Silly season. Party season. Feasting with family and friends season. Whatever you call the holidays – there’s no denying it’s a big time of the year. From the endless parties to the relentless gift shopping, the holidays take up a lot of energy. During such a busy period, it can be easy to just forget to… rest.
But, with intentional and mindful activities planned during the holiday season – it can be the most effective time you have to rejuvenate, re-energize and recuperate.
Here are 5 great ways to relax and recharge… as the champagne pours somewhere off in the distance.
A little solitude goes a long way.
If you’re an introvert, you’ll need your dedicated “me” time. To avoid running on empty, start your day with a morning ritual that involves no other people… just you. This way, you’ll be able to mentally prepare yourself for the socializing and stimulation the day will bring.
Balance out the big social gathering with more intimate ones.
In a sea of big, boisterous parties – it can be difficult to have meaningful conversations and bond with people you care about. Plan smaller, more intimate events with your partner, your two best friends, your mother, or your favorite colleague. These sort of parties leave you feeling energized rather than drained.
Make time to move your body.
It’s so easy to forget exercise over the holidays. But with its incredible ability to reduces stress, exercise is one of the most important things to keep up as part of your holiday routine. And, it doesn’t have to be a killer gym workout or hours on the treadmill – a nice hike, a spot of backyard yoga, or just a long walk will do the trick.
Get outside among nature.
Your body will not enjoy being cooped up inside all winter long. Spending time outside will help clear your mind, assist with prioritizing, and give your body a good dose of Vitamin D – which is super useful for dealing with stress.
Put work on pause… completely and entirely.
It can be tough to switch off. It really can. But if you have a job that allows you to take some time off, then actually take that time OFF. That means no work emails. No research. No talking to clients. Just chill and enjoy yourself so that you can go into the New Year well rested and ready to take on the world!
So you want to go vegan. You’ve heard about the ethical, environmental and health benefits the vegan lifestyle delivers and you want in. You’ve been planning it all year, but just haven’t quite gotten around to it. You reason that after the holidays and into the new year is the best time to make the transition – when the slate is clean and motivations are high.
But… how do you make the change, and make it successfully? Here are some useful tips and guidelines to ensure your transition to veganism is one that sticks.
Before anything else, make the effort to learn everything there is to know about veganism. This will really help you feel prepared and get you excited to embark on a positive life change. Read all about the benefits of the vegan lifestyle. Learn how to optimally nourish yourself on this diet so you won’t have any deficiencies. Start understanding ingredients lists and which ingredients are off-limits. All the insights will help you ease into a plant-based lifestyle with confidence and ease.
Add before you subtract.
Rather than just going cold turkey and eliminating all meat, dairy and eggs from your diet straight off the bat – start incorporating more vegan-friendly foods before you take anything out. That way, the transition will be smoother and won’t shock your body. Start adding more legumes, seeds, nuts, vegetables, non-dairy milk (like almond, rice, or soy) and tofu into your diet. You can also start a collection of delicious vegan recipes you can get excited about making.
Leave the hardest till last.
What’s your favorite food ever? That one you think you’re gonna have a really, really hard time letting go? That one. Maybe it’s a creamy feta cheese, or your Sunday morning eggs on toast. Whatever it is, don’t cut it out straight away. Leave it until last. Phase it out in a slow, controlled manner – this could take weeks or even months. You’ll find that the less you have it, the less you’ll crave it.
Learn all the good substitutes.
Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the good stuff. Did you know that nutritional yeast flakes make a great substitute for parmesan cheese? Or that coconut yogurt tastes just as good (if not better) than dairy yogurt? Experiment with all these substitutes to find which ones you like best. Soon enough, you’ll be creating your own new plant-based versions of traditional favorite recipes.
Don’t lose sight of why.
When the going gets tough, it’s easy to be tempted into giving in. But, when you know exactly why you decided to be vegan and remind yourself of that, you can quickly reign the temptations in. This is why it really helps to know all the benefits of a plant-based diet and the positive effects it has on our health, environment, and humanity.
There’s no getting around it. The holiday season is full of spiced lattés, sticky-date puddings and a never-ending selection of sweet treats. And no matter how much you try to abstain from the decadence, sooner or later – you will give in.
But if, and when, all the butter, sugar and indulgence gets a bit too much – you can still satisfy your sweet tooth (and not ostracize yourself from society) with these super healthy dessert recipes. That’s right, we just used the words HEALTHY and DESSERT in the same sentence – and with good reason, because we scoured the internet and found a whole bunch of guilt-free deliciousness.
Here are out top 7… so eat, enjoy and be merry!
1. Chocolate chip kale cookies
One of our fav gals, Chocolate Covered Katie, has come up with this completely outrageous yet completely delicious chocolate-chip cookie recipe that, quite frankly, is so wrong it’s right. Using spelt flour instead of regular, and packed with leafy greens, these cookies help you get your daily veg intake while tasting like… well, cookies.
Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it – we’re officially obsessed.
