This Is What You Should Actually Do If You Feel Yourself Getting Sick

Winter is coming, and so is the common cold. Here’s what to do when you start feeling like you’re getting sick.

We’ve all felt that impending sense of doom when we realize a cold is coming.

We've all felt that impending sense of doom when we realize a cold is coming.

Maybe your nose is a little runny or your throat is tighter than normal – either way, you know a cold is coming and you can’t seem to stop it.

The common cold is a viral infection of your nose and throat that can be caused by many different types of viruses. It’s usually pretty harmless and goes away, but it definitely doesn’t feel that way – symptoms include a runny nose, congestion, coughing, sneezing, and even a low-grade fever. Simply put, colds suck.

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So what’s actually the best thing to do when you already feel yourself getting sick with a cold?

So what's actually the best thing to do when you already feel yourself getting sick with a cold?

Obviously, you want to do whatever you can to prevent the cold from getting any worse and help your body recover so you can get back to normal. But what actually helps? We reached out to Dr. Pritish K. Tosh, infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to find out.

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The most important steps are to get plenty of rest and drink fluids. Here’s why.

The most important steps are to get plenty of rest and drink fluids. Here's why.

“Really the bulk, if not all of it, is just getting adequate rest and fluids,” Tosh says. So rather than focusing on which hacks or cures will stop your cold in its tracks (because there aren’t any magic healing charms, sorry) you should just focus on downtime and hydration. “If you aren’t getting enough rest or fluids, you won’t feel better no matter how much orange juice or chicken soup you have,” Tosh says.

Most colds will go away on their own, but you should see a doctor if your cold causes any of the following symptoms: a fever over 101.3 degrees Fahrenheit, a fever lasting more than five days, a severe sore throat, severe headache or sinus pain, and trouble breathing or wheezing.

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You need to get enough sleep and rest so your body can recover from a cold.

You need to get enough sleep and rest so your body can recover from a cold.

So how much sleep do you need? “It depends on the individual – some people feel well rested after four or five hours of sleep, some people need nine or ten hours,” Tosh says. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults aged 25–64 years will need about seven to nine hours of sleep. But you should get as much sleep as you need to feel well-rested, then some more rest on top of that.

You have to stay in your bed all day long, but just take it easy and don’t go out and run a million errands or do activities that require a lot of energy. If you feel really sick or your job is very active, you might want to take a day or two off if it’s possible, so you can get your rest.

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So that means you probably shouldn’t do strenuous exercise either.

So that means you probably shouldn't do strenuous exercise either.

“When you’re sick, you need to be resting. Now is not the time to decide to go on 5-mile run – you don’t want to overexert yourself when you’re recovering,” Tosh says. But it also depends on how sick you feel and what kind of workout you want to do. If you feel well enough to do some light exercise like a walk or yoga, then it’s probably fine. But if you feel really crummy, just stay in bed and rest.

Another reason to avoid the gym when you’re sick is that you can wind up spreading your germs to everyone else at the gym too. “Exerting yourself strenuously when you’re sick will just delay your recovery and expose others to illness ” Tosh says.

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You should also drink fluids because your body needs more of them when you’re sick.

You should also drink fluids because your body needs more of them when you're sick.

“When you are sick, your body is revving up its metabolism in a way to fight off the illness, and it’s actually using more water than it would if you weren’t sick,” Tosh says. So it’s very important to stay hydrated, especially if you’ve had a fever or been sweating and losing fluids.

How much do you need to drink to stay hydrated? “There isn’t necessarily a hard number and it depends on the individual, but many people underestimate how much fluid you need,” says Tosh. So you should drink until you’re hydrated and probably then some, but you don’t have to overdo it. One way you can tell if you’re hydrated is by looking at the color of your urine, Tosh says. “If it’s darker than yellow, you probably aren’t getting enough fluids in – the lighter, the better.”

You can obviously stay hydrated by drinking water, but other fluids like clear soups, tea, and sports drinks are okay too. “The sports drinks can actually replenish some electrolytes and provide calories, which helps,” Tosh says.

