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How To Have A Chilled Out Holiday Season

How To Have A Chilled Out Holiday Season

snowman

    Feeling snowed under in the run up to the Christmas?

    As kids we look forward to this time of year. There’s the advent calendar, lights, tree, decorations, school vacations, stocking, a visit from Father Christmas and, of course, the long anticipated presents.

    But sadly, once you’ve grown up, with all the responsibilities and obligations being an adult entails, your Christmas spirit can get snuffed out. Even thinking about the planning, preparation and costs involved can fill you with dread.

    Christmas Stresses

    There’s a lot of pressure involved in the festive season for us grown ups. Typical concerns might be:

    • The expense of travel and gifts.
    • Decisions about where to spend the holidays and who with.
    • Difficulties of spending time with people you don’t see often.
    • Worry about what to wear and who to talk to at parties.
    • Insecurity about what gifts to give and what you’re given compared to other people.

    Ridiculous isn’t it? Christmas should be joyful, not stressful. So it’s time to pare it back to the essentials, make sure there’s time for you and make your Yule cool again. Here are some ideas on how to keep your  Christmas season simple.

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    1. Gifts

    Make a list of everyone you have to give gifts to and come up with practical ways to deal with it. Make a decision to spend sensibly and only buy what you can afford. It’s true that it’s the thought that counts so it’s absolutely fine to give a home-made gift or something you got in a second hand shop.

    For friends or family who live overseas send an online gift voucher. Or do a long distance swap. My brother lives in the UK, I’m in Australia and we each have three children. Years ago, we agreed to buy low value presents for our own kids and wrap them up with tags from their aunt, uncle and cousins. That way we can easily pick things we know our kids will like and haven’t already got plus avoid crazy postage costs. We haven’t bought gifts for each other for years, but I’m looking forward to a phone call or free Skype video call with him.

    For adults

    Think about having a gift free year. Or give a home-made voucher for babysitting, a massage, garden weeding or a special meal you’ll cook them. Because it’s fun to have gifts wrapped under the tree for everyone I tend to get gifts for my husband that he needs anyway like a new shirt, some hot chili sauce or a camping chair. My husband doesn’t want any gifts but the kids like to have something to give him so that keeps everyone happy.

    For children

    Cash is always easy and always popular plus it keeps you out of the shops where you might end up overspending. Small denomination notes of two or four $5 notes with a total value of $10 or $20 will make most kids happy. Or if you want to give them a gift get something cheaper or on sale and don’t fall into the trap of spending twice as much as you need to.

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    For bigger family get togethers

    Suggest organizing the big day so each person only gets one gift up to a certain low value. Then everyone is allocated someone to buy for and can get creative by seeing the best present idea they can come up with for $10. We did this one year and I had to buy a gift for a male friend and came up with the idea of a miniature bottle of rum and a can of coke to mix it with. He was pretty happy.

    2. Family Matters

    Accept that there may be friction at some family reunions or events and decide in advance not to get involved. Avoid other people’s dramas and don’t create your own.

    To achieve this limit contact with people who annoy you and be the person who takes the high road. Vow to set aside your differences for the day or the week. Try pretending you’re the Dalai Lama or Desmond Tutu — then, no matter how other people behave, conduct yourself with grace and equanimity. Challenge yourself to keep it up for as long as necessary and have fun with the new peace-maker you. See if you can surprise your family and yourself with your chilled out behavior.

    Finally, remember, that just because you have to spend a long weekend with your family doesn’t mean you have to pass every minute in their company. Take time out for yourself. Go for a walk or nip off to your room to read a book for an hour. It’s your holiday too.

    3. Food and Drink

    If you’re in charge of food preparation make it simple. Design a basic menu or outline of meal ideas and tell people what you’d like them to bring. Think about who can supply the meat, fish, salad, nibbles and desert and don’t be afraid to ask for help on the day.

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    Or break from tradition with a barbecue or a pot luck meal instead.

    4. Parties

    There’s no need to buy new clothes, especially for a party. Wear your best and newest clothes or the old outfit that never fails to get compliments. Unless you’re an A-list star there’s no shame in being seen in the same thing twice or more.

    Limit your drinks, smile and try to talk to people you don’t know. Have fun and socialize. That’s what parties are for.

    If you’re really not looking forward to a party make polite excuses and stay away so you don’t bring anyone else down. Relax, give yourself a break and save the parties for when you’re in the mood to enjoy them.

    5. Kids

    Manage their expectations. Explain to them that the holidays are for spending time with family and friends and Christmas gifts are a bonus but not necessary. Television is the enemy and if your kids watch TV they’ll have seen many toys they want to buy or be given.

    Look at toy catalogues and go through them with your kids. Mine seem to be satisfied if I acknowledge their wishes, make a note of the things they want by circling them in the catalogue or writing them in a notebook. But I explain that they will only get one or two things and that some things they like are too gimmicky, too expensive or not suited to our lifestyle.

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    For example, all my kids want a computer game you plug into the TV, but we just tell them they already have enough screen time and they’ll have to wait until they can afford to buy them themselves. They accept that and look forward to playing these types of games at their friend’s houses. Their friends are fed up with them already so I feel justified in my choice and am determined not to be swayed by peer pressure. I love my kids and I don’t have to show it by buying them expensive toys that will end up in a landfill.

    Hopefully reading this gave you a few ideas on how to make your Christmas a bit more chilled out. Stay away from the hype, advertising and shops as much as you can and your stress levels will reduce instantly. I realised that just the thought of going shopping was making me feel irritable so minimising shopping is crucial for me.

    There are five of us in our family and we’ll have an auntie and cousin on board for the big day. I’ve got a master list of who’s giving what to who and I’m keeping it simple. We’ll be staying at home in the morning, playing and relaxing, then heading to the beach in the afternoon.

    Whatever you’ve got planned I hope you’ll have a chilled out and fun festive season.

    What are you doing this Christmas and what tips have you got for surviving the silly season?

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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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