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16
APR

How to Practice Meditation for Contentment

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Mindfulness at 4:23 pm | By: Aly Semigran

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.

Create a Meditation Space

Maldonado recommends creating a designated space in your home for meditation practice that makes you feel the most relaxed. After all, meditation should be something you look forward to. Light candles or put on essential oils, if that is something that brings you serenity.

“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.”




16
APR

Mindfulness Steps to Take in the First 10 Minutes of Your Day

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Mindfulness at 2:55 pm | By: Aly Semigran

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.

Mindful Walking

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.”




16
APR

3 Reasons You Should Eat More Peanut Butter

Filed Under: Diet & Weight Loss,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Nutrition at 10:55 am | By: Deidre Grieves

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.”

It’s Filling

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.

 

Subscribe to LuckyVitamin’s YouTube Channel!

 




13
APR

It’s Time to Get Rid of These 7 Things in Your Kitchen

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Home at 5:12 pm | By: Maggie Marton

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.

Takeout Accoutrements

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.”




6
APR

3 Easy Ways to Motivate Yourself to Work Out When You’re Not Feeling It

Filed Under: Exercise and Fitness,General Wellness & Wellbeing at 4:17 pm | By: Joe Palinsky

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.




3
APR

6 Healing Essential Oils to Keep in Your Medicine Cabinet

Filed Under: Aromatherapy,General Wellness & Wellbeing at 11:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor

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.

1. Lavender

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.

2. Calendula

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.

3. Peppermint 

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.

4. Eucalyptus

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.

6. Lemon

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.




3
APR

3 Ways Journaling Can Help You Get Your Life Together

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Mindfulness at 11:03 am | By: Joe Palinsky

Life can be messy sometimes. OK, honestly, life can be a real prankster. You think you’re on the right path and suddenly you get hit with a reminder of all of the responsibilities you have swirling around in the back of your mind. This can be a real obstacle and can even prevent you from taking care of business in the same effortless way you usually do. Getting your life together can often feel like a full-time job with absolutely terrible pay and confusing benefits.

Discovering a way to break free of the chains of your own mind is no easy goal. Still, there are some fun and challenging ways to push yourself to the limits of your own understanding and emerge a more adept and self-aware human. The best way to get this started? Grab a pen and a journal and get to writing. It might seem like too simple of a fix for many of the complex problems that come about in life, but there are some wonderful ways journaling can help you to grow.

Use “Busy” Less

You probably use the excuse “I’m busy” quite often. It is totally fine if you do—most people wind up pulling out this phrase when they are presented with making plans with friends or being asked to take on some extra work around the office. Though saying “I’m busy” is a commonplace response in the modern age, studies have shown a vast majority of humans say that they are busy when they really have more than enough time to get things done (1). The truth is most people do not actually “see” how much free time they actually have.

When you are not actively confronting big problems in your life like a heavy workload or intense family dramas, they are going to start to grow in size in your imagination. Dedicating time to getting your thoughts on paper at the end of the day can allow you a moment to actually assess the responsibilities in your life in a more logical manner. The more you write, the more you will see you are not as busy as you had initially thought and can start to improve upon your personal connections.

Go for Gold

As life begins blindsiding you with all kinds of minor troubles and lasting anxieties, it can cloud your reason. Your own personal goals and intentions can easily fall to the wayside when you have more pressing problems making your life difficult (2). By getting into the habit of journaling, you are going to be able to clear the air and make a bit more sense out of your personal ambitions. A great activity involved with journaling is writing out your hopes for the future.

Once you have put pen to paper, you can let your thoughts inform each and every stroke. Start to write about your visions of the future, what you want your life to look like in a year, and what you think you are going to need to do to get to that place. The more you write out your ideas, the easier it is going to become for you to create a tangible plan for arriving at your preferred destination down the line.

Exercise Your Imagination

Hitting the gym a few times a week to exercise your body is probably already a part of your routine. Unfortunately, most people forget they need to exercise their minds as often as their muscles. Dedicating time to journaling might seem like a small action, but there are studies suggesting it can actually do wonders with how you process information. Writing strengthens your imagination, allowing you the chance to get more imaginative with your problem-solving skills. Some professionals even argue that journaling is a surefire way to boost your I.Q., which can be a nice improvement to make (3).

When you sit down to write, you do not need to worry about whether it is any “good.” You are not trying to write Shakespeare under the table, you simply need to do it for yourself. The more you practice this activity, the better you are going to get at sorting through the madness of your own life to find a sense of clarity and stability once more.




