Rise and (Sun)shine!

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BE—

Ugh, that sound alone gives me goosebumps. There is nothing worse than the dreaded alarm. Is anyone else sent into a state of panic when they hear their alarm go off as someone else’s ringtone? Sheer. Terror.

Think about your perfect night of sleep. It usually involves everything but one thing: an alarm clock. There is nothing better than gradually waking up on a Saturday morning to the birds chirping and the sun piercing through the curtains. If only they could harness this primal routine and market it as the new alarm clock…

Oh, wait. They have!

The natural and gentle way to wake each morning with the “rising sun” is possible. But first, let’s talk about why proper sleep is so important:

There are five stages of sleep that we cycle through throughout the night. Depending on how well you are sleeping, plus how long you have been asleep, your alarm clock might go off during a stage of deep sleep. This is not good. Nature did not intend for us to wake during this stage, which is why our bodies recoil when the dreaded alarm clock sounds.

Waking abruptly from a deep sleep leaves you feeling groggy, disoriented, irritated, and extremely stressed. Such feelings linger into your morning routine and sometimes last your entire day, only to repeat again the next morning. The sudden jolt to wake triggers the body’s “fight or flight” response, pumping the body with adrenaline. Activating such adrenaline levels over days, weeks, months, YEARS, will lead to chronic stress. People routinely forced to wake during their deep sleep cycle develop severe medical conditions over time, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, loss of memory, and diabetes. Oh, and it shortens your overall life expectancy.

Sleep is considered to be as important as maintaining a healthy diet. The most natural way to welcome the day is to rise with the sun (usually before 6:00A.M.) It is not always feasible to rise with the natural sun, especially during the darker months of the year. Unless you have a boss who practices Ayurveda and totally jives with you coming into work whenever your bedroom fills with natural light, waiting on the natural sun will most definitely cost you your job.

The good news is there is a way to use your eyes’ natural response to light to simulate a sunrise. Using a wake-up light, your body is gradually pulled from deep sleep as your bedroom is filled with increasing light. And no, you will not oversleep!

My wake-up light is the Philips HF3520 model, which creates synthetic sunshine to ease you awake. The light mimics a real sunrise, starting with dark red light, turning to yellow, then ending with white light. Once you set the alarm, the light will begin roughly 40 minutes before the time you have set, ending in full light and accompanied by one of five different nature sounds. An added bonus, the sunset simulation feature works in reverse, dimming the light over a period of time to coax your body to sleep at night.

I urge you all to consider a wake-up light, if not this exact model. I cannot recommend a product more highly (…except for maybe blue light glasses!)

Feng Shui Your (Desk) Stress Away!

Although there’s still snow on the ground, spring cleaning is in full bloom at our firm. Blame it on the New Year, but most of us feel like it’s time to declutter our lives…and our desks! We create resolutions focused on our body, but our mind needs some loving too! It’s time we overhaul our desk space and create a conducive environment to set the stage for accomplishing our professional goals in 2017!

A professional habit of mine is maintaining an aesthetically pleasing office desk that awakens all of my senses. It might sound like hippie-living (OK, it does sound like hippie-living…), but Ayurvedic practitioners preach that you are likely to feel healthier in both body and mind when you properly balance all of your senses.

Unfortunately, it’s not always so easy to stay balanced. Naturally, people tend to favor certain senses over others. Most people place a fragrant candle on their desk and call it a day. Stop for a moment and analyze your desk space. Which senses do you tend to overemphasize? Which senses do you neglect? What items on your desk immediately become stressors, and what objects are pleasing to your eyes? Some quick and easy ways to bring accent colors to your desk layout include using fun coasters or a colored stapler, keyboard, and mousepad!

Now that you have a list of items that can trigger all of your senses, let’s create a desk layout using the basic principles of the ancient Chinese practice, feng shui!

Here is a great starter layout for your desk that I will help you breakdown:

Back Left: Prosperity (blues, purples, greens) Examples: Plants, candles, diffusers (not too fragrant!)

Back: Fame/Reputation (fire colors) Examples: Desk lamp, framed diplomas and awards (always keep physical reminders of your accomplishments within eyesight!)

Back Right: Relationships (love colors) Examples: Picture of significant other; rose quartz

Right: Creativity (metals) Examples: Pen holder, paper clip tray, stapler, mousepad

Front Right: Contacts (gray colors) Examples: Phone, business card holder

Front: Career/Energy (power colors like black) Examples: Computer, monitor, keyboard

Front Left: Knowledge (earth tones) Examples: Reference books, inbox, active projects

Left: Family (wood) Examples: Framed photos of family members

Here is my current desk, utilizing the above layout:

Feel energized already?! Now that you have the layout, let’s add our office desk to things that need trimmed of fat this New Year!

Blue Light Glasses…All the Cool Kids are Wearing Them!

Does this sound like your typical day?

You wake up and immediately tap on your cellphone.

You browse the news on your tablet during your commute.

You text your boss that you’ll be late to work.

You diligently stare at your computer screen until 5 o’clock.

