Tips For Great Sleep

Sleep can be elusive for some. At various seasons of life sleep may be more difficult to come by, and for some of us (myself included), difficulty falling and staying asleep can become a chronic issue. With the holiday season in full swing, staying healthy is of utmost importance.  The seasonal ickiness has officially descended, and when you combine that with all of our holiday celebrations and obligations, it’s all the more important to focus on rest.

Sleep is imperative to functioning to the best of our abilities during the day. Beyond affecting our daily grinds, lack of sleep can also have detrimental affects on our health. Chronic sleep deprivation increases the prevalence of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and depression. Here are a few ways in which we can increase the quality and quantity of sleep.

benjaminrobyn-jespersen-540757-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Benjaminrobyn Jespersen on Unsplash

1. Shut down, literally.

Turning off or setting aside the electronics at least two hours before bedtime will impact your ability to fall asleep as well as the quality of your sleep. Blue wavelengths benefit us greatly during the day by increasing our attention, reaction times, and brightening our mood. However, these are not qualities we want when we’re trying to settle in for a great night’s sleep. Try slowly shutting down earlier and earlier in the evening and observe how your sleep is impacted.

joanna-kosinska-470407-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

2. Establish a routine.

Establishing a nighttime routine will signal to your mind and body that it’s time to wind down. This could include a routine as simple as reading a few pages in a book or perhaps enjoying a warm beverage like a decaffeinated tea or my favorite Cinnamon Pumpkin Warm Milk.

heather-schwartz-731014-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Heather Schwartz on Unsplash

3. Utilize Natural Resources.

If you’re having difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep, there are a few all natural resources to utilize. Some of these include CBD oil (my favorite can be found here), Melatonin, Lavender essential oil (can find this here), and listening to recorded meditations.

I use CBD oil almost every night to keep my anxiety from creeping up and keeping me alert when I want to rest. Ensure you do your homework and find a high quality CBD oil to take advantage of it’s many benefits.  I also love to rub some lavender essential oil on my pillow or temples, and you could also diffuse it, put some drops of it in a bath, or create a bedtime room spray.  Taking some deep breaths of this soothing scent tells my nervous system it’s time for bed.

I pull out the Melatonin when I just can’t sleep and nothing else has worked. There are different dosages of Melatonin so keep that in mind when selecting this supplement. I recommend starting at a low dose, or even taking half a pill and then working up from there as needed.

rawpixel-1137676-unsplash.jpg

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

4. Move your body.

Moving your body regularly, whether it’s vigorous exercise or a walk in nature will help utilize energy during the day so your body can completely let go when it’s time to hit the hay.

I find when my body has been stagnant during the day it’s more difficult for my body to relax, as it has energy to burn. The key is to listen to your body and honor what it is telling you. Also keep in mind that body movement does not mean working up a sweat. Many times an extended stretching session on my living room floor is enough to give my body what it needs for the day.

 

Finding what works can be a fun experiment, and will also change depending upon life events, time of year, and more. By ensuring we are getting enough sleep, we are taking a major step in improving our overall health. Sweet dreams!

 

The light in me honors the light in you. 

Embracing The Holidays

With Thanksgiving a week away and the holidays in full swing, this is also prime time for diet talk, juice cleanses, low carb diets, and fasting to dominate social media feeds, television and radio commercials, and our general discussion amongst friends and family.

This time of year and it’s diet-obsessed energy always kicks my messaging into high gear, because I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to be terrified of the food that will be before me that day, and the day before, and the day after. I know what it’s like to feel weak, like a failure because my willpower failed me once again. If you are feeling anxious about being around family and friends this holiday season, if you’re feeling anxious about this body you inhabit, and the food you may or may not be consuming- I see you and I hear you.

I also know that you deserve so much more than the experiences described above. You deserve to feel empowered in your body and around food. You deserve to be able to be around food- any type of food- and be relaxed. And you deserve to set healthy boundaries.

brooke-lark-385507-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

I’ve listed a few simple tips below that may be helpful to keep in mind over the next couple of months.

1. Identify & Acknowledge Triggers

If we don’t identify and acknowledge what is triggering our feelings of depression, anxiety, or perhaps body shaming during this time of year (or any time of year!), we won’t be able to heal it.

This is a difficult journey because we have to come face to face with the deeper reasoning behind these feelings. However, once we get to this place, the healing can begin. You may know right away what may trigger emotions this time of year. If you do- excellent! If you aren’t aware of underlying emotions or triggers, journaling is a great way to identify and acknowledge. Simply put pen to paper and write about feelings or thoughts that have been arising for you lately. Don’t stop to analyze what you’re writing, just keep writing for 3-5 minutes. You could also ask trusted friends or family and they may be able to provide you with some insight.

