Category Archives: Self Care

Self-Care Break! Holiday Exercise plus December Meditation

Time to take care of you, so you can take care of others this holiday season. Here are some self-care reminders, a quick workout and a meditation for today. You are beautiful! You’ve got this!


Holiday Self-Care Tips from Dominee at BlessingManifesting.com


Here is a fitness routine for that is themed for the holidays from Fabulous 50s, one of my favorites on YouTube. Enjoy!


Today is the December full moon and that means it is a great day to meditate! Try this guided meditation from Alina Alive, one of my favorites on YouTube. Namaste!


What will you be doing to take care of yourself today?

Manage Holiday Stress

A lot of people feel stressed about the holidays. Almost 40% of people feel more stressed during the holidays, according to the American Psychological Association. What about you? See if anything on this list applies to you — you feel stressed because…

  • You don’t have enough money to buy the presents you want to give or to travel to see your family.
  • You feel like your family judges you or makes you feel bad about your choices.
  • The holidays trigger sad memories of an unhappy childhood.
  • A loved one abuses alcohol or becomes abusive during the holidays.
  • You just went through a breakup or you lost someone around the holidays, and ever since, it just doesn’t seem the same.
  • You become overwhelmed with expectations and extra responsibilities.
  • You have a job that involves dealing with a lot of other stressed people (retail, ER, etc.)

Did you check one or more items on the list? Well, I know how you feel. I used to get stressed about the holidays. Did you ever wonder why things sometimes break down at Christmas? Especially on Christmas Day and the day after Christmas? Well, there could be several reasons.

  • Disruptions in routines can be stressful. People are used to doing things in a set way, going to school or going to work, for example. They feel effective in those settings, generally, and they know what to expect.
  • Too much togetherness with loved ones can be stressful. Parents may not be used to caring for children who are typically in school or day care, and children are high-need. Family dysfunctions can seem more acute when they are concentrated over a span of days. That can result in raw nerves, toxic family patterns, addictive behaviors and arguing.
  • Unmet expectations can result in tears, resentment and arguing. Let’s face it, real family dynamics rarely meet the standard of a Hallmark Christmas movie. When loved ones or friends don’t meet expectations, resentment and disappointment can set in. I can remember a Christmas Day being almost ruined once because someone became disappointed by a gift received from another person, and that person couldn’t move past it. It can be a little thing that upsets the cart. One or more family members may feel unappreciated or taken for granted. Or people can just try so hard that by the time Christmas rolls around, they are exhausted, depressed or even sick.
  • People just don’t know what to do with themselves. Before Christmas, there’s a lot to do. Shopping, food preparation, performances, movies, sending cards, etc. All that bustle seems to come to screeching halt on Christmas Day and the day after Christmas. After the presents are open, what do you do?

So, basically, for many families, by the time Christmas rolls around, people can be cranky (or worse). I learned that the key to feeling more in control and making the holidays be what I want is to develop a plan. Not everyone has to be on board. But for your own well-being, it may help.

Make the Plan

When you have a plan to keep busy, it can help ease the pain of the loss or disappointment you feel. If you live with family members, planning activities can keep bickering to a minimum, because for at least part of the time, your family will be occupied with activities.

Set Aside a Day to Honor the Blue Feelings

Although it is generally healthier to see the positive side of things, it is also important to feel your feelings. The trick is to manage feelings that might otherwise take over your plans. So, like others, I set aside one day to really connect to any sad feelings and mourn my losses. That day is Blue Christmas, December 21. It’s an observance that people use to remember loved ones who have passed, but you can also use this day to deal with feelings of loss of all types, loss of a job or relationship, for instance, or a goal that did not materialize for you in 2022. I do a ritual that involves meditating with a blue candle and journaling about my feelings and experiences in a blue notebook. I say a prayer, and allow myself to cry or just feel whatever feelings come up. I reflect on people who have passed, or people who are no longer in my life, as well as any setbacks or disappointments that still pain me. Since, I know I have this day set aside for those big feelings, they don’t overwhelm me anymore. But you don’t have to wait until December 21st to achieve this kind of closure. You can do it anytime you feel overwhelmed by feelings of loss or disappointment.

Christmas Day and Day After Game Plan

  1. Be realistic about what could go down. If there are members of your circle that drink too much or tend to become unpleasant (or worse) at Christmas or the day after Christmas (when people tend to get really grouchy), you probably know that pattern by now. Maybe you can think of a way to spend Christmas somewhere else, or to reduce the amount of time you spend with them.
  2. Get out of the house and outdoors. Cabin fever seems especially prevalent on Christmas Day. Going outside for a walk or a bike ride is one way to get people off screens. A big plus is that the exercise increases mood-boosting endorphins.
  3. Plan a structured activity for at least part of the day on Christmas and the day after Christmas. For example, maybe on Christmas Day, you will go a movie in the afternoon (buy tickets in advance) all together as a family. Or you might go to Busch Gardens Christmas Town in Williamsburg, or ice skating outdoors. Another idea is to go to one of the area light displays at night. Being entertained is one way to (hopefully) avoid family arguments and make memories.
  4. If you live alone, plan a variety of short, enjoyable activities that will keep you busy much of the day. Focus on the many positive aspects of being alone, #1 being absolutely free from potential family drama! Switching about every hour or two to a new activity keeps your brain active and your mood up. Alternate reading or watching TV with active activities like walking or lifting weights. Try a guided meditation, a craft and some cooking, or whatever activity interests you.
  5. Simplify the family meals. Instead of making a huge meal on Christmas Day, like a second Thanksgiving, which can be stressful and pricey, make an easier meal the whole family enjoys, such as lasagna (from frozen) and salad, or spaghetti and meatballs and garlic bread. It’s less pressure than babysitting a turkey all morning and it takes the burden off the one or two people who make the meal and clean up. On the day after Christmas, the whole family might go out for breakfast or lunch at a restaurant everyone likes. If you set the plan in advance for that, then everyone has something to look forward to.
  6. Volunteer. Shelters for people and for animals always need volunteers. Volunteering on Christmas Day or the day after gives your family a sense of purpose and makes them feel good about themselves. And it keeps them busy, and busy people are too busy to bicker.
  7. Stick to routines, like meal times, and encourage children not to sleep in more than an hour later than usual. Disrupted sleep schedules turn on crankiness.
  8. If you have a family, model how to manage stress. Talk about what works for you. Show your children how to belly breathe and progressively relax their muscles. Meditate or do yoga together. Take walks outdoors.

