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Five Ways to Get Creative to Reduce Holiday Stress

*This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect my own.

The winter season is a time for people to visit with friends and family and enjoy winter festivities. Though this time of year is filled with joy and excitement, it can also be overwhelming and stressful. Holiday anxieties are common and may impact your ability to enjoy the cheer of the season. To help you cope with the added stresses this year, the health experts at Envolve, an integrated healthcare solutions company, have put together five imaginative ways to reduce seasonal stress.

Cook Cleverly

Culinary feats can be a form of art on their own. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that small creative tasks like cooking or baking can help improve your mood. Break out a new recipe and pair seasonal flavors to create something unique. Normally serve hot cocoa or egg nog? Try serving a simple, hot cinnamon tea with cinnamon bark, honey, orange zest, and vanilla extract. Looking for a unique side dish? Try adding dried cranberries and toasted walnuts to your favorite vinegar-based coleslaw recipe to add some seasonal flare to this traditional dish.

Wrap Willingly

While gift wrapping can seem mundane, there are a few easy ways to bundle holiday packages in something more exciting than typical store bought wrapping paper. Looking to go greener? Try wrapping presents in newspaper, brown paper grocery bags, or old maps. You can spruce up plain paper with a rubber stamp and ink or colorful, patterned duct tape. You can also wrap gifts in leftover fabric swatches for a crafty approach. Another way to get inventive is to incorporate the packaging into the gift – use a bucket, basket, or reusable bag or purse instead of disposable gift paper.

Give Gladly

Volunteering can lower stress and help you feel a sense of purpose and responsibility. Helping others can help you find common interests and build a support system with fellow volunteers, which can boost your mood and decrease feelings of depression or anger. Giving back your time and talents can help you spread some joy this season and feel a true sense of accomplishment.

Produce Presents

Gifts that are handmade are often seen as extra special and can help you reduce stress through artistic expression. Rather than gifting the latest gadget, try creating something one-of-a-kind. A cozy hand-knit sweater, hat, or scarf can help the recipient stay warm on cold winter days. A painted mug or picture frame can help cheer up someone’s home. Having trouble coming up with inventive ideas? Head to your local arts and crafts store for some inspiration.

Take Time-Outs

Still feeling overwhelmed by your holiday commitments? Take a break from preparations for some well-deserved me-time. Curl up with a good book next to a cozy fire or bundle up for a short nature walk with you family. Exercise, nature, and music have all been shown to reduce anxiety. Not sure how to find the time to relax? Make an appointment with yourself to dedicate some small moments to “me time.” By adding this to your calendar and making a time commitment, you’re more likely to follow through.

About the author:

Envolve, Inc.® is a family of health solutions, working together to make healthcare simpler, more effective and more accessible for everyone. As an agent for change in healthcare, Envolve is committed to transforming the health of the community, one person at a time. For more information, please visit our website www.envolvehealth.com.

Why Self Care Is So Important

 

In a world that’s becoming increasingly stressful, and with work lives more demanding than ever, self care is easily forgotten about. The constant battle to keep on top of our personal lives, meet the demands of our bosses and clients, and maintain a healthy and happy family life at the same time can be extremely draining.

That’s why self care is more important than it ever has been.

What is Self Care? 

Self care is simply the practice of taking time out for yourself, caring for your mind, and looking after your body. It takes many different forms, including healthy eating habits, relaxing at home with the family, taking a stress-free vacation, visiting a qualified massage therapist, and giving yourself the chance to recuperate and rest after busy times at work.

Self care ensures you’re ready to meet the challenges ahead of you.

Why Care About Self Care? 

Self care is an effective way of controlling the physical and mental impact that stress can have on your life. Taking measures to become more active and eat more healthily can help you avoid a range of diseases and conditions, from heart disease to diabetes – but what about stress?

Being too busy at work and not having enough time to relax can cause a number of physical problems throughout the body that are sometimes extremely hard to fix. Insomnia is a common ailment caused by stress, which stops you being focused and makes the body weak. Headaches can also be triggered by stress, and there is an increased likelihood of suffering from depression.

