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Category Archives: Self Care
Music is a powerful force. It can evoke memories and induce all kinds of emotions. This is why music can be an effective remedy for dealing with negative emotions like anxiety. The healing power of music is not a new discovery. It is an ancient remedy for various maladies, going back to Biblical times. Here are some ways you can use music to relax and reduce anxiety in your life.
1. Combine music with deep breathing. Use the music of your choice, and let the rhythm guide you in deep, deliberate breathing.
2. Stretch while listening to calming music as well.
3. Choose music that has repetitive sounds like drum beats. Maybe you long for the beach; use CDs or download music with ocean waves in the background. You can also just get a recording of ocean wave sounds.
4. See a music therapist. These individuals are trained to work with each individual and work out a music-based program to help. Writing, composing, playing, and listening to music are all aspects of music therapy. There is a great deal of evidence to support the effectiveness of music therapy. Practitioners and therapists have seen positive results among their clients – pain relief due to bodily relaxation, calmer states of mind in Alzheimer’s patients, and reduced anxiety.
5. Choose music that reflects your culture, beliefs, and taste. Studies show more positive results in people who listen to music that suits them as individuals. Don’t listen to what you think you should listen to; choose music you like. For example, recordings of whale songs are said to be very soothing and relaxing. But if you really dislike the sound, it won’t help you relax at all.
6. Engage in regular exercise while listening to soothing music.
7. Play calming music in your vehicle as you commute to work, drive your kids to school, or run errands. Keeping calm on the road is sometimes a challenge for anxiety-prone individuals, but having the soothing music in the vehicle can build associations between calm thoughts and driving.
– give ideas, also briefly talk abut music therapy
Having a big Thanksgiving meal is only part of the celebration. To make it a truly memorable occasion, you need to take some time to celebrate in such a way that you’ll treasure the holiday memories forever. Here are some ideas to make this the most memorable Thanksgiving ever.
1. Count your blessings with a blessing tree. Have every family member and guest write his or her name and a blessing on construction paper leaf-shaped cut-outs. You can use a branch from outdoors to hang your blessing “leaves” on, or paste them onto a flat paper cut-out of a tree that you have glued to a sturdy piece of paper or cardboard.
2. Volunteer your time and your family’s time at a local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or nursing home. Food pantries are another area where you can give of your time – they are usually very busy at this time of year.
3. Have guests over to share your Thanksgiving meal, but invite someone new. Maybe you can share your celebrations with a new neighbor, or someone from another country, or an elderly person without any family nearby.
4. Invoke the history of the holiday into your celebrations. With crafts, decorations, and authentic foods and table settings, you can present a Thanksgiving meal that is rich in history and tradition.
5. If there are children involved, get them into the celebration. Children can help celebrate by making decorations or even putting on a Thanksgiving play or puppet show.
6. Start a blessing chain. On strips of colored paper, guests and family members can write something they are thankful for. Then, the strips will be linked to make a paper chain. Each year, more links can be added.
7. Start a tradition. Whether it’s serving a special dish or playing a certain game, start something that you don’t do any other time of year, and that you can continue year after year.
8. Make phone calls to family members who can’t be present for the festivities. Have everyone participate in the phone calls. Making cards or notes to send is another activity that will help your family connect.
9. Have everyone share something he or she is thankful for. You can do this by writing these things down, then reading them aloud at the table, or by making them into a decoration like the blessing tree. One way or another, having guests and family members share their sense of gratitude is a memorable family tradition.
Meditation can help reduce stress. It works as an overall management technique, and also as a means to alleviate the effects of immediate stress. Here are some ideas on how to meditate your way out of stress.
1. Engage in guided meditation. Led by a teacher, guided meditation employs multiple senses – sight, smell, touch, and so forth are involved. This kind of meditation helps you learn how to process stimuli without becoming stressed.
2. Yoga is a series of stretching and balancing exercises, but the concentration required redirects your thoughts away from stressful patterns. Enrolling in a yoga class can help you deal with stress, and practicing for a while during the workday (you could use part of your lunch hour) can help you deal with daily stress.
3. Qigong is a form of Chinese meditation that focuses on and directs the “qi” or life force. Like yoga, it involves physical movement as well, but qigong is more about holding certain stances than stretching. It involves calm, measured breathing as well. You can practice elements of qigong anywhere.
4. Mantras can help. Mantra meditation involves repeating a key phrase over and over while you focus on its meaning and the words themselves. Mantra meditation helps wire the brain so that you can tap into the calming effects of the meditation just by invoking the mantra anytime, anywhere.
