Taking care of your overall physical and emotional wellness is an essential aspect of life, so it makes sense that essential oils are key elements in helping you do just that. It’s why essential oils have become so popular, not only in health care but also in personal care regimens.
But what exactly are essential oils, and how do they benefit us? Our complete essential oils guide tells you everything you need to know about essential oils and what they do.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils come from various species of flowers, grasses, fruits, leaves, stems and trees, says Kristin Rondeau, a learning and cultural specialist with Saje Natural Wellness. On average, essential oils are 80 times more potent than the dried herb, she adds.
“They are composed of plant molecules that are highly volatile, complex chemical structures created in nature,” Rondeau explains. “They are known to be the life force of the plant—concentrated energy that collects in the secretory system of plants and supports their metabolic functions.”
These oils not only capture the concentrated aroma of the plant they are derived from, but can also harness the healing power from their plant source, Rondeau says. “Essential oils are thought to work in a complementary fashion to offer a holistic effect.”
But, as clinical aromatherapist and reflexologist Amy Kreydin points out, calling them oils is “a bit of a misnomer.” That’s because unlike oils, fats, waxes and butters like coconut oil, cocoa butter or jojoba liquid wax, essential oils aren’t lipids, they are actually volatiles.
Volatile substances like essential oils evaporate into the breathing space, Rondeau says. They can be inhaled or applied directly to the skin when properly diluted.
Benefits of Essential Oils
The benefits of essential oils are vast. “Most essential oils are going to fit into the category of having some sort of antimicrobial, meaning they can be antibacterial, antiviral or antifungal,” Kreydin says.
They’ve also been used around the world for centuries. “Essential oils have been used medicinally and therapeutically for as long as human beings have had relationships with plants,” says aromatherapist and founder of the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies, Amy Galper. “There is evidence of plants being used for healing over 5,000 years ago, in civilizations like Babylonia, Egypt, China, India and Israel.”
These various essential oils, which have stood the test of time, can be used for everything from pain management to reducing stress, and so much more. Kreydin says that essential oils “tend to have a Swiss Army knife function,” in that they have a plethora of benefits and uses. There are also a variety of ways to apply essential oils and their accompanying carrier oils.
10 Essential Oils and Their Uses
To better understand the benefits and uses of essential oils, let’s take a closer look at 10 of the most popular essential oils out there:
Lavender Essential Oil Benefits
Arguably the most popular of the essential oils, lavender is loved because of its “whole-body calming and balancing benefits,” Rondeau says.
Easily adaptable and versatile to the body’s needs, the “floral and herbaceous” lavender can help calm our mental and emotional states, she adds.
Lavender is said to help with everything from stress management to sleep issues, including falling or staying asleep. When it comes to using lavender for sleep, Kreydin recommends turning on a diffuser 30 minutes before bed and unplugging it before going to sleep so that the room smells like lavender. “Your brain will remember, ‘This is the smell we use to sleep,’” she says.
Lavender, which is an anti-inflammatory, can also be used for pain management, such as sore muscles, body aches and tension headaches. For this use, Kreydin suggests pairing lavender with a carrier oil, such as jojoba. (A carrier oil is a fatty acid that works with the volatile so that the skin recognizes it as a form of nutrition and hydration, Kreydin explains.)
Tea Tree Essential Oil Benefits
Right behind lavender in terms of popularity and overall usage is tea tree. Native to Australia, this essential oil is “pungently fresh,” Rondeau describes. “It balances the skin with its refreshing and clearing properties.”
Used aromatically and topically (when mixed with a carrier oil), tea tree is widely used in both traditional and alternative medicine.
That’s because it’s an antimicrobial, which makes it helpful for first aid when it comes to treating minor cuts, scrapes and burns, Kreydin points out.
The cooling and cleansing properties can also be beneficial in preventing head lice and dandruff, which is why you’ll sometimes see tea tree oil in shampoos and conditioners.
Some also say that tea tree’s purifying properties make it ideal for chakra healing and balance, Rondeau adds.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil Benefits
An “invigorating and uplifting” essential oil, eucalyptus can be used to refresh and stimulate, Kreydin says. For instance, if you need a good jump-start to your day that isn’t coffee, eucalyptus may give you the energy you need. “This essential oil is fresh and light, and often one of the first aromas to reach the nose and dissipate quickly,” Rondeau says.
Since eucalyptus works so quickly in the nose passageways, it can also aid in opening up the lungs and chest during high allergy seasons. That said, because it travels in the airways and lungs, Kreydin notes that people with breathing issues, such as asthma, should use caution around eucalyptus as it could trigger an asthmatic attack. For those with asthma, she recommends using it in a well-ventilated room until you know how you will respond to it personally.
In order to get the benefits of eucalyptus, Rondeau suggests adding the recommended amount to a bowl of steaming water or to an ultrasonic diffuser. Kreydin says you can also put a couple of drops on your shower wall or into a washcloth on your shower floor.
Peppermint Essential Oil Benefits
Peppermint is a “zingy, herbaceous oil” that is designed to lift our moods and soothe the body, Rondeau says. “It creates a cooling, tingling effect that is known to help relieve pain and soothe tension. It provides a distinct cooling sensation to the skin while inspiring feelings of clarity and purpose.”
When applying peppermint to the skin, our experts recommend diluting it first as directed on the label.
Peppermint is also often found in over-the-counter products to aid with relieving coughs, due to its natural menthol elements. It can be a lifesaver during high-allergy times, such as ragweed season, Kreydin says. “Where eucalyptus goes toward the lung or chest, peppermint goes toward the sinuses.”
Lemon Essential Oil Benefits
When you think of lemons, you think of summer and happiness, right? Well, there’s a reason for that. Lemon essential oil is often referred to as “sunshine liquid,” Rondeau says, thanks to its “ability to brighten your mood and your outlook.
“Lemon energizes the body, balances your skin tone and can be used to freshen your home,” she adds.
Cold pressed from the rind of ripe yellow lemons, this essential oil is used to uplift and inspire. For example, you might try using lemon with an inhaler or aromatherapy stick to help sharpen your mind while studying or to clear your head.
For many, lemon is tied to scent memory, Kreydin points out. The scent may remind you of cleaning, so don’t be surprised if it motivates you to do just that.
In addition to being an antimicrobial (meaning it can be used for first aid, such as helping with paper cuts or scratches), lemon is also a natural astringent. Galper suggests adding lemon essential oil to a sugar scrub as a detox remedy.
However, because lemon is a phototoxic oil, it can maximize the damage of UV rays, including sunburn and dark spots. You’ll want to dilute lemon before going into the sun and follow all instructions, Kreydin says.
Orange Essential Oil Benefits
Another citrus-based essential oil, orange is known to have mood-boosting properties. It’s derived from the peel of the flowering plant, Rutaceae, which is a hybrid of pomelo and mandarin. “Sweet yet soothing, orange can gently lull you into a deeper state of rest and help to remind you of the positive in life,” Rondeau says.
Since it’s not as overpowering as lemon, orange is ideal to use for seasonal affective disorder, Kreydin says. During those dreary winter months, you can use an aromatherapy stick or wear aromatherapy jewelry with diffuser stones to get that burst of summer smell.
However, orange oil is just as helpful in the summer months, Kreydin points out. When paired with cypress in a massage oil, the properly diluted amount of orange may help with fluid congestion in the legs.
Orange can even help with removing the residue of adhesives from stickers!
Cypress Essential Oil Benefits
Obtained from steam distillation of the needles and twigs of the evergreen tree, cypress has a variety of potential uses, including aromatherapy for relieving cough and flu symptoms and rheumatoid arthritis pain, Rondeau explains.
