The Hippo


May 29, 2020








Take a walk

Suck it up, bundle up and go outside — you’ll be happy you did. Here are some ideas for walking near downtown Manchester, Concord and Nashua.
Heritage/Piscataquog Trail: The City of Manchester’s Heritage Trail follows the Merrimack River and passes by old mill buildings. It connects to a pedestrian bridge along the Piscataquog Trail, which parallels this river for about two miles in the opposite direction.
The Rockingham Trail: The 10-foot-wide unpaved trail technically goes all the way to the Seacoast, but there’s a particularly accessible section by Lake Massabesic, where there’s easy parking along the water, that’s typically full of walkers and joggers. 
Historic walking tour: Directions and a map of the tour are available at the Chamber of Commerce website ( The tour stops by a variety of historic sites like the Statehouse, the Clock Tower and Eagle Square, Phenix Hall and a variety of others. (Actually, there are 62 stops on this map; it might keep you busy all winter.) The tour has become especially pedestrian-friendly since the completion of the Concord Main Street Project this fall.
White Park: Sean Gray, who manages the Concord Runner’s Alley, said he frequently takes the store’s running groups to White Park, where there are walking trails that weave around ponds, a playground, a picnic shelter, soccer and baseball fields, basketball courts, etc. 
Nashua Riverwalk: The walk, which you can learn more about at, takes you along the Nashua River and by a number of Gate City sites —  the library, Jackson Falls, sculpture, the Cotton Transfer Bridge and both Renaissance and Bicentennial Park. 
Nashua Heritage Rail Trail: The walking trail goes about 1.2 miles from City Hall onward, and along it you’ll find around 20 public murals, plus a segment of free wall art, which is repainted on a regular basis. Paul Shea, director of Great American Downtown, said funding has been secured to build a footbridge connecting the Heritage Rail Trail to Mine Falls Park. 

Love your work space
7 steps to boost your 9 to 5 life

By Kelly Sennott

 There’s only so much coffee can do to perk up your office job.