What I do NOT recommend for Christmas Day and the day after Christmas…

  1. Going to Washington, DC (unless you live there, of course). All the attractions will be closed and there will be many drunk people, on the metro and elsewhere, and some of them will be scary. There’s nowhere to eat or use the bathroom. The one attraction that is open is in the National Christmas Tree and it will be pitifully crowded with lots of crying kids. Go see the tree on any other day but Christmas Day.  And be aware that muggings and purse snatchings go way up on Christmas Day. If you venture into the city, leave your valuables safe at home.
  2. Going to Mount Vernon on Christmas Day. It’s one of the few places that is open so a lot of people flock there, which means it is really crowded. It’s hard to find a parking space or get something to eat and everything is pricey. The attractions will look exactly the same before and after Christmas Day, so go then and save yourself a headache.
  3. Returning merchandise or using gift cards the day after Christmas. Having worked in retail for many years, I can tell you that the scene at stores is not pretty on the day after Christmas. I would volunteer to work on Christmas Eve to avoid working on the 26th. Sales people are exhausted, the stock is a mess, and the customers are very grouchy. They are grouchy because they did not come up with a plan and they just decided to make it a shopping day. If there are kids, the kids are just miserable to be dragged out shopping. And they are subconsciously bummed that Christmas is, in their mind, over. So everyone will be miserable. The parking lots will be a mess. Do yourself a favor and avoid all shopping the day after Christmas. There will still be plenty of markdowns in a day or two.
  4. Taking down your decorations right away. Did you know that most people  leave their tree up through New Year’s? And there are 12 days of Christmas, right up until January 6th. Area light displays and Christmas Town in Williamsburg are open until January 8. If you plan it right, you might be able to skip the post-Christmas blues. You and your family might feel less bummed about Christmas Day and that feeling of finality if you plan little bits of Christmas celebrating after the 25th.

Check the Calendar for ideas. Keeping busy means the blues can’t catch up with you. You got this!

How to Cope with a Blue Christmas

Do you have the Christmas blues? You are not alone. In fact, as much as I love Christmas and everything about it, I am having a Blue Christmas and I am really, really sad. Perhaps you have experienced

  • A recent breakup or divorce.
  • The passing of a loved one.
  • You lost a pet.
  • Separation from a loved one.
  • Dementia in a parent or grandparent.
  • Child custody issues.
  • An illness or watching a loved one suffer.
  • Empty nest: children moved away.
  • A personal setback or disappointment.
  • Family conflicts.
  • Seasonal depression (SAD) or other form of depression.
  • Memories of sad events that happened during Christmas.
  • Loneliness or isolation.
  • Anxiety about the pandemic, social injustice, the environment or world events.

Continue reading

December Holidays Self-Care Challenge

December is a wonderful time for family traditions and giving. But it can also be a hectic and stressful month. That means that devoting time to your self-care is more important than ever.

The December Self-Care Challenge features 31 days of self-care ideas. Now, no pressure! I have been doing these challenges for more than a year and I have never yet completed ALL of them. You can do the challenges in any order you wish or complete more than one a day. Feel free to alter them to your preferences or traditions. Download the December self-care challenge 2021.

  1. Enjoy an Advent Calendar. Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar  costs $5 and you can buy additional copies to send to friends. The theme for 2021 is London. There are fun little games and activities for each day between December 1 and 25. It’s a sweet way to celebrate everyday and the puzzles are good for exercising your brain 🙂 so it is an affordable form of self care. Besides, it’s nice to have something to look forward to each day. Today is also Mistletoe Day and Christmas Lights Day.

  2. Make a donation. Giving is a form of self-care because it makes you feel good about yourself. And one of the easiest ways to give is to put some cash in the Salvation Army Kettle! Did you know the song, Silver Bells, is about that?

  3. Decorate! Whatever winter holiday you celebrate, go all out and decorate your home with seasonal touches, like cosy throws, pillows and decorations. Don’t forget white mini lights — they are inexpensive (less than $3 for a string of 100 lights) and they give your spirits a lift as the days grow shorter. I have them strung around my bedroom for a cozy glow. Today is also Make A Gift Day.

  4. Get some fresh air. Today is Ice Skating Day – does it get any more delightfully old-fashioned than watching people glide across the ice (or taking a spin, yourself?) Visit an outdoor rink or holiday village and soak up some analog atmosphere. It is also Cookie Day today.

