Keys to Emotional Wellness

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

October is Emotional Wellness Month. Emotional wellness refers to the ability to process our feelings in healthy, positive ways and manage everyday stresses. Because how we handle our emotional well being affects overall health.

Mental and emotional stress creates negative responses in the body such as high blood pressure, headaches, chronic illness and a weakened immune system.

Emotional Wellness Month, celebrated annually in October, serves as a reminder to take care of our emotions. Discover the following keys to emotional wellness, for a healthier state of being.

Keys to Emotional Wellness title meme

Be Who You Are

For emotional well being, it’s crucial to know who you are and live authentically as that person.

Sounds simple, right? However, many of us learn as children to please the adults in our lives…parents, grandparents, teachers…forgetting who we are as we grow older. We can lose that strong sense of self by the time we are adults, becoming habitual people pleasers.

However, we can’t please others at the expense of being who we are, otherwise we live a lie. It’s essential to spend the time doing the inner work required to reconnect with who we really are.

Remember the things you loved as a child. Try different things to see what you enjoy and what feels in alignment with your heart and soul. Journal and free write. See this post from my other blog, Creating a Strong Sense of Self, for more help. And this one, Finding Your Big Why, to learn more about your purpose in life.

Keys to Emotional Wellness be you
Keys to Emotional Wellness – be who you are

Be Aware of Emotions

It’s helpful to check in with how you are feeling, emotionally, every day. How do you relate to your emotions? Do you tend to “stuff” them away? Do they overwhelm you and erupt inappropriately?

Learning to feel and express emotions in healthy ways keeps them from escalating to an out of control level. Some experts recommend a technique called scaling emotions.

How strong are your emotions? Rate them on a scale of 1 – 10, with 1 being low and 10 high. The idea is that by practicing awareness with emotions, you can keep them in the 2 – 5 range. Checking in allows us to intentionally bring emotions back into balance.

For example, if anger suddenly escalates to an 8, your awareness allows you to take deep breaths, pause or question feelings to bring the level down.

And it helps to keep an emotional journal to track…and name…feelings. Knowing what you are feeling helps you to talk about them more openly.

Keys to Emotional Wellness emotions
Keys to Emotional Wellness – be aware of emotions

Pay Attention to Physical Health

The two are connected, emotional and physical health. And the state of one affects the other. Increasing your physical health level positively improves emotional health.

Eat highly nutritious foods, including an abundance of fruits and veggies. Drink water. Get enough sleep. Stay active doing things you enjoy such as gardening, dancing, biking, walking or playing with grandkids. Exercise reduces stress hormones while boosting endorphins, the feel good ones.

Limit alcohol and do not smoke.

Learn to manage stress. Slow down and take a break. Practice deep breathing, yoga or meditation. Learn to relax tense muscles.

Keys to Emotional Wellness physical health
Keys to Emotional Wellness – physical health…eat highly nutritious food

Connect With Others

We need positive connections with others. In the last two years, we’ve had to learn different ways to stay connected to others, as we navigate a pandemic. Many experienced…and continue to experience…a sense of isolation and disconnect from others.

  • schedule regular calls, zoom meetings or facetime calls with family and friends
  • text or message friends with recommendations such as podcasts to listen to, videos to watch or books to read
  • stay in touch with friends and family through social media
  • play online games with others
  • watch tv shows with others, while connected via the internet or on the phone
  • walk together outdoors
  • if you feel comfortable, meet with family and friends for lunch dates, museum visits, zoo trips and other fun excursions
  • say hi to people while out and smile
  • consider adopting a pet for companionship
Keys to Emotional Wellness connect
Keys to Emotional Wellness – stay connected to others

Stay Positive

Focus on the good in your life, expressing gratitude for small and large blessings. Collect affirmations to read each day or write your own. Accept the past and let it go, without blaming yourself. Forgive yourself.

Pay attention to what you think about. Actions follow thoughts. Dwelling on negative thoughts leads to negative actions. Shifting thoughts results in a change in actions as well.

Emotional Health

Creating emotional health doesn’t mean you feel happy all the time. It means you are more aware of your emotions and the impact they have on your overall health. When you feel anger, stress or anxiety, you manage those feelings.

Emotional health allows you to cope well with life’s challenges without getting out of balance. You gain fresh perspectives and recover more quickly from setbacks. Emotional wellness helps you feel good about who you are and fosters healthy relationships.

I hope these keys to emotional wellness help you create a state of well being that supports the amazing life you desire to live.

Keys to Emotional Wellness positive thoughts

Helpful books from Amazon:

 


Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

We can blame all kinds of circumstances on a poor night’s sleep: staying up too late, stress, worry, bed partner snoring. too hot, too cold or electronics. However, there is a common contributor to a restless night that many people overlook: the foods they eat before trying to fall asleep.

What you eat in the evening can directly affect how well you sleep. If trouble falling asleep and staying asleep plagues you, take a look at these best and worst foods to eat before bed.

Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed title meme

Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed

Let’s start with the worst foods to eat before retiring for the night.

Some foods are definitely better than others, for inducing and protecting sleep. And some foods provide too much energy or burden the digestive system. The following foods are the worst to eat before bed.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes and other acidic foods can create problems for those with acid reflux. The burning pain and discomfort in the esophagus when lying down keeps sleep at bay.

Enjoy tomatoes earlier in the day and balance their acidic nature with non-acidic foods.

Cheese

Strong or aged cheese, along with other preserved foods, contain high levels of the amino acid tyramine, which makes us feel more alert. Tyramine causes the adrenal glands to release the “fight or flight” hormone that stays in the body for several hours, hampering the ability to quickly fall asleep.

Additionally, cheese has a higher fat content which slows the digestive system and directs blood flow to the stomach. This causes the body to shift energy to digesting food rather than sleeping.

Spicy Foods

Go easy on the curry, hot sauces and chili peppers in the evening. These foods can trigger acid reflux as well, keeping you awake at night. Plus some spicy foods contain capsaicin, a chemical that elevates the body’s core temperature, disrupting sleep and making you feel alert rather than sleepy.

Chocolate

The high level of caffeine in chocolate, especially darker chocolates, not only keeps you wide eyed, it also affect REM sleep. REM, or rapid eye movement, occurs more frequently with caffeine in the body, making you feel groggy the next morning.

Also avoid drinks with caffeine in them before bed, such as coffee, tea and energy drinks.

Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed chocolate
Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed – chocolate

Ice Cream

Some people enjoy a bowl of ice cream before bed, or a bowl of cereal. For the best night’s sleep, avoid both.

These foods are high in sugar and too much of the sweet stuff affects your ability to stay asleep. Sugar creates a spike in blood sugar levels. Then the crash occurs, while you sleep. The adrenal glands perceive that crash as an emergency, which cause them to increase cortisol levels and wake the body from sleep.

Plus, if you have a dairy intolerance, ice cream (and cheese) can cause inflammation and bloating, making it even more difficult to get comfortable and fall asleep. (Click HERE for symptoms of dairy intolerance.)

Chips

Potato and other kinds of chips dehydrate the body due to the high salt levels. The body responds by retaining water, causing thirst, which may wake you or create restlessness. The next morning the body feels tired and fatigued.

And researchers found that greasy foods, like chips, contribute to nightmares. Those bad dreams may wake you, heart pounding in fear. With adrenaline pumping through the body, it can take hours to go back to sleep.

High Protein

Foods high in protein make it difficult to fall asleep. Those heavier foods sit in the stomach and make you feel overly full. Plus they require more energy to digest, causing the body to focus on the stomach rather than falling asleep.

Wine

Wine is often consumed for its relaxing effect, however, it can hinder sleep.

While you may fall asleep initially, after a glass or two of wine, it keeps the body from full REM sleep, which is where deep rest and dreams occur. You are also more likely to wake frequently during the night, after drinking wine. And it can lead to snoring as it relaxes muscles. Snoring disturbs your sleep and others’ rest also.

Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed wine
Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed – wine

Best Foods to Eat Before Bed

And now for the best foods to eat, to encourage a great night’s sleep.

Cherries

Tart cherries act as a natural sleep aid, thanks to their high melatonin content. Melatonin is a hormone that lets the body know it’s time to sleep. Tart cherry juice works just as well as a cup of fresh cherries.

