Category Archives: Holidays

Happy Canada Day Weekend!

For those of us who live in Canada…Happy Canada Day weekend!

Whether you choose to celebrate with family, friends, good food (lots) or spending the time in quiet contemplation, I wish you a restful and enjoyable weekend.? See you next week.

 

Rest and Relaxation

The temperature is rising.? The birds are singing.? Trees are budding, and spring flowers are blooming.? Welcome to the first long weekend of the summer (even if the beginning of summer is a month away)!? Hopefully Mother Nature cooperates making outside activities a possibility.

Whatever your plans, I wish you a restful and enjoyable weekend.? See you next week.

Happy 2018! Do You Have a Theme?

When I was a pre-teen, I would spend New Year’s Eve with my grandmother.? She would sleep over to be with me and my younger sibling while our parents celebrated with friends.? For me, it was a highlight of the holiday season.? After everyone else was in bed, Nana and I would spend the evening watching TV–alternating between Guy Lombardo and Dick Clarke’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.? At midnight, we’d “be” in Times Square watching the magic of the ball dropping and a new year beginning.

Snap Shots of Our Lives

Certain life stages often become equated with a particular event.? For some people, hearing a certain song will immediately transport them back to memories of a high school friend or their first summer job. For others, the smell of a favourite food reminds them of summers at a cottage or time spent in a grandparent’s kitchen.

Annual events, like New Year’s Eve, can lead us to revisit past times.? If you’re old enough to remember the more than a few opportunities that you brought in the new year, you can track your life stages by your memories.? Each stage has its own flavour–from being the child allowed to stay up and watch the ball drop, to the parties with friends or extended family, to sharing the event with the children in your life.? This is just one example.? Everyone has their own story.? Not all the chapters may be happy ones; in fact, some may be very painful–but they are our own personal stories, and looking back at them can provide insight into how we arrived to this place.

An Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions

Last year at this time, I wrote a post about the problems with setting New Year’s resolutions.? This year, I offer an alternative–The Annual Theme!

The idea behind having a theme is that it sets a course for the year, without tying us down to specific actions.? Instead of “thou shalt not”, we can be kinder to ourselves by choosing activities that fit into an area where we would like to focus.

An Example

One of the big resolutions that come up at this time is about losing weight.? If we follow the “resolution” way of working on this goal, we might banish junk food from our cupboards, hold ourselves to a strict gym schedule, and count fat grams and/or calories…we may even try the latest trendy diet.? Often, by the end of January we find ourselves to be tired, resentful and craving large doses of sugar, fat and salt. We are left feeling that we have failed yet another resolution, with a plan to try again next year.

But what if?….

Let’s take the same goal (losing weight), and instead of being fixed on this outcome, took a look at the bigger picture–health.? Maybe our motivation to lose weight is from a beauty perspective (and that’s ok, we all want to look good!), but for a lot of us, there is also a health component to this desire.? We want to feel better, be able to run up a flight of stairs or go for a walk without running out of breath.

If health becomes the theme for the year, then we look at all our decisions through that lens. By doing this, we change our actions because we are comparing possible outcomes of choices against improving our health.? Walk a block to the store or take the car?? Which will improve my health?? Eat the second piece of cake or walk away from the table?? How will this effect my health?

Over time, looking through the lens becomes easier and the choices second nature because we start to see how those small, daily choices reflect our annual theme.

Another Reasons Why a Theme is a Good Idea

When we set resolutions, we often spread ourselves very thin.? Sometimes we “resolve” to change every bad habit that we own.? We’re going to quit smoking, lose weight, get off the couch, rid our homes of clutter…the list is endless.? It takes a lot of energy trying to keep up with all those plans and activities.

When we pick a theme, we focus on one area–and then make individual choices–usually one at a time.? For this reason, I recommend not choosing more than two themes for the year.? If you are going to have more than one, it’s important that they can co-exist (for example, health and spending more time with family members).

This New Year’s Eve, I encourage you to take some time and think about the stages you’ve gone through as you’ve rung in the new year (past and present)–celebrating the joys and sorrows.

As I wish you all the best for 2018, here’s a slice of nostalgia from Guy Lombardo as he and his Royal Canadians rang in 1958…and New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 1974 (hosted by George Carlin)…Enjoy!

 

 

The Holidays are Coming! Do You Have a Plan?

As I write this, the weather has become colder, decorations are in store windows and the local grocery store has been playing carols since the day after Halloween.? Whatever your tradition:? Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus, it?s becoming impossible to ignore the fact that the holidays are fast approaching.

While main-stream media perpetuates the idea of the holidays as a time of gift-giving, spending time with family and friends and eating beautifully prepared food; this is not the reality for many people.? For some people, financial difficulties may prevent them from buying the same number or type of gifts they were able to give in previous years.? For others, 2017 may have brought a change in family/relationship structures either through death, divorce or family members and/or friends moving away.? Even happy events such as the birth of a child or the addition of a new adult member into the family can lead to changes in previous holiday traditions.

Instead of anticipating the holidays with a sense of dread, how can we make the ?season? as peaceful as possible?

Consult and Plan Ahead

Once we recognize that not only is the festive season coming, but that it will be ?different? this year; having a plan for the holidays goes a long way to working through any potential rough spots.