  5. Light a yummy candle.Tonight is the 2nd Sunday in Advent, a time to light candles and reflect. Whether you celebrate this tradition or not, lighting a candle on Sunday evening is a wonderful way to relax ahead of a busy week. I like this single wick candle from Bath and Body Works in Hot Cocoa and Cream. It makes my whole apartment smell delicious!

  6. Play Santa Claus. Today is St. Nicholas Day (also known as Santa Claus). Donate a new unwrapped toy to the Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys for Tots. Check the website for drop-off locations and needs.

  7. Mindfully meditate. Meditation is good for relieving stress and enhancing your cognition. Here is a guided meditation that is perfect for December.


8. Watch a holiday classic movie. Escape the worries of life and watch a feel-good movie. Many are free to watch on TubiTV and other streaming services. Some of my favorites: A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Bishop’s Wife, A Christmas Carol, Rudolph, and newer ones like A Grumpy Cat Christmas, Mistletoe and Menorahs, A Christmas Movie Christmas, Holiday Engagement and Love at the Christmas Table. Today is also Christmas Tree Day and Brownie Day.

9. Send holiday greeting cards. Social connection is an important form of self-care. Today is Christmas Card Day so it is the perfect day to mail cards to your loved ones and even the President! If Christmas is not your holiday, there are other holiday cards, as well as New Year’s cards, which everyone celebrates. I worked at Hallmark for years, so I think they have the best ones but remember you can buy also buy Hallmark cards at Dollar Tree, nice ones, for a fraction of the cost.
10. Work that body! Start out this self-care month with an easy, holiday-themed workout that takes just 15 minutes to complete. Nothing dispels stress and boosts your immune system like movement.

11. Make a self-care stocking for yourself. Stores are loaded this year with facial masks, foot masks, bath gels, bath bombs, soaps, lotions, fragrant oils and candles, lip balms, aloe-infused spa socks, exfoliating gloves, makeup kits and brushes, sparkly nail polish, hair accessories, car fragrances, journals and pens for good prices. And of course, chocolate! Buy some to enjoy now and some to put under your Christmas tree. Today is also Reindeer Day.
12. Mindful holiday coloring or crafting. Being creative is a form of self-expression and self-care. Pick something fun to do today, maybe while enjoying this relaxing ambient video. Today is also the 3rd Sunday in Advent, Poinsettia Day and Gingerbread House Day.

Here is a coloring page from Crayola that is free to download and print of a cabin in the snow.

13. Today is Cocoa Day! Fortunately, cocoa is loaded with antioxidants so it is good for you. Today, combine the goodness of a hot cup of cocoa with some down time making a list of things you are grateful for today. It’s a self-care twofer! Add a candy cane or whipped cream for extra cheer.

14. Blue Christmas service and support. For many people, the holiday season can bring up memories of loss, grief or loneliness. Here are some hotlines, warmlines and texts services that are free to call, if you need it. The Washington National Cathedral is airing a Blue Christmas service online on December 14 and confidential support from chaplains through Zoom. If you need support, don’t be afraid to reach out. Here is the 2020 program in case you can’t make the live service or if you are curious about the service.

15. Today is International Tea Day! It’s a perfect day for brewing a cup of hot tea and curling up with a book. Some recommendations: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, The Miraculous Staircase by Arthur Gordon, the Gospel according to Luke and As Ye Sow by Dorothy Canfield. My favorite seasonal teas include Winter Spice herbal tea by Twinings, Constant Comment by Bigelow and Peppermint herbal tea by Celestial Seasonings.

16. Here is a cozy yoga workout to relieve stress and increase your flexibility.

17. Celebrate or create family traditions. The holidays are all about traditions. Today, take some time to curate your traditions. Which traditions will you customize or leave behind? Which will you continue and cherish? Which traditions will you begin this year? Some seasonal traditions include the Italian Feast of Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, Secret Santa, Christmas crackers, sending cards, making handmade gifts, Elf on the Shelf, lighting Advent candles, wearing family pyjamas, hanging a pickle ornament, cutting down a live tree, reading The Night Before Christmas or other Christmas story, roasting chestnuts, hanging mistletoe, participating in a cookie exchange, etc. Today is also Ugly Christmas Sweater Day.

18. Today is Bake Cookies Day. Bake your favorites to eat or give away.

19. The Nutcracker Ballet is a holiday favorite. You can watch on the big screen in movie theaters today at 1 pm performed by the Bolshoi Ballet (about $25) or you can watch this free, film version on YouTube. Today is also the fourth Sunday in Advent and Holly Day, and the Full Moon.

20. Today is Go Caroling Day. Not too many people go caroling anymore but you can still sing your favorite songs at home or in the car. Singing is an excellent and free form of self-care. It is very good for your lungs and mental health. Read about the health benefits of singing. Just remember, we are still in a pandemic so avoid crowds while singing to reduce viral spread.

21. Today is the Winter Solstice, Yule, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year. Take a brisk walk outdoors during the day to enjoy nature in her winter phase. Tonight, relax by a real or virtual Yule log.

22. Drive around to see holiday lights in your neighborhood or others that put on a good show.

23. Rub your feet and legs with a peppermint lotion and raise your feet above your heart to improve your vein health.

Photo by Du01b0u01a1ng Nhu00e2n on Pexels.com

24. To celebrate Christmas Eve, have a special candlelight dinner at home.

25. Merry Christmas! Have a joyful and meaningful day.

26. Take a winter walk today and really appreciate nature. The day after Christmas can be a let down for some people. Walking outdoors can help dispel blues and tension. It can also give you some much needed space (or quiet) and can be a good form of self-care.