Kiwi

Besides being rich in antioxidants, carotenoids and vitamins C and E, kiwi contains serotonin. This sleep hormone contributes to healthy REM sleep. Low levels of serotonin may cause insomnia.

Kiwi also provides folate, which helps prevent insomnia as well.

Herbal Teas

Herbal teas do not have the caffeine that keeps the body stimulated and awake. Plus herbal teas such as lemon balm, passionflower and chamomile offer sedative effects that reduce anxiety and soothe the body toward rest.

Walnuts

These healthy nuts not only boost brain and heart health, they promote a good night’s sleep also.

Walnuts are an excellent source of melatonin. Plus they provide ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid that’s converted to DHA in the body. DHA increases serotonin levels, which helps the body relax into sleep.

Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed walnuts
Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed – walnuts

Spinach

This power food is a great source of tryptophan, and also rich in folate, magnesium and vitamins B6 and C, all key factors in creating serotonin and melatonin.

Spinach also contains glutamine, an amino acid that stimulates the body to release cellular toxins that can create sleeplessness.

Bananas

High in potassium and magnesium, bananas help muscles relax, which allows the body to fall asleep.

The magnesium in bananas affect quality of sleep as well, by extending the amount of time spent sleeping. Bananas contain tryptophan too, that the body uses to create serotonin and melatonin.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes contain vitamin B6, which boosts melatonin and prepares the body for sleep. Eating a sweet potato in the evening helps you feel relaxed and sleepy.

Peanut Butter

This food is another one that contains tryptophan, which promotes the creation of serotonin and melatonin. Make sure it is low sugar or better yet, sugar free. For a great evening snack, pair peanut butter with sliced bananas or apples.

Bonus food: apples are excellent sources of potassium and vitamin B6, both helpful for promoting sleep. Plus the vitamin C in apples lowers blood pressure, manages blood sugar levels and improves breathing, all of which contribute to a good night’s sleep.

Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed peanut butter
Best and Worst Foods to Eat Before Bed – peanut butter

How is Your Sleep?

How are you sleeping? If falling asleep, staying asleep and waking up refreshed are problematic for you, pay attention to what you eat before bed.

Knowing which foods negatively affect sleep…and which ones promote it…allows you to make healthy choices for night time snacking. As a result, you may find yourself falling asleep faster and sleep longer.

Did one of your favorite foods fall into the best or worst food categories? Awareness helps you make a difference!

Good night's sleep

 

Pick up these herbal teas from Amazon:

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

 

 

Travel With Your Health Practices

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

This is a crossover post, also shared on my other blog, Cindy Goes Beyond. The topic fit both blogs well!

Often when we travel, we do so with a sense of joyful abandonment. No rules, no schedules, no work to slow us down. It’s exhilarating. However,  that freedom from our “regular” life sometimes includes ditching our established health routines too.

I discovered quickly that maintaining my health while traveling is essential to my wellbeing. If I eat poorly, or stop the supplements, I can quickly feel bad. And that’s not the way I want to spend my trip…feeling bad or experiencing pain.

I carry specific health related items with me when I travel. And I only travel with a carry on, so I’ve pared down what I take with me to the most important to keep my health and energy at optimal levels.

Check out how to travel with your health practices, using these tips that can see you through the days of travel.

Travel With Your Health Practices title meme

 

Travel With Your Health Practices

Create your own travel kit, personalized for your health needs.

First though, it’s important to ask yourself these questions:

Am I traveling solo? Who is traveling with me? Are children traveling with me too?

Here is a broad list of possible items to consider for a travel medical kit:

  • pain relievers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, tension relief
  • sleep aids, eye mask, melatonin gummies
  • CBD products
  • essential oils
  • herbal supplements, multi-vitamin, Voke Superfoods
  • prescription meds
  • over the counter meds – sinus meds, allergy meds, UTI meds, decongestant, eyedrops, cough drops, cough relief, menstrual cramp relief, salves
  • sunscreen, sunburn relief
  • insect repellent, bug bite ointment, anti-itch ointment
  • bandaids, bandages
  • antibacterial ointments
  • hand sanitizer
  • sanitizing wipes
  • face masks
  • tweezers, small scissors, nail clippers
  • digital thermometer, blood pressure cuff, blood glucose monitor
  • antacids, heartburn relief, diarrhea meds, motion sickness tabs, upset stomach meds
  • rubbing alcohol, Witch Hazel, peroxide
  • cotton balls, cotton swabs
  • soothing lotions – eczema cream, diaper rash lotion, rash relief
Travel With Your Health Practices voke
Travel With Your Health Practices – Voke Superfoods tablets are one of my essentials for international travel

Create a Travel Medical Kit That Meets Your Needs

Of course, you probably don’t need to pack all of the above items. Choose what is most important to maintain your health and the health of everyone traveling with you. Everyone’s needs are different.

I travel light. Currently, I don’t take any prescription meds. A friend of mine, however, travels with two suitcases. One carries her clothing and the other, all of her meds and supplements. That’s what works best for her.

Depending on suitcase space and your health needs, choose the items that are essential. I don’t group my essentials together in a separate bag or container. Instead, I tuck items among my clothes, into shoes and alongside toiletries. Whether I’m traveling through Italy for 12 days or spending a long weekend somewhere, my essential health items go with me.

My Travel Medical Kit

Here are the items that I consider essential for my health and wellbeing. These items accompany me on all trips.

Pain Relief

I carry travel sized ibuprofen and acetaminophen in my purse. I occasionally have severe headaches. Years ago, my dentist gave me a valuable tip. For moderate to severe pain, take a combination of three ibuprofen and two acetaminophen. The combo works like a pain pill for me, but without the drowsiness or side effects.

And I love the Hilma products. They provide natural relief, for tight muscles or tension headaches. And the indoor/outdoor relief is wonderful for natural sinus congestion and allergen relief. Click links above to order Hilma.

Travel With Your Health Practices hilma
Travel With Your Health Practices – Hilma Producrs

Supplements

  • Cat’s Claw
  • MSM
  • Magnesium
  • Comfort Guard
  • GLOW Complex

I take more supplements than these when at home. These though support joint and muscles health. After many years of chronic sciatica, I can still experience stiff, tight muscles in my legs, especially when walking for hours. The first four supplements listed above keep my legs working well and keep them comfortable. The Comfort Guard is THE best supplement for reducing pain and inflammation. I love the combination of turmeric, ginger and boswellia.

And GLOW Complex is an amazing plant based collagen builder that also supplies a host of essential vitamins and minerals including B12, which is so important to keep my energy up.

Order Comfort Guard and GLOW in the links at end of post.

Over the Counter

  • Witch Hazel (carried in a small TSA approved bottle)
  • bandaids
  • antibiotic cream
  • Prid (a soothing drawing salve)
  • sunscreen
  • cotton balls and cotton swabs

Witch Hazel makes an ideal soother for scrapes, insect bites and cuts. Plus I use it for a toner after washing my face.

Prid is a drawing salve that I don’t like to be without. It relieves bug bites, spider bites, boils and ingrown hairs.

Protection

I’m fully vaccinated. Otherwise I wouldn’t be traveling at all. I still take cloth masks wherever I go. And in addition to social distancing and washing my hands frequently, I use SkinShield2, a protective antibacterial skin barrier lotion. A small amount of lotion kills germs, viruses and bacteria on contact and protects my hands for hours. Click link above to order yours.

Travel With Your Health Practices sanitizer
Travel With Your Health Practices – protection

Miscellaneous

  • peppermint tea bags
  • Incrediwear knee sleeve

My favorite tea goes with me. I tuck a few tea bags in my purse and more in my carry on. Peppermints soothes the whole digestive system and boosts spirits and mood.

The Incrediwear knee sleeve is a “just in case” item. Occasionally I twist my left knee and it reacts immediately with pain, swelling and inflammation.

Incrediwear products work by increasing blood flow to the injured joint, to reduce inflammation and swelling. They also relieve pain and accelerate recovery. Rather than using compression, Incrediwear products incorporate semiconductor elements within the fabric that release negative ions when stimulated by body heat. Read more about this amazing sleeve HERE.

Continue Your Usual Health Practices

I think the most important items to “pack” on any trip are your usual health practices.

Do you follow a specific diet? Stay on it so you don’t throw off your body or create digestive disorders. I follow a plant based lifestyle wherever I go, with no issues.

