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.

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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.

 

Prevent Skin Cancer

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May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

By raising awareness and sharing facts about the dangers associated with ultraviolet radiation exposure from the sun, the Skin Cancer Foundation hopes to save lives.

Fortunately, when caught early, skin cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. With knowledge and awareness, we can prevent it.

Check out these skin cancer facts and ways to prevent the disease.

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Skin Cancer Facts

Skin cancer is the most common cancer, in the US and the world. Here’s what you need to know.

  • 1 in 5 Americans develop skin cancer by age 70
  • over age 50, more men than women develop melanoma
  • in the US, 9,500+ people receive a skin cancer diagnosis every day
  • 2+ people die of skin cancer every hour
  • 5 or more sunburns during a lifetime doubles the risk for melanoma
  • just 1 blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing skin cancer later in life
  • early detection of skin cancer results in a 99% survival rate of 5 or more years
  • there are more skin cancer diagnoses yearly than all other cancers combined
  • ultraviolet radiation (UV) is a proven carcinogen and the leading cause of skin cancer
  • UV tanning devices reclassified to Class II moderate to high risk for skin cancer, in 2014
  • indoor tanning devices can emit 10 to 15 times more UV radiation than the sun at peak intensity
  • the more one uses indoor tanning devices, the higher the risk for skin cancer
  • overexposure to the sun causes 90% of skin aging
  • using a SPF 15+ sunscreen results in 24% less skin damage
Prevent Skin Cancer 1 in 5
Prevent skin cancer – 1 in 5 develop skin cancer by age 70

Skin Cancer Prevention

The good news is, skin cancer is preventable. It’s important to know that the sun reaches you even when you think you are avoiding it. UV radiation penetrates cloud cover and glass and bounces off of sand, snow and water. Additionally, sun damage accumulates over the years from simple daily activities such as walking outside, riding in the car, collecting the mail and playing outdoors with the kids.

Practice these tips to protect yourself.

  • seek shade between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm when sun is most intense. Note: during the morning or evening hours, 10 minutes of sunlight is good for our health.
  • don’t get sunburned
  • never use tanning devices such as tanning beds
  • cover skin with loose fitting clothes, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses
  • use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 15+ sunscreen daily
  • for extended outdoor activities, use a water resistant SPF 30+ sunscreen
  • apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen over the entire body 30 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • keep newborn babies out of the sun. Apply sunscreen to babies six months old and older
  • examine skin from head to toe, including the scalp and hairline, once a month
  • see something new, unusual or changing on your skin? Get checked immediately.
Prevent Skin Cancer water
Prevent skin cancer – reapply sunscreen after swimming

Foods That Help Prevent Skin Cancer

There’s growing evidence that highly nutritious foods can help prevent skin cancer. It’s simple, really. Eat as healthily as you can, including foods that are rich in antioxidants.

UV exposure generates unstable free radicals that create inflammation in the body. Those free radicals also damage cells and the skin’s DNA. DNA damage causes changes genetically, resulting in mutations that lead to skin cancer.

Antioxidants fight free radicals, preventing inflammation and cell damage. While supplements are helpful when nutrient rich foods aren’t available, for the best protection against free radicals, eat your nutrition.

Include the following antioxidant nutrients:

Beta Carotene

This nutrient, found in orange fruits and veggies, converts to vitamin A in the body. Not only does beta carotene help prevent skin cancer, it boosts the immune system too.

  • carrots
  • squash
  • sweet potatoes
  • cantaloupe
  • apricots
  • mangoes

Lycopene

This is the red pigment found in certain foods. Studies discovered that people eating foods rich in lycopene experienced 40% less sunburns. It also lowers the risks of other cancers besides skin cancer.

  • tomatoes, including tomato products such as tomato paste or sauce
  • red, orange and yellow peppers
  • watermelon
  • guava
  • papaya
  • apricots
  • pink grapefruit
  • Cara Cara oranges and blood oranges

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s inhibit a chemical called COX-2 that causes skin cancers to grow. They also reduce inflammation.

  • chia seeds
  • Brussels sprouts
  • algal oil – derived from algae
  • hemp seeds
  • walnuts
  • flaxseed

Polyphenols

Drinking green tea helps prevent skin cancer due to its powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Polyphenols in green tea repair DNA in sun exposed skin, reducing cell damage.

Selenium

This nutrient lowers the risk of all types of cancers and decreases cancer deaths.

  • Brazil nuts
  • cashews
  • brown rice
  • lentils and legumes
  • grains
  • spinach

Vitamin C

This vitamin helps calm inflammation and contains properties that make it toxic to cancer cells.

  • citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges
  • berries such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries
  • leafy greens
  • broccoli
  • green peppers

Vitamin E

A proven antioxidant, vitamin E helps to prevent damage from free radicals, absorbs energy from UV light and contains potent anti-inflammatory properties. It also improves the skin’s ability to act as a protective barrier.

  • almonds and other nuts
  • sunflower seeds and other seeds
  • spinach

Zinc

Zinc keeps the immune system healthy to effectively fight cancer. It also activates antioxidants in the body and increases the level of proteins involved in DNA repair.

  • legumes
  • hummus
  • chickpeas
  • lentils
  • black beans
Prevent Skin Cancer carrots
Prevent skin cancer – eat highly nutritious foods

Protect Your Skin This Summer

As summer approaches, inviting you to play and explore more outdoors, protect your skin with these simple tips. And stay aware of changes or any unusual spots on the skin.

Don’t become one of the 5 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed this year. Take care of your body and unite against this disease. Together we can save lives!

For more information, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Prevent Skin Cancer sunglasses

 


 

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.

 

Ease Arthritis Pain

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

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. Its purpose is to bring attention to a condition that affects 350 million people worldwide and 50 million people in the US including 350,000 children.

Arthritis is also the primary cause of disability in the US, costing $156 billion annually in medical costs and lost wages.

In this post, find out what arthritis is and how to ease arthritis pain, naturally.

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What is Arthritis?

There are three types of arthritis, which is an inflammatory disease.

  • Osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis, it occurs when cartilage at the end of a bone wears down, exposing bone nerve fibers
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disorder characterized by inflammation and pain in the joints. Over time the inflammation breaks down joint tissue, causing permanent damage.
  • Psoriatic arthritis – occurs in conjunction with psoriasis, causing pain and swelling in the joint along with the tendons and ligaments attached to bones.

