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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?

5 benefits of doing yoga in the morning

I’m a big yoga fan. The movement and breathing wakes my body up and forces my mind to start working, without the added stress of work or life’s challenges. Even a short five or 10-minute practice is enough to to wake me up and send positive vibes throughout my day. While many people say doing yoga at night is advantageous, I think doing it in the morning has just as many benefits.

Here are five benefits of doing yoga in the morning:

Peace of mind: People often start their day by thinking about all the tasks they have to complete before 5 p.m. And then we think about what we need to take out for dinner and who is going to be home and who is going to take out the dog. It gets crazy. Instead of starting your day off stressed out, a 10-minute yoga routine can help you slow down and be completely in the present. Whatever you need to do can wait. These 10 minutes are yours alone.

Focus: The peace of mind you get from practicing yoga can help you set an intention for your day. What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to feel? Whether you want to maintain positive thinking, despite a meeting-packed day, or if you want to be confident during a presentation or networking event, an intention will help you create the frame of mind first thing.

Helps digestion: Practicing yoga in the morning can help your body metabolize food throughout the day. By doing gentle stretches, especially twists that massage the internal organs, the body becomes more capable of releasing toxins from the body. It also allows for the body to better absorb nutrients in food.

Better posture: Many yoga poses focus on muscles in your back, forcing you to push your shoulder blades back and breath deep into the stretch. Once you start actively thinking about how your head connects with the rest of your spine, there will be no going back. These type of exercises are ideal for those with a desk job.

Overall fitness: While yoga may not burn as many calories as running a 5k, it can help you strengthen your muscles and tone your body. Through the movement, you are essentially supporting your entire body mass using your own muscles. Whether it’s a simple downward dog or something more challenging like a balancing practice, every movement activates your core. If you are looking for something to supplement your cardio — yoga is the perfect routine.

Do you practice yoga in the morning? Let us know your favourite poses in the comments below!

5 ways to manage and reduce stress

When I was younger, I would hear news reports that listed the leading cause of death in the world — the number one cause often being stress. I never understood the self-inflicting harm associated with stress and adulthood. When people are younger, they tend to enjoy life, to live freely with caution to the wind. As you get older,  you transition and are shaped by your environment. By adulthood, people tend to have their own personality, which they reflect on to the world and are often affected by change. Depending on a person’s psychology and personality, they treat themselves differently in these stressful situations.

Some people love the push and rush associated with stress-related work deadlines, and some people crumble at the slightest sign of disruption. From personal stress in your relationships to professional stress related to your job, they are all causing you harm that may end up being a silent killer.

A recent survey conducted by job site Monster Canada, found that stress is the leading motivator of people leaving their jobs. Results indicated that employees in Quebec and Ontario feel overworked. The study found one in four Canadians quit their job in 2016 due to unbearable work related stress. Causes are often related to poor salary, location, age and most importantly a work- life balance. While some companies support a positive work-life balance, other jobs can be so demanding there is no work-life balance.

Understandably everyone is different. So maybe you’re on the grind, a business entrepreneur, working for your family, living your dream job, but always remember to support the healthiest version of your self and that includes you mental health and managing stress. Women’s Post has compiled some short tips on how to live a more relaxing lifestyle.

Just Breathe

Sometimes, we all need a little break — just a small moment to ourselves. Deep breathing is often found to calm your heart rate and promote a state of relaxation. Five deep breaths are all you need. Maybe even try breathing exercises or meditation and set aside ten minutes in your day.

Relax

Just take a day, or a couple  days off if you need to regain control of your life again. When you take a day off, commit that day to your self and putting your priorities first. Get a massage, read a book, go shopping, go to a movie alone, and find time to enjoy your own company and activities you love.

Healthy eating + activity = a healthy mind

On the note of relaxing, it’s vital to also spend time focusing on your diet and exercise. Sometimes these activates escape us and the thought of sleep is much more appealing. While sleep is fantastic, working out also hits you with a rush of feel-good endorphins so you end up feeling really fantastic after a workout. Our diets are also very important. A recent study found that eating too much pasta can trigger depression. Now don’t go giving up your favourite foods — just adjust your diet accordingly.

Say No

Sometimes saying ‘no’ can be the healthiest thing to do for your self. No excess burdens and obligations. Don’t feel bad about what other people think. Do things for your self, don’t over commit and prioritize! If you rather take the time off to go see a movie than volunteering this weekend, do it! Make yourself happy.

Love and Care

Spend time with those you love, speak about your problems, your friends and family should be a positive source in your life. Spend time with the people that make you happy, even quick phone calls to the one you love can help alleviate daily stress. Too often we spend our time around people who are full of negative energy and are emotionally draining. You should just cut that negativity our of your life.

Just remember that in the end, life waits for nobody, so if you’re finding it hard to keep up, just take a break and I hope by reading this you feel less stressed already.

Share some peace and love in the comments below!

Woman of the Week: Jennifer Febel

“You are not broken.”

That is Jennifer Febel’s personal, and professional, mantra. When she was 19, Febel was diagnosed with a multitude of mental disorders, including anorexia, bulimia, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, suicidal ideation and self-harm. “In other words: broken,” she says. In fact, one of the many doctors Febel saw on her road to recovery actually used that term to describe her condition.