Identifying and acknowledging is an amazing first step. Once we identify and acknowledge, we can start to pay attention to our feelings and emotions as they arise. At first we may only recognize them after the fact. This is fine- still acknowledge and sit with that feeling. Identify it- give it a name. Then perhaps you will be able to identify these feelings in the midst of the trigger, and maybe you’ll then be able to notice when they may occur before the trigger happens. Also keep in mind, you may never reach this point and that is ok! The power lies in identifying and acknowledging, not preventing the feeling from occurring.

derek-thomson-425630-unsplash.jpg

2. Set Boundaries

As the incredible Brene Brown says “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” Wow, how powerful is that?!

If you find yourself at a place where you’ve had or attempted to have healthy discussions about your feelings and the environment remains toxic, it may be time to set some boundaries.

Setting boundaries is choice we make to no longer expose ourselves to an environment that is harmful or toxic. They exist to give us permission to establish or maintain our mental health.

The concept of boundaries often comes up around the holidays because much of the anxiety that is felt this time of year is related to being around family members that we may only be exposed to during this season.  Further, many of us are taught to suck it up, to tolerate it in the moment, only to walk away feeling shame, pain, resentment for the remainder of the year until it happens all over again. Yes, there may be some anger or pain in response to boundaries being set, but this time the energy of this response will be different- because you will be different. When healthy boundaries are set, you will be treated differently because you have established your value.

Even if this means no longer participating in the family’s traditional holiday celebrations, you have freed yourself of a toxic environment and can move forward in your new boundary-setting journey!

priscilla-du-preez-444000-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

3. Eat Food

Yes, most of us are surrounded by and consume more food than we normally do on holidays like Thanksgiving. Sometimes we also have parties to attend with friends, events at work in which food is catered or provided by your fellow co-workers. Simply being around food and consuming food does not mean anything about you as a person. Not eating some food does not inherently make you better than others, and eating large quantities of food does not inherently make you less than anyone else.

Diet culture kicks into high gear around the holidays. I’m always amazed with the advertising of the average number of calories that are consumed on Thanksgiving. Just think about that- what is the purpose of this discussion? Does it change what you chose to consume that day, or does it only serve to make you feel worthless while doing so? On a day that is meant to stir feelings of gratitude for all that we have in this life, many of us expend that precious time and energy berating ourselves for what we’re putting in our bodies on one day. I also discuss how dangerous it is to label foods as “good” and “bad” here, and this is very apparent around the holidays.

Maybe this year instead of focusing on the food, take some deep breaths and look around. Look at the faces of your loved ones around the space. Feel your body and send gratitude towards it for keeping you here one more year. List some things you are grateful for, in that moment. And then eat.

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Warm Milk

The cooler temperatures have finally arrived and it looks like they’re here to stay!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am currently on a healing journey after being diagnosed with Dyshidrotic eczema. On this healing journey, I’ve been examining the foods I eat and have been going back to basics. I feel my body is needing a massive reset due to the amount of inflammation it has been experiencing. Reducing this inflammation and preventing future flare-ups involves keeping things simple- my food, my commitments, my life in general. I am honoring my body and giving it what it is requesting of me.

Throughout this journey I will be sharing recipes, successes, and lessons with you! I have enjoyed playing with new recipes and finding so much pleasure in returning to basic foods. It’s amazing how quickly our sense of taste can change when we allow it to by integrating new foods into our diet.

I have felt called to utilize some Ayurvedic recipes to heal my body.  One recipe that I’ve really been loving is a warm pumpkin beverage that is based on Ayurvedic medicine. I can do another post devoted entirely to Ayurveda, but in general, Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest and most sophisticated mind-body healing systems, originating from sages in India. Ayurveda is much more than the food you put in your body, but food is extremely important in how our mind, body, and spirit are balanced and connected.

drink2.jpg

I have this warm milk beverage at the end of the evening, before bed. The combination of the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and warmth are the perfect signal to my body that it’s time to rest and prepare to sleep. I have been struggling with difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep for several months now and this beverage has allowed me to sleep without any medication.

drink4

drink1

SERVES 1

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups milk of choice (I am a non-dairy consumer so I chose almond or coconut milk)
2 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated (about 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp coconut sugar (add more or less according to your desired sweetness)
1 tbsp coconut oil (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In small saucepan, combine all ingredients except coconut sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally, until completely heated.
  2. Optional: Froth with an electric frother.
  3. Pour contents into mug. Add coconut sugar for desired sweetness. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Drink warm.

drink5

I find that the amount of coconut sugar my body craves is different each day so I save that step until the end. This is a lovely ritual to close each day. Do you have rituals to end each day? I’d love to hear them!