Arthritis isn’t just a disorder for older adults. Juvenile arthritis affects children as young as one. And two thirds of all people with arthritis are under the age of 65. However, with advanced age comes a higher risk for developing arthritis. Half of all adults over the age of 65 experience pain and swelling in their joints.

There are many medications that doctors prescribe for arthritis inflammation and pain. And I’m not advising that you stop medication. These tips that ease arthritis pain…and also help with inflammation…are natural remedies to try along with your current treatments. You might even find that you can reduce medications or eliminate them entirely, under a physician’s care, of course.

Ease Arthritis Pain knees
Ease arthritis pain – my knees

Ease Arthritis Pain

I’ve dealt with my share of arthritis pain. A serious car accident in 1995, at age 38, twisted my neck vertebrae and lower spine, damaged my sternum and ribs and set off an inflammatory…and viral…response in my body that affected those injured areas and my legs for more than 20 years.

The following tips eased my pain by reducing inflammation and swelling in joints, tendons and ligaments. Plus I’ve added a few tips that I’ve come across since my healing.

Eat Foods that Fight Inflammation

Right at the top of the tips list, is this most crucial suggestion: eat more fresh fruits and veggies. After the accident, I suffered pain for 20+ years and saw countless doctors and specialists, trying all kinds of treatments without success. Not once did anyone suggest that I try changing my diet. Anthony William, aka the Medical Medium, quite literally saved my life and ended my suffering. How? By suggesting a plant based lifestyle, via his social media posts and books.

For a complete list of inflammation fighting foods, and more about how my inflammation hid an underlying cause for my pain, click HERE.

On the short list of inflammation fighting foods, include more berries, cherries, watermelon, celery, onions, leafy greens, garlic, herbs, cloves and olive oil.

Avoid GMO corn, wheat, rye, eggs, beef, coffee and milk, as these foods can create more inflammation in the body.

Ease Arthritis Pain - olive oil
Ease arthritis pain – olive oil. Try this wonderful, high quality olive oil. Check out my post about it, Nina’s Olivar Almeria Gold Olive Oil.

Wash Dishes by Hand

This tip may surprise you! However, washing dishes by hand eases stiff, painful finger joints by immersing them in hot water. Plus the motions of washing and gripping each plate or cup exercises the hands and fingers which helps with joint pain.

Manage Weight

Carrying excess weight puts stress on joints, especially the hips, knees and feet. Losing extra weight improves mobility, reduces pain and prevents damage to joints. Eating more fruits and veggies not only fights inflammation, it helps to shed extra pounds too.

Drink Herbal Teas

An easy way to include inflammation and pain easing herbs in the diet is through herbal teas.

The three best to ease arthritis pain include:

  • ginger tea – mimics NSAIDs which relieve arthritis discomfort by curbing pain causing chemicals that are part of the body’s inflammatory response. Simmer slices of fresh ginger for 15 minutes in two cups of boiling water or purchase ginger tea bags.
  • lavender tea – eases pain and soothes the body by helping it to relax. Plus inhaling lavender’s scent while you drink the tea eases pain further. Steep two teaspoons of dried lavender in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Or purchase lavender tea bags.
  • chamomile tea – this soothing tea helps ease arthritis pain in two ways. Drink a cup of hot chamomile tea to relax tense muscles, tendons and ligaments. And make a chamomile poultice. Brew four chamomile tea bags in a cup of hot water. Steep for 20 minutes. Remove tea bags. Soak a clean cloth in the tea, wring out and apply to achy joints.

I just received this amazing loose leaf lavender and chamomile tea that’s the perfect combo for easing arthritis pain! Watch for a future blog post featuring this delicious tea. You can order now, however, through this LINK.

Ease Arthritis Pain lavender chamomile tea
A perfect tea combo for arthritis pain – lavender and chamomile

Aromatherapy

Certain scents can alter the perception of pain. Lavender, mentioned above, reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which helps lessen pain.

Other helpful pain reducing scents include marjoram, rosemary and peppermint.

Inhale crushed fresh herbs or use essential oils in a diffuser.

Make Your Own Heat Pad

Fill a clean cotton sock with uncooked rice and seal with string or sew it closed. Microwave on high for 2 – 3 minutes. Cool slightly then place on sore, achy joints. This DIY heat pad will stay warm for about 30 minutes. Add dried lavender, marjoram, rosemary or peppermint to the rice, for a warm pad with the extra benefits of aromatherapy!

Hot/Cold Therapy

Fill a container with ice water and a second container with hot water, as hot as you can tolerate without burning skin.

Begin with immersing achy fingers or hands into the ice water for one minute then switch to the hot water for 30 seconds. Keep alternating between the cold and hot water, for 15 minutes. Finish with the ice water.

For larger joints such as knees or the back, use bags of frozen vegetables and the DIY heat pad above. Alternate between the frozen veggies for one minutes then the heat pad for 30 seconds, for 15 minutes.

Supplements that Ease Arthritis Pain

Take these supplements daily, to fight inflammation and ease pain:

  • ginger
  • turmeric
  • boswellia
  • bromelain
  • vitamin C
  • stinging nettle
  • vitamin D or 10 minutes of sunshine a day
  • vitamin E
  • cat’s claw

I personally take eight of those supplements and I can tell a difference when I miss taking them. I recently started taking a supplement called Comfort Guard that reduces pain and inflammation with a combo of turmeric, ginger and boswellia.

Click on photo for more info or to order. This supplement is so helpful!

Massage

Massage can help manage joint pain and relieve inflammation. Seek out an experienced massage therapist who knows a variety of modalities for easing pain, stiffness and joint swelling and tenderness. And an experienced energy worker helps tremendously as well.

Meditation

Relaxation practices such as meditation, tai chi and yoga helps lower arthritis pain by lowering stress. And reducing stress also lowers inflammation.

Tai chi and yoga combine meditation with relaxation, breathing and movement, making them ideal for pain relief.

Incrediwear

Incrediwear products increase blood flow 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.

Those negative ions activate cellular vibrations that speed up blood flow. The increased circulation brings more oxygen and nutrients to the target area, which supports the body’s natural healing process.

The company sells sleeves and braces, socks and apparel. Incrediwear products are especially helpful when an arthritic knee, ankle or foot gets injured, setting off an inflammatory response. I own two of the sleeves, one for each knee!

Low Impact Exercise

Contrary to what one might think, exercise is helpful for easing arthritis pain, in several ways.

Low impact exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, gardening and tai chi keep joints limber and flexible, strengthen muscles around the joints, offering more support, and help manage weight.

