How to Feel Less Stressed on the Job

Even the best jobs can be stressful at times, so we sympathize with anyone stuck in a position that leaves them constantly anxious and on-edge. In some cases, such situations cannot be remedied and the best bet is to look for another position elsewhere. However, most of the time, you can make some positive changes that will greatly reduce the degree of stress you experience day-to-day at work.

Time Management

This is a huge thing no matter what kind of work you do while performing your role. People feeling stress on the job most often get that in that state because they are constantly running behind schedule. It can be an especially troublesome issue for positions with constant deadlines, such as writing.

The best way to head off this sort of anxiety is with effective time management. Go through your day and figure out the priorities. Make sure you have enough time allotted in order for you to, not only get them done, but still do a thorough and effective job. Things that are not crucial should be put off to the side.

Also, do your best to work in an environment with minimal distractions. If need be, try to start your day a bit early to ensure that everything is done. Losing a half hour of free time beats several hours of tooth-grinding stress.

Don’t Forget Breaks

While you are working on that time management schedule, don’t forget to include intermittent breaks. Working at a breakneck pace can seem like you are really getting things done, but no one can keep that up forever. Eventually, you will begin to wind down the and quality of your work will suffer.

It’s better to periodically recharge your batteries throughout the day, than to go full tilt and run out of gas by lunchtime.

Behave Yourself in Movie Theatres

Those of us of a certain age, who attend movie theatres on a regular basis, may sound even crankier than usual as of late. The reason is a serious decline in basic etiquette amongst filmgoers. Sure, there were always the occasional obnoxious or clued out patron in the past, but problems have escalated dramatically in the past few years. In fact, if it weren’t for my considerable love of cinema, I’m not sure I would ever set foot inside a multiplex anymore.

However, I am here to do more than just complain: I am here to offer advice on how you can be a model moviegoer and not contribute to that decline…

Turn Off Your Phone

That’s what I said, OFF. Not on vibrate, or just hidden in your coat or your purse. Both the noise and light of the device are annoying, so you must take care of both. No, it is not possible for you to text, talk, email, or play a game discreetly. There is a place for doing those things and it’s called the lobby.

Open Your Wrappers Before the Movie

As if popcorn munchers were not distracting enough, a lot of today’s concession stand candy comes in plastic wrappers than can be hellishly loud when torn or rustled. Open your food during the trailers and be discreet when accessing it during the movie.

Cut Down on the Talking

There’s nothing wrong with laughing during a comedy or screaming during a horror film. Other than that, people paid to hear the movie, not you. So zip your lip and keep it zipped once that movie company logo appears onscreen after the trailers.

Keep Control of Your Children

Going to a movie can be especially exciting for kids, but their enjoyment should never compromise anyone else’s ability to have fun. If your child can’t sit still and be reasonably quiet during a movie, then they probably aren’t old enough to see anything outside of your living room (boisterous behavior is OK for kiddie matinees, though).

 

5 Effortless Ways to Sleep Longer and Feel More Refreshed

We know a good night’s sleep is critical for our overall health and well-being. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over a third of adults don’t get enough sleep.

But there’s good news. If you’re stressing about not getting enough sleep, try one of these effortless, Harvard-approved techniques to sleep longer and feel more refreshed.

1. Let the Light In

Light has a huge effect on our circadian rhythm – the internal clock that runs regular intervals between sleepiness and alertness. Exposure to natural light is important in keeping this internal clock ticking on a healthy cycle. If you want to feel more refreshed after a night of sleep, leave the curtain or blinds open a crack to let the rising sun’s light in. It also helps to get outside and spend time under the sun mid-day.

2. Eat Lighter Evening Meals

Going to bed on a full stomach is likely to make it harder to sleep, especially if the food causes indigestion. Of course, hunger can be a sleep distraction as well. It’s all about balance.

Avoid eating anything substantial several hours before bedtime. If your schedule just doesn’t allow that kind of a break, try eating smaller meals throughout the day so you don’t have to go heavy on dinner. You should also balance your fluid intake, drinking enough to keep you hydrated, but not so much that you’ll wake up in the middle of the night.

3. Take Shorter Naps

Napping can be a highly refreshing. Some workplaces even encourage their employees to take a short mid-day nap! However, taking long naps, especially later in the day, can hinder your ability to get a good night’s rest. We don’t think you should cut out napping entirely if it helps you feel good, but you should consider making it brief if you find yourself laying in bed awake at night.

4. Have a Simple, Effortless Nighttime Routine

Having a relaxing evening routine can help ease the transition from wake time to sleep time. However, this can be a daunting prospect for those who have a tight schedule or have difficulty starting new habits.

