5 Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

Joy, excitement, anticipation…and stress.  These are four very common emotions that run high during the  holiday season. And in all honesty, we could do without the fourth one–stress.

After all, having a panic attack in the middle of singing Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer is not fun for anyone.

If we desire joy, peace, and happiness, why is it that we let ourselves succumb to the madness of the season?

We believe there are two major reasons.

  1. We focus so much on others and forget to take care of our own needs.
  2. We get caught up in the whirlwind of holiday activities and forget to take a moment to breathe.

If you’re looking to take the stress out of the holiday season this year, we recommend you take to heart the following tips….

Tip #1 — Make Time for  Self-Care

It’s the season of giving. And trust us, there’s nothing more wonderful than giving your time, attention, and resources to others.

That being said, it’s not okay to forget about yourself.

Self-care is necessary if you want to keep stress levels low and be able to remain calm when the cat knocks all the ornaments off the tree or when your in-laws have overstayed their welcome.

Make time every day to do something for you–whether it be making a meal you love, sitting down with a good book, or watching your favorite television show.

We promise, there’s nothing wrong with asking your partner to bake the cookies for your kid’s class party or saying no to an event so you have time to stay home and relax.

Tip #2 — Say No to Things You Don’t Want to Do/Don’t Have Time For

Between organizing parties, attending events, hosting fundraisers, and other activities, there’s a lot on your schedule during the holidays.

It’s easy to overbook yourself…especially if you’re a people pleaser who doesn’t want to disappoint. But, the reality is, you just can’t do it all without getting stressed out.

This year, say no to the things that you don’t want to do or don’t have time for.

Your office holiday party will still be a hit even if the cupcakes you bring are store-bought instead of homemade, and your town’s holiday festival will still go on without your presence.

Slim down your schedule this year, and you’ll find the season much more enjoyable. We promise.

Tip #3 — Get Organized

One of the best ways to manage holiday stress is to get organized. And even at this point in the month, there’s plenty you can do to get ahead before overwhelm and stress get too out of hand.

Here are a few ideas…

  • Sweet lovers–Schedule a grocery trip to get all of your baking supplies at once. Store it in your pantry so it’s ready whenever you get the itch to bake.
  • Party attendees–Make sure you place all your events on a calendar so you can clearly see how your time is scheduled.
  • Gift givers–Make a list of all the gifts you’ll be purchasing this year. Then schedule a shopping day to get all your shopping done.

We recently wrote a post on ways to get organized for the holiday season. Check out some additional ideas and read the blog here.

Tip #4 — Keep Things Simple

There’s no need to overcomplicate things during the holidays. Yet, it’s something too many of us seem to do (especially after reading Southern Living or a lifestyle blog that makes you want to wow friends and family and attempt your own centerpiece made out of fruit).

Fret not, overachiever. Here are a few ways to keep it simple and lower your stress levels:

  • If you love baking, but don’t have time to make everything from scratch, buy premade cookie dough.
  • If you want to give your loved ones gifts this year, but are stressing out over what to buy them, give them money or gift cards.
  • If you’re hosting a holiday party, but are worried about making dinner and prepping for all those people, have the event catered.

You get the idea…keep it simple!

Tip #5 — Practice Meditation or Deep Breathing Exercises

Meditation and deep breathing exercises are scientifically proven to clear your mind, slow your heart rate, and reduce your stress levels.

If you’re feeling stressed, try to practice some form of meditation each day.

Not sure where to start?

We recommend taking a yoga class or a meditation/wellness class in your community.

Or, if you’re looking for a free option, check out YouTube. Search for “yoga instruction” or “deep breathing exercises,” and pages of free videos will pop up for you to use.

What do you do to stay stress-free during this busy season? Let us know in the comments below!

Easy Activities to Help You Get into a Workout Routine


Getting into a workout routine isn’t the easiest thing to do.

And it’s even harder if you’ve been put on medical rest due to an illness or injury.

The good news, however, is that it’s easy to take baby steps to get yourself back into an exercise routine.

There are many activities you can do in your home, outdoors, or at a community gym to help you build up your stamina again.

So we’d like to share some of our favorite activities with you to get you started with a new workout routine.

Before we begin, we’d like to remind you to check with your physician before you begin a new workout program.

This is especially important if you’ve had surgery or a serious illness such as cancer.


Walking is a great activity for so many reasons.

When you walk on a regular basis it helps improve blood circulation, strengthens muscles and joints, and helps you maintain a healthy weight.

The best part is that you can do it virtually anywhere.

Take a walk around your neighborhood, do a few laps around your home, or jump on a treadmill at your gym.