Contrary to popular belief, traditions can adapt to deal with new circumstances.? However, consultation is key. If these traditions involve others, a sound idea is to have ?the conversation? before the event is looming. That way everyone is agreed on the new plan and has time to make necessary changes.? ?For example, Aunt Shirley may not be open to limiting the price of gifts to $10, if you tell her the week before Christmas, and she has already spent $100 on your gift.

Do Something Completely Different

Sometimes it can be fun to take a break from our traditions and do something completely different.? Rather than missing what isn?t there, we focus on doing something new.? Often families may choose to travel over the holiday season rather than be reminded of a loss–whether it’s loved one, relationship, job, pet, etc.? Once they are through the ?year of firsts? they may return to their regular plans, but in the short-term creating a new plan is a way of getting through the ?first holiday?.

If You Are Going To Be Alone, Take Advantage of the Holiday Buildup

In most traditions, the celebrations last for more than one day.? Let’s take Christmas for example.? While the main focus is usually on December 25th, many events start to happen anytime from mid-November onward.? If you know that you are going to be alone on “the day” (and this isn’t your first choice), get your fill of pre-December 25th events, and then plan a special day for yourself filled with activities that have special meaning for you.

Give Back

No matter your holiday tradition, one common factor is love for each other. This time of year provides many opportunities to give back to your community.? Volunteer at a shelter, visit seniors in retirement homes whose family members are unable to visit, offer to take care of a friend’s pet (who wasn’t invited to holiday celebrations)…the list is endless.

By lifting our eyes from our own situations, we have a wider view of the world and places where we can be helpful.

“Festivas for the Rest of Us!”

And now…Festivas!? Enjoy!? Warning…Seinfeld’s humour may not appeal to everyone.

 

It’s Groundhog Day! Are you SAD?

We are a hardy people living in the northern hemisphere! ?While we may enjoy snowy and cold activities–we also lust for spring–especially ?after an especially cold, dark or wet winter. ?Whether it’s a longing for spring or the desire for a distraction from the cold, enter Ground Hog Day!

First popular in 1956, February 2nd is set aside each year as a day to place our faith in the predictions of a ground hog to forecast the coming of spring. ?While Wiarton Willie (an albino ground hog from Wiarton, Ontario) was the original weather-forecasting rodent, he has been joined by Shubenacadie Sam (Nova Scotia), Gary the Ground Hog (Ontario), Balzac Billy (Alberta) and Brandon Bob (Manitoba).

For those who are unaware of the process–people get up before dawn to wait for their groundhog of choice to come out of his den. ?If the animal?sees his shadow, he flees back into his den and we’re destined for six more weeks of winter. ?If not, spring is on the way.

According to Willie’s website, he has been able to predict Spring with a 90% accuracy rate.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

All fun aside, some people need spring, and the longer hours of daylight, for bigger reasons than to get a break from the cold and dark. ?These are people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a type of depression that is related to the change of season. ?It is experienced by individuals who are not usually depressed at other times of the year. ?It often begins, and ends, at the same time every year. ?While most people who suffer from SAD do so in the winter, some may do so in the summer instead.

How Do I Know If I Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?

There are a variety of symptoms that people coping with SAD are dealing with. ?These include:

  • Low energy
  • Moodiness
  • Irritability
  • Problems getting along with other people
  • Hypersensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
What Causes SAD?

While there are no known clear-cut causes, we do have some ideas of what may bring on SAD.

  • Your biological clock (circadian rhythm).The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
  • Serotonin levels.A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
  • Melatonin levels.The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.
What Can I Do?

There are many ways that you can cope with SAD symptoms. ? Depending on the severity of your symptoms, some or all may help.

Increase Your Exercise
While it’s easy to hunker down during the winter, especially when feeling depressed, increasing your level of exercise has been shown to improve negative effects of SAD. Exercise releases endorphins (the ‘feel good’) ?hormone as well as improving seratonin levels.

Cut Back on Simple Carbs
During cold days, when we spend more time on the couch, we may also be spending more time with white pasta, candy, potato chips, cookies and other ‘comfort’ foods. Unfortunately, these foods cause sharp spikes in our glucose levels that play havoc with our moods. ?If you’re suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder, it’s a good idea to pay special attention to eating well.

Take Advantage of Natural Light
When possible open your drapes or shutters to let in the sun (when it makes an appearance!). ?Spend time outside by going for a walk, shoveling the driveway, or inviting friends over for a snowball fight or snowman-building competition. ?As long as you dress warmly, it can be fun.

Use a Natural Spectrum Energy Light
If Mother Nature doesn’t provide enough natural light, box light therapy is an alternative. Natural spectrum energy lights mimic the sun’s rays. ?While data on the results of these lights is mixed, many people say that they are helpful.

Make a Point of Socializing
When we’re feeling depressed, often the last thing we want to do is be with other people. However, this is often what is needed. ?If possible, plan a regular get-together with friends–even a coffee date will do.

Meet with a Therapist and/or Medical Professional
As with any form of depression, sometimes it becomes difficult to cope with. ?If you are feeling unsafe, hopeless, attempting to self-soothe with self-harming behaviours, alcohol or drugs, feel that SAD is taking over life or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for professional help ASAP. ?You don’t have to cope with this alone.

Spring, and with it warmer and longer days, will come again! ?For laughter…here’s a clip from the iconic movie?Ground Hog Day…featuring the famous Punxsutawney Phil (Pennsylvania’s Ground Hog)….and Bill Murray. ?(Spoiler alert…contrary to what the ending looks like…they survive!). ?Enjoy!