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    The Everygirl’s Guide to PCOS

    Let’s be real: It’s hard being a woman, juggling career goals, side hustles, families, and relationships. And if you’re one of the five million US women of child-bearing years affected by polycystic ovary syndrome (AKA PCOS), throw in having to manage symptoms like irregular periods, excess body hair, weight gain, and acne, leading to shame, frustration, and isolation, and in some cases, anxiety and depression.
    While PCOS affects 4-20% of women of reproductive age worldwide (and is more prevalent among Women of Color), it has yet to be recognized as an important global health problem. What’s more, its prevalence, diagnosis, and management remain some of the most confusing factors of PCOS. But thanks to celebrities like Keke Palmer and Victoria Beckham and the #pcoswarrior community openly sharing their personal experiences with PCOS and demonstrating the importance of prioritizing self-care and self-advocacy, there is now a greater awareness of the disorder and its typical symptoms. More good news: I asked PCOS specialist and hormone expert Dr. Anna Arabyan to give us a crash course on PCOS. Without further ado, The Everygirl’s guide to everything you need to know about PCOS.

    Meet the expert
    Dr. Anna Arabyan
    PCOS Specialist, Hormone Coach, and Founder of NutraFemmeRX
    Dr. Anna Arabyan is a faculty member at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. Her passionate advocacy for women’s hormonal health and palliative care guide her clinical and teaching interests relating to healthy aging, symptom management, and overall wellness.

    In this article

    What is PCOS?
    While there are many definitions of it, Dr. Arabyan put it simply: “Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects women and can cause irregular periods, high levels of androgens (male hormones) leading to acne, excessive body/facial hair, and polycystic ovaries (enlarged ovaries with small fluid-filled sacs that surround the eggs).” Although the aforementioned are common telltale signs of PCOS, it can manifest differently from person to person. Also, Dr. Arabyan said it’s important to note that not all symptoms need to be present to diagnose PCOS. “The term ‘polycystic’ is a little misleading as not everyone with PCOS has polycystic ovaries,” she explained. “A missed ovulatory cycle (even with a bleed or period) can also indicate PCOS.” Therefore, it’s important to get to know your body and educate yourself on the four phases of the menstrual cycle. 
    What are common causes?
    One symptom of PCOS that tends to come up more than others is insulin resistance. In fact, insulin resistance affects 50%–70% of women with PCOS, resulting in the simultaneous presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions including metabolic syndrome, hypertension, and diabetes. “PCOS is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, with the most common underlying cause being insulin resistance,” Dr. Arabyan agreed. “This occurs when cells in the muscles, fat, and liver do not respond well to insulin, leading to hormone imbalances.” Physical signs of insulin resistance can come in the form of skin tags and dark, velvety patches of skin around the armpits, groin, and neck, but to confirm diagnosis, your healthcare provider may order blood tests to determine your glucose levels and cholesterol.
    According to the National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association, an estimated 50% of the women with PCOS are undiagnosed because the symptoms have a variety of potential causes. For example, Dr. Arabyan cited other causes of PCOS like chronic inflammation, adrenal disorders, thyroid conditions, and high levels of prolactin, all of which can also cause symptoms similar to PCOS. Identifying the root cause is just as critical as the diagnosis. PCOS defines a grouping of symptoms, but the cause for one woman’s symptoms could be vastly different than another, and therefore, the treatment and management plan should be different as well. “The underlying cause is important to uncover,” she affirmed. “Multiple people with PCOS could present similar symptoms such as missed periods and excess facial hair, and each could have different underlying causes.”
    The relationship between PCOS and mental health
    Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and binge eating disorder also occur more frequently in women with PCOS. “From my observations, PCOS can affect mental health in two ways,” Dr. Arabyan noted. “Firstly, being diagnosed [with PCOS] can lead to feelings of sadness, overwhelm, loneliness, fear of infertility, and low self-worth. Secondly, the hormonal imbalances can cause severe PMS-like symptoms, further contributing to low mood.” The silver lining? Dr. Arabyan conveyed that improving mental health can be addressed using a two-pronged approach: balancing hormones to reduce symptoms and relying on education, therapy, community support, and self-love practices. 

    Tips to help manage PCOS
    Full disclosure: There is no cure or prevention for PCOS, but it can be treated and managed through healthy lifestyle habits. “Management is a combination of factors including mentality, community, nutrition, physical activity, and supplements if necessary,” Dr. Arabyan expressed. “Understanding that you are not less worthy for having this condition and being a part of a supportive community can go a long way in managing this disorder.” More specifically, Dr. Arabyan mentioned regular exercise, managing stress, seeking support from friends, a diet made up of whole foods, and taking supplements under the supervision of a healthcare practitioner as effective symptom management methods.

