The Twelve Days of Covid Christmas

The Twelve Days of Covid Christmas

The holidays bring fun but also stress and anxiety.

The Twelve Days of Covid Christmas

Here are some new lyrics for the holiday favorite, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” please feel free to just sing-a-long.

 

By Anna Hessel

The Twelve Days of Covid Christmas

The First Day – Where’s The Partridge?

  • On the first day of Christmas
  • My true love sent to me
  • ONE pear scented gel hand sanitizer

The Second Day – No Turtle To Slow This Dove Down

  • On the second day of Christmas
  • My true love sent to me
  • TWO bars of Dove antibacterial soap
  • And ONE pear scented gel hand sanitizer

The Third Day – What, No Hens?

  • On the third day of Christmas
  • My true love sent to me
  • THREE French couture face covering masks
  • TWO bars of Dove antibacterial soap
  • And ONE pear scented gel hand sanitizer

Continue reading

11 Super Easy Holiday Weight Loss Tricks

11 Super Easy Holiday Weight Loss Tricks

Looking for a few tips to cut back on holiday eating

All the goodies available at the holidays can challenge any weight loss program. Here are 11 easy tricks to  help you stay on your healthy eating program. The holidays don’t automatically spell weight gain.

11 Super Easy Holiday Weight Loss Tricks

By D.S. Mitchell

The Checkout Line

I’m standing in the grocery store check-out line reading the magazine headlines when the ‘Woman’s World’ catches my attention. Their busy cover page announces, “The #1 Keto Trick for Women to Lose Weight Without Surgery.”  I have toyed with trying the Keto diet, and I couldn’t resist the teaser, and found myself tossing the magazine on to the conveyor belt.

Lovin’ Woman’s World

I love ‘Woman’s World’, because it is cheap, it has an easy to read format with lots of pictures and almost always features a weight loss trick or two for the ‘always dieting’ crowd. Once home, with feet up on the ottoman, I search for the article on Keto Dieting. Before I get to that story I landed on, “Tiny tweaks that melt pounds”.

Tiny Tweaks

As I read the “Tiny Tweaks” article I thought the ideas were great and thought they were worth passing on to my blog readers, especially with the holidays upon us and the constant temptation of homemade cake, cookies, pies and candy.

  • Afternoon Snack: A recent study found that by shifting a morning snack of an apple or a handful of nuts to the afternoon could give dramatic weight loss results. The reason the study suggests is that there is a bigger time span  between lunch and dinner, than between breakfast and lunch. The snack gets us through the long afternoon and that healthy snack prevents overeating on those holiday treats.
  • Weigh Daily: Weighing in every morning is a good way to reverse sneaky weight gain trends. In fact, researchers in Finland found that people who weighed daily at the same time each morning shed more weight than other test subjects.
  • Pay With Cash: I loved this one. When you go grocery shopping, always plan to pay with cash. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that paying with cash actually reins in the impulse junk food purchases. Researchers explain that the “pain of paying with cash” makes people less likely to splurge on unhealthy extras. Awesome. I know this tip will work for me.
  • Add a sprinkle of salt:  This tip comes from British researchers who discovered that women who add a bit of salt to their vegetables will increase their intake of the green goodies by as much as 70%. It seems that using the flavor enhancer can actually cause us to start craving vegetables in as little as three days. Who knew?
  • Red Wine: A glass of red wine in the evening can help you lose weight. It seems the polyphenols in red wine “help the body process excess blood sugar before it can be turned into fat. Investigators discovered that women who sip one glass of red wine daily are “30% less likely to experience weight problems than teetotalers”.
  • Rearrange Pantry: If you must have high calorie indulgences in the pantry try rearranging their position on the shelves. Experts suggest storing high calorie treats on the right side of the shelf and good for you snacks, such as dried fruit and nuts on the left. In this case, researchers at University of South Florida, tell us that the reason is that the brain is wired to read numbers from left to right. Fascinating. When a person sees foods displayed this way we are subconsciously reminded that the foods on the left are healthier for us.
  • Turn On Soft Music: This one surprised me, but at the same time it made sense. Before you sit down to eat, find a soft music channel and let it play throughout the meal. You will find you eat less and enjoy it more. The best part is Psychological Reports found most people will eat 175 fewer calories per meal; which is an easy way to shed 15 pounds a year.
  • Seek Encouragement From A Friend: It seems if you feel you are at risk of diving face first into the office buffet you should take a minute and text, or call a friend or loved one, about your weight loss progress. Duke University scientists say that exchanging words of encouragement reminds and reinforces your goals. Such reinforcement doubles your odds of sticking to your healthy living plan and helps you lose up to six pounds a month.
  • Recall A Happy Moment: Happy thoughts help us stay on track. Researchers at Cornell, suggest that when cravings strike, recall a positive memory. Apparently, being in a positive frame of mind switches off the desire for instant gratification of a chocolate or calorie heavy treat and encourages healthier choices.
  • Chop It Up: Before gobbling down that Hersey’s bar, take a minute and break it up into small pieces. Scientists at Arizona State University say cutting sweets into “bite-size bits tricks your brain into thinking your eating more than you are, triggering the release of appetite-taming signals”.
  • Count To 10: Remember the old saying, “count to 10 before you speak”. In this case, it is “count 10 before you eat”.  Harvard researchers discovered that people who are able to count to ten (or any simple ritual) before eating that piece of cake or chocolate bar are able to consume much fewer calories than those who just dive in. Why? Repeating familiar behaviors or “rituals,” stimulates the part of the brain that controls self-discipline.