I look forward to sharing many more stories and recipes with you as the end of 2018 approaches! Let me know what you think of this recipe as well- I’d love your feedback!

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

An Apple A Day

My favorite time of year is upon us! I am beyond ready for sweaters, pumpkins, cool weather, and new fall recipes.

This fall is also special for me because I will be beginning my Psychology of Eating program in October. I can’t help but feel like it’s back to school season. This program, in combination with me recently being diagnosed with Dyshidrotic Eczema, has started to challenge my beliefs about food. I feel I’m starting to utilize food in a new way – in a healing and medicinal way.

As a result of this recent revelation about my body’s need to heal, I have tried to implement a very basic and simplistic way to eating. It is up to each of us to tap into our own body’s wisdom throughout the (sometimes literal) seasons of life. And I feel my body asking for simplicity and grounding. I am honoring my body’s request by providing my body with simple foods that also re-connect me with the source of life – the Earth.

I recently purchased a juicer and have been having a blast playing around with some fun juice recipes – I can’t wait to share them with you soon!

One of the main components of my juices lately have been apples. Apples are in season at the moment, and my body has been craving them. They’re perfect for juicing because they balance out other veggies, such as celery, with some great sweetness. Since I’m currently loving apples, I want to share the numerous health benefits of these beauties. I think I’ll probably create a new series about the benefits of some of my go-to fruits and veggies.

So without further ado, here are some of the fabulous benefits of APPLES! Apples contain malic and tartaric acids, and these contribute to keep your body’s digestive system running at an optimum level. These acids keep food from fermenting in the stomach, allowing for better digestion. And the acids help the apple itself digest, but also aids in digesting other foods as well.

Speaking of digestive benefits – did you know that one apple has over 4 grams of fiber?! One great benefit of fiber, besides preventing colon cancer, is that it makes us feel fuller longer because it expands in the intestines and takes up volume.

Apples are also high in flavonoids, compounds that are thought to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Most flavonoids are found in the skin of the apple, so to get the most benefit be sure to keep the skin on when consuming them. These flavonoids also act as antioxidants by destroying free radicals that are destructive to genes, as well as reducing inflammation throughout the body.

Overall, apples have numerous health benefits so eat up!

What are your favorite fruits and veggies?!

The light in me honors the light in you. 

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Flea Treatment

Last week I realized my pup, Zoe, had fleas! She’s never had any type of infestation so this was all new to me. I still don’t know how she got them, but after the initial shock of this sunk in, I kicked into action and started researching treatment options.

Just as I try to utilize organic products in my home and beauty products, I also try to utilize organic products with Zoe. Being a new believer in doTERRA essential oils, I decided I would put them to the test. I did some extensive research, then put together a flea killing-slash-deterrent spray.

This is a simple DIY spray that can be made in 5 minutes flat. You can find an inexpensive empty spray bottle at your local dollar store – I found mine in the dollar bin at Target. You will also have plenty of essential oils remaining after creating this spray that you can use for various other uses.

After giving Zoe a bath and drying her off, I sprayed her with this essential oil spray. I also washed all of my linens in addition to her bedding and then gave them a generous spray. After vacuuming all of my flooring, I sprayed the carpets and couches as well.

Never having experienced this in the past, I wasn’t sure how long it would take to get rid of this infestation and I was determined to stay on top of it. After utilizing this regimen every day, all of her fleas were completely gone within 48 hours. WOW!

I continue to spray my bedding, couch, and carpets every 1-2 days, and continue to spray her daily as a precaution, however all signs of fleas are completely gone. I cannot tell you how relieved I am to not only have taken away this discomfort from my pup, but to also know that I didn’t have to resort to harsh chemicals to keep my fur baby and my home clean & sanitary!

Supplies:

Spray bottle (I used a 4 oz. bottle)
doTERRA Lemongrass essential oil
doTERRA Lavender essential oil
doTERRA Peppermint essential oil
Filtered water

Step 1: Fill up empty spray bottle with filtered water

Step 2: Add 5-8 drops of Peppermint, 5-8 drops of Lemongrass, and 4-6 drops of Lavender to the filtered water in the spray botttle

Step 3: Shake vigorously

Step 4: Spray away!

flea spray

 

You could also spray this on a bandanna and wrap it around your fur baby to use as an all-natural flea collar.

With animals it can be stressful starting a new treatment regimen because they aren’t able to voice if they’re in pain, discomfort, or if they’re feeling relief. It’s on us as owners to be vigilant and watch for these signs.

There are many essential oils that should never be used on animals and each animal may have individual allergies & reactions, so please use caution before implementing your own regimen. Please reach out if you have any questions, success stories, or concerns!

The light in me honors the light in you.