    Educate yourself
    It’s only natural to feel alone and at a loss for what to do when you’re diagnosed with PCOS, but it’s more common than most women realize. “PCOS is a common condition and talking about it more openly has become more widespread only recently,” Dr. Arabyan voiced. Not sure where to start? Dr. Arabyan recommended the book Period Repair Manual as a great resource to learn more about PCOS. “Gather as much information as you can so that you can make the best informed decision on how to manage your condition, and above all, realize that you’re not alone.”

    Focus on nutrition
    Instead of approaching a healthy diet from a restrictive, “eat this, not that” mindset, Dr. Arabyan recommended focusing on including foods that can help the potential root causes such as insulin resistance. “I’m a huge fan of dark leafy greens, all vegetables, cleanly-sourced protein, legumes, beans, nuts and berries. Once you start eating more of these foods naturally, processed sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, and fried foods will have less of a place in your diet.” In other words, stick with whole foods and focus on adding a variety of veggies, legumes, and clean protein sources. 

    Balance your exercise routine

    We’ve been taught that exercise is good, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing (everything in moderation!). Too much high-intensity exercise can disrupt your hormones, so finding the right balance of exercise for you is key. “I recommend mild strength training exercises like Pilates a few times a week, which can help build muscle,” Dr. Arabyan suggested. “I also love the many benefits of taking a daily walk or hike, including improved bowel movements (which is how our bodies remove excess hormones).” Bottom line: Always listen to your body, do what feels right for you, and prioritize movement and recovery equally. 

    Support your mental health
    Stress plays a major role in PCOS, so keeping your cortisol (AKA the stress hormone) levels under control will aid in improving symptoms of PCOS. Try prioritizing good sleep hygiene and self-care (sound bath or cold plunge, anyone?), talking to a mental health professional, journaling, or practicing meditation. Dr. Arabyan concluded with one final piece of advice: “Remember that small steps toward your goals are key and avoiding guilt is important for maintaining a positive outlook and enjoying the journey.” 

    Please consult a doctor or a mental health professional before beginning any treatments. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

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    50 Journal Prompts and Affirmations for Self-Love

    Valentine’s Day can bring to the surface a lot of mixed feelings surrounding love. It’s normal to feel either full of love and admiration, or the opposite, like we’re missing something from our lives or–even worse–like we’ve failed. As a generation that grew up idealizing Disney princess fairytales and believing that happily ever after is finding a Prince Charming, it’s no wonder we can feel like failures if we don’t experience it.
    The truth is, there are so many different forms of love available to us, aside from the love that comes from a romantic relationship. There is love that comes from our families, friendships, children, and most importantly, ourselves. So this February–and every day after–take some time to practice self-love because it’s the most important kind. Read on for 50 journal prompts and affirmations to get you started. 

    Journal prompts on self-love
    1. Write yourself a love letter.
    2. Look back on the last five years and share the accomplishments you are most proud of.
    3. Describe your dream self-care day (then, plan a date to do it).
    4. Write down five things you are grateful for.
    5. Write about why you are a great friend/partner/daughter.
    6. What are you looking for in a romantic relationship? How can you give it to yourself?
    7. Who inspires you? What attributes do you share?
    8. Name something you love about your body that isn’t related to what it looks like.
    9. Write down five things you can do this week to bring joy to your routine.
    10. What are you excited about?
    11. Write down five nice things people have said about you recently.
    12. “I am worthy of love because…”
    13. If time and money weren’t an issue, what would you do with your life? Dream a little.
    14. When are you saying “yes” when you want to be saying “no.”
    15. What can you forgive yourself for?
    16. If you could talk to your younger self, what would you tell her?
    17. Where can you incorporate play into your life?
    18. Write down 30 things that make you smile.
    19. What are three self-love habits you can incorporate into your routine?
    20. What can you do this week for your body? Your mind? Your soul?
    21. “I secretly enjoy…”
    22. Describe five traits you liked in yourself as a child.
    23. List out your daily habits. Which ones are nurturing? Which ones aren’t?
    24. Describe the items in your home that bring you joy. Which ones aren’t bringing you joy, and why are you keeping them?
    25. What does “self-love” mean to you? 