That’s evident to anyone who’s experienced the dreaded 3 p.m. slump, and it’s even worse in the winter, when getting fresh air requires bundling up and braving the cold — and the dark, if you can’t manage to get out before 4 p.m.
But there are little things you can do to boost your energy physically and mentally throughout your day. Update your work wardrobe. Give your desk a makeover. Fill your lunch box with power foods. Or, get moving — create a deskercise routine, go for a walk or just stand up! 
We talked with people of various expertise about these easy fixes, with the goal of helping you improve your 9-to-5 life by increasing productivity, focus, energy and overall happiness in the office — no caffeine necessary.
Step 1: Dress for success
If you dress like you’re really good at your job, then people (including you) will get the message. 
But it’s an easy step to overlook, particularly if you’re not client-facing or your workplace offers a casual dress code.
“You obviously need to be very skilled in what you do to be successful. A lot of people will go to school to really fine-tune their skills, but if they lack packaging, it’s harder for other people to buy into it,” Susan Osborne, a New Hampshire image consultant, said via phone. “When your message and your look match, that’s the most successful form of communication.”
Ideal attire varies from job to job. Lawyers and bankers probably need to wear suits, while tech professionals probably don’t. Osborne said it comes down to one important question. 
“I ask clients, what do you want to express? How do you want to be perceived? How do you want others to see you? That’s really the starting point,” she said.
If your office environment is more casual, then maybe less formal clothes are OK — just make certain they fit well, which Osborne said will always make someone appear more polished. 
“Men specifically ask me, should I have a beard? Facial hair is perfectly fine, but you just need to offset it. Maybe your hair is cut clean and short. Everything comes down to balance,” Osborne said. 
There are some no-nos regardless of industry. Stained, ripped or wrinkled clothes will always look sloppy and lazy. 
Some of her clients feel it’s important to dress the part even at home.
“I’ve had clients who have home businesses, and they feel really strongly about showing up for themselves — about getting up in the morning, taking a shower, getting decent-looking clothes on and not wearing [their] pajamas. There’s proof that when you look professional, you’re going to act more professionally,” Osborne said.
Step 2: Create an office haven
If you indulge in your workspace, it will make you feel more comfortable and theoretically more productive, said Hollis-based interior designer Meredith Bohn.
She advised starting with color. What hues help you get stuff done — calming, neutral tones or bright ones that are full of energy? Place those in your workspace, along with photos of things you like — family, friends, pets, the outdoors.
“Photos of your family are certainly important, because a lot of the time they’re why you’re working,” Bohn said.
Clear plastic boxes might add order to chaos, but they can also be boring. Bohn uses bright leather boxes from The Container Store to organize papers and beautiful calendars and wipe boards to keep her on track and remind her of her goals.
Also take into account, what do you do? What do you need? What would be your most efficient setup, and how much space do you have?
“Most people want a sense of order in their work space,” Bohn said. “That doesn’t mean you need to get a bunch of new furniture. It just means it needs to be well thought-out.”
For example, Bohn’s office contains a work table and desk because her job requires her to spread out. Clutter is typically distracting, but professional organizer Gretchen Poehlman said it’s sometimes necessary to keep tools at the ready. 
“Some people need all their tools out and visible, and so it can be cluttered,” Poehlman said. “For me, if it’s out of sight, then it’s out of mind, and I can’t function. … I have certain piling systems. That works for me. It’s not wrong. If it works for you, then it’s organized.”
If you have limited space and want to keep things in sight, perhaps keep papers in a three-ring binder in front of you, or stacked in some sort of wall organizing system so they’re “away” but still visible. Or, Poehlman said, maybe there’s a drawer in your desk you can leave open.
If you’re working at home, designating a specific workspace is key.
“I think it’s important that, when you work from home, you go to work — you go to a special, designated spot that you work at. Psychologically, I think that’s super important, as opposed to randomly floating around your house,” Bohn said.
Step 3: Organize your day effectively
What are your goals today? Tomorrow? What takes priority?
This will help you design your most efficient and effective day, no matter your job, Poehlman said. So will sticking to one thing at a time.
“A lot of people think you want to be a good multi-tasker. But there’s no such thing as a good multi-tasker. You can’t be doing three things really well at a time,” Poehlman said. “You want to be focused on something, and to be the most efficient at it, you really want to concentrate on it.”
Poehlman likes to color-code her calendar in terms of tasks. Business items, the most important, are green (because they’ll earn her money), while things out of the office, like grocery shopping, might be orange. She suggested blocking off chunks of time to do things in the same way you might a dentist appointment.
