How To Recognize Summer Depression And What You Can Do To Manage It
By Sarah Fader
Summer. It’s when we get to enjoy activities rather than just dream about them, such as long warm evenings, outdoor barbecues, holidays, vacations and so much more.
So, after yearning for summer for months and months, it seems strange that anyone would feel depressed at that time of year. But for some people, that’s exactly what happens, and it’s anything but a vacation. Keep reading to learn how to recognize summer depression and what you can do to manage it.
What Is Summer Depression?
Summer depression is a form of depression that occurs specifically during the summer. In fact, it’s a form of the seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and in the United States alone, it’s estimated that 4 to 6 percent of Americans experience SAD. Actually, the majority of people experience SAD during winter time months. Only 10 percent of these individuals experience summer depression, often referred to as “reverse seasonal affective disorder.”
Summer depression doesn’t occur randomly, and it’s believed that it returns at the same time each year, creating an observable pattern, which both patient and caregiver can identify.
Because summer SAD affects a small group of people, there haven’t been too many studies examining this mental illness. But one thing’s certain: for people with summer depression, when the temperatures rise, their mental well-being drops. And like any other form of depression, it’s important to acknowledge and address this.
What Causes Summer Depression?
Some plausible factors contributing to reverse SAD have been gathered in the medical community. These factors could explain why someone can feel depression despite the warmer weather and an increase in sunshine. As it turns out, people are not only reacting to warmer temperatures, but situational factors, which are associated with the summertime.
- Too much sunlight
During the winter months in the Northern Hemisphere, individuals can experience winter blues, and this has been attributed to the significant reduction of sunlight in these areas. But is the opposite possible, too? Can an increase in sunshine depression?
The body’s production of a key hormone, melatonin, is affected by our exposure to sunlight. And just as too little sunlight can impact someone’s mental well-being, it is suggested that too much can negatively influence melatonin production, which in turn disrupts an individual’s circadian rhythm (sleep cycle).
But if too much sunlight only throws off our sleep schedules, how can it contribute to summer depression? Melatonin isn’t just the “sleep hormone” as it’s commonly referred to. It’s the immediate precursor of another very important hormone: serotonin. You see, without proper melatonin production, serotonin levels go out of balance. And this is an important hormone that regulates mood.
Therefore, a domino effect occurs. When melatonin production is disrupted, so is serotonin production. And this can increase a person’s risk for depression and mood disorders.
With all the activities of summer comes added financial stress of summertime for many. Whether you’re paying for vacations, weekend getaways, concerts, or paying for child care, summer can be one expensive season. This increase in spending could contribute to a decrease in your mood by adding stress. Air-conditioning bills can also be very high in certain areas of the country.
Thrown Off Schedules
Having a committed routine can help to stave off a person’s experience of depression. However, in the summer, our schedules tend to get disrupted. If you’re a parent, your children are probably out of school and at home most of the day. This can create a huge lifestyle shift. Sleep is not the only important routine for people that can be disrupted by changes in activities and obligations.
Similarly, if you have a job that allows you more free time in the summer, it may be difficult to know how to manage a more relaxed schedule. And when you add to both of these factors the combination of summer parties, holidays, vacations and late nights out, you’re sleep schedule could be very different than other times of year.
When summer finally arrives, sometimes it isn’t everything we imagined and expected. In fact, we can dream big, but sometimes these dreams and musings create a summer that doesn’t exist, and when it does arrive, we can experience a letdown and a feeling of disappointment, asking ourselves, “Is this it?”
Body Image Issues
Winter fashion is usually very forgiving when it comes to hiding things we don’t embrace about our bodies. Summer clothes are generally much more revealing. Wintertime we tend to be less active, which can contribute to weight gain, and sometimes summer clothes from last season might not fit. These types of body image issues can contribute to summer depression.
With plants blooming, there’s a fair share of allergens floating around in that fresh summer breeze – just enough to make your summertime miserable, replete with feeling irritable, anxious and with a slew of symptoms that can kill the summer mood.
Some like it hot, but for others, summer heat can be too hot. In fact, when people experience oppressive heat, it can feel exhausting rather than energizing, and it can negatively impact your quality of life. Too-hot temperatures can prevent you from spending time outdoors or exercising as you used to. Cooking only makes your entire kitchen feel like an oven. Heat can change your eating habits and disrupt your sleep.
Perhaps one of the reasons why people get summer depression is because they feel a social expectation of enjoying summer, and when they don’t, they feel both inadequate and flawed – as if there’s something wrong with them.
Furthermore, if you envy your friends and family who get to enjoy fun summer get-aways, it can make you feel depressed about your situation.
But comparison is usually the thief of joy, and it’s not helpful to compare other people’s picture-perfect images to your own realities – for starters, it’s unrealistic.
Any of these factors may cause summer depression:
- Too much sunlight may interfere with key hormone production, including melatonin and serotonin
- Financial stress
- Thrown off schedules
- Feeling let down and disappointed once summer arrives
- Body image issues
- Heat intolerance
- Comparing yourself to others
Who Is Susceptible To Summer Depression?
While research is fairly new and limited when it comes to SAD, there seems to be a genetic component to summer depression. Two out of three individuals with SAD are related to someone with a major mood disorder,and a family history of depression makes it more likely that someone will develop SAD.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), younger adults, including children and teens, have a greater risk of having SAD, which can include summer depression.
Women seem to be at a higher risk for summer depression since they are diagnosed with this type of SAD four times more often than men.
Now, let’s look at how you can recognize summer depression.
How To Recognize Summer Depression
As the body of research grows surrounding summer depression, so will our understanding of who’s at risk for having this form of SAD. For now, we know these facts:
- Summer depression may have a genetic component
- Younger people are at higher risk for summer SAD
- Women seem to be at higher risk
As you can see, summer depression, though it only affects a small percentage of the US population, is still a mental illness that can make the warm season an unhappy one.
Now, let’s look at how you can recognize summer depression.
How To Recognize Summer Depression
Some of the signs of summer depression are specific to this type of seasonal affective disorder, and others are also common depressive symptoms. Here’s a concise list of summer depression symptoms:
- Distractions, like social media and television
- Losing weight
- Sunlight is too bright
- Feelings of anxiety
- Feelings of agitation
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty making decisions
- Manic feelings, such as grandiose feelings and an elated mood
- Loss of appetite
- Consistent feelings of sadness
- Thoughts of suicide
- Lack of interest in activities you usually enjoy, like sports, social events, etc.
How To Manage Summer Depression
Some of the signs of summer depression are specific to this type of seasonal affective disorder, and others are also common depressive symptoms. Here’s a concise list of summer depression symptoms:
- Losing weight
- Feeling that sunlight is too bright
- Feelings of anxiety
- Feelings of agitation
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty making decisions
- Manic feelings, such as grandiose feelings and an elated mood
- Loss of appetite
- Consistent feelings of sadness
- Thoughts of suicide
- Lack of interest in activities you usually enjoy, like sports, social events, etc.