27. Buy a 2022 planner and some calendar stickers. Fed Ex, Wal-Mart, Staples and Target have good planners and you can also find stickers at Dollar Tree. Look for a planner that has space to write goals, track self-care and jot gratitude lists. These features added greatly to my self-care practice in 2021 and made a real difference in my attitude and well-being. If you can’t find a calendar you like with those features, consider using the Mintgreen Wellness Journal ($10, Walmart.com).

28. Create a vision board of 2022 goals. Maybe the theme of your board (which can be a collage on a small or large sheet of white poster board) will be self-care! Incorporate favorite photos, stickers, motivational quotes (you can print from Pinterest), affirmations and goals. The vision board can reflect how you want to feel in the new year. I kept mine up all year and it always gave me a lift to look at it. Plus – it really helped keep me focused on only a few, very specific goals.

29. Write down your resolutions and 2022 bucket list.

30. Devote time on the day before New Year’s Eve to pampering. I think it’s a good practice to go into the New Year looking and feeling your best. Break out the products from your self-care stocking and give your face, body, feet and hair beauty treatments and set aside time for relaxation.

31. Celebrate New Year’s Eve! Whether you are out or at home, alone or with friends, make it a special night. At the very least, prepare something nice to eat, have something bubbly to drink (non-alcoholic is fine, that’s what I do) and stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year.

30 Days of Grateful Self-Care

Welcome to the self-care month of November! This month, we focus on the self-care themes of gratitude and abundance, setting aside time to think about what you are grateful in life, express appreciation and give back. An intentional gratitude practice can promote your contentment, emotional well-being, self-esteem and sense of connection. It can help you connect deeply to your values and what you consider really important in life.  That’s why gratitude practices are an important form of self-care.

Download the November Self-Care Tracker (.pdf): November Self Care 2021

Continue reading

Fill your 2021 calendar with these self-care dates

Happy New Year! Are we having fun yet?

If you read my post on January self-care, then you know that today is the day for filling up your new 2021 calendar with events and special days. Planning happy times to look forward to is a wonderful form of self-care!

Make sure you don’t miss thse self-care days in 2021…

Jan. 8
National
Bubble Bath
Day
Jan. 9
Vision Board Day
Jan. 24
Compliment Day
Feb. 28
Intl. Hygge Day
Mar. 6
National Day of Unplugging
Mar. 15
National
Napping Day
Mar. 19 World Sleep DayMar. 20
Intl. Day of Happiness
Mar. 26
Self-Confidence Day
 Apr. 7
National
Walking Day
Apr. 9
ASMR Day
Apr. 21
World Creativity Day
Apr. 25
Crystal Day and National Mani Pedi Day
May 1
World Laughter Day and
National Fitness Day and Therapeutic Massage Day
May 21
Meditation Day and
UN Intl. Tea Day
Jun. 21
Intl. Day of
Yoga
Jul. 24 Intl. Self-Care DayAug. 1
National Planner Day
Aug 2
Coloring Book Day
 Aug. 15
National Relaxation Day
Sep. 6 National Read a Book DaySep. 12 Mindfulness DaySep. 13
Positive Thinking Day
Sep. 14
Coloring Day
Sep. 19
Intl. Declutter Day
Sep. 21 World Gratitude DayOct. 10
World Mental Health Day
Nov. 3
Stress Awareness Day
Nov. 13
World Kindness
Day
Nov. 27
Aura Awareness
Day
Dec. 4
Candle Day

January Self-Care Challenge

Are you ready for your January Self-Care Challenge? I have created 31 challenges for you to complete. Don’t worry, they are easy! January self care challenge (download and print)

(1) Eat black-eyed peas and greens. It’s good luck and they are good for you!

(2) Watch the Quadranids meteor shower. If you can’t see them, just take a moment to look at the night sky.

(3) Fill a planner with events. There are so many things to look forward to in 2021. Mark the events and days you don’t want to miss in your calendar, along with birthdays and anniversaries. It will give you a lift because it will give you something to look forward to. We all need that.

(4) Today is National Spaghetti Day! Spaghetti would be the perfect warm meal for a cold day. Spaghetti sauce is good for you — unless it has lots of sugar in it. Pick a sauce that doesn’t have sugar, like Simply Ragu (or make your  own). I think the kind without sugar tastes exactly like the regular kind! Important: researchers are finding that the antioxidant lycopene, a nutrient found in tomato sauce, appears to be useful in treating the corona virus. Lycopene also helps prevent heart disease, liver disease and some cancers.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

(5) Pick a book to read this month. Something you have been meaning to read but haven’t made the time for, maybe.

(6) Save a little money. I know it is hard to save right now. Last year, I saved pennies, dimes and nickesls in a can. (i use my quarters for laundry). It was just my spare change, so I didn’t really miss it. I cashed it in yesterday and it was $25! And I really needed it this month. Even if you only save a $1 a week, by the end of the year, just think: you would have saved $52! If you saved $10 a month, you’d have $120.

(7) Here is a winter guided meditation for today…it is only a couple of minutes long.

(8) Today is Bubble Bath Day! Enjoy!

(9) Today is Vision Board Day! You can make a Vision Board on a bulletin board, in your journal or planner, on a poster or on a smaller sheet of paper. Vision Boards help you visualize how you will feel when you achieve a goal…or what achieving that goal may look like. You can cut out phrases and pictures from magazines, Pinterest or Google to make a collage that inspires you. I also like to use the paper pads from Michael’s, as well as stickers.