Kreydin notes that people who want (or need) to avoid commercial antiperspirants containing aluminum can use cypress as an ingredient in homemade deodorant. It also works well in body scrubs and cleansers “to wash away germs and improve vitality,” Galper adds.
Known for its notable, forest-like odor, cypress can be diffused indoors. You can add cypress to a diffuser to clear the air, Galper says, as it’s “good for circulation…it’s cleansing and detoxifying.”
For those who desire a less pungent, outdoorsy smell, Kreydin suggests mixing cypress with rose geranium for a lighter, more floral scent.
Rosemary Essential Oil Benefits
Rosemary is a stimulating and warming herbal essential oil that is known to help release stressful feelings, Rondeau says. It can also help “soothe muscular aches and pains, while keeping your mind sharp and your senses invigorated.”
Rosemary, which is steam-distilled from the flowering tops, stalks and leaves of the rosemary plant, can also be used to clear up sinus congestion, Rondeau adds.
Rosemary verbenone oil is gentle on the skin. It can be used to help treat acne, repair damaged skin and reduce wrinkles and age spots, especially when paired with rose geranium, Kreydin says. Rosemary cineole oil, on the other hand, should never be used on the face, she says.
As with all essential oils, follow labeled instructions for proper dosage, Rondeau advises.
Lemongrass Essential Oil Benefits
Lemongrass, which is derived from a slender, yellowish tropical grass, has a myriad of uses. “It has a long history of use as a folk remedy, Rondeau says. “Invigorating with a cleansing, fresh aroma, lemongrass has uplifting properties that make it a valuable addition to blends for promoting a sense of joy and releasing stressful thoughts.”
That very same “tropical” smell lemongrass possesses can also be useful for getting rid of musty odors in the home, Kreydin says.
In addition to its aromatherapeutic properties, lemongrass can work as an effective bug repellent, Rondeau notes.
However, since lemongrass can irritate the skin, it’s important to dilute it properly and is best used through a diffuser, Kreydin says.
Sage Essential Oil Benefits
There are different types of sage available, but overall, Rondeau describes the essential oil as “a warm, sweet and lively herb that inspires clearing and feelings of inner balance.” (For instance, dried sage—with its sweet and herbaceous aroma— can be burned to clear out negative feelings from physical surroundings.)
Sage, in its various uses in aromatherapy, may help soothe digestive discomfort, headaches, sore throats and muscular aches and pains, Rondeau says.
One of the most popular types is clary sage, Kreydin notes. “Generally considered a women’s essential oil, it’s popular for use during PMS and menopause.”
If you spritz diluted clary sage onto your sheets before going to bed, it can help cool you down. It provides hormonal support, Kreydin says, and can “gently nudge your body in the direction” you need it to go.
Essential Oil Safety
When using essential oils, there are important safety precautions to remember. Some oils are not safe to use around children or pets, for example. In addition, pregnant or breastfeeding women and people with medical conditions, such as epilepsy or high or low blood pressure, should always use essential oils with caution and follow their labeled instructions, Rondeau warns.
Proper use and dilution of essential oils is key. Guidelines must be followed, Galper explains. For instance, “If you’re using essential oils on the face, the portion should never be higher than 1 percent.” (In other words, for a 1-ounce bottle, you should only use 8-10 drops of the essential oil.)
However, if you’re using an essential oil for something like physical pain, the dilution will be higher, around 5 to 8 percent. That’s why following instructions and dosage is of the utmost importance.
Colorful or dark, shimmery or opaque, crystals come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. Sprinkled throughout the earth, these precious gems possess the power to help you tune into your higher self, clear yourself of toxic energy and even mend a broken heart.
Don’t believe me? Just take a look through history. It’s easy to see how crystals have played an important part in our evolution. Crystals like amethyst, opal, amber and citrine have been carried as talismans, adorned in jewelry, used in healing ceremonies and activated as part of shamanic rituals and rites. They even decorated the tombs of ancient Egyptian kings. To this day, crystals are used in jewelry and technology, and line the homes of those of us who are fascinated by their spiritual energy.
Crystals are so much more than just pretty ornaments. Often discredited as “woo-woo” nonsense, crystals sometimes get a bad rap. The truth is, when used correctly, crystals can be magical, uplifting and enlightening. If you’re anything like me, the pure beauty of these crystals draws you in. But maybe you’re left wondering, “What are these crystals and what do they mean? How do I use them? Do they really work or is this just some spiritual mumbo jumbo?”
Hey, it’s alright; you’re a crystal beginner! I was once in your shoes. I remember feeling the draw to be around these crystals, to bring them into my home, but never knowing what else to do with them. Ready to take your crystal knowledge to the next level? Consider this your ultimate crystal guide.
Crystal Guide: Choosing the Right Crystal
Just as every human being is a divine work of art, each crystal foraged from the earth has a distinct healing property and meaning. These crystals carry within them the wisdom and power of Mother Earth itself, and just holding them in your hand can be a transforming experience.
When deciding to buy a crystal, there are several ways to find the best one for you. The first way would be to research the healing properties of certain crystals. For example, if you’re looking for a crystal that is used to help with insomnia, you could try searching for “crystals to help you sleep.” The second and the more organic way is to simply purchase a crystal because you feel naturally drawn or attracted to it. Then watch as the crystal teaches you all you need to know.
I always say crystals will find you. Of my collection of crystals in my home, almost half of them have been given to me as gifts. Once you begin to believe in the power of crystals and accept their assistance, the exact crystal you need will step into your life.
Crystal Guide: How to Cleanse Crystals
Before you bring a crystal into your home or life, remember to treat the crystal with care. Keep your crystals in a safe place and away from harsh sunlight. When I work with crystals, I like to begin by setting an intention. I ask myself, “What do I want to learn from this crystal?” or “Why am I adding this crystal to my collection?”
Once you set the intention, start by clearing the energy of the crystal. Crystals need to be cleared because they can absorb the energy of everyone who has touched or held them.
“Before using any crystal, the easiest way to clear them is to put them on a plate of non-iodized or kosher salt,” explains Alison Olkowski, a reiki master, life coach and sales manager at Crystal Vision LTC in Hollywood, Florida. “The other option is to place the crystal directly on the Earth, because the vibrational frequency of the Earth is 432Hz, which is a naturally cleansing vibration.”
Many people wonder why you need to clear a crystal before using it. “Everything has an energy field and crystals come into contact with many different energy fields in their lifetime,” Olkowski explains. “Cleansing resets the energy of the crystal back to zero, back to its natural state. Then you can set your intention and create a personal relationship with that crystal, one that best suits your energy.”
Crystal Guide: Charging Crystals
When I start working with a crystal, I like to carry it with me or take it along to important events. I might have the crystal in my purse, or if I feel I need extra support, I might carry it in my hand. Using your crystal in your daily life is the best way to build a relationship with your crystal and helps you to really start to feel its energy.
A beautiful way to arrange your crystals in your home is to try an altar or crystal grid. An altar is a spiritual way to invite more peace, love and happiness into your home. You can create an altar using crystals, pictures, candles, statues, feathers or anything that feels deep and meaningful to you. Clear a space in your home—maybe it is near the front door or maybe it is right next to your bed—and set up a little spot for your altar. As you place your crystals and spiritual items on your altar, notice how you feel. This is always a great time to do a little meditation or say a little blessing.