Find an exercise that you enjoy and stick with it.

I speak to myself here. Every time I travel, especially internationally, I spend hours a day walking as I explore the region I’m in. The first few days, my knees protest mightily with aches and pains and stiffness. However, by the fourth day, my knee joints loosen up, move easily and freely, and the pain disappears.

Such beneficial results encourage me to continue walking when I return home. I don’t spend hours a day exploring back in my own city though, so eventually, the daily walks cease. I’m determined to walk more.

Increase Wellbeing by Easing Pain

I hope these tips help with your achy joints.

While a few temporarily ease discomfort, most, when practiced consistently, eliminate inflammation and pain with it.

Low impact exercise, meditation, herbal teas, managing weight, taking supplements and eating foods that fight inflammation can provide long term results. I know. I’m pain free now, except when I injure myself and set off an inflammatory response. The good news is, I know how to handle such a response and restore health.

My desire is to live my best life. To do so, I require a healthy body and high energy. Knowing how to care for my body is a key part of my overall wellness.

Which tip is most helpful for you?

Ease Arthritis Pain meditation

Helpful products 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.

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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.

 

Spring Health Tips

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

I love the arrival of spring, after the cold, overcast days of winter. As the earth stirs and awakens, my body seems to as well. It’s a time of renewal, rebirth and growth.

And spring is the perfect time to check in, health wise, to see what the body, mind and spirit need to thrive. Each season brings its own health benefits…and challenges.

Check out Spring Health Tips for ways to boost health and benefit from all that the season offers.

Spring Health Tips title meme

Include More Fresh Veggies and Fruit

Spring is the perfect time to shift from bigger, heavier meals to lighter fare.

Visit farmers markets or the produce section of the grocery store and load up on dark, leafy greens, celery, onion, peas, bell peppers, chives, asparagus, carrots and mushrooms. These vibrant, fresh foods invigorate the body. Fresh herbs are abundant too. Add them to salads and recipes and steep them in teas. Plus spring is a wonderful time to forage for wild foods that are probably growing in your backyard.

Prepare big chopped salads and store them in the fridge. Lightly stir-fry veggies together for a delicious and healthy meal. And make use of all of the berries coming into season. Pick your own or purchase strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Add them to oatmeal and salads or eat them as a snack or dessert.

These spring foods are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants that the body needs. Fill your plate with the nutrition the season offers.

Spring Health Tips fresh veggies
Spring health tips – seasonal fruits and veggies

Get Outdoors

The abundant sunshine during the spring months invites all to venture outdoors. Fresh air and sunshine are both beneficial. We receive vitamin D from the sun and the body releases serotonin, making us feel happy. If possible, spend 10 minutes a day bathing in the sun’s rays.

When spending more time outdoors, protect the eyes with sunglasses and the skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen or a big floppy hat that shades the face.

Nature is so restorative, especially after months of indoor activities. It stimulates all of the senses, calms the mind while improving focus and mood, and reduces inflammation in the body. Check out the surprising benefits of nature HERE.

Spring Health Tips outdoors
Spring health tips – spend time outdoors

Increase Activities

It’s easy to feel sluggish during the winter and put on a few extra pounds. Spring brings with it the opportunity to get outdoors and move the body. Just 11 minutes of exercise a day benefits health and extends life. With warmer weather, it’s easy to find activities to do.

Walk, hike, bike, skate, swim or play. Gardening offers so many health benefits, including burning up calories. Pulling weeds, planting, mowing and raking are all great ways to stay in shape and beautify your surroundings. And growing your own food provides fresh veggies for meals.

Exercise eases pain, improves arthritis, keeps joints flexible and protects against osteoporosis. Additionally, it improves mood and provides an overall sense of wellbeing.

Spring Health Tips exercise
Spring health tips – increase activities

Boost the Immune System

Spring not only brings sunshine and showers, it brings seasonal allergies, colds and viruses.

When the body comes under attack, from bacteria, viruses or allergens, the immune system launches a counter attack. Its job is to defend the body against disease causing micro-organisms.

A healthy body supports a healthy immune system, making it more difficult for illnesses to gain a foothold. A body battling disorders already or one suffering from dehydration, chronic sleep deprivation or fueled by a poor diet can’t adequately handle an invasion.

Eating nutritionally dense foods boosts the immune system. Vitamin D from sunshine or supplements supports the immune system as well. Additionally, staying hydrated, improving gut health, getting enough sleep and managing stress keeps the immune system healthy and strong.

Read more about boosting the immune system HERE. And if spring allergies bring you low, check out ways to combat them naturally through this LINK.

Spring Health Tips boost immune system
Spring health tips – boost immune system

Hydrate

Up to 75% of adults experience chronic dehydration. There are many symptoms of dehydration, including headaches, muscle cramps, low blood pressure and brain fog. Dehydration actual shrinks brain tissue and impairs concentration and cognitive function.

With spring activities, warmer temps and outdoor fun, staying hydrated is crucial.

Keep a water bottle with you at all times. Refill it throughout the day. Eat more fruits and veggies, as they contribute to hydration as well. Drink herbal teas. They provide crucial liquids and nutrients that the body needs.

Cut back on salty and processed foods, limit alcohol…which dehydrates the body…and eliminate soda, which creates thirst, rather than quenching it.

Spring Health Tips hydrate
Spring health tips – hydrate. This is Cleavers Infused Water.

Clear Away the Clutter

The increase in energy that arrives with spring naturally creates the urge to clean. Now is the time to clear away the clutter, in our spaces and in our lives.

Check medications, packaged foods and spices. Toss any that are past expiration dates. Throw away old makeup, cleansers and toiletries. Clean out that junk drawer, rearrange a room, remove clothes from the closet that you haven’t worn in a year. Give away, throw away or donate items you no longer want.

Clearing away clutter opens up energy flow and creates space for new things to arrive.

Spring is an excellent time to evaluate life also and to let go of anything that no longer serves you. Forgive others and self, release the past, eliminate anything that carries negative memories or energy for you, and literally and figuratively make a clean sweep of your house and your life. Your mood will lighten as a result.

Spring Health Tips clear away the clutter
Spring health tips – clear away the clutter

Adjust Sleep Schedule

Daylight Savings Time arrives with spring, creating longer days of sunlight…and often messing with our natural sleep patterns.