 

(10) Complete a crossword puzzle. Word games are good for your brain. I like the ones in Women’s World magazine because they are fairly easy but if you are up to the New York Times one, have at it! Womens World magazine also has sweet affirmations you can cut out and post to inspire and motivate you.

(11) Today is Clean Your Desk Day! January is such a good month for organizing and de-cluttering. You’ll work more effectively with a clean desk.

(12) Today is Stick to Your Resolutions Day! Check back with this blog on January 12th for ideas on how to stick to your resolutions.

(13) Create a sacred space in your home. I think this will be a fun project I plan to do. All that is needed is to set up some corner of your home, in your bedroom, perhaps, where you can meditate or pray. Add a floor pillow or other comfortable seating, maybe a candle, plant, crystal or other item to help you focus. There are some beautiful examples on Pinterest.

(14) Take Vitamin D and avoid foods and drinks with high fructose corn syrup. Especially in winter, most of us are deficient in Vitamin D. If you are elderly, obese or a person of color, you need even more Vitamin D than others. Even if your doctor says you are not deficient, taking Vitamin D is a good idea. Researchers and doctors believe taking Vitamin D supplements may help protect you against the corona virus. However, high fructose corn syrup interferes with how the body uses Vitamin D. So avoid or reduce soda and other foods with HFCS during the pandemic.

(15) Take an herbal tea break and make a list of things you are grateful for today.

(16) Here is a Yoga workout for beginners to chase away the winter blues.

(17) Our skin gets dry in the winter. Try soaking your feet for about a half hour. You can add some vinegar to the water. Then use a pumice stone to remove dried skin from cracked heels.

(18) Cook broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts or cauliflower. These foods are low-calorie, full of nutrients and fiber-rich. But important to know for now, they also increase your immunity, according to Woman’s World, which is very important during the pandemic. And Better Homes & Gardens reports this month that eating just a tiny serving daily can lower your chances of forming calcium in your arteries (which can lead to stroke or heart attack) by 46%!

(19) Reduce your stress with this soothing jazz music video.

(20) Have you tried reading affirmations? Have you tried reading them aloud? They can make a big difference in your mental wellbeing. Try saying one while looking in the mirror at yourself.

(21) List ten things you are proud about. Have you tried this? A terrific mood booster. Worth the investment of time!

(22) De-clutter and organize your bathroom. This is a relatively small task that pays off in big benefits because we spend so much time in the bathroom. Clear out everything from under the sink or in storage cabinets and give it a good scrubbing. Toss expired medicines and any makeup older than a year old. Now, when you walk into the bathroom, you’ll find just what you need — a soothing way to start the day.

(23) Connection is so important while we remain safer at home. Since getting together with friends isn’t recommended during a pandemic, schedule time to talk or meet on Zoom to catch up.

(24) Today is National Compliment Day! Make it specific and sweet. You’ll feel great, too!

(25) Run your humidifier. During the cold months, running a humidifier will keep your nasal passages from drying out (especially good for preventing croup in babies!). This helps reduce your chance of getting a respiratory infection. It also eliminates those pesky electric shocks you get in cold weather! It will make your home feel warmer and more cozy. And it’s good for your skin. If you use distilled water, calcium deposits won’t form on the heating element of your humidifier. No humidifer? Open the bathroom doors after showers or boil pots of water to humidify the air.

(26) Here is a challenge: take a walk outside for thirty minutes (unless it is very cold). While you are out, try to touch at least ten trees. If no one is looking, really focus on connecting with at least one tree. What do you feel when you place both hands on the trunk?

(27) Make homemade soup or chili. The one good thing about the pandemic is we have all become better cooks! On a cold day, what can beat a steaming bowl of soup or chili? Here is my easy-to-make chili recipe. 

(28) Have a no-complaint day. I don’t know about you, but I complain TOO much. I’m not proud of that. Sometimes, complaining becomes contagious! Or it can be a way to connect socially, because everyone needs to vent, sometimes. Try to keep your complaining to a minimum by thinking of ways to solve your problems, instead (or live with them, if you can’t solve them). You will be amazed how you feel if you try not to complain once for an entire day!

(29) Tour a museum exhibit, online. Of course, most museums are closed now. But looking at art is so restoring for the soul. You can take a mini tour of just about any major art museum in the world on YouTube. Maybe you’d like to pick some beautifully colorful paintings to look at, since winter can be a little dreary. Matisse is good for the winter blahs! Here is a talk about one of my favorite paintings by the artist, Eduoard Manet.

(30) Hydrate with lemon water. Do you drink enough water? I don’t and I think almost no one does! But we all mean to. I definitely drink more water, however, when I take the time to put lemon slices in a pitcher. Cucumber slices is refreshing, too!

(31) Quarantine safely. There is no better self-care activity we can undertake right now than to NOT get sick during the pandemic. You know what that means: frequent handwashing, cleaning surfaces, wearing a mask and avoiding indoor public spaces….and not getting together with people outside of our household if we can help it. I know this is hard. It won’t last forever, but we have to be diligent for a few more months and now, more than ever.

Happy New Year and bright blessings to you all in 2021!

December 2020 Self-Care Challenge

Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

I published self-care challenges for September, October and November and you know, these things really work! The accountability keeps me on track and I am getting much better at life-balance and self-care. So, here’s one for the holiday month of December. There are 31 activities on the tracker. Color a star for each one you complete, in any order you choose. However, the order does follow the calendar for themes. To make it even easier and more fun, here are links and details that go with each day (for example, links to the yoga and meditation videos).

