Calming Holiday Playlist for Self-Care

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For when you want a little holiday spirit but also a dose of calm, we've put together this relaxing Chistmas playlist filled with soothing holiday classics as well as a few new favourites.  If we've missed one of your go-tos, be sure to share it in the comments below!

Tracks in the Snow - The Civil Wars

Fairytale of New York - Gavin James

White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Joshua Hyslop

Winter Song - Sara Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson

River - Sam Smith

Hallelujah - Pentatonix

Let It Snow - Daniela Andrade

White Christmas - Michael Schulte

 

Someday At Christmas - Jack Johnson

Christmas at Home - Tyrone Wells

Do You Want to Build A Snowman? -Jasmine Thompson

Snow - Sleeping At Last

Only At Christmas Time - Sufjan Stevens

Silent Night - Damien Rice

Hark the Herald Angels Sing - Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors

When Christmas Is On The Heart - Aron Wright

Driving Home for Christmas - Gavin James

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Seasonal Self-Care: Self-Care Ideas for Winter

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The cold, dark winter can often seem impossibly long,.  Combined with the holiday season, the increased possibility of suffering from seasonal affective disorder, and the fact that some symptoms of chronic illness are worse during the winter months, this time of the year it is really important to ensure you have a good self-care regime in place.  We've put together some of our favourite ways to practice self-care during the winter season, no matter what you may need. 

 

Light a Fire (or turn on a fireplace video)

In addition to being cozy, just lighting a fire provides a gentle ambiance that can be a wonderful act of self-care.  If you don't have a fireplace available, try turning on a fireplace video like the one above on your T.V. or laptop to enjoy the crackling noises.

Start a jigsaw puzzle

Since puzzles and similar activities require your attention, they can be a great activity for when you need something to focus on.  We recommend choosing an image that is inspiring or calming so you'll be more motivated to get it completed. 

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Get outside

While we have a tendency to hibernate during the winter, heading outside is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise at the same time!  Consider trying a fun winter activity like ice skating or snowshoeing, or just bundle up with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee and head for a walk.

Bake a favourite treat

If you've got a little more energy, why not try turning on some music and baking a favourite treat?  We recommend these anti-inflammatory chewy chocolate chip cookies.  Remember that baking doesn't have to be complicated, either - feel free to whip up a quick treat or use a baking mix or prepackaged dough.  Your home will still smell wonderful from baking, plus you'll have a fresh treat to enjoy.

Wear bright colours

Let's be honest - winter has a tendency to be pretty dark and dull.  Why not brighten things up by wearing something that makes you feel happy? Even putting on some brightly coloured socks or fun jewelry can help to provide a little mood boost.

Do a Digital Detox

This time of year is perfect for wiping the slate clean, so why not do a digital detox?  There are several ways that you can make this work for you.  You can go intense and take a few days off certain devices, or you might make a deal to turn your phone or the T.V. off by a certain hour.  If you're still digging your Netflix nights and Instagram scrolls, make your detox more about ensuring that your digital time remains beneficial by unfollowing social media accounts that no longer serve you. 

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Donate Clothes You Don't Wear Anymore

We're not gonna lie - clutter can really weigh you down.  If you've got the time and energy, why not make a day of going through your closet and only keeping the clothes that you feel good in, and donating the rest to those who could use them.  If you're a little more low energy, think about any coats, mittens, or hats you could donate to help someone keep warm this winter.

Make a Nourishing Meal

With everything else going on, it can be easy to forget what a wonderful act of self-care a nourishing, homemade meal is.  If you're able, considering cooking a warm meal for yourself.  Bonus points if it includes nutrient-rich winter produce like root vegetables, cauliflower, fennel, brussels sprouts, or kale.  If you've got a little more time, why not make a double batch of a soup or pasta and freezing half for a cozy meal later in the month?

Hydrate Your Body and Skin

'Tis the season for dry skin!  With the cooler temps, it can be more difficult to remember to stay hydrated.  Fill yourself up a water bottle or switch things up with your favourite seasonal herbal tea.  Don't forget your skin, either!  Relax with one of these DIY Face Masks for your skin type, and follow it up with a moisturizing cream or oil.