5. Mindful meditation is about living in the present moment. When you practice this kind of meditation, you let your thoughts pass without analyzing or judging them. It helps reduce stress as you just let thoughts go.
6. Forge new brain pathways. As you practice meditation, your mind will learn constructive ways to deal with daily stresses. Meditation also helps you deal with overarching stress that comes from within, or that is associated with a long-term situation (such as a difficult relationship).
Sometimes, it’s hard to live in your own skin. But becoming your own best friend makes for a more comfortable, peaceful life. Also, becoming friends with yourself helps you be a better friend to others. Here are some ideas.
1. Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and impressions each evening before going to bed. Make notes of how you feel or what you think about situations and people you encountered that day. Write down any thoughts that have been bothering you as well. Write poetry or short stories if you like. As your entries increase, go back and read them.
2. Meditate regularly. Even if you meditate while walking or doing some sort of exercise, that’s fine. Just spend some time within yourself.
3. Spend time alone. If it makes you uncomfortable to be alone and quiet, then you’ve already learned something about yourself. Try to spend time alone and just listen to your thoughts.
4. Describe yourself. In your journal, write down key things about yourself, as if you are filling in information for a personal ad. Write not only your likes (favorite movies and foods, how you like to spend your time, etc.), but also write your dislikes. Write down details like your financial philosophy. Ask yourself if you like socializing or prefer time alone.
5. Write down your “perfect day.” If you had 24 hours to spend however you wanted, what would you do? Read stories to your children? Shop? Read novels? Go rock climbing, hiking or camping?
6. Think through your personal beliefs – religious, moral, philosophical, and so forth. What do you value? What is your life philosophy? Ask yourself why you have these values and beliefs. Where did they come from?
7. Don’t be afraid to talk aloud to yourself. Ask yourself questions. Expound as if you are being interviewed.
8. Stop browbeating yourself. Pay attention to negative thoughts. Write them down and see where you are berating yourself. Just as you would not say those things to others, don’t say them to yourself. Replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.
9. Write down what you look for in a friend. Then write down what you like about yourself. You may find many things that line up!
Cold and flu season can be daunting for those who find themselves catching every cold or virus that comes along. If you think you get a disproportionately large number of colds, or just want to be better prepared for the wintertime bugs, there are some things you can do to boost your cold and flu defense. Here are some ideas.
1. Eat well. Your diet is the number one means by which you can build your immune system. It is a bit more challenging in the fall and winter without the abundant summer produce, but there are still plenty of vegetables and fruits that are available in the fall and winter. Broccoli, greens, citrus fruits, and squash are just a few. Frozen vegetables and fruits are a healthy option, too.
2. Make sure good bacteria are part of your diet. Supplement with probiotics if possible. Yogurt, miso, and other foods with “live and active cultures” help keep you immune system in top shape. Those good bacteria are key components of your immune system, attacking and destroying pathogens.
3. Echinacea is a time-honored herb that boosts the immune system. It’s also quite well-known, but don’t let that stop you from trying it. Echinacea should not be taken all the time, however – it loses its effectiveness after a few weeks. The best way to give your immune system a lift with echinacea is right at the onset of cold symptoms, or after you have been exposed to someone who is sick. Then take it for no more than a week or two. Look for echinacea supplements or tinctures that are made from the root or the root and aerial parts combined.
4. Astragalus is a lesser-known but very effective immune-enhancing herb. It has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. It is particularly effective against flu. You can take astragalus throughout the cold and flu season, or when you feel illness coming on. The sliced root simmered in water is the traditional Chinese way to take this herb, but it is also available in tinctures and capsules.
5. Ginger is an herb you probably have in your kitchen. Dried will do, but fresh ginger root is even better. Ginger is affordable and has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Grate a tablespoon or two, pour boiling water over the grated ginger, steep for 10 minutes, and enjoy with a little raw honey. You can drink ginger daily if you like.
6. Garlic is another common kitchen herb that helps stave off colds and flu. If you are familiar with “garlic breath” then you know that this potent herb likes to reside and release its active compounds in the respiratory tract – right where you need it during cold and flu season. Garlic supplements and fresh garlic are both effective.
Scrapes and bruises are a part of everyday life. Some of us, it seems, whether we’re accident prone or adventurous or maybe a little bit of both get scraped up daily. While there are many handy over the counter remedies to clean cuts, reduce swelling, prevent infection and promote healing there are twice as many natural remedies which accomplish the same thing. Nature really does take good care of us.