How To Manage Summer Depression
Summer depression might be a temporary condition, but that doesn’t mean it’s not very difficult for those people who experience it. Luckily, there are ways to cope with this hot time year. Let’s look at some of them below:
- Get your Z’s: To help prevent depression-induced insomnia, prioritize your sleep schedule. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Exposing yourself to bright morning light when you first wake up can help regulate your body’s melatonin production. What’s more, keeping your room cool and dark can ensure that you’ll be well-rested.
- Wear protective eyewear: If the sunlight is too bright for you, be sure to wear dark lenses whenever you spend time outdoors. This can prevent eye discomfort and even headaches.
- Respect your schedule: Even though we can associate a strict schedule with a lack of freedom, it’s just the opposite for some individuals with summer depression. Instead of being oppressive, a schedule can help you feel in control, and it can also help to lessen your feelings of anxiety and agitation.
- Plan a fun activity: Having something to look forward to can help to move you forward through your summer depression, rather than keep you stuck in it. Is there a park you want to visit? An upcoming concert? Whatever it is, schedule it in, and stick to it.
- Exercise: Getting your heart rate up and breaking a sweat can lift your mood, too. If the heat deters you from exercising, consider a short-term gym membership – just make sure it’s air-conditioned! Or, consider exercising early in the morning before the heat becomes intense.
- Socialize: Socialization will mean different things to different people, but connecting with another human being is very helpful when you’re feeling hopeless and down. This can mean a shopping trip, a walk through town, a phone call or even a shared fitness class. Whatever it is, add “spending time with people” to your self-care list to help you cope with summer depression.
- Relax: Set up a cooling fan, get comfortable and allow yourself to relax. By lowering your stress levels, you can relieve your symptoms of depression, too. You can meditate, listen to calming music, or take a cooling bath.
- Seek the help of a licensed professional: If symptoms are extreme and causing a serious and negative impact on someone’s life, it’s recommended to seek professional help to address the mental illness and create a personalized plan to cope with it. The professionals at Better Help are a great place to start.
Summer depression can make it difficult for certain individuals to enjoy the sunny season. But when you know how to recognize this seasonal affective disorder, and also know good coping skills, it’s possible to not only live with summer depression but also to live well. All without having to ignore, suppress or feel ashamed about this mental illness.
9 health technologies every executive should be excited about in 2019
There’s never been a more exciting time to be in the digital healthcare space than right now.
With the explosion of content capabilities, endless social opportunities and underpriced attention in so many platforms – there’s a huge amount to be excited about.
Health technologies encompass all the devices, medicines, vaccines, procedures and systems designed to streamline healthcare operations, lower costs and enhance quality of care. Artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, voice search, chatbots and virtual reality (VR) are among the most promising health technologies in 2019.
For the longest time, healthcare executives have been dissatisfied with the lack of technology stacks and solutions for true marketing personalization. Indeed, technology was still the number 1 concern for healthcare marketing professionals in 2018 according to the American Medical Association.
That said, we question whether the lack of technology is something that is preventing the healthcare executives from adopting digital transformation within their organizations.
In fact, we think this should not be the case at all.
We would even go so far as to argue that technology and healthcare represent a marriage made in heaven. As a result, we’ve put together a list of 9 health technologies that every healthcare executive should be excited about in 2019.
1. Artificial intelligence
There’s nothing quite as exciting as artificial intelligence right now and with a rapid growth and exciting opportunities surrounding – it’s the best time to utilize its potential for healthcare marketing.
The use of artificial intelligence within the healthcare industry is expected to grow rapidly at an annual rate of 40% through 2021 – to $6.6 Billion, from approximately $600 Million in 2014.
AI engines can reduce and mitigate risk of preventable medical scenarios in three critical ways:
- Automate reminders – Great for helping patients take medication within a specific timeframe.
- Identify people at high risk – Discovering those in need of medical intervention and trigger medical staff alerts to create custom care plans. IBM Watson currently testing this with opioid addiction issues.
- Deliver personalized dosage recommendations – Based on each patient’s unique body chemistry and associated environmental factors.
That’s three different ways to be able to carve a niche and market AI.
So how do these existing scenarios apply to marketing? For example, a focus on high risk identification or personalized dosages could be a key factor in a marketing campaign. People love to talk about AI. Showcasing your company’s AI solutions will give you free press and position your company as a true innovator and market leader.
The bottomline is simple: keep AI on the radar and utilize the concept as one of the main health technologies for marketing in 2019. There’s no signs of slowing down.
Interested in learning more about artificial intelligence applications in healthcare? Read our Trend Watch: Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare
Blockchain in healthcare isn’t just useful for the hype it’s ramped up with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Instead, what’s exciting about blockchain is the digital record-keeping that creates the ledger of transactions that isn’t only transparent, but impossible to tamper with.
Blockchain is here to stay with a variety of experts, some of whom are skeptical of bitcoin, claiming that the technology could fundamentally change the way that huge sectors operate – including digital healthcare marketing.
We’re expecting blockchain to affect the digital marketing sphere with three main key points:
Changing data collections
When you use blockchain to collect data, the information you input and all of your personal data remains with you instead of being stored on servers owned by an application (think the recent Facebook controversy).
Living in a world where all of the data that we’ve previously been able to access vanishes is a scary prospect for marketers. It’s going to be exciting to see how it plays out and what techniques could be created to overcome.
Fixing digital display advertising
There are some serious flaws when it comes to online display ads and they can be pretty expensive to the advertiser. In addition, with Facebook and Google having ownership on the control of the majority of the available ad inventory, you’ll also be seeing a lack of availability and increased prices.
The Brave blockchain browser is an attempt to address this situation with the Basic Attention Token (BAT) which changes the way in which users interact with ads.
Advertisers buy ads using BAT and then users opt in to viewing ads and are compensated with BAT. On the other hand, publishers are compensated by both consumers and advertisers. It’s a new way to try and level the playing field and restore the value of attention back to its owner. Very similar model to ebates.com on the retail side.
Ownership and security of digital assets
Finally, blockchain could reform the way we stream and own digital assets with the rework of the flawed Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music platforms.
Instead of artists being underpaid for their content, a market shift is occurring where people could offer their work to a massive audience without paying an intermediary like YouTube or iTunes for exposure and security.
Blockchain-based entertainment could allow for direct marketing to their audiences without the need of a media platform. That’s a big shift towards P2P communities which fans may fall in love with, with the potential to earn special privileges and more engagement with artists they love.
The bottomline for blockchain is simple. It has the power to restructure the entire digital marketing system with the changing of data collections, fixing of digital display advertising and the ownership and security of digital assets.
Also read: 7 Applications of Blockchain in Healthcare
3. Voice search
Voice search has become incredibly popular around the world and with 1 in 6 Americans now owning a smart speaker and 40% of adults using voice search once a day – it’s very much a time to focus on deploying voice-enabled solutions for your marketing campaigns.