I invite you to post selfies of yourself doing these activities on the Cool Yule Facebook Page!

Download the December Self-Care Tracker (pdf)

Continue reading

Celebrate everyday in November (plus self-care tracker)

Photo by Josh Hild on Pexels.com

Welcome back to another season of Cool Yule…where we celebrate everything wonderful about Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and the winter holidays.

Here are 30 self-care activities for every day in November. We all need to take extra good care of ourselves at this time. I invite you to download and print the November Self-Care tracker, which is aligned with these days to celebrate and self-care ideas.

Feel free to do the activities in any order you choose. The more you do, the better you will feel!

Fun, Safe and Free: Self-Care Activities in Northern Virginia in November

2020 Unplugged. For adults: Pick up a packet containing yoga, mediation and breathing exercises, calming coloring sheets, brain games to engage your mind, and trivia to test you from the Dolley Madison library in McLean, VA.

Make Your Own Greeting Cards (adults). Stop by at the Thomas Jefferson Library in Falls Church, VA and pick up a kit with blank cards, brush pens, and lettering practice sheets. Available November 1 – December 1.

Take ‘n Make: Mini Zen Garden Relax with your own Zen garden! Kits available from November 9 until supplies last at the Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library.

U.S. Botanic Garden and WithLoveDC offer a free, 1-hour weekly meditation and yoga class every Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Space is still first-come, first-serve for the 100 people to log in. REGISTER: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_4dI8s7GuRIiyvvHfgzYfIQ

Virtual Yoga for All Jennifer Eubank combines breathing, poses, mindfulness and meditation in this session. Mondays at 6:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m. 

Gentle Yoga and Mindfulness An experienced Yoga instructor will combine Yoga and mindfulness into a flowing sequence to help recharge the body and calm the mind. Thursdays at 12:00 p.m.

Virtual Trivia Happy Hour Virtual trivia program will feature different categories for adults of all ages and bonus questions to test your trivia mettle. Thursdays at 5:30 p.m.

The Kennedy Center presents free “Arts Across America” live performances Monday – Friday at 4 p.m. Watch on Facebook Live or YouTube.

The all-virtual Alexandria Film Festival runs November 12 -15 and features 18 premieres.

Sunday, November 1

Today is All Saint’s Day. Daylight Savings Time ends today; set your clocks one hour back. Adapting to new times is an adjustment. Make it a relaxing Sunday and take a nap, if you need one.

Monday, November 2

Have you tried using affirmations? Affirmations are positive statements you make in the first person and are a form of self-care. Abundance affirmations help you appreciate all that is good in your life. I tape them in up on next to my bathroom mirror sometimes. Here is a simple one you can repeat.

Today is the Day of the Dead in Mexico (and elsewhere, where celebrated). In London, the courts will rule on the Johnny Depp libel case.

Tuesday, November 3

Today is Election Day. It is not a Federal holiday and banks will be open. It is believed we will not know the election results tonight. At least one half of the country will feel disappointed or disenfranchised and there will be collective anxiety. One way you can take care of yourself is to plan out your day to moderate your exposure to social media and news coverage. For example, instead of checking it frequently, assign yourself times when you will be online. Then distract yourself with an outdoor walk and doing other things you enjoy. Remember to avoid crowds during the pandemic. This too shall pass.

Wednesday, November 4

Today is Stress Awareness Day and I bet we will all be aware of our stress levels today! One way you can de-stress is with soothing scents. Smells are closely tied to our emotions and memory. Fortunately, autumn is chock full of soothing scents, like pumpkin spice, cinnamon and apple. Some other soothing scents to try are Lavender, Chamomile, Mint and Rosemary. I like to put the Aura Cacia essential oil roll on called “Chill Pill” on my wrists or spray their Relaxing Lavender spray on bed sheets. I have also put sliced lemon and dried rosemary in a large pot of water to simmer on the stove (this is great to inhale if you have a cold). Or drink a cup of chamomile or peppermint tea. Twinings Winter Blend is a lovely herbal tea containing chamomile, apple, cinnamon and cardamon.For more potent fragrance, light a pumpkin spice or apple-scented candle or burn some cinnamon incense.

Thursday, November 5

Donating is a form of self-care because it improves your sense of well-being and connection. Donate your gently used coats and holiday decorations to Goodwill. Goodwill provides job training, mentoring and employment for people with disabilities and people facing challenges.

Friday, November 6

Brrr…it’s getting chilly! How would you like to create a cozy bedroom?

Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy on Pexels.com

You can add little white lights and string them like a canopy over your bed or along the walls. I have seen good deals on flannel sheets and some nice buffalo plaid blankets and comforters. And check out this Target spread for creating a contemporary fall bedroom. Just beautiful!

When you turn on the heat, you’ll probably want a humidifier in your bedroom…and a LOT of distilled water. I pick up a gallon or two each time I go to the store because, as you may recall, distilled water was hard to come by this spring. You can use regular water but distilled water prevents those cakey calcium deposits from forming on the heating element and the humidifier will work more effectively.

A humidifier keep your nasal passages moist while you sleep which helps prevent the transmission of respiratory viruses. So, it’s a great form of self-care in the cold months. They are indispensable for preventing or treating croup in babies. I like this one from Vicks. You can also lower the temperature in your bedroom (but not baby’s room) a few degrees at night, if you like, because the humidifier will make the air a little warmer.

And you know what else? It’s National Nachos Day.