Even though I’m not a morning person, I naturally wake up earlier during spring and summer. If this is true for you as well, go with that. Get up. Create a morning routine that serves you. Mine includes making the bed, opening the blinds, brushing my teeth and doing my morning skin routine and creating a healthy breakfast.

And create a nighttime routine as well. Disconnect from electronics an hour before bed. Listen to soothing music. Write down gratitudes. Practice meditation. Sleep in a dark, cool room.

It’s important to get at least seven hours of sleep a night, with eight to nine optimal. A tired, sleep deprived body can’t function well. And sleep deprivation contributes to a stressed immune system.

Spring Health Tips sleep
Spring health tips – adjust sleep schedule

Try New Things

Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth. The season presents a powerful opportunity for renewal in our lives by trying new things.

Experiencing new things increases creativity, boosts a sense of adventure and creates new pathways in the brain. Those fresh experiences push us out of our comfort zones and help us face fears. (This is the heart of my other blog, Cindy Goes Beyond.)

What do you want to try, see, experience…that you’ve never tried, seen or experienced before? Spring invites you to go for it. I encourage you to go for it too!

Spring Health Tips try new things
Spring health tips – try new things, like creating vignettes

Which Spring Health Tips Will You Try?

I’m a gardener. My backyard garden serves as my gym, my sanctuary, my happy place. Spring’s season of renewal is visually represented in my garden as flowers and herbs push up through the soil and stretch toward the sun. I love being outside, tending this sacred space. It does my body, mind and spirit good.

Which spring health tips call to you? What ones will most benefit your health and wellbeing?

May this season bring you joy and an increase in energy, vitality and health.

Spring Health Tips renewal
My backyard paradise

Amazon finds:

 


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.

Negativity’s Impact on Health

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Negativity. We are all familiar with it as a lower energy feeling. The simple definition of negativity is the expression of criticism or pessimism. However, that definition doesn’t go deep enough.

Negativity is a tendency to feel downcast, disagreeable and cynical. It’s a pessimistic attitude that expects the worst in life.

Anyone can experience a negative feeling or a low vibe day. Temporary negativity is often the result of an illness or accident, unexpected life circumstances or personal difficulties. However, when most thoughts about the world, life, others and the self tend toward the bleak, negativity can become habitual.

Like positive thoughts, negative thoughts create neural pathways. The more negative thoughts and experiences we have, the more entrenched those pathways become. We actually condition ourselves to think negatively and find the bad in life.

We can shrug and say, “I’m just a negative person.” However, that negativity comes with a price. Check out negativity’s impact on health and learn how to shift.

Negativity's Impact on Health title meme

Signs of Negativity

Not sure if negativity is becoming habitual in your life? It can show up in these ways:

Cynicism – a distrust of people and their motives

Hostility – unfriendliness or opposition towards people, often accompanied by anger

Unreasonable anger – an intense emotional state involving strong, non-cooperative responses to perceived hurts, provocations or threats.

Skewed perceptions – only seeing the bad in situations or people

Assumptions – assuming bad things will happen

Blaming – assigning responsibility for wrongs or faults to others or believing you are a victim of life circumstances

Feeling of doom – expecting terrible, destructive fates to happen

Paranoia – thinking everyone…or life…is out to get you

Negativity's Impact on Health
Negativity’s Impact on Health – skewed perceptions

Negativity’s Impact on Health

Negative situations, relationships and thoughts create stress. The body responds by releasing the hormone cortisol, also known as the “fight or flight” hormone.

This hormone is valuable when we are faced with actual danger. However, when the body stays in fight or flight mode, for extended periods of time, it has a detrimental effect on the body and on health.

Common effects of negativity on the body include:

Brain disorders – degenerative brain diseases, dementia, stroke, depletion of brain chemicals required for happiness

Heart disease – chest pain, heart attacks, high blood pressure

Digestive issues – slowed digestion, hardening of organs in digestive system, upset stomach, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowels, overeating, loss of appetite

Immune system – increased infections, inability to fight off inflammation which leads to many types of diseases

Fatigue – sleep disorders, tiredness, irritability, muscle tension and pain

Headaches – tension, jaw clenching, migraines, eye strain

Mental health – anxiety, fear, depression, social withdrawal, unhappiness

Negativity's Impact on Health stomachache
Negativity’s Impact on Health – digestive disorders

Changing Negativity to Positivity

Have you experienced any of the signs of negativity? Once we become aware of negativity’s impact on our bodies, we can shift it.

Here are ways to overcome negativity, lessening its impact on health and creating positive pathways in the brain:

Limit – turn off the news, stop reading negative posts on social media, unfriend or block or snooze negative people to clean up your feed, carefully choose who you hang out with, set boundaries with negative family members, remove yourself from negative situations, people and conversations

Live in the moment – release the past, forgive others and yourself, don’t worry about the future, focus on tasks at hand, speak positive affirmations

Practice gratitude – every day, express thanks for all the good things in your life

Engage in activities you love – do what brings you joy, laugh, play, explore new hobbies, spend time with people who encourage you, create, offer to others

Meditate – learn to still the mind, let go of negative thoughts, focus on breathing

Take action – if a negative situation or thought arises, take positive actions. For example, if a driver cuts you off in traffic, starting a negative train of thought, slow down, take deep breaths, and allow another car room to change lanes in front of you.

Negativity's Impact on Health online
Negativity’s Impact on Health – limit negativity online

Making Positive Choices

When signs of negativity show up in your body, affecting health, make choices.

When I’m in a negative situation or around negative people, my body responds in specific ways.

My jaw and hands clench, the muscles in my face, neck and scalp tighten and I get a headache. I notice my breaths are rapid and shallow. If I don’t remove myself quickly enough from the situation, my body goes into shut down mode. I can’t see or hear well and my throat narrows, limiting my ability to speak. For me, it feels like negative energy overwhelms me, overpowers me. It’s not a feeling I like.

The best choices I can make are to get out of the situation, leave the conversation or walk away from the person. As my body calms from fight or flight mode, I practice deep breathing, express gratitude, go for a walk outdoors or spend a few minutes in meditation to restore my positivity.

How does it feel, when you encounter negativity? What choices can you make, to shift back into positivity?

Remaining healthy at every age includes removing the habit of negativity from your life. It’s not just an attitude adjustment or a glass half full mentality…although those are important. Shift the negativity for a healthier you and a longer, happier life.

Negativity's Impact on Health laugh
Lessen negativity’s impact on health for a longer, happier life.