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A healthy diet is important, but you should also stick to foods that are easy on your stomach.

A healthy diet is important, but you should also stick to foods that are easy on your stomach.

When your body is fighting off a cold, you want to make sure you’re supplying it with enough calories and energy. “It’s important to have a nutritious, balanced diet while you’re sick but you should also eat what you feel comfortable with – so foods that are easy to eat and won’t upset your stomach,” Tosh says. So now is probably not the time to try those insanely spicy noodles or steak tartare.

“You want to maintain those calories but in a palatable form, so something like chicken soup is great because it’s soothing, hydrating, and gives some basic nutrition,” Tosh says. Miso soup is another great option because it has some protein and good bacteria for your gut. Cooked vegetables, fresh fruits, and easy-to-digest carbs like rice and toast are also good options.

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Cold medicine can help you feel better – but it shouldn’t replace rest and fluids.

Cold medicine can help you feel better - but it shouldn't replace rest and fluids.

There are a bunch of different over-the-counter medications to help with cold symptoms. “When combined with good rest and fluid intake, over-the-counter medications can make you feel a lot better,” Tosh says. So if you do take them, just make sure you aren’t doing so at the expense of your rest and hydration. “Medications can help ease your symptoms – but you still need the rest and fluids to actually recover,” Tosh says.

So basically, don’t take a bunch of cold meds so you feel well enough to go to your friend’s birthday party and stay out drinking all night. Just because medications make you feel better, that doesn’t mean you actually are better.

P.S. Antibiotics are taken to treat bacterial infections, so they have no effect on cold viruses. Repeat after us: do not take antibiotics for a cold.

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Vitamin C or other supplements won’t magically cure you, but they probably won’t hurt either.

Vitamin C or other supplements won't magically cure you, but they probably won't hurt either.

You’ve probably been thinking this whole time – well what about Emergen-C? Airborne? Zinc? The truth is, the clinical research and evidence surrounding vitamin C and zinc is just too inconsistent and controversial, Tosh says. It’s also pretty unlikely that you have true vitamin C deficiency (like scurvy). However, these vitamins and minerals probably won’t do any harm – and if you think they help, then go for it! Just don’t take them in lieu of rest and sleep, Tosh says.

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Know the difference between a cold and the flu – and if you have the flu, you should really stay home or see a doctor.

Know the difference between a cold and the flu - and if you have the flu, you should really stay home or see a doctor.

Colds and the flu have similar symptoms, such as congestion, runny nose, and sneezing. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. In general, the flu hits you much faster than a cold and symptoms are far more severe. But the main difference is that the flu will cause a high fever, chills, and body aches all over – whereas a cold won’t.

If you have the flu, definitely stay home so you can rest and avoid spreading it to others. If your symptoms don’t improve or you experience an unusually high fever or have trouble breathing, go see a doctor. You should also see a doctor if you get the flu and you’re in a high-risk group – so if you’re pregnant, have a chronic condition, or a weakened immune system.

Nickelodeon / Via giphy.com

Finally, remember that the healthier you are before you get sick, the better you’ll be able to fight it off.

Finally, remember that the healthier you are before you get sick, the better you'll be able to fight it off.

You’re probably reading this article because you already feel a cold coming. But once you’re better, taking better care of yourself can help you avoid getting sick again. The duration and severity of your illness will also depend on how healthy you were before you got sick. “The best way to keep yourself from having a complication or infection from a cold, the best way to return to health after a cold, is to be healthy in the first place,” Tosh says.

In this case, being healthy means getting enough sleep every night, maintaining healthy eating habits, and getting moderate amounts of exercise. “Staying healthy is the best way to prevent getting sick,” Tosh says. So remember – take care of yourself during cold and flu season and don’t hang out with sick people either!

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Practice This 30-Minute Bedtime Yoga Sequence For Better Sleep (Free Class)

yoga-for-sleep-article

Yoga has a wide range of benefits for mind and body. But did you know that yoga can also help you fall asleep quicker, get a better night’s sleep, and improve your quality of sleep overall?