2
APR

Fire Cider: The Power of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Health Foods at 5:28 pm | By: Guest Blogger

This post was provided by our friends at Shire City Herbals, makers of Fire Cider.

For centuries, New Englanders have taken a daily spoonful of Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey. You only need a tablespoon a day to benefit from the power of Fire Cider, but if you’re like us, we are more generous and take a whole shot as well as work it into our beverages, marinades, sauces, dressings, dips, etc. The list goes on and on.

Our flavor-packed Fire Cider is based on traditional family recipe and ideas that harness the exquisite flavors and power of raw apple cider vinegar infused with roots, fruits and spices. Specifically, apple cider vinegar, honey, oranges, lemons, onions, ginger, horseradish, garlic, turmeric, habanero pepper, and black pepper, all of which are USDA certified organic. We invite you to explore our three different flavorsOriginal, Honey-Free, and African Bronze—to see which is your favorite and to get adventurous with incorporating Fire Cider into your beverages and recipes.

We created Fire Cider for anyone and everyone interested in a more of-the-earth, connected way of living and in challenging convention. For those who don’t settle. For those who know that healthy equals happy, and happy equals healthy.

At Shire City Herbals, we celebrate harmony, health and happiness. Our certified organic, sustainably sourced apple cider vinegar blend is meant to be incorporated in your daily wellness routine. When you feel great on the inside, it’s amazing how that radiates outward to everything around you!

We recently added black pepper to our recipe. Black pepper is known to increase the bioavailability of turmeric in your body. This means more of the curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) can get absorbed into your bloodstream!

You’re welcome.   

 




27
MAR

Is a Messy Home Affecting Your Health? 4 Signs It’s Time to Declutter

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Home at 2:44 pm | By: Madeline Reiss

The changing season is a perfect time to take a look at our lives and evaluate what is and isn’t serving us. While there are worse offenses than a messy closet or junk drawer, excess household clutter can actually have negative effects on your mental and physical wellbeing.

We asked our ND, Dr. Jeremy Wolf, about the effects untidiness can have on our lives. “Clutter can become so overwhelming that it becomes a distraction,” Dr. Wolf says. “A recent study revealed that cluttered homes can affect individuals socially and in their careers (1). We can become so overwhelmed with our possessions that the rest of our lives fall by the wayside.”

Unsure if clutter is holding you back? If you’re struggling in any of these areas of life, chances are it might be time to tidy up!

Diminished Productivity and Focus

“Clutter creates chaotic environments that cause stress (2),” Dr. Wolf says. Crowded countertops, unattended piles of junk mail and even the steady stream of notifications on your phone all compete for your attention. These tiny distractions add up throughout the day and lead to feeling overwhelmed and stressed, which can erode your ability to focus.

Solution: Start in your most cluttered room first and tackle it in pieces. For example, take 15 minutes to completely clean out and reorganize the junk drawer in your kitchen or your desk. Consider what documents can live in a digital space instead of camping out on your desk. Making sure every item has a home will make tidying up in the future that much easier. Challenge yourself to declutter for 15 minutes a day to help reclaim your focus and productivity!

Unhealthy Eating Habits

When it comes to eating healthy, Dr. Wolf says, “Research shows a messy kitchen can make you feel out of control, and what you see is ultimately what you’ll eat (3). Meaning, you’ll reach for the cookies if they’re sitting out on the counter before rummaging through the fridge for something healthy.” If your cooking supplies are a jumbled mess, the less likely you are to prepare a healthy meal.

Solution: Reorganize your pantry shelves and cabinets so healthier options are visible and easy to access. Take the time to recycle old, ineffective kitchen supplies and organize the usable ones. Keeping fruit out on the counter instead of buried in the fridge will make you more likely to eat it!

Worsening Allergies and Asthma

Did you ever consider what’s living among your clutter? Excess dust, mold and animal dander can collect in all the extra nooks and crannies—the more items lying about, the harder it is to keep them all clean. This can aggravate allergies and asthma, create a breeding ground for germs and attract disease-carrying critters into your home. (Eek!)

Solution: Aim to keep the knickknacks on your surfaces as minimal as possible—the fewer items to collect dust and germs, the better. Display only what you know you’ll get around to cleaning regularly. As a bonus, add plants to your decor to improve the air quality in your home!

