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How To Handle The Holiday Blues

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The carolling in the street. The ugly Christmas sweater party. Secret Santa at the office. Trimming the tree. The expectation that the holiday season is supposed to be the most delightful time of the year can leave many people feeling downright depressed, withdrawn and lonely.

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I know because I have been there before. Several times.

December used to be one of my favourite months of the year. I used to love it when my parent’s radio station switched over to playing 24/7 Christmas songs. I couldn’t wait to put up the decorations in our family home. I craved curling up on the couch with hot chocolate watching “White Christmas” and “Home Alone” reruns year after year.

Growing up, I was very fortunate to experience a pretty magical holiday. But my adult years haven’t always turned out that way.

Take last year for example. Last December was the worst on record for me. I had overworked myself and was extremely run down. The guy I was dating went total MIA just before the holidays. I was heartbroken. My entire family came down with the flu and was bed-ridden. And my New Year’s Eve was the icing on the proverbial cake! I WAS all dressed up with somewhere to go, when I had to turn my car around and head home because I too had picked up the flu. Needless to say I was in bed by 11 with my Kleenex box sneezing in 2014.

Happy New Year to me. NOT.

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I have had other miserable holidays, too, but this isn’t about me. Or rehashing those times in my life. I’ve learned a lot about myself during these darker periods. And I want to share what I feel are helpful tips to help you handle the holiday blues.

TIP #1: BECOME YOUR OWN BEST FRIEND

The holiday season has a way of amplifying and creating feelings of isolation, aloneness and loneliness during the holidays. There are infinite reasons why you might feel disconnected from the people around you. Regardless of the reason, I have always found that in my deepest state of despair it was wise to get closer to myself.

In the past, it often wasn’t my own company that frightened me, but the beliefs I had about being by myself. Especially at this time of year. I would sometimes fight tooth and nail to NOT feel the way I was feeling which ended up creating more resistance to what was coming up.

When I felt isolated, alone and lonely all kinds of limiting beliefs and negative emotions triggered. And those limiting beliefs and negative emotions had a way of making me sink deeper and deeper into a state of blanketed darkness. I would ruminate over how unfair it was to experience the holidays this way. Catastrophizing my situation. Beating myself up over how I felt. Telling myself that it shouldn’t be this way.

But it was that way. And the more I resisted what I was experiencing in my body emotionally and mentally, the worse it felt.

At some point I had to learn to develop deeper compassion toward myself. I had to implement positive self-talk to reinforce that it was okay to feel how I felt. I understood that it was temporary. I had something to learn in the experience I was having. And it was my sole responsibility to figure out what that was.

One of the biggest realizations I had was that I was withholding love from myself and expecting the outside world to give it to me. That left me feeling very disappointed. Imagine for a moment your best friend coming to you and expressing how sad they felt. Alone. Depressed. You probably wouldn’t aggravate the situation by putting them down. Or making them feel worse about their experience. So why would you do that to yourself?

YOU MATTER. Give yourself the gift of support. Compassion. Nourishment. Tenderness. Love. All of those things that you want to receive from the other people in your life.

Treat yourself to a homemade holiday meal. Pamper your body at the spa. Put up your feet. Purchase a few gifts for yourself with the money you would have spent on others. Start setting your personal intentions and goals for the New Year ahead.

There will be MANY more holidays down the road. No matter what happens during those periods, becoming your own best friend and having your own back can truly make or break the holiday season and any other time of the year for that matter.

TIP #2 FIND SATISFACTION IN SOLITUDE

Tip #1 leads me to my next point. Finding satisfaction in a state of solitude. By no means am I saying that solitude replaces your connection to other human beings. What I am saying, is that if you find yourself during this season by yourself it can be a very healthy and helpful component for your entire wellbeing and personal growth.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the people around me (myself included) complain about how busy they are. How much they have going on. How fast-paced their lives are. And how difficult it can be to have downtime to just be.

If you have time off during the holidays with nowhere to be and nowhere to go, take advantage of that occasion.

Your perception of solitude will dictate the kind of experiences you create for yourself. It can be lonely. Isolating. Depressing. Dismal. Or it can be the complete opposite. It just depends on your outlook.