Those words had a deep impact. For years, Febel thought she had to live with “being broken”. She was given medications and coping options — but nothing helped. Eventually, her anxiety grew until she couldn’t leave the house.

That’s when she took a chance on a wellness coach, who was able to convince her to look past her scepticism and try some alternative mind-body tools. “The most powerful moment from me was when my coach told me “You are not broken”. To have someone say that was profound.”

“After 13 years of struggling and medication and therapy, I was able to come off meds and I never looked back. I was able to feel how I wanted to feel.”

Febel has an incredibly bubbly personality and a genuine smile. Invite her to your party and she may bring her hula hoop and perform an impressive dance routine. Her fast wit and positive outlook on life is contagious — and if she didn’t open up about her past, no one would know how much she struggled.

Her decision to see a wellness coach shaped the rest of her life and inspired her to go into the field herself. Febel is now a certified wellness coach and master hypnotherapist operating out of Bradford, Ont., with clients across Simcoe, York, and the GTHA. Her business, whose name Live Life Unbroken is inspired by her own personal experiences, helps those with phobias, anxiety, depression, trauma, stress, and general wellness goals. She emphasizes that she is not a medical doctor and cannot treat these disorders, but she can help relieve the symptoms.

“Basically, my job is to help people figure out what they actually want and then chart a path to get to it,” she said. “We often know what we don’t want –  I don’t want to be anxious or stressed all the time – my role is to help them find out what they actually want and how to go about getting that.”

How does she do that? Febel likes to think of the mind like a computer, and her job is cognitive tech support.

“Nothing needs to be fixed. Sometimes, over the course of your life, you download a virus. You call in the geek squad — that’s me! Someone who can manoeuvre the system.”

The current medical model sees mental health as a hardware program, Febel says. Instead, she thinks of things like anxiety and depression as software programs that need to be uninstalled. To do that, she uses advanced mind-body tools that are practiced in 38 countries around the world to find out what’s happening at the subconscious level.

“The problem is you don’t know what you don’t know. The problems are at the unconscious level,” she says. While most cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on the “why”, Febel focuses more on the “how” in order to relieve the symptoms of the “virus”. “In my mind, who cares about the why. It just satisfies curiosity. We focus on how the problem is created– then we can change it.”

Febel respects and encourages the skepticism associated with hypnosis and personal coaching. “That was me,” she said. “When I saw my coach I thought it was a hoax.”

“If you want to freak people out at a party, tell them you are a hypnotherapist. You get two reactions –‘ cool, can you hypnotize’ me or ‘I can’t be hypnotized. ‘I see it as my job to educate. Skepticism is the doorway to the wonder of change – just avoid letting it get in your way.”

In addition to one-on-one coaching, Febel runs a number of workshops through Live Life Unbroken, the most popular being a one-day workshop called “Reboot Your Inner Spark.” This course allows participants to tap into their own intuition and learn how to start healing naturally.

Last year, Febel began a new program called “Leadership Alchemy,” which touches upon communication and connections in personal and professional situations, or how Febel describes it, “how to be a true leader in your life.” She is also co-running a women’s wellness weekend where she will be leading some classes on revitalizing your chakras. During that weekend, women will be taught to find balance and centering in their daily lives, as well as participate in other wellness activities like yoga and magnified healing.

In addition to her workshops, Febel is also a regular presenter at a number of conferences and events. She is currently working on a presentation that will encourage women to stop being so nice. “When I’m “nice”, I have no boundaries. I’m doing what everyone else wants,” she says. “It creates “angry nice girls” who on the surface doing well, but on the inside they are angry and sad. Banish [the word nice] from your vocabulary. Be compassionate. Be kind. Nice doesn’t help anyone.”

When Febel isn’t working, she sings with York Harmony Chorus, an award-winning acappella group of over 40 women that sing in four-part harmony. The chorus competes regionally once a year and Febel helps with choreography and PR, as well as performs. “Every week I get to spend a few hours with these wonderful women and that nourishes my life in so many ways.”

Febel is someone who constantly loves to learn and try new things. She works with her own coaches and uses her own mind-body tools on a regular basis, starting each day with a grounding or energy-balancing exercise like tai chi. She loves to curl and is constantly reading or ordering books online. The one book she returns to on a regular basis is Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine by Deepak Chopra.

 

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What’s the appeal of minimalism?

Minimalism — to live with fewer possessions, free from ties and free from consumer culture.

The concept of minimalism appears to be a trend for 2016-2017, especially for millennials who can’t afford to tie themselves down to a set lifestyle. But, while that definition may give off the impression that it’s part of hippie-culture, it’s actually a philosophy more people should be adopting.

As a human being, I generate a lot of crap. I keep movie stubs and theatre tickets, I have drawers overflowing with 10-years worth of birthday cards books and notebooks, and my closet is bursting with sweaters I hope to fit back into some day. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

I wouldn’t label myself (or anyone who falls under that description) as a hoarder, but I think it’s fair to say that I tend to get overly attached to inanimate objects. That is, until now.