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Start a Gratitude Journal

Gratitude is a powerful practice that can help to reduce stress. improve self-esteem, and promote empathy. Keeping a gratitude journal doesn't have to require a major time commitment - simply writing down a few things you are thankful for several times per week is a great way to practice your gratitude.  Try to focus on the people or moments you are grateful for, as well as any experiences or things that took you by surprise.

Try Something New

Just because this is the season of coziness doesn't mean that you can't get outside your comfort zone! Take a cooking, art, or yoga class, or head to a nearby town and explore. 

Create a Vision Board

 Winter can be a great time to refocus and allow yourself to dream a little!  Creating a vision board helps you to focus on goals and practice a little visualization throughout the day.  Take some time to look through magazines for pictures that inspire you and represent your goals.  You can also write down affirmations or words that describe how you want to feel to add to your board.  When you're done, be sure to display your board somewhere where you can see it every day.

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Get Cozy

Sometimes there's nothing better in the winter than cozying up and watching a movie or television show, or picking up a good book.  Try creating a cozy little nook or area with comfy blankets and plush pillows.  Bonus points if you grab a warm drink or use some seasonal aromatherapy products.

 

 

 

 

7 DIY Face Masks for All Skin Types

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Sometimes there's nothing better than a spa moment at home when you need a little self-care.  These DIY face masks are quick to whip up at home, and you know exactly what you're putting on your skin.

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Pumpkin Spice Face Mask // Pretty Simple Ideas

Best for: Aging, normal, or combination skin

This pumpkin spice face mask smells amazing, but it's also made with ingredients that are awesome for your skin.  The pumpkin contains vitamin A to boost collagen production, plus contains naturally-occurring enzymes.  The cinnamon and honey are also naturally anti-bacterial to help fight acne.

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Rose Clay Face Mask // Jenni Raincloud

Best for: Sensitive or combination skin

This pretty pink clay mask is made with rose clay, a mild Kaolin clay.  In addition to helping to detoxify and mildly exfoliate skin, it can help to reduce inflammation and irritation, making it a great clay mask for sensitive or dry skin.

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Turmeric Face Mask // A Girl Worth Saving

Best for: Oily or aging skin

Turmeric has been really popular lately for cooking, but it also has great benefits for your skin.  It's naturally anti-inflammatory and also works to exfoliate the skin to help reduce signs of aging.  By combining it with honey in this mask recipe, you also get the benefits of nourishing and hydrating the skin.

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DIY Charcoal and Clay Mask // Root + Revel

Best for: Acne and oily skin

Made with bentonite clay and activated charcoal, this mask draws impurities from the skin without stripping it of moisture. It also contains tea tree oil, which is a gentler alternative to store-bought benzoyl peroxide.

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DIY Hydrating Green Tea Face Mask // Going Zero Waste

Best for: Dry or sensitive skin

This mask only has three ingredients, making it super quick to whip up! Made with ingredients like antioxidant-rich matcha and moisturizing aloe vera, this mask is excellent for replenishing dry skin. 

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Chocolate Oatmeal Face Mask // Gourmande in the Kitchen

Best for: Normal or combination skin

While the amazing smell of the chocolate is reason enough to try this mask, it turns out there are some awesome benefits for your skin as well.  The cocoa provides antioxidants, while the oatmeal acts as a gentle exfoliant. 

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Cucumber, Honey, & Oat Face Mask // Wholefully

Best for: Normal and sensitive skin

Cucumber is naturally cooling on the skin, which can help to reduce puffiness.  The oatmeal acts as a natural exfoliant, while the honey is a natural anti-bacterial in this soothing mask.

Best Podcasts for Self-Care

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Whether you're too tired to read, like something to listen to while you're enjoying a bath, going for a walk, or cooking, are looking for something other than T.V., or aren't in the mood for music, podcasts can be a great option.  We've selected some of our favourite podcasts to inspire, uplift, and boost your mood.