 

While certain yoga poses help build energy, other yoga poses can help relax your mind and body so you can fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed. Before you reach for that sleeping aid, instead try these yoga poses and see what they can do for your quality of sleep.

 

No more counting sheep with this yoga sequence!

 

Roll out your yoga mat and practice this 30-minute yoga for sleep bedtime yoga sequence:

 

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This 30-minute yoga for sleep sequence includes the following asanas:

 

1. Standing Forward Fold

Help your body relax and decompress from the day with a gentle standing forward fold.

 

2. Downward Facing Dog

Down Dog is a full body stretch that helps counteract all the sitting many of us do throughout the day – another great way to relax the body and also slow the heart rate and calm the mind.

 

3. Lizard Pose

This yoga pose helps lengthen your hamstrings and open your hips – two areas that hold a lot of tension and tightness in the body.

 

4. Seated Neck Stretches

Reverse the effects of hunching over a computer, phone screen, or steering wheel with gentle neck stretches.

 

5. Seated Wide Leg Forward Fold

Begin to slow down and breathe even deeper as you relax into a seated wide leg forward fold (option for pillow beneath your knees and/or tailbone).

 

6. Decompressed Frog

This restorative yoga pose is appropriately named, because it helps you decompress by lengthening and relaxing the neck, spine, and hips.

 

7. Childs Pose Thread the Needle

Childs Pose is a gentle restorative posture for the low back in particular. It calms mind and body, and adding the Thread the Needle variation also opens and relaxes the shoulders.

 

8. Bridge Pose

This yoga pose calms the mind and is a proven stress buster. You’ll feel it yourself while you’re in Bridge Pose!

 

9. Eka Pada Apanasana

Also known as Energy Freeing Pose, this yoga pose relieves tension in the low back, releases stagnant energy, and creates a relaxing feeling for mind and body.

 

10. Reclined Twist

This yoga pose gently decompress your spine so your body can soften into full relaxation – perfect before bed.

 

11. Happy Baby

Stretch the hamstrings, hips, hip flexors and inner groin with this pose, which also helps you relax and relieve stress.

 

12. Legs Up the Wall

One of the most popular yoga poses for stress relief and relaxation, Legs Up the Wall is a fan favorite for unwinding and is very effective for falling asleep and cultivating restful sleep.

 

End With Final Savasana

Take your final resting pose in a supported variation with a pillow beneath your knees. You can even do Savasana in bed and fall asleep from there!

 

 

Yoga For Sleep – Get Better Sleep Naturally!

At one point or another, most of us have struggled to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get a good night’s rest. Many people who have trouble sleeping on a regular basis will turn to sleeping pills, but there are natural remedies that can help! Yoga is at the top of that list.

 

Try this yoga sequence (or select a few poses from the list if you’re short on time) and see for yourself the incredible benefits of yoga for sleep! Sweet dreams.

 

This video was brought to you by SHEEX performance bedding. Learn more about these amazing sheets here.

 

The post Practice This 30-Minute Bedtime Yoga Sequence For Better Sleep (Free Class) appeared first on YogiApproved™.

25 Times Women Were Officially Done Taking Shit

“We should ban all men untill we figure out what’s going on.”

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Your Complete Guide to Sagittarius Zodiac + 6 Adventurous Yoga Poses for This Fire Sign

sagittarius-zodiac-featured

At any given moment, you’ll find Sagittarius on an adventure. Her passport booklet always has fresh ink because she’s constantly on the move. She’s curious and excited for what lies ahead! Her sparkle never dulls, and her fun-loving spirit is quick to brighten up anyone’s day.

 

Many people sugarcoat the truth, but this noble truth-seeker will cut right through the bullsh*t. She’ll look you square in the eye and give you the refreshing dose of reality you need.

 

Sagittarius doesn’t adhere to boundaries. She makes her own rules, and you’d better keep up.

 

There’s much more to know about Sagittarius, so read on!