Voice is a huge healthcare marketing technique that’s been on the rise since smartphone and smart speaker were first released (with Amazon’s Echo first hitting the market back in 2014.) And, more importantly, it can be an effective tool in the industry.
So how does voice search apply to marketing?
Healthcare access is predominantly local.
In other words, most Americans look for healthcare options within the proximity of their place of employment or their residence. Because of this reality, healthcare marketers must optimize their digital platforms for local searches.
Since 20% of Google searches are voice searches in 2018, voice has become one of the main health technologies healthcare marketers must invest in come 2019.
If 1 in 5 are using voice to find out about healthcare options, it’s imperative that you’re not missing out on the potential customers.
Bottomline: optimize your marketing campaigns & landing pages for voice. With the rise in popularity of smart speakers and native voice search as a whole (Siri, Google Now, Cortana etc), voice presents some of the most amazing opportunities for marketing healthcare executives in 2019 and beyond.
4. Chatbots in healthcare
Chatbots in healthcare offer a wide variety of benefits that we’re very excited about. With the potential for improvement in organization of patient pathways, medication management, help in emergency situations or with first aid, there’s plenty that can be done for healthcare marketing in 2019.
Offering a personal experience when it comes to healthcare is vital and a chatbot adds another touchpoint that people really love. With the number of chatbots multiplying at incredible pace, it’s becoming more and more expected, rather than the gimmick it used to be.
Options are endless for chatbots, from customer service to potential diagnosis of mild conditions – there’s plenty to be excited about within the technology.
5. Virtual reality in healthcare
Virtual reality is expected to become a 4 billion dollar business by 2020 and there’s no reason why healthcare can’t jump in on the action. Whether it’s leveraging VR to provide an immersive experience for patients to virtually tour a health facility or using VR to help patients cope with pain, there’s plenty to be interested in.
Few technologies generate as much engagement as virtual reality and being smart with this technology can be incredibly beneficial to any healthcare organization. Think outside the box and go for original content and usage – if it’s something that people haven’t seen before, you’ll likely make a much bigger splash.
Healthcare is an industry in which “customers” are often anxious (thinkwhite coat syndrome) so having a virtual tour or example procedure could be hugely beneficial to calm the nerves of future patients and improve the patient experience. The possibilities with this technology are endless.
VR is a great tool with unrivaled engagement. With such a promising technology, be bold and come out with original content that may calm, excite or educate your customers for maximum impact.
6. Advanced social media
Social media is king in healthcare marketing, that’s no secret, but companies should be straying away from posting blind and hoping for the best – especially when there’s a huge amount of data available to you.
Using real metrics, analytics and user engagement data can all be used to drive adjustments to the social strategy to each network that your company uses.
Tools such as Sprout Social are great for social media management with a data first approach are key to form and deepen real connections with the people that will build your brand.
Although the pricing of social media management may be a little out of the league for many smaller companies, the concept remains the same. Look for patterns and capitalize where possible.
7. Personalized mobile apps
Mobile apps are great for engagement with a huge number of possibilities surrounding the creation of an app. The user is in control, but you’re in charge of the options and that’s got huge power.
There are so many patient scenarios which can be served by a powerful native mobile application in 2019.
From requesting physician appointments, checking in, uploading a patient’s medical history to getting test results via a mobile app – health organizations can create useful digital tools that are perfect for the modern day patient.
Mobile apps also relieve some of the pressure on the medical staff, waiting times and receptionist duties, resulting in a significant reduction in operational costs. Other exciting features health organizations are experimenting with in 2018 include notifications, alerts around key seasonal allergies (e.g. the flu season) and personalized marketing offers.
Mobile apps are a great way to communicate and stay in touch with your patients, long after they left your health facilities. There’s so much potential in health mobile apps, yet so many marketers are missing the opportunity giving credence to the criticisms that the healthcare industry is still not innovating.
8. Partnerships with other popular mobile apps
Mobile apps can prove to be expensive and if a specific health organization is not interested in investing in mobile, there is another shortcut healthcare marketers should look at in 2019. Healthcare marketers should consider the idea of partnering with popular app owners within a specific geography.
Don’t just limit this to other areas in healthcare marketing, but rather consider joining forces with a variety of other businesses that can generate attention through their apps. Whether it’s a local restaurant, delivery service or taxi/car share app – there’s uncapitalized attention everywhere we look.
Getting in front of local customers will generate attention and raise awareness and depending on the incentives that you can provide, there’s the potential for commission based rewards/payment for the businesses that you partner with at the local level.
9. Video marketing
It is estimated that in 2019, 8% of all mobile traffic will be video and avoiding the medium is a surefire way to miss out on a great marketing technique.
Video is fantastic for humanizing the health brand you’re promoting. We get a lot more from video than we otherwise would get from an image and that human experience is great for establishing trust and relatability.
TikTok, for example, is a short video peer to peer platform in which users shoot 10-20 second videos, sharing them with the world. With over 500 million users globally and the number 1 downloaded app on the App Store in the US – there’s huge potential with the app and video in general.
Using video social media platforms like TikTok could be a huge differentiator for healthcare marketing and creating a fun atmosphere for the industry may be a huge step in the right direction. Don’t forget – as healthcare marketers, you should always consider experimenting with new techniques and ideas.
Bottomline: Use video marketing to capitalize on user’s engagement and attention and don’t shy away from apps and platforms such as YouTube, Facebook video, Instagram and the newly founded TikTok for huge potential promotion.
There’s so much to be excited about when it comes to technology and healthcare marketing in 2019. In this article, we discussed the following health technologies that marketers can leverage today to improve the overall return on investment for their marketing spend:
- Artificial Intelligence: Keep AI on the radar and utilize the concept as one of the main health technologies for marketing in 2019.
- Blockchain: This technology has the power to restructure the entire digital marketing system by changing data collections, fixing digital display advertising and making our digital transactions more secure. It’s not something to sleep on.
- Voice search: Consider leveraging voice technologies in 2019. There’s a huge opportunity for healthcare marketers to stand out, especially when it comes to ranking for local search terms.
- Chatbots: Options are endless for chatbots use cases in the healthcare space, from customer service to potential diagnosis of mild conditions – there’s plenty to be excited about within the technology.
- Virtual reality: VR is a great tool with unrivalled engagement. With such a new technology, be bold and come out with original content that may calm, excite or educate your customers for maximum impact.
- Advanced social media: Although the pricing of social media management may be a little out of the league of many smaller companies, healthcare providers can leverage social media analytics solutions that will turn data into actionable insights.
- Personalized mobile apps: Mobile apps are a great way to leverage user-centric relevant notifications to provide relevant and personalized user experiences to patients all over the world.
- Partnerships with other popular mobile apps: You don’t always need to build a new mobile app to reach a new audience. Sometimes it’s best to form strategic partnerships with other popular mobile apps.
