As the holidays come to a close take a moment to breathe in and breathe out because you almost made it.  Though the holidays are filled with love and laughter they can be extremely stressful.  Stress can really dampen your mood and bring others down as well.  It is important to address stress before it effects others, especially your children.  Your feelings of being burnt out may transfer to your children and they themselves may become stressed as well.  Also, as New Year’s resolutions formulate, feeling stressed can lower your chances of accomplishing your goals.  It’s not fun to feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable especially when we are in the “most wonderful time of the year.”

When you begin to feel stressed know that not relaxing can lead to some unpleasant things.  Some common effects of stress include headaches, muscle tension, and sleep problems.  There are others such as anxiety, sadness, overeating or under eating, and angry outbursts.  During the holiday season and throughout the rest of the year these consequences of stress are not helpful and can do some damage to your body as well as your relationship with others. 

It is important to manage your stress in a healthy way.  Living a stress free life is not very possible, but minimizing the stress in your life can be easier than you think! 

Here are some ideas to reduce your stress level:

-take deep breaths

-avoid excessive caffeine

-eat healthy, eating right can make you feel rejuvenated

-take time to relax even for five minutes, sit back and just rest your mind and body

-think positively!

-become more physically active, this will help you feel good and can burn off some steam

-try yoga, tai chi, or meditation to slow yourself down and relax

-smile, laugh and enjoy the day!

With all this cold air blowing around it’s nice to stay warm and cozy in side.  A great way to do this is by having soup! Soup is a dish that is not too hard to make yet has so many possibilities.  Starting with a flavored water based stock, or a cream are common ways to makes soup.  From there add the desired ingredients.  The best thing about a soup is that it can hold so many ingredients.  Most soups come with recipes, but many are very flexible.  If you have extra radish tops from your garden add them in, purée those frozen vegetables that you may not have a plan for, or throw in a can of beans for some plant-based protein and fiber!  Many soups are fairly inexpensive and are a great way to feed the family.  Soups are also great for busy weekdays, just put it in the crock pot and have it cook all day. By the time evening rolls around your supper is already prepared.  On snow days keep a pot of soup on for the kids as a warming meal after a long day of sledding and snow angels.  Soup just might be the best winter meal of them all!

This time of year is filled with holiday spices and foods.  A favorite spice of many is cinnamon, and there is a good reason for that!  Cinnamon is a very versatile spice and it may even be good for you as well.  Commonly in America cinnamon is used in sweeter things such as pies, apple cider, cereals, cookies and coffee.  However, in many other cultures cinnamon can be found in savory foods including soups and chicken and lamb dishes.  Cinnamon is a great spice to add to any type of meal!  One reason we have kept cinnamon as an important spice for the last thousand years may correlate with its potential health benefits.  This spice has been used to treat things from muscle spasms to the common cold.  The National Institute of Health states that a chemical found in Cassia cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde, is known to fight fungal and bacterial infections.  Along with this, cinnamon contains many antioxidants.  Antioxidants are known for their ability to stop free radicals from causing damage to our body’s cells.  All of these potential health benefits are given to us through cinnamon!  It has always been a favorite and now we can see why.  Don’t be afraid to add an extra pinch into one of your favorite recipes or even try a new savory dish with cinnamon!