Saturday, November 7

The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame inductions will air tonight on HBO. Have you thought about trying a new hobby this winter while we remain safer at home? There are inexpensive options. You can buy a skein of yarn and a pair of knitting needles or a crochet needle and make a hat! That will be my first project. What will you choose to do? Paints? Learn how to play the ukulele? Sewing?

There is a Nature Scavenger Hunt today at Green Springs Gardens in Alexandria, VA. $5.

Sunday, November 8

November is Native American month. Here is an authentic butternut squash soup recipe to try — it sounds delicious! You could use frozen butternut squash instead of fresh to save peeling and chopping.

Monday, November 9

It’s Mindfulness Monday! Today, take a mindfulness walk outdoors. The mindfulness aspect is that you are doing one thing only — no music, no cell phone conversation — simply clear your mind and take in the sights, sounds and smells of autumn on your walk.

Tuesday, November 10

Are you taking Vitamin D every day? Normally, I’d say you’d get most of the nutrients you need from a balanced diet. But as winter approaches, there is less sunlight. A lot of people are deficient in Vitamin D but that deficiency can lead to bone fractures and osteoporosis later. A bottle of 1000 mcg of Vitamin D costs less than $6 (Nature Made brand). Dr. Fauci takes it every day; there is evidence to support Vitamin D supplementation may reduce your risk of being infected with the corona virus.

Wednesday, November 11

Today is Veteran’s Day, a Federal holiday. Your bank will likely be closed today. The 54th annual Country Music Awards are tonight, hosted by Reba McEntire and Darius Rucker. Annnd….it is also Workout Wednesday! Here is an arm workout you can do at home.

Thursday, November 12

The pandemic has really hit the food banks hard. Check the websites of your local food banks and pick one to donate some canned food today.

Friday, November 13

Today is Friday, the 13th! It is also World Kindness Day. Given that we are in the midst of a pandemic, what do you think is the kindest thing you can do? That answer will be different for everyone but do this today. Here are loads of suggestions that hadn’t occurred to me.

Saturday, November 14

Ready for a Thanksgiving-themed movie? Yeah, that’s too bad. Because there is not one Thanksgiving movie out there I can honestly recommend. Not one! Maybe a Friends episode. Maybe just curl up with any old favorite movie you enjoy. There are some good Hitchcock movies that are free to watch on YouTube, like my favorite, Notorious.

Sunday, November 15

Today is the New Moon and it is also known as Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. That’s a good idea as you get ready for winter feasts. Home Depot explains how to do it.

Want to organize your refrigerator better? Ever since I bought these “Fridge Binz,” I am saving money because I can easily see what’s in my fridge and I know where everything is. Worth every penny in minimizing frustration, too! I purchased mine at the Container Store but I’ve seen less expensive versions at stores like Home Goods. And I bet you could engineer Dollar Tree baskets…maybe. But these hold up and they work great.

New Moons are good for setting intentions. Now that you’ve organized your refrigerator :), what else in your life needs atttention? What would you like the rest of November to look like? Reflect on this Sunday night, set your intentions and write them down.

Monday, November 16

It’s Mindfulness Monday! I love to color. It’s almost like meditatiing. Here’s an autumn leaf mandala for you to download (free) and color today. By the way, this is also my only child’s birthday. Happy Birthday, sweet boy.

Tuesday, November 17

It’s Take a Hike day! Hopefully, the weather will cooperate. Bundle up and get some fresh air so you can color in a turkey on your self-care tracker today. Or attend the library virtual program Finding Inner Peace and Calmness Through Meditation. Gerry Gorman talks about the journey of finding peace, happiness and a greater sense of wellbeing by applying simple meditation techniques. 12 p.m. Register.

Wednesday, November 18

It’s Workout Wednesday again! Since exercise is an important part of self-care, we really should try to do it at least once a week so we can color in our turkey! Head outside for a cool weather workout. How about ice skating at one of the many outdoor ice rinks in the area? Skate for an hour and you will burn 400 – 800 calories.

Thursday, November 19

Thanksgiving will be different this year. The CDC has issued guidance for pandemic-safe turkey day celebrations. New York City Mayor DiBlasio is urging people not to travel at all during the Thanksgiving holiday. Maintain those social bonds by sending beautiful Thanksgiving cards. Dollar Tree sells Hallmark greeting cards and they are 2/$1. There is nothing like getting a beautiful card with a heartfelt message of gratitude in the mail!

Today is also Beaujolais Day, International Men’s Day and the Great American Smokeout.

Friday, November 20

Music reduces stress so well, it really should be part of your Thanksgiving celebration. By now, the radio is playing Christmas music. But what about Thanksgiving music? Not to fret, here is a playlist of contemporary songs about gratitude. Or make your own playlist today for T-Day.

Saturday, November 21

In Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,world leaders will attend the 15th annual summit of the Group of 20 economies.

The Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Gardens in Vienna, VA opened on November 11. If you go see it today or before (with social distancing and masks), you may beat the crowds that will visit at Thanksgiving and thereafter.

Sunday, November 22

Today is Go for a Ride Day! Pile in the car and take in the electric holiday splendor of the Bull Run Festival of Lights, a drive through light display in Manassas, Virginia.

Monday, November 23.

The 48th annual Emmy Awards are tonight. It is also Mindfulness Monday. Here is a lovely guided meditation on gratitude for you to enjoy.

Tuesday, November 24.

