Stuck on What to Buy? Here is Your Christmas Suggestion List!

Another Black Friday is done and behind us. How did you make out? Is your Christmas shopping done? Chances are you probably didn’t manage to get everything you needed for the holiday season. One big problem with that is time: there are now less than four weeks until December 25th and time tends to fly this time of year.

If you find yourself with a ticking clock and many items still to go on your list, the following suggestions can make a big difference.


Most people have hobbies or other interests they are passionate about; what does your recipient like to do in their spare time? Unless you know that person well, this can be a little tricky because it’s difficult to tell exactly what they already have and what they might need. You can always ask their friends, partner, or relative, or buy a gift card. People feel that the latter choice shows a lack of care, but you are actually ensuring that they get exactly what they desire, so don’t cross this option off the list.

Get Creative

Has your subject ever expressed regret about not trying something? Maybe it was a question of cost or opportunity? If it is within your price range, book, rent, or buy this for them. They may not like it when all is said and done, but you are allowing them to try at no cost.

Think About Past Purchases

If you have bought for this person before, which gifts did they especially like? There is nothing wrong with the old saying, “if something works, stick with it.” You don’t have to give the exact same gift again, but think of something similar. Don’t worry—you are not being inconsiderate. Think of it as just another case of giving the people what they want!

Feeling Out of Sorts? This Might Be Why

Are you the type of person who usually has plenty of energy, but are now finding yourself lacking the typical quota of drive? If you find this is more and more the norm for you, something is likely wrong. The following list of possibilities might prove useful for you:


Do you usually enjoy a regular amount of physical activity? If so, has that changed recently? Try to get back to your old schedule because exercise produces endorphins that make you feel better and give you energy.


Humans require eight hours of sleep per night in order to recharge our mind and body. If you are getting less than that, you are facing the world with less physical and mental energy then you likely need. If you are having an especially hard day, you can run out of gas more quickly and thus feel tired.

Make changes in your schedule and lifestyle to ensure that you get the proper amount of rest each evening. This may be inconvenient, but you will certainly appreciate it the next day at work.


There is no subtle way to put it: being overweight is bad for you. Leaving aside all the health issues that extra weight can cause, the simple fact is you are caring more around with you. That means you need extra energy to do virtually everything. Losing weight means less to carry around and all of that exercise you will be doing gives you additional spark.


There is an old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and there is a lot of truth in that. You need the proper fuel injection first thing to provide you with the energy you need to perform at your best for the required period of time.


Have you ever felt depressed? Chances are, you did not feel like doing much of anything. That is normal with depression as it tends to leave people with low energy levels. If this continues, think about seeing a therapist.


Senior Citizens and Depression

Depression can be a great burden for anyone of any age, but it can be a particularly challenging time for senior citizens. As we age, even if we take good care of ourselves, our minds and bodies gradually begin to disintegrate. This can include the onset of debilitating conditions like arthritis, or diseases, as well as mental health factors like dementia. Without proper attention, depression can be a major issue for people in their golden years.

Here are some other reasons why this particular group is especially subject to mental health problems:

They are often isolated

Because of health or financial factors, a good percentage of senior citizens tend to feel isolated. It is difficult for them to get out and about, meet with friends, and participate in regular activities. This can lead to them no longer trying to be active, an increasing sense of isolation, and recurrent sadness.

Lack of exercise

As many older adults feel tired and unmotivated, they do not exercise much or sometimes at all. The lack of endorphin generation in the brain can lead to the onset and continuance of depression.

They are misdiagnosed

Many seniors are on a number of medications, some of which have side effects that can be mistaken for symptoms of depression. As a result, these individuals are not diagnosed as being depressed and do not receive the mental health therapy that they need.

Lack of sleep

Older individuals tend to need to use the washroom more than younger people, and that can be very disruptive to sleep. Also, the aches and pains of conditions like arthritis can also compromise our ability to get a long, fulfilling, and uninterrupted night of rest. Continually being tired means that you are not motivated to do very many things, and that can lead to depression.

Pilates Isn’t Just for Athletes

Have you heard about Pilates? Chances are you have because Pilates has become very popular around the world with several different age groups. While it seems like it might be an upscale exercise for those who are really dedicated to reaching the maximum peak of their health, Pilates is actually also a very effective process for people who only perform physical activity a few times a week.

If you see a chiropractor and/or massage therapist, at your next appointment ask them how many of their clients are office workers. In the past, most of the people seeing a chiropractor and massage therapist had found themselves in an accident or were in some kind of intensely physical occupation, like construction. Nowadays, the pendulum has swung in the other direction because so many people spend so much of their time sitting and typing. They end up being stiff and sore, and Pilates is an excellent way to combat the issue.

