Category Archives: Work Life Balance

6 Steps To Whisk Away Winter Blues

winterAfter the anticipation, excitement and build up that surrounds the December holidays, the month of January can be a bit of a let down. Gift bills come in, the weather acts up and the days until Spring can seem far away on the horizon. Never fear – there are many ways to feel better during this time of year. Let’s take a look!

1) Be open to the possibility of a fresh start
Unhappy in your job? Unemployed? It’s a great time to start a job search. Hiring managers and companies are actively searching and interviewing prospective employees. It’s also a good time to focus on other goals – from fitness to finances.  As cliched as it may sound, there is something about turning that calendar page to a new year that just screams new beginnings.

2) Know that days are getting brighter
It can be a struggle to drive to work and back home again in the dark, but the good news is that we are gaining 1.5 minutes to 2.5 minutes of daylight between now and February. A minute or two may not seem like much, but just knowing more light is on the way can give you a psychological boost.

3) Embrace the season
You may never be a winter person, and that’s ok! If that’s the case, be open minded enough to search out activities that will make the winter more fun. You can find gems to enjoy January thru March. Just as we tell job seekers – take a break and enjoy what’s around you.Winter is here until March 20th- whether you like it or not.

4) Get your Vitamin D
In the north, and in many parts of the country, Vitamin D deficiency is a reality that can result in lethargy and depression. Make an effort to get sunlight each day. Even on cloudy days, it’s important to be near natural light. The harsh glare of fluorescent lights can do a number on your psyche. If your office or cubicle isn’t near a window, get up and get some exposure to the light during your workday. The benefits are numerous, including helping you to sleep better.

“About 80 to 90 percent of our vitamin D comes from sun exposure.”
– Dr. Michael Holick, MD, PhD,  professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at the Boston University Medical Center

5) Be more active
The tendency during winter months is to load up on comfort foods, take more naps and hibernate ’til Spring. A better approach would be to seek out movement. Get up from your desk and stretch every hour. Take a short walk if you can. Outside of work, get some exercise – try snowshoeing, ice skating or, on milder days, take a brisk walk. You can still have your comfort foods, but look for new, healthier swaps, like this mac ‘n cheese (#yum!).

6) Plan something fun
Whether you’re working or not, you can always find something to look forward to. Plan to go to a movie, concert or trip. Or, attend a free/low cost event you found online or in your local newspaper. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Just knowing something is scheduled on the calendar can help improve your mood.

Don’t let Winter get you down. Spring will be here before you know it!

P.S. If this post helped you or you think it can help others, please share.

A version of this post, by our Social Media Specialist, also appears on LinkedIn.


Oldcastle is North America’s largest manufacturer of building products and materials. With more than 2,000 locations throughout North America, we are in constant pursuit of the next generation of successful decision makers, leaders and problem solvers. Learn more about joining the Oldcastle team HERE.

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Say So Long To Sunday Night Blues

beachKnowing that a fun-filled weekend is about to come to an end can cause a twinge of sadness for even the most enthusiastic employee. The dark mornings and cold Winter days can also play into these feelings. Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize Monday morning malaise.

1) End the weekend on a more relaxing note
Do you tend to jam pack your weekends so you rush home from a trip or outing without leaving time to decompress? Instead, try to schedule yourself enough time to wind down. During this time, do something relaxing. What about going to a movie early Sunday evening? There are fewer crowds. Other options include taking a leisurely shower (unlike the rushed one you take Monday morning), listening to music or reading a book.

2) Do an electronics clean sweep
This one is going to be a challenge for many people. However, study after study shows that the blue light emitted from our electronics (including smart phones, TVs and computers) has a very detrimental effect on our sleep quality. Along the same lines, having these devices in your bedroom is a sure-fire way to increase the time it takes to get to sleep, as well as negatively impact the quality level of the sleep you do get.

According to The National Sleep Foundation’s 2014 Sleep In America poll, “Electronics in the bedroom are pervasive. These electronics are found in both the parents’ bedrooms as well as their children’s bedrooms. Leaving the devices on at night can be particularly disruptive to sleep.”

There was a time, not so long ago (relatively speaking), when we weren’t tethered to this technology. Watching or using these devices too close to bedtime is a no-no – for parents and children. A good night’s sleep is critical to a productive work week. Take this tip seriously and retire your electronic devices when you retire to the bedroom. You may experience withdrawal in the beginning, but, in the long run, this step can really make a positive difference in your life.

3) Streamline your transition into the work week
A frenzied start to the work week is not the way to go. Have your outfit ready, lunch prepared and everything else you need the night before – so you can just grab it and go. Good habits like this go a long way towards making Monday morning stress more manageable. A less harried routine, commute and transition into the work week is the goal. Whatever small actions you can take to bring added comfort and convenience to your day is going to help put you in a better mood for the duration of the week.

