Category: Wellness Tips

Reading Does the Mind & Body Good

“Some books leave us free and some books make us free.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all need a much needed escape from reality right now so why not use the gloomy and cold wintery days to curl up on the couch with a good book.

Reading helps relax the body by lowering the heart rate and easing tension in your muscles. Not to mention, it helps transport us to an alternate world for a temporary time making us forget about everything that is going on.

A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading reduces stress by up to 68%, which is a more effective method for reducing stress compared to listening to music or doing art.

With endless options, stay at home orders, and cold weather, why not pass the time with a good book or two. For the ultimate cozy experience, grab a blanket, make a warm beverage, and light a candle.

Comment below with your book recommendations.

Try 1 New Recipe Each Week

Since Covid 19 hit, almost everyone I have spoken to both personally and professionally have all told me the same thing, “I am cooking more than I ever have!”

With both limited restaurant options available as well as at-home working and schooling, we have been able to connect more with our kitchens than we previously had time or resources for. While I am so happy to see so many people put their chef hats on and learn new skills, the Catch 22 is that many of us are getting cooking burn-out.

One way to combat the cooking exhaustion is to make it a goal to find and try 1 new recipe a week. Thankfully, we have countless options available at our fingertips. These include: internet sites, Pinterest, Instagram, and Youtube. Not to mention, all of the paperback cookbooks and books that are available online.

By far, my favorite website for finding new recipes is: Epicurious. This website allows you to build recipes around a single ingredient, which is perfect for those who are wanting to try a new food but have no clue where to begin. You can filter by type of cuisine, dietary considerations, and type of cooking method. I also like the recipe comparison feature and the recipe rating system.

Another one of my favorites is Yummly. Some of the features require you to pay, however there are plenty of free recipes to choose from. The recipes are easy to read and follow and you can actually purchase all of the ingredients for a particular recipe directly from the website via Walmart, Ralph’s/Kroger, and Instacart. That to me is the coolest part!

America’s Test Kitchen is another great resource as are the Cooking Light and Eating Well websites. With the last two options be careful to review the recipe entirely as I have caught some that are listed as “Healthy” but were in fact not.

Whichever resource you choose, adding variety to your recipe library will help you “spice” things up (pun intended) in the kitchen and beat the cooking boredom.
Comment below with some other cookbooks, sites, or apps that you use to find new recipes.

Fill your Day with More Laughter

You may have heard the expression, “laughter is the best medicine” and this statement could not be more true! Not only is laughter free and accessible, but did you know it has numerous physical and mental health benefits? 

Laughter is truly the best form of therapy for it helps relieve stress, release anger, sadness, and tension, increase relaxation, and improve your overall mood. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which are chemicals released by the brain to boost pleasure and make you feel great. It also reduces cortisol, which has several health implications. Laughter is a particularly helpful tool for those who suffer from depression and anxiety and need a quick, free, and drug-free way to relieve symptoms.

When you laugh, there is an increase in oxygen, which helps stimulate your heart, lungs, and muscles. This effect causes an increase in circulation followed by the relaxation of muscles and a decrease in blood pressure. What you are left with is decreased muscle tension, physical stress, and body pain. A healthy dose of laughter can actually leave your muscles relaxed for a whole 45 minutes! This is certainly more beneficial than spending time in a jacuzzi or sauna.   

Didn’t have time to exercise today? That’s okay, because laughing is actually a great abdominal and cardio workout. A study found that you can burn approximately 40 calories in a 10-15 minute bout of laughter. When you laugh, you are contracting your abdominal muscles, helping to strengthen your core. Additionally, laughing increases your heart rate and causes the lungs to draw in oxygen. Have you ever felt out of breath after a good, hearty laugh? Much like running, laughing produces a similar cardio response. While laughing should not replace regular physical activity, it certainly is a powerful enhancement to your exercise efforts.   

Immunity is a hot topic right now and laughter can actually help boost your immune system. It does so by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. Positive thoughts produced by laughter release neuropeptides that can help fight against free radicals and other stressors of the cells and tissues.

It is no secret that laughter has several health benefits. But what is most important is that laughing helps us live a longer, more fulfilling, and happier life. We could all use a little extra laughter in our lives, especially now. It is time to turn that frown upside down and get your laughter on. Trust me, your body and mind will thank you later.