When I have had times of solitude I have received solutions, answers, messages and guidance from my higher being. When I have slowed down I have had the chance to allow my body to fully rest and recoup. And the cool thing is, giving myself time in solitude doesn’t just improve my life, it has also improved my relationships with others. When I have given myself permission to find pleasure in my solitude my connection with other people drastically improves. I don’t expect the people around me to give to me what I need to give myself. I show up completely present. Engaged. Refreshed. Grounded. And I am more open and available to connect and listen deeply. There is more space within my entire being to give to others. And that feels good.

When I haven’t had enough time alone I show up in the complete opposite way. Drained. Fatigued. Unavailable. Ungrounded. Solitude is a gift. It can do A LOT for your mind, body and soul. Something that I know Santa couldn’t bring you. Or obligatory holiday functions. It just depends if you are open enough to see it from that perspective.

TIP #3: CONNECT WITH YOUR SOUL FAMILY

If you don’t have family that you feel close to or a partner to kiss under the mistletoe, the holidays can highlight that those people are missing from your life. Not everyone is blessed with a strong bond to blood relatives.

From personal experience, I know that each and everyone of us have a connection to what I call a Soul family. Soul family are the people in your life that are not blood related but on a deeper level feel as though they are or should have been. They GET YOU. They feel familiar. Even like home. You can lean on them. They are your friends. Colleagues. Confidantes. Allies. The brother or sister you never had.

I am not sure what I would have done if I didn’t have my soul family over the years. Last year would have been by far worse if I didn’t have the love and care of my friends who cushioned me with support to get me through that time.

If solitude isn’t an option this holiday, perhaps being around your soul family is. This is the family you get to choose and enjoy being around. The people in your life that nourish, understand and accept you fully is ultimately what fulfills us the most. And when you feel down and out, these are the people you want to reach out to and ask for support. All year round.

TIP #4: DON’T MAKE IT ABOUT YOU

The more you make the holidays about YOU and what you don’t have. Or the challenges you are facing. Or how horrible the whole year has been, the more you will stay stuck in a perpetual state of dreariness. Self-loathing is never worth celebrating. Neither is complaining.

Get out of your own head and get out into your community. Volunteer your time at a local hospital. Or at a soup kitchen. Purchase a coffee for the customer behind you at the cafe. Bring a holiday poinsettia to your neighbour.

There are ALWAYS people who are in far worse situations than you. Selfless service has a way of up lifting your spirit and warming your heart. And you never know whom you might meet or connect with while performing these acts of kindness.

At the of the day, what matters most is not the traditions you keep at this time of the year, but the self-care rituals you create. These holiday rituals will not only help you beat the holiday blues in December, but through out the year as well.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Awareness

Boy or Girl – Baby Gender Selection Issues

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Some parents have the possibility to opt for gender selection; however, being able to decide whether to have a baby boy or girl is a controversial issue.

Many couples expecting a baby do not think it’s a big issue whether they have a boy or a girl; however there are several medical, social, and personal reasons that could influence parents to recur to some form of gender selection.

Like many other controversial practices, the legality of gender selection, also known as sex selection, varies from country to country.

The Legality of Baby Gender Selection

The United States has perhaps some of the most relaxed laws regarding baby gender selection in the world. Most European countries and Australia, on the other hand, have bans on sex selection and only allow it for medical reasons. For example, if a parent is a carrier of a mutation or gene with more chances of manifesting itself in a certain gender, baby gender selection is valid. However, if parents simply wish to balance the ratio of boys and girls in their family, they are not allowed to recur to sex selection.

This has generated a form of medical tourism in which couples from countries where gender selection is illegal, like the UK, travel to the US in order to be able to choose whether to have a baby boy or girl.

On the other hand, sex selection is illegal in the two most populated countries on Earth, China and India. In these countries, baby gender selection has been performed clandestinely for many years and for reasons other than family balancing or avoiding genetic diseases. In these societies, having a baby boy is preferred mainly for cultural and economic reasons. Parents believe that boys have better chances of earning income and eventually support them when they reach an old age.