Low Energy and Trouble Sleeping

Researchers have found that people with messy bedrooms had worse sleep quality than those with tidier spaces. “When there are multiple visual stimuli competing for your attention, you have a hard time narrowing your focus,” Dr. Wolf explains. “This also applies when getting a good night’s rest.” Sleep requires a Zen state of mind. A messy room can leave you feeling unsettled and anxious, painfully aware of the daunting cleaning task surrounding you.

Solution: Try to make it a part of your nighttime ritual to ensure dirty clothes are in the hamper, your desk is organized and your vanity is tidied and ready for the morning. You’ll sleep with a clearer head, and your morning routine will be a breeze.

You don’t have to be held back by clutter! Use these tips when tackling your spring cleaning to help you feel refreshed and renewed for the season ahead.




22
MAR

How to Kick Your Coffee Habit in 3 Steps

Filed Under: Diet & Weight Loss,General Wellness & Wellbeing at 2:23 pm | By: John Gilpatrick

You might think trying to kick coffee—or at least drinking less coffee—­­is a tougher task than scaling Everest. After all, coffee isn’t just a drink that gives many of us a much-needed morning boost. It’s also a genuine cultural moment, whether you’re sipping some coffee in a Middle Eastern cafe, enjoying an espresso in Italy, or grabbing a tall double-caf soy nonfat latte on any corner in any American city.

“Besides the fact that it tastes and smells good, coffee plays an important social role in our lives,” says Joan Salge Blake, a clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University. “There’s a lot going on besides the caffeine that makes people want to drink it. If you’re meeting with someone after 5 p.m., it’s usually for drinks, but before that, it’s coffee. It’s how we do business, relax, socialize.”

But it’s easy to become enamored of caffeine and its ability to jolt us awake and get us through the day with the energy needed to accomplish often superhuman amounts of work. While a dependence on caffeine can be problematic (e.g., sleep problems, headaches), coffee has been proven to benefit your health in several notable ways.

“There are some healthy things about coffee—polyphenols, antioxidants that can be quite good for you,” Salge Blake says. “It’s been shown that moderate consumers of coffee could lower their risk of Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and Parkinson’s, among other diseases.”

So perhaps the instinct to give up coffee completely isn’t quite right. Instead, you may want to consider how to give up caffeine. It’s fairly straightforward, even if it’s not always easy. Follow these three steps to quit caffeine without quitting coffee altogether.

Cycle off the Caffeine Slowly

When decaffeinated coffee hit the scene about a century ago, it was a dreadful concoction, Salge Blake says. Today, it’s as good as its “regular” counterpart, and decaf carries with it many of the same health-boosting properties as caffeinated coffee.

The best way to switch from regular to decaf coffee is to cycle off the caffeine gradually. “Start with 75 percent caffeinated and 25 percent decaf, and stick with that for a week,” Salge Blake recommends. “This will prevent you from developing headaches and some of the other physical and mental side effects that occur when people quit abruptly.”

After the first week, Salge Blake says you can reduce your caffeine intake further with a 50-50 caf-decaf mix. The next week, move to 25 percent caffeinated, 75 percent decaf. Your body should then be ready for you to quit caffeine completely. (Just make sure you don’t disrupt this plan by drinking other caffeinated beverages, like soda or certain teas, during this period.)

Feed Your Brain

So you’re off caffeine, but you’re struggling to get going in the morning. Remember the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? It’s true.

“Good food does the same thing to your brain that caffeine does,” Salge Blake says. “If you get up in the morning and don’t eat breakfast—or if you spend the morning eating junk—you’re going to reach for something caffeinated by noon.”

That, in turn, can disrupt you throughout the rest of the day and into the night, causing you to repeat this cycle of bad eating and exhaustion the next day.

Break the cycle with some high-quality carbohydrates, Salge Blake suggests. “That’s what your brain loves the most—grains, fruits and veggies.” Start your day with healthy foods and snacks and keep feeding your body this way, especially if you start to drag.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

For all the brain food you eat over the course of a day, jumpstarting your morning really begins the night before.

“Sleep hygiene is the idea that we’re setting ourselves up for consistent, high-quality sleep every night,” Salge Blake says. “Not many people do it. They think they can’t afford it because their waking lives demand more time, but they’ll find their productivity improve if they give their bodies and minds the sleep they need.”

Eight hours of sleep is the mark you should shoot for every night. Start going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day, and say “goodnight” to your electronics about an hour before you plan to hit the hay. The blue light emitted by smartphones and other digital devices is a major sleep quality disruptor. If you plan to use your phone as an alarm, put it in a drawer near the bed.