 

Amazon finds to boost positivity:

 


 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health

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February 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day, a holiday created to encourage all of us to show kindness to others. When we practice kindness, we display the qualities of friendliness, generosity, empathy and compassion.

There’s evidence that kindness not only benefits the receiver, it brings benefits to the giver as well.

Kindness and empathy help us relate to other people and develop positive connections with family, friends, pets and even strangers that we encounter. Besides improving personal relationships, kindness can actually make us healthier.

Check out these eight ways kindness boosts health.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health title meme

Kindness Releases Serotonin

Acts of kindness release serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. Serotonin does amazing things for the body. It stabilizes mood and produces feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Serotonin helps brain cells and central nervous system cells communicate with each other. Additionally, it aids sleeping, eating and digestion.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health releases serotonin
Eight ways kindness boosts health – releases serotonin

Kindness Eases Anxiety

Occasional anxiety isn’t harmful. It can help us meet a deadline or prepare the body for action with a flight or fight response. However, chronic anxiety causes feelings of doom, panic attacks, depression, headaches, breathing disorders, irritability and muscles aches and pains.

Kindness helps ease anxiety by focusing on others rather than ourselves. When we help others, even in small ways, the “thinking” side of the brain takes a break and the creative side engages, which contributes to less anxiety and a calming of the body.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health eases anxiety
Eight ways kindness boosts health – eases anxiety

Kindness Lowers Stress

Similarly, kindness lowers stress and the effects it has on the body. When we get outside of our own lives, by showing kindness to others, the body releases endorphins. These polypeptides made by the pituitary gland and central nervous system help the body relax. They reduce pain as well.

Helping others causes feelings of satisfaction, known as “helper’s high”, because of the pleasure effect associated with endorphins.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health reduces stress
Eight ways kindness boosts health – reduces stress

Kindness Releases Oxytocin

Practicing kindness releases another powerful hormone, often referred to as the “love hormone”. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter as well, associated with empathy, trust, sensuality and relationship building.

Oxytocin benefits heart health by lowering blood pressure and expanding blood vessels. And, studies show that oxytocin is addictive. Once the body finds a source for it, it does not forget. When practicing kindness releases oxytocin and we feel good as a result, we are encouraged to do it again…and again. Kindness is a wonderfully addictive habit to acquire.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health heart health
Eight ways kindness boosts health – heart health

Kindness Lowers Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to an invader, such as bacteria or an infection. However, chronic inflammation is a major contributor to poor health. It leads to diabetes, cancer, pain, obesity, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis and a category of diseases known as autoimmune disorders.

The oxytocin produced as a result of kindness lowers inflammation throughout the body, which helps prevent diseases.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health lowers inflammation
Eight ways kindness boosts health – lowers inflammation

Kindness Prolongs Life

Amazingly, kindness creates longevity by strengthening relationships. Those healthy relationships contribute to a positive mental outlook and improved heart health, which in turn lead to a longer, happier life.

Studies show that we have a 24% lower risk of early death when we practice kindness toward others and volunteer our time and skills to benefit others.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health longevity
Eight ways kindness boosts health – longevity

Kindness Returns to Us

Although this benefit may seem way “out there” to some, I can personally attest to the truth of it. Kindness sent out, returns to the sender. Kindness is often likened to the waves that ripple outward, when a pebble is dropped into water. Those waves continue on, as energy. And eventually…or sometimes quickly…those waves come back to the sender.

Another way of thinking of it is this: we reap what we sow. When we plant seeds of kindness, kindness grows and we harvest the blessings of it. When we plant seeds of discord or unkindness, that’s what grows and we harvest that whether we want to or not.

I’ve experienced this phenomenon so many times, and I’ll bet you have too. I let a car cut in front of me, in a line of traffic. And a short time later, a car gives me the same grace. Or, I practice random kindness to a stranger and then a stranger shows kindness to me. These experiences build trust and deepen feelings of wellbeing, which brings to us all the other benefits listed here.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health it comes back
Eight ways kindness boosts health – it comes back to the sender

Kindness Fosters Self Care

Practicing kindness can create a sense of purpose in life. And when we have a sense of purpose, when we enjoy what we do, we tend to take better care of ourselves. Kindness to others results in kindness to ourselves in the form of self care and preventative health care.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health self kindness
Eight ways kindness boosts health – self care

Start a Kindness Habit

Rather than practice kindness for one day, consider these ways to start a kindness habit:

  • Keep a running list of people you know that might need assistance and ways you can help. Running errands for a shut-in, walking the neighbor’s dog, checking in on loved ones and sending encouraging texts to friends are all simple ways to help.
  • Raise your awareness throughout the day, watching for opportunities to offer kindness. Smile at people, even while wearing a mask during the pandemic. Your eyes convey the smile. Acknowledge people by thanking them for doing their jobs. Compliment others. When you look for ways to practice kindness, you’ll find them.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Gratitude helps us think kind thoughts, about others, about ourselves, about circumstances.
  • Try a kindness challenge…for seven days, for 14 days, for 30 days. Every day do one random act of kindness. Go beyond your comfort zone. Have fun.

Practice kindness today. Practice kindness everyday. It’s good for others, good for the world and good for you.

Eight Ways Kindness Boosts Health be kind to all kinds
Be kind to all kinds.

Check out this inspiring book by David Hamilton, The Five Side Effects of Kindness.

 

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.

Heart Health Tips

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

February, the month of love, is also American Heart Month. For 57 years, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association have worked to raise awareness about heart health during this month. And for good reason. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the US.

The focus this month is on preventing heart disease by adopting a heart healthy lifestyle. Did you know that there are many steps we can take, to protect our hearts and prevent coronary disease? The ultimate form of self care involves creating better health and wellness in our lives and being an example to others so that they can do the same.

Check out these heart health tips and take charge of your wellbeing.

Heart Health Tips title meme

Lose the Belly Fat

Research links excess belly fat to higher risks for heart disease. That extra weight around the middle raises blood pressure and creates unhealthy blood lipids. Targeting belly fat loss is a two step process. Eat a better diet, with more fruits and vegetables, and exercise for at least 15 minutes daily.

Use a smaller plate for meals and fill most of that plate with wholesome, plant based foods. Focus on including leafy greens, berries, brown rice, oats, quinoa, avocados, beans, walnuts and tomatoes.