Do you walk, do yoga, stretch, workout? As much as possible, continue these health practices as well. Traveling often involves sitting for hours in a car or airplane. Stretch periodically, do yoga in your seat, walk for a few minutes. Many hotels have an onsite gym for workouts. And walking or hiking is a great way to explore a city or spend time in nature.

Also follow sleep and waking patterns, when you can, to keep energy up. Definitely take prescribed meds. And always, stay hydrated by drinking enough water.

What health items and practices are essential for you? Share them in the comments!

Travel With Your Health Practices water
Travel With Your Health Practices – water container

 

Want to Know How I Pack a Carry On?

Check out this post on Cindy Goes Beyond, for my packing tips to travel light.

Traveling Essentials from Amazon:


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Consume Omega-3s for a Longer Life

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Doctors have said for many years that omega-3s and omega-6 fatty acids are good for us. They are especially important for gut, heart and brain health.

Recently there is even more evidence that omega-3s in particular are linked to longevity in life. In a study, published by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers tracked 2,240 participants over 11 years. They analyzed the omega-3 levels in the blood. Higher levels of omega-3s resulted in lower mortality rates in people over the age of 65. Furthermore, people with high omega-3 levels who did not smoke had the highest survival rate of all.

The short moral of this health story is this: consume omega-3s for a longer life.

Consume omega-3s for a longer life title meme

What are Omega-3s?

Omega-3s are fatty acids that are a good type of fat. The body does not produce them, meaning we must get them from foods or supplements.

Omega-3s help lower the risk of heart disease, depression, inflammation, dementia and arthritis.

So how do omega-3s help us live longer? Their heart health benefits and anti-inflammation properties combine to keep disease at bay. Heart disease is one of the leading contributors to death, while chronic inflammation causes serious diseases of all kinds.

Omega-3s are found in nutrient rich foods. The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-6s are also important, however they are more readily consumed in a typical western diet, through unsaturated fats. Increasing omega-3s, which are often lacking in a typical western diet, are needed to balance the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s.

Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel are rich in omega-3s. However, on a plant based diet, what foods supply this vital fatty acid?

Here are the top six plant based foods that supply omega-3s.

Chia Seeds

These small but mighty seeds are an excellent source of ALA omega-3s. They also provide fiber and protein.

Studies suggest that chia seeds decrease the risk of chronic disease, lower blood triglycerides and reduce inflammatory markers. Just one ounce of chia seeds daily meets or exceeds the recommended requirement for omega-3s.

It’s simple to add chia seeds to smoothies, smoothie bowls and salads. Or create a delicious chia pudding, topped with fruit.

Ground chia seeds make a great egg substitute as well. Combine one tablespoon of of chia seeds with three tablespoons of water. Allow to set up, for five minutes. Use in place of eggs in baking recipes.

Consume Omega 3s for a Longer Life chia seeds
Consume omega-3s for a longer life – chia seeds

Brussels Sprouts

These cruciferous vegetables are high in omega-3s, vitamins C and K and fiber. An increase of Brussels sprouts in the diet significantly lowers the risk of heart disease by providing ALA omega-3s.

Half a cup of cooked Brussels sprouts contains about 135 mg of omega-3s.

Try them steamed, with onion and garlic powder, stir fried with other veggies or roasted in the oven. This Garlic Brussels Sprouts is so good!

Brussels sprouts
Consume omega-3s for a longer life – Brussels sprouts

Walnuts

Walnuts are packed with healthy fats, including ALA omega-3s. In fact, by weight, these nuts are 65% fat.

Including walnuts in the diet improves brain health, while also boosting learning, memory and motor development and reducing anxiety.

Just one ounce of walnuts daily fulfills the requirement for omega-3s.

Add walnuts to oatmeal, homemade granola or simply eat a handful as a snack, which is my favorite way to consume them. I eat a small handful of walnuts every day.

Consume Omega 3s for a longer life walnuts
Consume omega-3s for a longer life – walnuts

Flaxseeds

These little powerhouses of health provide fiber, protein, magnesium, manganese and omega-3s.

Flaxseeds boost heart health and also reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. One ounce of flaxseeds contains more than the recommended daily amount of omega-3s.

It’s easy to incorporate flaxseeds into the diet. Add to smoothies, smoothie bowls, oatmeal, soups or salads. And like chia seeds, flaxseeds make a great egg substitute in baking. Make a “flax egg” by combining one tablespoon ground flaxseeds with three tablespoons of water and allow to thicken for five minutes before using.

Flaxseeds
Consume omega-3s for a longer life – flaxseeds

Hemp Seeds

Hemps seeds are an excellent source of protein, magnesium, iron and zinc, along with omega-3s.

Studies show that hemp seeds improve heart health by preventing the formation of blood clots and helping the heart recover after a heart attack.

An ounce of hemp seeds contains more than a day’s serving of ALA fatty acids.

Sprinkle hemp seeds on oatmeal, salads and soups or add to smoothies and smoothie bowls. Or mix hemp, chia and flaxseeds for a healthy granola mix.

Consume Omega 3s for a Longer Life hemp seeds
Consume omega-3s for a longer life – hemp seeds

Algal Oil

Algal oil is derived from algae. It is one of the few vegan sources of both EPA and DHA fatty acids. It’s nutritional value is similar to seafood.

One study found that algal oil capsules, taken as a supplement, compared well to consuming cooked salmon.

Algal oil is helpful for improving memory.

It’s readily available as a supplement, in a softgel form. In liquid form, algal oil may be added to smoothies or other drinks.

Click photo to order Algal Oil Supplements

Are You Getting Enough Omega-3s?

As you can see, it’s easy to get enough omega-3s in your diet. It just takes awareness and intentionally including one or more of the above foods daily.

If you struggle with incorporating these foods, try adding a plant based omega-3 supplement that includes ALA, EPA and DHA. Check out the links below for supplements I’ve tried and can recommend.

Which of the above foods do you regularly consume? And which ones will you add to your diet now?

Vegan Omega-3s from Amazon:

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

 

 

31 Wellness Ideas

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

For National Wellness Month, celebrated each August, I’m sharing different posts highlighting what wellness really means.

Last week’s post, available HERE, shares the eight dimensions of wellness. They include: emotional, environmental, intellectual, financial, occupational, physical, social and spiritual.

Wellness encompasses the whole body plus it’s an active process of making healthy choices that support a fulfilling life. Because daily habits play an important role in wellness, I’m offering 31 wellness ideas. Include these wellness tips…one a day or multiple ideas a day…to build robust wellness in your life.

And even though August is Wellness Month, these tips can be practiced every day, of every month, year after year.

31 Wellness Ideas title meme

A Month of Ideas

My intention, for creating this post is to show how easy it is to incorporate wellness habits into your life. All eight wellness dimensions are included in these activities. Over time…a relative short time…daily habits build a healthy lifestyle.

Pick a starting date and try one of these ideas every day for the next 31 days.

Choose Wellness

The whole point of National Wellness Month is to encourage people to choose wellness. Show your intention of following through on your commitment to wellness by creating a simple declaration that states “I choose wellness” and then sign and date it. See my “wellfie” at the end of the post for my signed declaration.

DIY Beauty Treatment

Enjoy a DIY beauty treatment at home, using ingredients from your kitchen. Make this experience a pampering one. Try this easy DIY Natural Skin Serum or check out Pinterest for other ideas.

Go For a Walk

Walking has so many benefits. It’s a great way to increase physical wellness and also clears the mind, boosts mood and fosters creativity.

Meditate

Meditation quiets the mind and body by focusing on breath. And it not only eases stress and relaxes the body, it also balances emotions, boosts memory and increases productivity at work.

Spend Time in Nature

We know being outdoors is good for us…fresh air, vitamin D producing sunshine and peaceful nature…however some of the benefits are lesser known. Spending time in nature also sharpens focus, supports graceful aging, reduces inflammation, relieves stress, anxiety and depression and increases overall life satisfaction. Check out more reasons to get out into nature HERE.

31 Wellness Ideas nature
31 Wellness Ideas – spend time in nature

Night Out With Friends

Have a girls’ or guys’ night out, doing something fun. If COVID is keeping you home, do a virtual dinner together, connecting through ZOOM or Facetime. Or watch a movie simultaneously and discuss. Social interaction is important to wellness, perhaps now more than ever.

