

Sunlight is a natural, major source of Vitamin D. Getting outside in the sun is the best way to boost your mood and receive many health benefits. This vitamin aids in calcium metabolism, fighting depression, sleeping better, and keeping your bones and eyes healthy.  Vitamin D also helps in reducing colds and flu by boosting immune support.

During the cold, winter months we spend most of our time inside and we miss out on the benefits of natural light. It is important to spend as much time as you can in the sun to keep your Vitamin D levels up.

You can also receive Vitamin D in the winter by eating foods such as salmon, eggs, cereal, red meat, or taking a supplement.

So if you’re feeling a little blue, it may be time to catch some rays.

Combating the Sedentary Work Week

We’ve all heard the excuses for a sedentary work week: There’s no time. We don’t have enough energy. Or, maybe more honestly, we simply don’t want to exercise. But studies have proven exercise is important to keeping us both happy and healthy. Here are some tips for those with desk jobs on how to get more exercise during the day.

Walk, walk, walk: If you are busy at your desk all day, it can be hard to remember to get up and move around. But taking a quick stroll around the office every hour or so can fight a sedentary work lifestyle. Walk to lunch, visit your colleagues instead of buzzing their phones, and take the stairs. It may not seem like it, but these small acts can really makes a difference.

Wake up early: It can be more difficult to convince yourself to go to the gym after a long day of work. We are tired and ready to take it easy. If you are one of those people, maybe try waking up a little earlier. Go to the gym, get a short workout in at the house or go for a walk around the neighborhood. Even though you are waking up earlier, the extra activity should improve energy levels.

Utilize weekends: On the weekends, most of us have a little more free time. Try to incorporate a little more activity on your days off! Visit the gym, go for a hike or toss a ball in the park with a friend or your kids. Working in that extra physical activity won’t feel as much like a chore when you don’t have a million other things on your to do list.

It’s Time for a Brain Break

Sometimes we need to give our minds a little break. Whether you are stressed from work or overwhelmed by life’s demands, giving your mind a break can be good for your overall health and wellbeing. Here are some suggestions to implement mental health breaks into your day.

Write down your goals. Getting your goals on to paper allows your brain to process simply. Make sure that your goals are simple, clear and achievable. Make at least one goal each day and when you accomplish it, reward yourself.

Take a walk outside. Everyone needs exercise. Taking a walk helps to clear your mind and gives you space to breathe.

Diffuse an essential oil such as lavender. Besides the pleasant aromatic touch added to the room, essential oils can lift your mood.

Listen to your favorite music. Listening to calming piano melodies can slow your brain down if you feel stressed.  If you are feeling tired, listen to some happy, upbeat tunes.

Giving your brain a break every once in a while is essential to living life to the fullest. Balancing stress levels and allowing clear thoughts can help you work best when stressful times come. Find your personal brain break and implement it into your daily routine to become a better, healthier you!

How to Stay Energized at Work

After a few weeks back at work from the holidays, it’s easy to experience a decline in energy as you get back into the swing of things. Here are some tips to stay energized and focused to get you over that slump.

1.       Take breaks. It may seem counterproductive, but taking breaks can actually improve your ability to get work done. Simply getting up and taking a walk to get some blood flowing can improve your energy levels and your quality of work as well.

2.       Be careful with caffeine. The first thing a lot of us do when we are tired at work is reach for the coffee pot. This can be effective, but it can also backfire. You might find yourself even more tired when the caffeine wears off or you could have trouble sleeping later on at night. Try limiting your coffee consumption or switching to tea as the afternoon approaches. 

3.       Stay engaged. As things pick back up at work, it can be easy to hunker down in your office and shut everyone else out in an effort to get more work done. But socializing in your office is important! It builds a stronger communal bond, breaks up the work day and allows the sharing of ideas.