 

We’ve also covered Scorpio in this series! Read The Complete Guide to Scorpio to learn more.

 

The Sagittarius Zodiac Sign at a Glance

Born: November 22-December 21

Element: Fire

Ruled by: Jupiter

Symbol: Archer

Best romantic matches: Aries, Taurus

 

Here are the three main characteristics of a Sagittarius:

Whether this sign belongs to you or not, this information will help you understand this fiery sign a little better.

 

1. Sagittarius Is A Forward Thinker

Sagittarius doesn’t waste a single moment thinking about the past. Her approach to life is all about the future, how she’ll get there, and what fascinating people and places she’ll encounter along the way. Jupiter, the planet of abundance and goodwill, rules her sign. This means she has an insatiable hunger for knowledge and growth.

 

This also makes them open-minded and accepting of those around them. She’ll listen attentively to everyone’s perspective, and gather that information to form her own. This makes Sagittarius a dynamic, versatile individual in whatever path in life they wander down.

 

 

2. Sagittarius Always Speaks Her Mind

Trustworthy Sagittarius always has your best interest in mind, and she’s confident enough to lay down the truth. You want her levelheaded voice of truth near you at all times, especially if you’re in en emotional rut.

 

She’s a natural conversationalist and entertainer, and will instinctively know exactly what to say and do to bring the wind back to your sails. Because of her genuine, friendly nature, many people find it easy to open up to Sagittarius.

 

Forever an optimist peering through rosy, heart-shaped frames, Sagittarius can easily spin something negative into a positive learning experience that you’ll look back on with gratitude.

 

When it comes to relationships, she’s not interested in playing games. Fleeting romances, though? Bring it on! Sagittarius loves the thrill of the chase. In a long-term partner, she seeks someone who will excite and energize her. They must be up for spontaneous adventures, and willing to give her the space she needs to let her spirit roam free.

 

 

3. Sagittarius Craves Adventure

Her constant longing to explore and learn about the world around her means Sagittarius always has her bags packed and ready to go. She embraces change and welcomes last-minute plans if it means taking her somewhere new and unexpected. And when it does, she won’t let anything or anyone stand in the way of her experiences.

 

She’s the type to teach herself Thai and then, before you know it, she’s geo-tagged at a lavish AirBnB infinity pool in Phuket on Instagram. And she’ll be soul-searching there for the next few months – that’s just how this wild child rolls.

 

Thinking about a life on the road? Read Here’s How I Quit My Job to Travel + 5 Reasons You Should Too

 

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Practice These 6 Yoga Poses to Embrace Your Inner Sagittarius and Encourage Your Untamed, Carefree Side!

Sagittarius is known for her playful, exciting energy. Tap into that power with these yoga poses.

 

1. Tiger’s Pose

This pose warms up the back muscles and lengthens your spine, while strengthening your core. Take this moment to find your drishti, or a focal point to help you stay grounded while you build an inner fire.

 

tigers-pose

 

How to Practice Tiger’s Pose:

  • Find Tabletop
  • Inhale and crunch your right knee to your forehead
  • Exhale, lift it out and up to the sky, arching your back
  • Take 3-5 Ujjayi breaths on each side

 

 

2. Warrior I with Prayer Arms Variation

This empowering pose strengthens your shoulders, arms, legs and back while opening your chest and hips.

 

warrior-prayer-variation

 

How to Practice Warrior I with Prayer Arms Variation:

  • Find Mountain Pose
  • Exhale, take a big step back with your right foot
  • Pivot your right toes to face the long side of your mat
  • Bend your left knee to a 90-degree angle
  • Bring your palms to touch behind your back in a reverse prayer
  • Take 3-5 Ujjayi breaths on each side

 

 

3. Runner’s Lunge

This pose stretches your quads and hamstrings while releasing tension in your hips. Grow the flames of that inner fire here, and be sure to keep a neutral neck so it doesn’t get cramped!