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Methods of Baby Gender Selection

There are two major types of gender selection methods: the first one is called sperm sorting, and involves separating X-chromosome sperm from Y-chromosome sperm by flow cytometry, a purification technique in which chromosomes are suspended in a stream of sperm and identified by an electronic detector before being separated. Intra-uterine insemination or in-vitro fertilization can then be performed with the enriched sperm. The success rates for this method vary from 80% to 93%.

The other method, called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, consists in generating several embryos through in-vitro fertilization, which are then genetically tested to determine a baby’s gender. The chosen embryos can then be implanted. This method has a success rate of almost 100%; however, it can be quite expensive, costing up to $15,000.

Issues Regarding Baby Gender Selection

While there are few objections against baby gender selection when it is performed for medical reasons, it has become a highly controversial issue when it is used for balancing the number of boys or girls in families. Some people raise the obvious ethical question of whether people who opt for gender selection are “playing God” by manipulating whether to have a baby boy or girl. Others believe that new parents will raise a baby more appropriately if he or she belongs to their preferred gender.

Gender Imbalance Caused by Baby Gender Selection

Gender selection has caused demographic concern in China and India since it has contributed to generate a gender imbalance in the populations of those countries. In some regions of China, for example, the sex ratio for newborns is 118:100, boys to girls. This phenomenon has in turn been associated with social problems such as an increase in violence and prostitution.

It seems like a logical solution for governments around the globe to legalize baby gender selection but to analyze the personal reasons why each couple intends to select a baby boy or girl. Gender selection for medical reasons should even be encouraged, since it could prevent serious genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and Haemophilia A. Balancing the gender ratio of a family should be accepted if by doing this, a healthy family environment is created. On the other hand, China and India have shown that baby gender selection as a result of a bias towards a particular gender can not only create a gender imbalance in the population, but contribute to social problems as well.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Awareness

Organic Certification: What the USDA Organic Label Means

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Organic and natural labels mean different things, and various types of labels tells you what percentage of ingredients are actually organic. We'll explore what to look for.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you sometimes buy products thinking they are organic or fully natural based on their wording? Have you later found out that those products aren't natural or organic at all? Read labels more closely at grocery stores to be aware.

Don’t get conned by fraudulent claims of “natural” or “organic.” Learn what to look for, and why it’s important, to ensure you’re getting the quality you are paying for.

The industrial age of the 20th century brought about changing agricultural practices that have generated increasing alarm about the effects of these practices on the environment and health. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, irradiated and genetically altered food and fiber products has created a groundswell of rightful concern. It has led to the growing demand for non-toxic, organic products that many are willing to pay a higher price for to ensure the healthful purity of food and clothing provided for their families.

With such profit opportunities, it’s little wonder that the lucrative organic product market has suffered abuse with so-called “organic” labels being fraudulently placed on products that have not earned the right. As a result of pressure from farming and consumer groups, legislation for the standardization of organic certification was introduced in the 1980s. It has been updated to include more vigorous enforcement and control methods since, with the current standards established in 2002 by the USDA.

The Standards of USDA Organic Certification

Specific standards must be met in order to legally claim a product as USDA certified organic. Organic producers must utilize methods that conserve water, maximize soil health, and reduce air pollution. The specific standards to earn USDA organic certification include:

Free of synthetic chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and additives

Free from irradiation and genetically modified organisms

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Agricultural products grown on land that has been free of prohibited substances for a period of three years

Animals used for meat, eggs, milk or other animal products must be exclusively fed foods that are organically grown, may not be given antibiotics or hormones, and must have access to outdoors.

Clean and sanitized harvesting and processing equipment throughout the process from harvest to finished, packaged product

Detailed chain-of-handling records from the field through final sales

Physical separation of certified organic products from non-organic products throughout the process of production

Regular on-site inspections from USDA-approved inspectors to ensure compliance

Understanding the Certified Organic Label

Once the rigorous process of certification has been completed, organic producers may place the USDA certified organic seal on their products. Currently, there are four levels of certified organic products, with a specific definition of the percentage of organic ingredients the final products contains. They are as follows:

• 100% organic: all production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic.

• Organic: at least 95% of the production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• Made With Organic Ingredients: at least 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• No organic wording or seal: less than 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic and no claims may be made on the front or back of the product.

Manufacturers or producers who knowingly label a product “organic” when it does not meet the USDA standards are subject to fines up to $11,000 per violation.