    Affirmations on self-love
    1. I am enough.
    2. I love my body and all it does for me.
    3. I am worthy of love.
    4. Everything I need is already within me.
    5. I let go of all that does not serve me.
    6. Healing doesn’t happen in a straight line.
    7. I choose progress over perfection.
    8. I have a lot to offer the world.
    9. I am not my mistakes or flaws.
    10. I honor my own life path.
    11. I am balanced.
    12. My inner world creates my outer world.
    13. I have the ability to reclaim my power.
    14. I deserve happiness and joy.
    15. The universe has my back.
    16. It is a good day to be alive.
    17. Good things are ahead of me, good things are coming.
    18. I don’t need someone else to feel happiness.
    19. I am at peace.
    20. I am the hero of my own life story.
    21. I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet.
    22. I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.
    23. I am allowed to take up space.
    23. I am strong.
    25. I am proud of my accomplishments–no matter how small.

    The Everygirl’s 28-Day Self-Love Challenge More

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    The Ultimate Guide To Self-Love

    Let’s celebrate the month of love with the ultimate gift to ourselves; a guide to self-love. This Valentine’s Day, forget about the chocolates and teddy bears. Let’s prioritise self-love, try something new and celebrate every inch of ourselves.

    This 28-day calendar provides you with easy-to-follow daily activities and workouts to help you reconnect and form healthy self-care habits.

    Note to self: Happy Valentine’s Day. I Love You.

    28 Days of Self-Love Calendar

    Whether you’re a newcomer or an experienced self-care guru, this guide is for you.

    Read a book 

    Spend 30 minutes outside

    Try out manifesting

    Declutter a space

    Bake something delicious

    Run or walk for 30 minutes

    Buy yourself flowers

    Listen to a motivational podcast

    Meditate for 10 minutes

    Stretch it out and do some yoga! 

    Try a new workout

    Have a self-care Sunday  

    Wear your fav outfit and try a new makeup look

    Say “yes” to something fun

    Try a new healthy recipe

    Journal about your day

    Get more sleep

    Perform a random act of kindness

    Take a hot bath and relax 

    Make a happy playlist and practise trending TikTok dances

    Go sugar-free today

    Spend time with a loved one 

    Experiment with art therapy

    Create a budget for March

    Read the new issue of Women’s Health

    Buy yourself dinner 

    Make a vision board 

    Write down things you are grateful for. Reflect on the past month. More

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    Got Post-Holiday Blues? Here are 7 Things to Do Today To Feel Happy and Excited

    The decorations are coming down, Hallmark Christmas movies have come to a screeching halt, work is going back to its regularly scheduled programming, the last of the figgy pudding is gone, and we’re saying good riddance to 2022. Chances are the high of all the holiday cheer has given way to feelings of loneliness and sadness, AKA the post-holiday blues. While the symptoms of post-holiday blues are short-term, there’s no denying they are very real. Rest assured, they’re normal and you’re in good company. We’re coming down from the intense hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, shindigs, indulgences, and travel and facing the letdown of going back to business as usual. That said, there are things you can start doing today to snap out of the post-season funk. Read on for seven tips on how to feel happy when you’ve got the post-holiday blues. Time to get back in the groove.

    1. Move your body intentionally
    Call it a holiday hangover or a case of the post-fa-la-la-la-la blahs—no matter how you look at it, you’re in an emotional slump and you want out. Your workout routine may have been non-existent amidst the holiday madness, so what better time to shake off those “meh” feelings with a solid sweat sesh than today? When you have obé Fitness and its community at your fingertips, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home (who wants to bear the frigid temps?) and you’ve got built-in accountability. Start with one of their Express Classes because 10 minutes is all you need to get those endorphins going. In fact, exercising for just 10 minutes a day can make a difference—and have lasting, measurable effects on your health. What’s more, with 20+ class types and over 10,000 on-demand classes to choose from, there’s a workout for every mood, level, and fitness style. To banish the post-holiday blues once and for all, use code EGYEAR for one-year access to obé fitness for just $99 ($70 off)!

    2. Reset your eating and sleep habits 
    So we’ve established that the holiday rush didn’t leave much room (or energy) for working out, and if we’re being honest, the same went for keeping up our healthy eating and sleep habits. Between the cookies everywhere you turn and the Christmas movie marathons, who can blame us? I don’t have to tell you that those slices of pumpkin pie and glasses of eggnog can mess with your gut health (hello, bloat) and not prioritizing your beauty sleep can throw off your mood and energy. So hit reset on your diet by keeping the water coming to aid in digestion and prevent constipation and focusing on veggies and other whole, unprocessed foods to help keep you stay satiated and regular. While you’re at it, re-establish a consistent sleep schedule and get a solid 7-9 hours of shuteye in every night. Bonus points: Getting quality Zzzs can help you eat healthier (how’s that for a two-fer?).

