Friday, December 15, 2017

Guest Post: Even Workaholics Need to Take their Travel Days, Science Tells Us So

The most successful professionals know the value of hard work. Often, workaholism and professional success go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, workaholism and good mental health don’t go hand-in-hand. The facts tell us that travel provides fresh perspective and mental health benefits that everybody – especially those who never seem to take time off – could use. 

To keep stress levels low and to help mental well-being, spouses of workaholics, and the worker bees themselves, should engage in non-business related travel from time to time.


(Photo via Pixabay)

The Dangers of Overworking

The health consequences of overwork can’t be overstated. The dangers that come with long hours and shift work – such as the abnormal hours hospital employees face – are many, and they’re not to be taken lightly.

A milder consequence of pushing oneself too far at work is reduced job performance. Even when you think you’re doing a good job for your employer by staying longer or taking the graveyard shift, studies show that this is most often not the case. Running on fumes means a product or service that is worse in quality than if you were properly rested or were able to manage your workload more reasonably. But poor performance pales in comparison to the health risks associated with overworking.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information publishes many studies on health, and one in particular shows that overly long work hours carry the risk of obesity, on-the-job injury, and chronic disease. In Japan, approximately 30,000 suicides per year are thought to be related to economic and work-related pressures. This is not fear-mongering, it’s factual, and it should help inform why taking time off from work for vacation is so important.

The Flipside: Benefits of Travel on Mental Health

 (Photo via Pixabay)

PsychCentral has detailed the benefits of travel on our mental health. The neurological benefits of taking your mind completely off of work-related responsibilities are immense.Travel forces us to use different parts of our brain, especially when you’re in unfamiliar territory. For example, if you travel somewhere outside of the States where poverty or other factors mean a challenging quality of life, you’ll gain perspective on your own problems. Consider too the benefits of navigating a foreign language or city, tasting new food and experiencing different cultures.

Our biological functions are improved when we travel, too. The Perfect World Project references a study from the University of Surrey which showed that people experience more happiness when anticipating an upcoming vacation. New experience helps to sharpen the mind, and travel has also been proven to reduce stress, which increases our blood pressure and is common in the overworked population.

Traveling is also synonymous with a fortified immune system. According to CBS, your relationships may emerge stronger, too. The monotony of our daily routine is not always conducive to romance, and taking a trip with your partner has the opposite effect; it’s spice for your love life.

The best part is that when it comes to travel, your options are limitless. Not to mention that there are myriad ways to find the perfect vacation online. Some quick research will yield plenty of results and make booking your travel that much easier.

(Photo via Pixabay)

When you’re planning your trip, part of your travel arrangements should be securing your home and arranging care for your pet, especially if you’re a dog owner. Having these pieces of the puzzle in place will help keep worry and stress low during your absence. Even if it means hiring a pet sitter, it’s smart to shell out a little extra dough for your dog’s benefit.

It’s often more difficult for us to have fun than to remain stagnant. Breaking a routine, especially one that allows us to pay bills and provide a better life for our family, is not always easy. Understanding the dangers that overworking pose to our health and conversely the proven benefits that travel has on our mental and physical well-being is key. It helps us to understand that money pales in comparison to our health and happiness. So stop grinding your fingers to the bone, plan a vacation, and start enjoying the perks which begin even before you head to the airport.

Jennifer Scott has experienced anxiety and depression since she was a teenager. She shares stories about the ups and downs of her anxiety and depression at SpiritFinder. With, Ms. Scott offers a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can discuss their experiences.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Guest Post: Avoiding Relapse at Holiday Parties

The holidays can be a difficult and even lonely time for many of us, especially those who are living in recovery; either from alcoholism or needing to abstain due to psychotropic medications. Holiday parties almost always include temptation and pressure to drink. The holidays can especially be a struggle for those who are very early in their own recovery process. You’ve worked so hard for your sobriety; how can you make it through this season without slipping back into relapse? If this concern sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. According to, ten percent of Americans are in addiction recovery. So many more take medications that interfere with alcohol and alcohol infused treats.

However, it is possible to make it through the holidays without relapse. Here are a few tips...

Have a Plan
Never go to a holiday party without a plan for staying sober. Anticipate any pressures or temptations before they occur, and know how you plan to respond. For instance, ask yourself, “How will I stay sober on this day?” Whatever your sobriety plan might be, figure it out in advance; practice it; and don’t be afraid to stick to it.

Helping other people is one of the most meaningful and fulfilling activities you can do, regardless of the time of year. Of course, bringing joy to the lives of others has special meaning during the holidays. Activism and volunteer work puts things into perspective, gives us a sense of purpose, and builds self-esteem while helping us forget about our own problems. There are countless ways you can help others this holiday season, including serving food at a homeless shelter, mentoring a child in need, or even volunteer at an animal shelter - just to name a few.