- Video marketing: Use video to capitalize on user’s engagement and attention and don’t shy away from apps and platforms such as YouTube, Facebook video, Instagram and the newly founded TikTok for huge potential promotion.
These are the Must See Places to visit in the USA in 2019:
1. Giant Prismatic Spring – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
This beauty is the largest hot spring you’ll find in the United States, and third largest in the world, behind New Zealand’s Frying Pan Lake and Boiling Lake in Dominica. The colors of the spring come from the pigmented bacteria in the waters. Can you dip a toe in it? No, but you can walk around the edge for a cool photo op.
2. Watkins Glen State Park – Finger Lakes State Park, New York
Located in New York’s Finger Lakes State Parks, Watkins Glen State Park is a hidden gem famous for its 400 foot deep gorge with breathtaking waterfalls and scenic views. Whether you want to visit as a day-visitor or an overnight camper, Watkins Glen offers several activity options for any visitor with its picnic facilities, tent and trailer campsites, an Olympic size pool, and fishing sites where you can participate in the annual spring run of rainbow trout.
3. This seasonal waterfall (flowing during the winter and spring) at Yosemite will make you think of Mordor from Lord of the Rings, but don’t fret. That yellow-red glow is caused from the sun shining upon the falls at certain times.3. Horsetail Fall – Yosemite National Park, California
4. Fly Geyser – Nevada
Drive 2 ½ hours from Reno and you’ll find yourself at Fly Geyser. This was created by some drilling done in the name of finding sources for geothermal energy in 1964. Minerals sprang from the hole to create this wonderfully odd formation. Fly Geyser is on private property, so don’t try to climb the tall fences that surround it. But it’s so huge that you can get a good picture from the road.
5. Mono Lake – California
The moment you see Mono Lake in person you’ll believe you’re on another planet. Snowcapped mountains surround this salty blue lake that has plenty of Tufa, columns of limestone that have been formed by the salinity of the water.
Mono Lake is approximately a 3-hour drive from Reno, Nevada. Search for rental cars at the Reno Airport on Skyscanner.
6. The Blue Ridge Parkway, America’s longest linear park, is a favorite for a relaxed slow-paced scenic drive through Virginia and North Carolina. With a distance of 369 miles, you can find eight campgrounds, 360 miles of hiking trails, 13 picnic areas, biking trails, boating on Price Lake, music festivals, and an opportunity to join a park ranger for walks, hikes , and campfires.6. The Blue Ridge Parkway – Virginia and North Carolina
7. The Wave – Arizona
It took millions of years for winds to erode Navajo sandstone in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness of Arizona to make this trippy formation that’s a great photo opportunity. Permits are required to visit The Wave and are awarded via a lottery system online.
The Wave is located in a very remote area – on the border of Arizona and Utah – and the easiest ways to get there are to fly into Las Vegas or Phoenix and then rent a car for the 4+ hour drive to Antelope Canyon.
8. Glass Beach – Fort Bragg, California
Let’s go back to the not-so-enlightened times of the 1900s when the locals would toss all sorts of household garbage over the cliffs and onto the beach below. Fast forward a few decades and the only thing the Pacific Ocean didn’t take was the glass and pottery that’s now been smoothed out from years of erosion.
9. Northern Lights – Alaska
10. Sequoia National Park – California
You’ll never feel as small as you do when standing next to sequoia trees that are as tall as a football field is long. The biggest of the bunch is the General Sherman Tree – it stands 275 feet tall, is said to be around 2,500 years old and is the largest living tree in the world.
11. Thor’s Well – Oregon
If you head to Oregon’s Cape Perpetua an hour before to an hour after high tide, you’ll be able to see one hell of a show at Thor’s Well. This saltwater fountain creates its show from the powerful ocean tides and is very dangerous, so try to enjoy it from a safe distance.
12. Mendenhall Glacier Caves – Alaska
If you ever find yourself in Juneau, Alaska, a trip to these caverns are a must-do. The ice caves in this 12-mile glacier at the heart of the Mendenhall Valley give you the feeling that you’re walking through a tunnel of brilliant blue clouds.
13. Savannah – Georgia
Decorated with fragrant magnolia blossoms and 18th-century cobblestones, Savannah, Georgia is a beautiful city to enjoy the rich cuisine, art, architecture, history, ghost stories, and the good old Southern charm. Ride a carriage or trolley and make your way to Tybee Island to enjoy the sandy beaches and loggerhead sea turtle sighting.
14. Oneonta Gorge – Oregon
This may look like it should be in a fairy tale, but it’s actually in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge. This place is great to walk through on a warm summer day just to see the fern and moss that coat the walls.
15. Dry Tortugas National Park – Florida
Yes, there’s something even cooler beyond the uninhibited fun of Key West. Head 70 miles west of Key West and you’ll find Dry Tortugas National Park. Its home to Fort Jefferson, an unfinished fortress that the U.S. Navy began building in 1847. This place is secluded from the world. So much so that you can only access it by boat or seaplane. A fine way to unplug from the rest of the world.
16. Bonneville Salt Flats – Utah
You’ll be hard-pressed to find someplace flatter on earth. The Bonneville Salt Flats are what’s left of a prehistoric lake that covered the area until about 14,500 years ago. Now it’s the home to Speed Week in mid-August, where racers look to break land speed records. The Flats can get awfully hot in the summer (120 degrees Fahrenheit), so maybe stay away during that time of year. We wholly recommend heading out to the area after a bit of rain, which turns the area into a giant mirror.
17. Maine Lighthouses – Portland, Maine
The Portland Lighthouses in Maine are a significant part of the cities location. Visit the famous 6 lighthouses: Portland Head Light, Ram Island Ledge Light, Two Lights State Park, Portland Breakwater Lighthouse, Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, and Cape Elizabeth Lighthouse. All within a 20 minute drive from each other, the lighthouses offer a valuable insight to the maritime location as well as its rich history.
18. Driftwood Beach – Jekyll Island, Georgia
There’s a creepy beauty about this beach. You can take a walk or horseback ride along this secluded beach that’s dotted with limbs and roots of tree that have tossed about due to erosion on the north end of the island. It’s a great place for a sunset, and very popular for weddings.
19. White Sands National Monument – New Mexico
This stunner takes a desert but makes the sand look as white as snow. You can take various tours of the area to find out how it formed and what creatures make their homes in the dunes.
20. The Great Lakes – Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ontario
Are you an adventurer seeking an adrenaline rush? If so, you should visit Lake Michigan. Or maybe you are someone who enjoys the great outdoors and natural beauty. If that’s the case, you should check out Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. Are you looking for a place to relax? Lake Huron is the lake for you. History enthusiasts? Lake Ontario is where you will find the fill to your interest or maybe you want a little of everything which you’ll be able to find at Lake Erie. The Great Lakes, the largest group of freshwater lakes, is beautiful landscape filled with indigenous wildlife that has something for every type of traveler.
