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Why do we feel down during the holidays

No matter how much you may love the holiday season — the seasonal hot drinks, the ice skating, the markets, and of course, the holiday itself — it does come with added stresses.

The stress of hosting events, of having to mingle with your coworkers, and of needing to find the perfect gift can be overwhelming. And then there is the lonely factor. For those without partners, every romantic christmas fairytale movie is a stab to the heart. It doesn’t matter how many parties you are invited to or how many people send you holiday cards — December and January can be lonely months with no one to kiss under the mistletoe. Finally, there is the cold weather. The constant grey skies and the fact that it gets dark by 5 p.m. can take it’s toil on the human body. 

So, what do you do when you start to get these feelings? Here are five options that may help:

Take time for yourself: No, this does not mean take time to shop for others or go out with friends. This is serious me time. Go get a manicure or a facial, get your hair done, go for a walk in the snow, or read a book with some hot cocoa. During this time, try not to think about what you still have left for you. Use these few hours to tune in with nature or escape into a good story. Only by taking time for yourself will you be able to manage the rest of the holiday season.

Slow down: Try not to get overwhelmed by that long list of holiday “to-dos”. Make a list, and take everything one day at a time. Try to split your weekend between “holiday days” and “me time”. If you spend your entire weekend shopping, baking, decorating, and going from event to event, come Monday you will be exhausted before you even get to work.

Tap into your feelings: Why do you feel lonely? What are your fears? What is really stressing you out? Sometimes, all of these feelings crash together, making it very difficult to resolve. Take a moment to tap into what you are feeling and determine their origins. Once you know what triggered your stress, you can either avoid it or you can learn to cope with it. Unfortunately, it’s not an easy process. If you need support, ask a friend or close family member to sit down with you and talk it out.

Spend time with loved ones: While you may feel alone at your friend’s party, it’s still important to go. Staying at home, thinking about the feelings you are experiencing, can sometimes aggravate the situation. Pick and choose your moments to mingle. If you aren’t feeling like a full-blown holiday shindig, ask your friends to go get some brunch or see a movie. Do something low key. The important thing is to recognize that you have people in your lives who want to spend time with you — even if it is just one person!

Start something new: This is my personal favourite option. When I’m feeling down, I like to start a project. First of all, it gives my mind something to think about besides the problems plaguing me during the holidays and second of all, it feels really good to try something new. This can be something small like trying yoga or committing to a paint night every month. Choose something that you enjoy or that you’ve always wanted to try. Keep in mind this isn’t a New Year’s resolution. There is no need to choose anything to do with health, fitness, or any sort of physical or mental transformation. Just pick something that you will find fun!

What do you do to conquer the holiday blues?

How to return to work after a holiday

Is anyone else struggling this week? It’s hard to return back to work after a holiday or vacation, which is weird since you’d think everyone would be refreshed and ready to put their heads back in their books. You’ve had time to rest, sleep in, watch movies, and binge eat cookies. Isn’t that enough?

Not really. Most people find it really difficult to return to their work responsibilities following a holiday or vacation. Our minds just aren’t ready to process the large influx of emails on our computer or the stress of completing the project left on our desks before the holidays. It’s not time yet! Don’t worry, you can get through it. The first week will be terrible, but here are some tips to help you survive it:

Take it easy: No, this does not mean shirk your responsibilities. It simply means not to set your expectations really high. Try not to plan any big meetings or deadlines for the first few days, or at least until you get to today’s emails. Set mini-goals for yourself and take two to three short breaks throughout the day so that your mind has time to adjust to this new routine.

Don’t feel bad about admitting it’s too much: Your co-workers or boss may be all gung-ho about getting back into their routines, but when they ask you to start a new project or move up a deadline, don’t be afraid to say “I’m still catching up from last week, can I get back to you on Monday?” The first week back will be hell, so be honest with yourself and others. If you take on too much, you will get overwhelmed and start to feel anxious about going to work every day.

Remember you aren’t alone: At the same time, don’t complain to your co-workers how much you hate being back at work and how wonderful your vacation was. Chances are, they don’t want to be in the office either. Don’t pile work up on their desks.

Make sure your workspace is clean: If you are organized and your desk looks fresh and clean, you will feel a bit less anxious about all the work you have to do. It also gives you something else to do in the office wen you need a bit of a brain-break.

Create a new routine: Once you are comfortable and ready, take on a new project or start a new work routine. This will make you a little more excited to be in the office, and light a fire for creativity and productivity. Start your day off slightly differently, whether that’s changing your morning coffee, adding in a few workouts, or simply reading the newspaper — the morning will set the tone for the rest of the day. You can even start having lunch with various co-workers. Think of it like starting a new job. When everything is fresh and inventive, that’s when you work the best. You just need to figure out a way to re-create that feeling.

Plan for the next week: This week was lax, but now it’s time to get back to work. Make sure you are super organized for the following week. Be on time to every meeting, present at every deadline, and on top of all your projects, new or old! Spend some time over the weekend planning your lunches, snacks, and coming up with personal deadlines for your work.

How are you feeling about being back to work? Let us know in the comments below!

Don’t fall prey to the holiday blues

Every morning and evening I log into my computer or cell phone to check my various social media apps. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — It’s all the same. All I see are messages of despair or people asking others to leave notes of hope and prayer. It seems like everyone is sad this time of year, and I get it.