Another great way to decorate your home with crystals is to form a crystal grid. This is a geometric pattern that you can form using crystals; it’s done for the specific purpose of directing your energy toward a goal. As you create your grid, you don’t need to follow any particular pattern. Instead, just feel what feels right for you. Instead of putting your thoughts and focus into what the grid looks like, redirect your thoughts into, “What does this experience feel like?”
Crystals need to be charged in order to perform at their highest energies. My favorite time to charge my crystals is to use the power of the full moon. Every full moon (or even better, super moon), I take my crystals outside and let them sit under the light of the moon. In the morning, you can collect them again and take them inside. You can also charge your crystals using sunlight. Just be careful, because some crystals will fade after prolonged exposure to the sun.
Crystal Guide: How to Use Crystals
Beginning Your Spiritual Awakening? Try Amethyst
If you’ve been ramping up your yoga classes, you have a passion for Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday and you just started reading Gabby Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back, it might be time to invite amethyst into your life. The name amethyst comes from the Greek word for “not intoxicated,” and it was a crystal known for invoking a sense of inner peace and tranquility. Often used to help reduce nightmares and insomnia, this brilliant purple crystal will take your meditations to a new level. Also known for enhancing psychic abilities, amethyst is perfect for the spiritual seeker.
How to use it: Place a small amethyst crystal on your third eye (the spot right between your brows), lay down and practice a one- to two-minute guided meditation (you can find them on YouTube). Notice any sensations you might feel as you meditate.
Suffering from Headaches? Try Apatite
Oh no, you’ve found yourself in a bit of a pickle. It seems like everything is falling apart and no matter how hard you try, you cannot seem to get yourself out of this funk. If you’ve been suffering from headaches, confusion, uncertainty or doubt, it’s time for a problem-solving crystal like apatite to enter your life. This bright blue crystal, which is often associated with the throat chakra, comes from the Greek word for “to deceive” for its ability to act like a chameleon and resemble other stones. Apatite is a great problem solver; it is believed to help soothe headaches and clear away uncertainty and lower emotions. Apatite can help you see things from a new perspective.
How to use it: You can try apatite in one of three ways. The first is to create a crystal grid and put your apatite crystal at the center. Ask a question to the crystal as you create the grid and see how the crystal goes to work for you. Secondly, you can sleep with the crystal next to your bed and notice any dreams you might have. Finally, you can journal and place the apatite next to your journal, ask yourself specific questions and see what comes through in your writing.
Tired of the Toxic Friends? Try Black Tourmaline
You’ve been thinking about the type of people in your life and the term “toxic friendship.” If you’ve been debating pressing the “unfriend” button, or you feel what everyone else feels, or you’re very sensitive to chemicals, allergens and toxins, black tourmaline might be your new best friend. This crystal can be used to clear toxic energy, purify your thoughts and psyche and even remove deep-seated fears. This is a very grounding gem and perfect for those moments when you feel the toxic energy of the world. Do you need a digital detox? Use black tourmaline to recharge your spiritual batteries and bring you back to the present moment.
How to use it: I like to use black tourmaline along with an affirmation ritual. Pick an affirmation you like, for example, “I am attracting healthy, happy relationships into my life,” and then make that affirmation part of your daily ritual. Hold the black tourmaline in your hand as you say the affirmation out loud. Take the crystal with you as you go about your day or place it next to your bed at night.
For Overcoming Obstacles, Try Bloodstone
They say when it rains, it pours and sometimes you find yourself in circumstances beyond your control. Instead of turning to Facebook to vent your frustrations, why not pick out a beautiful bloodstone to help you overcome your obstacles? Used for thousands of years as a powerful healing crystal, bloodstone is thought to help detoxify the body and specifically to stimulate the blood-rich organs. Think about your liver, your spleen and your kidneys—the parts of your body that work to rid you of toxins. Use bloodstone to help you release and let go, welcome the change and rise above the fear.
How to use it: Bloodstone is a great stone to use during a full moon. Full moons are often chaotic, energy-packed times of the year. Sit down with your bloodstone and feel its calming energy. You can journal or meditate, think about the things you would like to let go of and watch as the crystal helps you through the tough times.
Been Wishing for a Baby? Try Moonstone
Fertility, motherhood, nurturing and flowing—these are all qualities associated with the soft, semi-transparent crystal known as moonstone. Found all over the world and very popular in the ancient world, moonstone is tied to the concept of the “divine feminine” and the power of the moon. Often linked to fertility, romantic love and sensuality, women were known to carry moonstone as talismans or good luck charms.
How to use it: Wear moonstone close to your heart as a pendant or carry it with you in your purse or pocket. Set an intention with moonstone and be clear with the universe by asking for what you truly desire.
Recovering from a Broken Heart? Try Rose Quartz
The heart is one of our most powerful organs and one that can be so easily bruised. If you have ever been through heartbreak (because, let’s face it, who hasn’t?) you know that feeling in your chest when you just feel like your heart has been split into two. Rose quartz is a delicate, pale pink crystal that can help mend a broken heart. This crystal is great for attracting love into your life or to help your heart to heal from emotional pain or loss. It’s a powerful crystal and yet so subtle and divine. When you invite the rose quartz in, be sure to treat it with extra tender love and care.
How to use it: Place a few rose quartz crystals in your bedroom or around your house. When you pass the crystal in your home, pick it up or just stand by it and let the crystal be a reminder that you deserve love and that your heart will heal. Be open to the messages you might receive from the crystal or just acknowledging how the crystal makes you feel when you touch it or feel it.
Now that you know a little more about crystals and what they mean, which crystal will you choose to take home?
It’s no secret: Meditation can reduce stress, improve concentration, increase happiness, slow aging and encourage a healthy lifestyle overall. In some cases, it can even help with cardiovascular and immune needs. Many people also meditate for the sake of better self-awareness and enlightenment, or mindfulness.
“I find the time to meditate because it truly sets my mood and perspective for the day,” says Melissa Berry, lifestyle expert and founder of CancerFashionista.com. “I always try to practice first thing in the morning and right before I go to sleep.”
While you can pretty much practice it anywhere, let’s explore how to create a special place within your home that you can retreat to whenever you need to meditate.
The ideal space should be an area in the home where you feel most relaxed. There are also specific items you can incorporate into the space to ensure meditation’s effectiveness.
Choosing the Right Place for Meditation
So where should you meditate? Where is the best spot in your home? It’s important to pick a simple, clutter-free environment. You should also avoid picking a spot in the house that gets a lot of foot traffic if you live with other people.
“It’s important to clear out the clutter physically and energetically,” explains Michelle Cromer, a feng shui healer, speaker and author. “Remove anything out of the dedicated space that will not aid in meditation.”
Clear the invisible energy and set an intention for the space before every meditation session, Cromer advises. “Some people like to use beautiful, soothing music to clear out the invisible energy in their meditation space,” she adds.
Lastly, don’t forget to factor in lighting. Do you want a well-lit environment or a dim one? Light up your space as you like. Many people want versatility—using sheer curtains to let sunlight enter during the day and lights with dimmers at night to adjust the mood.
Meditation Space Essentials
There’s no right or wrong about what to have in your meditation space. This is your space, after all. But, here’s a shortlist to inspire you:
Meditation pillow (to sit on)
Yoga mat (for sitting or yoga)
Plant or something to bring you close to nature
Oil diffuser equipped with essential oils (try lavender, frankincense, sage, just to name a few)
“Using essential oil activates grounding earth energy. I would use the life-affirming energy of orange essential oil,” explains Cromer. “Using nine drops in a diffuser or on yourself will introduce a vibrant transforming energy.”