“I take one morning a week to do all my paperwork or advertising,” Poehlman said. “That way, I’m able to maximize my week to make money versus spend it on filing. … I find that, for a lot of people, that’s not necessarily a no-brainer, especially if you’re working from home. … You end up zig-zagging all over your day, and you haven’t accomplished much because you haven’t given anything a dedicated focus.”
The same idea can be incorporated in holding meetings.
“If you’re hosting a meeting, have an agenda! That works!” Poehlman said. “Maybe email people beforehand and say, ‘Can we stick to these three to four items?’ And agree to focus on this. I know a lot of times meetings end up being an hour longer than they’re supposed to be. You need to communicate about what is going to be accomplished.”
Obviously, things come up. The doorbell rings. Someone needs you ASAP. So your system needs to be flexible. But at the same time, Poehlman said it’s important to make a detailed plan of the day ahead — ideally, on one calendar. 
“If you’ve got more than one, chances are good you’re going to forget or lose something,” she said. 
4. Stand up and stretch
Being inside doesn’t mean you need to glue your butt to your chair all day. In fact, you really shouldn’t. 
Dr. Sam Sanzone, a Concord chiropractor, said the medical community is finding that desk-related work stresses have about as many long-term hazards as smoking.
At the beginning of his career, work-related injuries were caused by physically laborious jobs. Today, it’s the opposite. It’s back or neck pain, shoulder tension or carpal tunnel syndrome. If you find yourself regularly stressed at work, it’s worse.
“It’s very well-documented that whenever we have a mentally or emotionally stressful situation going on, whether it’s work-related or otherwise, our bodies have a physiological response,” Sanzone said. “Everyone has probably experienced their shoulders tightening up in a stressful situation. If they have any spinal misalignments, those contracted muscles can pull those out even further, which can stress the spinal cord and nerve system.”
The good news: There’s plenty you can do. 
Sanzone recently held a “Keep Fit While You Sit” class with the Concord Food Co-op and works with many clients on creating workplace exercises and stretches that alleviate or prevent these symptoms. 
First on the agenda is to make certain you regularly change positions, at least once an hour. If you need reminders, try setting alarms on your phone. 
Many of his clients have found great success working at a desk that allows them to switch between sitting and standing all day (though the switching part is key; standing all day, he said, is just as bad as sitting all day). Other clients have used stability balls as chairs, which he said can help strengthen your core and thus prevent back pain. They may even help you focus.
“I’ve heard of elementary school classrooms bringing [stability balls] in for the students to sit on, and it helps them maintain their focus — they’re not just idly sitting, they’re actively sitting,” Sanzone said.
When you are sitting, think about your posture — make sure you have a chair that can support your lower back, and adjust it so your knees are at a right angle. Keep feet hip-width apart, not locked but engaged, and keep them facing forward along with hips and shoulders. Your head should also be forward, not looking down; achieving this position may involve adjusting monitor height.
And, whenever you can, stretch. You can do this while sitting down (rotate your neck, or stretch your shoulders by straightening your spine and raising them to your ears) or standing up (put your hands on your hips and bend backward). 
“We need to realize our bodies were not made to be stagnant. They were made to move,” Sanzone said. “And if the demands of our workplaces don’t allow that, then it’s our responsibility to move them.”
5. Get moving
“Exercise is like an elixir. I think a lot of people don’t realize the importance of it mentally,” said Danielle Rheault, co-owner at Fortitude Health and Training, via phone.
She can see the effect of exercise in her clients, especially those who come in at noon Monday through Friday. They arrive with scowls and leave with relaxed shoulders and smiles.
“So many people have said to me, ‘I’m much more effective at work after a workout. I feel refreshed, rebooted,’” Rheault said. “I see it all the time, and I feel it myself.”
Don’t have time for a 45-minute workout? There are little things you can do throughout your workday without ever leaving the office. Like using the bathroom on the floor above or below, if you work in a large building. Or, instead of emailing coworkers, get up and go to talk to them. If you’re on a conference call, stand up, walk around or perform simple exercises as you talk.
“Most people are on a Bluetooth device — you can sit with your hands on the back of a chair and do lunges while talking on the phone, or squat while holding on to the chair,” Rheault said.
There are exercises you can do sitting down, too. Rheault suggested one that involves holding a water bottle in one hand while raising that arm in front of you — voila, a shoulder workout! You can tap your feet to work your calves, raise your knees to work your quads or sit tall and think about contracting your abdominals for a quick core workout.
If you’re able to get out of your chair for a minute, throw in a 30- or 60-second exercise — lunges, push-ups or planks in the hallway, or wall-sits near your desk.
Feeling self-conscious?
