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5 Tips for Self-Care During the Holidays

5 Tips for Self-Care During the Holidays

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    “Silver Bells” * sung by Stevie Wonder
    City sidewalks
    Busy sidewalks
    Dressed in holiday style
    In the air there’s a feeling like Christmas

    Children laughing
    People passing
    Meeting smile after smile
    And on every street corner you hearSilver bells, silver bells
    It’s Christmas time in the city
    Ring-a-ling, hear them sing
    Soon it will be Christmas day<
    Strings of street lights
    Even stop lights
    Blink a bright red and green
    As the shoppers rush home with their treasures
    Hear the snow crunch
    See the kids bunch
    This is Santa’s big scene
    And above all this bustle you hearSilver bells, silver bells
    It’s Christmas time in the city
    Ring-a-ling, hear them sing
    Soon it will be Christmas day

    The holidays are intended for families and special friends to come together and celebrate.  However, the commercialism of the Holiday season has filtered in, causing us much more stress than pleasure during these days.  The calendar of events and parties have us rushing and bustling about.  Our healthy diets are tossed aside and our sleep patterns are often overlooked.  It is a recipe for burn-out for many of us. The good news is that we can change the way we approach the celebrations and make sure that we are taking care of our needs during this hectic time.  Christmas is for giving.  This year, give to yourself first in order to be emotionally and physically satisfied to give to others.

    I clearly remember the first time I boarded a plane.  I was nervous as I sat down and buckled in, as instructed.  It was then that the flight attendants began the speech about what to do in the event of an emergency.  This was an eye-opening moment for me, as they stated, if we lost cabin pressure, an oxygen mask would come down in front of us and that we should put on our mask first!  I was in shock over this.  It is part of who I am to take care of those around me first. I could see myself bouncing out of my seat to go to help the little old man across the aisle or the little girl, two seats ahead of me. It was then that I realized, that if I didn’t take care of myself first, I would not have any “life” to give to others.  I  had an epiphany on the plane that day.  In fact, it was the beginning of a “self-care movement” for me.

    Here are 5 tips to help you to begin your self-care during this most wonderful time of year.

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    1. Give yourself permission

    It is natural when you begin to switch your thoughts to self-care  to feel guilty, irresponsible or even selfish.  You need to give yourself permission.  Allow yourself to do “whatever” it is that you want.  If you want to say “no” to a certain event, or “no” to overspending on gifts, or “no” to hosting an event, give yourself the right to do what is best for you.  This is the beginning of self-care.  Learn to value the importance of setting boundaries. Slow down from the hustle and bustle and ask yourself, what do I want to gain during the holiday season this year?  How can I make that happen?  What do I value most?  What type of traditions are important to me, that I wish to maintain?

    2. Involve all of your senses

    We don’t spend much time thinking of our senses. Our senses are important avenues for self care.  For example, think of the smell of an apple pie baking in the oven, this smell alone can bring back specific memories . Perhaps it will remind you of a time when you were younger and your mother made home made pie.  When we invoke our senses, we experience things on different levels.  Think of ways to include sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing into your self care.  In a cooking class I was in, the chef had us smell the different spices and smell the food as it was simmering on the stove-top. The enjoyment that was experienced during the preparation time continued as we ate, tasting the different flavors in the finished meal. Have a candlelight bubble bath scented with aromatic products. Sit and watch your favorite holiday movie while wrapped up in a soft blanket. Play music that is relaxing.  Experiment with ways to incorporate all of your senses during times of refreshing for your body and soul.

    3. Don’t get caught in the hustle and bustle of the season

    Plan ahead and designate specific time frames for the tasks that you need to complete or the functions that you will attend. This will give you time for mental preparation, allowing you to not be overwhelmed.  The malls and stores are extremely active at certain times of the day and week.  If possible, plan your shopping time during quieter hours, such as weekday mornings.  Shop online in the privacy of your home to avoid crowds all together.  When you do plan to be out in the crowds, calm your mind and body before going.  Realize that you don’t have to rush.  Take your time and enjoy the shopping process.  Often times, by changing our perspective of the situation, we can approach things with calmness.  We do not need to become part of the holiday frenzy.  Create a sense of peace and joy, true holiday feelings, inside your mind and spirit.

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    4. Do things in moderation

    This is the time of the year where it is easy to over-indulge.  We find it easy to neglect healthy eating.  Sleeping patterns may be altered as we have more activity in our days.  We can over spend on gifts for those on our lists. The list of things that seem to trap us in extravagance may differ from person to person, however, it is common to be swept up into excessive behavior. Aristotle wisely stated, “all things in moderation.”  This is an excellent gauge for us to recall.

    5. Give up expectations

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      The holidays, particularly Christmas, can set us up for unrealistic expectations. It almost seems a “magical” time of year and we dream of the perfect holiday.  Many people struggle with depression and high anxiety over the holidays.  The crisis hotlines have an increase in calls.  Domestic violence rises.  Not everyone you meet is having a “Merry Christmas.”  Perhaps, you are one of the ones that struggle the most.  Past experiences, the loss of loved ones, the loss of a job or financial difficulty all seems to heighten during this time of year.  One of the best ways to take care of yourself during this emotionally trying time, is to give up your expectations of the perfect family with the perfect tree while hosting the perfect parties with the perfect gifts.  This type of thinking is extremely damaging to you.  As you relinquish these ideas, you are able to open yourself up to experiencing greater joy in the reality of the moment.  Let go of false illusions and celebrate the moment.  Whereever you are in your life this year, take care of yourself first.  Practice self-love abundantly  This truly is the only way to experience the true meaning of Christmas.

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      May peace, joy, love and happiness be yours today and throughout the year!

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      Last Updated on August 15, 2018

      7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

      7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

      Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

      Video Summary

      Why is it important to train up our core strength?

      There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

      This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

      Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

      In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

      One Exercise, multiple benefits

      There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

      By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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      When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

      Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

      In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

      What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

      What will happen when you start doing planks every day

        1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

        Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

        • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
        • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
        • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
        • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

        2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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          Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

          Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

          3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

            Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

            4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

              Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

              A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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              A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

              On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

              5. You’ll improve overall balance

                Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                  Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                  7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                    Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                    How to hold a plank position

                    1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                    2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                    3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                    4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                    5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                    6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                    7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                    Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                    Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                      How to improve your plank time gradually

                      1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                      2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                      3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                      Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                      Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                      You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                      • Prolapse
                      • After prolapse surgery
                      • Pelvic pain conditions
                      • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                      • Previous childbirth
                      • Overweight

                      Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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