How to Deal With Holiday Gloom

It’s a situation that many people find utterly perplexing: how can anyone be depressed during the Christmas holidays, surely the happiest time of the year? People may not be able to understand where others are coming from, but seasonal sadness is a very real thing. As we approach Christmas, some of you reading this will think back to past Decembers when you felt your mood and energy level begin to sag. No one wants to go through that, especially when everyone around you is basking in the fun of Christmas. So, what can you do about it?

Avoid Unrealistic Expectations

It sounds simplistic to say this, but life is not the same as you see in movies and television. Not every Christmas is going to be a textbook example of holiday cheer.

If you think holiday cheer is suddenly going to turn your life around, that’s not being realistic. It’s also not likely that a Christmas celebration will cause rifts in your family to heal. When such events fail to transpire, this can lead to depression, even though no one should be sad over things that weren’t likely to transpire in the first place. Things will never be perfect, as much as you would like them to be.

Don’t Compare

Comparing your lot in life to others is always a losing game. You will always have friends or family who are better looking, richer, more successful, have better jobs, etc. There will also inevitably be other families you know who seem to have a much better Christmas. However, seem is the key word: there are always lots of things that we, as outsiders, don’t know and people usually put their best foot forward. Therefore, we don’t really have an accurate picture, making comparisons a waste of time and a needless source of stress.

Take Care of Yourself

A sure way to feel bad is to not take care of yourself. Continue to exercise, eat nutritious food, and do things you enjoy. This is important at any point of the year, but especially so during times when depression is common for you.

Why Do People Avoid Going to the Doctor?

Have you ever avoided going to the doctor even though, deep down, you knew you really should? That is actually quite common. Let’s face it—you would have a hard time finding people who like going to the doctor. Most of us would consider it a necessary evil at times, but hardly something to be enjoyed or anticipated with glee.

Most everyone realizes that their health is important. And yet, some of them will still not make an appointment to see their General Practitioner or, worse, go to the Emergency Department, even when they know that should be the course of action.

Here are some reasons why people don’t go to the doctor:

Finances

Depending on where you live and whether you have insurance, a visit to the doctor may not be covered. If it is an out of pocket cost, some people either don’t have insurance coverage or just may not have the money needed to pay for a doctor’s appointment.

Fear

Haven’t been feeling well lately? Symptoms sound like those of your friend, who ended up dying of cancer? Logically, this should be a reason for you to go to the doctor as soon as possible. However, some individuals are so afraid to find out what might be wrong, they avoid an appointment. This can have tragic consequences as the delay might mean that the issue ends up progressing to the point where it can no longer be treated at all.

They Don’t Trust Doctors

Right or wrong, some people just don’t trust doctors. It might be due to a bad experience, someone else’s bad experience, or perhaps even just something they read. There can be many reasons and they might not make sense to anyone else, but they are good enough in some people’s eyes to stay away.

Helping the Elderly to Overcome Depression

We are all sad every once in a while, and it is usually little more than an inconvenience that passes. However, when that sadness become something that stays with us day after day, it crosses over into the realm of depression.

Depression can be tough to deal with no matter what you age. It can be especially trying for seniors because they also must wrestle with the health and cognitive decline that comes with getting older. That is a heavy burden to carry, so it’s not surprising that mental health issues are among the most common problems faced by the elderly.

If someone in your family is facing this situation, there are some things you can do that will help.

Suggest Seeing a Therapist

Therapy can be a very efficient and effective way for seniors to overcome anxiety and/or depression, though it is not always easy to convince them to pursue this solution. Some people feel intimidated by the thought of discussing personal problems with a stranger. Others may insist that they are fine in order not to go. Seek out a therapist that specializes in working with the elderly and get their advice on how to proceed.

Spend Quality Time with Them

Many seniors isolate themselves because they feel they are useless and a burden. If they are living away from the family in a managed care facility, these thoughts can be even more pronounced.

Show that this is not true by spending time with them. Demonstrate that you care and value their presence in your life.

Let Them Make Decisions

When your loved ones age and find life a challenge, it can be tempting to take over most every aspect of their life in the interests of safety. However, you are robbing them of their independence in the process and that will just make them feel worse. Let them continue to have an active role in making decisions.