On top of that, stress hormones in the body can cause blood vessels to tighten and increase your blood pressure, and a rapid heartbeat can increase your risk of a heart attack.

The list is extremely long, which is why every doctor will tell you that self care should be an important part of your routine. Whether it’s relaxing at home, or visiting a professional massage therapist to bring you some relief, you’ll be doing your body some real good.

Why is Massage so Important? 

Massage therapy is an effective treatment against stress, and therefore a good way to reduce your chances of developing a wide range of medical conditions, diseases, and ailments.

With a combination of a relaxing environment, aromatherapy, calming music, and the trained hands of a professional massage therapist, you can forget the stresses of the day. The euphoric feeling is mentally calming, and the physical feeling of the massage can have a strong anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

Furthermore, while you might not realize it, throughout the day the body will tense muscles that aren’t being used and cause aches and pains that can randomly occur. Massage therapists are trained to find the points in your muscles where that tension lies, and release it.

Massage therapy is one of the most effective forms of self care, helping relieve stress and the conditions often caused by it. Combined with exercise and a healthy diet, you’ll be giving your body all the care it really needs.

 

5 tips to stay healthy this holiday season

 

 

The holiday season is the worst time of year when you’re trying to lose weight or get back into shape. With Thanksgiving and Christmas festivities come rich foods, sugary treats, mulled wine, and various snacks that you wouldn’t normally consume so much of during the rest of the year. And, as your family doctor will tell you, it can be terrible for your health.

Try as you might, it can be virtually impossible to resist holiday treats; but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to stay healthy this winter.

Let’s take a look at 5 simple tricks you can use to stay as healthy as possible.

Exercise Even More

The entire holiday season sees people consuming more calories virtually every day, with the main culprit being Christmas day. According to one study, the average person eats up to 5,241 calories during Christmas dinner, when alcohol consumption and snacks are added. This is virtually the same for Thanksgiving dinner too.

Even if you cut down a little on the day, and you try and limit your holiday treats throughout November and December, you’re still likely to consume more calories than you did during the summer.

The simplest way to counter this is to exercise more. Whether you go out for some brisk walks in the cold winter air, or you spend more time at the gym, it all adds up and helps you burn calories and make room for an extra slice of pumpkin pie. 

Weigh Yourself More Often

Research from the Universities of Birmingham and Loughborough have shown that weighing yourself more often over the festive period can actually help you prevent weight gain. By monitoring the daily fluctuations in your weight, it’s easier to take steps to reduce excessive gains.

This is a simple trick that can assist you, psychologically, in refraining from indulging too much. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy holiday treats, but it does mean that you’re likely to stop eating once you feel full.

Keep Warm

Your grandma wasn’t wrong when she told you that you shouldn’t forget your hat and gloves on a cold day! Keeping warm during the holidays is one of the best ways to ensure your immune system is running at its best.

It’s during the winter season that you are more susceptible to picking up a virus, and for that virus to cause a cold or even the flu. Your immune system doesn’t work as well as normal when you’re cold, meaning you’re vulnerable every time you go outside without proper winter clothes.

Keep warm this holiday season and you’ll have a better chance of staying sickness-free, and you’ll have no reason to stay at home and avoid the gym.

See Your Family Doctor for Advice

Finally, don’t hesitate to consult your family doctor for advice. Your doctor is the best source of information if you have any questions, or if you feel a check-up is necessary.

With years of medical training behind them, your doctor can help you stay fit and healthy this holiday season and learn new ways to stay healthy that you can incorporate into your lifestyle throughout the rest of your life.

And there you have it – 5 tips to stay happy and healthy this Holiday season so you can be fit and ready for all that 2020 has in store for you!

5 Useful Mental Wellness Tips for College Students

 

College can be a seriously stressful time for any student, so it’s important to practice good mental wellness habits! Check out these mental wellness tips.

How do you feel about college life?