One random day in December, it all started to bother me. The fact that I couldn’t sit down at my desk and use the entire space.  I felt closed in and cramped in my own room. Of course, the feeling could be associated with some serious PMS or life-changing obstacles I was facing throughout the terrible year of 2016, but either way I resolved to do something — to de-clutter my life and keep only what I use.

As Kelly Bishop’s Gilmore Girl character, Emily Gilmore, said in the revival: “If it brings you joy, you keep it. And if it doesn’t out it goes.”

The last year has been an emotional roller-coaster, and adopting certain minimalistic principles is a refreshing way to rid your space of negative elements. You’ll find that once you get yourself organized, you’ll feel a lot better. Your mind will be clearer, you’ll be less stressed and experience less anxiety. There is something incredibly satisfactory about knowing what is in every drawer, and being able to open it and see the contents clearly. You’ll also find you have more space in your home than you realized.

I’ve already gone through a number of my possessions and divided them into three — a garbage pile, a donation pile, and a re-sell pile. Anything that I haven’t used over/worn over the past year I’m getting rid of. If something has a strong memory, I may keep it, but I have to ask: “will this bring me joy”. Will I even acknowledge it’s existence, other than when I clean my house and suddenly find it again. Usually, the answer is no — however, if you are overly concerned with the loss of memories, keep a memory box in your closet. When the box gets full, it’s time to re-evaluate those keepsakes.

At the end of this process, you should be left with the essentials. Everything should be in its proper place and your home will look more like a real home as opposed to a place you go to sleep at night. From the money you make at garage sales or by selling larger items online, maybe you can do some travelling? That is the very essence of minimalism — being able to do what you want, when you want to, because you don’t have many unnecessary expenses. And of course, there is nothing like the feeling of dropping off bags of  clothing to good will!

This year, make 2017 about re-adjusting your lifestyle. Go through all your things and decide whether or not they bring you joy. Do you NEED all those shoes? What about that dress you wore once and never had occasion to again?

The answer is no. Get rid of it and make room for new experiences in your life! We can all use a bit more joy in our lives, don’t you think?

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!

5 ways to manage stress at work

It can happen to the best of us: you read an email and realize your boss isn’t happy with your work; you made a mistake that costs your company money; you get into an argument with a co-worker over something you know is right. It is enough to make you frustrated, stressed, anxious, and above all else, unhappy.

No matter the job, work can be stressful. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five ways to manage your stress in the workplace:

Don’t respond to your email right away: Businesses are operating in a nearly completely digital world and there is an expectation that everyone should be by their computers or phones 24/7. Just because your phone notifications are buzzing, doesn’t mean you should respond. This is especially true if the email is negative. The problem with email is that the tone of the author is unknown, so people start to imagine possible meanings behind the words written. An email may read negative, but it may be a mere observation or an idea. Take a moment to distract yourself and then return to the email. You may find the message less negative this time and you can craft your response accordingly. If you are really concerned, call or meet the sender in person to discuss their request. That way you can judge the tone for yourself.

Schedule breaks: Everyone does it — works through lunch, stays an hour longer in the evening, or offers to do extra assignments. The “I don’t leave work until my work is done” mentality may be good for productivity, but it isn’t good for your mental health, especially if your goals are set really high. There will always be work to do, so take 15 minutes and go for a walk. Get some coffee, read the news, talk with a friend, or just enjoy the sunshine for a bit. That way, you can return to work refreshed and ready to start your next project.

Breath deeply: Sometimes, you won’t be in a scenario where you can take a walk or wait 15 minutes before reacting to a situation. If you feel your breath getting shorter and your head getting lighter, this could be a sign of stress and/or anxiety. Take a step back (figuratively) and take five deep breaths. If anyone interrupts you, just say you need a minute to gather your thoughts. Then, speak calmly and confidently. Keep your tone neutral if possible. You’ve got this!

Train your body and mind: Exercise, both physical and mental, can help calm the nerves and maintain focus. Doing 20 minutes of yoga or starting your day with a mantra of gratitude can help focus your mind on the tasks you have to do that day, while going for a run or a walk after work (or on your lunch break) can help burn off steam. The body responds to stress in different ways — headaches, stomach aches, and sore muscles are some examples. By keeping your blood moving and dedicating half an hour a day to physical activity, it can help prevent those type of side effects. Not to mention it will keep you in shape.

Try to be more creative: Sometimes it’s not the job, but the job environment that causes stress. Try to make it your own and be more creative with your work. Don’t be afraid to approach your boss with a new idea or project. Most of the time, this gumption will be well received, even if your idea isn’t. When you aren’t at work, do something fun. Simply crashing in front of your television won’t help clear your mind of the activities of the day. Why not try your hand at painting or gardening, read a book, or play a new sport? All of these activities will increase your energy, confidence, and ability to problem solve.

Above all else, remember to be confident in your abilities. It’s okay to make mistakes and to stand up for yourself. It’s also okay to take some time for yourself to ensure you are less stressed and are able to be productive during the hours you do work.

Do you have any tips for relieving stress at work? Let us know in the comments below.