2. Samoa Bars
Have dietary restrictions? No worries. These scrumptious Samoa Bars by California’s own Bakerita are Gluten Free, Paleo, AND Vegan. You know what else they are? Utterly amazing.
With a caramel coconut filling, they’re so decadent it almost hurts. Oh and guess what, they’re packed with so much good stuff you can even have ‘em for breakfast. YEAH.
3. Strawberry Ice Cream
Making your own ice cream is one of those things that sounds really intimidating but actually isn’t. If you have a food processor, it’s as easy as 10 minutes and 4 ingredients. And with this recipe from Country Living, it’s only 70 calories per serving. Get on it.
4. Raw Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie Bars
Go weak in the knees for cheesecake? Don’t we all *sigh*. Love brownies? Us too. Packed with protein and healthy fats, these raspberry cheesecake brownie bars give you the best of both worlds – minus all the guilt. We’ll have five, please. Like right now.
5. Baked Peaches
Sometimes, the simplest things in life are the sweetest. Literally. These baked peaches taste so exceptional you won’t believe you’re just eating a piece of fruit. Add a spoonful of coconut yogurt to take it up a notch.
6. Pumpkin Pie
Who knew comfort food could be so nutritious? With a buttery, flaky crust and smooth, creamy filling – this is the ultimate crowd-pleasing dessert. A medley of delicious spices means that it fills your home with the most delicious scent while baking. Have yourself a slice… or three. We know we will be.
7. Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Another great recipe from our girl at Amy’s Healthy Baking. If you’re a sucker for chewy cookies and cinnamon tastes, you’ll fall head over heels for these oatmeal cookies. They have the most wonderful texture and a beautifully light and warming flavor. Consider us converts.
Uh-oh. You’ve done it again. You swore you’d do all your Christmas shopping in November in order to avoid the last-minute panic, but, alas – it’s now December and there’s not a single gift in sight.
Rest assured, we’ve all been there. In fact, we’ve been there so many times we consider ourselves experts in the field of last-minute gift shopping. We’ve used our extensive experience and put it to good use, compiling a list of excellent last-minute Christmas gifts that don’t involve you rushing down to the mall and picking up whatever’s left on the shelves.
What it does involve is a little light reading, the click of a couple buttons, then taking a big nap as a reward for being so very resourceful.
Without further ado…
Coffee table books, adult colouring books, or just a plain ol’ novel – whoever you’re buying for, we guarantee there’s a kind of book they’ll love. And they great thing is, books never go out of style – nor do they sell out. You can even get them online for ultimate ease.
READY-TO-GO GIFT PACKAGES
Isn’t it nice when someone else does all the hard work for you? Gift boxes are not only super cute, they’re also super convenient. Get one they’ll really get some use out of – like Raw Sugar’s Christmas Gift Box. It’s full of #rawlovin goodies that your friends will love – and that you’ll feel great about giving. Remember, our products are natural, cruelty-free, eco-friendly and ColdPressed® to seal in spades of delicious fruit nutrients. The perfect gift – available at your nearest Target.
Great gifts don’t have to break the bank. Do-it-yourself art or craft is the perfect way to personalize a meaningful gift. We love the idea of printing the covers of your loved ones’ favorite books, and arranging them in a frame to be hung on the wall. Or, you could do a watercolor painting, sketch, or just scour Pinterest for DIY craft ideas.
Why not make a batch of Christmas-themed bliss balls as a guilt-free gift for your friends? Find your favorite recipe online and then roll them in some festive add-ons – like pistachios and goji berries for a delicious green and red, Christmassy concoction you’d be crazy not to love.
Does someone you know love a certain magazine? Buying them an annual subscription as a gift is a great way to get them something they’ll really use. The best part? It’s instant! The subscription voucher will be ready to print and use immediately. Perfect for those of us who may or may not leave Christmas gifting to the night before. Oops.
Now that the holidays are upon, ’tis the season for taking a step back, getting cozy in a lounge chair, and indulging in life’s simplest gifts. It’s also the season of gratitude and giving back. Because if there’s anything the countless Christmas movies we’ve watched over the years have taught us, it’s that being generous is always a good idea.
When you perform acts of kindness – be they big or small – you’re positively impacting the world, and yourself, much more than you might think. Good deeds have a ripple effect – they encourage you to give again, inspire your recipient to do the same, and motivate people around you to act with kindness, too.
Because during a season that promotes overconsumption, a little giving goes a very long way.
1. Pick a reputable charity
Before opening your check book or logging into your PayPal account, do some research. Find a charity you feel passionate about through sites like Volunteer Match, Guidestar and Charity Navigator – all great resources for choosing the right nonprofit for you, and making sure it’s a reputable one.
2. Volunteer at a local food shelter or soup kitchen
It’s cold out, and many people are hungry. Dedicating a day to volunteering at a soup kitchen not only means you’re feeding those less fortunate, it’s also a great opportunity to talk to people from different walks of life and gain a new perspective.