Let’s look at 20 natural remedies for scrapes and bruises:
1. Witch hazel. This plant is actually a deciduous shrub and the bark and leaves are an astringent which can be used to disinfectant to clean skin. It’s also commonly used to treat sore muscles and swollen tissue.
2. Aloe vera is a common treatment for sunburns and rashes. A succulent plant grown in warm, tropical climates, it protects and moisturizes the skin.
3. Arnical Gel, which comes from a perennial in the sunflower family, is excellent for treating muscle aches and bruising.
4. Raw garlic. Despite the very unique and potentially unpleasant aroma, garlic cloves can be used to disinfect cuts and scrapes. It’s an antiseptic.
5. Comfrey, a perennial flower, is used to treat sprains, strains, bruises and broken bones. The roots of the flower are ground into a poultice and placed on the injured area.
6. Yarrow leaves, when dried and ground into a powder, can be uses to disinfect cuts and scrapes and to stop the bleeding.
7. Lavender essential oil, when combined and diluted by jojoba oil or olive oil, relieves pain, burns and bee stings.
8. Tea tree essential oil, when diluted with jojoba or olive oil, is an antiseptic and antibiotic. It is great for cleaning minor cuts.
9. Thyme essential oil, when diluted with a base oil like olive or jojoba has both antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. Use it to clean minor cuts and scrapes and to soothe bruised and sore muscles.
10. Castor oil can be used to treat bruising and reduce swelling.
11. Calendula oil is used to soothe rashes and minor scrapes.
In addition to these 11 natural remedies, homeopathic remedies can be designed to treat swelling and bruising and flower essences can be used to reduce stress and alleviate shock symptoms. Mother Nature has provides you with a number of first aid remedies. Create your natural first aid kit today and take advantage of all nature has to offer.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition that plagues many. In fact, it’s been estimated that 1 in 5 people suffers from IBS. Symptoms range from abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation. It’s uncomfortable to say the least. If you suffer from IBS here are a few powerful and natural IBS remedies to consider:
Peppermint oil is a great treatment for nausea and other digestive ailments. It is also commonly used to treat IBS. It not only relieves abdominal pain and bloating, it helps to eliminate gas and improve muscle function in the stomach and intestines.
Peppermint oil is often taken by placing a few drops in a glass of water however, it’s recommended that IBS suffers take it as an enteric coated capsule. This coating prevents it from being absorbed to early, which can cause heartburn. You can take too much peppermint oil and it’s recommended to speak with a physician or medical practitioner before beginning a peppermint oil regimen. It does have a few side effects and may interact with certain pharmaceuticals.
Probiotics are commonly referred to as good bacteria. We often eat yogurt to increase the number of good bacteria in our digestive tract. They help suppress the growth of harmful bacteria and have a positive influence on our immune system and overall health.
It is theorized that people who suffer from IBS may have an overgrowth of bad bacteria in their intestinal tract. And studies have shown certain Probiotic bacteria to improve IBS symptoms. There are a number of different Probiotic strains and not all have shown to improve IBS however, one in particular, B. infantis, has shown great success in reducing symptoms.
Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum
One particularly distressing symptom of IBS is constipation, which is often followed by diarrhea. Partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG) is a water soluble, non-gelling fiber, which has been shown to reduce constipation, diarrhea and abdominal pain. It’s also been shown to increase the amount of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. PHGG can be found in health food stores and markets and is generally sold as a fiber product.
Food Allergies and Sensitivities
For many, IBS is caused by simple food intolerances. For example, diary and gluten are prime candidates. These sensitivities and food allergies may cause an immune response in your intestines. Your body is unable to process them effectively and becomes inflamed. This inflammation and inability to process the items may cause an imbalance in the bacteria we mentioned earlier when talking about probiotics.
Thus eliminating these foods from your diet will have a profound effect on your IBS symptoms. While dairy and grains are the most common culprits, other foods can also irritate your intestines. An elimination diet is often necessary to be able to determine which foods you’re sensitive to and are causing your IBS.
Natural IBS remedies often require strict attention to your diet, a careful supplementation regimen and a commitment to live symptom free. Many IBS suffers and practitioners recommend keeping a journal and tracking your diet, supplements and symptoms to find the optimal natural IBS remedy solution for you.
Every year the flu season comes and goes. Many hold their breath and hope they don’t get it while others choose to inoculation. Unfortunately, inoculation and hope don’t always protect us from getting the flu. If you get the flu, it can knock you down for up to two weeks. The good news is that there are several tried and true natural flu remedies. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Some studies have shown that the flu enters the body through ear canals. If you’re able to catch your symptoms within the first few hours, try placing a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in each ear every few hours. The peroxide kills the virus before it has the opportunity to multiply and really take hold. You may still have flu symptoms for a few days however, that’s much better than the standard two-week recovery period.