21. Skagit Valley Tulip Fields – Washington
Hundreds of thousands of visitors hop in their car to drive through these tulip fields in April to see these beautiful flowers in bloom. The gorgeous mountains in the distance are just a bonus.
22. Niagara Falls –New York
Niagara Falls State Park is full of attractions and activities for any visitor. From renting bikes to visiting aquariums, there’s something for every type of traveler. Experience the grandness of the falls from every angle and if you dare, stand as close to get front row seats in the splash zone.
23. Shenandoah – Virginia
Just outside of the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah is a beautiful recreational escape into nature where you can enjoy scenic hiking trails, waterfalls, vineyards, and stunning vistas. Whether you want to enjoy an annual festival or a picnic under the stars, you can find something to do for everyone.
24. Antelope Canyon – Arizona
It took millions of years for water to carve out these crevices you can take a walk through today. The colors you actually see on the walls will change depending on the time of year when you visit. There are no private walks to the area as the Navajo Nation only allow guided tours to enter the canyon. But that’s a good way to find out even more about the area.
25. Hamilton Pool Preserve – Dripping Springs, Texas
This natural pool just outside of Austin, Texas, is a popular summertime hangout for tourists and locals alike. So how did it come to be? It actually used to be an underground river before erosion caused the dome to collapse.
Summer is coming. Vitamin D and the physiological need for fresh-ish air. The most focused among us begin to resist indoor endeavors. How do we continue to bring our A Game? How do we motivate our team to put their brain power behind the work at hand? How do we remind ourselves to work hard before we play hard?
Tips for Boosting Your Staff Out of the Mid-Year Motivation Slump
Running a business is a tough enough prospect at the best of times, and that’s why building a good team to support you is crucial. As we reach the halfway point in the year, you may be seeing signs of your team starting to flag. It could be the result of finishing the previous year on a high, or a big push at the start of the current one, meaning many people do start to feel sluggish at this time of the year. Add to that the juggling-act nature of modern living that involves bringing up children, work, travel, and more. When your staff’s energy levels are going through a slump, it falls upon you as leader to try and motivate them to boost performance, morale and productivity.
So, how do you lift your workers out of the mid-year blues? The good news is that there are a few methods available that can break the monotony and inject fresh impetus into your company’s efforts.
Revisit your annual targets
Many businesses have annual targets that they set out at the beginning of each financial or calendar year to work towards over 12 months. Now may be a good time to revisit them and remind yourself and your staff of what those goals are. Doing so will make all the hard work more meaningful if everyone understands what‘s at stake and its importance to the success of the business. Revising your targets also allows you to work out if those goals are still relevant or realistic. Low morale is sometimes the result of a lack of belief in a project, so refocusing can boost motivation.
Break targets into fun, short-term goals
Revisiting and potentially revising annual targets is a great way to get everyone enthusiastic about the company’s goals and give them a better chance of being achieved. To keep your staff even more motivated, why not try breaking down annual targets into smaller, short-term goals? Breaking down what you want to achieve into weekly, monthly, or perhaps quarterly goals gives workers the opportunity to celebrate achievements more often and keep them keen and engaged.
Liven things up with small perks
As with refocusing on your goals, it also helps to provide your staff with small perks as rewards for good results. The types of perks you can offer your team will depend on the resources available to your company, but can include simple pleasures such as time off for special occasions, or perhaps a fun team-building event. If you feel someone could do with an extended weekend or a chance to work from home, you will actually be giving them something even money can’t buy.
Knowing that their boss will look after them and reward their hard work is a great way to keep workers motivated and loyal.
Always lead from the front
Something that is often underrated but is actually a priceless gift for any leader is the ability to lead your team from the front. A good leader should be able to read the mood of their colleagues and have the knowledge of how to turn things around when the company hits a slump. Lead by example and show the rest of the staff how optimistic, enthusiastic, positive and determined you are about the company’s prospects. Positivity is infectious, and your team will soon be feeling more inclined to be pulling together again.
Always remember to let staff know that they are appreciated
Unfortunately, human nature makes us more inclined to notice when things go wrong, rather than when everything is going well. This is particularly true of successful companies, as workers achievements can easily start being taken for granted. Showing gratitude makes employees feel part of the team, and confirms to them that their contributions are being noticed.
Loosen up and have fun together
You may be working on a long term project, or yours may be a high-pressured role within a competitive environment. Either way, getting to know each other better in a non-work environment is a good way to give your staff a boost. Again, ideas for this do not need to be complicated and can include a night out for the team for a few drinks, dinner, bowling or something more adventurous such as go-kart racing.
Powering through the mid-year
There is no doubt that any organisation can fall prey to a mid-year motivation slump. Whether it’s a team that has lost sight of the company’s goals, or your staff are flagging under relentless pressure, something will need to be done to arrest the slump. While financial rewards are one way of achieving an immediate uptick in productivity, the good news is that not every method has to cost the business a fortune. In most cases, it is the human touch that matters the most and will achieve better results in the long run.
That may just be the secret source to not only giving your team a boost, but to successful organisations in general. Always let workers know their hard work is appreciated, reward them and keep working alongside them towards common goals… and the rest will follow!
Inequality is decreasing between countries—but climate change is slowing progress
Forecasts have painted a difficult picture for the future. But one new study argues that climate change has already imposed an economic penalty on many countries.
SCIENTISTS HAVE KNOWN for decades that climate change is reshaping the physical face of the planet. But according to new research, warming has also had a measurable impact on economies, providing a boost to some countries and a penalty to others.
Inequality between countries has decreased over the past few decades. But between 1961 and 2010, the country-to-country gap would have narrowed more if not for climate change, says new research published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The difference between the richest and poorest countries in the world is some 25 percent wider than it would be in a world without global warming, the authors say.
Until now, we didn’t have a number that showed “how much the global warming that’s already happened has impacted the growth of existing countries, and the harm that’s already occurred,” says Noah Diffenbaugh, an author of the study and a climate scientist at Stanford University. And critically, he says, “The countries that are most responsible for global warming are different from the countries that are bearing the brunt of global warming.”
The Goldilocks zone
Economists, development experts, and world leaders have long warned that climate change is likelyto hurt poor countries more than rich ones. Recovering from disasters like hurricanes or floods or drought is more challenging when resources are thin, and extra heat hurts more when humans and crops are already near their limits— the case for many countries in the climate-sensitive tropics.
“So even without this added economic penalty, those poorer places would bear the brunt of climate change,” says Amir Jina, an environmental policy expert at the University of Chicago.
Much of the research on the social and economic impacts of climate change looked into the future, years or decades or centuries ahead. But in recent years, scientists have begun to tease out exact calculations of how much climate change has already affected us. In 2017, for example, they established that Hurricane Harvey dumped about 15 percent more rain than it would have in an un-climate-changed world.