Don’t Go
When all else fails, simply consider not going. This is especially recommended if you are early in your recovery process because that’s when the temptation is usually the strongest. Attending the party might sound like fun. However, more often than not, the temptation of attending a holiday party is simply not worth the risk of returning to addiction. It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean you have to stay at home by yourself. Instead, you could spend time with a friend who isn’t going to the party. If possible, choose to go to an AA meeting or meet up with your sponsor, if you have one. Or go to the movies. Take a yoga class. Go ice skating with a loved one. If you’re single, take a chance by going on a date. Or, better yet, throw your own party…

Throw Your Own Party
Celebrate the holidays and sobriety, all in one party! This is a great way to avoid the loneliness and sadness that people often feel during the holiday season, while resisting the temptation of being around alcohol at parties. Hold your own party at your home or at your favorite event space. Invite your friends, loved ones, and even your sponsor. Of course, let everyone know in advance that it will be a drug- and alcohol-free event. Enforce those boundaries. Instead of wine, consider serving punch, apple cider or non-alcoholic homemade eggnog. Plan games, play music, and perhaps even hold a potluck or cookie swap. Regardless of what party theme you choose, you can show yourself - and your loved ones - that it is possible to ring in the holidays with plenty of fun and cheer… and without the need to drink or the chance of relapse.

As you can see, the holiday season doesn’t have to be all about parties, cocktails and hangovers. With some will power, a strategy plan and the support of those around you, you’ll find that it is very possible to eat and be merry this holiday season -- without having a single drink. Hopefully, this gives you a simple guideline for having a happy, healthy holiday season without slipping into relapse.

By Henry Moore

Henry is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both. Mr. Moore starts every day by looking at photographs of past travel, making plans for future travel, and committing to one new healthy goal. He enjoys travel, running, swimming and baking. His favorite place in the world is Venice, Italy. The next place on his list to visit is: Fernando de Noronha in Brazil.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Guest Post - Light Up Your Life with a Hobby and Improve Your Mental Health

We can all relate to the sinking feeling that comes from being broke. If you disagree, then you're either a millionaire with too much money or a mystic who has no need of it. Either way, you're out of the norm.

Other benefits are less tangible than money but just as worthwhile. Take the advantages of having a hobby. Believe it or not, a simple pastime can improve your physical dexterity, give you a sense of accomplishment, and enhance your ability to focus. That's a lot of payback for having fun, don't you think?

The key to getting the most rewards from a hobby is choosing one that matches your interests, skills, and, of course, your budget. Otherwise you may find yourself losing interest soon after getting started. So let's look at how to upgrade your down time with something you love doing.

Start by Finding Out Who You Are

One of the best ways to choose a hobby (or a career or college major, for that matter) is to take a personality test first. Knowing a little about what makes your mind tick can help you narrow down your options and pick the pastime you'll enjoy most. Here are some examples:

    Are you a creative person? If so, then consider painting, drawing, or sculpting.
    Are you an analytical person? If so, then you may find chess, sudoku, or jigsaw puzzles are right up your alley.
    Are you a hands-on person? If so, then look into woodworking or model building.
    Are you an active person? If so, then hiking, camping, or sports are all strong possibilities.
    Are you an outgoing person? If so, then look into acting or podcasting.

Work Out a Budget

Finding the right hobby is easy for those who are wealthy. They can always sail around the world or raise thoroughbred horses. Options are a bit more limited when it comes to the rest of us, however. We must balance our interests against our financial resources unless we want to end up in bankruptcy. Here's how to find an activity that will soothe your senses, not blow your budget:

    Consider what you already have. Many people already possess the tools needed to pursue their interests. Photography is a great example of what we mean, according to Expert Photography. Some shutterbugs own thousands of dollars worth of equipment and are always on the lookout for more. Others, however, make do with an entry-level DSLR or even the camera that comes with their smart phone. Both types of photographers can take great pictures, despite what certain salespeople may tell you. So take stock of your existing inventory before dropping a bundle on fancy equipment.
    Look for pre-owned or sale items. Going back to the example of photography, it's possible to find great cameras on sites like eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon for bargain prices, according to Photography Life. Choosing a model that's a few years old may give you great results  while saving you big bucks.
    Ask established hobbyists for advice. Those who have spent a few years pursuing your interest will know their way around the necessary equipment and can help you to get the most bang for your buck. They may even have used items they're willing to sell for unbelievable prices. You never know until you ask.

