Happy holidays — and how to sustain the holiday spirit year round

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Holidays make us happier and bring us together, so it’s likely that most of us would like to be able to sustain the holiday spirit. And while the holiday season may have a short-lived burst of joy and cheerfulness, there are actually effective strategies that we can use to maintain this uplifting holiday spirit throughout the whole year. Yes, we still can keep the positive feeling of the holiday season alive in our daily lives.

The holiday season has a profound impact on our mood and emotions, largely influenced by the surge of dopamine, a key neurotransmitter in the brain’s reward system. Increased dopamine creates a significant improvement in mood for many people. Social interactions, such as when family and friends come together, are known to release dopamine and enhance feelings of happiness and connectedness. And even after the event has passed, looking back at positive memories can contribute to an improved mood.

Did you know that Christmas decorations and lights also have an effect on happiness? The bright lights and colorful decorations can stimulate the senses in a way that uplifts our mood. In addition, Christmas music and baking, especially with strong spices, can trigger happy memories. Giving each other gifts reminds us of gratitude too, and just the act of giving and receiving gifts can be a source of joy and satisfaction and reinforce positive social bonds. Maybe even helping others by taking part in some church or charitable activity during the holidays can create a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Changing our daily routine and finding time for ourselves, and hopefully for the people around us that we care about, gives us a chance for relaxation and rejuvenation. Also, we should not forget that shopping and buying gifts for others or for ourselves can make us feel good.

With all of this it’s easy to see that the holiday “spirit” is actually a real thing. The surges in dopamine help regulate mood, motivation, and feelings of pleasure. One of the reasons why we love to consume sugary and highly processed foods is actually because they trigger the release of a large amount of dopamine into the brain. Dopamine is released by the hypothalamus in the brain and also plays an important role in controlling memory, sleep, movement and concentration.

Ultimately, the holidays will pass and we need to get back to our busy life, pay our credit cards, try to keep up with our New Year’s resolutions and so on. We should not forget the things that made us happy over the holidays, and we can remember to stay connected with our family and friends and show them how much we care about them as often as we can. We can actually keep the essence of the holiday spirit throughout the whole year. Connection, gratitude and joy can be a part of our daily life, not just a temporary experience. By looking at what makes us happier during the holidays, and carrying it over into our everyday lives, we can sustain the holiday spirit and its positive effects all year round.

Happy and healthy Holidays and New Year! 

References:

National Library of Medicine. “The Role of Dopamine and Its Dysfunction as a Consequence of Oxidative Stress”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684895/

Health Direct. “Dopamine”. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dopamine

Cleveland Clinic. “Dopamine”. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22581-dopamine

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competition history

Ayda competes regularly in fitness competitions and is currently preparing for the 2023 North American championships.

NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
CPA Toronto, 2021

You’ve probably heard so many people say “I love what I do”, BUT in my case I can truly say it from my heart. I’ve competed in sports all my life, but it wasn’t so long ago that I really understood that actually I can only ever compete with myself.

“You are perfect, until compare yourself with someone else”

I started contest prep in 2011, and since then I didn’t stop competing. In some competitions I got first place, in some it went not so well, but every competition that I prepared for taught me something more about myself and helped me take the correct direction, which I believe has shaped my work and my life in such a positive way.

When I competed in my first bikini competition I had just moved from my home country Turkey to Canada, and was getting used to the Canadian lifestyle — and, of course, the language too, which was the hardest part for me. I always wanted to do a fitness or bikini competition, but when I was still in Turkey the work and cultural differences made it so hard to do.

So I was in Vancouver BC, working at Steve Nash Fitness Club, and one of my co-workers, who was a competitor herself, asked me “why you are not competing?” I started asking myself and questioning if I could do it? I’d never done anything like it before… Maybe you’re asking yourself the same questions right now! Of course I told myself “absolutely, I can’’. And my competition journey began!

Each show that I competed in gave me more knowledge about my body, and how I can improve. Of course, it’s not easy to correctly identify what’s missing with training and nutrition, and this learning process and all of the experiences pushed me to learn more… I’ve been a personal trainer since 1993, but I wanted more and began my nutrition studies. I finished my Comprehensive Nutrition and Sports Nutrition degrees.

And yes, I am still competing! You can see a list of all of the competitions that I’ve competed in further down this page. And right now, AGAIN, I am getting ready for my next show…!

I’ll warn you right now, it wasn’t easy at all. The easiest part was the training, which was already part of my daily life. But posing, dieting, supplementation, getting a bikini, finding a trainer… This was much tougher, not the mention the cost for the registration, jewelry, tanning, hair and make-up, they cost a lot too. 

But I wouldn’t let anything stop me, and right after my first show — WBFF in May, 2011 — I immediately started looking for the next show to compete in. I was hooked!

I am so happy to be able to help other competitors who are willing to work and improve their mind and health at the same time. My goal is to create healthy and happy bikini competitors, who want to challenge themselves and put in the work that needs to be done to reach their goals. There is really no easy way to get there… But there is a smart way.

I look forward to working together and sharing my knowledge with YOU to get you in the best shape of your LIFE!!!!! 

AYDA HAS COMPETED IN

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