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5 Tips for a Stress Free Holiday by Lisa Smalls

November 1st.

For some (probably more than would admit), this is the day fall is over and the holiday season ensues. Pumpkins are tossed, trees go up, and Christmas music plays. Okay, maybe November 1st is a bit eager, but this is definitely true the day after Thanksgiving.

Yet, research suggests engulfing yourself in the holiday season too early is likely to cause feelings of stress and anxiety. Are we surprised? This day in age, November and December are plagued with feelings of financial, physical and emotional strain. That’s because society puts so much pressure on us to cook the best meals, host the best parties, and buy the best gifts. In our striving to please our families and friends, we miss the whole point of the season.

To ensure the most wonderful time of the year doesn’t pass you by in the blink of an eye (and you would even use the word “wonderful” to describe it), here are five tips to enjoying the holiday season stress-free:

Breathe

Throughout the next couple of months, find moments to be still. When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Deep breathing is known to combat the detrimental effects of stress and anxiety by lowering blood pressure and slowing your heart rate.

Take a Sabbath

Historically, taking a Sabbath means observing a day of rest from work. During the craziness of the holiday season, taking a Sabbath may not be a bad idea. As humans, we have limits. We were designed to rest. In fact, one day of rest a week may just be what we need to stay sane through December 31st.

Here’s the cool part. You have full authority to define what your Sabbath looks like. It doesn’t have to be on the weekend; it doesn’t even have to be a full day. The key here is to pick your Sabbath, whether it’s Wednesday afternoon or all day Sunday, define it, and finally, protect it.

Perhaps your Sabbath is taking a break from shopping (online or in-store). Maybe you unplug for a couple hours all together. Decide what your Sabbath looks like, and then prioritize that time above all else when the day comes.

Sleep

Sleep is vital all year long, but especially around the holidays. Considering your sleep is most likely suffer during the last couple months of the year, it’s important you protect it.

After all, sleep only amplifies stress. So the more hours of shut-eye you miss, the more likely you are to fuss over the family holiday card, burn the Christmas cookies, and ultimately, get coal from Santa. All this to say, you’ll want to prioritize sleep if you’d like to enjoy the holiday season and make it to the New Year without pulling of of your hair out.

Not to mention, giving the gift of sleep is totally underrated. What most people wouldn’t do to get better sleep. Whether that means gifting cozy pajamas or actually purchasing a new mattress, we often underestimate just how valuable a good night of sleep can be for our physical, mental and emotional health. My advice to you—don’t only prioritize sleep this season, consider gifting it to others.

P.S. Did you know mattresses now come compressed and rolled in a box? AMAZING. Who would have thought you could actually wrap a mattress?!

Say “yes” to saying “no”

Ceaseless invitations flood your mailbox. How many Christmas parties, bonfires, and dinners can one get invited too?

Around this time of year, the pressure to say “yes” to social events, familial obligations, and those once a year bargains is greater than ever. In fact, some of us feel enslaved to the word “yes” as if uttering the words “no, thank you” would mean we’d never be spoken to again.

Here’s the thing. It is okay to say no. Actually, it is healthy to say no. Don’t bring unnecessary stress upon yourself. When a decision presents itself ask yourself these three questions:

  • Do I have physical capacity to take this on?
  • Do I have the emotional capacity to take this on?
  • Do I have the financial capacity to take this on?

If the answer is no to ANY of these questions, you’ve got your decision.

Remember the reason we celebrate

Sometimes we become such a frenzied mess during the holidays, we blink and they are over. We miss the whole thing. Even worse, we miss the whole point.

Regardless of whether you are religious, remember what this season is for—celebrating family, friends, and all of life’s blessings! Don’t let it pass by in hectic blur, but remember to stop and appreciate the reason why you are doing the activities you are doing—hosting meals to commune with the ones you love, giving gifts to family to express your love in a tangible way, and reflecting on just how blessed we are.

 

 

Image from here


The Best Paint Colors for Every Room in the House by Lisa Smalls

It’s amazing how a fresh coat of paint can completely transform a space. If the interior of your home has become “tired” in your eyes, a fresh coat of paint may be just the thing you need to spruce up your space.

Here’s the problem with vowing to update the paint colors in your house: picking out a fabulous color is overwhelming. How can you possibly sift through the thousands of shades out there? The answer is, you can’t.

To help narrow down your color choices, and to save you hours of flipping through paint color fan decks, you might consider this:

Color has a psychological effect on our brain. Yes, it’s true. Paint not only keeps your interior interesting, but it actually has the power to evoke an emotional response. Research shows color has the ability to influence things like mood, appetite, and even blood pressure.

