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5 Ways to Stay Happy and Hopeful During Winter (Via FireSpring)

With the holiday season at an end and the New Year celebrations fizzling out, the cold, harsh reality has officially begun to set in: winter is here. Yes, through January and February—and sometimes even March—winter takes over, with few moments of warmth sprinkled throughout. With the deep cold, consistent darkness and long hours spent indoors, winter can be a pretty difficult season to get through, and it can often affect our mood.

In fact, according to Mental Health America, there’s even a term for it: seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Seasonal depression, “… or the ‘winter blues,’ is a subtype of depression or bipolar disorder that occurs and ends around the same time every year. Seasonal depression typically occurs when the seasons change and most symptoms begin in the fall and continue into the winter months.” It’s true: with a lack of Vitamin D and little time spent outdoors, the winter months can literally make you sad. Luckily, we have some ways to combat seasonal depression. Check out our five ways to stay happy and hopeful during winter.

1. Stay active.
A professor of kinesiology at California State University, Fullerton, Patria Laguna, PhD, says, “Exercise can boost your mood, and you need that lift even more during the winter.” While many people set exercising as their New Year’s Resolution, it can do even more for you than losing a few inches around the waist. In fact, exercising can literally improve your mood during the long, cold winter months. It can be hard finding ways to exercise when it’s particularly cold outside, so get creative. Check out local gyms, exercise outside on warm days or search in-home workouts online for new ideas.

2. Be social.
Bears may need to hibernate during winter, but that doesn’t mean humans have to. Shutting yourself away and spending extra time indoors alone does not help when it comes to combating seasonal depression. Instead, get a group of friends together and make it your goal to be social. Even if “socializing” is simply sitting around in your pj’s by the fire sipping wine, surrounding yourself with positive people to connect with, it may be the perfect way for you to stay happy during winter.

3. Embrace the season.
Sure, winter might have its downfalls, but it has plenty of great qualities to enjoy, as well. Don’t wish them all away by focusing on the upcoming seasons. Instead, embrace winter while you still can! Sip hot chocolate by the fire, go ice skating, sled down a hill, build a gingerbread house, the whole schabang. Not only will you have a lot more fun during winter, but it will help it fly by even faster, leaving you hopeful for spring and summer.

4. Eat well.
Let’s be honest: all those treats we eat over the holidays and New Year’s may be fun in the moment, but they don’t leave our bodies feeling too great. As winter comes to an end, help your body feel better by treating it better. Elizabeth Somer, RD, and author of Eat Your Way to Happiness, says sugar and highly refined carbs can wreak havoc on the body’s blood sugar level, which can often leave us feeling cranky. So, help combat the winter blues by being more conscious of what you put it into your body, and eating foods that fuel you well.

5. Keep your mind engaged.
Finally, with a healthy body comes a healthy mind. On a cold winter night, it’s easy to want to curl up and watch mind-numbing television for hours on end. Unfortunately, this can also lead to a heightened risk of seasonal depression. Instead, keep your mind engaged by reading books that interest you, doing puzzles that challenge you or keeping a journal that focuses you. Having a sharp mind will help you to stay positive throughout the winter months.

When the parties come to an end, winter can be a pretty tough season to get through. However, that doesn’t mean you have to just sit tight and buckle in. Stay happy and hopeful this winter by trying out some of these helpful seasonal survival tips.

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Brain Injury Services Welcomes TSI As New Corporate Partner

Brain Injury Services, Inc., (BIS) welcomes TSI as its newest corporate partner in supporting the work BIS provides to survivors of brain injuries. TSI provides IT resources and technology management solutions in the District of Columba, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Illinois. The company sponsored the upgrade of a new communications system to include phones and IT services.

“We are excited to have TSI bring resources like these to BIS because it helps us do better what we do for our clients,” said Denise Hyater, BIS executive director. “Technology changes fast, we all know that, with TSI’s support we will be more nimble, secure and seamless across various platforms. TSI has been a long-time supporter of ours and we’re honored they believe in our mission enough to support us at this level.” she continued.

TSI President, Mark Putiyon, wanted to help. “Brain Injury Services does great work. I’ve seen what happens when someone suffers a traumatic brain injury and it’s not easy to piece together what’s needed to continue your life. What BIS provides survivors is amazing,” said Mr. Putiyon. “If providing upgrades to their communications is what we can do to make their business more fluid, then I’m happy to do it.”

The new system will allow for fluid communications between clients and staff throughout BIS locations in Northern Virginia, Leesburg, Winchester and Fredericksburg.

TSI has developed over the years into a caring community, dedicated to providing the finest customer service and offering reliable solutions that are aligned uniquely with client’s needs.