Why Organic Certification is Important

When you see the official USDA organic certification seal on food, clothing, and bedding products, you can be assured that these products have met the meticulous standards required and are free of chemicals, toxins, antibiotics, and hormones. When you see the USDA certified organic label, you will understand the value of the higher priced organic products as compared to non-organically produced products.

With the current stringent organic certification requirements enforced by regular inspections from USDA accredited agents, the USDA certified organic label has great meaning and importance to the consumer. Look for the label to know that you are getting the quality you are paying for.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Awareness

WHO Finds Global Lack Of Inactivity Rising Especially In Wealthier Countries — What You Can Do

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Inactivity is on the rise and it's the cause of a wide range of health concerns. Our population is only becoming more inactive, not less, and it's time to change that.

  • Reflect On:

    There are many factors of our modern world that make us less active. Our jobs, driving rather than walking/biking, too much screen time. What can you do differently to bring more activity into your life? What story stops you from starting?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than a quarter of the entire population on this planet are not getting enough physical exercise, this number has barely improved since 2001. There are many factors that contribute to this, but just how much damage are we doing by failing to be active?

The lack of physical exercise raises the risk of many health problems, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and various types of cancers.

Interestingly, according to their study published in The Lancet Global Health, higher income countries, such as the UK, were among the least active population. Women were also found to be more sedentary throughout the world, excluding two regions in Asia.

The study looked at self-reported data on activity levels from 358 population based surveys covering 168 countries and included 1.9 million people.

The populations of higher income countries, which include the UK and USA showed an increase in the proportion of inactive people and had actually risen from 32% in 2001 to 37% in 2016, in the lower income countries it remained at 16%.

Those who were classified as inactive did less than 150 minutes of moderate exercise and around 75 minutes of intense activity per week.

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It was found that women were less active than men overall, except for in South and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and higher-income Western countries. The authors believe that this was caused by a few different factors including extra childcare duties and cultural perspectives that may have made it more difficult for them to exercise.

Why More Inactivity In Wealthier Countries?

According to the researchers, in the wealthier countries, many of the jobs have transitioned to more office or desk jobs, meaning a more sedentary type of lifestyle. On top of that much of the population of these countries drive automobiles or take public transit to and from work which in many cases accounts for a lot of their time.

In the lower income countries, many of the jobs require the people to be more active, are physically demanding and people often have to walk to and from their jobs.

The WHO has had a goal to reduce the global levels of inactivity by 10% by 2025, the authors of the study feel that at the rate we are currently going, this target will be missed.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Regina Guthold said, “Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health.”

Regions with increasing levels of insufficient physical activity are a major concern for public health and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.”

Co-author, Dr. Fiona Bull added, “Addressing these inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets and will require interventions to promote and improve women’s access to opportunities that are safe, affordable and culturally acceptable.”

According to the WHO,

Exercise guidelines for 19- to 64-year-olds

How much?

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles
  • break up long periods of sitting with light activity

What is moderate aerobic activity?

  • Walking fast, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills, doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower, hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading, volleyball, basketball

What counts as vigorous activity?

  • Jogging or running, swimming fast, riding a bike fast or on hills, singles tennis, football, rugby, skipping rope, hockey, aerobics, gymnastics, martial arts

What activities strengthen muscles?

  • lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups, heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling, yoga

What activities are both aerobic and muscle-strengthening?

  • circuit training, aerobics, running, football, rugby, netball, hockey

Final Thoughts

I was surprised to see that the WHO didn’t touch on inactivity due to too much screen time — watching television, Netflix, Facebook scrolling, messaging, texting, browsing etc. Certainly, the increase in screen time plays a roll with the amount of inactivity, especially in the higher income countries. If you are someone who spends too much time staring at a screen, then it is important to consider the above information. Can you limit your screen time and replace it with something active? Or would you consider jumping rope, or rebounding while watching the television? Our health is our greatest wealth and having awareness about an issue is the first way to create change and take responsibility for our lives.

Could you walk or bike to work instead of drive? What about trying a new sport? Could you commit to adding a few hours each week of physical activity? These small decisions could have a profound impact on your health, longevity and overall well-being.

Much Love

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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