Healthy Tips for Trashing Take-out

Eating healthy can feel like a chore – one a lot of us would love to avoid. But if you vowed to change your diet this year, whether your goals are to lose weight or simply improve your overall wellness, here are some tips to make your “chores” a little easier:

1.       Don’t leave behind the leftovers.

Packing a lunch for work is often a difficult task. You want to keep it healthy, but also have enough variety so that you don’t get bored and take a trip to that takeout place you love during your break. This can be easily remedied with leftovers! Simply make a little bit more food for dinner than necessary for you and your family and take the rest for lunch. That should help taper that sandwich and salad rut.

2.       Map out your meals.

Decide in advance roughly what your menu will look like for the week. It is harder to deviate from a diet when a plan is already in place and groceries are bought. Not only does this save time and effort during the work week, but it can also be a money saver. Choose recipes in which some of the ingredients overlap to cut back on food waste and your grocery bill. 

3.       Schedule shopping trips.

In the same vein as meal planning, it is also important to schedule your grocery store visits. It is best to do this on a day off or weekend. If Monday rolls around and there’s nothing healthy in the pantry to cook for dinner, it will be far too easy for you to pick up the phone to order pizza.

Nurturing the Gym Newbies

Every January, many who have “dropped the ball” on their health and fitness goals rush to the gym in the following days to jump start their resolutions. For more frequent gym-goers, this can come as a shock when their previously unoccupied gym is swarmed with newcomers. While the immediate reaction is to get frustrated, it is important to remain positive. 

Going to a gym for the first time can be intimidating. Here are some tips to ensure your gym time remains a positive and healthy part of the day, whether you’re a regular or a first-timer.

1.       Don’t wish for failure.

Everyone knows that gym populations start to dwindle back down to regulars in late January to early February. If you frequent the weight room, it’s easy to hope for that exact outcome. Don’t! Everyone has to start somewhere. Instead of hoping they give up like many who make resolutions, hope they succeed, become healthier and perhaps more gym-savvy.

2.       If you see someone confused, help them!

Everyone has had that moment: you look at a machine and are confused about what muscle it works, let alone how to use it. If you see an unfamiliar face obviously having problems, kindly offer to demonstrate. Not only does this facilitate the kind of comradery one would want to find in a gym, but it also might free up that machine you have had your eye on a bit quicker.

3.       Remember how far you’ve come.

No matter your level of physical fitness, age or athletic experience, going to a weight room or an exercise class for the first time is scary for most. But the important thing is, these newbies are chasing their goal. That’s a good thing! Try to remember the obstacles you overcame to get to your desired fitness level. Odds are the people you are wishing away are going through something similar. A friendly face and patient attitude may be just what they need to get over that newcomer’s anxiety.

How to Stay Focused at Work During the Holidays

When we think of the holidays, the last things we want to think about are the last-minute tasks and day-to-day work that must be completed leading up to them. With so much distraction, it’s hard to stay focused during these joyful months of the year. Here are some tips to keep you concentrated:

  1. Avoid distraction. The temptation to procrastinate can be even greater this time of year. An email from your favorite department store may pop up with a flash sale, or you might want to check out the prices of available flights for Christmas. It may seem harmless to take a break from work to focus on more pleasurable things, but this can have a massive impact on your overall performance.
  1. Focus on the right projects. The holidays are a great time to work on self-guided projects. If your office is a little slow, you may have the opportunity to research without worrying if anyone will ask you to pop into a meeting or answer an email ASAP. It’s easier to focus on these sorts of big-picture, long-term tasks when you know you’ll have the time you need to really dig in.
  1. Be thoughtful of your off hours as well. Another key to staying focused at work is trying to isolate your office tasks to office hours. One of the best ways to avoid distractions is to make sure you’re allowing yourself time to shop, plan, and do whatever else you need to do outside of the office.