 

runners-lunge

 

How to Practice Runner’s Lunge:

  • Find Forward Fold
  • Place your palms on your shins or flat on the ground
  • Inhale, and take a big step back with your right foot with your heel directly above the ball of your foot
  • Lengthen your spine and keep a neutral neck
  • Take 3-5 Ujjayi breaths on each side

 

 

4. Star Pose

This pose stretches and lengthens all your muscles at once to empower and uplift.

 

star-pose

 

How to Practice Star Pose:

  • Find Mountain Pose
  • Turn to the long side of your mat with your hands on your hips
  • Step your feet apart to the length of your mat
  • Turn your toes out towards the corners of your mat
  • Stretch your arms out to the side
  • Take 3-5 Ujjayi breaths

 

 

5. Happy Baby

This playful pose relieves tension in your lower back and opens your hips while stretching your hamstrings.

 

happy-baby

 

How to Practice Happy Baby Pose:

  • Lie on your back and hug your knees to your chest
  • Grab hold of your ankles, feet, or toes
  • Slowly bring your feet to the sky and your legs out to a “V”
  • Play with this pose! Gently rock side to side and, if you fall over, have a good laugh
  • Take 3-5 Ujjayi breaths

 

 

6. Lion’s Pose

While this pose may look silly, it’s a great way to strengthen your wrists as well as the platysma, a muscle in the front of your throat.

 

lions-pose

 

How to Practice Lion’s Pose:

  • Find Rock Pose – a seated kneeling position with your booty resting on your heels
  • Bring your knees apart but keep your toes touching
  • Place your palms on your mat in front of you stacking shoulders, elbows, and wrists, and point your fingers towards you
  • Inhale through your nose and open your mouth
  • Stick your tongue out as you exhale loudly 3-5 times. Go ahead, take a roar or two and embrace the playfulness!

 

Celebrate the Sagittarius Fire Sign

Sagittarius, we embrace your wild nature and unwavering optimism. Thank you for encouraging us to look at our glass as half full, and to never settle for something that doesn’t serve us or help us grow as individuals.

 

We will follow up with an article for each sign of the zodiac, so be sure to stay tuned for the next sign.

 

The post Your Complete Guide to Sagittarius Zodiac + 6 Adventurous Yoga Poses for This Fire Sign appeared first on YogiApproved™.

The Woman Behind The FasciaBlaster Cellulite-Busting Tool Faces A Lawsuit

Ashley Black Guru / Via youtube.com

The entrepreneur behind a tool designed to massage skin aggressively in order to break up cellulite is accused of “false advertising” and “gross negligence” in a lawsuit filed in California that is seeking class action status.

A group of 10 plaintiffs accused Ashley Black and her company of failing to address the alleged side effects of using the FasciaBlaster, an $89 tool sold on Amazon and elsewhere that claims to “diminish cellulite” and “blast away subcutaneous fat.”

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, argues that not only does the product “fail to deliver the aesthetic results stridently guaranteed” by the company, but that it causes a “wide array of physical injuries” including bruising, hormonal instability and strokes. When people complained about their FasciaBlaster experiences in a Facebook support group, which included more than 300,000 members, Black’s company responded with harassment and cyberbullying, the lawsuit asserts.

The company told BuzzFeed News that the allegations in “this frivolous lawsuit” are “nothing more than a shakedown effort.” The company added that “judging by the false statements in the complaint” it expected “an expedient dismissal.”

The lawsuit follows a BuzzFeed News story that first reported on controversy over the company’s cellulite and fat-busting device and its recommended usage techniques. The FasciaBlaster has prompted 62 reports of injury and product malfunction submitted to the FDA since October 2016, with complaints that include bruising, weight gain, and digestive issues.

FasciaBlaster users are told to heat up in a sauna, slather themselves in oil, and rigorously massage with the tool up to four times a week to purportedly break up cellulite. Bruising, according to Black, is a sign of restoring “unhealthy fascia.”

But medical professionals told BuzzFeed News that these claims were not backed by firm science. Doctors said there was little evidence that massaging permanently destroys cellulite, which is created by fat compressed between a web of benign tissue between the skin and muscle called fascia.

