Just Drive!

That’s the message from the National Safety Council as we celebrate Distracted Driver Awareness Month. It only takes a quick look at the statistics to realize that “Just Drive” is something that needs everyone’s attention. Why? Well how about the fact that it’s estimated that 80 percent of all accidents involve some form of distracted driving? Eighty percent! So, what’s a distraction? Basically, anything that prevents you from giving full attention to something else.

Probably the most obvious distraction that comes to mind is using a cell phone when driving – talking, texting, checking email, taking selfies. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that texting is the most alarming distraction because it takes your eyes off the road. If you take your eyes off the road for even five seconds, at 55 mph, it’s like driving the length of a football field with your eyes closed! Now that’s scary.

But cell phone use isn’t the only distraction. How about blaring music, fiddling with the radio or any other buttons on the dashboard, trying to program your GPS after you’ve already started driving, juggling food that you just picked up at the drive-through, trying to reach for something in the back seat, personal grooming? The list goes on. In this world of multi-tasking, we often feel the pressure to be able to handle several things at once. Behind the wheel is not the place to practice that fine art.

It’s estimated that distracted driving leads to more than 3,100 fatalities and 400,000 injuries each year in the U.S.  That should be enough to make us realize that distracted driving definitely isn’t worth it. Sorry to say, it’s not. And that’s a problem. Too often, we think that we can beat the odds; get away with it just once; it won’t happen to me; and so on and so on and so on. That kind of thinking is dangerous to you and the other drivers on the road.

Be safe. Be smart. Just Drive!

Posted by MJ Thomas

It’s never over, till it’s over

The Cleveland Cavaliers are in the playoffs – again. The defending NBA champions are on a quest to “Defend the Land” and that’s no easy task. Once again, they are playing heart-stopping, jaw dropping, wring your hands and hold your breath basketball; at least from a fan’s point of view.

Last night they did something that has never occurred in NBA playoff history. The Cavaliers overcame a 25-point half-time deficit and stunned the Indiana Pacers with a 119 – 114 victory. Oh, and does anyone remember how they won the championship last year? Coming back from being behind three games to one against Golden State to clinch it. The comeback kids are at it again. They don’t quit.

They don’t get rattled, they don’t throw in the towel, they stay the course; confident in the team’s ability to make it happen. And, it’s not just about the “big” names on the team; it’s about everyone on the team – the guys on the bench, the starters, the coaches, everyone.

What a great lesson for life. Against the odds, keep going, stay the course, believe in yourself (and your team) and don’t give up. Bottom line is that it’s easy to quit. Making the comeback is hard; it takes work; long hours; not letting anything deter you from your goal and hanging in there even when everything around you tells you that you don’t have a chance.

Babe Ruth said it best, “You just can’t beat a person who won’t give up.”

Go Cavs!

Posted by MJ Thomas

Laughter IS good medicine

How many times have you heard someone say that? Turns out that it’s true! Numerous studies show that not only is laughter good for you mentally but physically as well. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!  So, today’s blog topic is laughter – because we could all use a lot more of it in our lives.

Did you know that April 14 was International Moment of Laughter Day ? No joke! The unofficial holiday encourages people to forget the stresses of daily life and give into the healing and relaxing power of laughter. HA!

Why is this so important? Health is important. It’s that simple. Laughing can reduce stress, increase blood flow, lowers blood sugar levels and can even promote better sleep. It can lead to reductions in stress hormones. When a person laughs the brain releases endorphins that can relieve some physical pain. It can increase immune cells and infection fighting antibodies. It can make it easier to cope with tough situations, can help lessen depression and help you connect with others. And here’s a personal favorite – laughter can help you burn calories! Okay, so not a lot of them, but still it can be a small assist to your fitness plan. Fifteen minutes of laughter can burn ten to 40 calories. Who knew?

The point is that laughter is beneficial in many ways. It’s a tough world we live in and some days it’s hard to find anything to smile about; much less laugh about. Humor can and does make a difference – at work, at home, in our personal and professional relationships. Finding a reason to laugh is important for our physical and emotional health.

So, I will leave you with a thought that made me chuckle just a little – “An apple a day keeps anyone away if you throw it hard enough.”

Posted by MJ Thomas

Let’s talk

Today is World Health Day, a day celebrated on April 7 each year to commemorate the founding of the World Health Organization. Each year a theme is designated to highlight a global health concern in hopes of increasing awareness and encouraging those who are suffering to seek help. This year’s theme is Depression: Let’s Talk. “For someone living with depression, talking to a person they trust is often the first step towards treatment and recovery,” said Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at WHO.

It’s interesting because in many cases one of the last things a person suffering with depression wants to do is talk about it. Why? They don’t want to hear how it’s all in their head and that they should just “suck it up”, snap out of it and move on. Depressed people can’t control how they feel. They don’t want to hear that they are just exaggerating issues or trying to seek attention. Wrong. People with depression have no desire to be in the spotlight. If they do speak about it, they just need people to listen and not judge; too often the case. Depressed people don’t like to talk about it because it makes people uncomfortable. As one article stated, when someone breaks their arm, we rush to sign their cast but if someone is diagnosed with depression, we run the other way. As far as we have come in so many ways, the stigma still exists.

Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries; possibly even the person sitting next to you at work. It causes anguish and makes it hard to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks. The consequences can be devastating. Depression has strong links to diseases like diabetes and heart disease, and increases the risk of substance abuse. It’s also an important risk factor in suicide. Depression affects more than 300 million people. That’s an increase of 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.

The good news is that depression can be prevented and treated. A better understanding of the disease is much needed.

Let’s talk.

Posted by MJ Thomas