    3. Think ahead and make plans to look forward to 
    After the spark of the holiday season has faded, it’s hard not to think back on the good times and feel a sense of dread (womp womp). Instead of ruminating on the past, try thinking about the future to help you feel better in the now. After all, giving yourself things to look forward to—no matter how small—can reduce stress and boost mood. In fact, simply visualizing and anticipating your future (best) self can lift your spirits. Whether it’s the matcha latte you plan to grab on your way to work, the new pair of boots you’re expecting in the mail, or your long-awaited trip to Iceland, make it a point to relish in the upcoming things and experiences that excite you. The result? You’ll cheer up in no time. And don’t forget to pepper in mood-boosting activities (the more the merrier!) throughout the year to spread the joy. 

    4. Spruce up your home
    We’re still in staying in season, which means spending more time at home. Do yourself and your mood a favor by doing a quick sweep of your abode. As empty as it may feel with the tree gone and all the tinsel stored away, it’s the ideal time to clean and declutter every nook and cranny. Because a tidy, organized space can improve your well-being, and there’s nothing more satisfying than checking off the dirty dishes in the sink, the growing piles of laundry, and the clutter on your desk. So pop in an inspiring podcast and get to it! Then, hygge your home with warm elements (you can never have enough candles), layered textures (give me all the warm throw blankets), and natural touches (a new plant, anyone?). Bottom line: Making your crib comfy cozy translates to optimal health and happiness. 

    5. Reflect and set intentions 
    While this may be a given when the New Year and resolutions are top of mind, setting attainable goals—whether health, personal growth, career, or relationship-related—makes us happier. Jumpstart the year by reflecting on what your highest self looks like, creating clear and realistic objectives to become her, and planning out actionable steps to achieve them. Perhaps you want to level up your meditation practice. What are things in your control that you can do each day or week to improve it? Is it dedicating two minutes first thing in the morning to sit in stillness, listening to one guided meditation every afternoon to break up the day, or exploring a new technique each week until you find the one that suits you best? Having an achievable purpose to set your sights on will help enhance your well-being in the present, while progressing toward it will help bring about ongoing happiness and satisfaction.  

    6. Pile on the self-care
    PSA: Now is the time to especially listen to what your mind and body need. Your “me” time and healthy routines have taken a back seat to the whirlwind of the holidays, and enough is enough. Enter: all the self-care. While there’s no one-size-fits-all self-care practice, you can take your pick—from journaling and going for a walk to diving into that must-read novel and blocking off your entire Sunday for Pilates, a lymphatic massage, and a mani-pedi. It goes without saying that you don’t have to do it all at once (but by all means!)—do what works and feels best for you, and switch it up from time to time according to your ever-changing needs. Whatever you choose, you can expect reduced stress levels, higher self-worth, and overall improved well-being. Who says you can’t give yourself gifts (material or in the form of self-care) year-round? 

    7. Get outside
    There’s a reason it’s called nature therapy. While we’re staying indoors more this time of year, we can reap a host of mental health benefits by being one with nature: increased happiness, decreased anxiety, stress, and depression, and better focus. Try forest bathing (AKA a nature walk) where you connect with nature through your five senses, visit a local botanical garden, participate in a sound bath, play with your dog in a park, or sip your morning coffee on your balcony. The world is your oyster. A study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology showed that just five minutes in nature can make you happier. For the times you’re too cozy in bed to move or it’s a tad too cold to bear staying outside for a prolonged period of time, you can bring the outdoors in by adding plants to your home, cueing soothing nature sounds via an app, or using a light therapy box to mimic the effects of being in the open air. 

    How Experts Say To Cope With Seasonal Depression

    This post contains a sponsored inclusion of obé Fitness, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    60 Realistic New Year’s Resolutions You Can Totally Achieve This Year

    Lose weight. Run a marathon. Cut out alcohol. Get a raise. We make the same tired new year’s resolutions every year that we never manage to keep, or we forget we made them altogether by February. Seriously–is it just me, or do new year’s resolutions never seem to work? My suspicion is that we make resolutions that we think we want, not resolutions that will actually make us healthier and happier. We think losing weight will make us feel more confident or that running a marathon will get us to the gym (and back to that weight loss goal). We believe cutting out alcohol will make us healthier or that getting a raise will make all of our problems disappear. But are these resolutions really making us feel good, or are these “goals” in the name of being better actually distracting us from truly being healthy? 
    In 2023, it’s time to ditch the typical resolutions that leave you feeling stressed out or let down year after year. Instead, opt for resolutions that you’ll enjoy so much and will make you feel so good, you’ll have no trouble sticking with them at all. These 60 new year’s resolutions will make you feel happier, healthier, and all-around better (difficult diets or forced workouts need not apply). Whether you choose one resolution or all 60, you’ll be happier and healthier by 2024. 
    If you want to revamp your diet…