How to Drive Anxiety Out of Your Life

Anxiety is a normal part of life for most people, but for some, it can be a debilitating problem. Have you ever felt so anxious that it stopped you in your tracks and prevented you from doing things? Or have you had a full-blown anxiety attack?

If you are experiencing regular anxiety attacks, the best course of action is to see a therapist. If your anxiety issue is that pronounced, the following tips probably will not help. Make an appointment to see a therapist and receive professional assistance with this problem. However, if anxiety is a bother for you, but not severely debilitating, the following suggestions can help you to control anxiety and put it in its place whenever you feel especially on edge.

Give up caffeine and alcohol

Caffeine is great for getting groggy brains functioning in the morning and keeping you going until that 5:00 whistle sounds. However, the properties that energize us with caffeine also heighten anxiety. If anxiety continues to be a problem for you, the trade-off is not worth it: switch to decaffeinated.

Alcohol seems like it is good for calming you in the moment, but it remains a depressant. Even more problematic, excessive alcohol use can actually heighten anxiety. Moderate your drinking or stop it entirely.

Avoid certain situations and people

You have likely noticed that there are some people or situations that cause anxiety to rise. Unless it is absolutely necessary, try to avoid them. This can be awkward and require some strategic planning, but in the end, it is worth it.

Get Exercising

Endorphins are the “feel good” chemicals your brain produces when you engage in physical activity and they are a great ally in the fight against anxiety. The natural high you get from exercise produces a brain state that can also help to ease your anxious moments.

Does Physical Media Still Matter?

The way we watch movies and TV shows has changed substantially in recent years. Prior to the 1980s, if you wanted to watch something on television, you had to look at it when it aired. If you wanted to watch a movie, you had to see in theatres or wait until it turned up on television. The VCR changed all that in the 1980s and the PVR made recording and timeshifting even easier. The Internet further revolutionized media consumption through the creation of streaming platforms, such as YouTube.

The latest incarnation of streaming video is personified almost entirely by Netflix. Previously a rental through the mail DVD service, Netflix has gradually been shifting over to streaming and has experienced tremendous growth and success. This led to the collapse of video rental stores around the world and a considerable decline in DVD sales.

However, physical media collectors are still out there. While major movies still get released on disc, smaller outfits are instead concentrating on the cult movie market. True movie aficionados want more than just the film; they want audio commentaries, deleted scenes, documentaries about the making of the picture, and more.

Among the most enthusiastic collectors in this segment are horror and science fiction fans. Companies like Shout! Factory even have specific lines dedicated to this market. While not all the titles are successful, a good number still rack up solid sales figures at a time when fewer and fewer people are worrying about having physical copies of films they love.

This is not so much a problem if your tastes are very mainstream and you prefer newer films. Netflix may indeed have thousands of options, but they offer extremely few older movies. Not surprisingly given their market share and commercial intent, Netflix also concentrates largely on films that tended to land in the Top 50. There is nothing necessarily wrong with that, but some of us want more selection, and a physical copy of a movie is currently the only way to ensure that we can watch whatever we want, when we want.

Want to Improve Your Writing? Try These Steps

Whether you are a professional writer or just an enthusiastic amateur who would like to be a professional someday, it never hurts to try and improve your writing. There are a few things you can try that will help.

Make sure that you know the basics

To be a good writer, you need a good grasp of the basics of grammar. Computer programs can point out general mistakes, but they cannot entirely do your job for you.

Keep practising

In this regard, writing is not so different from sports: the more you practice, the better you will get. Even on days when you are not feeling particularly inspired, it is better to get something down on paper than nothing. In many cases, you can come back to that work later on and find something of value in there.

Try to establish a regular time to practice as this will help to keep you doing so regularly.

Learn to self-edit

Too many writers simply whip off a draft and then send it to the editor without having proofread it themselves first. That is lazy, and not fair to your editor. Besides, if you are looking for work, the draft you send out to prospective employers has to be perfect. While no one expects a person to catch every single mistake in their own writing, seeing yourself where you have gone wrong will train you not to do it again in future.

Exercise patience

Very few writers became great overnight. The ones that truly reached the heights of acclaim and fame did so after years of practice. Accept that it will take you some time to truly attain the level of quality you aspire to. Do not be frustrated – just let this motivate you to try harder and spend more time in front of the keyboard.