College is an exciting period of growth and exploration, but for most students, it’s also overwhelming. Students are hit hardest in terms of mental health.

A survey shows that 41 percent of college students struggle with anxiety while 36 percent of students suffer from depression. Let’s explore how to maintain your mental wellness in college with the following tips.

It’s Ok To Take A Mental Wellness Day

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed with all things college that you have trouble getting out of bed?

If you’re tempted to take a day off from life, don’t feel guilty.

Playing hooky, being AWOL, skipping school–taking a day off carries a heavy stigma–until recently. Now, taking a day to yourself isn’t automatically considered lazy or irresponsible.

If you need to take some time off to recharge your mental batteries, by all means do so. Mental health days are legit. Some colleges recognize them as necessary sick days, and student activists are trying to normalize this across the board.

Check In with Yourself

Take a second for some honest reflection: How are you really doing in terms of mental health?

Are you struggling with any classes? Do any personal relationships cause you pain?

Checking in with yourself is difficult if you’re always on the move. You may also be avoiding self-reflection in order to cope.

But ask yourself how you’re really doing is such an important part of self-care. the best way to do this is by starting a journal.

Your journal doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Even a file in your phone will do. Write down how you truly feel each day, and then read back your entries.

If you have any problems, writing them down is a good way to acknowledge them. A self check-in is the first step to getting any help you need.

Surround Yourself With Friends

Do you have good friends on campus?

Do you stay in touch with friends at home?

Unfortunately, isolation is increasing across college campuses. While students stay hyper connected through social media, they lack support systems in real life.

If you feel lonely, reach out to a good friend or even a professor. Resident advisers are also a good resource for support.

Social isolation puts you at risk of depression, anxiety, and even suicide.

No matter how down you feel, a little face time with some friends or a check-in with family can help.

Know Your Limits

Are you taking on too much?

As you check in with yourself, reflect on your personal limits. Sometimes, what we think we can handle is more than we’re mentally able to take on.

Once you explore your limits, it’s OK to step back if you need to. Dropping a class that you really can’t handle right now doesn’t make you a failure, for example. It just makes you someone who is honest about their own limits.

Check In With A Counselor

Finally, check in with your campus counselor. Mental health counselors are at your disposal, and they’re usually located at your student health center.

Even if you don’t think your problems warrant seeing a counselor, do it anyway. Just talking things out with someone objective can ease your mental burden. Also, if you do need more mental health support, such as suboxone treatment or any other medications, a campus counselor can offer help.

Be Kind To Yourself

Taking care of your mental wellness is no different than caring for your physical health. There’s nothing weak or unimportant about addressing any issues you’re struggling with.

Also, whenever you need some warm, sobering advice from a parent that’s not your own, come back to my blog. I’m happy to help via tips and tricks in every post.

Don’t Let Cold And Flu Season Knock You Down; Try These 5 Natural Remedies

 

Cold and flu season are upon us, that time of year when body aches, fever, chills and nasal congestion combine and can stop you in your tracks, leaving you bedridden for days.

Statistics show that the flu annually sickens millions of Americans, kills tens of thousands, and results in billions of dollars in medical expenses and sick days.

“Complications arising from the flu can become serious,” says Dr. Suhyun An (www.drsuhyunan.com), an expert on regenerative medicine and co-author of Demystifying Stem Cells: A Real-Life Approach To Regenerative Medicine.

“If you still have symptoms after seven to 10 days, be sure to make an appointment with your doctor. If any of your symptoms include difficulty breathing, a rapid heartbeat, or feeling faint, or if you experience other severe symptoms like a high fever, seek immediate medical assistance.”

Dr. An says there are ways to prevent the symptoms from reaching that serious point. To feel better and get back on your feet, she recommends numerous natural cold and flu remedies to alleviate your symptoms:

Vitamin C

Some studies indicate that Vitamin C can shorten the lifespan of a cold and boost your immune system. “The best way to get it is through your diet; the fresher the food, the better,” Dr. An says. “Oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits, leafy greens, and bell peppers are all good sources of vitamin C. Be careful with supplements because they can lead to upset stomach and kidney stones.”

