Summer Reading: Not Just for the Kids!

Summer Reading-Not Just for Kids!

Summer reading isn’t just for students! You might be amazed by both how beneficial reading can be for you and how much you will enjoy this economical form of old-school entertainment.

Many of us have used this past year to re-evaluate what is important and leave behind some of the things we realized wasted our time and energy. If you haven’t done so in a while, try picking up a book! Want to “travel” without spending any money? Check out a novel with a remote setting or a travel magazine! Want to learn more about historical events that interest you? Historical fiction or nonfiction can show you what it was like to be part of a significant period of the past.

Still think reading is just for kids? According to Psychology Today, reading improves our brain power at any age. “Readers develop thicker cortices . . .  which provide extra cognitive reserves and better withstand neurological injuries and damage. Reading a lot may even help to slow the onset of dementia” (Psychology Today “Does Reading Matter?”)

Studies cited in the US National Library of Medicine show that as a subject’s reading ability matures, the circuits and signals in the brain grow stronger and more sophisticated. “Reading stories not only strengthens language processing regions but also affects the individual through embodied semantics in sensorimotor regions” (US National Library of Medicine). 

Reading fiction can improve mental health by increasing our ability to empathize with others and improve social skills (Psychology Today “Can Reading Books Improve Your Mental Health?”)

Other benefits from reading can include increased vocabulary and comprehension, lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduced stress, decreased depression symptoms, and increased sleep readiness (Healthline).

Unfortunately, these benefits cannot be gained by reading social media posts no matter how long you look at such text, though electronic delivery methods for extended novels (Kindle, ebooks, etc.) seem to bring the same results as their old-fashioned paper counterparts.

One last reason to read is modeling. Kids notice how their parents and grandparents spend their time and what they value at every age. Once they see you reading, they too will be that much more inclined to develop into readers themselves.

Newspapers and websites are full of recommendations these days, and your local bookstore clerk or librarian will also be sure to have some great ideas. 

Healthline

Psychology Today "Can Reading Books Improve Your Mental Health?"

Psychology Today "Does Reading Matter?"

US National Library of Medicine

A History of Independence Day Celebrations

A History of Independence Day Celebrations

On July 4, citizens of our great nation celebrate Independence Day as they have since 1776. 

Surprisingly, as late as the spring of 1775, most colonists did not favor complete independence from Great Britain (History.com). However, by 1776, their attitudes had shifted. On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence (History.com). John Adams, who assisted in drafting the Declaration of Independence, was ready to celebrate that day and wrote to his wife Abigail that July 2 would be celebrated with parades, games, sports, and other festivities “from one end of this Continent to the other” for generations to come (History.com). 

Though Adams was correct about the zeal of the celebrations, his date was a bit off. Two more days passed before the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was complete and formally adopted (History.com). 

That first year, festivities were modeled on celebrations of the king’s birthday, “which had been marked annually by bell ringing, bonfires, solemn processions, and oratory,” though in many towns they also  “included a mock funeral for the king, whose ‘death’ symbolized the end of monarchy and tyranny” for the colonists (Britannica.com).

John Adams and lead author of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson enjoyed fifty years of Independence Day celebrations before they both passed away on July 4, 1826 (New England Historical Society).

The first organized celebrations of Independence Day took place on July 4, 1777, and in several cities included firework displays. Philadelphia’s celebration also included a 13-gun salute fired from a ship’s cannon to honor the 13 colonies (History.com). There were also 13 rockets fired before and after the firework show (History.com). 

In 1941, Independence Day became an official federal holiday that is celebrated in many of the same ways it has always been throughout history, though the cannons and rockets set off in Philadelphia had been subtracted from the festivities due to safety concerns.

This year we will enjoy the parades, carnivals, barbeques, and fireworks for Independence Day on Sunday, which means most businesses will be closed and workers will have a day off on July 5. The staff at Waitte’s Insurance Agency are wishing you a happy and safe holiday! Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs. 

Britannica.com

History.com

New England Historical Society

Happy Father’s Day!

Father hugging two children all smiling and enjoying each other's company

In an effort to recognize fathers similar to the ways Mother’s Day honors moms, the nation’s first Father’s Day was celebrated in 1910. However, it took well over half a century to establish it as a federal holiday. 

Mother’s Day was born of an effort to bring together mothers of Confederate and Union soldiers in the 1860s. Though not an official federal holiday until 1914, Mother’s Day was the inspiration for Sonora Smart Dodd who felt there ought to be an official equivalent for male parents. Dodd, whose mother had died in childbirth, was raised with her five brothers by her widowed father (ABC News). 