Now that you are armed with these dietary tricks, hopefully you can get through the holidays without feeling either deprived, or guilty. Happy holidays.

10 Plus Tips To Cope With Anxiety

Got Holiday Anxiety?

With Thanksgiving comes tension for some. . .

10 Plus Tips To Cope


Don’t Let Anxiety Ruin Your Holidays

By D. S. Mitchell 

Turkey and Pumpkin Pie 

The holidays are right around the corner. Some are excited about turkey and gravy, and fancy wrapped presents, but others see only stress and anxiety on the horizon. If you are hosting parties, the stress level is on steroids; fancy china, excited young ones, guests, surprise and otherwise. It can seem overwhelming. Read on if you are looking for some tips on how to get you through the holidays as anxiety free as possible.

Be Ready

Stay rested and recharged, ahead of the holidays. Take time for yourself.  Get enough sleep, engage in activities that you enjoy and make you feel good. Don’t skip self care routines under the pressure of the approaching holidays. Don’t do it-skipping health care routines will cost in the long run. You need that 30 minutes of cardio and any other health activities you are engaged in. These activities will keep you balanced and ready to face the upcoming holiday challenges. It just might be yoga, biking, stretching, Tai Chi, or  aqua aerobics, that  saves your sanity.

Everyone has different triggers, and identifying them is one of the most important steps to coping and managing anxiety attacks. Common ones, your first day at a new job, heading an important meeting, meeting your SO’s parents. Time and reflection will be required to identify your triggers. In the meantime, there are things you can do to try to help calm or quiet your anxious mind.

4.) Use aromatherapy

Whether they’re in oil form, incense, or a candle, scents like lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood are soothing. Certain receptors in your brain are activated by aromatherapy.

5.) Walking or Yoga

Just walk away if the situation is causing anxiety. It might be time to focus on  your body and not your mind to relieve your anxiety. Just move. Whether it’s the pool or the yoga mat, move your butt, it helps reduce stress. Try stretching, it can be incredibly beneficial.

6.) Write down your thoughts

Many mental health therapists suggest a client write down what’s causing their anxiety. Writing it down, gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting. My mother used this one, on a regular basis. She would write letters to the offenders and put them in envelopes addressed to whoever was causing her frustration and then stick it in a file, never sending it.