If you do not move around much, or your posture is incorrect, your muscles tend to knot up. That can be quite painful because muscle pain can radiate. For example, if you have pain in your upper trapezius muscles, it can move down your arms into your elbows and wrists. So you now have pain in three areas, instead of just one.

Additional flexibility is a way to help prevent this sort of injury. In addition to stretching your muscles out, Pilates will make you more flexible. The way in which Pilates strengthens and elongates your muscles also makes things easier on your joints. As we age, joint pain becomes a significant factor of discomfort for many people.

Pilates increases your core strength, which is important. It also increases the muscle mass in your arms and legs, which is also quite beneficial in many aspects of life.

How to Conduct a Successful Client Meeting

Client meetings are a part of most every business. In spite of this, not everyone involved is good at conducting them. There is a certain amount of preparation and a way of progressing with the meeting that will help for it to go as smoothly as possible, which is essential when delivering results and generating client confidence.

Here are a few tips that will help your next business meeting be a smashing success:


It is vital to prepare thoroughly for any meeting. Make sure that you know the names of everyone you will be speaking with, their titles, their responsibilities, and how they will relate to the business your company will be doing with them. Make a list of all the topics that will be covered in the meeting; it is even better to prepare and share a thorough agenda in advance with everyone taking part.


Be sure to start the meeting right at the scheduled time. If your agenda lays out a certain amount of time for each subject area, do your best to stay on schedule throughout the meeting. Also, keep an eye on your overall time so that you do not go over. Make sure that everyone who needs to speak is given enough time to clearly get their information across and answer any questions.


Take thorough notes during the call so that no important information is forgotten. Better yet, with the permission of everyone involved, record the meeting and then share that audio file with everyone who participated and anyone who had planned to be there but was unavailable.


Take immediate action on any items discussed that have set deadlines or are otherwise important. If a follow-up meeting is required, arrange a time that is convenient for everyone and add it to the company schedule.

How Air Conditioning Impacts Productivity

Companies are constantly on the hunt for ways to fine-tune employee productivity. It’s all about maximizing the efficiency of the people and their work environment, down to details like office layout, furniture, and even wall colour.

Just about everything around us seems to have some impact, however small, on the quality of work. While some of this research is questionable (can a plant really make you work harder?), there’s no arguing that temperature has a huge effect on our ability to get stuff done.

The Importance of Climate Control

There’s a strong link between the temperature of a workplace and the productivity of its workers. If it’s too cold, people have to expend energy to keep themselves warm, which means less energy available for concentration and insight.

A team at Cornell University studied the effects of temperature on productivity by measuring the computer activity and keystrokes of employees. They examined both the number of keystrokes per minute, as well as the amount of mistakes they made while typing.

The results were clear. Workers in offices with temperatures below 21 degrees Celsius had both a lower output and more mistakes than those in warmer offices. While keystrokes aren’t the best way of measuring productivity, workers in warmer offices made more than twice as many, showing a clear difference in output.

But turning up the temperature doesn’t always mean a rise in productivity. While workers in a warmer office had a higher output than their chilly co-workers, the boost plateaus around 25 degrees. And productivity actually starts to decrease when the temperature hits 29 degrees or higher, so air conditioning is essential in the summer.

The Ideal Office Temperature

It’s clear that air conditioning is a major factor in worker efficiency, and employers stand to benefit from creating a comfortable workplace. So why do many companies get it wrong?

According to one survey, 80% of office workers complain about the temperature in their workplace. Of those 80%, 42% find it too warm, while the rest are left in the cold.

Not only does an errant temperature make the office’s occupants unhappy, it impacts the bottom line as well. In the United Kingdom alone, workers waste an average of 2% of office hours dealing with climate control, costing the economy an estimated $13 billion in lost productivity each year!

The trouble is, there’s no such thing as the perfect office temperature. The ideal temperature for productivity is one you don’t notice. That temperature is not the same for everyone.

To start, men and women tend to feel differently about it. On average, women have lower metabolic rates than men, and fewer muscle cells that produce heat. As a result, women tend to feel the effects of the cold faster than their male co-workers. The ideal temperature for women is often 1-3 degrees warmer than that for men.

Sex isn’t the only factor that impacts how we perceive the temperature. People with a higher body mass index feel the effects of the heat, and older people are more susceptible to the cold.

That’s not accounting for the effects of humidity, which makes the temperature feel warmer for everyone.