The holidays tend to make people a little stressed and depressed. It’s a time of reflection and thoughts of the future. And if 2016 was any precedent, the future doesn’t look really bright. That, in combination with the pressure of gift giving, family, and work, it can all get overwhelming.

Women’s Post explains some of the reasons for these holiday blues, and offers a few suggestions to beat them — however, it should be known that the best cure to the December depression is to spend time with those you love, whether that’s family, friends, or your dog.

Fiscal frustrations: This is the biggest factor contributing to holiday blues, especially if you are a parent. No mother or father wants their child to get less than others. And when you have a mom, dad, sister, brother, and then your aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, and coworkers — it all adds up to big bucks. Stockings alone can add up to a hefty bill. When you are counting your pennies (and even when you aren’t), gifts can get expensive.

Remember that expectations for gift giving are never as high as you think. A simple book, pair of socks, or even homemade cookies will put a smile on someone’s face. If you can’t afford to give everyone gifts, do activities instead.

Inability to be with loved ones: This is by far the hardest thing to deal with during the holidays. If you’ve recently lost a loved one, let me first say that I’m terribly sorry. Whether it’s because you’ve experienced a recent death or are miles away from your family this December. The holidays will be really tough. There is no denying it, and there is no “cure”. If this is the case, the best way to handle it is to call up some good friends and invite yourself over. Don’t feel ashamed to say “hey, I’m a bit lonely this holidays, can we get together sometime for some drinks or coffee? Or would you like to come over for dinner?”

If that’s not possible, try skype or calling those you are missing. Otherwise, do things you find enjoyable. Take yourself out to the spa or to a fancy dinner. Don’t stay at home watching sad movies — unless you find it cathartic. Ultimately, know that there are people out there who love you and care for you. That’s all that matters.

Review of past year: A lot of people start to panic around December when they realize how little they’ve accomplished. It’s almost the new year, and there is still so much to do! You have to cook for Christmas dinner, but also get that gym membership you promised yourself 12 months ago. What about the job you’ve been searching for? All of those unfinished projects? All that weight you wanted to loose?

I’m here to tell you to STOP IT! It’s December, and there is no way to change anything right now. Instead, focus on all the fun you will have this month. Go eat at nice restaurants, visit with friends, and go to a museum. Who cares about the missed opportunities! Take advantage of your holiday. All of your decisions and everything that you’ve done over the past year has accumulated in you being you. And you are amazing!!

 

Above all else, remember that you are a wonderful human being who deserves to have a wonderful holiday season. Try not to sit in the dark and feel sorry for yourself. Get out there and enjoy life. Kick those holiday blues in the butt!

How to deal with winter cravings

Winter can be hard. Over the past six months, you’ve been working hard, going to the gym, eating right, and then winter comes along. But, like an old friend, winter comes back into all of our lives to remind us how great carbohydrates can be. Why were you avoiding hot chocolate and marshmellows? I don’t know, it’s delicious, winter says. How about a donut or muffin with your coffee? Shouldn’t you start that Christmas baking now? I mean, it’s almost December.

Stop it winter! Just stop it! Why can’t you just let us be!

It’s the unfortunate side effect of cold weather. Our bodies tend to crave carbohydrates and sugars no matter what our brain tells us, and that can make it extremely difficult to keep on track. Luckily, Women’s Post has your back. Here are some tips to help deal with those pesky cravings:

Don’t stop working out: Did you eat half a dozen donuts last night? Well, nothing you can do about that except try to work off some of the calories. Make sure to continue hitting the gym, even if it means leaving a few minutes early to take into account the slow snow traffic. If you don’t like to make the trek to the studio, try going for a walk. Yes, it’s cold, but it’s also beautiful. Tell your honey to bring a thermos of hot chocolate and make an afternoon of it. Have a snowball fight or go tobogganing. Doesn’t matter, as long as you remain active.

Drink tea: Instead of grabbing that expensive peppermint white mocha with the extra espresso shot and mound of whip cream, try having a peppermint tea. The best part about tea is that there are so many flavours they can be substituted for dessert. How about apple or pumpkin tea? Maybe a chocolate chilli chai is what you need to warm up after time spent outside in the frigid air? Tea also has the benefit of antioxidants, which can help strengthen your immune system and aide in weight loss. Plus, it has the added benefit of tasting good too.

Take vitamin D: Yes, vitamins are annoying. It’s easy to forget to take them, but in the winter, with the clouds covering the sun, it’s extremely important. Winter can be beautiful, but it’s also quite dark, and this darkness can bring out emotions and feelings you didn’t know you had. This weather can also trigger symptoms of seasonal depression. I’m not saying taking vitamins will relieve all of those symptoms, but it will help in controlling some of those intense cravings and lifting your mood.

Try to make “healthy” versions of comfort food: There is nothing Women’s Post can tell you that will make those cravings disappear entirely, so why not indulge a bit and make healthier versions of the comfort food you desperately desire. For example, mac and cheese is a winter favourite. Instead of pasta, try using cauliflower. You can still enjoy the cheesy goodness, just without the extra carbs. Or if you must get that mocha, make it skinny.

Eat what you want, just in moderation: At the same time, don’t deprive yourself. It doesn’t work. It’s hard enough to resist the temptation to gorge on carbs and sugars without the added pressure of eliminating it entirely from your diet. Have a couple of cookies and enjoy that peppermint mocha. Just make sure not to over indulge. Plan for a small daily sweet — a cookie or a chocolate — and don’t you dare feel guilty! It’s winter for goodness sake!

 

Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below!