Cromer also suggests hanging a faceted crystal in the back right corner for love or on the back left corner for abundance. “This will bring in light, clarity and serve to constantly move the energy around the space.” Crystals raise the “chi” (which is essentially a warm current) in your space and in your life.
Think you’re ready? “Technology feeds us with so much information that it’s important to take the time to simply be and not think about anything,” Berry says. “It’s like a vacation for your mind, and I highly recommend becoming a frequent flyer.”
These days, it feels like no one ever sleeps enough. As sleep becomes more precious than ever, we’re finding it harder to fall and stay asleep—often due to technology.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 95 percent of people use some sort of electronic device during the hour before bedtime (1). While it may seem harmless to shoot off an e-mail or take a final peek at Instagram before turning in, the blue light emitted by our tablets, laptops and smartphones mimics daylight (2). This makes it harder not only to fall asleep but also can leave us feeling tired, anxious and depressed when we wake up.
After a day surrounded by technology, it can seem like the only solution is to power off and kick all electronics to the curb. However, there are some gadgets designed specifically to help you get the best night’s sleep ever.
“I often recommend that patients use apps and/or online community support as an adjunct to treatment, in addition to recommended behavioral strategies to improve sleep and mood,” says Dr. Sara Nowakowski, a clinical psychologist who is board-certified in behavioral sleep medicine. “These devices, mobile apps and internet-delivered insomnia programs are improving all the time, and there is value and clinical utility in them. It is finding the right balance for the patient.”
Below, find eight different devices targeted to help you sleep better.
SleepScore Sleep Tracker
One of many on the market, the SleepScore Max is a non-contact nightstand monitor designed to record sleep and send feedback on how to get better sleep to your smartphone. Touted as “the world’s most advanced sleep improvement system,” it asks you certain questions before bed (such as how much caffeine you’ve had that day) and calculates a nightly “SleepScore” to determine how productive your sleep is.
Sleep Number i10 Smart Bed
If you have a few bucks to spend, the pricey i10 Smart Bed promises the “ultimate in blissful, cooling comfort.” Depending on the model, the bed can adjust height and firmness and can accommodate different settings on both sides. The i10 tracks how you sleep by sending a “Sleep IQ” score to your phone and also controls your temperature while you sleep by absorbing excess heat and releasing it as you cool down.
The Oprah-approved, non-contact Smart Nora promises to banish snoring once and for all. The device comes in two parts—a nightstand monitor and a pillow insert with a pump. As soon as the Nora detects early sounds of snoring (before they become loud enough to wake a sleeping partner!), it triggers the silent pump to inflate and deflate the pillow insert. This motion stimulates the throat muscles, which allows for natural breathing to resume.
Philips Wake-Up Light
If you sleep in a room with minimal sunlight, it can be difficult to get out of bed in the morning. Enter the Philips Wake-Up Light, which uses a combination of light and sound to help you wake up in a more refreshing, natural way. The light also has a sunset simulation to help you wind down before bedtime.
The Aromarest nightstand monitor uses light technology, dual aromatherapy diffusers and sound to help “restore your natural ability to sleep well.” The Aromarest has simulated sunrises and sunsets and can also play soothing sounds to help you fall asleep and wake up or white noise to help you sleep throughout the night.
Designed to monitor your sleep by recording and analyzing brain activity, the Dreem sleep headband claims to have the “most accurate sleep monitoring” technology. Designed for comfort, the headband tracks sleep while also providing sounds to help you sleep through the night through bone conduction. Once you wake up, plug the headband into its charger and it will sync with your phone, providing you with a personalized sleep report.
Dreamlight Sleep Mask
This ain’t your regular sleep mask. The Dreamlight uses light, sound and genetics (!) to help you fall asleep faster and wake up with more energy. The mask has embedded sleep-inducing orange and wake-inducing green lights as well as technology to aid in relaxation techniques. The mask syncs to your phone to track sleep and provide you with a “personal gene profile” to deliver a more tailored sleep schedule.
A climate-controlled, self-making (yes, self-making!) bed can be yours with the addition of the SmartDuvet insert. Placed between the duvet and duvet cover, the SmartDuvet controls the temperature of your bed (allowing for different temperatures on both sides) and also rolls the duvet back into position to make your bed in the morning. Set your ideal temperature and bed-making time from your phone and the SmartDuvet claims to do the rest.
As with all new technologies, it’s important to note that these sleep gadgets, while appealing, may unintentionally disrupt sleep, according to an article in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (3). In addition, very few have FDA approval or endorsement by American Academy of Sleep Medicine-accredited sleep facilities or sleep specialists.
“As with all medical interventions, they are considered ‘experimental’ until randomized clinical trials are conducted to provide empirical evidence of the efficacy and safety,” Nowakowski says. “It is important for consumers to do their homework and look at the evidence that supports its use to improve sleep.”
You know that feeling of calm you get when you sit at the beach, allowing the sand to slide effortlessly between your toes? How about letting all your troubles fade away as you walk barefoot on a dewy lawn on a spring day? Turns out, those moments may not only bring you bliss; they could benefit your overall health, too.
What Exactly Is Earthing?
Earthing, or grounding, is the practice of absorbing electrons from the Earth into your body. By absorbing these electrons, you can improve everything from sleep issues to hormone levels to better blood circulation, according to the experts.
So how exactly does all this work?
“The Earth has a natural electric charge, based on lightning strikes and other meteorological phenomenon,” explains Martin Zucker, coauthor of “Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?” “Humans are highly conductive, and when the skin of our bodies contacts the Earth, we create a mind-body-Earth connection.”
Zucker says that the Earth has an “unlimited reservoir of electrons” that are critical to “the operation of our cells and ourselves.” These electrons from the Earth are able to neutralize free radicals in the body that contribute to health issues such as inflammatory conditions and diseases.
In other words, the electrons from the Earth have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and we can apparently harness this energy by making direct contact with the Earth’s surface, either by going barefoot outdoors or by using grounding products, such as blankets, wristbands and floor mats.
Indoor grounding products are made of conductive materials and used via a grounded wall outlet or an earthing ground rod that’s placed outside, Zucker describes.
Since not everyone has access to safe outdoor space, Zucker says these products provide a way for people to reap the benefits of earthing from their desk, their couch or even their bed.
Benefits of Earthing
Integrative pain and rehabilitation specialist Tina Michaud-Gray not only practices earthing with her family, she also uses it for her patients. “It really helps accelerate the healing process,” she says.
Earthing cannot only be used as an anti-aging remedy, but also can assist people who have been living with illness or chronic pain, Michaud-Gray adds. Being one with nature, whether it’s outdoors or via other earthing methods, is a “primal need….our bodies, minds, and spirits require it,” she says.
While results vary from person-to-person (one person may see rapid changes within a week, while another may see subtler health benefits over a longer period of time), Zucker says that earthing “creates a new normal in the body.”
Though there are some skeptics to the practice, there is evidence to back up these claims. “Emerging evidence shows that contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems—may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy” against issues like chronic stress, inflammation and pain, as well as common health disorders, such as cardiovascular disease, a 2012 study concluded (1).
Whether you’re hoping to gain more energy, heal a wound or combat an illness, earthing may just help improve your overall well-being. As Michaud-Gray puts it, “It’s right there at your feet…literally.”
One of the latest diet trends to explode in the health and wellness space is the ketogenic diet. But if you aren’t quite sure what it is or how it works, we’re here to help. Let’s take a closer look at this diet craze, so you can decide whether it’s right for you.
What Is a Ketogenic Diet?