Heart Health Tips belly
Heart Health Tips – lose the belly fat

Add Fiber to Diet

In addition to more fresh produce and wholesome grains, include more fiber in meals. A diet rich in soluble fiber helps lower bad cholesterol and boosts heart heath. Add beans, apples, pears, nuts, oats and avocados to daily meals and snacks. Create a meatless red beans and rice dish. Add avocados to a leafy green salad full of chopped veggies. Top a bowl of oatmeal with diced apples or pears. And a small handful of nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, make a great mid-afternoon snack.

Heart Health Tips fiber
Heart Health Tips – add more fiber

Pet Therapy

Pets not only offer companionship and unconditional love, they provide many health benefits. One of those benefits is better heart and lung health. Walking or playing with pets improves cardio health. And just having a pet and loving it lowers stress and blood pressure and decreases cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Studies shows that pet owners even tend to live longer. If you are looking for a new pet, I suggest contacting your local pet shelter or rescue and adopting from there.

Heart Health Tips pets
Heart Health Tips – pet therapy

Don’t Smoke

One of the best ways to protect the heart and prevent disease is to stop smoking. Or, never start the habit! Cigarettes contain ingredients that, when they burn, generate poisonous chemicals. At least 60 of those are linked to cancer.

Smoking damages the lungs and the entire cardiovascular system. Blood vessels tighten and restrict blood flow. It also raises blood pressure, weakens vessel walls and increases the risk of blood clots, which contribute to strokes. And smoking endangers those around you. Second hand smoke carries the same risks for non-smokers as it does for smokers.

Heart Health Tips no smoking
Heart Health Tips – no smoking

Don’t Have Idle Hands

Engaging in activities that keep the hands busy helps the mind to relax and unwind. And lowering stress is good for the heart. Try knitting, coloring or making crafts. Work a jigsaw puzzle, cook or bake, or try woodworking. Gardening is one of my favorite ways to ease my mind while keeping my hands busy. Even sorting and folding clothes while watching television soothes the mind…as long as the television show itself doesn’t create stress!

Heart Health Tips knitting
Heart Health Tips – don’t have idle hands

Reduce Salt Intake

Reducing salt intake to half a teaspoon a day significantly lowers the risk of heart disease. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed foods, which are high in sodium. The body requires a small amount of salt, however too much contributes to high blood pressure, which is linked to heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.

One way to control the amount of salt in meals is to cook at home. And try a salt substitute, such as Mrs. Dash, if you already have high blood pressure.

Heart Health Tips salt
Heart Health Tips – reduce salt intake

Enjoy a Glass of Red Wine

Enjoying an occasional glass of red wine helps raise good cholesterol. Wine also helps prevent blood clots and artery damage. And it contains antioxidants that fight inflammation, promote longevity and protect against heart disease. Just don’t overdo it. Drinking in moderation is key.

For those who don’t enjoy a glass of wine, try a cup of hot green tea instead. It is very beneficial to heart health as well. Green tea is linked to lower risks of angina and heart attacks.

Heart Health Tips wine
Heart Health Tips – enjoy a glass of red wine

Eat Dark Chocolate

With that glass of wine, or cup of green tea, savor a piece of rich, dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains heart healthy flavonoids that help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease. Like wine, enjoy dark chocolate in moderation and avoid the sweeter milk chocolate all together.

Heart Healthy Tips chocolate
Heart Healthy Tips – Eat dark chocolate

Laugh Out Loud

Surprisingly, laughter has many benefits, including heart health. Robust laughter lowers stress hormones, decreases inflammation in blood vessels and arteries and raises good cholesterol. Laughter is good medicine, indeed! Bring more of it into your life by watching funny movies, reading joke books and spending time with the children in your family. Kids are naturally funny. Watch comedians online or attend a comedy show. Giggle over those cute animal videos on YouTube. And smile, signaling to your body that you are ready for a good laugh.

Heart Health Tips laugh
Heart Health Tips – laugh out loud

Don’t Sit Too Long

A sedentary lifestyle, where one sits for long periods of time, is detrimental to overall wellbeing and especially to heart health. In fact, researchers warn that sitting too much, for too long, shortens life.

Take frequent breaks, if you must sit for hours during the day. Every 60 minutes, get up, stretch and move around for a couple of minutes. Use lunch breaks to eat a healthy lunch and then walk for the time remaining.

So many are working at home currently. It’s just as important to take breaks there as well. Walk to the kitchen and drink a glass of water. Take the dog out for a stroll around the backyard. Play with the kids. Hop on a stationary bike and pedal for 10 minutes. Break up the day with short bursts of activity.

Heart Health Tips sitting
Heart Health Tips – don’t sit too long

Get Your Moves On

To counterbalance sitting for long periods of time and to boost heart health, move the body. After a day of sitting, even with those frequent short breaks, plan a longer time of activity in the evening. Or if you work at home, take longer breaks if possible and get at least 15 minutes of activity in before returning to the computer.

There are so many ways to incorporate more movement into the day, raising heart rate and increasing respiration. Take the stairs rather than an elevator. Park farther from the store and walk. Enjoy nature trails. Turn up the music while doing household chores and ramp up your movements. Play with the kids and really get into their games and activities. Take the dog for a walk through the neighborhood. And dance for your heart. Catch an online Zumba class or get your moves on in the privacy of your own home. Just move…every day.

Heart Health Tips dance
Heart Health Tips – get your moves on

Practice Yoga

Yoga, or stretching, improves flexibility, balance and core strength. It also boosts heart health by reducing stress and anxiety and relaxing the body. If yoga is new to you, find a YouTube channel with an instructor or buy a yoga DVD and mat from Amazon. Yoga is a beautiful way to begin the day and set the intention for greater health and wellness.

Heart Health Tips yoga
Heart Health Tips – practice yoga

Healthy Heart Healthy Life

These tips don’t require a lot of effort or time yet they help to ensure a longer, healthier life. For the month of February, create a plan that incorporates practices that improve heart health and prevent coronary disease. Meal planning makes it easy to include heart healthy foods. And block out time during the day for moving the body.

A positive outlook on health and life is important too. Stress and anxiety are major contributors to heart disease. One of the best ways to be healthier is to make choices that contribute to wellbeing. When we feel better, and see positive results from our choices, we continue to do better. As a result, we more readily take the steps necessary to stay healthy. I hope these tips help you on your journey toward better health…and a better life.

Heart Health Tips fruit

Heart Healthy 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.

Winter Health Tips

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

Winter brings with it cold frosty days, snowfall in some areas and long nights perfect for snuggling under warm blankets. It can also bring its own unique set of health challenges. Enjoy the winter months and feel your best with these winter health tips.

