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Alison Sausaman
Jax Daily Record Monday, Aug. 31, 201512:00 PM EST

Bar Bulletin: Maximize your mental health and wellness

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by: Alison Sausaman

This week marks the end of most families’ summer vacations as nearly all Jacksonville schools have opened their doors.

Fall temperatures may still be months away, but fall as we know it is on the horizon.

This means a variety of things: traffic is worse, football season is around the corner and children are developing their school routines.

Just as children start with a clean slate every August and get the opportunity to redevelop, refine and improve their routine for the year, we should take this time to rethink our routines.

Here is the Health and Wellness Committee’s Syllabus for the 2015-16 school year.

Take a lunch break

It is easy to fall in the trap of working through lunch and cranking out emails in between bites. Recent studies have shown the majority of employees do not take a lunch break.

Yet those same studies are showing that those who do take a lunch break experience more productive afternoons. Taking a true break is a proven way to help sustain concentration and energy levels for the rest of the day.

Rather than eating your lunch over your keyboard, try taking a brief break and allowing yourself to actually enjoy the meal and the mental break.

Whether this means taking 10 minutes to eat lunch in your break room with co-workers, sneaking outdoors to eat lunch on a bench, going for a brief walk or actually dining in a restaurant, give yourself a midday moment to “recharge” and allow your mind to think about something besides what is on your computer screen.

Find a type of exercise you truly enjoy

We are constantly inundated with literature reminding us of the importance of exercise, but sometimes it seems really hard to fit it in when we are all so busy.

Find something you actually enjoy and make it a priority. Not all of us are designed to exercise in the same way. Try new and different things until you find what is right for you.

Some people hate running and some people hate gyms. Then find a Zumba class, start swimming, exercise at your home, walk with friends, try yoga, play basketball.

There are opportunities to participate in activities around the city if you know where to look including free classes, meet up groups and outdoor events.

Below are a few resources to try and see what might appeal to you:

Running clinics and group runs

• 1stplacesports.com/goodformrunning.html

• prsrunningclub.com/schedule.html

• runningroom.com/hm/inside.php?id=3012

• running.net/florida-running-clubs

Wellness events in Unity Plaza

• unityplaza.enterprise.localist.com

Meet up groups focusing on fitness and health

• meetup.com/cities/us/fl/jacksonville/fitness/

• meetup.com/cities/us/fl/jacksonville/sports-recreation/

• meetup.com/cities/us/fl/jacksonville/health-wellbeing/

Opportunities for a leisurely stroll downtown

• jacksonvilleartwalk.com/

• staaa.org/images/artwalkmap.jpg

You do not have to force yourself to exercise in a way you hate — get creative and be open minded.

Keep trying different things until you find something you truly enjoy. You will feel better and sleep better.

Ditch the smartphones and tablets at bed time

Many of us have fallen into the trap of looking at our iPad or iPhone in bed, practically falling asleep clutching our beloved smart devices.

We are all disturbingly dependent on these devices, as they seem to contain everything — our calendar, our email, our pictures and our books.

We use them to read, pay our bills and stay connected. But we have got to find a way to disconnect, at least at night time.

There have been numerous recent studies on the extremely detrimental effects of using smart devices close to bed time.

People who look at smart devices shortly before going to sleep have been shown to feel less tired, take longer to fall asleep, spend less time in REM sleep, produce less of the crucial sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and feel less alert the next day.

Our devices give off “blue light” (short-wave length enriched light), which has been found to interrupt natural circadian rhythms.

Thus, by sneaking in a couple of emails or reading an article on your smart device right before bed, you may be setting yourself up for a restless night and a far less productive day.

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