John Morton, chief of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery at Stanford Health Care, told BuzzFeed News that a bruise is essentially a collection of blood beneath the skin and it does “not equal fascia being broken up.”

Although Black asserts that the FasciaBlaster doesn’t bruise healthy tissue when properly used, Morton noted that “any skin can get bruised. It doesn’t matter if it’s healthy or not.”

Perrin F. Disner, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, told BuzzFeed News that Black’s company’s behavior “is morally reprehensible.”

“It’s bad enough when some new beauty fad fails to provide the advertised results – junkyards are brimming with every pricey gimmick that overpromised and underperformed,” he said.

“Worse, though, is when you wish that the latest gadget had merely failed to do what it was supposed to, because now you’re also very sick, while the company claims there have been no complaints and tells 300,000+ people to ignore you because you’re just a lying troll,” Disner added.

Plaintiffs in the suit describe nausea, fatigue, body aches, and depression immediately following their use of the FasciaBlaster tool and protocols. Sue Grickly, one of the plaintiffs, claims that after three weeks of using the device, she felt burning pain in her neck and shoulder and was subsequently diagnosed with a pinched nerve.

Later, Grickly said, she felt a pain in her hip that was so severe she was unable to walk. An ambulance brought her to the emergency room, where doctors told her she had internal bleeding from a blood vessel that had burst. Her related medical bills amount to roughly $23,800, of which she has paid more than $6,750, according to the lawsuit.

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Read the complaint here.

LINK: Women Say A Popular New Device To “Get Rid Of Cellulite” Left Them Injured

13 Non-Traditional But Fun AF Ways To Celebrate The Holidays

Some people have Friends marathons, others grill on their deck like it’s the Fourth of July.

AKA your closest friends. The people who aren’t actually family, but MIGHT AS WELL BE. We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about their chosen family holiday traditions. Some were funny, others were heartwarming, and a couple were just plain random AF. Let’s get into them!

Have a roundtable discussion about all the things you give no fucks about.

Have a roundtable discussion about all the things you give no fucks about.

My friends and I celebrate what we lovingly call Nofucksgiving. It’s a Thanksgiving dinner where we get together and eat and talk about all the things we don’t give a fuck about. It’s one of my favorite holidays, and it’s so cathartic. We may not give a fuck about a lot of things, but we sure do care about each other.

lakewrm

NBC / Via readeroffictions.com

Host a judgement-free karaoke night.

Host a judgement-free karaoke night.

Me (trans*), my actual sister who is gay, and a handful of our closest queer friends – who all find the holidays a little rough because of tense family situations – get together the Saturday before Christmas. We order pizza and drink beer and exchange gifts and watch Home Alone, and usually have a drunk Christmas song lip sync contest somewhere in there.

It’s probably the thing I most look forward to at the holidays. Just good wholesome fun with the people who I know love me the most – who I can be myself around and be wholly comfortable with. There’s no worrying about offending someone with my very existence at my very conservative family gatherings! Plus, the pizza and beer make a great break from the typical holiday food everyone eats during this time of year.

amietb

Columbia Pictures / Via giphy.com

Throw an early Friendsgiving and keep the day itself low-key.

Throw an early Friendsgiving and keep the day itself low-key.

My husband and I have not-so-great relationships with our actual families. We don’t feel like forcing Thanksgiving with them is necessary. So the Saturday before Thanksgiving we do Friendsgiving, and on Thanksgiving day we watch the Friends episodes about their Thanksgivings and hang up all Christmas decor. We do this every year.

glittersniffers

NBC / Via giphy.com

Say grace…but like, not actually “grace.”

We like to say “grace.” Basically we all do a shot after loudly announcing the word “grace.”

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youtube.com / Via imgur.com

Complete a winter-themed puzzle together.

Complete a winter-themed puzzle together.