Worry not – your bedtime routine doesn’t have to involve complicated relaxation exercises, heavy reading, or scented bubble baths. Instead of forcing yourself to engage in something new, build your routine around avoiding stressful, stimulating ones. Stimulating and stressful activities cause your body to produce the stress hormone cortisol, which makes you more alert. Just do something that causes zero stress – whether that’s petting your dog, cleaning the counters, or watching your favourite TV show for the hundredth time. Whatever works!

5. Set the Stage for Hibernation

Where do bears go to hibernate? Caves. Quiet, dark, cool environments promote sound and refreshing slumber. Your bedroom doesn’t need to resemble a den, but it should hit those three big points if you want to get the best, most refreshing sleep possible. Turn down the volume with earplugs or a white noise machine, dim the lights (including the glow of electronics), and turn the thermostat down a few degrees to create a sleep-inducing space.

3 Things You Should Be Doing to Beat Holiday Stress

beat holiday stress

Breathe. Take a step back. Focus on now.

We all know the basics of mindfulness. However, when things start moving quickly, as they often do over the Novermber-December holidays, it’s easy to forget. Stress can cast a shadow over the holidays – but these holiday mindfulness tips can help beat stress before it makes its mark.

Let Your Emotions Come

For many people, the holidays invoke a whole host of mixed emotions. The decorations and the music can bring both the warm, fuzzy side of nostalgia and a sense of loss and longing over days gone by. Gift-giving can invoke both excitement and anxiety over giving (and receiving) the perfect gift. For those who find themselves alone, the holidays can exacerbate feelings of isolation.

This is normal. Expect it and accept it. Don’t bury your negative emotions for the sake of playing the perfect host – give yourself time and space to acknowledge your feelings, and if possible, share them with someone you trust.

Know Your Needs

Once December rolls around, you often find yourself with a whole lot more on your plate than you did in previous months. Even if your family eschews the mandatory gift-giving, it’s likely you’ll be expected to appear at a number of holiday-related functions, which can ramp up the stress for those who find these events difficult. The marathon of obligations can be exhausting.

Don’t let your own needs get lost in the holiday hustle. You can’t please everyone, and sometimes, it’s better to sit out for your own sake. If you find yourself the host of these events, find someone who can help share the responsibilities so you have time to care for yourself as well.

Let Go

Just think: a few weeks from now, you’ll probably be sitting down with your family for a traditional holiday meal. Does the scene fill you with excitement? Or did a little bit of dread just enter your heart?

Some people have nothing but good feelings for their families. But for many, family gatherings are a mixed bag. There are happy reunions, to be sure, but there are also old grudges and difficult memories.

By now, you’re probably already looking ahead to 2018. While it’s important not to dwell too much on things yet to come, living in the past can be just as destructive. The holidays can be a helpful opportunity to contemplate things you’ve been holding onto, and let go.

Exercise Can Help With Your Depression

We all know the amazing things that regular exercise does for the human body and our overall health. However, did you know that regular physical activity is also good for your brain? Not only does it help to make us mentally sharper, exercise can actually help you to overcome bouts of depression and/or anxiety.

You know how good you feel after a workout? Those brain chemicals generated by physical activity can also help depressed people achieve a greater sense of balance. Best of all, they are doing it in a completely natural way that has other benefits for them as well and can supplement additional forms of therapy without causing any kind of conflict.

By Anne Kohler (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Getting out to the gym, or even just going for a run in the area, increase the possibilities for human connection. That means a better chance of meeting someone who can become a friend and an ally. People suffering from depression and anxiety will often isolate themselves, but this only makes their conditions worse in the long run. Getting out of their home and exercising has a dual benefit in this case.

People with mental health problems usually don’t sleep well because their minds are often racing with distracting thoughts they have trouble turning off. Exercising helps to tire you out; when timed right, this can increase make both body and mind more receptive to sleep.

Exercising, particularly when doing activities like Pilates which stretch the muscles, can be great for reducing muscle tension. People battling mental health problems tend to have tense muscles, which leads to discomfort, additional anxiety or depression, and poor sleep. Stretching and relaxing those muscles can help to reduce the symptoms by causing both mind and body to attain a greater sense of ease.

 

Don’t Forget the Importance of Fire Safety

Contemporary life has many responsibilities, so it is difficult to keep up with all of them. That can often mean addressing the most urgent ones first and then ultimately forgetting about some other important issues. For example, if our furnace dies, that is something at the forefront of our mind and a problem that will be fixed posthaste. This results in things like fire safety not always receiving the attention they should. Here are some reasons why you need to remember this important issue:

Smoke alarms

Make sure that you have one installed on every floor of your home including the attic and basement. Be sure to periodically test them to make sure that the battery or electrical connection is still working. Mark a date on your calendar each month so that you remember to do it.