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Access National Bank Extends 16-Year Partnership with Brain Injury Services

Access National Bank (“Access”) is committed to making a difference in the community and is proud to continue its 16-year partnership with Brain Injury Services (BIS) with a $25,000 contribution to children and adults in need. Tom Ciolkosz, VP, Nonprofit Segment Team Leader facilitates the relationship between Access and BIS. Ciolkosz’s financial expertise assists in strategically guiding the organization by serving as a member of the BIS Board of Directors.

“The magnitude of the contributions Access National Bank has made over the years to Brain Injury Services is humbling,” Denise Hyater, BIS Executive Director, said. “Brain Injury Services is profoundly grateful to Access National Bank for their continuing philanthropic and leadership support. They are a longstanding partner in our effort to help local survivors of acquired brain injuries benefit from individually-managed, person-centered care and resources designed to address their post-acute needs. We thank Access National Bank and look forward to our ongoing partnership.”

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How to Start (and Keep) a Healthy New Habit

With the new year comes new goals, new ambitions and new horizons to set our eyes on. Last year is a thing of the past; now, we’re ready to accomplish something bigger and better in 2018. For some of us, that may be focusing on aspects of our health we let fall by the wayside—whether that be physical, emotional or mental health.

Unfortunately, starting our new healthy habit isn’t the problem—keeping it is. Many new year habits and goals ultimately end in failure; they last for the first few weeks of the year before dwindling into forgotten territory. Luckily, maintaining a habit is doable when set up for success. If you want to be start (and keep) a healthy new habit this year, check out these useful tips.

Make your goal attainable.
The first step in setting your healthy habit is being sure it’s something you can actually accomplish. Let’s be real: losing 50 pounds in a month is probably not going to happen, nor is it a healthy goal. But losing 50 pounds over six months is definitely more realistic and attainable.

By choosing unrealistic goals, you already set yourself up for failure and disappointment. When you choose habits that may not be as “exciting, but fit more into a the lifestyle you’re already living, you make your goals more achievable just by deciding on realistic expectations.

Set clear definitions.
Step number two: make sure your habits are clearly defined. “Eat more vegetables” is a healthy aspiration, but what does that really mean? When are you going to eat vegetables; how much is “more”? When your goals have loose definitions, they’re easier to misinterpret or avoid entirely, resulting in a less-than successful experience.

For example, a more defined goal instead may be: “Eat five servings of vegetables each day.” This goal has the same agenda as the first, but with more defined boundaries, so it’s easier to understand and take practical steps towards accomplishing.

Tell somebody.
Once you have your healthy habits decided on and defined, tell someone. As silly as it may sound to sit down with a friend or family member and list off your goals for the new year, the practice actually dramatically increases the odds of your overall success.

When we tell other people our goals, they hold us accountable when things become more challenging and we feel like giving up. Telling others the habits we want to establish gives us a support system, encouragement and—most importantly—the goal of being successful for someone else’s sake.

Track your steps.
Once you’ve begun working towards accomplishing your goals, encourage progress by continuing to track your steps. Set smaller goals along the way, so you can continually feel accomplished throughout the process.

For example, losing 50 pounds may seem like a huge, far-off goal, but losing two pounds by Friday is much more manageable. Track your steps and remember it takes an average of three weeks to establish a habit, so be patient with yourself. Follow your progress and celebrate the little accomplishments that lead you even closer to your ultimate goal.

Get back up.
The road to your new healthy habit is definitely going to be challenging at times, but when you fall off course, just remember to get back up. No one accomplishes their goals overnight, so don’t worry if you make a couple of mistakes here and there. The most important thing is to keep your eyes on the end goal and focus on its overall success.

This new year, start off right by living more altruistically… for yourself. Establish new, healthy habits and goals to accomplish in 2018. If you want to better your lifestyle, be sure to establish attainable, defined, known goals, and—with a little effort—your habits will fall into place.

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Three Wellness Tips for the New Year

At Brain Injury Services, we are all about making meaningful and achievable goals. Everyday clients practice setting and achieving recovery goals with their Case Manager and their network of support. With this in mind, we are sharing three wellness tips for all of us to explore in 2018:

1.) Drink More Water

According to WebMD, one of the healthiest changes you can make to your diet is to consume more water. Water makes up 60% of our body’s mass and is essential to the health of your bodily systems. Replacing sugary drinks like soda, juice, and alcohol with water can help us lose weight, sleep better, and save you money! Here are some tips to help you drink more water this year:

  • Create a ritual to consume a glass of water when you wake up and before you go to bed at night
  • Avoid purchasing soft drinks and other sugary drinks at the grocery store
  • Find a reusable water bottle that you would enjoy carrying around with you on a day-to-day basis

2.) Minimize Clutter in Your House

Jennifer Anvari is a local home organizing professional with Haven Home Solutions, she suggests finding small areas of your space to “de-clutter.” She says, “The things we own take up mental and emotional space in our lives, not just physical space in our homes. It is important to spend time thinking meaningfully about the items we allow to take up that space!” She continued with the suggestion to rid our space of things we no longer need. Easier said than done!