Pick Up Trash

In your neighborhood, along a stretch of beach or in a local park, take time to pick up trash. Wear gloves and carry a small trash bag that can be disposed of after clean up. And check out the plant based trash bags at the end of the post.

Eat Plant Based for a Day

Rather than a meatless Monday meal, try eating vegan for a whole day. No meat, dairy products or eggs allowed. It will not only give your digestive system a break and your health a boost, it’s good for the planet too.

Have a Smoothie for Breakfast

Start your “vegan for the day” with a fruit smoothie, or pick this activity for another day. Start with fresh bananas, then add frozen fruit of choice, filtered water and chia seeds. Blend in a high speed blender until thoroughly mixed.

Write Out 31 Affirmations

Affirmations are positive statements that can help you overcome negative thinking and self sabotage. They also help to create change. Write 31 affirmations that encourage you to live a healthier life. Begin each affirmation with “I am…” and write it in the present tense, not future tense. Example: “I am creating wellness in my life.”

Write affirmations on slips of paper and drop them into a jar. Draw one out each day for the next month. Or create your own flip calendar, using spiral bound index cards, adding an affirmation on each card.

31 Wellness Ideas affirmations
31 Wellness Ideas – examples of affirmations in a jar…and a DIY flip calendar. This one has favorite quotes.

Do Something New

Trying new experiences is good for the brain. Plus they help us move beyond comfort zones, conquer fears and ramp up creativity. The something new can be as simple as using the non-dominant hand to brush your teeth or as complex as climbing a mountain for the first time.

Read

Pick out a new book, either one you purchase, a library loan or an ebook downloaded on your tablet. Commit to reading a chapter a day. Ramp up the fun by reading a book in a new to you genre.

Watch a Documentary

Are you a movie fan? Try switching to a documentary instead. Watch one on a topic you like or mix things up and pick one you’d not typically watch. Amazon Prime is a great source of documentaries, of all kinds. Start your free membership by clicking HERE.

Netflix offers a broad selection of documentaries as well. I highly recommend My Octopus Teacher. You must have a Netflix subscription to watch.

Encouraging Texts

To boost your social wellness and encourage others, send positive, affirming texts to friends and family members. Doing something kind or helpful for others brings tremendous benefits for the giver as well.

Stretch the Body

Try a series of stretches first thing in the morning. Or move through yoga poses. If you aren’t familiar with yoga, look for step by step videos on YouTube.

Wellness Date

Go on an intentional wellness date with a significant other, family member or even on your own. Some ideas: healthy dinner date, walk in the neighborhood, massage, yoga class, meditate outdoors together or alone, financial class, concert in the park, business class, volunteer for a good cause or find a quiet place to sit and talk.

31 Wellness Ideas date
31 Wellness Ideas – wellness date

Wellness Pie Chart

Create a pie chart (see this post for an example) and divide it into eight sections. Label each section with a wellness dimension. Rate your level of wellness in each area, with 1 being very low and 10 being very high. Commit to working on the areas with a rating of 7 or below.

Journal

Write in your journal about each of the eight dimensions of wellness in your life. What can you do to improve wellness in each one?

Hot Bath

Light some candles in the bathroom, play soothing music and enjoy a long soak in the tub, with or without bubbles. Or, if you prefer a shower, take a long, hot shower and wash away stress. Use sugar scrubs scented with essential oils.

Declutter

Pick a room, a closet or a drawer and declutter it. Use the Marie Kondo practice of only keeping the items that bring you joy. Clutter clogs up energy, in a home and in the body. Decluttering allows energy to flow again.

Hydrate

Drink at least eight glasses of water during the day. Most people are chronically dehydrated. Find out if you are by checking these symptoms. If you prefer, add fresh, unsweetened fruit, lemon or lime juice or veggies such as cucumbers to your water.

31 Wellness Ideas hydrate
31 Wellness Ideas – drink eight glasses of water

Donate

Rather than tossing unwanted clothes or items, donate them to a shelter. It benefits the shelter and it keeps items out of landfills. Make sure items are in good repair and undamaged.

Toad&Co provides a Clean Out Kit, in partnership with ThredUp, for clothing cleared from your closet.

Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Moving out of your comfort zone brings growth and fresh opportunities and can help you feel more accomplished and happy in life.

What scares you a little bit? Speaking in public? Performing a song you wrote? Standing up for yourself? Pick one thing and do it.

Promote Sleep

Create a peaceful atmosphere in your room that is conducive to sleep. A dark, cool, quiet room is best for a good night’s sleep. What needs to shift in that environment, to help you sleep better?

Deep Breaths

Practice several minutes of slow, deep breathing to reduce stress, ease tension and reset the body. Close your eyes, inhale to a count of three, hold your breath for two seconds and then exhale to a count of six.

Create a Healthy Treat

Have fun in the kitchen, creating a healthy treat. It can be as simple as a sliced apple with dates and walnuts or something like this blueberry crumble. Let your inner chef shine through.

31 Wellness Ideas treat
31 Wellness Ideas – create a healthy treat

Create a Budget

Use a spreadsheet on the computer or an app to track income and expenditures.

After tracking income and outgo, set up budget categories for set expenses. Include a plan for paying off debt and saving for emergencies. And set aside an amount for fun or for a travel fund.

Love What You Do

Write out all the things you love about your current occupation, even if it’s not your dream job. Focusing on the positives rather than the negatives helps to shift attitudes about work and also opens possibilities for change.

Dream Job

Dream though, without creating negative feelings about your current job. What is your dream job? What does it look like and how does it make you feel? Write in great detail, in your journal, about your dream job. What action steps, no matter how small, can you take now to get you to that dream?

Gratitude

Write out ten…or more…gratitudes. These can connect to the day or they can be gratitudes in general. What are you grateful for?

Writing and expressing gratitude frequently can powerfully shift your life.

Take a Wellfie

Take a wellfie…a selfie holding your “I choose wellness” declaration. Post it on social media.

31 Wellness Ideas wellfie
31 Wellness Ideas – post a wellfie

Ways to Play

I believe that play is an important part of life.

So have fun with these ideas. Let them inspire wellness ideas of your own. And try these two ways of practicing wellness activities.

Schedule out the activities in your planner or monthly calendar. Write each on on a different day, in any order that pleases you. And then do the activity listed as you move through the month.

Or, write the activities on strips of paper, fold them and drop them into a jar. Randomly select one each day, for the next month, and do the activity you draw out. No backsies. This is one of my favorite games to play. I love how the perfect activity appears on the perfect day, even if I don’t at first think so.

I hope these 31 ideas help you create more health and wellness, in all areas of your life!

31 Wellness Ideas happy

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Choosing Wellness

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August is National Wellness Month. What a wonderful opportunity to explore what wellness means. Plus, we can discover ways to create a lifestyle that supports wellness in our lives.

The whole theme for this month long celebration is choosing wellness.

I’ll post several times in August, with information, suggestions and fun activities, all centered around Wellness Month.

Choosing Wellness title meme

What is Wellness?

Wellness is the active process of raising awareness and making choices that support a healthy and fulfilling life. It encompasses more than preventing illness or eating a healthy diet. It’s a process that includes change, growth and a commitment to living the best life possible. Wellness is something to actively pursue, through awareness, goals and daily habits.

Last year, I explored National Wellness Month for the first time, setting five goals for myself, to pursue during August. Read that post HERE.

This year, I’m even more aware of how crucial wellness is to my overall health and wellbeing.

Consider these eight dimensions of wellness.

Emotional Wellness

Understanding feelings and accepting them, without latching onto them, forms the core of emotional wellness.

Other important emotional health aspects include managing stress, remaining in the present moment without dwelling on the past or worrying about the future and adapting to and dealing with challenges and changes in constructive ways.

Tips for maintaining emotional wellness include:

  • self love, self acceptance, self care
  • relaxation techniques
  • meditation
  • shifting negative thoughts to positive ones
  • connecting with others
  • establishing a solid sleep routine
  • creating boundaries
  • mindfulness
  • recognizing that challenges bring growth

Environmental Wellness

Environmental wellness is two fold: caring for and living in harmony with the planet and creating personal environments that support who we are.

Creating an environment in your room, home, yard or workspace that supports who you are and your needs and desires contributes to overall wellness.