Diffenbaugh and Marshall Burke, the authors of the new study, realized they could apply the same kind of approach to economies. Burke and colleagues had shown a few years prior that there is a remarkable relationship between the average annual temperature in a country and its economic output. Places whose temperature hovered around 13 degrees Celsius, or about 55 degrees Fahrenheit (like China and the U.S.), have the highest economic productivity in the world. The farther away from that peak a country was, the less productive they were.
It didn’t matter if a country was rich or poor: The Goldilocks-esque relationship held. Colder countries didn’t produce as much. Nor did hotter countries, and their economic penalty was even greater, especially when average temperatures crept above 20 degrees Celsius, or 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
The exact reasons why this relationship existed are still being worked out, and there’s no one factor that controls the effect globally. In some cases, hotter temperatures may make it harder for people to work, and in others, it may affect the agricultural output, amongst many other effects. But the overall pattern is clear.
And it suggested an obvious next question: As the climate warmed over the past decades, had colder countries benefited economically? And were hotter countries paying a penalty? How much of the stubborn inequality between countries can be ascribed to climate change?
Whose fault is climate change? And who pays the price?
Globally, economic inequality—the difference between the poorest countries and the richest countries—has narrowed over past decades (by one measure, it dropped by about 15 percent between 1975 and 2010). But what Diffenbaugh and Burke found was that between 1961 to 2010, that gap would have narrowed by about 25 percent more, had global warming not been a factor.
The penalty was particularly acute for tropical countries, which were already on the hotter end of the spectrum and far more sensitive to increases in heat. But the researchers also found something else in the data: Many of the countries in the temperate Goldilocks zone, which already tended to be richer, had even seemed to gain some slight ineffable economic benefit from the warming. As temperatures in many of those countries crept up, so did their economic output.
The study looks only at the relationship between temperature and economic measures, but does not dig in to identify the underlying reasons they might be connected, cautions Solomon Hsiang, an expert in climate and development at the University of California, Berkeley. Without those direct links, and without thinking about how past warming could have impacts that play out on longer timescales (the authors primarily focused on immediate economic responses to temperature, within a year), it’s premature to say that any countries have benefited from climate change, he says. And in fact, there is growing evidence that climate change hurts all countries, both rich and poor—so the small advantages seen here are likely to dissipate.
But regardless—those same countries reaping the benefits, or at very least, not feeling the negative effects? They were the ones who had contributed the most to causing global warming in the first place.
Of the 19 countries with the highest total CO2 emissions over the period they looked at, from 1961 to 2010, 14 experienced an economic bump from warming.
In contrast, the 18 countries with the lowest CO2 emissions per person (less than 10 tons per person in total over the years between 1961 to 2010, or about as much as the average American blows through in about seven and a half months today), took economic hits of over 25 percent.
Climate-vulnerable countries have stressed this point during international climate negotiations. During discussions preceding the Paris Climate Agreement, in 2015, Indian delegates pressed for “climate reparations” from the wealthy countries who were responsible for the bulk of the planet-warming CO2 emissions in the past. And a coalition of island nations, led by the Marshall Islands, fought hard to get the richer, less-threatened nations to aim to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, rather than the 2 degrees Celsius goal that had dominated the early part of the negotiations.
Climate change is likely to cost everyone, everywhere, especially as its effects ramp up, Diffenbaugh is careful to point out. And he stresses that their analysis doesn’t explicitly address the costs of disasters, adaptation and mitigation, and many other factors that could wipe out economic gains in the future.
But the pattern revealed by the research, says J. Timmons Roberts, an environmental policy expert at Brown University, underscores how difficult it will be to develop to an equitable response to the ongoing climate crisis.
“It’s almost the worst possible setup for trying to solve the problem,” he says, “to have some group that’s already rich and powerful actually getting some boost from this effect, while the poor sufferers are suffering even more.”
Last year, the wellness world got a makeover. People started having more open and honest conversations about mental health, green beauty went mainstream, and CBD took over the world (that’s only a slight exaggeration). All the while, as we called in last year’s trend report, people embraced intermittent fasting, breathwork gained traction, big food brands acquired smaller health-focused companies (case in point: the recent news that Kraft acquired Primal Kitchen and PepsiCo bought Health Warrior), and we all started to realize that social media might be contributing to our anxiety.
Building upon the progress we’ve made in 2018, we’re predicting that wellness will only continue to become more accessible and earth-friendly this year. Another big theme on our radar—one that we explored during this year’s revitalize event—is the blending of old and new. More and more ancient practices that have withstood the test of time will enter mainstream consciousness, and we’re hoping this return to simplicity sparks a connection that’s real and timeless in all of us.
1. Our recovery will get a high-tech makeover.
At mbg, we’ve long emphasized the importance of recovery in a well-rounded movement routine, so it’s been exciting to see slow fitness really take off over the last few years, in all of its foam rolling, magnesium-bath-loving glory. And as we continue to take recovery more seriously, gadgets will pop up to help us do so.
In 2018, we watched as the TheraGun, a pricey handheld massage machine developed by a chiropractor, became the go-to tool to help people recover like the pros (Kyrie Irving was spotted using one during the 2017 NBA finals, which helped catapult the locker room tool into the mainstream).
This year, celebs such as Michael Phelps and Ashley Graham told mbg that they swore by the machine; TheraGun shot up to its highest search traffic on Google; and other percussive therapy tools like TimTam and Hypervolt entered the market at slightly lower price points (TheraGun retails for $399; these come in at $199 and $349 respectively). Research continues to affirm that massage therapy helps improve muscle performance and increase range of motion after strenuous workouts, so the trend is backed by science as well as star power.
“Consumers are looking for ways to make these recovery services a part of their everyday lives. Products like Theragun allow you to take the recovery tools home, getting percussive therapy muscle relief without having to book an hour with a specialist,” Shom Chowdhury, the Global Health & Wellness Director of Soho House, speculates about the tool’s popularity. “In 2019 I expect to see more consumers adopting to at home fitness offerings, which will ultimately expand the total addressable market for the industry.”
Looking forward to next year, we bet you’ll also start to see a lot more gadgets like this popping up at your local gym, and in studios solely dedicated to recovery such as Upgrade Labs, a new fitness concept from Bulletproof‘s Dave Asprey that offers 15 treatments for improving mental and physical performance and recovery and claims to be the first facility to offer state-of-the-art biohacking equipment to the public.
“Growth doesn’t happen during the workout but during the recovery phase,” says Upgrade Labs CEO Martin Tobias. “Modern recovery technologies use stronger signals like vibration, infrared light, targeted compression, intense cold, intense heat, powerful detoxification, and advanced nutrition to speed recovery and development.”
At Upgrade, which started in Santa Monica and will expand to Beverly Hills before the end of 2018, there are cryotherapy and infrared light beds, machines like Virtual Float Tanks to “drop your brain into a meditative theta-wave state, providing deep relaxation and clarity of thought,” and treatments that specifically support brain training and recovery (another wellness trend mbg is calling this year).