    Check in with your body before and after every meal to see how it feels
    Ditch outdated food rules 
    Focus on adding more nutrients (instead of eating fewer calories/carbohydrates, etc.)
    Eat leafy greens with two meals a day
    Drink more water and eat more water-rich produce (like watermelon, romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, etc.)
    Try new produce you’ve never cooked with before
    Eat the rainbow with a variety of fruits and veggies in every color
    Start meal prepping to make cooking during the week easier
    Eat seasonally
    Replace your favorite meals with plant-based alternatives (cauliflower pizza crust, chickpea pasta, etc.)

    If you’re motivated to update your fitness routine…

    Exercise in ways that feel exciting and fun
    Get specific about your goals
    Add an outdoor activity to your routine (going on a walk counts!)
    Be active in ways that don’t feel like exercise (play sports with friends, go ice skating, swim in the summer, etc.)
    Prioritize rest and recovery just as much as you prioritize workouts
    Work out without your phone
    Try something totally new once a month
    Be more active outside of the gym (take the stairs, walk everywhere, etc.)
    Stretch more
    Schedule workouts into your calendar (yes, even if that means your work calendar)

    If you need to stress less…

    Prioritize the hobbies, habits, and people who make you happy
    Reexamine all of your relationships–let go of the ones that don’t make you feel good, and invest more time into the ones that do
    Practice gratitude, even for the smallest things
    Start a meditation practice
    Have a go-to morning and nighttime routine that makes you feel relaxed and happy
    Try a weekly social media detox
    Get 7-9 hours of sleep (every single night)
    Talk to yourself like you talk to loved ones
    Say “no” when you mean no
    Schedule time to do something fun “just because” every day

    If you want to look as good on the outside as you feel on the inside…

    Nail down a skincare routine that you can consistently do every single day
    Focus on scalp-care
    Experiment with color in your makeup routine
    Invest in a beauty supplement
    Find your perfect foundation or concealer shade
    Try a new nail color you’ve never worn before
    Make your quarterly haircut appointments in advance
    Develop a nighttime hair routine
    Wear sunscreen every single day
    Make a skin-check appointment with your dermatologist

    If you want to feel more in control of your finances…

    Max out your retirement contribution or start contributing to a retirement fund
    Pay off credit cards
    Increase your credit score
    Pay off one thing that requires monthly payments
    Reach a certain amount in savings
    Set up an emergency fund and build it to a percentage of your salary
    Save for a big goal (down payment on house, car, etc.)
    Talk with your boss about action plans to maximize your compensation (work toward a raise, check out commuter perks, look at non-health benefits, etc.)
    Work on your financial wellness
    Budget to make room for items, experiences, or indulgences that truly bring you joy

    If you’re ready to upgrade your home…

    Create a daily, weekly, monthly, and seasonal cleaning routine
    Replace one disposable item in your kitchen with a more eco-friendly alternative (for example, swap paper towels for rags, aluminum foil for reusable food wrap, or counter cleaner with a refillable essential-oil based cleaner)
    Tackle one home project a month
    Do a quick declutter of closets, drawers, laundry chairs, and piles of paper once a week
    Make seasonal updates so your home always feels fresh
    Make one big change like painting a wall, getting a new couch, or DIYing a gallery wall to make your space feel like new
    Reorganize one area every month, like your makeup stash, pantry, fridge, or hall closet
    Aim to bring your personality into your home more 
    Get in the habit of cleaning off counters, finishing the dishes, and putting away any laundry before bed
    Make upgrades to your bath or shower for a more peaceful environment

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    Stressed RN? You Need To Hear This Psychologist’s Tips for Managing The Holidays

    Behind the tinsel, fa-la-la-la-las, visions of dancing sugarplums, and feel-good Christmas movies is the harsh truth: The most wonderful time of the year is also the most stressful. Before you write me off as the grinch (my ugly-sweater-wearing dachshund proves otherwise), it’s no secret that holiday stress is real. Need I mention the work rush before the holiday break, mad dashes to the mall and airport, and eating all the cookies in sight? Add to that your bank account feeling the pain from extra Starbucks runs, gift exchanges, party hopping, and playing hostess with the mostest. 
    In a recent survey of over 1,000 people across the U.S., more than one-third of respondents said their biggest concern about the holidays this year is finances, followed by worry or anxiety, maintaining healthy habits, general busyness/feeling overextended, and feelings of sadness/grief/loss. The silver lining? I asked Dr. Beth Pausic, Director of Behavioral Health at health brand, Hims & Hers, to share her Scrooge-proof tips to combat the top holiday stressors. Take notes for making this season (actually) merry and bright.