And equally important is caring for the earth. It is, after all, home to us and many, many other species. I found that my awareness of my own environment and caring for the planet increased as my own health improved.

Tips for improving environmental wellness include:

  • decluttering spaces
  • creating beautiful, peaceful places to relax and play
  • keeping objects nearby that bring joy and encouragement
  • protecting the earth and all her inhabitants
  • living sustainably
  • interacting with nature
  • raising awareness about practices that are damaging the earth
Choosing Wellness emotional
Choosing Wellness – I created a beautiful space (environmental health) that supports my emotional health

Intellectual Wellness

Intellectual wellness combines nutrition and mental exercises that strengthen the brain with participation in scholastic, cultural and community activities. Additionally, intellectual wellness expands knowledge and skills and boosts creativity and learning, helping us to live a more fulfilling life.

Tips for expanding intellectual wellness include:

  • following curiosity
  • reading, for fun and for information
  • learning a foreign language or a new skill
  • adopting a fresh perspective
  • playing games or working crossword or sudoku puzzles
  • learning to play a musical instrument
  • journaling about creative ideas
  • trying new experiences
  • eating foods that boost brain health

Financial Wellness

Learning to manage money well is a key aspect of financial wellness. Think of creating a budget as putting your finances on a healthy diet. When you take control of your money, it doesn’t control you.

Financial wellness encompasses budgeting, building a savings account, planning for the future…including emergencies, spending within means and healthy borrowing. It’s an important component of wellbeing. Money issues are a leading cause of stress, personally and in relationships, and chronic stress creates disease.

Tips for increasing financial wellness include:

  • creating a workable, doable budget and sticking to it
  • saving for future expenses, including emergencies
  • growing funds through investments
  • spending less than you earn
  • reducing expenses when necessary
  • borrowing responsibly
  • getting out of debt
Choosing Wellness financial
Choosing Wellness – financial wellness

Occupational Wellness

You’ve no doubt heard of the expression, “Do what you love, love what you do.” This quote perfectly captures the foundation of occupational wellness.

Doing work that’s fulfilling, interesting and motivational contributes to overall wellness. Feeling inspired and challenged is important too. Life is enriched through the work we do or it can feel stressed when we don’t enjoy our jobs.

Tips for creating occupational wellness include:

  • finding benefits and positives in current occupation
  • creating connections with co-workers
  • writing out goals and creating action steps to get there
  • working towards the career path you most want
  • increasing skills and knowledge
  • writing out dream job in great detail

Physical Wellness

The most commonly known of the dimensions, physical wellness is about taking care of the body and fueling it with highly nutritious foods. Maintaining a healthy body gives us the energy to do what we want to do and helps manage stress. A body already under attack from disease or illnesses can’t easily handle additional challenges.

Physical wellness involves making excellent choices about nutrition, exercise and body movement, sleep, disease prevention and food or alcohol addictions.

Tips for improving physical wellness include:

  • eating a nutritious diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • exercising and moving the body
  • strengthening muscles
  • paying attention to signals from the body
  • eliminating foods that create allergic reactions in the body
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • staying hydrated
  • creating healthy habits
Choosing Wellness physical
Choosing Wellness – physical wellness

Social Wellness

We need positive connections with others. However, it’s also important to balance social and personal time. Being absolutely who you are, and not who others want or expect you to be, builds healthy social interactions as well.

Destructive relationships are never healthy. Counseling may help with family or spouse relationships. Don’t fear walking away from other relationships that are negative, demeaning or energetically draining.

Tips for maintaining social wellness:

  • engaging with people in your neighborhood, community and city
  • valuing diversity and treating others with respect
  • creating boundaries in relationships
  • having fun
  • developing good communication skills
  • finding your tribe, a supportive group of people who “get” who you are

Spiritual Wellness

Building spiritual wellness involves values, beliefs, meaning and purpose.  Spirituality grounds us, connects us to God, strengthens trust and helps us find purpose and meaning in life. Following a spiritual path brings bigger perspectives on life situations and comforts during challenging times.

Tips for creating spiritual wellness include:

  • praying or meditating
  • practicing yoga
  • spending quiet time alone
  • journaling thoughts and beliefs
  • gathering with like hearted people
  • serving others
  • spending time in nature
Choosing Wellness social
Choosing Wellness – social wellness

Choosing Wellness

It can feel overwhelming to make changes in all eight areas of wellness. Instead, gauge your wellness level first, in each area.

Draw a circle and divide it into eight segments. Label each section of the circle with one of the wellness dimensions: emotional, environmental, intellectual, financial, occupational, physical, social and spiritual. Write a number in each segment, with 1 being a low wellness score and 10 a high level of wellness.

Work on improving the areas with a 7 or less.

Pick one area and start there. Make small, positive changes by setting doable goals. Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to do too much at once. Practice self care during the process and focus on gratitude and growth.

Check in with yourself frequently, to see where your wellness level is. The wellness dimensions are all connected. Improvement in one area often leads to improvement in another. Enjoy the process. Play. It’s your life…not an assignment.

And come back next week, for a month of fun activities to help raise wellness in all areas!

Choosing Wellness chart

 

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Raw Vegan Diet Benefits

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This summer I celebrated five years plant based! What a difference that switch makes in my health and my life.

I began my healing journey by reading Medical Medium, by Anthony William, and following his 28 Day Cleanse at the back of the book.

For a month, I adhered to a raw vegan diet. Read more about that experience HERE. At the end of the first week, my pain, chronic inflammation and lack of mobility improved so much that I happily continued for the next three weeks. I parked my cane in a corner of the bedroom, where it remains to this day.

At the end of the cleanse, I felt so much better, so much lighter, so much healthier. There was no looking back for me. I adopted a 100% plant based diet. Although I am not fully raw vegan, I eat that way about a third of the time. And several times, during my journey, I’ve returned to a raw vegan diet to give my digestive system a break and boost my energy.

You might want to do the same. Check out the raw vegan diet benefits and tips below.

Raw Vegan Diet Benefits title meme

What is a Raw Vegan Diet?

A vegan diet means no animal products.

Raw vegan takes things a step further.

While eating raw vegan, you focus on fruits, vegetables, nuts, sprouts and seeds, all uncooked.

This diet originated in the mid 19th century, as a way to prevent diseases. Recently, eating raw vegan has gained popularity again, spawning cook books, YouTube channels and restaurant options.

Uncooked fruits and veggies provide the highest levels of nutrition. And eating raw naturally minimizes the amount of processed foods consumed.

Raw Vegan Diet Benefits smoothie
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits – fruit smoothie

Raw Foods

The list for a raw vegan diet is fairly short:

  • fresh fruits or flash frozen fruits not boiled before freezing
  • fresh veggies or flash frozen veggies not boiled before freezing
  • whole, unprocessed foods such as cold pressed oils, seaweed, cocoa powder and pure maple syrup
  • seeds – unroasted
  • nuts – unroasted
  • sprouted grains and beans
  • home made plant milks, made from raw, unroasted nuts

Foods that are not raw:

  • refined, processed or pasteurized foods
  • roasted or processed nuts or seeds
  • plant based milks purchased in stores
  • cooked foods
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits mixed fruit
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits – mixed fruit bowl

Raw Vegan Diet Benefits

Whether eating raw vegan for a couple of days, a week, 28 days or longer, the benefits for the body are many.

  • raw foods contain the highest level of nutrients, in a form most readily digested by the body
  • the vitamins and minerals, and the antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant compounds cleanse and strengthen every system in the body
  • detoxifies the liver and digestive system
  • gives digestive system a break, as raw foods are processed quickly and easily
  • live enzymes make digestion smoother and more efficient
  • body is able to rebuild itself, on a cellular level
  • stops unhealthy food cravings
  • allows the body to flush out toxins, chemicals, preservatives, sugar and excess fat, which can result in weight loss
  • raises the body’s vibrational energy level
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits spinach soup
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits – blended spinach soup with mushrooms and herbs

Tips for Implementing a Raw Vegan Diet

Are you ready to eat the most healing foods on Earth? Try these tips for a smooth week or month.