Years ago, in my first apartment, my roommates and I would do Christmas puzzles together. Towards the beginning of December we’d go shopping together and each choose a a winter-themed puzzle. Then, we’d put them out on our kitchen table to casually work on over time. We didn’t always get the chance to sit down to work on them as a group, but it was cool to see the puzzle gradually come together and think of each other having contributed at some point. The puzzles would usually last past Christmas and help get us through the drag that winter can often be.

-Justine Fitting, Facebook

Puzzler4879 / CC BY-NC 2.0 / Via Flickr: puzzler4879

Act like it’s the summer and light up the grill for some winter BBQ (shorts and sandals, optional).

Act like it's the summer and light up the grill for some winter BBQ (shorts and sandals, optional).

My best friend’s family and mine do a Hanukkah barbecue. Literally, we stand outside and barbecue like it was the Fourth of July, even if it’s the dead of December.

chanl

Ccat82 / Via gettyimages.com

Get all your friends together for a slumber party where you exchange gifts and play fun games.

Get all your friends together for a slumber party where you exchange gifts and play fun games.

The night before Christmas Eve (Dec. 23) is one of the few nights of the year when I have the house all to myself – my parents are working all night since they have a deli shop and people order a crazy amount of food for Christmas dinner. So for the past three years, I’ve been throwing a Christmas party with all my friends. It’s a girl’s night; we play silly games, drink lots of wine, exchange gifts… Anyone can spend the night at my place, and it has become a traditional thing! So everyone gets really excited about it.

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CBS / Via giphy.com

Take caroling seriously and find a choir to sing with every year.

Take caroling seriously and find a choir to sing with every year.

As a serious singer since age 12, I’ve been part of more Christmas/holiday-themed concerts and services than I can count. I was a member of both the regular and select chorus while I was in college, and had the chance to sing Christmas carols in a Rhode Island mansion with a number of my closest friends every year. I’ve also been part of my church choir since I was in high school (even singing on Christmas when I came home from college).

I take it so seriously that I make my parents plan our Christmas Eve dinner around when I have to get to warm-ups for Midnight Mass. I’m surrounded by the choir family I joined over 10 years ago, and I still cry every year. All told, singing with my chosen family is the best tradition I could imagine every year.

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CBS / Via forarainyday.me

Or decorate the tree to its ugliest potential.

Or decorate the tree to its ugliest potential.

We always make the ugliest Christmas tree! Tacky second grade ornaments covered in glitter, lights with reindeer heads, handfuls of cheap tinsel…

lizzyparent

Buena Vista Pictures / Via bustle.com

Skip the tree altogether and decorate something entirely unrelated to the holidays.

Skip the tree altogether and decorate something entirely unrelated to the holidays.

We have a 6-foot-tall cardboard cutout of the classic Lost In Space robot that we put lights on instead of a tree.

Everybitofink

Paramount Pictures / Via buzzfeed.com

Gather at the same time and place every year.

Gather at the same time and place every year.

Seventeen years ago, my brother started meeting his friends at our favorite 24-hour diner on Christmas morning at midnight. The first year only three people attended, and now we average around 12. It started out because although Christmas is a time for family, we wanted our chosen family – our best friends – a time to be together on Christmas. We play Christmas trivia and share memories while drinking coffee and eating typical diner fare.

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ABC / Via giphy.com

Build holiday gingerbread houses with your favorite candy.

Build holiday gingerbread houses with your favorite candy.

Every year, my fiancé and I️ build a gingerbread house. We play Christmas music, get our favorite candy, and just have a great time enjoying each other and making new memories. I️ look forward to it every year.

chasityf2

Ruthblack / Via gettyimages.com

Get together with a group to purge your closets and donate to those in need.

Get together with a group to purge your closets and donate to those in need.

We go out on Christmas Day, visit the homeless, and bring them all kinds of gifts – things they need to survive the cold. Coats, scarf’s, caps, socks, food, gloves. You name it and we bring it to them. Everyone should feel loved on that day.

-Chris Langford, Facebook

United Way of Greater St. Louis / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Via Flickr: unitedwaystl