In 1910, Dodd brought her idea to the YMCA of Spokane, Washington, as well as local churches, businesses, and other establishments, where she received support. Her intention was to celebrate the holiday on her father’s birthday in early June, though her supporters convinced her to delay by a couple of weeks to allow them time to prepare (NationalGeographic.com).

A successful statewide celebration was held on June 19, 1910. However, it was many years before the holiday was officially ratified. Joint resolution 187 was passed by Congress in 1970, calling on citizens to “offer public and private expressions of such day to the abiding love and gratitude which they bear for their fathers” (NationalGeographic.com). Finally, in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a resolution making Father’s Day an official federal holiday to be celebrated on the third Sunday in June.

This year, consumers are expected to spend approximately $17 billion on gifts for dads and other male role models (NationalGeographic.com). And while some may opt for the typical T-shirt or necktie as a Father’s Day gift, you might also consider spending time with the male role model in your life as a way to celebrate your relationship. Consider kite flying, hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, or even ziplining. Not the outdoorsy type? You could cook something together, watch a movie, play board games or cards, or put together a puzzle. 

Whatever you do, the staff at Waitte’s Insurance Agency wish you and all dads and father figures a happy Father’s Day!

ABC News
History.com
NationalGeographic.com

You deserve a vacation!

two people sitting in beach chairs at luxury tropical resort in front of sunset

After an extended period of restrictions, many of us are looking to get out and go somewhere this summer! While we may feel a sense of hesitation, we also need to recognize that travel is good for our health. According to Allina Health, time off work for a vacation improves both mental and physical health. “People who take vacations have lower stress, less risk of heart disease, a better outlook on life, and more motivation to achieve goals” (Allina Health).

If you are not ready to head out the door quite yet, you can benefit just from making plans. Research subjects show that the positive effects of planning a trip can boost a person’s happiness up to eight weeks before departing on an adventure (Allina Health).

If it has been a while since you took a break, you might not realize the toll work stress is taking on your body. The adrenal system often responds to extended hard work by releasing “hormones that may weaken your immunity,” resulting in a greater likelihood of colds, cases of flu, and other ailments, some of which are quite serious (WebMD). 

Taking a vacation can improve your health and lower the stress that wears down your body. “Vacations let you take your foot off the gas pedal for a bit and allow your immune system to bounce back” (WebMD). 

If you are worried about safety, keep in mind that not all trips involve frivolous risk, and there are lots of things you can do to mitigate exposure. If you travel by air, aim for a flight with few or no layovers which limits the number of people you will be exposed to. Continue to mask in the airport and on the plane. 

Seek out a house or cabin for lodging rather than a hotel with large areas for congregating. Travel with and stay with other vaccinated people when possible. If you are camping, camp with people from your household and visit with others outside--something you probably do already. 

Bring your own food, get takeout, or opt for restaurants with outdoor seating when possible. This will allow you to enjoy the warm weather and the surroundings that you traveled to enjoy. 

If you are still hesitant about missing work, it might help to know that time off can actually improve your productivity when you return to your job. “Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts” (Allina Health). Studies noted by Allina Health indicate that even five weeks after a vacation, subjects were still experiencing improved physical health, sleep quality, and elevated mood. 

So what are you waiting for? This is your time to get out and go!

 

Allina Health "Importance of Taking a Vacation"
CDC "Safer Travel Ideas"
WebMD "How a Vacation Affects Your Body"

Produce and You

Thankfully, spring is finally here, and this year we may appreciate the warmer weather and the chance to be outside more than ever. In addition to increased recreational activities, we will soon also see the increased variety of fresh produce at the supermarket that comes with warmer weather. 

We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, (and) lower risk of eye and digestive problems.” Produce can even help us lose weight, as consumption of many fruits and vegetables prevent hunger associated with blood sugar spikes (Harvard School of Public Health). 

Once we get the produce in our hands, we need to take one more step before bringing the good stuff to our mouths: we really do need to wash them. Impurities such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites are some of the unintended contaminants found on your otherwise healthy fresh produce (University of Minnesota). The good news is that washing your hands and then your food will give you the peace of mind that what goes into your mouth is only what you intend. 

Our staff at Waitte’s Insurance Agency wish you a healthy and fruitful spring! Give us a call when you are ready to discuss your unique insurance needs. 

Harvard School of Public Health
University of Minnesota Extension