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Ultimate Hacks For The Best Christmas Ever

Ultimate Hacks For The Best Christmas Ever

This website is called Lifehack, right? Tips for Life. Well, let me share the best principle I know to hack your Christmas.

Christmas is getting very complicated: gone are the days of a family dinner and a few presents. Now, Christmas includes:

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  • Family dinners (sometimes several)
  • Christmas parties (for work or service organizations)
  • Community Christmas events, like concerts, parades and fundraisers
  • Children’s Christmas events, like concerts or visiting Santa
  • Church/Religious events (concerts, special services, etc)
  • Travelling for family/social events (driving or flying)
  • Taking a Christmas vacation (usually somewhere warm)
  • Giving gifts to close family
  • Giving gifts to others
  • Holiday decorating
  • Holiday baking or special cooking
  • Socializing informally with friends
  • Special entertainment events
  • … all the organizing the above events/activities
  • … all the legwork for the above events/activites

Of course, included in “giving gifts to close family” is shopping (which can take up a lot of time), and deciding on the gifts (which can be very stressful), buying (which adds money pressure) and wrapping. In fact, each item on the list above has a whole slew of complications that can arise, and I’m sure you are familiar with them all. The great part is, you can “hack” your Christmas using this principle:

Keep what you like, and ditch what you don’t.

Contrary to what you may think, you don’t have to do everything associated with Christmas. You can opt out of any part of it at any time, for any reason: for your sanity, because you are simply too busy, or because your in-laws are unpleasant, unkind people. For any reason at all, you can just decide to say no to any part you do not enjoy, find inspiring, or have time for. I know this might sound overly simple, but it really can be that straightforward. Which parts of Christmas do you like? Which aspects stress you out? What things excite you? Which parts are just plain unrealistic?

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As someone who grew up without Christmas, I believe I am uniquely qualified to talk about leaving things out. The religion my parents belonged to didn’t celebrate Christmas, or any of the mainstream holidays, so I grew up without any of the trappings of the holiday season. Although I now celebrate this time of year, I am lucky that I have no baggage about what to participate in and what to leave off: I celebrate Christmas in my own unique way.

If you think you might take a little flak from others when you opt out of something, just think of me, growing up without any Christmas at all. Was I teased at school? You bet. Was I the weirdo? Big time. If you choose to opt out of a Christmas event and someone bugs you about it, at least be glad you aren’t the weirdo of the school! Let the critical person say what they want to say, listen, and ask yourself this:

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  • Is this person really important to me?

If you answered *no*, then smile sweetly and say something like “well, however you choose to celebrate the holidays, I hope you have a lovely time.” Don’t debate or discuss your decision—it’s really none of their business!

If this person is *somewhat important* to you, then you may choose to elaborate a bit, giving some reasons for your decision. Don’t let their feelings influence your decision, however. You have to live your own life and make your own unique way in it.

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If you answered *yes*, then you need to consider why this person is reacting so strongly/badly. Is it because:

  • they are just generally stressed out? Stop everything, and show them that you care. Reach out, give them a neck rub, offer to do something to lighten their load or simply remind them you love them.
  • they are surprised by your decision? Apologize for this coming “out of the blue” and explain why you need to simplify Christmas. Listen to what they have to say.
  • they are under stress from obligations or others’ expectations? Talk about it. Remind them that they can say “no” to things too—we always have options. Reassure them that you want to support them, but you also need to be true to yourself.
  • they have some valid points/reasons for doing the things you want to ditch?Listen. Try to put your personal biases aside and truly listen. Use this opportunity to connect more deeply with this person, and come to a compromise.

If you want to propose a major change to your Christmas schedule, it is best if you don’t shove it on your spouse/family at the last minute—that is always more stressful. Dropping a bomb on someone is not very considerate, and using the “but I gotta be me!” line is not going to go over very well then. Try to bring it up well in advance, and when there is time to discuss it further.

I offer one last caution: don’t use this as an excuse to withdraw from everything. At this darkest time of year (literally, around the winter solstice), getting together with friends is important to keep depression at bay and help the days to pass. Good luck hacking your best Christmas!

Featured photo credit:  Waiting for Christmas via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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