Always Make Safety First

Some hobbies, such as woodworking, require access to power tools or other items that demand caution when in use. Here's how to stay safe when operating specialized equipment:

    Avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry. If your hair is long, then pin it back.
    Stay alert. It's important to never use power-driven machinery when you're tired or taking medications that can make you drowsy.
    Take classes at your local community college or ask a seasoned hobbyist for help.

Hobbies are a great way to spend your leisure time. A hobby can even turn into a rewarding full-time career or profitable sideline. Use the tips in this post to choose the right pastime, then pursue it with all your passion and ability. Stay safe and happy lobbying.

By Henry Moore

Henry is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both. Mr. Moore starts every day by looking at photographs of past travel, making plans for future travel, and committing to one new healthy goal. He enjoys travel, running, swimming and baking. His favorite place in the world is Venice, Italy. The next place on his list to visit is: Fernando de Noronha in Brazil.

Image by Pixabay

Friday, October 20, 2017

Guest Post - Improve Mental and Physical Health by Taking Up a Hobby

Working long hours at the office, rushing the kids to soccer practice, doing the dishes, folding the laundry. No wonder so many people are overwhelmed by stress! Our lives are hectic -- both at work and home. So when do you find time for yourself? If your answer is “never,” then it’s time to take steps to change that and take up a hobby. Carving out free time to pursue a hobby leads to happiness and fulfillment, and it improves your quality of life in several ways. Read on for information on how hobbies can improve your mental and physical health.

Hobbies for Mental Health

When you pursue a hobby, it provides a wealth of mental health benefits. Hobbies temporarily take you away from work-related stress, allowing you to briefly forget about your responsibilities. Most people even feel happier as they pursue a hobby. In fact, studies have shown that people who pursue hobbies have a lower risk of depression. They also experience lower risks of dementia.

If you pursue a hobby that requires you to play sports or engage in other physical movement, it can be a great outlet for daily frustrations or anger. As a result, this more positive attitude carries over into other aspects of your life. You may experience improved relationships with family members and co-workers. It also prevents you from getting burned out from your job if you have an outlet for relaxation.

Learning a new hobby can also boost your self-esteem. When you learn a new instrument or take a cooking class, you feel better because you’re improving yourself. Pursuing hobbies even boosts mental fitness. Writing a novel, reading books, learning how to design a website, completing crossword puzzles, or taking a sewing class improves memory and problem-solving skills.

Hobbies Improve Physical Health

One study showed that people who engage in hobbies that require physical activity for at least 20 minutes experienced less fatigue, and their waist circumference and body mass index were lower. They also enjoyed decreased amounts of cortisol as well as lower blood pressure. Additional health benefits of hobbies include better sleep, increased flexibility and a boosted immune system.

Hobbies Boost Social Interaction

Some hobbies require you to join a team or class. Sharing your love of a hobby with like-minded people provides you with social benefits too. You get to meet new people, collaborate with them and accomplish something together. Whether you join a sports team, take a dance class, play in a community orchestra, or join a chess club, you encounter other people who are enjoying the same interests as you.

Staying Safe While Pursuing Your Hobby

Hobbies provide countless benefits, but some downtime pursuits can be dangerous. For example, if you enjoy woodworking or building, follow basic safety procedures to prevent a trip to the emergency room, as power tools and saws can cause injury if not used in the right way. Playing sports without wearing the proper equipment can also result in injury. Going for a hike in the woods? Take a friend with you so you can look out for each other.

Deciding on a Hobby

People come in all shapes and sizes. And their interests are just as diverse. So how do you decide which hobby to pursue? It all depends on what you enjoy. Maybe you’ve always wanted to pick up a tennis racket but never had the opportunity. Have you always wanted to make your own scarves or winter hats? Why not try knitting? Maybe you have dreams of being a famous actor. Well, you may not end up winning the Academy Award anytime soon, but you can join a community theater and immerse yourself in drama -- onstage or behind the scenes.

It doesn’t matter whether you like basketball, ballet, painting, piano, building birdhouses or anything in between. If it helps you relax and decompress from life’s stresses, it just may be the perfect hobby for you.

When you feel like you never have time for yourself and life has become dull and routine, pick up a hobby that will put some sparkle into your everyday existence. Hobbies enhance your mental health and physical health, and they influence other areas of your life, helping you cultivate positive relationships with people at home and the workplace. So don’t let your life go by without finding something that brings you joy. Make time for a hobby!l

By Constance Ray
Constance Ray started with the goal of creating a safe place for people to share how addiction has affected them, whether they are combating it themselves or watching someone they care about work to overcome it.

Photo via Pixabay