Start by walking small distances. As your body gets stronger and builds endurance, increase your distances.

Make walking more fun by bringing a friend along. What a great way to exercise and catch up on each other’s lives at the same time!


Swimming is a wonderful activity and is very refreshing on a hot day. This activity is great for heart health—it’s by far one of the best cardio activities you can do besides running.

And when you swim, you are working all of your muscles and getting a full body workout.

This activity is perfect for people who are healing from injuries or those who can’t put a ton of stress on the body.

The reason… it’s one of the lowest impact exercises you can do.

Many gyms or community centers such as the YMCA have pools you can access for a small fee.

Better yet, find a friend or family member with a pool and schedule a swimming date!


Yoga is all the rave almost everywhere. So why not give it a try?

Especially because it’s been proven to help keep you flexible, build muscle, drop blood pressure, and regulate your adrenal glands.

This activity is great because it allows you to start slow and move at your own pace. As time goes on, you’ll build endurance and progress to more advanced yoga techniques.

Many gyms and fitness centers offer yoga classes for beginners. You can also find yoga videos in stores or on YouTube to do at home.

All of these activities are fun, come with valuable health benefits, and will put you on the path to becoming a stronger and healthier individual.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a friend, and with your doctor’s permission, get going!

Whats your favorite exercise activity?

Comment below!

The Benefits of Yoga


If you’ve faced breast cancer, you know how hard it can be to get back in the swing of everyday life after treatment.

After your courageous battle, it’s important to find an outlet that allows you to take care of yourself mentally and physically.

For many women, this outlet is yoga.

Yoga is a wonderful exercise that combines both physical activity and meditation.

This gentle activity is a fun and relaxing way to help heal both your body and your mind.

On top of those benefits, yoga classes are also great places to meet new friends, start new relationships, and build support systems.

It’s no secret as to why this activity is so popular.

If you’ve never tried yoga before, here are some reasons you’ll want to check it out.

Note: Please consult with your doctor before participating in any form of physical activity.

Also, by no means is yoga a cure to cancer or any other disease.

Physical Health

Yoga provides many health benefits.

Improved flexibility is one of the most obvious benefits of yoga.

Over time, the stretching motions in this activity help you become more limber.

As your muscles loosen, you might also notice less aches and pains in your body due to tight joints loosening.

Yoga is also a strengthening exercise.

Instead of focusing on individual muscles, yoga targets core muscle groups.

This approach helps you build strength with less risk of getting injured in the process.

One more major benefit of yoga is increased blood flow.

Deep breathing exercises and instructed body alignment allow more oxygen to reach your blood cells.

This exercise also has the ability to boost the levels of hemoglobin and red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues.

Mental Health

If you’re stressed out or tense, yoga might be able to help.

The deep breathing exercises commonly used during this exercise are meant to calm and soothe the mind.

In tandem, yoga helps relieve tension and stress in the body.

This calming combination can help you relax, clear your mind, and get rid of negative energy.

Reminder: If you’re dealing with anxiety, depression, or any other mental illness, yoga is not a cure.

Please see your doctor immediately.


Last, but certainly not least, is one of our favorite benefits of yoga: it builds confidence.

It gives you the power to learn new skills, strengthen your body, and set goals for yourself—all within a community or class of people that will support and encourage you.

Yoga opens up the opportunity for you to see just how strong, powerful, and beautiful you truly are, despite what you’ve faced in the past.

Interested in other ways to stay calm and centered throughout the day? Check out these techniques.

The Actual Difference Between Yoga and Pilates


Stones vs. Beatles, Yankees vs. Red Sox…yoga vs. pilates?

There are some brand warriors who swear by yoga or pilates.

But we want to know what’s the actual difference between the two?

To us, they both look like a bunch of spandex wearing people contorted into impossible positions—okay, so sometimes we are those people (although, we never seem to look quite like Kate Hudson in the those new Fabletics commercials…).

Even for those of us who have dabbled in yoga and pilates, we still want to know: what is the real difference?

We’ve sent in our private, yoga-pant sporting, detectives to get to the bottom of this never-ending debate.


We’ll start with yoga since it’s been around for a couple thousand years. Yoga focuses on flexibility, strength, endurance, and spirituality. Rooted in ancient Indian culture, yoga unites your mind, body, and spirit through movement, breathing techniques, and meditation. Yoga’s primary goal is to concentrate on your breath while deepening into poses.


Pilates has been around for about a century, and is also rapidly growing in popularity. Pilates focuses on core strength and precise movements. The majority of pilates takes place lying horizontal on the floor working abdominal muscles, whereas yoga is primarily done remaining vertical—although both include certain exercises that involve the contrary.