A Therapist Checklist

Therapy can be a life safer, literally. For those suffering from mental health challenges, having a qualified professional to talk to can be life changing. Therapists can provide the sort of guidance and advice that can help to get you back on track.

However, as with anyone offering a professional service, not every therapist will be a perfect fit for every client. If you are looking for a therapist, here are some questions you should ask:

Get Opinions

Do you know someone who has been in therapy? Ask them for information about the therapist(s) that they saw and whether they would recommend them. Read online reviews, too.

What is Their Specialty?

Some therapists help clients with a variety of issues, while others focus their practice on only a handful. Study the therapist’s credentials; do they include the problem you wish to discuss? Is it one of their specialties?

Speak to Them

Most therapists do not offer a free trial appointment, but they should be willing to talk with you on the phone. Tell them what you wish to work on, ask about the way they conduct a typical appointment and their fees, and any other point of interest you can think of. If they sound like they might be a good fit, give them the benefit of the doubt and book an appointment.

Try an Appointment

As with any profession, you are not bound to stay with a particular therapist. It is common to be nervous at the first appointment, so it can be tough to tell if a person is a good fit from just one visit. However, after two or three, you should have a good idea of whether you wish to continue with them. If it doesn’t feel right to you, then it isn’t and you should move on to someone else.

Do Pigs Make Good Pets?

Pigs can be incredibly cute and they are among the most intelligent of animals. Some have successfully kept them as house pets, but if you are thinking of going this route yourself, be warned that they are more demanding than a cat or dog.

Here are some of the pluses and minuses of having a pig as a pet:

Easy to Train

Thanks to their above average intelligence, it is not very difficult to train a pig. You can even potty train them. The rewards system used for dogs works even better for pigs because food is their prime motivator. You can pretty easily train a pig to do what you want, if you offer the right snack in return.

That Intelligence Can Work Against You

Those smarts that make them easy to train can also turn into a nightmare as pigs can teach themselves to open things, such as cupboards, where food lurks. Be prepared to use childproofing-style tactics.

Very Clean Animals

Contrary to their representation in popular culture, pigs are very clean animals that don’t smell. They also don’t shed, which can save you a lot of work.

They Make a Mess

Pigs themselves are clean, but they naturally like to root around looking for food, which can wreak havoc on your rugs and other interior objects. They will also tear up your yard looking for same.

Very Friendly

Pigs share some of the same characteristics that make dogs so appealing. They “laugh” and squeal with pleasure when approached with a treat, and will also “bark” at danger.

Easily Stressed

If you are a highly stressed person looking for a pet that will help you to relax, pigs are not the animal for you. They can be easily stressed, which leaves pigs more susceptible to disease.

They are also not a good choice if you want a pet to exercise with as pigs don’t sweat and can quickly overheat.

Bifocals vs Trifocals vs Progressives

Many of us start to lose our vision as we age and that means glasses or contacts to help bring the world back into focus. For some, that visual assistance is not as simple as a basic lens that makes far objects more visible or near ones clearer. Thanks to optical technology, a lens can include as many as three fields, if needed. That allows the user to see areas of different distance with greater clarity, all with only one pair of glasses. You can accomplish this with bifocals and trifocals (which have both been around for a number of years), or progressives (a comparatively newer option).

Bifocals and trifocals are easy to spot because you will see a line across the lens that clearly delineates the different fields of vision. Some people don’t like this style because it further calls attention to the fact that they are wearing glasses. Progressives perform the same function, but without the line, so that makes them more appealing.

Right or wrong, bifocals and trifocals suggest that the wearer is old. Never mind the fact that such visual assistance can be required by people of almost any age: the stigma is there and some wish to avoid the evidence that they are getting on in years. Progressives offer the suggestion instead that you might just be wearing glasses as part of your overall look.

Progressives do this, while also easily matching the distance/intermediate/near fields offered by trifocals. They also eliminate what is known in the industry as the “image jump.” As your eye moves up and down a bifocal or trifocal lens, the image seems to jump as your vision adjusts from one field to the next; that is the not the case with progressives, which offer a smoother transition experience.

While earlier versions of progressive lenses required large frames to accommodate the technology, they have since been improved and will now fit in a regular sized frame. That has caused their popularity to soar, and they are the first choice for people whose vision correction needs require help with multiple fields.