Colloidal silver, a liquid suspension of microscopic particles of silver, is used as a natural antibiotic and antiviral. Practitioners believe it has the ability to essentially eliminate an enzyme that bacteria and viruses need to survive in your body. Like hydrogen peroxide, the best time to use colloidal silver is right when you first notice flu-like symptoms.
Elderberry, an antioxidant, is commonly used to boost immunity however, studies also show it may work as an antiviral. This means during flu season elderberry supplements, such as elderberry juice, syrup or capsules, may be able to help you avoid the flu and if you do catch the flu, elderberry may help shorten your recovery time.
Oscillococcinum, is a homeopathic product that’s manufactured in France and sold in health food stores around the world – particularly during flu season. Homeopathic comes from the principle that “like cures like.” Oscillococcinum is made from extremely diluted parts of the hearts and livers of ducks, which are believed to be particularly vulnerable to influenza viruses.
Oscillococcinum is used to shorten the duration of the flu once you’ve caught it, it does not prevent the flu.
Echinacea, an herbal remedy most often used to prevent and treat colds and flu, has been shown to shorten the duration for flu sufferers. There are many types of Echinacea the leaves, flowers and stems of Echinacea purpurea seem to have the most effect. It’s typically recommended to take Echinacea, usually in capsule form, every two to three hours immediately after recognizing symptoms.
North American Ginseng
“North American ginseng” is a popular natural flu remedy used to shorten the duration of the flu. However, Ginseng also comes with some serious side effects including negative interactions with many pharmaceuticals, estrogen properties, which can complicate hormone related conditions and other symptoms and side effects that may cause heart complications among other things.
With any herbs, it’s important to check with your doctor to make sure there aren’t any adverse reactions. Having the flu is one of the most miserable experiences, it’s nice to know there are so many natural flu remedies available to lessen the symptoms and help you recover as quickly as possible
Anxiety and stress are part of our life. They’re our body’s way of coping. And some anxiety is good. It can even save your life. However, the majority of the anxiety you feel causes a whole host of side effects, which over time can have a detrimental effect on your health. Rather than take a pharmaceutical to manage anxiety, take advantage of nature and consider on of these 5 natural anxiety cures.
# 1 Passionflower
Passionflower has a long history as an anxiety reliever and was commonly used as a folk remedy. More recently, passionflower has been studied as an effective means of reducing anxiety. However, passionflower is not without side effects, as is the case with many herbs. Passionflower side effects may include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and rapid heartbeat.
# 2 Massage and acupuncture
For many there’s nothing more relaxing than a massage. Massage helps to alleviate tension stored in your muscles as well as to improve body function therefore making it easier for you to manage anxiety. Sometimes just knowing you have a massage on your schedule can help to alleviate anxiety. Acupuncture, on the other hand works to balance your body’s systems and to create a mind body balance so you can better manage anxiety, stress and other challenges you may face.
# 3 Meditation
Meditation has long been held as a popular relaxation technique. There are a variety of meditation approaches from walking meditation to focused breathing. Meditation not only helps to relieve anxiety it can help you achieve clarity, mental focus, and an overall sense of well being.
Exercise releases endorphins – feel good hormones. These hormones have a tremendous effect on your mental wellbeing. They not only soothe our weary nerves, they virtually banish anxiety. After a hard workout, there’s no room for anything else. You’re too tired. Even better, these endorphins last for quite a while so the effects of anxiety busting exercise can last well through that nerve-wracking presentation you have to give. Mind/body breathing exercises, physical exercise, yoga, tai chi, self-hypnosis, meditation, and biofeedback are just some of the stress reduction techniques used for anxiety. Try different techniques and determine which routine you can stick to with a hectic schedule.
# 5 Biofeedback
Biofeedback is a means of essentially training your mind to control your body. It measures your physical responses to anxiety, like an increase in blood pressure, and helps you to recognize them. Once you recognize the physical symptoms of anxiety, you can then begin to control them.
Valerian, an herb commonly used to treat insomnia, is also used to treat people with mild anxiety. Side effects of valerian may include mild indigestion, headache, palpitations, and dizziness. It has a strong scent many find unpleasant however, you can take it in capsule form, rather than tea, and alleviate much of the scent.