Here’s a curveball for you—PiYo is an exercise that combines the flexibility of yoga with the muscle sculpting of pilates. Unlike yoga and pilates, PiYo speeds motions up so that you’re not holding positions for a long period of time. For those who get a little impatient with slow movements, this may be the workout for you!

Our Conclusion: Mix it up! Why not reap the benefits of all three? By regularly alternating exercises, you are less likely to get bored and you receive a full body workout.

We’d love to hear your favorite workouts in the comments below!

Holiday Stress Getting to You? Here’s Our De-stressing Tips

8179594890_3fb4115dc8_mBetween all of the holiday shopping, decorating, parties, getting your house ready for guests, and wrapping galore, it’s easy to lose your mind during the holiday season.

As fun and exciting as this time of year can be, let’s face it…sometimes you just want to scream: “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!”

Instead of telling you to just breathe—which might make you more stressed—we’re sharing our tips of how to keep the holiday stress from getting to you. Try these ideas to help you re-center, and remember that this season is a magical time of year to reconnect with family and friends.

Give Yoga a Try

Yoga improves your mind, benefits your body, and balances your spirit. Because yoga involves a series of poses while in a flow-like state, you strengthen your mind as you work out your body (talk about a win-win!).

Yoga benefits your mind, by teaching you how to breathe deeply and slowly. Unlike short and nervous breathing, long and controlled breaths train your brain to focus on consistent thinking. If you feel as if you’re constantly distracted, a yoga session will bring attention back to your inner thoughts. Because yoga puts you in a state of calm and control, you become more familiar with your body’s way of coping with stress. And let’s be honest, we could all use some self-centering during the holidays.

Enjoy a Spa Day

Muscles tightening up to the point where you feel “locked up” in certain positions? We know how it feels. Stress can lead to physical pain, especially in the neck and shoulders. Before the pain becomes unbearable, there’s something you can do to “reset” your body and mind: visit a spa! What’s the harm in getting treated like a King or Queen for a while? Gift yourself this season with a relaxing massage or facial!

Snuggle Up with a Mug of Hot Cocoa

On a tight budget after buying all of those holiday gifts? Sometimes curling up with a blanket and mug of hot cocoa, while watching your favorite holiday movie, can be just as good for the soul as therapy! Some of our favorites: Elf, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and The Polar Express. Don’t forget the marshmallows!

What’s Your Favorite Part of the Holidays? Share Below:

Online Fitness Programs for Easy Access from Your Home

For many of us, working out at home has a few distinct advantages: it’s less expensive than a gym membership, it’s convenient (we can work out in our pajamas if we wish), and we can own a variety of programs so we don’t become bored. Online fitness programs are everywhere, and there is a program for everyone. An added advantage is that you can do online fitness programs anywhere you are. Following are three of our favorites.

My Yoga Online

No matter whether you’re a beginner or an avid practitioner, My Yoga Online has workouts and poses for you, as well as Pilates and meditation programs. You can choose specific programs, such as a yoga detox, weight loss, Vinyasa yoga, and sleeping tools. You can also pay one price for a premium membership and take full advantage of the entire site and all the programs. You’ll also find forums, featured articles, and music for your yoga practice.


Unlike My Yoga Online, DailyBurn gives you unfettered access when you join, plus a 30-day trial. The website claims to have workouts ranging from yoga to MMA, so boredom shouldn’t be an issue. DailyBurn also helps you track your progress so you know where you stand and can stay motivated. It doesn’t merely track calories burned by exercise, however. You can also track your diet and your goals. DailyBurn’s mobile app lets you keep tabs on your workouts while on the go.

Bods for Broads
Bods for Broads features a live personal trainer via Skype, which helps you stay private and able to work out anywhere. The site also offers a virtual fitness group of like-minded people to help you stay motivated and offer support. You won’t see them, but you can talk to them at the end of each workout. Bods for Broads also offers help with nutrition and skin care, equipment and clothing, and group training.

Finding your best online fitness program may be a process of trial and error, so be sure to research each program thoroughly, along with its pros and cons. Don’t be afraid to use a variety of programs, as you’ll keep yourself motivated and interested in what you’re doing.

Top 5 Yoga Studios in Charleston

charleston yogaYoga is one of the most effective ways to develop a mind-body connection and improve health and flexibility. Following are five of the top yoga studios in the Charleston area.

Charleston Power Yoga: www.charlestonpoweryoga.com

A Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga affiliate studio, Charleston Power Yoga promises to provide a “challenging, dynamic combination of strength, sweat, and flexibility sure to push you to your edge, yet accessible to all body types.”