3. Donate cans to a food bank
Collect a bunch of food cans, donate them to a food bank, and help reduce the amount of people who are hungry this holiday season. It’s a simple but effective way to lend a helping hand.
4. Donate your old jackets, coats and woolies
You know those old coats you have sitting in the far corner of your wardrobe? The ones you haven’t worn in months… or perhaps even years? Yeah, those ones. Group them into a bag and donate them to a charity to help keep someone else warm during the winter.
5. Buy books for the homeless
Books can change lives. They can ignite our imaginations, awaken new ideas and perspectives, teach us things we didn’t know, or simply allow us to get lost in a fantasy world that isn’t our own.
6. Donate blood
Save a life; donate blood. The American Red Cross encourages people to be blood donors, and your donation will really make a difference. In fact, just one pint of donated blood can save up to three lives. Scared of needles? You can just donate your blood instead!
7. Volunteer at an animal shelter
Spend some time caring for (and cuddling!) furry friends at a shelter over the holidays. Or, you can simply donate blankets, food and pet toys and treats.
8. Treat your neighbors
Connect with your community through small acts of kindness. Bake some cookies for the people next door. Make a batch of muffins for the old lady across the street. Invite a family over for dinner one night. Bask in the festive spirit.
9. Call an old friend
The holidays are a great time to re-connect with people you haven’t heard from in a while. Why not call that friend you haven’t spoken to in years? It’ll make their day – and maybe yours, too.
10. Give a compliment a day
Sometimes, making someone’s day can be as simple as a compliment. A comment of praise on a friend’s delicious homemade pumpkin soup. A appreciative remark on your co-worker’s joyous laugh. A few flattering words to waitstaff about their attentive approach. The only catch? It has to be genuine.
And hey, you may just love the feeling of giving to others so much that your generous festive spirit lives on well past Christmas.
Make your list and check it twice.
If you’re anything like us, then you’d know that holiday shopping is a little bit like running late to an important party or meeting a hectic deadline work – a mad scramble.
So this year, why not get organised a little early and avoid the frantic last-minute Christmas rush?
We’re stepping in to make life easy by compiling the ultimate holiday gift guide. Whether it be for your hard-to-impress boss, your thrift-shop-loving, eco-friendly bestie, or a mother-in-law who loves nothing more than an afternoon snuggled up on the couch – we’ve got all bases covered, so you can stress less and ease into the silly season poised and well-prepared.
If you’re shopping for…
THE FITNESS FANATIC
We all have that friend. You know, the one who makes you feel guilty for *only* working out three times a week because they’re at the gym every day – morning AND night? Yep, that one. A fitness fanatic can never have enough stylish sneakers – try and find a pair that shows off a bit of their personal style. Alternatively, a super-cute, BPA-free water bottle is another goodie.
THE ECO-CONSCIOUS FRIEND
This friend is a crusader – a lover of the earth and everything in it. They’ll only buy ethically-made clothing, carry around an eco-friendly coffee cup and never, ever go to the grocery store without their big shopper bag. This guy or gal will love anything thoughtful or repurposed – think herbs in old tomato tins, cute handkerchiefs, and even organic wine (they’re sure to do something clever with the bottle after it’s been downed!).
This is for the buddy whose idea of a good weekend is one spent curled up in bed all day, cosy socks on and good book in hand. This person will love anything that will bring them comfort and keep them occupied on a rainy day in – think fluffy slippers, comfy cushions or a good novel.
This is the friend you go to when you need someone to do your makeup for a special event. She has all the best products and knows all the latest trends, and her bathroom looks straight outta Sephora. This beauty maven will love a lush, rich body scrub or body butter – something she can really indulge in. Raw Sugar’s range of body care products are nutrient-packed and smell delicious beyond words – she’ll thank you for it.
THE ADVENTURE SEEKER
Whether they’re hiking up Everest or waking up in a campsite, this is a person who loves exploring the great outdoors. Get the adventurer in your life something that’ll come in handy the next time they’re exploring new terrain – a stylish but functional water flask, lightweight backpack or windproof jacket.
THE BOSS YOU WANT TO IMPRESS
This one’s a bit tricky, but really – the gift you get your boss should reflect the relationship you have with them. Do you love going out for coffee together in the morning? Get them a quality, luxurious coffee blend. Prefer to talk business over a whiskey after work? A nice bottle of aged scotch will do the trick. Alternatively, a planner or a nice gift box will be the perfect gift – think Raw Sugar’s Christmas Gift Box!
THE HARD-TO-SHOP-FOR DUDE
Don’t listen to the stereotypes, because life experience shows that men are notoriously hard to shop for. Treat the dude in your life to something he may not have yet – quality grooming products. We’re talking facial cleansers, moisturizers, and perhaps even a facial polish (like Raw Sugar’s Pure Facial Polish). Men tend to enjoy gifts they can use on a regular basis, and we guarantee – he’ll be addicted!