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The Melissa Ambrosini Show

Melissa Ambrosini is the author of "Mastering Your Mean Girl", a guide to silencing your inner critic, as well as a motivational speaker and advocate for self-love. In her podcasts, she explores topics like health, wealth, and love with her guests. 

Must-Listen Episodes to get started:

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Happier with Gretchen Reuben

The author of "The Happiness Project" joins forces with her sister Elizabeth Craft and discusses happiness and creating positive habits. The candid conversation between sisters keeps things light, and shows that habits that work for one doesn't necessarily work for another. The Try this at Home and Happiness Hack portions of the show make it easy to take away from each episode so you can discover habits that are helpful for you.

Must-Listen Episodes to get started:

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The Joy Junkie

Amy Smith is a confidence coach and self-love expert, and her podcast is described as "self-help for the sassy". Her and her husband, Mr. Smith, tackle topics like letting go of people pleasing and conquering fear. She tells it to you straight, and with a healthy dose of humour.

Must-Listen Episodes to get started:

 

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The Lavendaire Lifestyle

Hosted by YouTuber Aileen Xu, The Lavendaire Lifestyle is podcast that focuses on personal growth and lifestyle design.  Her comforting and soothing voice carries you through a variety of self-improvement topics with her guests.

Must-Have Episodes to get started:

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The Mindful Kind

The Mindful Kind is a podcast that is centered around mindfulness.  Host Rachael Kable leads listeners through mindfulness journeys and provides simple and practical take-away tips.

Must-Listen Episodes to get started:

 

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That's So Maven

Blogger behind the popular health and wellness blog 'The Healthy Maven', Davida, has a podcast!  In her episodes, she explores wellness and well-being with her guests.  Topics include body image, mental health, intentional living, and more.

Must-Listen Episodes to get started:

Low-FODMAP Stuffed Red Peppers

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If you're not familiar with this acronym, FODMAPs refers to a group of small-chained carbohydrates that can be difficult to digest.  Many individuals dealing with digestive issues (especially IBS) find that eliminating FODMAPs can help to relieve symptoms.  Mollie Tunitsky, who blogs at Fit Fab FODMAP and recently released "The Low FODMAP Diet for Beginners: A Seven-Day Plan to Beat Bloat and Soothe Your Gut with Recipes for Fast IBS Relief" shares her recipe for red peppers stuffed with yummy ingredients like quinoa, feta, and zucchini with us.

 

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9 Songs to Remind You Everything's Going to Be Okay

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Whether you've had a bad day, stressful week, or a rough year, music can provide some much-needed comfort.  These 9 songs have lyrics that reaffirm that everything will be all right.

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Breathe - Ryan Star

"Let go of the fear, let go of the doubt,
Let go of the ones who try to bring you down
You're gonna be fine, don't hold it inside
And if you hurt right now
Then let it all come out"

Trouble - Coldplay

"And I never meant to cause you trouble,
And I never meant to do you wrong,
And I, well, if I ever caused you trouble,
Oh no, I never meant to do you harm."

1-800-273-8255 - Logic ft. Alessia Cara, Khalid

"I know where you been, where you are, where you goin'
I know you're the reason I believe in life
What's the day without a little night?
I'm just tryna shed a little light
It can be hard
It can be so hard
But you gotta live right now
You got everything to give right now"

There Will Be Time - Mumford & Sons ft. Baaba Maal

"There is a time, a time to love
A time to sing, a time to shine
A time to leave, a time to stay
There is a time, a time to cry
A time to love, a time to hate
There is a time, a time to sing
A time to love"

Heal - Tom Odell

"Take my mind and take my pain,
Like an empty bottle takes the rain.

And heal, heal, heal, heal.

And take my past and take my sins,
Like an empty sail takes the wind.

And heal, heal, heal, heal."