Keep an eye on the stove

It always pays to be attentive when cooking because you food tends to turn out better that way. Also, it makes for a safer kitchen since you are keeping an eye on what you have cooking. Do not ever put something on the stove and then leave the kitchen for an extended period because you may come back to a house on fire.

Map out an escape plan

Sit down with your family and discuss what you will do in case of a fire. Make sure that everyone knows where the exits are and what they should do if they cannot access one of them. If you are not sure about how to do this, consult your local fire department for advice.

Smoking safety

If you must smoke, make sure to do it outside only. Do not under any circumstances smoke in bed or anywhere near oxygen containers. Make sure that all cigarette and cigar butts are extinguished (you can use water just to make sure). E-cigarettes are not exempt from safety concerns; they can have faulty batteries that ignite during charging.

Thinking About Starting a Blog? Here’s Why You Definitely Should

Do you have a blog? Are you thinking about starting one? Blogs have become extremely popular over the years, so we are guessing that you probably already know someone who has one. Or at least had one. It seems like many blogs are started in earnest, but soon abandoned.

So, let us say that you want to start a blog, but do not want to fall into the trap of losing interest early on. Here are some reasons why you should go ahead and give it a shot:

Practice makes perfect

While it sounds like it would be worlds away, writing is actually not all that different from, say, hockey. The similarity being that the more you practice, the better you get. It is important to maintain a regular schedule with a blog, so that means you will be writing on a regular basis. It may be time-consuming, but you will get better and it will get easier.

Meet others with similar interests

Whether your blog is read by only 100 people or 100,000 people, it provides a way for you to connect with others who have similar interests. This can result in wonderful, long-lasting friendships and sometimes even romantic relationships.

Lets your voice be heard

Before the days of the Internet, it was tough for the average person to get their opinion out there and heard. The Internet helped to level the playing field significantly. You can post and comment on social media, but having your own blog can add a level of credibility to your opinion.

You can sometimes make money with it

Blogs that have significant followings can attract major advertisers and some blog writers have been able to quit their regular jobs as a result. It can also bring you to the attention of publishers who are willing to pay you for your writing.

Your Essential Canadian Fall Maintenance Routine

Yet another Canadian summer has gone by, and it’s already time to get ready for the long, chilly winter to come. Don’t wait until the snow rolls in to prepare – take care of these essential home maintenance tasks before the last leaf hits the ground.

Check Safety Devices

It’s never a bad time to inspect your smoke and carbon monoxide detector, but it’s especially important to do so in the fall. You’ll be switching on the furnace and lighting the fireplace in the next few months, so make sure you’re protected in case of trouble. Replace batteries and test your devices to make sure they’re in good working order.

Have Your Furnace Inspected

Your furnace has been sitting dormant for the last few months, so now is the time to get it back up and running. You don’t want to wait until the cold weather hits to discover you have a problem. HVAC companies are flooded with calls at the start of each winter, and you may have to wait in line or pay a premium if you need service right away. Instead, call the pros now and have them test for leaks, check the efficiency of your furnace, and replace the air filter.

While you’re at it, it’s time to put away the air conditioner for another year. If you have a window unit, remove it and put it somewhere safe and dry until spring, and cover outdoor units to protect them from the incoming weather.

Drain outdoor faucets

You won’t be doing much gardening or car-washing this winter, so it’s best to drain out your outside taps. Shutting them off isn’t enough, as there may be leftover water in the pipes that could freeze and burst when it goes below zero. All outdoor faucets have an indoor shutoff valve, usually located on the wall of your basement where the pipe exits the house. Shut it off, then open the outside faucet to let it drain completely before turning it back into the off position.

Caulk Windows and Doors

Gaps and cracks in windows, doors, and other opening are one of the biggest sources of heat loss in the winter. To keep your heating bill from rising, do a check of the perimeter and caulk over any gaps you see between windows, doors, vents, exhaust fans, and any cables or pipes running outside the house (including the above-mentioned tap.)

If you feel a draft coming in, but you can’t spot a hole, there’s an easy way to check. Light a candle and hold it to the cold spot; if the candle flickers, you’ve got a gap. You can also identify small gaps with the help of a professional energy auditor.

Clean Eaves and Downspouts

It’s a messy job, but not as messy as dealing with the potential consequences of neglecting your eavestrough. When the channel gets clogged with leaves and debris, water can build up on your roof and seep into the house. The problem gets worse when winter rolls around, as the debris forms an ‘ice dam’ and causes snow to build up.