    Meet the expert
    Dr. Beth Pausic
    Clinical Psychologist and Director of Behavioral Health at Hims & Hers.
    Dr. Beth Pausic is a clinical psychologist and Director of Behavioral Health at Hims & Hers. Dr. Pausic has worked in senior roles at several behavioral healthcare startups. Her experience prior to working in telebehavioral health includes over 15+ years as a Clinical Administrator and Provider in clinical settings.

    Make a plan for your finances
    Playing Santa isn’t all fun and games. Sure, gift-giving has its perks (seeing your BFF’s  expression when she opens the red light therapy wand you scored for her: priceless), but with the social expectations associated with checking everyone off your nice list, not to mention the inflation we’re battling, it can feel like your wallet can’t catch a break. So how can you avoid a Grinchmas? “The most important thing to do is set a realistic budget for yourself,” Dr. Pausic stated. “Don’t overextend yourself and make your financial problems worse. Be honest about what you can and can’t spend.” And consider alternatives to the usual material gifts, like experiences (think: a fitness or cooking class), plants, DIY goodies (coffee scrub and bath bombs, anyone?), or your time. Talk about gifts that keep on giving!
    Dr. Pausic also suggested being open and honest with others about your limits on exchanging gifts or participating in social events. “Having conversations about finances with friends and family can be anxiety-provoking and feel awkward, but if it’s something you’re worried about during the holidays, it’s worth bringing up,” she affirmed. “It’s not easy to allow yourself to be vulnerable and honest when you are in a challenging financial situation, but you are taking better care of yourself by sharing your concerns.” That’s what I call self-care. 

    Set boundaries in advance
    While worry is a normal everyday emotion we all experience, there’s no denying that the holiday season can add an extra layer of stress (holiday madness is a thing). Because anxiety can present itself in different ways and at varying levels of intensity, continuously having check-ins with yourself, paying attention to your body cues, and increasing awareness of your anxiety triggers can make the difference between a meltdown and a jolly holiday. “If possible, minimize or avoid triggers,” Dr. Pausic advised. “If that isn’t possible, have a plan to address your anxiety by minimizing your exposure to these triggers by removing yourself from the situation, setting limits, and having strategies to help reduce your anxiety in tougher moments.”
    Dr. Pausic recommended trying the usual suspects: deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness. Schedule time for consistent, preventative self-care to help keep tabs on your anxiety and alleviate the effects of it on a regular basis, just like you would your exercise routine. 

    Maintain (some) healthy habits
    Keeping up with your healthy eating and workout regimen is hard enough on any given day, but throw in frigid temps, packed calendars, and temptations everywhere you turn, and the holidays can make even the healthiest women forego their favorite routines. First off, Dr. Pausic pointed out that we’re inclined to become more sedentary during the winter months, so give yourself a break, but do your best to remain active and–if possible–aim to get some level of physical activity several days a week. Adapt your sweat sessions to the winter months by opting for slower, low-impact sweat sessions, like Pilates or yoga. Your body will thank you. 
    So you’ve got holiday soirée after holiday soirée for the foreseeable future, which means food and drinks galore and not enough quality Zzzs. Keep in mind that it’s not all or nothing—instead of swearing off gingerbread cookies and spiked eggnog, enjoy every bite and sip, and listen to your hunger signs. “While you don’t want to deprive yourself, there can be a fine line between holiday indulgence and holiday excess,” Dr. Pausic expressed. “Be mindful if you are eating or drinking more, and plan when you want to indulge and other days when you are a bit more conservative.” And prioritize those 7-9 hours of quality sleep every night to improve your mood, strengthen your immune system, relieve stress, and maintain a healthy weight. Cold and flu season, who?  

    Take frequent breaks
    From Christmas shopping and white elephant exchanges to holiday travel and family get-togethers—on top of maintaining your “normal” schedule—it’s only natural to feel overwhelmed right now. “If you find yourself feeling stressed about these things instead of enjoying them, it is time to take a break,” Dr. Pausic conveyed. “Don’t agree to every invitation and set realistic expectations for all of your activities during the season. It may seem impossible, but you can say “no”—and don’t forget to take care of yourself.”
    Enter: setting boundaries, letting go of “shoulds,” and embracing JOMO. Politely decline any social gatherings that you’d say “yes” to for the sole purpose of satisfying an obligation. Instead of throwing your usual Friendsmas only because your best pals are expecting you to, ask if someone else can take the reins (pun intended). And just because everyone around you is celebrating by decking the halls and baking cookies, you don’t have to partake. Do what feels good for you—even if that means not celebrating at all. Bottom line: Put yourself first. 