With this in mind, choosing a wall color becomes more simple. Knowing the psychological effects behind different colors can help you match the purpose of a room to the perfect color palette.

Here are four colors to consider using in the primary rooms of the home:

1. The Kitchen

Warm colors tend to work well in the kitchen. That’s because colors in this palette are
known to stimulate appetite. If you’ve ever wondered why every fast-food restaurant
features warm hues, this is why. Contrary to popular belief, warm colors can be done
tastefully. The goal is not to replicate your kitchen after the local McDonald’s franchise.

One of our favorite warm colors, is Sherwin-Williams’ color of the year, Cavern Clay.


Source: Sherwin-Williams

Now that’s a kitchen color we can get behind.

2. The Bedroom

Unlike in the kitchen, stay away from warm colors in your bedroom. Warm colors excite,
energize, and, stimulate our brains. Rather, stick to cool blues and neutrals. Colors of this hue have been scientifically proven to relax the mind and body, bringing tranquility
rather than energy.


Source: iStock Photo. Credit svetikd.

Cool colors are important in the bedroom because they are conducive to sleep. However,
the color on the walls isn’t the only thing that promotes a good night’s sleep. To truly
make your room a sleep haven, consider the lighting, a comfortable sleeping structure
and sources of noise to get your best night’s sleep each and every night.

3. The Living Room

Next up is the living room. The room of congregation, relaxation and Hulu binges. After
a long day, there’s nothing like coming home and crashing on the couch for some R&R.
Surprisingly, a great color for the living room is green.

Here’s why:

Green is said to be the color of balance, harmony, refreshment and comfort. For one of
the most popular rooms in the house, you’ll want this space to be an inviting place to
relax and host guests. Green helps you achieve an inviting ambiance.


Source: iStock Photo

4. The Master Bath

Last, but not least, the bathroom. You can probably guess the best color for your
bathroom is white.


Source: iStock Photo. Credit runna10.

The color white represents cleanliness and offers a cool, refreshing feeling. Just walking
into a crisp, white bathroom will make you want to pop in the shower.

All in all, your paint choices should be a representation of you and your style. This is simply a guide to navigate the endless sea of color options.

You can follow Lisa on her Twitter account @smallzsaysthis


Guest Post: Improve Your Outlook on Life with Better Sleep Habits with Julie Morris


Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Did you know your mental health is linked to your sleep habits? Our brains regroup while we sleep, so of course health suffers when we don’t get enough. Here is more information about why you need a good night’s sleep for your mental wellness, and what you can do about it.

Unhealthy at Best

Most people don’t think that mental health and sleep are connected, but going without sleep is extremely unhealthy. We can get irritable when we do without, but it’s more than that. In fact, it can damage mental health. According to Newsweek, when we’re sleep deprived, crankiness is just the top layer of trouble. On top of being cranky, poor sleep habits can cause you to engage in negative thought patterns, continually mulling over bad things and focusing on what’s wrong in life. When you start digging in, some studies show a connection between too little sleep and a number of serious mental health issues. Anxiety, depression, hallucinations, and paranoia are connected with not getting enough sleep. Apparently, old-school science felt poor sleep stemmed from depression, but some newer studies show it’s the other way around. Bottom line: Sleep deprivation doesn’t stop with a rotten attitude.

How Much Is Enough?

Every mind and body is different, but there are some general guidelines for how much sleep we need. Most adults should aim for at least seven hours of sleep every night. Children generally require quite a bit more — around 12 hours or more in youngsters and up to 17 hours in infants – and older adults can require somewhat less. If you’re groggy during the day or rely on caffeine for a boost, those are indicators you should get more sleep, or the quality of your sleep could use improvement. So what can you do about that? Plenty.

Sleep Environment

Your sleep environment plays a big role in the quality of your slumber. Adding aromatherapy in restful scents like lavender or cedarwood can be a boon. Sleep patterns are inherently linked to daylight, so controlling the light in your environment can also equate to better quality sleep. One suggestion is to dim lights close to bedtime and ensure the room is completely dark for sleep. Another great way to improve sleep quality is with a new mattress, especially if you suffer with aches and pains. Don’t pick the first mattress that comes along; read reviews and choose a high-quality mattress that suits your sleeping style, whether you’re a hot sleeper, sleep on your side, or whatever your idiosyncrasies are.

Better Routine

Do you tend to stay up late some nights watching favorite shows or lingering over social media, then try to make up for it other nights by going to bed early or by napping? It turns out that habit can contribute to poor slumber. HuffPost suggests setting a schedule to improve your sleep habits. Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every day can help your body develop a healthy rhythm.