Honey

Honey has natural antiviral and antimicrobial properties. “Drinking honey in tea with lemon can ease sore throat pain,” Dr. An says. “Research suggests that honey is an effective cough suppressant, too. Honey often contains Clostridium bacteria, so never give honey to a child younger than 1-year-old because infants’ immune systems aren’t able to fight them off.”

Chicken soup

This popular cold and flu remedy helps because hot liquids reduce mucus buildup and keep you hydrated. “Chicken soup, in particular, has anti-inflammatory properties, which help reduce a cold’s unpleasant side effects,” Dr. An says. “Keep some in the freezer or even canned for flu season. It’s quick to prepare that way and soothing to eat.”

Aromas

When you have congestion from the flu, applying camphor or menthol salve around your nose can help break up mucus,” Dr. An says. “Aromatherapy oils, such as peppermint and eucalyptus, can have a similar effect. Also, vapor rub can reduce cold symptoms, especially in children older than 2 years. It helps open air passages to combat congestion, reduce coughing, and improve sleep. It’s a good alternative to over-the-counter cold medicines in young children because of unwanted side effects.”

Probiotics

These are friendly bacteria and yeast found in the body, some foods, and supplements. “They can help keep your gut and immune system healthy, and they may reduce your chance of getting sick with an upper respiratory infection,” Dr. An says. “For a delicious and nutritious source of helpful bacteria, include probiotic yogurt in your diet.”

“Colds and the flu are threats to us every year, but they don’t have to get us down for long,” Dr. An says. “Natural home remedies can reduce symptoms so you can be more comfortable and get the rest you need to get better faster.”

About the author:

Dr. Suhyun An is the clinic director at Campbell Medical Group in Houston and an expert on regenerative medicine. She is co-author of Demystifying Stem Cells: A Real-Life Approach To Regenerative Medicine and travels the nation speaking on those topics. 

Helping A Loved One With Their Chronic Health Problem

 

There are few things more distressing or upsetting than being diagnosed with a chronic health condition. If it happens to you, that’s one thing – but when it happens to a family member or your partner, that is just as likely to affect your life profoundly. In many ways, it will affect you even more, especially if that person is not expected to last very long. You will probably be looking for ways that you can help that individual along, and that is the right approach to take. In this article, we will look at a few of the things you can do to help a loved one with their chronic health problem. 

Be On Medication Duty

It is not always the case that those with chronic health conditions have to take a lot of medication. But it is often true, and in such instances you might want to put yourself forward as the person who helps them with their medication duty. This is likely to be especially useful if you are the person closest to them. If it is your partner, for instance, then obviously you live with them and you are the best person to be on medication duty. This is an important role to play, so it is vital that you take it seriously.

Arrange Future Plans

Depending on the nature of the illness, there might be many things that the individual in question needs to plan for in the future. It might be that their illness is going to degenerate, and that they need to start thinking about what sort of medical treatment they are happy to receive, and which kinds of treatment they would rather never have, including extreme measures such as resuscitation. Helping them with these decisions and with putting them in place on paper is a great thing to do for them. If you take a look at willtemplates.com you will see that there are templates you can get for a Living Will, which is the legal document that highlights this very thing.

Provide Space

Sometimes the best thing a person can do for the sufferer is to merely allow them the space they need to breathe. If you look at practicalpainmanagement.com you will see this in some detail. If your loved one is in a position where they don’t actually need someone there with them permanently, then there is a chance that they will prefer to be alone for much of it. You should provide them with whatever space they are asking for, as overcrowding them is unlikely to be beneficial in any way. Providing space is often the kindest thing you can do, and it is the kind of thing which is hardly going to take anything away from yourself – but will still provide them with much comfort. Make sure you give them whatever space they ask for, and they will be much happier.

These three things are all simple ways of ensuring that you are helping your loved one with their chronic health condition. Remember to also look after yourself, and consider switching with someone else in the family should you need a break.