“Happy” Holiday Tips

“Happy” Holiday Tips

It can get really frustrating and stressful about now, if you don’t have a plan.  So, follow these tips to ensure optimal relaxation and less stress.

Tip #1: Make your list and check it twice!  Can you imagine getting to the store and NOT having your list?  Then, to top it off, you forgot about a specific relative of friend.  Keep a master list with you at all times, so that when you’re out and about, you can refer to it if you happen to run into that particular item you knew you had to get for that special someone.  For those of us who are more techno-saavy, use your cell phone. Place your list in your “Notes” section or simply put it in your “Calendar” or list of “Reminders.”

Tip #2: Shop online.  If you haven’t already completed all of your Christmas shopping, it’s OK.  There are many sites you can visit to place your orders and get it delivered by Saturday, December 23rd – just choose expedited or 2-day shipping.  Sure, you’ll pay a little more, but sometimes it beats the rush of having to leave your home, drive to a store, look for parking, try to find your item, stand on a long line to check out, and then drive all the way back home.  This can take more than 2 hours if you’re not careful.  Meanwhile, you would have already had that item in transit if purchased online.

Tip #3: Get some sleep.  It can be easy, especially around this week, to rush and try to get or even make something for the office holiday party.  Or, maybe you have to prepare something for your kids at school for their party.  To combat the stress and stay refreshed, try to get at least 8 hours of sleep.  Also, try some deep breathing as this brings more oxygen to your brain and helps relieve tension. This will give you more energy, so that you feel less strained and more energized.

Tip #4: Get pampered! Because this time of year may bring up your stress levels, you’ll need to unwind by scheduling a massage or a facial.  Take the time to put in some “ME” time.  You can always overlook yourself when you’re in the “giving mode.”  When your energy levels are up, you feel more invigorating…and this will give you a more positive attitude!

Tip #5: Try a Pot-Luck Style Dinner.  Are you hosting?  Great…so am I!  Just make sure you have enough time to get it all done.  And, the best way to do that is to have your relatives and friends bring over a dish.  Not only will this help give you more time to get the necessary things accomplished, but it will also give you more time for that much needed sleep I mentioned earlier.

So, don’t burn yourself out.  This is not the time to be overworked, discouraged or disappointed.  You’re too blessed to be stressed!  Remember to breathe and take time to enjoy the season.

5 Health Benefits Of Peppermint

5 Health Benefits Of Peppermint

In the midst of all the indulgence and decadence this time of year, it’s comforting to know there are some very real health benefits to some of the most common flavors of the season.

Between candy canes and Christmas bark, peppermint is giving cinnamon a run for its money as stand-out spice of the holiday season. And we’re thankful for that, considering the following:

Peppermint Tames Stomach Trouble
Folk wisdom suggests peppermint might aid all sorts of gut problems, ranging from nausea to menstrual cramps, but the most scientific evidence exists for its powerful response to irritable bowel syndrome or IBS.

A 2011 Australian study that set about to explain why peppermint seems to be so powerful discovered it “activates an ‘anti-pain’ channel in the colon, soothing inflammatory pain in the gastrointestinal tract,” according to a statement.

Peppermint Curbs Cravings
Here’s a neat trick: Just smelling a candy cane might convince you not to eat one. In a 2011 study, people were asked to smell peppermint oil every two hours. They reported not feeling as hungry as people who didn’t get a whiff, plus they ate 2,800 fewer calories throughout the week, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Peppermint Eases Tension Headaches
Tension headaches, most often brought on by stress, anxiety and alcohol consumption (during the holidays? Never!), may be quelled by a little topical peppermint oil. In a small 1996 study, rubbing a peppermint oil solution on the forehead and temples eased headache pain just as effectively as acetaminophen after 15 minutes.

Peppermint Could Boost Concentration
The scent of peppermint may also give us a mental perk. A small body of research conducted by Wheeling Jesuit University has linked smelling peppermint to greater alertness, motivation and even performance. One Maryland middle school went as far as ordering 3,600 peppermint candies for students to enjoy during a series of state-wide tests, the Washington Post reported.

Peppermint May Relieve A Stuffy Nose
One of the two biggest active ingredients in peppermint is menthol, the compound that gives so many of those over-the-counter cold and cough remedies their minty smell. There’s little evidence sniffing the stuff actually clears your nasal passages, but it seems to trick your brain into thinking it does. People report greater perception of an un-stuffy nose, even if little physically changed after inhaling pepperminty products. Sometimes when you’re really under the weather, that might be good enough!