    Hold space for all emotions
    Despite this time of year’s theme of holiday cheer, the holidays have a way of intensifying existing feelings of sadness, loss, and grief. “When we are constantly being exposed to images of happiness, family, and being together, it can make your own grief feel even deeper and loss can feel more apparent,” Dr. Pausic explained. “It is OK to acknowledge that getting through the holidays may be hard for you.” You aren’t the only one feeling this way. 
    Whether you’re facing the loss of a loved one, family stress, a recent breakup, or not going home for the holidays, make space for all your emotions, give yourself grace, and don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to feel happy. Dr. Pausic listed ways to help ease feelings of sadness/grief/loss:

    Be around others who are supportive
    Consider volunteering some of your time helping others
    Feel what you are feeling. Grief is normal. Don’t force yourself to feel any differently.
    Acknowledge the grief and loss that you are experiencing. Don’t tell yourself or others that you are fine if you aren’t.
    Plan out self-care and coping strategies that work best for you. While it is important to define these for yourself, some examples may be taking a walk, spending time with a friend, trying a new activity, getting some sun, and exercise.
    Reach out to your support network
    Consider talking to a mental health professional
    Be compassionate towards yourself 

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    I Have Social Anxiety–These Tips Help Me Actually Enjoy Holiday Parties

    Watch any Hallmark Christmas movie and you’ll see a winter wonderland filled with family and friends, baking cookies, holiday shopping, and a lot of celebration. While I’m fully on board with festive movie marathons and indulging in the traditions that come with the holiday season, there is one part of it that peaks my anxiety: holiday parties. 
    Between the office holiday party, annual family get-together, Friendsmas potluck, and white elephant exchange, it can feel like every weekend is committed to a social gathering. As an introvert with social anxiety, it’s hard to keep up with the constant holiday celebrations, but I’ve learned to prepare for such events in a way that I can enjoy the night and check my anxiety at the door. Ahead, the tips I keep in my back pocket to help me get through holiday parties with ease.

    1. Meditate
    Social anxiety doesn’t just occur at social events. It usually arrives well before the party has even begun, which is why it’s important to set yourself up for success ahead of time. My getting-ready routine not only involves a good playlist and make-up tutorial, but also setting aside some time to meditate before heading out. Meditation is already a part of my daily routine, but on a night when I’m attending a big event that I know will trigger my anxiety, I’ll add a 10-20 minute guided meditation sesh (through either the Unplug or Superhuman app) beforehand to help calm my nerves and get me in the right headspace. Just by prioritizing meditation, I can walk out the door feeling ready to socialize with confidence. 

    2. Practice an affirmation
    Affirmations often go hand-in-hand with meditation practices, but I find they’re also particularly helpful on their own to repeat to yourself during situations that may cause anxiety. The benefits come from repeating the word or phrase over and over again, which creates a focal point to align yourself in the present moment. You can create your own affirmations specific to the situations that cause you social anxiety or you can try some more general sayings, like “I am a friendly person,” “I am confident,” “I enjoy meeting new people,” and “I am relaxed in social situations.” Practicing an affirmation before or during a social event can be a great aid in working through any social anxiety that may arise. 

    3. Bring a friend
    Experiencing any mental health struggles can be especially difficult during this season, but the good news is you don’t have to go it alone. Despite the common perception that we have to face our struggles around anxiety on our own, having friends by my side who understand my anxiety has made it much easier for me to navigate social events. If there’s a party I don’t feel comfortable going to alone, I bring a friend. If simply the idea of attending a social event solo causes anxiety, bring someone you trust and who can be your support system throughout the night as your plus one. You just might find yourself so wrapped up in the holiday spirit that you forget why you were even anxious about attending the event in the first place.

    4. Have a plan
    For me, the lead-up to any event is when my anxiety creeps up. My mind often races between thoughts like, “What if I have no one to talk to?” and “What if I get stuck seated next to someone I don’t know?” I obsess over what time to arrive, what to wear, who is attending, and what will happen at the event. It can become so overwhelming that oftentimes it feels easier to just not attend at all. But over the years, I’ve learned not to let my anxiety get in the way of having fun, because yes, holiday parties can be a lot of fun!  You just have to be mentally prepared with a game plan.
    Anxiety takes over when you feel a lack of control, so for starters, I think of every social anxiety-inducing situation that could happen at the party and come up with a plan. One might be standing alone and not feeling comfortable joining a conversation. In that case, make your way to a space you feel comfortable in and that will make it easier for you to socialize, like the bar/food area or even the bathroom (a lot of people love to socialize in restrooms of restaurants, bars, etc.). You can even have some questions in the back of your mind to ask people if you feel stuck, such as “What are your plans for the holidays?” 