How to Make Your Car Last Longer

We are at a time in automotive history that is without parallel. Aside from minor changes and improvements, cars have remained more or less the same for decades. However, between electric cars and autonomous vehicles, it is tough to know just how much longer the traditional gas-powered automobile will continue to be the standard.

With your average new vehicle selling for $30,000-40,000, most people hope to get at least ten years out of a car. However, with the changes on the horizon, where will be in ten years? I probably won’t need a new car for another five years or so, but which way to go then? Will it be clear whether autonomous or electric will be the choice, or will that still be a few years out?

Don’t let it come to this!

The best strategy seems to be keeping my current car going for as long as possible. That way, hopefully, the next choice will be clear. If you feel the same way, here are some tips on how to make your car last longer:

Regular Oil Changes

Oil is your car’s lifeblood, so make sure you get an oil and filter change every 5000 miles.

Replace Your Old Spark Plugs

Old plugs make it harder for your engine to get going, hindering its effectiveness and lifespan. Your fuel economy also suffers.

Wheel Alignment

Ask your mechanic to periodically realign your wheels. If they are not aligned properly, your tires can experience uneven degrees of wear, shortening their lifespan.

Replace Old Tires

Speaking of those wheels, old worn out tires make your car unsafe to drive, increasing the possibility of accidents. Tires that are past their prime also reduce the effectiveness of your suspension.

Don’t Overload Your Car

Our vehicles are only meant to carry so much weight; piling on too much can cause significant damage. Consult the owner’s manual for the maximum weight your vehicle can safely handle.

Drone Delivery: Boon to Productivity or Traffic-Inducing Headache

Amazon has been promising to add drone delivery to its options for some time now, and the company’s progress suggests that drones could become a common part of their service in the next year or so. This will not apply to all areas right from the start; requirements suggest that it will initially be restricted to heavy population centres. But if the success is there and the costs come down, it is feasible that drone hubs could become commonplace on the landscape.

That, of course, means many more drones in the air, a prospect that will not please anyone who finds them to be an annoyance and/or safety hazard. It is such a new technology that governments are still trying to figure out what rules are needed and which ones can be modified as necessary.

The main question at the heart of it all is, essentially, just how fast do you need your stuff? Amazon’s delivery set-up is already extremely efficient, but drones promise to have products in your hands that same day. Outside of using STAR TREK technology that beams the box directly into your living room, it’s tough to imagine the process being any speedier.

If Amazon finds success with drone delivery, what is to stop other companies from following suit? I can’t imagine having to deal with a small army of drones constantly hovering around my neighborhood, dropping packages on people and traffic when they malfunction, or crashing into buildings. It really sounds like too much of what is already not such a great thing. However, technology marches forward whether we want it to or not. I just hope that as many of the bugs are ironed as possible and solid rules are in place to dictate when drone activity is appropriate. And none of the damn things had better wake me up on a Saturday morning!

Low Cost Repairs That Will Improve Your Home

Home maintenance can cost a pretty penny and problems often seem to strike when we are low on cash. Wouldn’t be great to just prevent such issues from happening in the first place? No one is clairvoyant, but there is one way to help keep your home in good condition, while also minimizing those costly repair bills.

Here are some low cost repair ideas you can implement in your home:

Check Your Drywall

Small leaks can eventually turn into costly disasters. One way you can prevent this is by checking your drywall. If you find sections that are moldy or wet, you have a leak. Remove those sections, repair the leak, and replace the drywall. This will take some time, but cost far, far less than what you might otherwise face.

Examine Your Plumbing

This is another area that could cause significant water damage. If you are not familiar with such work, hire a plumber to come in for an inspection. They will examine all aspects of your plumbing and check for areas that are already producing leaks or might in the near future.

Clean Your Air Conditioner

As with pretty much any machinery, air conditioners are most efficient when there is nothing to impede the air flow. A clogged air conditioner requires an increasing amount of power to produce the degree of cool air you want. Make sure there is no dust or debris inside the unit that is inhibiting its operation. This maintenance step is easy and, better yet, free.

Change Your Furnace Filter

Just like a dirty air conditioner, a furnace with a clogged filter will have to perform twice as hard to heat your home. Luckily, filters are quite inexpensive, so be sure to replace them twice a year. If it’s easier to remember, mark January 1st and July 1st on your calendar.