Adapted from Huffington Post
Surefire Strategies to Stay Fit From Thanksgiving to New Years

Surefire Strategies to Stay Fit From Thanksgiving to New Years

Between pies and more pies, it can be pretty tough to stay active during the holiday season. A cornucopia of family obligations, work parties, and last-minute shopping means that hitting the gym often gets delayed or crossed off the schedule altogether. Not this year! There are 35 days between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, so be determined to make the most of them. Here are some smart strategies, tips, tricks, and motivational techniques to make fitness part of the celebration all holiday season long:

1. Get out there
Snuggling under the blankets with a mug of hot chocolate is fine and dandy, but it probably won’t help you out in the fitness department. Instead of baking cookies or playing board games, pass the time with an active pursuit like snowboarding, hiking, or even building snowmen (if it snows, of course)..

2. Make it official
Sign up for a race, competition, or fitness-y vacation like a hiking or bike trip in January or February so you have a good reason (and plenty of motivation) to stay in shape over the holidays.

3. Find a workout buddy
Rolling out of bed for a 6am gym sesh is much harder to skip when you’re one half of a dynamic workout duo. Enlist a fitness-minded friend or family member (especially if you’re traveling) to be your holiday exercise buddy. Encourage each other to lace up the sneakers for pre-dinner workouts and post-shopping trip runs.

4. Treat yourself
No, not to that extra slice of pumpkin pie. If it’s within your budget, indulge in new workout clothing or fitness equipment before Thanksgiving to boost motivation throughout the holiday season.

5. Include everyone
Working out can often be a solitary activity, which may explain why many people skip the gym when friends and family are in town. Make it a group activity by inviting visitors to join you at the gym or a favorite exercise class.

6. Find a promotion
Many gyms and exercise studios offer deals and specials during the holidays. Do some snooping and sign up if you find a sweet deal. If you’ve recently joined a gym, take advantage of a free consultation with a personal trainer (most fitness facilities offer this perk) to learn some new moves.

7. Act like a kid
Childhood winter favorites like sledding, snowball fights, and ice-skating get the heart pumping. Head outside for a sneaky (and super fun) workout.

8. Be a mall rat
With a mile-long to-do list before the big holiday get-together, there’s just no time for exercise, right? Wrong-o: Simply lace up your sneakers and powerwalk between errands. (This is especially doable at a mall or shopping center.)

9. Do some DIYardwork
Whether it’s raking leaves or shoveling snow, yard work is an unexpected way to get the heart rate up and work out major muscle groups.

10. Watch TV
Yep, sometimes hanging out in front of the tube can be good for you. If the weather outside is truly frightful, pop in a workout DVD (or for a cheaper version, pull up a YouTube fitness video) and get sweaty. Or, use TV time to work on mobility and recovery by foam rolling, icing, or stretching out with straps.

11. Work towards a goal
Set a specific, tangible goal to accomplish during the holiday season. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day is the perfect amount of time to really nail that push-up form, learn to do Crow pose, or master an 8-minute mile.

Whats the secret ingredient to your winter work out routine?

Adapted from Greatist
4 Herbs and Spices that Naturally Stop Sugar Cravings

4 Herbs and Spices that Naturally Stop Sugar Cravings

stop sugar cravingsWith the holiday season in full swing, it’s (way too) easy to OD on sugary cookies, cakes, and treats at every turn. Of course, indulging in a Christmas cookie is good for the soul, but going overboard on treats may not be the best decision. The next time you find yourself tempted with holiday sweets, reach for one of these spices to stop sugar cravings in their tracks.

Stress, food sensitivities, loneliness, a yeast overgrowth in the gut, blood sugar imbalances, and even hormone fluctuations can leave you searching for the sweet stuff.

Why do we love sugar so much? When we consume sugar, our brains reward us with a release of the neurotransmitters serotonin (the feel-good hormone). And beta-endorphins, which act as natural painkillers, produces a sense of well-being, increasing self-esteem and settling anxiety. At least, temporarily.

This also happens when we consume other simple refined carbohydrates that are easily converted to glucose (sugar). This is why digging into that holiday cookie pile just feels so good.

Unfortunately, sugar overkill can lead to some serious health issues including obesity, heart disease, dental disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type-2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, hormone irregularity, and depressed mood and anxiety. Not to mention, sugar is also rather addictive.

4 Herbs and Spices that Stop Sugar Cravings

1. Cinnamon: This warming and naturally sweet spice has been utilized for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. Loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and polyphenols, cinnamon helps the body to  Continue reading