You come home from work and catch the evening news.

You end your day in bed binging Netflix on your laptop.

What do all of these things have in common?

YOU ARE BEING EXPOSED TO DANGEROUS LEVELS OF ARTIFICIAL BLUE LIGHT!

What is blue light?

Blue light is the highest energy of all visible light, penetrating deeper into the eye than any other light. In appropriate doses, natural blue light is beneficial. For example, the sun emits a small level of blue light (this is why the sky looks blue!). Blue light, in small doses, boosts alertness, elevates moods, and regulates your sleep cycle. However, in the world we live in today, we are subjecting ourselves to unnatural levels of artificial sources of blue light. In such doses, blue light has been shown to cause premature damage to the retina and other age-related disorders. Our eyes’ natural filters simply cannot protect against prolonged exposure to artificial blue light.

Scary huh?

Even scarier is that most of us spend the majority of our day staring directly at a digital screen. In some cases, we stare at a screen for over 6 hours straight! Ever wonder how safe all of this is for the future of your eyesight? Not so safe, apparently.

Why has no one talked about the dangers of blue light before?

The recent growth in digital screen technology has created today’s widely used LED back-lit devices that emit very strong blue light waves. The wide-spread popularity in such devices has dramatically increased our exposure to these dangers. We are truly the first generation of guinea pigs for analyzing how much damage blue light is causing. Only recent studies, including a profound study done by Harvard researchers, revealed that blue light can in fact cause serious long-term damage to our retinas and increase our risk to develop several types of cancers and heart disease.

So, how can we limit our exposure to artificial blue light in a society that demands our daily use of LED back-lit devices? BLUE LIGHT GLASSES!

What exactly are blue light glasses?

We wear sunglasses to protect our eyes from harmful UV rays, so why not protect ourselves against blue light!? Blue light glasses help filter out the blue light emitted by digital screens such as computers, tablets, cellphones, televisions, and fluorescent lighting. Blue light glasses take the strain off your eyes and reduce eye fatigue, ultimately leading to less mid-day work headaches.

Buyer beware: not all blue light glasses are made the same! Stay away from cheap knockoffs. Pixel Eyewear (http://www.pixeleyewear.com) is my favorite brand, because they have very little tint to them. They might seem pricey, but your eyesight is worth it! An added bonus, these glasses are super chic and look like ordinary prescription glasses! For those who wear prescription glasses, ask your optometrist for protective ophthalmic lenses with a special filter to reflect the high energy blue light penetration.

Check out my fellow colleagues who have joined me in protecting our eyesight!

Hello, My Name is Karly…and I’m a Vegetarian.

Karly Grace
My name is Karly, and I am a new attorney at Eckert Byrne. I recently relocated from Pennsylvania this past May after I got engaged to my Bostonian fiancé, Matthew (if you would like to read more about my thoughts on the whole wedding experience…read my fellow blogger Kristin’s post!) I absolutely adore working at Eckert Byrne—and for more reasons than one. As of late, I specifically love that I get to share my passion for holistic and healthy living with both my colleagues and clients.

I still remember the welcome lunch that Anna and the gang orchestrated during my first few days working here, and the level of anxiety that surged through my veins as I knew I would have to have “the talk” with my co-workers sooner rather than later…

Hello, my name is Karly…and I’m a vegetarian.

GASP! My secret was out! Immediately I cringed with the inevitable pushback of judgment and mockery that I knew all too well from my time working in Pennsylvania:

“You don’t eat MEAT!?”

“Soooooo… what do you eat?”

“I could never…”

“Hmmm, but…bacon.”

Much to my surprise, no one even blinked an eye. I quickly learned that many of my co-workers (and clients!) live very conscientious lifestyles, or at least have an appreciation for those who do. I was finally at home both in a work environment and a city that encouraged and respected healthy lifestyle choices, specifically those that focused on cruelty-free eating and environmentally-friendly living. Did I mention how much I love Cambridge and Boston??

My passion for holistic living has helped me connect quickly with Eckert Byrne clients. Recently, I conducted a meeting with the cutest couple who shared with me their newfound interest in vegan milk alternatives. (I tend to refer to my eating habits as “a vegetarian-who-tries-to-eat-as-vegan-as-possible.”) Naturally, I blabbed on and on about the homemade almond milk I swear by. An hour later, I received a call from the woman I met with. Thinking she needed clarification on a legal matter, I was taken aback when she asked me for my almond milk recipe. I could not have smiled harder! It is one thing to satisfy a client on a professional level, but quite another to connect with a client over personal matters!

Thus was created the catalyst for this blog. Anna has made this wonderful forum where her attorneys could share their personal conversations of interest with all of our clients and colleagues. Too often clients overlook the fact that our firm is a “life and legacy planning” law firm, which means we truly want to connect with our clients on both a professional AND personal level…for many years to come!

I so look forward to connecting with you all through my recipes, healthy tips and simple lifestyle tweaks. Feel free to email me (Karly@eckertbyrne.com) with any topics you’d love for me cover!

Just remember…I’m a J.D., not an M.D.