Once the trees are mostly done losing their leaves, climb up and remove as much of the debris as you can. Be sure to wear safety gloves, and always use safety equipment to prevent falls. If you’re not confident or you lack the necessary equipment, hire a professional to do the job for you.

 

The Benefits of Massage

Everyone loves a good massage, especially after a long day of work or a particularly vigorous game of team sports. But have you ever thought about the actual benefits of a massage? Sure, it is a great way to relieve stiffness and pain, but here are some other things to think about the next time you are lying on the table and your massage therapist is working out those kinks:

Anxiety AND DEPRESSION

Anxiety can be difficult to live with. When we are anxious, it is common for our muscles to tense up and knot. You know the feeling: you can almost feel the muscle lumps under your skin. That state can be extremely uncomfortable, which has the side effect of potentially making a person’s anxiety even worse. Massage causes your muscles to relax, making it easier for your whole body to follow suit.

Anxiety and depression can go hand-in-hand, and studies show that massage can also help to ease the effects of depression.

BETTER SLEEP

The more relaxed you are, the better your sleep will likely be. Also, if you suffer from pain, the relief a massage brings can also make it easier to drop off at night.

HELPS COUNTER THE EFFECTS OF SEDENTARY JOBS

It seems like there is a new report every week on the negative effects of jobs that find people spending extended amounts of time sitting. In addition to the negative effects this can have on your circulation and heart, it can cause your muscles to become knotted up, as well as neck and back strain; a massage can help a lot with these.

IMPROVE YOUR EXERCISE LEVELS

Most exercises are more effective if the participants do some stretching first. Massage is even better at relaxing those muscles and leaving you in a physical state that is perfect for everything from Pilates to marathon running.

Relaxation Techniques for People With Anxiety

It is normal to feel some anxiety in life; it can even be a positive thing in small doses. However, when it becomes a daily occurrence or actually leads to panic attacks and other debilitating moments, this is of definite concern. There are many reasons why anxiety occurs and a therapist is the one best qualified to determine what may behind it. However, there are things you can do on your end to relieve the symptoms of anxiety:

Deep Breaths

When you feel yourself in the grip of anxiety, take several deep breaths. Set aside a few minutes a couple of times each day to practice this technique. Exhale slowly. You should feel your heart rate start to slow down. This can be done anywhere. Close your eyes if it helps you to retain focus.

Exercise

Exercise is good for us on many levels, and it also helps us to relax. It doesn’t have to be very involved; even a simple walk will help. However, if you are motivated to do something more involved and intense, absolutely do so.

Visualization

We all have places that we enjoy and hold fond memories for us. Do you like the ocean? Close your eyes and imagine gentle waves lapping against the shore on a calm summer’s day. Now imagine the sounds that go with it: a calm breeze, the water rhythmically reaching the shore and receding, the sound of seagulls talking to one another down the beach, etc. This sounds like a simple method, but it can be highly effective.

Creativity

Do you like to draw? Paint? Create word games? Doing something that stimulates your creativity can be highly effective at distracting your mind. It also helps you to accomplish something positive at a time when you are feeling unhappy about how life is going.

How and When to Start a Vegetable Garden in Ontario

Living in Ontario means dealing with fluctuating temperatures year-round, which can be a challenge for novice gardeners. But you can still have your own successful vegetable garden if you plan it right and take regular care of your plants. Here’s a starter’s guide to starting a vegetable garden in Ontario.

Size and Location

If you’re new to growing your own food, it’s best to start small. The bigger the garden, the more maintenance it’ll take to keep it healthy. We recommend choosing an area in your yard between 3 and 5 metres square. You can always expand it next year if you find you have a knack for gardening!

Choose a spot where the ground is level to ensure water doesn’t pool at one area of the garden. Vegetables need at least six hours of sun a day, so choose a spot on the southern or western side of your house that gets plenty of light.

It helps if you can pick an area close to your faucet. This will reduce the time it takes to water your garden.

Preparing the Soil

Before you start planting, prepare the soil by raking out stones and pulling weeds. The best soil for gardening is soft, loamy, and rich in nutrients. If you’re planning an organic garden, be sure your soil is organic as well.

Choosing Plants

Ontario has a short growing season, but there are still many vegetables that do well in our climate. Easy beginner plants include tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, chard, radishes, peppers, cabbage, lettuce and beets. Pick your favourites, but be sure to have a mind for companion planting. Not all vegetables do well when planted side-by-side.