The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, and low carbohydrate diet. It was developed by Dr. Russell Wilder in 1924. It was historically used as a treatment option for patients with epilepsy, but researchers now believe this type of diet can help other neurological conditions.
Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet
One of the main benefits of following a ketogenic diet is weight loss, according to Jeremy Wolf, a naturopathic doctor and lead health advisor at LuckyVitamin. “When properly adhered to, this type of diet causes the body to break down fatty acids into ketones,” he explains. “When ketone levels in the bloodstream are elevated, individuals enter into a state of ketosis, which often helps shed pounds quickly and consistently.”
The ketogenic diet may also protect against certain diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, by controlling the release of insulin into the body and lowering cholesterol levels.
And while more research still needs to be done, there are plenty of studies that demonstrate ketogenic diets may aid in the treatment of neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism and severe migraines.
How Does the Ketogenic Diet Work?
Adhering to the ketogenic diet is not as simple as cutting carbs, Dr. Wolf stresses. “There are specific calculations and ratios of fat to protein to carbohydrates that need to be followed in order for the diet to work properly,” he says.
Before starting on a ketogenic diet, it’s important to speak with your health care professional to work on a plan that is right for you.
“The classic version of the ketogenic diet involves a ratio of fats that is three to four times greater than the intake of proteins and carbohydrates,” Dr. Wolf says. “This means that approximately 75 percent of calories would come from fats, 25 percent would come from protein, and only 5 percent would come from carbohydrates.”
A more moderate version of this diet includes a ratio of fats that is two times greater than the intake of proteins and carbohydrates.
Those following a ketogenic diet plan will drastically increase their consumption of fatty foods, Dr. Wolf says. “Popular ketogenic food options include eggs, fatty fishes like salmon, cheese, avocado, olives and olive oil, nuts and nut butters, seeds, ghee, and coconut oil.”
Things to Consider with a Ketogenic Diet
If you are thinking about making the switch to a ketogenic diet, there are some things you should take into consideration. “This type of diet completely cuts out sugars and sweets such as candy, cookies and desserts, so individuals should be ready to give up indulgences if they want to be successful,” Dr. Wolf says.
Additionally, many medical professionals will recommend gradually decreasing your carbohydrate intake and introducing the ketogenic approach over a three- to four-day period, Dr. Wolf says. “This slower transition will help stave off a big loss of energy.” (Keeping hydrated while on a ketogenic diet is very important, and some supplementation with vitamins and minerals may be necessary to help meet nutritional requirements.)
“And while a strict ketogenic diet could be exactly what you need to jump-start weight loss, it may not be the best option for your long-term health and wellness,” Dr. Wolf advises. “Make sure to consult a health care professional to identify a plan designed around your individual needs.”
Who wants to de-stress, unplug, connect with nature and give their overall wellness a boost? Everyone, of course! But who has the time? Everyone, of course!
Why? Because one single activity provides all of these benefits and more: camping.
Camping is a chance to enjoy the outdoors, re-energize and create lasting memories with family and friends. Make sure those memories are good ones by packing these 11 essentials (plus the tent…don’t ever forget the tent):
A first-aid kit tops the list. A bare-minimum kit includes bandages, gauze, antibacterial ointment and tweezers (vital in tick-prone areas). To bulk up your kit, add medications you might need like those for pain or stomach problems.
All-natural, biodegradable baby wipes can clean a scraped knee, wash hands before dinner, scrub the sunscreen off your face before bed and so much more.
Matches or a Lighter
Or both to be extra cautious. You’re going to be cooking on a campfire or camp stove (don’t forget the propane in that case), so don’t forget the method to light it!
Bring plenty of water in a reusable, refillable water bottle, especially if you won’t be near a water source (most campgrounds have water fountains). If you’re in the backwoods, bring a water bottle with an integrated filter to clean as you collect. Dehydration is a real danger when camping, so bring and drink plenty.
Camping provides fun exercise opportunities, but activities like day hikes, swimming, kayaking and climbing will torch calories. Keep your energy up with healthy snacks like seeds, nuts, granola or dried fruit.
A flashlight is great, but a headlamp is better. Why? Late-night bathroom dashes are much easier if you’re hands-free. Same with washing dishes by campfire. Having both hands free to complete tasks in the early morning or evening hours is invaluable. (Stash a flashlight, too, to cover your lighting bases.)
Even under a canopy of trees, you need sunscreen. Sun damage is real, and sunscreen is a simple way to keep yourself safe. Choose a natural formulation that will work for the activities you plan on doing (e.g., active, sport, water-resistant).
Know before you go: What kinds of bugs are prevalent where you’ll be camping? Choose an insect repellent formulated for the worst offenders. Then, don’t forget to toss an anti-itch stick or cream in your pack to combat any bites you do get.
Hopefully you have nice weather throughout your entire camping trip! Unfortunately, that’s never guaranteed, so waterproof storage is a must. Keep food and food prep items sealed tightly in food storage containers, and keep your matches or lighter in a separate waterproof container. As for clothes, here’s a packing hint: Pack outfits in reusable, waterproof storage bags. That way, they stay dry if it rains, and when you change your clothes, you can pack dirty, wet, stinky, sunscreen-covered clothes into the storage bag to keep your other outfits clean and dry.
Whatever you bring into your campsite, you must bring out. Stash large reusable totes to collect trash and recycling. If you’re camping with your car, keep them tucked inside to prevent wildlife from getting too interested; if not, be sure to hang your trash and recycling just as you do your food.
This list isn’t all-encompassing, of course, and so much of your camping packing list will be determined by your location and activities. That said, if you have these 11 items, the basics are covered and you can focus on the fun!
Tending to your own needs can often be the last thing on your mind. Life is loaded with responsibilities, obligations and things you really don’t want to do but do out of necessity. In-between long hours at work and running endless errands, you probably find yourself feeling frustrated that you don’t give yourself the same level attention as you do to, say, paying your bills. While taking care of your utility costs is essential, so is taking time to focus on yourself and engage in a bit of self-care (1).
Most people go about their days without taking a second to stop and wonder whether they are doing what is best for their bodies, minds and spirits. The problem is so prevalent, that researchers have spent years analyzing how a lack of attention to the self can be damaging to people who work in medical and legal fields (2). Luckily, figuring out a solution is as simple as remembering to take care of some of the basic functions of your body.
Here are five simple ways to make time for self-care.
1. Be Mindful
The first tip on how to practice self-care cuts right to the core of the matter: mindfulness. Purposefully focusing on the present moment is one of the most difficult tasks a person can be asked to perform, even though it only requires stopping actions and thoughts for a few minutes. Mindfulness might be hard to achieve because “our brains really like stimulation,” wrote Gary L. Wenk, professor of neuroscience, immunology and medical genetics at Ohio State University, in Psychology Today (3). Biologically, the human mind responds well to stimulation. Sadly, this information is also used a lot with creating advertisements.
While marketing professionals and the media as a whole assume bombarding the senses with videos, images and text is the best way to grab attention, all of the noise might be in vain. According to several studies conducted in recent years, the same over-stimulation distracting you from mindfulness may actually make people less likely to buy products or further research services (4). If you can wade through the madness and find a moment of serenity, you’re heading in the right direction for self-care.
2. Pinpoint Problems and Distractions
Distractions are a problem to both mindfulness and the idea of self-care. The more your attention is split between different tasks, the more impossible it becomes for you to slow down and focus on the present. Though you might not be able to actively change the world and how many distractions are thrown at you in a single day, you can definitely do your best to keep your head above the water. You simply need to get into the right habits and stick with them.