In the end, when it comes to setting the thermostat in the workplace, there’s no perfect solution for everyone. Employers who want to maximize productivity may be better off investing in personalized heating and cooling solutions for their workers. Small space heaters and mini air conditioners may well be the future when it comes to maximizing productivity.

Know the Four Airborne Allergens in Your Home

Indoor allergens like dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and mold can aggravate your allergy symptoms.

When we think about air pollution, most of us are concerned with the air outside. We picture smoke stacks, car exhaust, and other sources of poor air quality in our towns and cities. Our homes are supposed to be an escape from all that – but the indoor air isn’t spotless, either.

You may not see them, but there are millions of indoor allergens living on your furniture, floors, and air ducts. These unwelcome guests can make you cough, sneeze, or worse. Indoor allergens are annoying for allergy sufferers, but they’re especially problematic for people with asthma or weakened immune systems.

You can’t completely get rid of indoor allergens, but you can manage them using a top-performance air conditioner with a good filter. HEPA filters can eliminate 99% of allergens and particles that pass through them. A few changes to your daily habits can also help keep indoors allergens out.


Studies show one in six Canadians have a seasonal allergy to one or more kinds of pollen. Pollen usually enters the home through open doors or windows, or by sticking to shoes, clothing, or pets. Since we tend to keep our windows open through the hot summer months, it’s easy for pollen to find a way into our homes.

If you’re spending time in an area with lots of pollen (at a park, for example), it helps to change into clean clothes when you get home. Leave your shoes on the porch or in the foyer. You should give your pets a good clean if they spend time outside, since pollen readily sticks to their fur.

Speaking of pets…

Pet Dander

Bad news: there’s no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog or cat. That’s because most people with pet allergies are actually allergic to dander, not hair. Even short-haired (or hairless) animals shed dander.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a pet. A HEPA filter can do wonders for people with pet allergies. You can also designate a pet-free zone in your home so you can find refuge on those days where your allergies are really acting up.


If you’ve got moisture, you’re probably got mold. It thrives in dark, damp places, like bathrooms and kitchens with poor ventilation. It’s easier to spot than other allergens, but what you can’t see are the tiny, airborne spores that spread and grow new clusters.

The best way to deal with mold is to prevent it from growing in the first place. Make sure your bathroom and kitchen is well-ventilated, and deal with leaky pipes as soon as possible. Watch for damp spots around windows that could indicate leaks. You can clean mold from hard surfaces using water, detergent, and bleach, but moldy furniture and clothing should be thrown away.

Dust Mites

Don’t be surprised if this makes your skin crawl. Dust mites are tiny insects that live in the fibres of carpet, furniture, bedding, and window dressings. They don’t bite, but they do trigger asthma and sinus issues.

Keep your floors and furniture clean to get rid of dust mites before they become a problem. If you’re particularly sensitive to dust mites, it may be best to switch to hardwood floors and non-fibrous furniture like wood or leather.

Replace Your HVAC Filters to Keep Your Home Healthy

Replacing or cleaning the HVAC air filter will keep your home healthy throughout the year.

Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC) helps make your home healthy and comfortable. But it can’t do its job efficiency without a clean air filter.

On average, indoor air has two to five times more pollutants than the air outside. The filter removes dust, allergens, and other airborne contaminants from the air before the system circulates it throughout the house. As the filter becomes clogged with debris, it blocks the free flow of air to the system, which reduces the efficiency of your furnace or air conditioning system. Not only does this drive up heating and cooling costs, it makes the air inside your home less clean and healthy.

HVAC experts recommend cleaning or replacing the filter at least once per season, or three times a year. Here’s how you can do this simple maintenance routine yourself.

Step 1: Find the Filter

Depending on the type of HVAC system you have, you can find the filter in one of three places:

  • Window air conditioners have the filter directly behind the place where cool air comes out.
  • Central air systems usually have the filter behind the main vent that releases cool air. It’s often located near the thermostat.
  • Furnace or air handler filters are found in a slot behind a metal or plastic housing in the unit itself.

Step 2: Turn it Off

Before you remove the panel or grille covering the filter, turn off power to the system for your safety. You should never touch the filter while there is air flowing through it.

Step 3: Identify the Filter

Once you’ve found it, examine the filter to determine what kind of product you’re dealing with. Different systems use different sizes and types of filter, so you need to identify it before you can replace it. Write down the brand of filter, along with other identifying information on the frame, and measure it for size.