As a beginner, one of the decisions you’ll have to make is whether to start from seeds or seedlings. Seeds are less expensive, but they can be a challenge to get going. Buying plants from a nursery costs more, but it gives you a leg-up by eliminating the trouble of germinating the seeds. Planting seedlings also lets you start later in the growing season; seeds need to be in the ground as early as spring.

When to Plant

Here in Ontario, the weather is far too volatile to set strict planting dates. Instead, it’s best to pay attention to the soil temperature and frost when determining when to plant.

Most seeds should be planted a certain number of week before or after the ‘last frost date’, meaning the date after which there’s only a 10% chance of a hard frost. That falls mid to late May for most of southern Ontario, but it can vary year-to-year. The soil temperature can also fluctuate with the weather.

This is another reason seedlings are an easier option for newbies!

Planting

When it’s time to plant, mark your rows with stakes to indicate what kind of vegetable is there and when it was planted. Follow the instructions on the seed packet or card that came with the seedling; otherwise, you can find guidance on how to plant different vegetables on the Farmer’s Almanac site.

Be sure to plant taller plants on the northern and eastern side of your garden plot. Otherwise, they could shade the shorter plants and reduce the amount of sun they get.

If you’re working with seedlings, choose an overcast day but dry day on which to plant. This will reduce the stress on the plants.

Weeding

You should start weeding your garden right away, as they compete with your plants for nutrients and growing space. If you let them grow too much, you risk damaging the roots of your vegetables when you pull the weeds out. Set a regular schedule of once or twice a week, depending on your weed situation.

Weeding is easier on days when the soil is moist, such as the day after rain or watering.

Watering

Most vegetables need 3-4cm of water each week to thrive. You must water your plants several times a week if it doesn’t rain, especially when your plants are young. Small plants have shallow roots, so they can’t reach the moist soil further below the surface.

Always water in the morning or early afternoon. Watering later in the day means the leaves will be wet overnight, which makes them more susceptible to pests and fungal disease.

Mulching

Mulch is a soil cover made from organic material like hay, leaves, peat moss, or grass clipping, Once your plants have reached a height of 10cm or more, you should lay mulch around them. This helps to prevent weeds and cools the soil down to conserve moisture.

Planning a Landscape in 7 Steps

Creating a beautiful landscape takes time.

A landscape should be both beautiful and functional for the people who use it. Home renovation shows make it look easy, but good landscaping takes a lot of time and planning. Before you break ground, be sure you’ve considered each of the following steps in the landscaping process.

1. What Do You Need?

Think about how you plan to use the space. Do your kids need somewhere to play? Are you hoping to start a vegetable garden? How often do you have friends and family over for dinner? These answers should inform the decisions you make regarding your landscape. Don’t forget to consider special needs, such as pollen allergies and the need for wheelchair access.

2. What Do You have?

Many landscaping mistakes occur because the person forgot to consider the space they’re working with. It’s worth the time to study the sun, wind, and drainage patterns of your yard before you start planning the landscape. For instance, you may not want to put a patio in an area that gets tons of sunlight, but a vegetable garden would go great there.

3. Consider Maintenance

How much time and money are you willing to spend keeping your landscape beautiful? Think about how much effort it’ll take to mow that lawn, water those flowers, and weed that garden bed. You can cut the time you spend on maintenance by adding some low-maintenance plants, like shrubs and trees, and covering areas of lawn with a patio.

4. Sketch it Out

While you surely have a vision of the perfect yard, it can be hard to visualize the steps you need to take to make it come together. Once you’ve decided what need from the space, draw an overhead map of your yard on a piece of graph paper and start sketching it out.

5. Start with the Hardscape

Hardscaping refers to elements of the landscape that will remain static, like a porch, sidewalk, driveway, deck, fence, patio, or rocks. Adding the hardscape usually involves some construction, so you should get it done before you start planting.

6. Lay the Soil

It takes time for plants to grow in and look their best, but you can speed up the process and ensure your plants take root by adding good soil with organic matter. Loose, fertile soil will help your new plants establish quickly. The DIY Network recommends using a garden hose to lay out the lines of your garden beds, then use orange spray paint to mark the lines before you put down soil.

7. Choose the Right Plants

Your choice of plants will depend on your personal preference and the climate where you live. However, there are a few key points for greenery success in any landscape:

  • Plant to compliment your house. Put low-growing shrubs and plants in front of low windows an porches, and larger plants at the corners of the house to help frame it.
  • Plant around focal points. Choose a stand-out feature that draws the eye, like a tree, sculpture, rock, or shrub, and coordinate your flower beds around it.
  • Plant with variety. Select plants of various sizes, shapes, and colours to make your landscape interesting. Spread them throughout the yard to pull the design together.