What distracts you individually is going to be different than what distracts someone else. The first step toward eliminating what breaks your focus is by figuring out the exact culprits. If you tend to laze in front of the television and watch endless streaming programs after work when you should be focused on yourself, the problem is somewhat evident. Pinpoint your biggest distractors and work toward cutting back on these habits or eliminating them altogether. You might really want to binge that show, but you’ll feel better taking care of your own needs before anything else.
3. Eat Better Food
OK, so this is going to sound obvious: you need to eat better. While most people try to pay attention to the ingredients in what they buy or want to know the source of meat or produce, these details are not as important to your diet as the actual act of eating. You definitely want to make sure you don’t eat too many processed foods, sure, but it is more important to eat something when your body gives you the impulse. Eating when you’re hungry, regardless of the meal, might help your body create energy and regulate hunger overall (5).
The reason for this is simple: survival. Your body is designed to work the best when it is being given sustenance and nourishment. Ignoring hunger pangs because you can’t find organic options is working against your health in subtle ways. Unless you always have access to the specific snacks and meals you prefer, you need to make compromises now and again for the benefit of your health. This doesn’t mean you need to hit fast food when you feel pangs of hunger, you just need to remember you might not find exactly what you want.
4. Take a Stroll
Getting out of your house is also a fantastic move to make when you want to practice a little bit of care. Some people enjoy the great outdoors and some people find all the fresh air to be too much. Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest taking a walk outside can do wonders for your wellness. The act of walking is enough to engage your cardiovascular system and keep oxygenated blood flowing (6), but that is only the beginning.
In Japanese culture, there is a popular activity known as forest bathing (7). Essentially, the mentality behind this action is to simply exist within a forest and see how it improves a person’s mood, ability to think and overall health. Research on forest bathing suggests it can do wonders for a person’s overall feelings of wellness (8). Some studies believe this actually has to do with the green found in the leaves of each tree (9). No matter the reason, experiencing a bit of nature for your health seems like a sensible choice.
5. Get Sleep
The idea of getting extra sleep can be laughable to people who have packed schedules. Still, the whole point of this article is to remind you to take care of yourself! No matter how busy you might be, you absolutely must get a full night of rest. Consistent sleep is incredibly important to your physiology. Without ample sleep, you are increasing the odds of developing a number of psychological and cardiovascular disorders (10). You might even die far sooner by pushing sleep off (11). Whatever you need to do can actually wait when the time comes to snooze.
If you have a difficult time sleeping, there are plenty of tactics to explore. Essential oils might be the natural, effective solution you have been searching for. As long as you stay aware of the importance of sleeping, eating and engaging in healthy practices, you are going to have a far easier time showing yourself the self-love you deserve.
Have you ever felt a little bit too connected to the rest of the world? Do you wake up and immediately disappear into a cycle of social media apps, news sources and targeted advertisements that seem to follow you throughout the day? If so, you’re not alone.
Technological advancements are happening faster and faster with each passing year, integrating gadgets like smartphones and tablets further into our everyday routines. While there are countless benefits to these inventions (1), people are becoming more aware of the cost of always being connected.
Internet addiction is very real (2). Well before Twitter and iPhones began to dominate popular culture, researchers, academics and behavioral therapists started recognizing a problem (3). When the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was published in 2013, psychiatrists listed internet addiction disorder as a condition recommended for further study (4).
You might not feel addicted to the internet per se, but there are plenty of reasons to think about a digital detox. If you need some help unplugging, consider these tips.
1. Cut Back in Small Increments
Depending on how ingrained your devices are in your everyday life, you might experience a bit of difficulty getting the process started. You might find yourself saying, “I’ll start tomorrow,” so many times that you feel like you’re never going to switch off. This is because suddenly breaking free from sites like Facebook and the 24-hour news cycle can fill you with a sense of something missing from your life. Cold turkey might be an effective method when you’re looking to quit smoking, but this is slightly different. Baby steps and small cuts will go much farther (5).
While you might not believe you are addicted to the internet, cutting everything out at once might be too much of a shock. It may sound strange, but there are documented cases of people entering states of psychosis due to unplugging (6). Whether you’re afraid of having a bad reaction or you worry that FOMO levels will shoot through the roof if you’re not glued to your phone, you should introduce changes to your digital habits at a pace that works for you.
2. Deactivate or Delete a Social Media Account
Social media is one of the biggest issues people have with the internet these days. When first introduced in their current form a little over a decade ago, social media websites seemed innocuous enough. Cut to the present, and the news is flooded with politicians fighting on Twitter (7), Snapchat getting into one PR nightmare after another (8) and Facebook essentially mining and selling off user information in secrecy for years (9). When looking for a digital detox, you undoubtedly have considered removing yourself from the social media equation altogether.
Here’s the truth: there is no such thing as “limiting social media usage.” Sadly, it’s all or nothing. If you hold an active account, research shows you are going to log back in even if it is a subconscious action of habit. What’s worse, being depressed can increase the odds of you caving and logging back in (10). In order to break free, you need to commit to deleting an account. Luckily, with so many different sites out there, you can easily get rid of most and hold on to one to check at your leisure. Cutting back on how many accounts you have can lower the pressure to stay socially connected that these apps have instilled.
3. Get Rid of Non-Essential Apps
Take a broader look at the programs you run on your phone, computer or tablet each day. Which of these applications do you feel are essential to going about your routine? You might need to use your email app frequently for work, making it more essential than an app you use exclusively to shop. In order for you to appreciate a digital detox, you should limit yourself to apps you absolutely need.
When all is said and done, you actually don’t need any of your apps to survive. Until a phone can provide shelter, sustenance and improved health, it remains a tool for making other aspects of life easier. In determining which apps are essential, you will have an easier time cutting out any programs that only serve to distract, agitate or waste your time.
4. Read a Book Before Bed
A number of academic institutions have been putting intense research into how daily smartphone usage impacts basic functions of the body. One study that made a lot of waves revealed that the soft, blue light emitted by smartphones actually “tricks” the mind into thinking it is receiving sunlight. This confuses the body’s internal rhythms and can easily cause insomnia and other sleep issues (11).
Though you might enjoy looking at your phone while hanging around in your bed before slumber, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor by cutting out this habit. Instead, grab a good old-fashioned book off the shelves. Even if you aren’t an avid reader, looking at a paper with words on it instead of a glowing box can help lull you to sleep without messing with your circadian rhythm.
5. Improve Short-Term Memory
Another great way to begin detoxing from the digital world is by actively working to improve some of the areas where technology has an adverse effect. Research in this area suggests smartphones and similar devices impair an average individual’s attention, which, in turn, compromises short-term memory storage (12). In other words, it is much harder to remember details of your day and get tasks done when you’re constantly looking at your phone.
By removing your phone from the equation for a few hours each day, you can give yourself a bit of time to restore your mental faculties to a place you’d prefer. Play brain games or write in a journal for a bit to get your mind working. A cup of green tea is packed with antioxidants and can also help to improve how your mind functions in relation to memory (13).
6. Dedicate Time to a Hobby
The idea of “free time” is kind of funny. When your life feels overwhelmingly busy, you might imagine you don’t have a second to spare. Now, try and think about how many hours you waste aimlessly scrolling through the same posts online. Adding all that time together might reveal some startling findings about how much time you would actually have for your passions if you unplugged.
Dedicating time to a hobby or skill you want to hone is the only way to get better at it. If you’ve been dying to learn a new language, play an instrument or take a painting class, this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. The minutes you free up by removing yourself from the digital world can help you chase some of the dreams you’ve left sitting on the backburner.
