Saving Our Sanity: Why Taking a Mental Health Day is a Positive Thing

We’ve just come off a beautiful three day weekend full of sun, family, friends, and fun. If you’re anything like I am, getting up in the morning this week was extra rough. Maybe you sat in your car a second or two longer trying to prolong the weekend feeling. Or, maybe if you’re even more like I am, you considered calling in “sick.” Sunburn counts as a kind of sick right? As the weather gets nice it’s harder and harder to be stuck at work and “mental health days” are thought about more often. Americans have the tendency to be work martyrs and dedicate themselves so much to their job that they leave vacation time on the table. Though some would call taking a “mental health day” irresponsible, sometimes taking a break from work is needed. Here are five reasons playing hooky for your health is a good for you.

Mental Health Day

You’re Burnt Out

In 2015, 55% of Americans left vacation time on the table combining for a 658 million days unused. Millennials are some of the greatest culprits of this, wanting to prove themselves and disprove the label of lazy and entitled that has been given them. Sometimes we work so hard to accomplish something that we actually end up sabotaging ourselves. Taking even just one day to recharge will help refresh your mind. When you return, you’ll have more energy and mental capacity to tackle your project with increased vigor!

It’s Preventative Medicine

It’s no secret that stress can lower your immune system. When project deadlines are drawing near and you have meetings that are taking up most of your day, it’s easy to become stressed. Though it may seem like a bad idea to take a “mental health day” during these times, it might actually be a great idea and save you in the long run. By taking a day to relax and let your body heal itself, you will be better equipped to stave off that nasty summer cold that’s being passed around. Taking one day for yourself while you are feeling well is much better than a taking a week and being sick.

You Will Improve Relationships

We all talk about wanting a work-life balance, but how many of us really have it? We are always accessible, even when we take vacations, we still take calls and answer emails. Even if it takes a second, you are still distracted from what is happening in front of you. My fiancé and I have had many a heated discussion about work interrupting our time as a couple. I won’t lie, we’ve both taken coordinated days off and played hooky together and it’s always a wonderful day. Since we are “sick,” we usually don’t get bothered and are able to focus fully on one another.

You Can Shorten Your To-Do List

As a bride who has less than 6 months to her wedding, my to-do lists are quite lengthy. If you’ve ever been involved in planning a wedding you know it is pretty much a second job; I come home from work only to continue working on our wedding plans. But, even if you aren’t getting married, everyone has to-do lists and chores that are piling up. We can’t find the time or energy to complete them after work. Taking a day to catch up on your list can give you a great sense of accomplishment and help lower your stress levels. You can then carry these feelings over to your work the next day!

You Can Learn a New Skill

You’re burnt out, stressed, bored even. You perform the same tasks day in and out. You have deadlines approaching and you’re anxious.You feel like you’ve stagnated and maybe you’ve lost a few brain cells. Taking a mental health day can help get you out of the funk you’re in. Just because you called off work doesn’t mean you can’t be productive. Take a weekday class or head to the library. You can learn a new skill or research a topic you are interested in. Passionate about giving? Take a day to volunteer. You’ll feel good about yourself and you’ll have exercised your brain in a different way. You may even be able to use your new skills in the workplace to your advantage.

These are just some of the many reasons taking a break from work can be a positive thing. We tend to feel a “real” reason to call off work is needed and forget our wellbeing should be reason enough. As long as you are not making a habit of unplanned call offs, taking a day for yourself can be positive and helpful in the long run.

Body Language at the Office: What’s Yours Saying?

We’ve talked a lot about how to create an effective message with a target audience in mind, and how to communicate a business plan and get employees to buy in, but we’ve really only talked about the obvious when it comes to communicating. We all know that there is more to communication than just words on a page or the phrases that we speak.
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Health and Wellness: Super Bowl Recipes, Tips, and a Workout!

super bowl atlanta falconsAre you ready for some football? Although our Pittsburgh Steelers will not be playing this weekend, many of us will be attending or hosting a Super Bowl party for the food, commercials, and Lady Gaga! Here at ABG Capital, we are not quite ready to give up our healthy New Year’s Resolutions for the big game. As an organization, we focus on creating a culture of health and wellness; for example, check out our other healthy blog posts here! Before this weekend’s festivities, we would like to share with you some ways to stick to your resolutions while still having fun.

Let’s start with the food! Here are a few of my favorite healthy party recipes:

Sweet Potato Bites with Bacon and Guacamole

These are a great alternative to the potato skins, chips or fries. They have just the right amount of protein and fat without all the excess starch and carbs. They’re sure to be a hit at your Super Bowl party.