Everything'll Be Alright - Joshua Radin

"And I think to myself
It's a beautiful night
And I know everything
Is gonna be alright
Yes now I know
It'll be alright"

Three Tree Town - Ben Howard

"Oh come in from the confines of your own mind my dear, 
Because worry is all you'll find there it's clear.
And tomorrow will always come.
And tomorrow may well bring the sun."

 

Everything's Not Lost - Coldplay

"Don't you let it drag you down.
Cos if you ever feel neglected,
If you think that all is lost,
I'll be counting up my demons, yeah.
Hoping everything's not lost."

Grace - Rag 'n' Bone Man

"We're all trying to find a way
At the death of every darkness there's a morning
Though we all try
We all try
We're all one step from grace"

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How to Protect Your Mental Health as Daylight Savings Time Ends

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As the clocks fall back an hour on Sunday, most of us are probably excited about the extra hour of sleep!  However, the shorter days and lack of daylight, as well as the change in sleep schedule can have an impact on your mood, motivation, and energy levels.  If you're already prone to dealing with these things, incorporating the follow suggestions can help you transition through the time change as best as possible.

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#1: Increase Light Exposure

As the days get shorter, this leaves less time at the end of the day to get outside and get some sunlight, which can reduce energy and impact your mood, especially if you're prone to developing Seasonal Affective Disorder. If possible, try to head outside midday to get 10-15 minutes of sunlight.  If you tend to walk in the evening, try to switch things up to a morning walk so you get more daylight exposure.  Getting this light exposure can help with energy levels, and can also be helpful for managing insomnia at night as your circadian rhythm resets itself.

If you're not able to get enough daylight exposure or you feel that your mood and energy levels are really impacted by a lack of light, consider getting a little extra help. A light therapy lamp can be helpful for resetting your circadian rhythm and boosting mood.  If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, be sure to check with your doctor before using a light therapy lamp for specific guidelines for the best time to use light therapy.  

If you're having trouble waking up in the morning due to a lack of light, a sunrise simulation alarm clock can help you wake up more gradually so you feel less drowsy.

#2: Up Your Self-Care

If you're dealing with insomnia due to the time change, this lack of sleep can make you feel irritable or more anxious, which means that this is a super important time to add a little extra self-care into your life.  Slowing down and concentrating on mindful activities is a great idea for this time.  Plan a self-care Sunday spa day, or enjoy a movie or Netflix evening.  Incorporating mindfulness activities like meditation or colouring is great, too.

#3: Exercise

Though it may feel like the last thing you want to do, exercise is a great way to boost feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain, which can help in managing any depression symptoms you might be dealing with.  It's also great for helping to burn off extra anxiety, and exercising earlier in the day can help you sleep at night. Taking a walk, dancing to some feel-good music, or practicing yoga are all good places to start.

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#4: Practice Good Sleep Habits

The time change switches up your schedule, meaning that it can really interfere with your sleep and can cause insomnia.  Ensuring that you are practicing good sleep habits can help get you back on track to catching some Zzz's.  Try:

  • Keeping your room cool and dark at bedtime
  • Avoid bright light right before bed
  • Practice a calming activity an hour before bed to help prepare you for sleep.  Reading, taking a warm shower or bath, or meditation are all good options
  • If you are unable to sleep, get up and do a relaxing activity until you feel tired

#5: Add Extra Mood Boosters

Incorporating foods with essential nutrients can help to boost your mood during this time.  Some Fall favourites include:

  • Pumpkin seeds (High in zinc and magnesium to help with calming)
  • Dark chocolate (contains antioxidants that are believed to help reduce stress hormones)
  • Sweet potato (a great source of carbs which supports the production of feel-good neurotransmitters)
  • Butternut squash and pumpkin (a great source of Folate, a B vitamin that is important for brain health)
  • Cinnamon (helps to regulate attention and boost focus)

With the lack of sunlight, vitamin D levels can also drop.  Consider seeing your doctor to see if your vitamin D levels are low, which may require supplementation.