# 7 Kava
Kava, an herb that is Native to Polynesia, is also an anti-anxiety remedy. However, there is a potential risk of severe liver injury resulting from the use of dietary supplements containing kava.
# 8 Gamma-aminobutyric Acid aka GABA
GABA is an amino acid. Scientists know that prescription anxiety drugs work by affecting the GABA receptors in the brain and have deduced that GABA supplementation may have a positive effect on anxiety however more research is needed to validate the theory.
# 9 Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a tried and true natural anxiety reliever and typically works best for moderate anxiety. Essential oils of bergamot, cypress, geranium, jasmine, lavender, neroli, rose, sandalwood, and ylang-ylang can be added to baths, placed in a diffuser, or inhaled.
#10 Vitamins and Minerals
Calcium, Magnesium, and B vitamins all help your body to deal with stress and anxiety. In fact, you can often find ‘stress vitamins’ that contain B vitamins and minerals. They work by influencing your body’s physical reaction to stress and anxiety. Of course, to receive the anxiety busting benefit, you must take these vitamins and minerals on a daily basis.
Anxiety doesn’t have to rule your life and destroy your health. Embrace these natural anxiety cures and start feeling calm and relaxed today – no matter what life may throw at you.
Insomnia affects around 1 in 10 people and can be mildly annoying to downright debilitating. Insomnia isn’t just the inability to fall asleep, it can also occur if you wake too often throughout the night or if you wake and feel un-rested.
Here are 10 tips to overcome insomnia naturally:
1. Pull the shades tight. Our bodies are regulated by our circadian rhythms. These rhythms are directly influenced by light. That means even a trip to the bathroom where you turn on the light can have a negative effect on the rest of your sleep that night. And a cumulative effect over time. Pull the shades tight so you’re sleeping in darkness. To wake, consider investing in a natural alarm clock, which gradually brightens emulating the rising sun.
2. Turn off technology. Television, computers and video games are all stimulating and can impede sleep. Give yourself at least an hour before bedtime without these distractions and by all means, keep them out of your bedroom.
3. Cool it. If your bedroom is too hot, then you’re not going to be able to sleep. Experts recommend keeping your thermostat no higher than 70 degrees though the cooler the better.
4. Create a schedule and stick to it. Sleep schedules are important. They tell your body what to expect and you’ll sleep better when you develop and stick to it. For example, doctors and health experts recommend 8 hours of sleep a night so you could go to bed at 11pm each night and wake at 7am.
5. Routines help. Just like a schedule helps your body know what to expect, a sleep routine can also help get your mind prepared for a good night of sleep. Many people read before they go to bed, they listen to calming music, journal or pray. Create a sleep routine that calms your mind and prepares you for a good night’s sleep.
6. Avoid sugary foods before bed. For a long time people advised against eating before bed however, the problem isn’t necessarily with eating, it’s what you eats. Starchy carbs and foods high in carbohydrates can cause a spike in blood sugar and a subsequent plummet. This blood sugar roller coaster ride is terrible for sleep. Instead, if you need a snack, consume a lean protein with a bit of whole grains.
7. Avoid Caffeine. Some people are particularly sensitive to caffeine and may not know that the cup of coffee they’re drinking in the morning may be preventing them from sleeping that night. If you’re a caffeine addict, all hope is not lost.
Consider quitting caffeine for a few weeks and monitor your sleep. If your sleep doesn’t improve when you’re off the caffeine then you know that’s not your problem, however it’s still wise to not drink any caffeine after noon. Be aware that teas and some foods also contain caffeine, not just coffee.
8. Consider Melatonin. Your body naturally produces melatonin, a hormone that influences sleep. Light and darkness play a role in your body’s production of this hormone however sometimes it can get off kilter and the result is poor sleep and insomnia. You can find melatonin supplements in your natural food store.
9. Valerian. Another item you’ll find in your natural food store is the herb, valerian. While it smells something awful, it’s commonly used to treat insomnia by calming and relaxing. It comes in both capsule form and valerian tea, which tastes much better than it smells.
10. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol makes sleeping quite difficult for most people. While it’s a depressant and causes relaxation alcohol doesn’t let your body fall into the deeper stages of sleep. This means you may fall asleep quite well once your head hits the pillow however you’ll wake a few hours later and be unable to fall back to sleep.
Ultimately, diet and exercise play an important role in your sleep and in preventing insomnia. The better care you take of yourself, the better you’ll be able to sleep. That being said, these 10 natural insomnia remedies are safe and effective whether your insomnia is an occasional occurrence or a chronic problem.