Winter Health Tips title meme

Winter Health Tips

Following these simple winter health tips helps to ensure wellbeing during the year’s coldest months. Being indoors more, colds and viruses, drier air due to heating and cloudy, overcast days all contribute to health challenges. We aren’t at the mercy of the weather or the shorter, colder days however. Taking proactive, preventative steps goes a long way toward experiencing a healthier winter.

Get Enough Exercise

Like many animals, it feels like we want to go into hibernation mode when temperatures drop. We tend to eat more and move less. Exercise is one of the best ways to combat that sluggish feeling and keep energy levels high. Even on colder, snowy days a brief walk outdoors does wonders. Some of my most beautiful walks ever took place as snow fell around me.

When the weather just doesn’t permit walking outside, move exercise indoors. Do aerobics, dance to music, ride a stationery bike, do yoga, stretch. Studies show that just 11 minutes of exercise a day improves health and extends life. Make a game out of getting those 11 minutes of exercise in each day. Use a tracking app or keep a simple notebook detailing your success.

Winter Health Tips exercise
Winter Health Tips – get enough exercise

Beware the Winter Blues

For many people shorter days with less sunshine causes a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. It’s not uncommon during the winter to feel sluggish, however those winter blues can become a depression that lasts for months.

Up to 20% of the population experience varying degrees of SAD. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include weariness, anxiety, depression, craving carbohydrates, irritability, weight gain and avoidance of social situations.

However, help is available. Sunlight decreases the symptoms of SAD. On sunny days try to spend short periods of time outdoors. Vitamin D helps too. And check out this post for foods that ease seasonal affective disorder, naturally. Stay connected to friends and family through texts, phone calls and facetime. If depression worsens seek professional help.

Winter Health Tips sunlight
Winter Health Tips – sunlight to beat the blues

Supplement with Vitamin D

Speaking of vitamin D, try adding a daily supplement to help prevent SAD and to boost the immune system. Vitamin D also supports healthy bones and teeth, improves brain health, aids the nervous system, contributes to lung function and heart health, decreases risk of flu, and regulates insulin levels. Just don’t think more is better with this supplement. Stick to 5000 IU a day for the best results.

Winter Health Tips vitamin e
Winter Health Tips – take a vitamin E supplement daily

Include Colorful Foods

During the winter months, take advantage of colorful, seasonal fruits and vegetables. They are loaded with nutrients and essential vitamins and minerals. Citrus fruits such as oranges, clementines and grapefruits add vitamin C. Winter squashes and sweet potatoes are rich with vitamin A. Check out the produce section of the grocery store at the beginning of your shopping trip and load up on fresh fruits and veggies. See how many colorful foods you can eat in a day. Your body will thank you for it with improved health and increased immunity.

Winter Health Tips seasonal foods
Winter Health Tips – eat colorful foods

Drink Plenty of Water

During the warmer months, we naturally drink more water. It’s easy during the colder months to skimp on water because we don’t feel as thirsty. Try adding citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes or oranges to a pitcher of water and set the intention of emptying the pitcher by the end of the day.

According to Anthony William, author of Life Changing Foods, citrus fruits added to water are ultra-hydrating and electrolyte producing because they are a top source of mineral salts and trace mineral salts. Plus they contribute highly absorbable vitamin C. In addition, lemons provide bioactive calcium. The phytochemicals called limonoids actually bond the vitamin C and calcium together, so where one goes in the body, the other tags along.

Winter Health Tips water
Winter Health Tips – drink enough water

Add Herbal Teas

One of my favorite practices, winter or otherwise, is afternoon tea. Those hot cups of herbal tea are especially soothing on cold winter days. Including a cup…or two…of herbal tea a day helps with hydration and provides a wealth of health benefits.

I often say “there’s an herb for that”. And there truly is. Upset stomach? A cup of hot peppermint tea soothes it. Need to unwind? Try a cup of chamomile. Feel a cold coming on? Drink a cup of nettle tea.

Here is a list of the absolute best herbal teas for cold and flu season. If you don’t think you’ll like hot tea I suggest you try it anyway. If hot tea still isn’t your “cup of tea”, steep the herbs in hot water, chill in the fridge and pour tea over ice.

Winter Health Tip herbal teas
Winter Health Tips – add herbal teas

Pamper the Skin

This time of year, with cold temperatures outdoors and hot dry air circulating indoors, many experience dry winter skin. Limit showers and baths to no more than ten minutes, if skin feels tight, dry or itchy. And use warm water rather than hot. Blot skin dry with a towel then slather on a high quality skin moisturizer. Hydrate the skin by drinking enough water and herbal teas. A cold water humidifier in the home helps to soothe dry skin as well.

Winter Health Tips skin care
Winter Health Tips – pamper the skin

Fight Germs

We all learned the importance of this tip last year. Winter brings with it more cold and flu viruses. Wash hands frequently, using the 20 second rule. Sing “Happy Birthday” while you wash hands with warm water and soap. An alcohol based hand sanitizer works well if soap and water aren’t available. And boost the immune system with sunlight, vitamin D and fresh fruits and vegetables. Add a high quality vitamin C supplement daily and keep elderberry syrup on hand. Take as directed at the first hint of a cold. Herbal teas are wonderful as well for their immune building properties. And of course, while COVID is still a threat this winter, wear a mask and observe social distancing if you must go out, wash hands and use hand sanitizer after excursions. Stay home as much as possible.

Winter Health Tips wash hands
Winter Health Tips – fight germs

Practice Self Care

Winter is a time for intense self care. With colder weather keeping us indoors, we can learn to really focus in on our bodies, emotions and needs. Creating healthy habits is a form of self care. So is moving our bodies. Go to sleep earlier. Nap in the afternoon, preferably in a patch of sunlight streaming in through the window. Reflect. Journal. Write down your thoughts.

Winter is also a time to prepare for the warmer months. Write down goals. Dream big dreams. Make plans. Learn a new language. Read. Enjoy a hobby. Try new things. Cook healthy meals. Get rid of clutter. Whatever brings you joy, do those things.

Winter Health Tips self care
Winter Health Tips – practice intense self care

Have a Cozy and Healthy Winter

I hope these simple tips give you ideas for increasing your health and wellbeing this winter. It’s the coziest time of the year. May you stay warm and well and safe and use these months to create health habits that take you into spring and beyond.

Winter Health Tips

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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.