  • eating raw vegan is naturally low fat, which allows the liver to recover from a typical American diet
  • limit salt intake, using herbs and a small amount of sea salt for flavor
  • stay hydrated with lots of water, coconut water, fresh juices and herbal teas
  • start the day with a glass of lemon or lime water, followed by celery or cucumber juice
  • drink a fruit smoothie for breakfast that includes bananas, dates, chia seeds and fruit or try a smoothie bowl or a simple bowl of mixed fresh fruits and berries
  • have a mid morning snack of fruit, cucumber slices or celery sticks
  • enjoy a huge salad for lunch with dark leafy greens, chopped veggies or fruits or try a blended spinach soup with fresh spinach, herbs such as dill or basil and mushrooms
  • for a midafternoon snack enjoy sliced apples or pears, grapes, dates or oranges
  • try the spinach soup for dinner, if you opted for a salad for lunch, or try zoodles or coodles (spiralized raw zucchini or cucumber noodles) served with julienne veggies
  • evening snack is the time for a cup of herbal tea and an apple or orange
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits tea time
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits – afternoon tea time – cucumber, tomato and basil “sandwiches” and fruit

My Experience Eating Raw Vegan

Before experiencing the 28 Day Cleanse, I tried eating raw one other time. The recipes that I found in a health magazine were too complicated. I lasted about four days.

When I tried again, using Anthony’s suggestions and meal plan, I had a big why. Having a motivating why is important I think, in completing a raw vegan cleanse. Otherwise, we too easily give up. My why was an upcoming trip to Italy with my daughter and grandson. Dayan was graduating from high school the following year and I wanted to gift him the trip. I knew my high pain level and inflammation would keep me from going, if something didn’t change.

I completed the 28 days. Was it difficult? Not really. I had a headache and low energy for a few days, as my body detoxed. However, as my health improved and my pain, inflammation and immobility decreased, I felt encouraged to keep going.

Anthony offers a sample menu plan and recipes in the newly revised Medical Medium book. Using his info, there are hundreds of possible food combinations you can create, adding variety and flavor. I didn’t get bored with the food.

Was I happy to eat cooked food again? I was. However, I’ve since done another month of raw vegan, a 7 day raw diet and I’ve enjoyed week long juice fasts. The companion book to Medical Medium, Cleanse to Heal, is another excellent resource.

Raw Vegan Diet Benefits coodles and veggies
Raw Vegan Diet Benefits – coodles with veggies

Have You Considered a Raw Vegan Diet?

Have you ever thought about a raw vegan diet? What questions do you have?

Leave them in the comments below and I’ll gladly answer them.

I know several people who only eat a raw vegan diet…and have for many years. They are healthy, vibrant and incredibly fit. Check out Kristina and Jonny Juicer on Instagram.

While I don’t eat this way all the time, I appreciate the benefits enough to start my days raw. During the summer months, when I don’t enjoy cooking as much, I may eat raw vegan for several days or longer.

You have to do what feels most right for your body and your health.

Anthony says,

“You have to think of your body like an old friend in need. Imagine yourself reaching out a helping hand to this friend as she climbs out of a ravine. This is your commitment to use your free will and the power of your intention to give your body the support it’s crying out for.

When we connect to our bodies, truly listen to them, and give them the nourishment they’re yearning for, everything changes. True miracles happen.”

I agree. Everything changed for me. My body has aged backwards, as it finds its optimal level of health and wellbeing. I can walk, without assistance or pain. And that is a miracle to me.

Frozen banana dessert with strawberries.
Frozen banana dessert with strawberries.

 

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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

Summer Picnic Vegan Style

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July is National Picnic Month. Midsummer is the perfect time for family picnics, a spontaneous meal for one outdoors or a romantic basket lunch laid out on a bright checkered cloth.

Since adopting a plant based lifestyle, I realized I’ve not enjoyed many picnics. Typically picnics include traditional fare such as fried chicken, sandwiches, chips, sugary snacks and staples such as potato or macaroni salad.

In honor of the month long celebration and my healthier lifestyle, here are ways to experience a summer picnic vegan style!

Summer Picnic Vegan Style title meme

Origins of the Picnic

The word picnic comes from the French word “piquenique”. The al fresco practice began in France, in the mid-18th century. Early picnics consisted of a loaf of bread, cheese, fruit and wine.

Today we carry along picnics for sporting events, family gatherings or weekend camping trips. Locations for picnics might include a shady, grassy area near a creek, a picnic table beneath a tree or a backyard patch of lawn.

Bring along simple finger foods, fresh fruits and salads, sandwiches and drinks. Enjoy sharing that meal with family and friends or grab a book and eat a beautiful meal on your own, while you read.

The American Bakers’ Association founded National Picnic Month in 1952.

Summer Picnic Vegan Style garden
My picnic spot…my backyard garden. I love how wildly beautiful it looks this time of year!

Summer Picnic Vegan Style

You can purchase ready made foods and pack them in a tote or basket. Bring along a chest filled with ice for foods that need to stay cool.

Last year, Greg and I toted in a simple, mostly purchased picnic lunch, to Tulsa’s Philbrook Gardens. We found a picnic table deep in the gardens and enjoyed a healthy meal.

Or you can make your own dishes and snacks to enjoy.

Try the following foods, for a perfect vegan picnic. Click links for recipes.

Hummus

Made from chickpeas, you can purchase hummus or easily make your own. Try this simple recipe. Serve veggies with hummus. Carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes or slices of zucchini or yellow squash are great choices. Or bring along vegan, gluten free crackers.

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

This quick and easy sandwich filling replaces tuna or egg salad. Simply mash a can…or two cups cooked…of chickpeas. I use a hand held potato masher. Add several tablespoons of vegan mayo or a small amount of hummus, 1/4 cup each of finely chopped red onions and celery and 1/2 teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder. You can also include chopped green peppers or diced pickles and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Chill for an hour. Use to make sandwiches with gluten free bread. Or eat as a salad without bread.

Summer Picnic Vegan Style chickpea salad
Summer picnic vegan style – chickpea salad

Veggie Wraps

A great alternative to sandwiches, veggies wraps are easy to prepare and eat. Start with a gluten free tortilla, then add whatever veggies you have on hand: shredded carrots, arugula, spinach, kale, shredded red cabbage, julienne green, red, yellow or orange peppers, zucchini or mushrooms. Add veggies to tortilla, drizzle with favorite dressing, then roll tightly. Secure with a toothpick, if necessary.

Try one of these homemade healthy dressings.

Waldorf Salad

Tote along this vegan version of the classic Waldorf salad. A glass container with a tight fitting lid works perfectly. I love the crunch of apples and celery combined with walnuts and juicy grapes. Use vegan mayo as the dressing. Recipe here.

Summer Picnic Vegan Style waldorf
Summer picnic vegan style – vegan Waldorf salad

Potato Salad

It’s easy to create vegan potato salad. Peel, dice and cook 4 – 6 potatoes until tender. Drain. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, 1/4 cup diced yellow onions, 1/4 cup diced celery, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 cup vegan mayo and 2 teaspoons yellow mustard. Chill. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with ground paprika, if desired.

Cowboy Beans

A great alternative to baked beans, prepare a pot of vegan cowboy beans and tote along a small container full for the picnic. Recipe here.

Macaroni Salad

For my picnic, I prepared potato salad and macaroni salad at the same time.

Start with two cups of cooked gluten free macaroni. I used brown rice pasta. Add 1/4 cup diced red or yellow onions, 1/4 cup diced celery, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup vegan mayo and if desired, finely chopped pickles. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with ground paprika, if desired.

Vegan Macaroni Salad
Summer picnic vegan style – vegan macaroni salad

Vegan Desserts

Healthy treats make great accompaniments for your picnic.

These chocolate cookies contain only three ingredients.

Or, if you feel like a different dessert that tastes wonderful and looks gorgeous, try this rustic apple galette.

Fresh berries make a simple, nutritious end to the meal as well.

Rustic Apple Galette
Rustic Apple Galette

Other Vegan Picnic Foods

In addition, include any of the following:

  • cut up vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, radishes or small peppers
  • assortment of nuts and/or seeds
  • energy bites
  • homemade trail mix containing nuts, dried fruit and seeds
  • watermelon slices
  • fruit such as sliced apples, oranges, bananas, grapes or cherries
Summer Picnic Vegan Style
My summer picnic vegan style

My Picnic

I had this post scheduled to write, using recipes from previous posts along with the simple potato and macaroni salads.

Then inspiration struck.