7. Experience the World
Finally, there is a lot to be said about leaving your phone in the house and taking a long walk, run or ride (14). Often, it is far easier to lose oneself on Wikipedia than in nature. The world is a vast and varied place filled with wonders and oddities. Instead of reading about it on the internet, unplug and get out there for a bit. Though you might find yourself reaching for your phone to take pictures of everything you see, remember your mind is also a wonderful place to store a treasured moment or image.
A digital detox might seem more like a lifestyle choice, but overwhelming evidence suggests it is a great move for your health. Discover which tactic works best for you, and get ready to unplug and relax.
In our increasingly busy and stressful lives, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the things we don’t have, as opposed to what we do. Not getting enough likes on an Instagram post (especially when that granola breakfast you prepared looked so yummy!) or getting overlooked for a raise at work can send even the most level-headed among us into a spiral.
But, by giving yourself just a few minutes every day to meditate with a focus on contentment, you’ll not only be able to find peace within yourself, but also change how you see the world around you.
Whether you’re a newcomer to the world of meditation or it’s already part of your everyday routine, Sylvia Maldonado, founder of the meditation and wellness service Breathe Bar in Chicago, says you can start small and work your way up to what you want to achieve.
Choose the Right Meditation Style for You
Maldonado, who started her daily meditation routine at just three minutes a day, suggests that you first find what practice works best for you and your learning style.
For some, meditation apps on phones work best, while others learn from teachers in a class. “Once you have your goal and motivation and baseline, then you can have your own practice at home,” she Maldonado says.
Once you find what style of meditation suits you and your lifestyle, you should expose yourself to different kinds of meditation as well, including mantra, mindfulness, breath work, and gratitude, among others.
“You simply want to position yourself for success,” she says. “Your spot doesn’t have to be on a cushion on the floor, especially if you have back or knee issues.”
If you choose to meditate in a chair, for instance, Maldonado says to plant your feet on the ground, keep your palms by your side (either facing up or down), and keep your back straight.
Practice Meditation for Contentment
Depending on the time you want to set for yourself (once you get into a routine, anything from five to 15 minutes is a reasonable goal), you are now ready to achieve contentment in your everyday life.
It’s a goal that Maldonado believes is an important one to aspire to. “Contentment is a really powerful word,” she says. “Contentment is different than happiness; it’s a way of being and an attitude that radiates its own positivity.”
Oftentimes, Maldonado points out, we get stuck in the what-ifs and possible future scenarios, rather than being in the here and now. “We’re swirling with these thoughts and that can be really stressful and drain energy and headspace.”
Meditating on contentment can “liberate you from all that made-up stuff,” she says. “It’s discernment between preparing for various scenarios and letting it take over.”
Contentment meditation can be something as simple as being grateful for your morning cup of coffee or appreciating all the loved ones in your life. “There’s no judgment for what you’re grateful for in that moment or that day,” Maldonado says.
The 5-3-1 Meditation Technique
One particular exercise Maldonado likes for contentment meditation is the 5-3-1 technique, in which you meditate for five minutes, write down three things you’re grateful for, and do one good deed every day (1).
Whether you do some variation of the 5-3-1 technique or your own brand of meditation, Maldonado recommends incorporating writing exercises, as it “reinforces the practice and the result can be a lot more powerful.”
Your alarm has gone off and after a few bleary-eyed moments of coming to, you start to realize everything you have ahead of you that day. You have a big meeting at work that you have to present for, but what if the subway is delayed again and you arrive frazzled and late? Your kids have a test today and even though you helped them study all night, what if still they get a dreaded C?
Phew, OK. Deep breaths. Time to incorporate some mindfulness.
Live in the Present Moment
Rather than worry about the what-ifs of the day, allow yourself to use the first 10 minutes of your morning to live in the present moment.
“A lot of people are in a heightened state of anxiety first thing in the morning,” says Keeley Teemsma-English, a Brooklyn-based therapist and licensed clinical social worker. “You wake up and all the stress of work, life, relationships, etc., can hit you all at once.”
This is where mindfulness can come in to save the day, so to speak.
“Mindfulness is about being in the moment,” Teemsma-English says. “You’re not worrying about the future, you’re not worrying about things that have already happened, you’re in that moment in time and you’re aware of what’s going on around you.”
By being aware of not only how you feel emotionally and physically in that place in time, you also get a stronger sense of what’s going on around you and focusing on that.
Five Senses Mindfulness Exercise
For your mindfulness morning exercises, Teemsma-English suggests incorporating all five of your senses. For instance, listen for sounds (the singing of a bird outside your window), look for sights (the way the morning sun hits your window), smell scents (the brewing of your morning coffee), experience tastes (enjoy the various texture and yumminess of your peanut butter and banana on toast), and reach out and touch something (give your dog her morning pet).
You can do this five times for each sense, she says, focusing solely on them as part of your mindfulness practice.
She says that a lot of her patients enjoy using their meditation apps first thing in the morning, as the guided exercises are usually short and sweet (roughly three minutes) and it can re-wire you to open those instead, rather than a stress-inducing email or social media check-in.
Another possible mindfulness step to take in the morning, she says, is to quite literally take some steps. Before you start your morning routine or head out the door for food, take a 10-minute mindfulness walk to clear your head, all while incorporating your five senses.
But even if you aren’t someone who gets stressed out first thing in the morning, Teemsma-English says incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine “starts you off on the right foot.” “You proactively de-stress and you don’t worry yourself about things that are on your plate for that day,” she says. Instead, “you learn to assign importance to the things that really matter. You learn not to add value to the things that don’t deserve our time or energy.”
Peanut butter sometimes gets a bad rap from consumers who think it will pack on fat and calories. But the truth is that natural peanut butter—made without hydrogenated oils and added sugars—is a beneficial addition to any diet.
What to Look for in Peanut Butter
“Keep in mind that not all peanut butter products are created equal, so make sure to look for natural peanut butter that is lower in sodium and sugar than its traditional counterpart,” recommends Jeremy Wolf, a naturopathic doctor and lead health advisor at LuckyVitamin. Most natural brands will have 1-2 grams of sugar and anywhere from 40-65 milligrams of sodium.
Let’s look at a few reasons why you should add more peanut butter to your diet.
It’s Super Nutritious
First things first, peanut butter really does pack a punch when it comes to beneficial vitamins and nutrients. “It’s high in magnesium, which builds bone density; potassium, which amps up muscle mass; and vitamin B6, which boosts immune health,” Dr. Wolf says. “And everyone knows that peanut butter is a great source of protein, averaging about 8 grams per serving.”
While you might think the recommended serving size for peanut butter—2 tablespoons—is relatively small, don’t be fooled. “The combination of fiber and the previously mentioned protein helps you feel full longer,” Dr. Wolf says. “So if you’re feeling hungry, eating a spoonful of peanut butter might actually keep you satisfied until your next mealtime.”
It Fights Off Disease
Although peanut butter is high in fat and calorie content, research shows that the popular spread can actually help prevent heart disease and diabetes. “This is because peanut butter is full of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—also known as good fats,” Dr. Wolf says. “Like olive oil, eating peanut butter in moderation may actually lead to a healthier lifestyle.”
How to Add More Peanut Butter to Your Diet
If you’re looking to add more peanut butter to your diet, here are a few tips:
Spread it on fruit and vegetables. There are tons of fruits and vegetables that go great with a spoonful of peanut butter, so try adding a bit to apple slices, your daily banana, or some celery sticks.