Over in New York, people are also playing around with new ways to tend to their bodies and minds. Tune Studio, which first launched at mindbodygreen’s 2017 revitalize event, combines vibration and sound into recovery beds that can be booked for 15-minute sessions, each one using different frequencies to help you relax and recharge. And over at ReCover, the city’s first studio solely for recovery, the most sought-after offering is NuCalm—a 30-minute immersive “power nap” that provides two to three hours of restorative sleep. Co-founder Rick Richey says that this promise of shut-eye and stress reduction by way of technology appeals to more than just athletes. “Now we can see that recovery goes beyond athletic performance and can be used to help increase sleep, clear the mind, and de-stress,” he tells mbg. “Most people think recovery is only physical. However, there is a huge mental and cognitive component as well.”
According to Brian Smith, the Managing Director at investment banking company Piper Jaffray, this focus on what he calls “intelligent recovery” will only continue in 2019 as more people seek new ways to satisfy their fitness goals that are safe, enjoyable, and convenient.
2. Plant-based fish will be the next alt meat to go mainstream.
As we predicted, the plant-based meat market is now booming, with sales surging 23 percent in 2018 thanks to innovative companies with some serious backing behind them like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. Meanwhile, plant-based dairy now accounts for 13 percent of all milk sales. With chicken, beef, and dairy already transforming to keep up with consumer preferences (and the planet’s demands), fish is the logical next candidate for a plant-based makeover.
Sophie’s Kitchen, an early plant-based fish provider, now offers nearly a dozen skews to appeal to different palates (think: “scallops” and “crabcakes” made from pea and potato starch). The brand, which sells in Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, and other health stores around the United States, reported that sales increased 72 percent between the first quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018. New companies such as Ocean Hugger Foods and Good Catch are entering the market just as it heats up, serving up plant-based alternatives to raw and canned tuna respectively.
Good Catch, which raised $8.7 million in its Series A Funding Round, sees enormous potential to bring a better product to health-conscious vegetarians and vegans as well as people with fish allergies. Their shelf-stable tuna fish, which will be sold in Whole Foods Market as well as on Thrive Market and FreshDirect (two of the company’s investing partners) starting in early 2019, is made from beans and has 14 to 15 grams of protein per serving. It also contains omega-3s from algae oil extract and “matches up nutritionally to what you’d find in fish,” according to co-founder Eric Schnell.
For Schnell and the Good Catch team, this product is just the beginning of a push to introduce a new kind of nutrient-dense “fish” to the global market. “There are 300 marine animals that are fished around the world for consumption and only 30 land animals,” Schnell says. “So the opportunity to disrupt the marine category is 10 times bigger than chicken, beef, and pork.”
Chef Chad Sarno, another co-founder, who was previously a chef at Whole Foods Market corporate, says that in a world where nearly 90 percent of the world’s marine fish stocks are overexploited, there is tons of room to grow in this space—as long as you’re putting out a product that tastes great.
T.K. Pillan, a Managing Partner at a nutrition-centric equity fund PowerPlant Ventures, echoes the sentiment: “If awareness of the negative impacts of ocean fishing and contaminants spread quickly, plant-based fish could follow the plant-based meat market in its recent accelerated growth.”
3. Understanding the circadian rhythm is the key to way more than just better sleep.
By now you’ve probably heard of the circadian rhythm, also known as our body’s biological clock. But did you know that this daily cycle has everything to do with two important hormones: cortisol and melatonin? 2019 will be the year that we all learn just how important the daily fluctuations in these two hormones—and the circadian rhythm in general—is to your health.
Simply put, the hormone cortisol is supposed to peak in the morning, helping wake us up and make us feel alert and ready to tackle the day. Later on, melatonin starts to rise to encourage us to wind down at the end of the day. But when these hormones are out of whack, they can leave us feeling tired all day and totally amped when we are trying to get to sleep at night.
If you can relate to this, you’re definitely not alone. And the consequences extend far beyond poor-quality sleep. According to Satchin Panda, Ph.D., author of The Circadian Code: Lose Weight, Supercharge Your Energy, and Transform Your Health From Morning to Midnight, and a leader in the emerging science of the circadian rhythm, “When you don’t honor this daily rhythm or let this cycle get out of whack, it can contribute to weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many other diseases.”
So what exactly throws off this important hormone cycle? According to Lynn Laboranti, M.S., R.D., a registered dietitian for Nature Made, one the “major driving factors” of sleep disruption is a symptom of our crazy-busy lives: the blue light from our screens in the evening. “When we’re exposed to the light during the day, it suppresses the production of melatonin to keep us alert. But at nighttime, we might be exposed to light from our phone or computer screens, which can shut melatonin down and when we really need it to work for us to promote restful sleep,” she explains.
Shutting off electronics and light can help your body do what it needs to do in the evening: produce melatonin and wind down to go to sleep. It’s no surprise, then, that we’ve seen an explosion of blue-light-blocking glasses—from brands like Pixel Eyewear, Felix Gray, TrueDark, and Quay Australia—and blue-light-blocking screen protectors, like these from Eye Just. The iPhone now has a Bedtime feature that aims to support a regular sleep-wake cycle, and all of our phones now automatically emit less blue light in the evening. People are tracking their sleep more than ever with their phones and new technologies like the Oura Ring, which tracks sleep and activity and is a favorite of Prince Harry. GE released a new C Sleep by GE light bulb, which changes from bluish light in the morning to orange light in the evening to support your sleep-wake cycle. A melatonin supplement, like those from Nature Made, offers another way to support sleep, providing ingredients that work with your body to help you fall asleep—without drugs.*
Beyond the gizmos and gadgets, simply getting out in nature can help regulate your sleep-wake cycle. This year, we learned it only takes one weekend of camping to reset the body’s internal clock, and spending time outdoors, away from artificial light, can significantly rev up your body’s melatonin production. According to Ellen Vora, M.D., a holistic psychiatrist and mbg Collective member and class instructor, this makes a lot of sense: “I recommend that my patients crawl into bed super early—even as early as 9:30 p.m. (although many of my patients are shocked when I first suggest this, thinking, that’s not bedtime, that’s practically dinnertime!). Many of my patients’ insomnia, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD improve significantly with this earlier bedtime. The reasoning is that the human body functions best when it’s in sync with the sun and the moon,” she says.
One of the most important things you can do to honor your circadian rhythm is maintain a consistent sleep-wake cycle. According to Michael Breus, Ph.D., a board-certified sleep specialist, “If there’s one thing you want to do to improve your sleep quality, it is keep a consistent sleep-wake schedule—even on the weekends. Why? Each morning when you wake up at the same time, you get sunlight through your eyes, which helps reset your circadian rhythm. This reset impacts every organ system and every disease state. In addition, your brain then knows when to fall asleep and when to wake up, and this allows your sleep cycle to become more efficient, and increase deep sleep.” Amy Shah, M.D.—an integrative medicine doctor and mindbodygreen Collective member—makes a point to do this every single morning. “Getting that morning sun before 10 a.m. sends signals to your suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus and resets your brain. And the benefits of this extend beyond sleep to better hormone regulation and overall health,” she explained.
