Live Healthier, Happier and more Balanced Lives!
By Shannon Pulusan
With the holiday season among us, time is of the essence to mark off last-minute shopping and errands before the end of the year. E-cards of season’s greetings take only seconds to send and cost absolutely nothing compared to postage. An electronic notification for a holiday gathering receives quicker responses than traditionally delivered invitations. And there are websites where you can upload a typed letter to Santa instantly.
Instead of busting out an e-mail on your keyboard, consider the many benefits of composing handwritten letters and notes. Here are some reasons why you may want to write Santa a letter the old-fashioned way.
- Expressive. As children scribble their wish-lists on stationary, write a personal message in addition to Hallmark’s default memo. The simple gesture of placing pen on paper may result in something more meaningful and thoughtful than a standard holiday greeting.
- Better for learning. Writing notes by hand helps you retain new information. Though a electronic list on a smartphone may seem more convenient, jotting down notes is more tangible and helps improve memory.
- Exercises brain. The act of writing engages motor skills and memory; it keeps the mind active.
- Improves writing skills. Novelist Truman Capote insisted on handwriting his first drafts and revisions before typing his final manuscript. Other writers follow the same habit of writing by hand to get a better sense of their composition. Studies have shown that those who handwrite their essays are more articulate with words. They write faster and in more complete sentences than those devoted to the keyboard method.
- Less distractions. Hand-writing letters can keep you focused on your message. Without the distraction of tabs on a web browser or the flood of updates on a newsfeed, writing a letter is a retreat from all the noise.
- Mental balance. Expressive writing can be a personal catharsis. A release of negative emotions or an exploration of the imagination could benefit psychological health. Hand-writing such thoughts keeps an individual balanced and fulfilled with something tangible.
Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos.
By Shannon Pulusan
As the countdown to Christmas begins, the game of hiding gifts has never been so challenging. The highest shelf may be as impossible as Mount Everest to the youngest of kids, but it’s the most obvious locale for presents. The closet and under the bed are close seconds and under the tree is the most expected.
No matter what holiday you’re celebrating—a December birthday, 8 days of Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, keeping gifts concealed is necessary for the big reveal on the special day. This game of hiding gifts requires creativity, camouflage and deception. To maintain the surprise factor for your family members’ holiday presents, consider these not-so-obvious spaces:
- The Trunk. Is there a designated family car and a personal car for work in the household? If so, store some gifts in the personal car so that family members don’t stumble upon them during grocery trips.
- The Safe. If you’ve got the best present in the world in your possession, don’t hesitate to make room for it in the safe. From jewelry to the latest toy, secure the gift with a tricky pass code that no one else could predict.
- The Shed. Why not lock up some presents in the storage? As long as you guard the key to the shed, no one will necessarily be looking for garden tools in the midst of winter.
- The Bookshelf. In lieu of a revolving bookshelf and a secret passage, hide small items behind a row of books, especially behind titles no one would be compelled to read (except you, of course).
- The Laundry. Not to say that dirty laundry is a bad idea. No one will dare rummage through smelly garments. But for something more sanitary, perhaps build a tower of folded laundry around a present. Towels and sheets are a much better choice of laundry than everyday clothes.
- The Shoebox. If an item is small enough, utilize the wall of abandoned shoeboxes taking space in the house.
Too stubborn to change your hiding places? Change up the packaging at the very least.
- Wrap gifts in wrapping paper instead of gift bags. If someone tries to sneak a peep, a slight rip or tear will give them away.
- Conceal shape. Hide the gift’s silhouette in a rectangular box to be less conspicuous.
- False tag. Label gifts with a codename or false name.
Photo courtesy of Free Digital Photos.
by North Florida Foot & Ankle Center
Runners enjoy new and different types of trails so they can enjoy the view while getting exercise. Some runners prefer trails with soft surfaces like grass, dirt or sand while others prefer to run on hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt. For those who enjoy more controlled trails or do not have time to go out for a run, treadmills and tracks help facilitate their exercise needs.
But do you know what type of trail is the healthiest for your feet? Everyone’s feet are different, so it is important to choose the best surface for you personally. The podiatrists at North Florida Foot and Ankle Center of Jacksonville support runners and want to keep their feet and ankles in the best shape possible. Below are some pros and cons for each type of running surface.
- Pro: Has a softer impact on legs, but actually makes you work harder to get up to the same pace that runners might more easily reach on harder surfaces. Grass trails usually provide more open spaces so you do not have to stay confined to a predetermined path.
- Con: Most grass surfaces are uneven and can be hazardous to runners, especially to those who have preexisting ankle problems. When grass is wet it can be slippery and might require spikes to be able to run for a long distance.
- Pro: Lower impact on feet and legs depending on how flat the surface is, and provides good friction for downhill running. Excellent scenery – old fields and back country trails or paths cut through trees offer endless views while running!
- Con: Densely packed dirt trails can have a harder impact on the body. Muddy trails are dangerous to run through, especially if you are inexperienced with that sort of terrain, and can result in a twisted ankle or even more serious injuries.
- Pro: Running on the beach at low tide is beautiful and picturesque, especially during the sunrise or sunset of each day. Low tide is an ideal time for running as the waves will not be crashing in your way and the sand will be firm but still soft. Also, because the sand is so soft, it is working the muscles more efficiently which builds strength.
- Con: Holes and uneven surfaces can be a danger to the health of runner’s ankles and feet. Timing- be sure to check the tides so the ocean won’t be an obstacle for your run.
- Pro: Running on asphalt provides a sturdy support for feet and ankles, and can be beneficial to those with Achilles tendon issues. The flat surface makes obstacles easier to discern and to maneuver around. If you plan of running a marathon, training on the same type of surface will help you prepare and get to your best time.
- Con: The hard impact of the feet and ankles on asphalt can be detrimental to some runners. Cars are a serious danger to runners who like to get their miles in by running down the road. If you do run on the road, please make sure to always wear light colored or bright colored clothing so you are visible to motorists.
- Pro: There are sidewalks throughout most cities in the United States. For many, these are the easiest or closest running paths to access so they can get their exercise in; sidewalks are open all hours and often lit by streetlights in the early morning and evening hour to promote safety.
- Con: One the hardest materials for runners. Most podiatrists recommend limited time on sidewalks to avoid excess damage or stress to joints and muscles. Some sidewalks abruptly end or are broken and can be cumbersome for runners to navigate.
- Pro: Treadmills provide shelter from the elements so running is possible no matter the storms that brew outdoors. Runners can enjoy a climate controlled environment either at the gym or at home. For the multitasking runner, treadmills provide the option to watch TV or even read a book while running. The soft deck material is low impact on joints and muscles.
- Con: Running in place on a treadmill in the gym or in your home means you miss out on seeing new locations and experiencing your environment as you exercise. At the gym, you may have to wait for a treadmill to become available. At home, you may be distracted or tempted to shorten your run time due to household responsibilities.
- Pro: The man-made material provides runner’s a low impact run. Tracks provide a location that is set aside especially for running which increases the safety factor.
- Cons: Those with calf sprains should not run on tracks as the repetitive circular running can shorten the muscles and weaken the legs. Tracks, while practical and reliable, can also be crowded with other runners or walkers.
For any concerns you might have with your feet and ankles, visit North Florida Foot and Ankle Center of Jacksonville’s website, nffac.com, to learn more about their services or call 904-236-5023 to schedule an appointment.