Here is what Jennifer shared when we asked her for helpful tips to get started:

  • When you’re ready to pare down your belongings, don’t start with the box of memorabilia – start with less meaningful things like the Tupperware
  • Make quick decisions, have boxes handy to sort into trash or donations, and get those boxes out the door at the end of that same day.
  • Once you’ve had practice decluttering unimportant items, you will have more time and energy to turn to things that are meaningful to you.
  • If you’re on the fence about that high school band t-shirt or the kids’ old art projects, then take a picture of the item and let it go. You’ll be able to revisit that memory without storing the physical item for ages

3.) Get More Sleep

BrainLine writes wonderful articles with helpful tips for survivors of brain injury. They report on the benefits of additional sleep for survivors of brain injury (and everyone else) when they write, “During sleep, your brain and body recharge. Proper sleep follows regular and predictable rhythm cycles. When you sleep, your brain sets down memories and refreshes various connections that allow your brain to work. Quality sleep helps you think more clearly, be more alert, and function at your best in all areas: mental, physical, and emotional.”
Here are some common tips to help you get more sleep at night:

  • Stay off of your cell phone while you are in bed
  • Ensure that your bedroom is dark and cooler at night
  • Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol too close to bedtime

What do you think? Willing to try something new this year? Do you already have goals that you’ve set for the year? If so, please share your tips on our Facebook Page.

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How to Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke these powerful words in 1963, as they rang out to a crowd of 250,000 people. Today, these words continue to ring true in the United States, 55 years later.

From 1954-1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served as a minister, activist and influential leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement. His campaign and vision for equal rights in the United States was completely revolutionary, until his assassination in 1968. Then in 1986, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in honor of his legacy and his valiant efforts for change in the U.S.

Today, we remember King and the rights he stood for. If you want to live a more altruistic life, how can you commemorate Dr. King and continue his legacy? Here are ideas to get started this Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Learn about Martin Luther King.
The first step toward remembering MLK and what he stood for is learning more about him. While most children usually study King in the classroom during January, there are still ways you can take time with your family to learn about and celebrate his life.

Take some time to discuss together about what King stood for. Do arts and crafts focused on MLK, or even watch a short video or movie that tells Dr. King’s story. The 1999 drama Our Friend, Martin is a kid-friendly film focused on MLK; or, for older children, the 2015 movie Selma, takes a more serious look at MLK and the Civil Rights Movement. Additionally, reading books together to learn about King is the perfect way to spend time together as a family, while honoring and respecting MLK’s legacy.

Understand the Civil Rights Movement.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day isn’t only to recognize MLK, but also to remember and respect the entire Civil Rights Movement. Commemorate this day by learning more about the Civil Rights Movement: how it originated, what its goals were and how it influenced the United States.

While the United States has definitely overcome some dark times in our country’s history, it’s important to learn from these in order to move forward. Talking about the Civil Rights Movement with others gives people the opportunity to ask questions, learn, grow and take valuable steps in continuing to move forward as a society.

Find local celebration events.
If you or your family is interested in going further with Martin Luther King Jr. Day plans, try checking in your community to find any events celebrating Dr. King. Larger cities like Philadelphia have entire city-wide events, such as the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. The occasion has over 135,000 volunteers and 1,000 service events for people near and far to enjoy throughout the weekend.

If you live in a smaller community, you can still focus on on an altruistic life. Choose a local nonprofit organization to give to or volunteer at with your friends or family in recognition of MLK Day. Check if any nonprofits have special campaigns running in honor of Dr. King and see how you can help make a difference.

Practice tolerance towards others.
Finally, one of the most valuable ways to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day is to practice what he preached: that one day, “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Today, this month and throughout the rest of 2018, take time to get to know someone different from you. Make an effort to live more altruistically and practice tolerance toward others. After all, Martin Luther King’s dream was for all men to truly be equal, and together we can work towards accomplishing this goal.

Today, celebrate how far our nation has come by commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. and his vision. Recognize the steps that still need to be taken, because when we understand the past, we can see an even clearer version of the future.