Greek Lemon Chicken Skewers with Tzatziki Sauce

Who doesn’t love chicken on a stick? This recipe packs a lot of flavor while being healthy. They’re also easy to make for a big crowd as they can all be marinated and grilled easily.

If these recipes aren’t enough for your party, check out this list of 20 Healthy Super Bowl recipes from Pinterest!

Another source of calories on game day comes from your drink choices. If you can’t possibly have fun while drinking water, here are some suggestions. If you’d rather keep it simple try to stick with flavored vodka, water, and ice or diet coke and rum.

Lastly, get off the couch! Use this football workout to get your exercise during the game!

football workout[28]

Do you have a favorite game day recipe or cocktail? Will you be trying to lighten them up? If so, share your suggestions in the comments.

3 Organization Tips for the Fall

“The spring, summer, is quite a hectic time for people in their lives, but then it comes to autumn, and to winter, and you can’t but help think back to the year that was, and then hopefully looking forward to the year that is approaching.” — Enya

As summer comes rapidly to an end, many welcome fall with pumpkin festivals, haunted houses, and road trips to see the vibrantly colored trees as they shed their leaves and get ready for winter. Like the trees, many of us could use this time to ready ourselves for the winter by shedding our old habits and introducing new ways of organization for the end of the year.

bench-560435_960_720Set winter goals

Maybe you set goals this summer to go on vacation, unplug when you’re out of the office, or get your ideal beach body. Whether you met your summer goals or not, reset for the fall. You can get a jump start on your New Years Resolutions, define new career goals, or set goals for the holiday season.

Clean out your e-mail (or text messages)

As you spend more time inside this season, you may find that you are looking for a project or two. Take this time to go through your e-mails or text messages and get rid of what is bogging your inbox down. Answer messages to friends or acquaintances you’ve been putting off, make a lunch date, or just follow up and check in.

Take time to relax

Many of us have a bad habit of rushing. Rushing to meetings, rushing to dinner, to the forest-road-1345751_960_720gym, or to appointments. Take a step back this fall and take some time to relax. The summer is typically viewed as a time for vacations and relaxation, but you can’t forget to take some time during other seasons as well. Relaxation can make you happier, healthier and more productive.

These are three tips that can not only be used in the fall to reset yourself, but can be used every time the seasons change. Do you have any fall organization tips that you follow? Let us know!

Dealing with a Long Morning Commute

Imagine the worst morning you’ve ever experienced. You wake up late, rush to get dressed, can’t find clean underwear, spill coffee all over your un-ironed shirt, and to top it all off, you hit bumper-to-bumper traffic on your half-hour morning commute.

morning commute

Long commutes and ungodly traffic are enough to test the temper in even Ghandi himself. If you’ve ever had to experience the morning traffic before the Fort Pitt tunnel in Pittsburgh, I’m sure you can agree that it would be no exaggeration that it’s enough for the Muhatma to climb down the back of his elephant and kick in the side door of a texting teenager during a fit of blind rage. Why an elephant? What else would Ghandi be driving to work? Maybe a Prius… You get the point.

Bad commutes are frustrating, fist clenching, vein popping, obscenity shrieking experiences from which we could all use relief. In an attempt to calm ourselves and bring us back to a Nirvanic state, let’s go over some ways to deal with long morning commutes.

Listen to Your Favorite Music

car radio

Music is a way to express your feelings through melodies and lyrics. In halted traffic, those feelings can probably be represented through the most Swedish of heavy metal as you imagine the horrific acts you would do to the mini-van with the marathon and vegan bumper stickers in front of you.

Let’s try to stay away from that type of music and lower those stress levels (unless you’re into that sort of thing) with your favorite songs. Create a playlist that can relax you and keep your mind off of the unbearable traffic.

Crank up that song knob to eleven, sing away, and dance, dance, dance in your seat! You might even come up with a fun dance to do with your steering wheel. Just don’t be too careless or you could be doing the tango with a Toyota in a head-on collision.

Find Time to Pump It Out


Once you finally make it to work, you might still be feeling a bit tense. Make (or sneak if you’re running late) your way to the office kitchen and brew up some of your favorite coffee. When you make it back to your desk, sip and be comfy while continuing to listen to your commute playlist. As time goes on, you’ll find yourself calm and at peace.

But what if the caffeine gets you amped? What if you forgot to remove DMX from the last track of your playlist. Now you’re pumped and feeling as anxious as ever. Release the inner beast that has been fueled by terrible drivers and caffeine with a quick workout during lunch.