4) Plan something fun for early in the week and beyond
Who says you can’t go out to dinner on a Monday or Tuesday? While some restaurants are closed Monday evenings, many are not. Setting a date to go out gives you something to look forward to. And, unlike Friday or weekend evenings, there will be fewer people. Take some time to relax and re-energize for the rest of the week. Along the same lines, don’t forget to plan short and long term events to look forward to. Just knowing you are going on a day trip or vacation is sure to brighten your mood.

5) Start off the week with a pleasant task
Don’t dive into that stress-inducing report first thing. Tackle something easier. Every job has duties that are more enjoyable than others. Give yourself a break and start with those less taxing, more mindless responsibilities first.

6) Acknowledge your feelings
It’s normal to feel a bit sad when the weekend comes to a close. However, if your feelings start to intensify into anger, depression or overwhelming dread, it may be time for a job change. These emotional red flags are more than than just the Sunday night blues.

What about you? Do you have any advice on how to make the transition back into the work week easier? We would love to hear what you think.

Looking for more career advice? Check out this post on Work-Life Balance.

P.S. Please share this post if you found it to be helpful!

This post, by our Social Media Specialist (Recruiting Office), originally appeared on LinkedIn.

For more job search advice, follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, and LinkedIn. And, join our new Talent Community to receive a monthly e-mail with hot jobs, career advice and see what it’s like to work for us!


Oldcastle is North America’s largest manufacturer of building products and materials. With more than 2,000 locations throughout North America, we are in constant pursuit of the next generation of successful decision makers, leaders and problem solvers. Learn more about joining the Oldcastle team HERE.

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Is Work/Life Balance Even Possible?

Work and Life balance. Concept 3D illustration.For years, we’ve heard the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between your work and home life. However, since it’s easier than ever to be virtually connected to the office 24/7, working during the “off hours” is now the norm, not the exception.  What about you? Are you able to truly leave work behind when you leave work?


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Better Life Index ranks countries on a variety of factors, including work/life balance. Their latest numbers show that 11% of U.S. employees work 50 hours a week or more. Furthermore, their “evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardize safety and increase stress.”  Not having enough leisure time can also turn to resentment, which can in turn lead to a variety of physical and emotional issues, including depression, insomnia, irritability and exhaustion.

If your work/life balance is tipping in the wrong direction, try these tips:

1) Re-evaluate your schedule. It may be time to take a good hard look at where you’re truly spending your time. We are all given the same “budget” of 168 hours per week. We have to allocate these hours between work, family/childcare and leisure. Do you feel that there’s never enough time to fit it all in? Are there tasks/chores you can delegate? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Can your spouse/partner assist in cooking or cleaning? What about the kids – it may be time for a “chore chart.” You might be pleasantly surprised to see that even the youngest will want to pitch in. Make it a team effort.

2) Schedule an electronics shut off time and STICK TO IT. The constant interruption of emails, texts and calls keep you in a state that never allows you to truly relax.  The National Sleep Foundation reports that “cell phones and computers, which make our lives more productive and enjoyable, may also be abused to the point that they contribute to getting less sleep at night – leaving millions of Americans functioning poorly the next day.”  This cycle needs to stop. Start by weaning yourself away and work up to shutting off all devices one hour (yes, one hour!) before bed. The light from these devices can also impact sleep rhythms. To lessen this glare, you can install an app like f.lux that makes the color of your screen adapt to the time of day, avoiding the harsh light that inhibits sleep.

3) Make time for the basics. You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again. Exercise, meditation and mindfulness go a long way towards creating balance in your life. This may mean cutting back on activities and commitments to make time for self care. The rewards you gain from this are well worth the effort.

4) Overhaul time wasting habits. Do you really need to check your email every 5 minutes? Can you eat at least one meal without checking your phone? Do you allow colleagues to take up too much of your time with small talk? Can you delegate any parts of your job?

5) Establish new rituals. Even vowing to leave work 5 minutes earlier can make a difference. Start with simple, small changes and follow through on them. No empty promises!

In today’s economy, many people feel the pressure to do whatever it takes to keep their job. Financial factors will always play a large role in whether to tolerate a less than ideal work schedule. However,  the true cost to your health and well being must also be taken into consideration. Awareness and acknowledgement are a start, followed by taking proactive steps towards creating a more balanced life both in & out of the office.



Oldcastle is North America’s largest manufacturer of building products and materials. With more than 2,000 locations throughout North America, we are in constant pursuit of the next generation of successful decision makers, leaders and problem solvers. Learn more about joining the Oldcastle team HERE.

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© OldcastleCareers, 2014. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to OldcastleCareers with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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