1
MAR

5 Ways to Declutter Your Mind This Spring

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Health Concerns & Ailments at 12:01 am | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
Are you always complaining about everything? Do you often worry about the future? Are you constantly ruminating about the past? If you answered yes, you might be in need for a “mental decluttering”.

A cluttered mind affects the way you can think clearly and make the best decisions in your life. When that happens, some people can’t get anything done as a result of a restless and unfocused mind. However, there are a few things you can do to stop feeling overwhelmed. Let’s look at 5 ways to declutter your mind this spring.

1. Laugh

Happy people live better. Laughing is one of the best ways for relieving stress. Try to laugh more often and stop taking everything so seriously. Talk about funny things, watch comedies or read a funny book.

2. Meditate

Meditation is one the best ways to relief stress and feel better, there’s no doubt about it. Meditation is learning to focus the mind completely on the present moment which is essentially the best technique to declutter your mind. Finding a way to zone out and rest your mind is essential to improve focus and feel better.

3. Fresh Start

A fresh start may be an excellent way to clear up your mind. Let go of the past and start taking a new approach to life. Start on the first day of the month, or even on a specific day such as your birthday. Mind clutter is often related to the past and clearing up that stuff off your mind will only bring benefits to you.

4. Minimize Multi-Tasking

Multi-tasking is great, particularly at the workplace but some people have a real hard time turning it off at the end of the working day. You don’t have to multitask at your home all the time as it may be taking too much from your mind. Try to focus all of your attention on one task and try to enjoy doing it.

5. Exercise

Exercise is a great way to declutter your mind. With the winter coming to an end and the warmer temperatures around the corner, the spring season provides a great opportunity to get outdoors, get fresh air, move, stretch, and sweat. Exercise helps clear your mind as well as make you sleep and feel better.




10
JAN

Vitamin C Won’t Shorten Your Cold, But These 3 Supplements Might

Sick young woman at home on the sofa with a cold, she is covering with a blanket and blowing her nose

There are a lot of conflicting opinions out there about what to do when you start developing the symptoms of a seasonal cold. Everyone has a recipe or suggestion for what will get rid of your sniffles and help you to feel well again. For the most part, Vitamin C is a popular choice. Though many studies show how helpful Vitamin C can be for the immune system, it is not the best supplement for shortening a cold.

To take full advantage of the power of Vitamin C, one must take the right level of the supplement before the onset of a cold. This helps to shorten the presence of the symptoms, though it is not effective at changing the overall duration of the sickness. To fight back in a more effective way, consider these three helpful supplements that might pack more of a punch.

1.) Elderberry

The downside to Vitamin C is you have a very limited window for taking it in order to see the results you’d like. With other supplements like elderberry, the experience is a bit different. The extract of the black elderberry plant has been used for medicinal purposes for a long while. Native Americans first used the plant as a way of combating fevers brought on by various conditions. Nowadays, black elderberry extract can be found in a multitude of cough syrups and lozenges.

Elderberry is effective at treating both the symptoms of the common cold as well as the symptoms brought about by influenza. About a day after experiencing the aches and pains of being sick, taking an elderberry supplement should help. Studies show this extract is incredibly useful at eliminating some of the more frustrating symptoms of a cold, including sore throat, coughs, and aches of the head and body. The next time you feel a cold coming on, see what this supplement can do for your situation.

2.) Ginger

The common cold tends to appear the most prevalently in the winter. Since this has been the case for most of human history, a large chunk of remedies for colds contain ingredients that are bountiful in this season. This is especially true when it comes to ginger root. This spicy and delicious root is used in everything from cooking, to baking, to brewing teas and other elixirs. The anti-inflammatory agents in ginger assist with relieving the many pains associated with the common cold, including calming down a sore throat.

When one is suffering from a cold or the flu, it can be incredibly difficult to feel comfortable. Hot flashes and cold chills can rock the body and cause a person to feel as if he or she is completely disconnected. Ginger is useful here because it can help a body to return to normalcy in regards to temperature. Ginger can easily warm a person up when consumed in the form of tea, which can be perfect for anyone dealing with terrible chills throughout the duration of a cold.

3.) Zinc

Finally, there is zinc. Though ginger and elderberry are far better at helping a person get through the stages of a cold, zinc plays a slightly different part. Various studies over the years have concluded a person taking zinc during a cold helps to prevent the virus from multiplying and spreading throughout the body. This can be a huge help in fighting the cold but there is little to suggest it can prevent a cold outright.