  • Fiberglass filters are common in older systems. They have a large frame that looks like a window screen. Depending on the season and the size of your home, you may need to replace it as often as every month.
  • Pleated filters are one-inch wide, rectangular units. Replace it every three months.
  • Media filters look like pleated filters, but are three to four inches wide. They don’t need to be replaced as often as pleated filters, but be sure to check it out every three to six months.

Step 4: Remove and Replace

Slide out the old filter along its tracks and immediately dispose of it in an outdoor garbage bag. Don’t leave it sitting in your regular garbage, as the dust can fall out and re-enter the air. Next, you can slide the new filter into place, paying attention to the arrows that indicate which side to put in first.

Step 5: Close it Up

Re-attach the protective grille or casing that keeps the filter safe inside the unit. At this point, you can turn the system back on.


Tips for Sleeping in Hot Weather

It’s all about the air flow.

Summer heat keeping you up at night? Here are a few tricks for making your room feel cool and comfortable on those muggy summer evenings.

Ensure Good Air Flow

If you’re having trouble falling asleep in the heat, lack of air flow is likely a factor. Fans and air conditioning won’t do much good if the room (or your bed) restricts the flow of cool air. Try placing a fan across from an open window to create a cross-breeze in the room. You can boost the amount of cool air in the room by hanging a cool, damp towel in front of the window, and placing a pan of ice in front of the fan.

Choose Breathable Materials

Choose sheets and clothing made from a light, breathable material like cotton. This helps promote ventilation and ensure the cool air can reach your body while you sleep. You may be tempted to sleep nude, but wearing loose, soft pajamas will actually help to wick moisture from your body.

Sleep Close to the Ground

Heat rises, so it helps to sleep as close to the ground as possible. On those particularly stuffy nights, you may opt for a college throwback and stick your mattress on the floor.

Forget Lotions and Moisturizers

Many popular body lotion products, especially those made from petroleum, can trap heat in your body. Avoid using these products before bed. Though they may feel refreshing at first, you’ll regret it once you wake up feeling sweaty and sticky.

Get a Cooling Pillow

Tired of flipping the pillow over to sleep on the cold side? Consider buying a cooling pillow. There are dozens of these products on the market, but Dr. Christopher Winter of the Jefferson Hospital Sleep Medicine Center recommends a bamboo pillow with a shredded latex filling. Be sure to read the reviews before you decide which one is right for you.

Take a Cool Shower

You’re likely to fall asleep faster if you can cool your internal temperature before you hit the bed. Showers can also help you relax and unwind, setting the stage for a peaceful sleep.


Four Unexpected Health Benefits of Air Conditioning

Air conditioning can help control pests, filter out airborne contaminants, and even help you sleep better at night.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, air conditioning is the best way to protect yourself from heat-related illness and death. But that’s not the only reason to switch on the A/C in the summer. By reducing humidity and providing air filtration, air conditioning can benefit your health in other ways as well.

Prevent Asthma Attacks

The summer months can be rough for people who suffer from asthma, as the heat and humidity causes an spike in air pollution and airborne allergens. But the humidity itself is also a factor in asthma attacks. When the humidity reaches levels of 50% or more, simply breathing in the hot air can lead to coughing and shortness of breath.

Air conditioning can help prevent asthma attacks by cutting the humidity and creating a cooler, more comfortable breathing environment.

Allow for Better Sleep

No one likes to fall asleep in a hot, stuffy room. The summer heat can make it hard to get a good night’s rest, which is essential to good health. Air conditioning can help make your bedroom feel comfortable and restful. Some people also appreciate the white noise effect of air conditioning, which helps to drown out other disruptive sounds.

Prevent Pests

Humidity is a major factor in pest control. High levels of humidity increase the amount of organic decay in your home, which bugs and other critters use as a food source. It also creates a environment ripe for fleas and dust mites. You can help prevent unwanted pests from moving in by lowering household humidity with air conditioning.

Filter Airborne Pollutants and Irritants

You may not notice it, but the air inside your home can be contaminated by allergens, organic compounds, and other airborne particles. The problem is often worse in the summertime, with airborne pollen coming in from outdoors and the humidity creating conditions for mold and dust mites. Your air conditioner’s air filter helps to catch these irritants before they reach your lungs.

Keeping Your Air Conditioner Healthy

  • Regularly clean or change your air filter. This will keep the unit running efficiently and prevent it from inadvertently spreading airborne particles.
  • Ensure the exhaust fan works properly. Issues with the exhaust fan can cause moisture and humidity to build up around the unit, which can damage your home and create conditions for pests and mold growth.
  • Never store paints, cleaners, or other chemicals near your air conditioner. These substances can emit harmful airborne contaminants, which the air conditioner can spread throughout your home.