In 2019, we’ll continue to learn more about how to live a life that supports this cycle, which could very well bring our energy levels, productivity, and mood to a whole new level. We have a circadian clock in every single cell in our body, so it’s not just about restful sleep (although that’s important!). It’s about getting in touch with our body’s natural intelligence and learning to honor it.
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
According to RoadRunnerWM.com, “the average office worker generates about two pounds worth of mixed paper products every day and uses about 10,000 sheets of paper each year.” Additionally, “70% of the total waste in offices is made up of paper.” Relying more on digital technologies for many of your office paper activities, such as memos, newsletters, file storage, and snail mail, can greatly reduce your company’s impact on the environment. There are also a wide variety of digital asset management tools available today that can help your office rely less on paper and move many of your processes into an electronic platform.
Establish recycling protocols
For every ton of paper that is recycled, 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, and 4,100-kilowatt hours of energy are saved. To make recycling a company priority in the new year, place recycling bins in easily accessible areas throughout your building and establish protocols for how you dispense with waste, especially hazardous waste items like batteries, chemicals, or printer toner. And, be sure to discuss with your employees what items can and cannot be recycled. Education is the key, as many employees may not even know how much of the waste they produce in a typical workday can actually be recycled.
Shut it down
When you are away from your desk for extended periods of time or when you leave in the evening, take a few extra seconds to turn off lights, shut down computers or put them in sleep mode, and turn off any other non-essential machines around the office. The Energy Information Administration estimates the annual energy costs for U.S. commercial and industrial buildings to be $202.3 billion. So, remembering to shut them down not only reduces energy usage, but it also helps save money.
Use green materials throughout the office
From recycled copy paper to reusable cups, take a look at the things you use every day to see if there is a suitable green alternative. Vegware, for example, produces an extensive line of compostable and recyclable products including coffee cups, plates, and flatware. You’d be surprised how many of the things we use around the office can be substituted with environmentally friendly options. It’s also a good idea to incorporate Energy Star rated office machines into your business. It’s probably not cost effective to replace them all at once, but as your copiers, printers, and breakroom appliances reach the end of their useful life, consider more earth-friendly replacements.
Carpool to work
One great way to encourage employees to help reduce their impact on the environment on their way to and from work each day is to help organize carpool groups. According to The Rideshare Company, the average car “consumes 550 gallons of gas, and emits 80 pounds of hydrocarbons, 606 pounds of carbon monoxide, 41 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide.” To help make a positive impact on the environment—and your wallet—consider implementing a carpooling program in your office. Sharing a ride to work not only helps you reduce your carbon footprint and save money on gas, but it’s also a great way for coworkers to build stronger working relationships.
What are some ways you plan to go green in your workplace in 2019? What are some recycling initiatives you already have in place? Let us know in the comments section below.
As we approach the new year, the inevitable flurry of self-management tips beckons. It’s a pity that they are so hard to implement, but this actually explains their proliferation. If there is so much demand for suggestions on how to fix one’s bad habits and replace them with brand-new, effective behaviors, it’s precisely because very few suggestions actually work.
Consider that 80% of New Year’s resolutions are broken within two months–and these tend to concern habits or behaviors we are actually determined to change. So much so that they are often recycled year after year. Think, then, how much harder it is to find the will and persistence to change things just in order to please other people, like a boss, spouse, or client.
So, why are significant changes to our habits so hard to attain? Psychology provides some useful answers:
First, there is a big difference between wanting change and wanting to change. Even when people profess a clear desire to change, what that usually means is that they are interested in change as an outcome rather than change as a process. In other words, most people don’t really want to change, they want to have changed.
For instance, when someone says they want to lose weight, what they usually mean is that they want to have lost weight, without the dreadful stoic sacrifices that that would entail. Same for when someone says they would love to learn to speak Japanese or quit smoking.
Another way to look at this is that we probably don’t care as much about changing as we say, or we would not be put off by the prospect of doing what we need to do to achieve that change. This may sound defeating but it’s a more honest depiction of our motivation than we have when we pretend to want something we don’t really want. Acknowledging this fact would minimize guilt while refocusing our energies on the things we actually value more than the triggers of change: e.g., free time, sleeping, pleasure, eating, and smoking.
Second, our personality constrains our ability to change, setting the limits to our likelihood of replacing old habits with new ones. As large-scale scientific studies have shown, our predispositions don’t change much. This is why we are rarely surprised when we meet people we have not seen in 10 or 20 years, like at high school reunions. Their physical appearance may have changed–sometimes dramatically–but their attitudes, style, and values tend to remain pretty fixed.
This is not to say that people can’t change, but they either become exaggerated versions of their earlier selves, or follow a common maturity curve that makes them less open to new experiences, more conservative, and more conscientious (think: becoming more boring versions of ourselves).
For all the hype about grit and growth mindset as catalysts of change, there is little scientific evidence to show that we can actually boost people’s grit or growth mindset beyond their personal default level. Rather, these qualities behave much like other personality traits, so they are found in different degrees in different people. Paradoxically, a growth mindset is more fixed than dynamic.
Last, but not least, we all strive to make our environments as predictable and unthreatening as possible. The mere thought of change is threatening and frightening, which is why we gravitate toward the familiar and are generally happier with the devil we know. This may sound counterintuitive in an age that glorifies disruptive rule breakers with no tolerance for boredom and routine, but it is still the reality for most people. And that’s okay. Life is complex enough to abandon the possibility of controlling and managing some of its elements, and the more predictable most things are, the more freedom we have to pursue innovation and change in others.
However, there is also a cost to this. We become increasingly programmed to behave in more similar ways, and our growing ability to adapt to environments decreases our ability (and willingness) to change. The psychological term for this is niche-picking, and it speaks to a reciprocal relationship between our habits and the challenges and problems that benefit from them.
Sociable people will seek social situations where their ability to interact with others is a natural adaptation. These situations will in turn reward and enhance their sociability. This creates a snowball effect that makes it less and less appealing (and adaptive) for them to spend time on their own. By the same token, people who are naturally more introverted will tend to avoid situations of rich social interaction, preferring instead to spend time on their own (reading, thinking, watching movies). This, in turn, will enhance their ability to adapt to solitary environments while reducing their ability to interact with strangers. Because these mechanisms are in place from a very early age, the longer we wait to try to break these cycles, the harder it is to break them.
Changing and becoming a better version of ourselves is possible. But that change is going to be hardest when we are not truly committed and when it involves going against our nature. A hack that promises to help us can’t when it depends on us having to unlearn our deep-rooted patterns of adapting. That’s why playing to our strengths is much easier, to the point of not requiring much effort at all. It’s a bit like being asked to start next year by being ourselves.