A big part of your self-care plan for the holidays is understanding your boundaries and communicating about them (if needed). If you are spending Thanksgiving with loved ones, reflect on your boundaries and how you can, wordlessly or with love, ensure that they are honored by your family. For example, perhaps you want to have a discussion today with your children or family members about cell phones at the dinner table. Or maybe you need to be sure you carve out a little alone time for yourself every day. Think about what you need to feel happy and safe on this holiday.

Wednesday, November 25

The day before Thanksgiving is notorious for drunk driving accidents. You really don’t need that extra can of cranberry sauce, do you? Stay home and try this Thanksgiving-themed yoga workout, instead.

Thursday, November 26.

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving can be an emotional time, laden with expectations and dashed hopes. And all of that is compounded with the pandemic.  Allow yourself to feel all of your feelings — gratitude, loss, happiness, irriration. Try writing them down instead of sharing them aloud (and minimize your alcohol intake).

It can still be a joyous day, though! Take a walk with your loved ones, call all your relatives, play board games, cook, watch football, count your blessings and eat! You can also Zoom-share your dinner with loved ones. Even a solitary Thanksgiving can be meaningful (I should know).

Say Grace

Here are 24 ways to say grace at Thanksgiving.

Macy’s Day Parade

The 94th Annual Macy’s Day Parade will air on Thanksgiving Day from 9 a.m. to Noon on NBC, with some changes for the pandemic. People won’t be holding the balloons!

Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Sadly, a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will not be airing on broadcast television for the first time in more than 50 years. Apple TV has a monopoly on the Peanuts specials. You can’t even watch it on Amazon video. As of this writing, the DVD is out of stock at Walmart AND Target.

To which I say WHAT. THE. HELL!?!?

2020, you just get worser and worserer.

I don’t usually do this but desperate times call for desperate measures. If Apple wants to hijack an American tradition, they deserve what they get. People are uploading the program in pieces on YouTube. Here is the playlist. You can watch it right here 🙂

Make it a Healthy Day

Thanksgiving is about splurging but you can still save fat and calories.

Here is the football line-up for Turkey Day.

The Houston Texans plays the Detroit Lions at 12:30 p.m. (which is just too plain early for football). The game airs on CBS.

Washington (no longer the Redskins) plays their arch-nemesis, the Dallas Cowboys at 4:30 p.m. and God save us all. Watch on Fox.

The Baltimore Ravens battle the Pittsburgh Steelers at 8:30 p.m. You can see it on NBC.

Don’t Trot the Turkey

Please note: it’s traditional for Turkey Trot 5K foot races to be held today. The CDC considers participating in these crowded, outdoor races as a high-risk activity. Things must be really bad. So, avoid them. There will be other years for races!

Kiss Black Friday Goodbye in 2020

The CDC also recommends that people shop online and avoid entering stores and malls today and tomorrow. Read the CDC pandemic recommendations about Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Friday, November 27

Today is Black Friday. This is not the year to head to the malls, my dears. There will be loads of Black Friday deals online or you can choose to skip shopping altogether. One idea would be to order supplies ahead and make a gift or two for a loved one this year. Even little children can paint wooden boxes or frames.

You might think the museums will be empty on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. Or maybe you’re thinking about heading to the Kennedy Center because you think it will be a ghost town. Or maybe you’re thinking about popping down to Mt. Vernon.

WRONG. The museums are uncomfortably crowded on these days. Parking will be non-existent. It’s just about the worst time to go to any of these places, even when the pandemic isn’t happening.

I’d like to recommend the Christmas parades and tree lightings that are happening today and I get in a lump in my throat when I think about missing them. But I will not be going to them this year.

No, the best thing for all involved (particulary since drunk driving accidents also increase this weekend) is to stick close to home ane enjoy indoor and outdoor activities away from others. Plan ahead for extended togetherness! — buy some crafts materials to make Christmas ornaments, for example.

Saturday, November 28

Today is National French Toast Day! It’s the perfect day for a leisurely breakfast before NOT going absolutely anywhere. How do you like your French toast, with powedered sugar, maple syrup or both? French toast is also part of the delicious Monte Cristo sandwich. You could make a Thanksgiving version with some of that leftover turkey and cranberry sauce!

If you feel like venturing out…

Turkey Walk (4-Adult) Discover the wild turkey’s habits and secret ways during a walk in the cedar forest. Look for wild turkeys and their signs. The program at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park (Chantilly, VA) runs from 10 to 11 a.m. The cost is $6 per person. Children must be accompanied by an adult registered in the program. For information, call 703-631-0013.

Sunday, November 29

Today is the first Sunday in Advent, the beginining of the Christmas season. Even if you don’t celebrate Advent, it would be a nice evening to light some candles. If you head to Old Town Alexandria just before sunset, you can see the outdoor Christmas tree (or see the outdoor ones at Tysons Corner, Fairfax Corner or Reston Town Center, with social distancing).

Monday, November 30

Today is Cyber Monday, the official online Christmas shopping day. But….it’s has pretty much been Cyber Monday since March. But you might find a few bargains, if you need anything. Tonight is the full moon. The November full moon is known as the Beaver Moon. There will also be a penumbral lunar eclipse.

A soothing “log cabin” meditation to ease you into the new year

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

An excellent resolution for the new year would be to add meditation to your self care routine.

If you can’t meditate every day, why not resolve to meditate on Mondays? Meditation Mondays — that’s easy to remember.

Meditation is so good for you! It can help you reduce stress, alleviate depression and anxiety, improve your memory and prep your mind for better decision-making. Many report that meditation helps them sleep better and make mindful choices. It can even build up your immune system! Continue reading