“That’s fine! Do them in the hallway or the stairwell. Do something in the bathroom. Do something for any period of time. It’s not like, ‘Oh my God, I have to fit a 45-minute workout into my day.’ Little bursts add up,” Rheault said. “Some people don’t like doing these kinds of things at work. But you can find a buddy. … Challenge somebody to a wall sit in the hallway. ... You can make it fun.”
6. Recharge
Sometimes, to get more work done, you just have to leave — either physically or mentally. One option is to take a walk. (For ideas near your workplace, check out the side box.)
“I can’t express the value enough of getting outside, even if it’s for three minutes. Most people say, ‘I don’t have time to leave the desk.’ Everyone has time to get out and walk around the block. It causes positive endorphins to move through your body. [Afterward], people seem to become more alive, more awake. It enhances their senses, and they just feel better,” Rheault said. “Vitamin D is essential. It can change your mood.”
Another option is to give meditation a try. All it takes is about five minutes and a secluded space, said Sylvie Stewart, who practices with the Nashua Buddhist Meditation group. Your car, a conference room or even your office can work, if there’s a door you can shut.
During those five minutes, Stewart said, you need to close your eyes and sit still in an erect position. Observe your breathing and how you feel, but otherwise, think about nothing.
“Any time a thought arises, you say to yourself, ‘There’s a thought.’ And then let it go. Apply focus on your breath,” Stewart said. “You really want to try the let the breathing happen, if that makes sense. You’re observing your own breathing. If it’s fast, it’s fast. If it’s shallow, it’s shallow. It boils down to the simplicity of being in the present moment.”
Stewart tries to meditate every day because it brings her clarity.
“You might notice that suddenly you’re putting things in better perspective. You’re seeing the larger picture of things. You might also notice that you feel more a sense of interconnectedness with the people around you,” she said. “You might feel more compassion. More kindness. … But if you’re goal-oriented or judging what you’re doing, or if you have too many thoughts, you’ve missed the point. The point is simply to do it.”
7. Fuel and refuel
The most important things you eat all day should be at breakfast, lunch and your 3 p.m. snack — not dinner.
“Because food is energy. You don’t need energy to sleep,” said New Hampshire dietitian and Nutrition in Motion founder Kim Dorval via phone. 
The most energy-boosting meals are non-processed and combine carbs, protein and healthy fats. Keep these a priority, and you might actually be able to avoid that afternoon slump and temptation to replace fuel with coffee.
“A lot of times, we have a lull in the afternoon because we skipped lunch. So we just go to coffee to give us energy. But coffee is not energy,” she said. “Coffee basically stimulates you by telling your adrenals to fire cortisol — it will give you a false sense of energy.”
For best results, Dorval said you should avoid grazing.
“Have breakfast, and go back to eating an egg sandwich or an omelette with sweet potato fries, things like that,” Dorval said. “One of the most important things is to have protein with every meal. … It releases dopamine, which helps us focus. … The worst thing you can do is not eat protein at lunch, and then at 3 p.m. you have low blood sugar so you walk by the candy dish. That will spike your blood sugar, and then a half hour later you will need more sugar or caffeine to keep you going.”
Good lunch and snack choices include nuts, fruit, cheese, vegetables with hummus, Greek yogurt or lunch meat without additives or preservatives (like MSG, which will only make you tired). Even beef jerky can work if it’s good quality with low sodium content. She said it doesn’t make much of a difference whether nuts are raw or roasted, though organic is better, and so is all-natural nut butter.
As for bread, whole wheat isn’t necessarily the answer; many are enriched and contain high-fructose corn syrup. Dorval suggested going for sprouted grain bread, which has a low gluten content and is the least processed with no additives. (You have to buy it in the freezer aisle, and store it that way when you’re not using it; otherwise it will go moldy fast.) 
If you’re going to go with a salad, choose a dressing with few ingredients. She said she likes Newman’s and Cindy’s Kitchen. 
“I’m not a fan of low fat, or any of that other stuff. Most salad dressings have healthy fats in them, like olive oil,” she said.
If you’re tight on time, she said to carve a small space in your work fridge and keep staples there for your week. Or make your lunch on the weekend in the form of vegetable soup with low-sodium broth or chili. If your job requires you to be on the go, pack a cooler.
In the winter months, it’s especially important to keep hydrated; dehydration can definitely “zap your energy,” Dorval said, and it’s easy to forget about.
“Dehydration is even more significant in the winter because people don’t feel like drinking water as much because it is cold,” she said. “Also, the indoor heat sucks water out of us.”
Aim to consume half your body weight in ounces of water a day; this can be in the form of straight water, herbal teas, broth-based soups, fruits and vegetables. 
You may be surprised at the difference you see, Dorval said, at work and afterward.

“People say, ‘I got home and I had energy to get stuff done!’” Dorval said.

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