    5. Congratulate yourself
    Living with social anxiety can feel like an ongoing battle. Sometimes you don’t know when or how it will arise. So when you do have to face it, whether at a holiday party or a work dinner, it’s important to remember that just leaving the house is a win. Congratulate yourself for putting on that LBD and spending a couple of hours in a social situation that may make you want to run home and crawl into bed. Try making a list of all the little wins you had that evening, and remember them the next time you are attending a social event. We often forget to stop and take note of what we’ve accomplished, which includes surviving social anxiety during the holiday season.

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    A Nutritionist Swears These Hacks Will Help You Eat Healthier During the Holidays

    Welcome to The Everygirl Podcast. Whether you’re looking for insider secrets from successful women that have your dream job, are interested in expert advice to transform your health and feel your best, or just want to be entertained and laugh along with us on your commute, we’ve got you covered.

    ‘Tis the season—that is, ‘tis the season for green beans to carry the entire nutritional value of our holiday meals on their backs. Healthy eating during the holidays can be incredibly difficult: from grappling with guilt for indulging to limited healthy options, sometimes an event that is meant to be festive can instantly become stressful.
    This week on The Everygirl Podcast, we spoke with Lisa Moskovitz, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, to break down all of the stressors related to food and eating during the holidays, and exactly how to tackle them. Moskovitz is an expert on all things related to intuitive eating, maintaining a healthy relationship with food, and combating diet culture. So read on for Moskovitz’s top three tips for healthy eating during the holidays without stress (hint: the green beans are definitely gonna make the plate), and check out this week’s episode of The Everygirl Podcast for more.

    1. Reevaluate your relationship with food through reflective journaling
    Chances are that at some point in your life, you’ve heard that the most common time of year to gain weight is the holiday season, and–if you have a complicated relationship with food–you might find this fact very stressful. Moskovitz wants to put your mind at ease, because she has found through her own nutrition practice that the average winter weight gain for most people is less than 1lb (so it is not worth the stress!). For Moskovitz, the far more important thing than what you are eating during the holiday season is why you are eating it.
    In order to combat some of the complex feelings about food and nutrition that can come up during the holiday season, Moskovitz recommends getting into journaling. This does not mean tracking your calories in a journal or even writing down what you eat; instead, Moskovitz recommends writing about how you feel about food and the holiday season first. Asking yourself why you might feel triggered by certain foods, or even just thinking about what it means to you to be able to sit down and truly enjoy a holiday meal with your loved ones can make all the difference in your mindset approaching the holiday season.

    2. Eat balanced meals at regular intervals
    We’ve all been there: it’s 3 p.m. on one of the busiest work days leading up to the holidays, and suddenly you realize that the last thing you ate was a plate of cookies and a glass of eggnog the night before. As busy as this time of year may be, Moskovitz emphasizes the importance of eating meals at regular intervals as often as possible. “With holidays, especially if you are someone who’s hosting or preparing or busy with deadlines, it’s very common and easy to skip meals,” Moskovitz said. “What I always tell people is that you can eat a little bit now, or you can eat a lot more later. It’s very important to be consistent with eating times and stay nourished.”
    According to Moskovitz, eating balanced meals regularly will make it much easier to be mindful about your food choices during the holiday season. Her formula for a well-balanced meal includes fiber-rich carbs, lean proteins, and anti-inflammatory fats. When you stay consistent with your eating habits, you can feel the benefits of a stable mood, less anxiety about food, and more energy throughout the entire season.

    3. Fill half of your plate with vegetables
    As wonderful as they are, holiday buffets can be overwhelming. Moskovitz says there are just two key questions to ask yourself when faced with any food choices: what am I craving, and how can I make this more nutritious? She emphasizes that it’s not about labeling foods as good or bad, or about calorie counting: it’s about eating in tune with what you know will satisfy you and make you feel best. If you do want to follow a formula, Moskovitz suggests filling half of your plate with vegetables, a quarter with protein, and a quarter with a starch. She says that it is always important to include something you’re craving on your plate, whether it’s mac and cheese or a slice of pie, because doing so will allow you to eat healthy while still genuinely enjoying a delicious holiday meal. More