Before taking zinc it is important to remember that there are side effects. Many people who take zinc supplements complain about nausea, which is something to stay alert of. Whenever a supplement you are taking is making you feel ill, stop taking it right away and consult with your primary care physician. This is the best way to get the most from your health without causing any adverse effects along the way.

 

Article written by Joe Palinsky

Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.




12
DEC

4 Low-Maintenance House Plants for Cleaner Air

Filed Under: General Wellness & Wellbeing,Home at 11:00 pm | By: Mauricio Matusiak, Senior Editor
flowers in a pot on a window sill at the window

If you want to improve the air quality of your home, adding plants to your house can be an excellent and affordable way. Many buildings have inefficient air flow which may create a condition for air pollution to build up and may lead to health issues such as asthma or sick building syndrome. Plans can clean up the pollutants from the air with no too much work for you. Let’s check out 4 low-maintenance houseplants for cleaner air.

1. Spider Plant

Spider plants are known to help remove formaldehyde and xylene. These beautiful and easy-to-care plants grow quickly and look great in hanging baskets and are a great choice for beginners or forgetful owners. Safe for children or animals, spider plants need a lot of bright, indirect sunlight and you only need to water them two times per week.

2. Dracaena

Dracaena Plants are also known as natural air purifiers. These foliage plants with long, wide leaves are known to remove pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene. Unfortunately, pet owners might want to avoid Dracaena as these are toxic to cats and dogs.

3. Bamboo Palm

Bamboo palm can be considered low-maintenance but these plants need full sun or bright light. Known to filter formaldehyde, bamboo palm can filter so much air and some of the pollutants known to be removed include benzene and trichloroethylene.

4. Snake Plant

Snake plants are also useful to remove formaldehyde and benzene and require not much maintenance. This sharp-leafed plant thrives in low light and is an excellent way to help lower carbon dioxide. Research suggests that during the night, snale plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, a reversal of the process most plants undergo. They are highly recommended for your bedroom as they can increase oxygen while you sleep.




5
DEC

4 Tips To Keep You Productive All Winter Long

Beautiful happy young adult woman drinking coffee near New York City skyline wearing winter clothes and smiling. Beautiful woman holding coffee cup outdoors in the city.

Article written by Joe Palinsky

Once the dazzling colors of autumn have faded and the temperature has begun its shift in colder directions, it means winter has arrived. While the end of the year tends to get people all caught up in the excitement of the holidays, the winter also has a way of taking away a person’s motivation. Whether you are someone who suffers from seasonal depression or you can’t seem to find the mental energy to be productive on a bitterly chilly day, it can be almost impossible to get anything done.

If you are trying to break the mold this winter and be the most productive version of yourself, you might need a bit of help. Follow these suggestions to stay as motivated as possible this season.

1.) Consume Quality Foods

What you eat plays a huge part in the way you feel throughout the season. The short days and freezing temperatures of the winter tend to push people towards specific food groups. “Comfort foods” are popular at this time of year because they can make a person feel safe and content. Unfortunately, these dishes are usually packed with butter and fat. Though you might feel inclined to make a huge batch of macaroni and cheese every night, your motivation requires something a bit more nourishing.

Maintaining a productive lifestyle is a challenge in the winter because many people face depression or decreased moods. For some, this comes from a lack of exposure to sunlight. To counteract this, it can be in your best interests to eat meals loaded with Vitamin D. Salmon, yogurt, and tofu are all excellent choices. By consuming a healthy amount of Vitamin D throughout the winter, you are more likely to feel motivated, have a strengthened immune system, and keep your metabolism running efficiently.

2.) Life is Company

Feeling less motivated in the winter can be detrimental to your life in a number of ways. For one, you are not going to want to take on personal projects or engage in hobbies you normally find appealing. It also stands to reason you’ll want to stay home and limit your social interactions. This is no coincidence. According to several studies, people feel less social when there is an absence of warm light for extended periods. Though it might be natural to limit your social interactions at this time of year, it actually adds to depression.

Winter can be isolating. Since you might not be planning on going out after work as much as you did in the summer, you need to find ways to interact with others whenever possible. Small steps like making the decision to meet with friends for lunch on a Saturday or spend some extra time talking with coworkers at the start of the workday can be great moves. The more you interact with other people on a daily basis, even if it is only your local barista, the more likely it is you will feel motivated to be productive.