For the month of July, I’m participating in a Yes Month. The purpose is to encourage participants to say YES more than they say NO. Sometimes no is our default response. We say it without thinking. Saying yes encourages us to go beyond comfort zones, stop putting off projects or tasks and accept invitations. Yeses allow for more spontaneity as well.

As I prepared to write this post, I decided to say yes to a summer picnic for myself, and enjoy it in my backyard garden.

What fun to make macaroni salad and chickpea salad for a sandwich and include cowboy beans already prepared in the fridge. I added chilled chunks of watermelon and a bowl of fresh Rainier cherries.

Popping on a wide brimmed hat, I carried my lunch into the garden and enjoyed a picnic for one. It was beautiful, sitting in the corner meditation area where I could see my wildly blooming garden.

Your Picnic

Where will you go this month, for a picnic? And what foods will you pack along, for your outdoor meal?

Share with me your favorite picnic staples!

My Picnic Lunch

 

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Summer Health Tips

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Is it just me…or is this year flying by? By the end of this month, half of the year will be gone. June also brings the beginning of summer with all its delights, wonders and adventures.

For the best season, full of beauty, experiences and fun, check out these summer health tips.

Summer Health Tips title meme

Summer Health Tips

Many people claim summer as their favorite season. School is out. Vacations and road trips get under way. Long warm days make lakes and swimming pools inviting. And adventures of all kinds beckon.

It’s the perfect season for family gatherings, cook outs and celebrations. And there is something so magical about summer evenings. Fireflies, shooting stars, cozy fires crackling in fire pits all contribute to the wonder.

Keep yourself and family members healthy, to make this most of the season, with these simple tips.

Stay Hydrated

The number one challenge with summer is staying hydrated. Most people simply do not drink enough water, causing chronic dehydration. During the warmer months, we are at greater risk of dehydration due to working and playing outdoors and excessive sweating.

The following signs of dehydration are symptoms that indicate the body is not receiving enough water and/or is already chronically dehydrated.

Signs of Dehydration

  • constipation
  • dark urine
  • headaches
  • lightheadedness and dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • muscle cramps
  • rapid heartbeat
  • extreme thirst
  • less frequent urination
  • no tears
  • unsatisfied hunger
  • fatigue
  • low blood pressure
  • skin disorders
  • brain fog
  • irritability
  • kidney stones

There is varying information about how much water we need. However, a good guide is 72 ounces for adult women and 104 ounces for adult men. This is a general guideline. Exercising, working outdoors or warm temperatures may up the requirement for liquids.

To stay hydrated during the summer months, try these tips

  • carry water at all times, in a metal or glass container, and refill throughout the day
  • drink at least one glass of water with every meal
  • increase water amount when exercising or outdoors in hot weather
  • juice fruits and veggies
  • start the day with a lemon or lime water, followed by a glass of freshly prepared celery juice for amazing health benefits (Want to know even more about this miraculous drink? Visit www.celeryjuice.com and pick up Anthony’s book about celery juice HERE.)
  • include two or more cups of herbal teas during the day
  • keep a pitcher of infused water in the fridge, adding herbs, veggies or fruit for flavor
  • eat your water, with high water content foods such as watermelon, berries, pineapple, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Read my full article about foods that help hydrate HERE.

Eat Lightly

During the summer, enjoy the bounty that gardens produce. Visit a farmer’s market if you don’t grow your own veggies and begin your grocery shopping in the fresh fruits and veggies section.

This is the time for simple, easily prepped meals that include raw or lightly cooked veggies and lots of fresh fruit.

Include berries, melons, tomatoes, peppers, okra, fresh herbs, squash and green beans. Try new to you vegetables or fruits too, to broaden your tastes.

Check out this recent POST for eight mouth watering salads that are definitely full of the goodness of summer.

Summer Health Tips hydration
Summer health tips – eat hydrating foods such as watermelon

Get Outdoors During Morning and Evening

Playing, working or exercising outdoors during the summer? Get outside in the mornings or evenings, when temperatures are lower and the sun is less intense.

If you must be out during the afternoon, seek out the shade as much as possible. And remember to carry water with you!

Protect Your Skin and Eyes

No matter what time of day you are outdoors, protect your skin and eyes.

Use at least a SPF 15 or higher sunscreen, applying 30 minutes before going out. Reapply after swimming or excessive sweating. Check out my blogging friend’s post, for the best vegan sunscreens!

Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect the face and sunglasses to shield eyes.

Summer Health Tips hiking
Summer health tips – enjoy the outdoors in the mornings and evenings.

Don’t Get Bugged

I have to admit that what I dislike about summer are pesky insects. As soon as the sun starts to set, mosquitos swarm around me in the garden. And veer off the path while hiking and I’m likely to encounter ticks or worse, chiggers.

Is this true for you?

Avoid insect repellents laden with harsh chemicals. Try using a natural repellent containing lemon or eucalyptus. I’ve had good luck with this DIY Mosquito Repellent. And also with soaking a cotton ball in Witch Hazel and rubbing it over exposed skin.

Around the yard, make sure water doesn’t collect in containers after a rain. That becomes a breeding ground for mosquitos. Keep the grass cut and garden or lawn debris cleared away.

After a hike or walk, check yourself and family members for ticks. Spray shoes, socks and ends of jeans or pants to help prevent chiggers from crawling up legs. Take a shower as soon as you return home and toss clothes…socks and underwear included…in the wash.

Plan an Active Vacation

While on vacation, plan activities such as hiking, walking, swimming, kayaking or canoeing. If you are doing a staycation at home, include gardening, lawncare, evening walks or outside games such as volleyball or badminton.

When visiting cities, explore on foot or via bicycling. Walking tours are a great way to get to know a city. I love walking around a new town, watching people and stopping in interesting shops.

Summer Health Tips kayak
Summer health tips – plan fun activities during vacation, such as kayaking.

Drink Responsibly

Excessive drinking is never good. Combine it with summertime and the results can be disastrous. Alcohol intensifies dehydration. Additionally, too much alcohol impairs judgment, coordination and balance, which can lead to accidents and injuries.

And did you know that 70% of adult and adolescent drownings involve alcohol?

Drink responsibly. Don’t operate a vehicle, including ATV, boats and motorcycles, while drinking. And stay out of the water!

Learn How to Swim

And speaking of playing in the water, make sure family members, especially children, know how to swim.

Many cities offer swimming lessons at community pools or local YMCAs. Swimming pools, lakes and even the ocean are enticing to children and adults. Make sure everyone knows how to swim and is familiar with basic water safety if your vacation includes water activities. It’s good for at least one adult to know CPR as well.

A drowning can happen in as little as two inches of water. Never, ever leave children unattended near water, even the bathtub.

On boats, make sure everyone wears a properly fitting life vest.

Summer Health Tips river fun
Summer health tips – practice water safety and teach children how to swim.

Fire Safety

Whether toasting marshmallows over a campfire, sitting around a fire pit or celebrating 4th of July with fireworks, practice fire safety.

When around a campfire or fire pit, always have water on hand to prevent fire from escaping its boundaries. Never leave a fire unattended. And properly extinguish the fire before leaving the area.

On camping trips carry a first aid kit that includes bandages and ointments in case of a minor burn.

Don’t allow children to handle fireworks without close supervision. Hundreds of people end up in the emergency room around the 4th of July, with injuries related to fireworks. Keep a bucket of water nearby and toss spent fireworks in, to make sure they are fully extinguished. Sparklers can reach a temperature of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Drop them into the bucket too. Stepping on a burned out sparkler on the ground can cause injury. And never try to relight a firework that didn’t completely ignite. Toss it.

Wear Lightweight Clothing

And finally, during the summer months, wear lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing. Those garments keep you cooler by helping sweat to evaporate more quickly.

I LOVE the clothes from Toad&Co. They are perfect for summer. And not only do  they offer stylish clothes, Toad&Co is a sustainable, eco-friendly company. I feel good wearing their clothes, and good about their garments.

Summer Health Tips lightweight clothes
Summer health tips – wear loose fitting, lightweight clothes, such as these from Toad&Co

Have a Healthy Summer

Do you love summertime?

As you enjoy the season, may you do so in optimal health and wellness! And may your adventures be many and your joys as abundant as the summer flowers that stretch toward the sun.