In addition to an amazing yoga experience, Charleston Power Yoga offers a unique boutique with One of a Kind Yoga Bags from The Rose Knot and handmade jewelry from yogi Stella Maris. Yoga gear includes Manduka mats and Yogitoes.

Bikram Yoga Charleston: www.bikramcharleston.com

With two locations in downtown Charleston and Mt. Pleasant, Bikram Yoga offers hot yoga for all levels and abilities. Bikram yoga consists of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises and works every muscle in your body.

Many clients say they feel more positive and have strengthened their bodies and calmed their minds. Others say yoga has helped them lost weight and change their spirit and soul. Between the two studios, over 50 classes a week are available.

Daniel Island Yoga: www.danielislandyoga.com

Diane Zalka’s YogaFit® and Sadhana Yoga Chi holistic style flow in her sessions, which according to the website “strive to create holistic balance, personal growth, and harmony by focusing on flexibility, strength, balance, breath, body awareness, alignment, relaxation, healing the body, calming the mind, and lifting the spirit.”

Zalka, a retired teacher and Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher, believes yoga is for everyone and offers a range of classes at Pierce Park Pavilion, Daniel Island Park Club, and The Field House. Sessions include YogaFit for Kids, Sunrise Yoga, and Restorative Therapeutic Yoga.

Holy Cow Yoga and Artistic Center: www.holycowyoga.com

Holy Cow Yoga has been a fixture in the Charleston area for 12 years and offers a variety of yoga classes including Vinyasa flow, gentle-restorative, yin, children’s, and prenatal. These classes range from challenging to relaxing, and the environment is supportive and dynamic.

Workshops offered include Hip Helper with Steven Willard, Meditation Immersion with Trace Sahaja Bonner, Yoga and the Pelvic Floor with Leslie Howard, and Food for Life with Ayla Sarnoff. Holy Cow Yoga’s Om Store features organic yoga clothes, Kulae eco mats, and eye pillows.

Serenity Now Yoga: www.serenitynowyoga.net

Located near Mt. Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, and downtown Charleston, Serenity Now Yoga focuses on not only yoga, but also offers free meditation instruction and special workshops and events. Their philosophy is that yoga should be accessible to anyone, no matter the fitness level or the age, and their mission is to serve all students who wish to develop a yoga practice.

The instructors at Serenity Now recognize the spiritual component of yoga and are careful to respect that everyone has a different spiritual path. While every session includes the traditional aspects of yoga such as yama, niyama, and pranayama, every instructor leaves room for students to include them in their practice as they wish.

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How to Address Stubborn and Chronic Back Pain

back painBack pain is not merely inconvenient; it can incapacitate you and make everyday living painful and difficult. Statistics show that 70–80% of us experience severe or prolonged back pain at some point in our lives.

In addition to pain relief creams and stretching exercises to do at home, your doctor can prescribe heat treatments, braces, and medications. If you have stubborn or chronic pain and are open to complementary or alternative therapy, you can manage back issues whether your pain is in the neck or upper, middle, or lower back.

Always keep your doctor informed about any complementary therapies you decide to try, and make sure that any professionals you work with are appropriately licensed in their fields. A simple Google search will tell you all you need to know about certification and licensure.

Yoga and Tai Chi

The slow, gentle movements in yoga and tai chi stretch your back muscles and increase blood flow, helping to reduce pain. No matter which part of your back hurts, your instructor will know at least one pose to alleviate pain—and you’ll feel relief in minutes. Yoga and tai chi require little to no equipment, so you can do them anywhere you have a little room.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist will not only show you exercises to reduce back pain, but he or she will also show you how to move to keep pain at bay. You’ll discover how to get up from a chair, walk, bend over, and pick up items correctly. He or she will also discuss how good posture will help your back.

When you work with a physical therapist, you’ll have exercises to do at home as well as appointments for therapy in an office or hospital. Physical therapists use a range of equipment and tools, such as stationary bicycles and heated pools.

Massage Therapy

A good massage therapist will soothe your back pain while working on the muscles that are causing you to hurt. When you meet your massage therapist, describe exactly where the pain is and how sharp it is so he or she will know which muscles to massage. Often, therapists work with essential oils and salves to further decrease pain and relax muscles.


Spinal manipulation is an excellent tool for realigning the body and reducing back pain, whether it is acute or chronic. As with physical therapy, your chiropractor may use a variety of tools to help you in the office and send you home with a list of exercises. Many people use chiropractors on a short-term basis, while others visit regularly even after the pain is gone.


An ancient Chinese therapy, acupuncture involves very thin needles inserted in specific areas of the body to balance the flow of energy and reduce pain. Back problems, as well as knee and elbow pain, are commonly treated with acupuncture, though not everyone will respond to the therapy.