Mix it into a marinade. Although it might not seem like an obvious choice, a peanut-butter-heavy marinade can be the perfect complement to meats such as chicken or steak. This will lock that nutty flavor into more savory dishes and bump up the PB intake.
Make it a breakfast addition. Who says peanut butter is only for PB&J sandwiches at lunchtime? You can jumpstart your day by adding a bit of peanut butter to your oatmeal or your morning smoothie for a nutrient boost.
Homes are run out of the kitchen. Unfortunately, because they’re high-use, high-traffic zones, kitchens accumulate clutter fast. A messy kitchen sucks the fun out of cooking and makes entertaining guests stressful.
“Kitchen clutter can be broken down into two broad categories: countertop clutter and cabinet (or hidden) clutter,” explains Brianna Berner, a professional organizer and productivity coach at SpikedParenting.
But where to start? Here are seven things to get rid of now to make a big impact on your kitchen organization. Trust us: Once your kitchen cabinets are decluttered and you can find the tools you need, you’ll be more motivated to cook that healthy dinner you planned!
Food Storage Containers
“You don’t need an entire shelf full of Tupperware,” Berner says. “You just need enough to get you through the week.” Recycle the rest.
Duplicate Kitchen Tools
Tally up your pizza cutters, garlic presses, lemon juicers, paring knives and all the other little gadgets that stuff your drawers and cabinets. Eliminate duplicates to free up a ton of space and make an awesome donation to your local thrift store charity.
Extra Place Settings
Unless you frequently entertain large parties, it’s likely you have more place settings and more cutlery than your family can conceivably use. Keep a full set to serve your family, plus a few extra for when you do have friends over. Get rid of the rest.
All those utensil packets and tiny condiments? It’s time for them to go! Bonus: This is a quick win, taking only a few minutes to recycle old menus and toss the soy and ketchup packets.
Piles of Mail
Or, really, anything that doesn’t belong in the kitchen. “For the dump zones, first figure out what the clutter is and then find a solution,” Berner says. “If it’s a bunch of junk mail, try to unsubscribe from what you can. If it’s loose change, put a canister there to catch it all. If it’s a bunch of receipts, redirect it to your shredder. Then, take a look at what’s typically being left out on the counter and why. Is it difficult to put this stuff away because your cabinets are a mess? Or is your family just being lazy?”
Expired Foods and Spices
Dig all the way to the back of your cabinets and get rid of anything expired. This includes spices and condiments lining your fridge door, too.
Fancy Kitchen Gadgets
Sure, you were going to spiralize all your veggies in that giant electric spiralizer, serve fresh waffles hot off the iron every weekend and whip up homemade quesadillas on that press, but… have you? Wishful purchases, especially large, single-use items, take up a ton of cabinet space. “And you don’t need every single gadget that you see advertised,” Berner says. “But I get it, there’s a lot of really fun stuff out there. So if you do find yourself wanting to get something that you really don’t need, then make yourself get rid of something else first to make room for it!”
Don’t feel guilty getting rid of any of these items! Instead, focus on how much space this exercise will open up for more family time and easier meals. To get your crew on board, get them involved! “If your family isn’t pitching in to help out, try to make it as easy as possible for them. Make it known where things go,” Berner says. “Create zones inside your kitchen for different activities. And make it clear that you expect them to put things away when they’re done. When all else fails, I’m not above a little bribery. Chocolate usually does the trick.”
No matter how dedicated you are to your personal fitness goals, there will be times when you can’t even. Working out is an admirable goal, but you never know when the pressures and responsibilities from your daily routine might get in the way of you hitting the gym. Drumming up the motivation to engage in some intense physical activity might not be possible some days. Luckily, there are plenty of tips you can explore to trick yourself into working out, even when you absolutely cannot deal.
1. Find a Workout Buddy
Motivation is tricky. You probably have some fitness goals you are working toward at the gym. Whether you’re looking to slim down, bulk up, or get your body a bit more toned for warmer weather, it won’t always be enough to motivate you to act. Psychologically speaking, this comes down to accountability. When the only person you are letting down by skipping the gym is yourself, it is easier to feel fine with the decision. To get out of this habit, you might want to include another person in your plans.
Exercising with a friend can be useful for a number of reasons. First and foremost, you are far more likely to make it to the gym when you have another person who expects you to be there. Holding yourself to higher standards can be a difficult process, but working with a friend who has similar fitness goals can help both of you become better at commitment. Some studies suggest taking a class with a consistent group increases the odds of a person consistently going to the gym each week (1).
2. Adjust Your Attitude
Complaining is an ugly color on anyone. Sure, everyone needs to vent and let out some steam now and again. If people didn’t get frustrations out when they began to bottle up, the world would be a much more tense place to live. Of course, listening to someone complain can be a huge turnoff. Attitude is everything when it comes to your mental health (2). When you harbor resentment toward the fact that you need to hit the gym, you are going to treat the activity as a chore.
On top of this resentment, you’re more likely to complain to those around you about how much you do not want to go to the gym. This negative attitude is going to work against you, making it more likely that you’re going to skip out. People who hear you complain will most likely tell you to skip out because they’re simply tired of hearing you go on and on. Though it might be difficult, changing your attitude about going to the gym can do wonders for motivating you to actually go.
3. Reward Yourself
No matter how mature people get, at their core, they always remain children. This can work to your advantage when it comes to finding motivation to exercise. The classic system of rewarding good behavior can do wonders when it comes to tricking your mind. If you like to shop, head to your favorite store and browse for workout outfits. Pick something you absolutely love and buy it with the specific intention of going to the gym that night. You’ll most likely be so excited to put the outfit to use that you’ll actually be excited to work out.
Rewarding yourself can take many forms (3). If you aren’t the type of person who gets excited by gym clothes, then switch the reward out for something you have had your eye on. It doesn’t have to be exercise related for it to motivate you. When a splurge purchase has been in the back of your mind, it can work wonders to get you to do something you are resistant toward. As long as you find a tactic that makes sense for your personality, you will be ready to work up all the motivation you need to keep yourself fit.
Essential oils have been used medicinally for years. These amazing products contain potent medicinal and cosmetic properties and can be used as an alternative to over-the-counter medication. Essential oils stimulate the body’s natural responses as well as its healing system. So, let’s check out 6 healing essential oils to keep in your medicine cabinet.
The most well-known of the essential oils, lavender contains antiviral and antibacterial properties and can be applied directly onto the skin to heal scrapes, bites and stings. Plus, lavender can help promote relaxation and improve sleep.
Often used in shampoos and lotions, calendula has anti-inflammatory properties due to its high level of flavonoids—plant-based antioxidants that help protect cells from free radical damage. One of the best essential oils for scars, calendula also works great to heal many inflammatory conditions, including dermatitis and diaper rash.
Peppermint can be used as a cooling oil to treat fever as well as sore muscles. You need to mix peppermint with a carrier oil first, and then apply the solution to your back, neck and chest for an instant cooling effect.
A powerful antispasmodic, antiviral and antibacterial oil, eucalyptus oil can be a natural alternative to treat coughs and colds. Just add a few drops to a basin of steaming water to inhale, or a vaporizer, as it can help disinfect and clear both the nasal passages and lungs.
5. Tea Tree
One of the most popular essential oils, tea tree is a powerful antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic oil. It can be used to treat cuts, fungal infections, and insect bites. Plus, tea tree oil is used in multiple lotions and creams to help treat acne.
Lemon essential oil contains high amounts of vitamin C and antibacterial properties. It can help minimize acne breakouts and prevent future scars. Its vitamin C content helps trigger the production of collagen, which keeps the skin firm and encourages the formation of new skin cells.