Not All Anxiety Is The Same
The previous suggestions are helpful if your symptoms are situational or sporadic. If anxiety is an on-going, persistent part of you life you may need more serious interventions and coping strategies.
Five Strategies For Coping With Long-Term Illness 

If anxiety is a regular part of your life, not just around the holidays, it’s important to find treatment strategies to help you manage it. There might be a combination of things, like talk therapy and meditation, or perhaps cutting out or resolving your anxiety trigger. Confused, as to where to start? It is always helpful to discuss options with a mental health professional who might suggest something you hadn’t thought of before moving ahead with your plan.

Some Well-Known Triggers:
  • debt
  • a stressful work environment
  • traveling
  • driving
  • DNA-genetics — anxiety, depression, alcoholism can run in families
  • drug withdrawal
  • medication side effects
  • trauma
  • phobias, such as agoraphobia (fear of crowded or open spaces) and claustrophobia (fear of small spaces)
  • some chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma
  • chronic pain
  • multiple mental illness diagnoses (such as depression, OCDC, anxiety)
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
Managing Those Triggers

Sometimes triggers can be obvious, such as caffeine, alcohol consumption, and drug use. Other times triggers are less obvious and we may need a therapist to help us isolate those triggers. Long-term stress, such as financial or work-related situations, can be more difficult— is it a due date, a person, or the situation? At this point you may need some extra support, through therapy or with some trusted friends.

Then What?

Once you do figure out your trigger(s), you should try to limit your exposure to them if you can. If you can’t limit it — say because it is due to a stressful work environment that you can’t currently change — using other coping techniques may help.

1.) Try Meditation

A successful meditation regime will take time and practice.  When done regularly, you can train your brain to dismiss anxious thoughts when they arise. If sitting still and concentrating is difficult, try starting your exercise routine with more active physical exertion and then start your yoga routine.

2.) Adopt Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT helps people learn different ways of thinking about and reacting to anxiety-causing situations. A therapist can help you develop ways to change negative thought patterns and behaviors before they spiral into a panic attack.

3.) Healthy Diet, Regular Exercise, Embrace Life 

Exercise regularly. Eat balanced meals. Get enough sleep. Stay connected to people who care about you. You may want to talk to your psychiatrist about adding supplements or nutrients to your long-term strategy.

4.) Consider Adding Supplements

Research shows certain supplements or nutrients help reduce anxiety symptoms. Some of these include:

  • lemon balm
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • green tea
  • valerian root
  • dark chocolate (in moderation)

It can take up to three months before your body is actually using the nutrition these herbs and foods provide. If you’re taking other medications, make sure to discuss herbal remedies with your doctor. I’ve said that twice. I cannot say it enough. Different medications interact with one another whether OTC  or prescription. Talk to your doc.

5.) Prescription Medications

If your anxiety is severe enough that your mental health practitioner believes you’d benefit from psychotropic medication, there are a number of directions to go, depending on your symptoms. Discuss your concerns with your doctor.

Is My Anxiety Harmful?

Identifying what variety of anxiety you’re dealing with can be challenging-mainly because everyone’s body reacts to danger in entirely different ways. I’m sure you have heard “anxiety” used as a general term for feeling worry, uneasiness, or nervousness. It is often situational, a big dance, a speech, a tryout; it is often a feeling grown in response to an upcoming event that has an uncertain outcome. Every human being deals with such emotions-at some time in their life. It is part of how we are wired, our brains respond to perceived danger, even if there is no real danger.

Things Can Get Dark

There are times anxiety can get serious and turn into anxiety attacks that may begin slowly and initially feel manageable, but build up over a few hours. (Panic attacks are different. A panic attack comes out of the blue and then subsides.)

Signs and Symptoms of an anxiety attack

These are some of the more common mental and physical symptoms of anxiety:

  • feelings of danger, panic, or dread
  • nervousness/restlessness
  • rapid heart rate
  • sweating
  • trembling/chills
  • tiredness/weakness
  • gastric problems
  • difficulty focusing
  • rapid breathing, hyperventilating

It is possible to have both an anxiety and panic attack simultaneously. The quick coping strategies mentioned above may also help with a panic attack.