Drop the Bedtime Snack

Many of us enjoy a late-evening snack before turning in, but it turns out it could be a contributing factor in poor sleep quality. If you do grab a little something before bed, choose a light snack and steer clear of fatty, spicy, or deep-fried foods. Also, avoid caffeine late in the day since the stimulant effect can be counterproductive.

Sleep Well

With a handful of good habits, you can improve your sleep and your mental health. Next time you’re feeling cranky, consider how you’re sleeping and look for ways to improve. Better slumber can mean a healthier mind.


Guest Post with Julie Morris: What to Put on Your Wishlist for Positive Life Changes

Want to Make Some Positive Life Changes? Here’s What to Put on Your Wish List

Sometimes, all we need to make a positive life change is a little push – or maybe some material motivation. As the holidays roll around and you’re creating your wish list for friends and family, you may want to consider how the gifts you receive can spur you into making some life improvements. Here’s what to wish for if you want to focus on self-betterment this holiday season.

If you want to stop eating junk

Is it boring to structure your holiday wish list around eating healthier? Maybe a little bit. But the dramatic improvement in your mind and body you’ll experience when you begin to focus on a healthy diet is anything but. Think about adding a subscription to a food delivery service to your wish list. Blue Apron is a popular choice, as are Plated and HelloFresh. These companies deliver pre-portioned, fresh ingredients to your door with easy-to-follow recipes. It’s the easiest way to cook from home. Not only will you be able to forgo the fast food, but you’ll also save a lot of time that would be spent scouring the internet for healthy recipes and shopping at the grocery. Here’s a solid guide to all the meal kit companies out there.

If you want to work some mindfulness into your life

We could all stand to be a little more mindful – or put another way, live in the present. We spend so much time stressed out and worried about the past and future, we often forget to take time to relax in the now. If you want to be a mindful person, you can wish list some things to help.

Try asking for some adult coloring books (or kids’, for that matter). Coloring is a stress-reducing hobby that lets you disconnect from technology and focus on yourself – if just for a little while. Here are some more mindfulness benefits of coloring.

You can also wish for some books to help you get on a mindful path. Make Peace with Your Mind, The Power of Off, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance are some perennial favorites (here are some more). Really, making your home life more comfortable in general is one great way to de-stress. Check here for some items that will make being at home more fun.

If you want to get more organized

Being organized is one of those things that can positively impact many other areas of your life. It all starts with having your stuff together. Your wish list should include closet hangers and organizational cubes, maybe one of these nice Moleskine planners, and even a tracking tag that you can put on commonly-misplaced items for easy location (it works with Bluetooth!). Check here for more great organizational ideas.

If you want to save a little bit of money here and there

It’s not on a gift-giver to help you with your overall finances. That’s a year-round task for you and you alone. But they can give you the gift of incremental, but still worthwhile, savings. Think about ways to save money throughout the year – LED lighting options for your home, rechargeable batteries and battery docks, and long-lasting beeswax candles come to mind. Here are some more ideas.

Gone are the days where you just hope and pray that someone gets you something that you may like during the holidays. Be smart about your wish list. Don’t just pick whimsical items because they are free (to you at least). Make that wish list count, and fill it with items and services that can help you reach your self-improvement goals.

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com


Valentine Accessory Styling with Penny Snark

Well hi there! I’m Penny Snark, and I’ll be your guest poster today. On my blog, The Sconnie Sling, I write about pinup fashion, tiki bars, and all things vintage and fabulous. When Julie and I decided to collaborate, it was obvious that the theme should be the holiday that’s on everyone’s mind: Valentine’s Day.

Now, I have a (somewhat ironic, I suppose) love/hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. On one hand, I love all things pink and cute and sparkly, and I’m quite fond of hearts as a motif. Julie and I had agreed that styling an accessory in our own ways would be the perfect swap post, and I think we both got some major heart-eyes over the glittery ombre heart headbands from BeauXOXO . But Valentine’s can be rough for the uncoupled…there’s a reason they call it “Singles Awareness Day”!

So I couldn’t resist a bit of a snarky take on the Valentine’s Day outfit, which really should be expected considering my name. I wanted to create a look that was flirty and feminine, but with a bit of an edge to it. My Havana Nights dress paired with an argyle cardigan paired with punky accessories gave me the “cute but dangerous” vibe I was going for. Though I guess handcuffs and spikes are romantic in their own way 😉 I actually have plans on V-Day for once; a friend and I are going to see a magic show, and who knows. Maybe one of the magicians can pull a boyfriend out of a hat for me.

Don’t forget to head over to The Sconnie Sling to see how Julie styled this adorable headband and hear about her Valentine’s Day plans!