A Very Healthy Holiday

While the holidays are meant to be a time for celebration with family and friends, they can also take a toll on our physical and mental wellbeing. From experience, however, there are a few ways in which we can truly enjoy the holiday season and wind up healthier and happier than in years past. Here are simple steps to ensure your holiday season is merry and bright:

  1. Eat healthy. With sweet treats everywhere you look, it is easy to pack on the pounds during this time of year. To prevent the extra five to 10 extra pounds this season, be aware of the caloric content in the foods and the liquids you are consuming, and opt for bringing a healthy dish to your holiday party. Don’t deprive yourself, though — remember everything in moderation.
  2. Increase activity. While the weather makes it tempting to curl up in a blanket and stay inside, make sure you are getting aerobic activity at least four to five times per week.
  3. De-stress. There can be a lot of financial stress with gift-buying in addition to work and outside obligations. Develop a plan for when these stressors arise and be sure to set aside time for you.
  4. Embrace the spirit of giving. With the holidays, there are countless opportunities to give back to the community. Whether it is volunteering at a local soup kitchen or donating presents to the less fortunate, volunteer your time and support those in need.

So instead of waiting for the New Year’s resolutions to begin after the parties and festivities, let’s vow to take small steps to a more enjoyable and healthier holiday season right now.

-Penny

Productivity: One Step At A Time

We live in a busy world, where productivity can be hard to come by. Simply walk into any coffee shop, and you’ll notice the hustle and bustle from the person catching up with a friend while also checking email from the person finishing up a proposal during another phone call. The art of multitasking seems to be prevailing now more than ever. But did you know that only two percent of us are actually capable of successful multitasking?

The real question lays in how we are supposed to be productive when multiple projects come our way. Here are some simple ways that can help you can focus on one item at a time while still being productive:

  1. Put down the iPhone, tablet, laptop, etc. I know it can be difficult, but simply turning off these electronics can eliminate distractions and allow for more productivity.
  2. Set a routine. How many times do you set aside time to do something and find yourself on social media or another website instead? Creating a schedule for your to-do list will set an expectation for the day and will lessen the temptation of other distractions. (Pro Tip: Outline goals for the day, too, and you’ll have a roadmap for even greater success.)
  3. Eat a well-rounded breakfast. We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so this should be no surprise. Study after study says that productivity increases when you eat a healthy, protein-filled breakfast.
  4. Meditate, meditate, meditate. Meditation for 20 minutes every day is proven to help relieve stress. When multitasking seems to be too overwhelming, set aside time to relax and breathe.
  5. Organize your life. From file folders to planners to a tidy desk, organization is key to avoiding distractions and maximizing productivity.

Still having trouble multitasking? Read here for more ways on staying focused and for a calmer lifestyle.

-Penny Kokkinides

Tips for Working While Traveling

As our workplaces become more and more dependent on technology, our business contacts increasingly expect us to always be productive no matter the circumstance – even while 30,000 feet in the air. Thanks to technology, we can continually be connected at the touch of a few buttons. There are almost always inconveniences that occur when working remotely, however. From my experience, I have gained some insight on how to increase productivity despite these inconveniences.

Here are three simple ways to make sure that you are prepared for any travel situation that comes your way:

·         Pack and Plan – Looking ahead at your next business trip, plan for those situations when you are waiting to board the airplane or waiting on your hotel to be available.  During these simple gap periods, you’d be surprised at how much you can accomplish. With these gap periods in mind, package together what you think you might need for different tasks.  Will you need an iPad and a notebook on the plane? Do you need to catch up on the professional development book you’ve been needing to read? Plan ahead and pack for these small but crucial situations. 

·         Prepare for no Wi-Fi and no power – Technology glitches are bound to happen.  And if you are like me, they tend to happen when you need technology the most. Plan for these moments and save a few key documents to your desktop instead of relying on Dropbox or Google Drive. You might also find it helpful to print out a few copies of documents also, just in case you find yourself without the luxury of Wi-Fi.

·         Find ideal work and food locations – Research ahead of time nearby coffee shops and local food spots with free Wi-Fi.  It’s much easier having places already mapped out by the time you arrive with tasty snacks readily available to make your work a little more enjoyable. 

Lastly, don’t expect to get everything you need done accomplished.  Working remotely can be time consuming.  Be mindful of that, and you will already be ahead of the game when you the business trip is booked for the near future.

    – Penny Kokkinides