Try focusing on an object, repeating a mantra, closing your eyes, and going to your happy place.

Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack
Causes of Anxiety

If you notice that quick tips haven’t been working, you may want to consider seeing a professional for help. Especially if you believe you have GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and the symptoms are interfering with your daily routine and physical symptoms. A mental health professional can help with identifying your triggers, maintaining long-term strategies through behavioral therapy, medications, and more.

Living With Anxiety 

If your anxiety stems from a past trauma, it can be helpful to work through those issues with a licensed therapist. On the other hand, if your brain chemistry predisposes you to persistent, chronic anxiety, you may need to go on medication to manage it. Anxiety is likely to continue to be part of your life, but it doesn’t need to take over your life.  Treatment is available to help control those painful symptoms and make those holidays at least tolerable.

5 Ways To De-Stress The Holidays

5 Ways To De-Stress The Holidays

By Anna Hessel

It’s That Time of Year

With the holiday season upon us, thoughts of festive decorations, holiday baking, twinkling lights, caroling, sleigh rides through the snow, mistletoe, hot chocolate with mini-marshmallows, Menorahs, Nativities, “The Nutcracker”, Hallmark movies, and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” are at the forefront of our minds.

Holiday Stress

However, holiday stress is often a painful, and very real issue at this time of year. Religious and cultural celebrations, such as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and the ushering in of the New Year, can quickly become more hectic than joyful. Don’t get trapped into thinking that parties and gifts are the only way to celebrate the holidays. Keeping perspective is helpful. There are ways to alleviate the stress, strain and cost.

A Christmas of Another Color

Statistics show that suicides are at an all-time high during the holiday season, as well as familial tensions; the idea of “Blue Christmas” is the truth for many.

Blue Christmas Services

Faking joviality makes no sense. If you are at a painful point in your life, you are not alone. At this time of year there are millions experiencing loss, loneliness, illness, or depression. The sadness is recognized by many churches and some have opted to hold “Blue Christmas Services” where they offer comfort, hope, and healing to those who are struggling with these, or similar issues.

Winter Solstice

These devotions, with peaceful music in a calming atmosphere help soothe folks who are frazzled during the Yuletide. Many times “Blue Christmas” is an evening of reflection for the longest night of the year (winter solstice), around the 21st of December. The shorter days and lack of sunlight can even lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a category of major depression that emerges in the winter months.

5 Things We Can Do To Relieve Stress

There are many easy ways to avoid the trap of seasonal stress, strain, and ensuing depression:

1. Avoid visiting your family if it causes fights or jeopardizes your mental or emotional well-being, avoid spending time with them.
2. Go for it. Enjoy the cup of eggnog, eat that Christmas cookie, and ignore snarky comments about your weight or calories. That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for.
3. Stop creating debt. It is not necessary to overspend or create debt to let your loved ones know how much you care. Hand-made presents, or a gift of your time, will be cherished more than an expensive, store-bought item by those who truly care about you. Don’t forget to give yourself a small gift that you can afford.
4. Take care of your health: stay hydrated, eat fresh fruits and veggies in addition to the
party fare. Drink alcohol and caffeine in moderation, add a cup of a seasonal herbal tea to help relax. Enjoy the out-of-doors, if weather permits. Get a massage; take a hot bath by candlelight.
5. Relax. Stop striving for perfection. None of us are perfect – simply enjoy what you are able to do.

Give Peace A Chance

Holidays were not created to cause stress. They evolved to celebrate faith, friendship, family, fun, and hope for an often tired and seemingly hopeless world. They are not meant to be aggravating or tension filled.

Relax

Please relax. Hopefully the tips I have suggested will help you enjoy the holidays. I wish you a bless holiday season.