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Exercising as Fun Rather Than Drudgery

We all know exercise is a vital part of creating a healthy life, but often, we see exercise as another chore we need to finish. Following are some ideas to help you play and have fun with exercising instead of putting it off or dreading it. No matter which exercise you choose, set realistic goals for yourself and focus on fun.

exercisePlay. Do what you enjoy.

If you pick an activity you like, you’ll look forward to doing it regularly, and you’ll be more likely to stick with it long term. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you’re moving, so be creative. Is there a sport you’ve always wanted to try, or perhaps a form of dancing you enjoy? Did you love to roller skate as a kid? There’s no reason you can’t learn a new sport, dance, or roller skate now.

If you prefer being indoors, you might like weight lifting, yoga, swimming, or Zumba dance. If you’re an outdoors person, try rock climbing, skiing, bicycling, or simply walking. The more you love what you’re doing, the more often you’ll do it, and the more benefits you’ll reap from it.

Make a fun date with yourself.

Decide which time of day you would most enjoy moving, and schedule it in writing. Be realistic—if you’re not a morning person, don’t plan a 6 a.m. workout. Would you enjoy going to a yoga class after work, or taking the dog for a walk after dinner? Decide which days and times suit you best, and start there.

Think of this time as “I get to . . .” instead of “I have to . . .” because your attitude before you exercise will dictate your frame of mind while you’re doing it.

Take it easy at first, and then challenge yourself to do just a little more.

Don’t expect miracles the first day or the first week. Again, be realistic with yourself. Start slowly, and do what you can. If five minutes is your limit today, great—you might be able to go just a little longer tomorrow and do 5 ½ or 6 minutes. By starting slowly, you’ll have a sense of accomplishment without hurting yourself by doing too much, too soon.

Find an exercise buddy.

If you have a friend who makes you laugh or is fun to be with, maybe he or she would like to exercise with you. If you’re going for a walk, take the dog, or walk with your spouse or children. Exercise time can double as family time, and it’s easier to stay motivated when you have other people to exercise with.

Variety is the spice of life.

Nowhere does that saying apply more than to exercise. Varying your workout with new activities will not only keep you motivated, but changing your routine also works different parts of your body. Try something new once a month, and have different activities for the seasons.

What do you do to keep exercise fresh and fun?


Therapeutic Ways to Relieve Stress

meditationReducing stress is one of the most effective steps you can take to improve your health, and it can be one of the most challenging. Stress is a constant in our lives, but if you’re proactive about managing it, you’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel. This post will discuss three very effective ways to relieve stress and reduce health issues.


Body postures of varying difficulty and controlled breathing exercises increase your physical flexibility, while meditation helps you focus on being peaceful and calm. This powerful mind / body combination makes yoga an extremely effective stress reliever. Yoga practitioners also enjoy increased strength and balance. Prominent medical facilities such as the Mayo Clinic recognize the role of yoga and meditation in health promotion and stress management.

In yoga, movements are precise and require concentration, which draws your attention away from your hectic life and quiets your mind, so you release tension and anxiety. In addition to reducing stress, yoga has been proven to help with insomnia, depression, and fatigue. Yoga also lowers blood pressure and is used as a weight loss aid.


Often we hide thoughts and feelings that cause stress, and we do our best not to think about them. However, stress is like any other untreated wound in that it becomes larger and more damaging if we don’t take care of it. Journaling, which is simply writing down your thoughts, allows you to express those feelings and understand their effects on your health.

When you see those thoughts on paper—especially after the strong emotions connected to them have passed—they lose their power to upset you, and their hold on your mind is broken. The stress these thoughts caused dissipates as a result. When you look objectively at what is going through your mind, you can define what is causing your stress and take steps to remedy it. For many, the act of writing helps them process their feelings, and that alone helps their stress levels.


A quick and easy way to reduce stress, meditation is one mental technique of focusing your attention away from stressful thoughts and situations, giving you a sense of balance and peace. In addition to stress relief, the Mayo Clinic has found that meditation helps with pain management, allergies, binge eating, and sleep problems.

When you meditate, you intentionally move your mind into a new state of relaxation that extends throughout your body. Stressful feelings and thoughts are released as you move into a deeper state of awareness. As you become more proficient in meditation, you control your conscious thoughts more easily and relax more quickly.

To learn yoga, journaling, or meditation, search for classes in your area. Look at the instructors’ websites, or call them, and decide who seems knowledgeable and approachable. Often instructors will offer a class or a visit for low or no cost. Don’t be afraid to try something new to reduce your stress.

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