Summer Health Tips fire pit

Summer Finds from Amazon:

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

Reduce Stress Naturally

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

April is Stress Awareness Month. The purpose is to highlight the fact that 70% of adults deal with stress on a daily basis.

Stress is inevitable for most of us. We have deadlines. We are overworked. Or occasional days go haywire, leaving us feeling anxious, pressured and maxed out. However, when we live with stress day after day, it becomes a chronic condition. The body no longer knows how to relax and let the stress go. When that happens we suffer on many levels.

Learn the signs of chronic stress and how to reduce stress naturally.

Reduce Stress Naturally title meme

Signs of Chronic Stress

Stress is a physical and mental reaction to life situations. We all encounter it. Everyday experiences in our families and workplaces can trigger stress as can more serious situations like a medical diagnosis or the loss of a loved one.

Our bodies respond to stress by releasing hormones that increase breathing and heart rates while preparing muscles to move. Commonly referred to as the “fight or flight” reflex, it’s meant to protect us when faced with danger.

However, when those hormones flood our bodies day after day, it affects our health in a variety of ways.

Symptoms of chronic stress include:

  • headaches
  • depression
  • heartburn and acid reflux
  • weakened immune system
  • high blood pressure
  • high blood sugar
  • digestive disorders
  • fertility problems
  • erectile dysfunction
  • low libido
  • increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • insomnia
  • pounding heart
  • fatigue
  • overeating or loss of appetite
  • drug or alcohol abuse
  • social withdrawal
  • body aches and pains from tight muscles

Reduce Stress Naturally

To help the body break the pattern of chronic stress and anxiety, try these tips.

Exercise Regularly

Even short periods of consistent physical activity helps relieve stress and anxiety. Exercise reduces cortisol and adrenaline, the body’s stress hormones. At the same time, it releases endorphins, chemicals that make us feel happy and ease pain.

Activities such as walking, jogging, dancing, biking or swimming that involve repetitive large muscle movements are most helpful in combatting stress.

Eat Nutritious Foods

I mention this tip frequently, for good reason. The body uses food as fuel. And honestly, most people fuel their bodies poorly. A body lacking highly nutritious food struggles when it comes under attack for any reason. And an overwhelmed body becomes stressed on many levels.

Fruits and veggies, legumes and nuts, simple grains and herbs fuel the body beautifully, making it better able to withstand stress. Avoid sugar and high fat foods. They cause a spike in blood sugar which results in a crash later that can create more feelings of stress and anxiety.

Drink Herbal Teas

Herbal teas such as lemon balm and chamomile help ease stress and anxiety naturally. Other excellent choices include rose, lavender and passionflower.

Additionally, switching from coffee, soda and black tea to herbal teas reduces caffeine intake. High levels of caffeine increase stressful feelings.

Take a daily afternoon break, like they do in many European countries, and sip on a cup of hot herbal tea. It’s one of my favorite daily traditions and a great way to destress.

Reduce Stress Naturally herbal tea
Reduce stress naturally – take an afternoon break and sip on hot herbal tea

Listen to Soothing Music

Music truly can soothe the beast that is stress. Slow paced classical, instrumental, Celtic or Native American flute music helps the body relax and allows the mind to quiet.

Or try listening to nature sounds such as a rain, ocean waves or a low key thunderstorm. I love my Echo Dot that’s connected to Amazon Music. I can listen to a wide variety of music or sounds of nature. When I’m working, writing, cleaning house or cooking, I have music playing in the background.

Journaling

Writing out feelings, frustrations and gratitudes is a wonderful way to ease stress. The act of writing in a journal moves thoughts, energetically, from the brain to paper. Otherwise, those thoughts just keep swirling around in the head, going no where. Try writing for a few minutes every morning or at night before bed, whichever feels better to you. It’s not even necessary to read what you write or edit it in any way. Write freely without stopping for several minutes and then move on.

Focusing on gratitude shifts the mind from thinking about what’s wrong to thinking about all that is right in life. Make listing five gratitudes a daily practice.

Laugh

Laughter has many health benefits.

The giggles instantly lower the body’s stress response and releases tension held in muscles. Plus it plays a significant role in decreasing anxiety due to the release of the feel good hormones, endorphins. Laughter also helps us deal with challenging circumstances such as illnesses, embarrassing situations and life struggles.

Additionally, laughter boosts the immune system and improves mood. Watch funny movies, tv shows or videos. Catch a stand up comedian’s performance at a club. Tell jokes or hang out with friends who make you laugh.

Reduce Stress Naturally laugh
Reduce stress naturally – laugh

Spend Time With Others

Speaking of hanging out with people who make you laugh, studies show that spending time with friends or family members reduces stress. It does, that is, if you have close, positive relationships with those people.

When we spend time with people we love and feel loved by, our bodies release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. Being part of a friend network or family group provides a sense of belonging also. And physical contact with those loved ones, such as hugs, cuddles or kisses, lowers stress hormones while releasing more oxytocin.

Plus, those friends and family members provide a listening ear when you need to talk out a stressful situation. Like writing out feelings, talking them out helps move troubling thoughts out of the head.

Chew Gum

This one may come as a surprise! Studies show that people who chew gum have a greater sense of wellbeing and lower stress levels. It’s possible that chewing gum creates greater blood flow to the brain. Chewing strongly, good news for those who like to smack their gum, seems to provide the most stress relief.

Spend Time With Pets

Spending time with pets…cuddling, going for walks, caring for them…reduces stress as well. That interaction releases oxytocin, just like spending time with the people we love does.

Pets give us purpose, provide companionship and help keeps us active, all positive ways of boosting mood and lowering stress levels.

Reduce Stress Naturally pets
Reduce stress naturally – spend time with pets. My cat Rilynn, who loves to lie on my lap while I work.

Be Mindful

Mindfulness is the awareness of being in the present moment. It helps to combat negative thinking about the past or anxiety about the future.

There are several ways to practice mindfulness.

Deep breathing brings focus on just that…the breath. Plus deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which induces a relaxation response. Breathe in slowly through the nose, hold for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through the mouth.

Meditation is an extended time of focusing on the breath while allowing thoughts to pass by without getting hung up on them. Meditation relaxes the body by easing tight muscles. It can be a very effective way of releasing stress from the mind and the body.

Yoga brings the mind and body together, using breath and movement. Practicing yoga enhances mood and eases depression and anxiety. It lowers cortisol levels and heart rate, which reduces stress as well.

Eliminate What Causes Stress

This may sound too simple, yet it’s effective. Are you trying to do too much, in the time that you have? Reduce the number of items on your to-do list. Don’t overcommit. Learn to say “no” to obligations or things you really don’t want to do anyway.

Stop watching the news, reading the paper or scrolling through social media, if those activities cause you stress. Walk away from negative relationships. Disconnect from electronics frequently. Build breaks into your day.

Making positive changes to your daily life, even in small ways, reduces stress. Do the things that bring you the greatest joy or feel fun. Make time for hobbies.

Express Creativity

Finding ways to express your creativity helps to focus the brain on something pleasurable and fun, allowing it to release negative thoughts. You don’t have to paint masterpieces or write stories to express creativity.

Arrange flowers, garden, decorate a room or the whole house, sew, bake, sing or play a musical instrument. These creative activities soothe the analytical mind and relax the body.

One fun way to lower stress, that anyone can do, is coloring. Grab markers, crayons or colored pencils and a coloring book and lose yourself in laying color on paper. Coloring relaxes the mind and body in the same way that meditation does, whether you are filling in geometric shapes or completing a complex picture. Give it a try as a powerful stress buster.

Reduce Stress Naturally coloring
Reduce stress naturally – one of the pictures I colored. Coloring is one of my favorite ways to relax.

How Is Your Stress Level?

Stress Awareness Month is indeed an excellent time to pause and evaluate how you are handling stress. Do you feel stressful occasionally? Frequently? Daily?

Beyond the anxiety stress causes, the negative effects on the mind and body are far reaching. Stress is a leading cause of disease for ultimately, the chronically stressed body becomes an unhealthy body.

I know. I lived with chronic stress and anxiety for many years. It’s taken inner work, better nutrition and mindfulness practices to shift into a healthier lifestyle.

It’s worth the work.

Which of these tips that reduce stress naturally will you try?

Reduce Stress Naturally relax

 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.