 

Seven Superfood Mushrooms

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Four and a half years ago, new to the plant based lifestyle, some of the first superfoods that I wholeheartedly embraced were mushrooms. Most mushrooms provide high levels of fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. Adding them to meals and drinks boosts health in many ways.

Among mushrooms one group in particular earns the title of “superfood”. These fungi, labeled medicinal mushrooms, take health benefits to a much higher level.

Check out these seven superfood mushrooms and learn why they are so important to health.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms title meme

The Power of Medicinal Mushrooms

In the east, people have used medicinal mushrooms for centuries. Dried and taken in powdered form, these superfoods provide a host of benefits. Those remarkable properties drew attention to medicinal mushrooms from other regions in the world.

Medicinal mushrooms are still relatively new to western medicine and they don’t cure everything. However their benefits, including boosts to the immune system and the prevention of diseases, helped these mushrooms gain popularity in recent years. And for clarity, these are not hallucination inducing or mind altering mushrooms, these provide powerful benefits for health and wellness.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms

Each mushroom is unique and provides its own health benefits.

Reishi

Reishi tops the list of popular medicinal mushrooms, and for good reason. This mushroom’s unique property is its calming effect on the body. Reishi contains the compound triterpene, which positively impacts the nervous system. This mood boosting compound relieves anxiety, alleviates depression and promotes better sleep.

Reishi also helps the body heal and sharpens focus as well.

Add a spoonful of reishi mushroom powder to smoothies and soups, create a soothing hot tea or stir into a cup of hot cocoa. Chocolate and reishi seem to pair well together. Four Sigmatic offers wonderful hot cocoa mixes that contain reishi. It makes an excellent nighttime drink for a wonderful night’s sleep.

Check out Four Sigmatic’s hot cocoa with reishi HERE. If you place an order, use my discount code CINDYLAUDERDALEMOORE to save 10%.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms reishi
Seven Superfood Mushrooms – reishi

Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane brings mental clarity, naturally. Packed with antioxidants and nutrients, lion’s mane strengthens the immune system. However, its real superpower is fostering the production of bioprotein nerve growth factor (NGF) and myelin, the insulation around nerves.

Both NGF and myelin are vital to brain health. An imbalance of either can create neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. Lion’s mane also improves cognition and memory and increases the ability to concentrate. Additionally, this superfood mushroom alleviates anxiety and soothes irritability.

To boost brain power, try these Four Sigmatic focus products with lion’s mane: ground coffee, instant coffee, coffee latte mix, elixir mix, matcha latte mix or their focus shots and mixes.

I also highly recommend Nature Byte’s Lion’s Mane capsules.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms lions mane
Seven Superfoods Mushrooms – lion’s mane

Chaga

Chaga is the first superfood mushroom powder that I tried. It makes a great coffee substitute or simply add a spoonful to smoothies. As with all the superfood mushroom products, the dried fungi doesn’t have a “mushroomy” taste, making it easy to add the powders to almost any food or drink.

Chaga contains extremely powerful antioxidants that fight the free radicals that age the body and cause disease. This black mushroom eases inflammation, combats oxidative stress that ages skin and prevents or slows the growth of cancer cells. It also lowers bad cholesterol.

Try adding Four Sigmatic’s defend products to your diet: mushroom blend mix, ground coffee, instant coffee with chaga, elixir mix with chaga, plant based protein powder and immune support shots with chaga.

I also highly recommend Maine Chaga Powder from Amazon.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms chaga
Seven Superfood Mushrooms – chaga

Cordyceps

Need a pre-workout boost or feeling low energy? Cordyceps is the perfect superfood mushroom for you. This fungus helps the body use oxygen more efficiently while enhancing blood flow.

Cordyceps helps athletes perform better. And it helps the rest of us too, as we exercise, plus it speeds up muscle recovery after working out. And when that midafternoon slump hits, drink a cordyceps tea for an instant pick me up.

Add a spoonful of cordyceps to a post workout drink or meal. Or try Four Sigmatic’s performance blends: cocoa mix with cordyceps, elixir blend with cordyceps and instant coffee with cordyceps.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms cordyceps
Seven Superfood Mushrooms – cordyceps

Turkey Tail

Most superfood mushrooms offer anti-cancer properties because of their high antioxidant content. However, turkey tail takes it up a notch.

This interesting fungus contains a compound called polysaccharide-K (PSK) that stimulates the immune system. Turkey tail improves the survival rate of those with cancer, fights leukemia cells and boosts the immune system for those receiving chemotherapy. This mushroom is so powerful that it’s an approved anti-cancer prescription drug in Japan.

Pick up golden latte with turkey tail or chai latte with turkey tail from Four Sigmatic.

I also recommend turkey tail powder from Amazon.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms turkey tail
Seven Superfood Mushrooms – turkey tail

Shiitake

These mushrooms provide benefits for the heart. They lower bad cholesterol while inhibiting the production and absorption of cholesterol in the liver. Shiitake mushrooms also prevent the build up of plaque and help maintain healthy blood pressure and circulation.

Use dried shiitake powder in any food or drink recipe. Or add the mushrooms to stir fries and other dishes.

Try this shiitake powder.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms shiitake
Seven Superfood Mushrooms – shiitake

Maitake

Maitake, the Japanese word for “dancing mushroom”, helps support healthy blood sugar levels in the body. It also boosts the immune system and provides essential vitamins and minerals including copper, potassium and vitamins B and C.

Add a spoonful of powdered maitake to soups, sauces and pasta dishes.

Click HERE to try maitake mushroom powder.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms maitake
Seven Superfood Mushrooms – maitake

Which of These Seven Superfood Mushrooms Will You Try?

Which of these superfood mushrooms will you try first? It truly is easy to add a spoonful to teas, coffees, drinks, smoothies or recipes, or to use one of the Four Sigmatics blends. And the health benefits are amazing.

A spoonful…or two…each day of any of these superfood mushrooms is all that you need to begin enjoying greater health and vitality and protection against aging and diseases.

I most often added a spoonful of powdered mushrooms to smoothies, that is until I discovered the cocoa mixes from Four Sigmatic. Now I love sipping on a cup of hot cocoa with reishi in the evenings or savoring a cup of chai latte with turkey tail in the afternoons. It’s such a yummy way to get my mushrooms!

Seven Superfood Mushrooms hot cocoa
Four Sigmatic hot cocoa with mushrooms

 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Four Sigmatic Affiliate Program. These affiliate programs provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to their websites, all at no extra cost to you.