Pump iron, run a mile, spin kick a coat rack, and bring those stress levels back down again. Whatever you decide to do for your workout, add in this little exercise known as “car drivers”. To perform this exercise, hold a heavy object (normally a weighted plate) and twist it as you would with a steering wheel. Imagining yourself running the old geezers off the road who refuse to seize the gap can be just what you need to give yourself peace of mind.

Meditate on It


The work day is over, you got a nice workout in at lunch, and now it’s time to get home and relax. The only thing in your way: more traffic.

After inching your way down the interstate, exchanging glares with mutually miserable drivers, and cutting off a school bus in a desperate attempt to make it home before the end of Maury, you’re going to need another stress reliever.

Give yourself the time to unwind through meditation. It’s a well known fact that meditation can reduce anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion. Just take 20 minutes out of your day to meditate and feel your troubles melting away. Be sure to pour yourself a glass of the most premium of boxed wine as well. Now you should be experiencing a feeling of bliss, so get some sleep and get ready for the next day.

These tips might not do the trick right away, but keep at it and you could find yourself a little bit happier. If all else fails, find a closer place to work. We hope this helps your traffic-laden pilgrimage to work! Be safe out there, and we hope you find relief from your long commute struggles.

5 Tips to Keep Your Resolution on Track

My friends, January 1st has come and gone. Some of us sat down, took a good, hard look at our lives and decided that the New Year was a great time for a new start. So, we made ourselves a New Year’s Resolution and we said that this year was the year we would actually see it through. We would not fail. We would reach our goals!

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Ready, set, HUT! Annual ABG Capital Turkey Bowl Recap

Happy Thanksgiving week! If you haven’t left your office yet, many of you will soon be venturing through the woods to grandmother’s house or relaxing away from it all with a quiet staycation at home. And whether you watch it or play it, most likely your thankful Thursday will involve some sort of football. Around here, Thanksgiving football kicked off already with our Annual ABG Capital Turkey Bowl last Friday!

ABG Capital Turkey Bowl Football Game

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6 Ways to Avoid Holiday Stress

Raise your hand if you’re excited about the holidays approaching. The family, the food, the friends, the good will towards men… I’d also ask you to raise the other hand if you’re stressed about it, but then most likely you’d have both hands in the air and not be able to scroll to read this post. The packing and traveling to get to the family, your tendency to always end up in the wrong grocery store line, the picking and choosing which friends you have time to see and someone inevitably feeling left out, and the Black Friday near tramplings at 3 am… So put your hands down and let’s talk about how to avoid holiday stress.

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Why Eating Lunch At Your Desk Is Making You Sick

You probably think we’re going to tell you all about how you should get away from your desk at mealtimes to break up the monotony of your day, or to relieve stress, or to get more activity by taking a walk… WELL, YOU’RE WRONG! This post is about how you are eating your food at one of the dirtiest, most germ-ridden areas of the office. That’s right – we’re going to tell you why eating lunch at your desk is making you sick!

Don't Eat At Your Desk I ABG Capital

Image: Courtesy of Dettol

Offices are becoming increasingly unhygienic as more and more of us are eating lunches at our desks. You can find dozens of studies and test results with a simple Google search showing just how dirty our desks can be. Your mouse and keyboard alone contain more than 3 times the levels of bacteria-related contamination than the average toilet seat. This is because of the crumbs and food residue (think greasy French fries, mayo and condiments from your fingers and that yogurt you spilled last week) that is all over your workstation making for the ideal environment for bacteria and other micro-organisms to live. Additionally, because these are electronic devices, they’re not being cleaned as regularly or as thoroughly as other parts of the office.

Don’t believe me? Take your keyboard, right now, and turn it upside down. Give it a little shake. What fell out? The crumbs are just what you can SEE. If they’re there, so is bacteria.

Our suggestion: A granola bar, a piece of fruit or other small snack is probably okay to consume whilst sitting at your desk, as long as you’ve washed your hands and taken care to clean up any spills. We recommend eating your meals like breakfasts and lunches AWAY from your desk. Not only will you reap the benefits that you THOUGHT we were going to impart at the beginning of this article, you’ll also keep your desk much cleaner, and you won’t expose yourself to the bacteria and germs that are surely lurking at your workstation.

So be honest–how often do you eat at your desk? Does your workplace have a community lunch room?

How to Prepare a Healthy Work Lunch

Good morning! It’s Monday! You finally made it to work – 10 minutes late. You traversed an accident, a construction zone detour, and because you burned the midnight oil, you hit snooze twice before you got out of bed. Mornings are hard. The last thing on your mind was what you were going to eat for lunch, but now it is 11:30 and you’re starting to feel hungry! Continue reading