The Benefits of Taking a Digital Detox

We spend an average of 5.4 hours per day on our mobile devices, 2 hours and 24 minutes per day on social media, and check our phones up to 63 times daily. If you think this sounds like a lot of screen time, well I hate to break it to you that these statistics don’t even account for the time spent on our TV, computer, tablets, and/or playing video games. What we are dealing with is technology overload!

It is important to establish a healthy relationship with our devices. On one hand, we need them to stay up-to-date with news, connect with friends and family, for entertainment, to learn, to work, and even to read this post. However, on the other hand, too much of it can actually affect our mental and physical health.

Detoxing from technology has several benefits including:

  1. Stress reduction: We need time for both our minds and bodies to recover from a long day of obligations. Work, school, emails, etc. are stressful enough, so continuing to blend work screen time with entertainment screen time only puts extra stress on our mental state. It is important to detach from our devices after a long day to truly unplug and unwind from the chaos of life.
  2. Improved posture: We typically sit in a hunched over position when using technology. This can create tension in our neck, spine, hips, and affect our overall posture. Not to mention it puts immense strain on our eyes. Consider making your space ergonomically friendly when working and limit screen time after tasks are completed to give your physical body much needed time to rest and reset.
  3. Increased time for self-care: By stepping away from your device once business is done, you will free up so much time for other things such as: hobbies, cooking, meditation, reading, and exercise. Dedicating more time for yourself will only bring more happiness into your life.
  4. Disease prevention & weight control: It is no secret that more screen time = higher likelihood of being above normal weight + having obesity-related diseases. By reducing screen time, you will have more time to move your body and prepare healthier foods. This reduces the risk of obesity and obesity-related diseases, while also aids with weight loss and halting the progression of existing disease.
  5. Improved mental health: Have you ever looked at social media, compared yourself with what you see on the screen, and then started to feel bad about yourself? This scenario happens every time we go online and negatively affects our mental well-being. Social media can make us feel lonely, depressed, envious, dissatisfied, and puts a damper on our self-esteem. Remember that many people post filtered versions of themselves on public platforms. So, don’t necessarily assume their life and looks are better than yours, simply based on their posts.

To help you detox from technology, make a schedule and set a timer. For example, if you have shows you love to watch, schedule a specific time frame to watch them. If you go on social media, set a timer for 30 minutes and then immediately go off your device. Establishing a healthy relationship with technology will help you welcome more happiness into your life, live more in the present, and be more in tune with your mental and physical well-being.

Clean your Mess, Reduce your Stress

Did you know that clearing your physical space free of clutter actually has significant psychological and health benefits?

Multiple studies show a direct correlation between clutter, unfinished projects, and increased cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone responsible for controlling blood sugar levels, regulating metabolism, reducing inflammation, assisting with memory formulation, improving sleep, and helping control salt and water for improved blood pressure regulation.

Additionally, research shows that those with a cleaner space have higher activity levels and are more likely to cook healthy meals at home vs. eat out.

So, in short, a messy space, piles of clutter, and disorganization = mental chaos, increased stress and anxiety, less physical activity, poor sleep, poor nutrition, and several health implications.

Completing smaller organizing and cleaning tasks can yield a significant amount of mental and physical benefits, so why not start small. Trying to tackle an entire decluttering project can often be a very overwhelming and daunting task. Instead, focus on doing just 20-30 minutes of cleaning per day either a few times per week or daily. Make a small goal of sorting through 1 pile of papers, deep cleaning 1 room, putting your clothes away off of the floor, weeding 1 section of the garden, filing away important documents, selling unwanted items, the list goes on.

If you find that your mental health is suffering, start at home with your physical space. A little organizing goes a long way.

To share your own decluttering tips, comment below.

Make Time for Self-Care

Self-care is defined as the: “practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” With all of life’s craziness, we often forget to prioritize our own self. When this happens, we feel trapped, overwhelmed, and consumed with negative energy.

Self-care involves actively clearing out your mental and physical spaces so that you have time to do the things that you enjoy most. These “things” vary among each individual and no “thing” is better than the other.

It is okay to be selfish and take the time to slip away from the world to decompress, stabilize, relax, think, ponder, cry, laugh, write, breathe, move, sing, or dance. It is amazing what you can discover within you once all of the background noise disappears.

Remember that you only get one body, so take the time needed to invest in it and love it. Self-care will always be the best care!

Comment below and share something that you do for self-care.