Scent is another wonderful way to help boost your mood and promote energy.  Consider diffusing one of these essential oils (or create a blend!), creating your own aromatherapy spray, or using a favourite product that contains one of these scents:

  • Lemon (boosts concentration while also being clarifying and calming)
  • Jasmine (helps to encourage confidence and optimism)
  • Rosemary (helps to stimulate memory and reduce fatigue)
  • Peppermint (boosts energy and promotes clearer thinking)
  • Bergamot (promotes joy and energy while also being calming)
  • Frankincense (helps to balance emotions and ease irritability)

Best Apps for Self-Care

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Continuing in our best apps series (check out our 9 best apps for mental health and best apps for chronic illness if you haven't already), today we're introducing some of our favourite apps for self-care.  No matter what area you need a little boost in, having these apps on your phone can be a great reminder to practice the self-care you need.

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Plant Nanny (Apple and Android, Free)

We all know how important hydration is, but getting enough water in can be difficult sometimes!  This app makes drinking your daily water a little bit easier.  You input data about yourself (your height, weight, and activity level) to calculate how much water you need to drink per day, and then you pick out a cute virtual plant.  Every time that you finish a glass, you tap a button, and your plant also gets watered.  If you don't drink enough, your plant will slowly wither away, reminding you to get that hydration in.

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Calm (App Store, Google Play, Free Trial with paid upgrades)

Calm is an all-in-one app for meditation and mindfulness.  Within the app, you can access soothing scenes and nature sounds, as well as guided meditations and breathing exercises.  Calm has also recently introduced sleep stories, in which some of your favourite fictional stories are read aloud to help ease you into sleep.

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Louise Hay Affirmation Meditations (App Store, Free)

Affirmations can be powerful "I" statements, that can be really helpful for shifting your mindset.  This app from bestselling author Louise Hay features meditations in a number of different areas and requires only a few minutes, so you can practice your affirmations anywhere.

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Five Minute Journal (Apple, Google Play, $4.99)

The Five Minute Journal App is an app that makes journalling easier.  The prompts encourage you to focus on gratitude and the positive things that happened each day, plus you can easily save photos to look back on.  Challenges and quotes provide and extra boost of inspiration.

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Charity Miles (Apple, Google Play, Free)

Being active while also being outside is great for our well-being.  Charity Miles encourages this by allowing you to earn money for your favourite charity while walking, running, or biking, so you get the benefits of getting your heart pumping plus the feel-good boost and purpose of giving back.  There are over 30 charities to choose from, such as Stand Up to Cancer, ASPCA, Habitat for Humanity, and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.

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Good Blocks (Apple, Google Play, Free)

Good Blocks is an app that makes letting go of negative thoughts and accepting positive thoughts into a game.  Over time, this can help boost self-esteem, mood, and body image as detecting negative thoughts and letting them go becomes more automatic.

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Find What Feels Good by Yoga with Adriene (Apple, Google Play, Free Trial and then $9.99 per month)

Yoga can be such a beneficial practice and great part of your self-care routine.  Adrienne's "Find What Feels Good" motto makes yoga accessible, no matter how you may be feeling that day.  She has a range of routines, including yoga for self-love and self-worth, yoga for energy, and yoga for specific issues like pain or the winter blues.

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Stitcher (Apple, Google Play, Web, Free)

Podcasts can be a great part of a self-care routine because they can help to inform you, inspire you, or entertain you.  Check out comedy shows, learn more about your favourite hobby, or be motivated to make improvements in your life by listening to a health and lifestyle show.

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Aloe (App Coming to the app store early 2018)

Although Aloe's app isn't going to be released until early 2018, we couldn't resist adding this app designed specifically for self-care! The app will provide reminders and check-ins for self-care like sleeping, having a snack, being kind, and indulging.  Until the app is released, you can check in on Aloe's website.

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Forest (Apple, Google Play, Free)

While the other apps have made the most of technology, sometimes you just need to step away from your phone.  Forest is an app where you can plant a virtual seed whenever you'd like to stay away from your phone and focus on something else.  The tree will grow but, if you use your phone, the virtual tree will begin to die.  The app also partners with Trees for the Future to plant trees in real life.