3.) Fight the Sickness

A lack of motivation is not the only issue people deal with in the winter. Colder weather also makes it far easier for germs to spread, with influenza and the common cold being most prevalent between December and March. Since coming down with a cold can easily ruin any motivation you have drummed up, you want to go above and beyond to stay as healthy as possible. A bowl of oatmeal each morning can provide your body with fiber and zinc, both which aid in keeping your body regular and well.

Foods high in Vitamin C should also make appearances on your plate throughout the season. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, oranges, spinach, and tomatoes are all practical choices.

4.) Get Out and Move

Finally, nothing beats exercise when it comes to staying motivated. Getting off the couch and heading to the gym for a workout might feel like an impossible feat in the winter but it can make a huge difference in your mood. The more you engage with your body, the less likely you are to feel stuck in a rut. Exercise releases endorphins, allowing for an improved mood and a newfound feeling of self-worth.

Winter can be harsh and unforgiving. To stay one step ahead of the blues that come from this time of year, remember to motivate yourself in the right ways. Eat foods rich in both Vitamin C and D, exercise regularly, and keep social to make it through the winter in one piece.

 

Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.




30
NOV

Is Melatonin Safe For Children Struggling to Sleep?

Filed Under: Baby and Child Health,General Wellness & Wellbeing,Supplements at 9:30 am | By: Guest Blogger
Royalty stock photo of 3 years old girl during daytime.

Article written by Joe Palinsky

Sleep is a luxury that not everyone can afford. Try as they might, there are countless people across the planet who toss and turn in their beds until sunrise. Though this is a common problem in adults, it is also an issue many children experience on a regular basis. If your little ones are unable to sleep through the night, it’s a good idea to consider your options.

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland. It is responsible for helping regulate one’s cycle of sleep. Though the body produces this hormone naturally, melatonin supplements are a common solution for adults who are not sleeping well. While this may seem like a practical idea for an adult, you might be hesitant to offer your children the same answer when they have difficulty catching some shut-eye. To understand whether it is right for your kids, be sure to look over what the experts are saying.

Starting With Dosage

Many drugs and supplemental products are problematic for children to ingest. Though these pills are fine for adults with fully-developed systems, a number of chemicals found in specific pharmaceuticals can inhibit growth in a child. With melatonin, this is the main argument made. Though there are still no concrete findings on whether or not melatonin impacts children in a negative way, medical experts believe it is better to approach this task from the right perspective.

Adults tend to purchase melatonin over the counter from pharmacies or health supplement establishments. This is fine for grown individuals but it can prove trickier for kids. To get the best solution, you need to first visit with your child’s pediatrician. Speaking with a healthcare professional can open you up to all possible solutions to the problem. If the doctor believes melatonin is the answer, then he or she can prescribe a specific dosage that works appropriately. Prescription melatonin comes in smaller dosages, allowing it to work its magic without overloading your child with too much melatonin.

Serious and Simple

Though melatonin is one of a number of solutions available to parents who are trying to get their children to sleep, it is important to take a closer look at when you should avoid using it altogether. When the summer has come to a close and school is around the corner, you might notice that your children are having a difficult time hitting the hay. This could be due to the excitement of the coming school year or nerves about seeing friends for the first time in months.

Situational sleep problems like this tend to come and go. Once your child has gotten back into the swing of the school year, he or she should return to normalcy with sleeping. Short-term sleeping problems usually resolve themselves and are caused by environmental factors that are not always present. When you first notice your child is not sleeping right, do not take immediate action. Allow this to carry on for a few days to see if it persists. If so, you need to contact your child’s doctor to start finding an appropriate solution.

Ultimate Answer

Melatonin is a wonderful option for adults who are struggling with insomnia or other sleep-related ailments. For children, it might be best to examine alternatives first. Take a look at your child’s habits and see what might be causing the sleepless nights. In many cases, diet and exercise can change the way a child falls asleep. According to most experts, children need to be up for around twelve hours each day and need to be physically engaged for at least one hour. Inactive children who do not get outside often might deal with insomnia from not getting out enough.

Sleep is incredibly important to the human mind, body, and spirit. When you’re dealing with children who don’t seem to fall asleep, you might need to take action. Examine your child’s habits and see how long insomnia persists. When you feel like all of your options have been exhausted, visit with your child’s primary care physician and learn more about what melatonin might be able to offer.

 

Joe Palinsky is a full-time writer and theater professional in Philadelphia. He predominantly works with ensemble-based Found Theater Company, where his writing has been featured in numerous productions. Though primarily a ghostwriter, his work has been published in the now-defunct Spirit News and as a guest on Found Theater’s blog.