himalayan salt
All posts, Natural Living

Pink Himalayan Salt: Is It Better Than Using Table Salt?

Fact checked by Aimee McNew for Accuracy

Pink Himalayan Salt Benefits

Himalayan sea salt is noted for its pink color, and is considered to have numerous health benefits that go well beyond seasoning food. But what are the health benefits, really, and how can you use it?

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What is Himalayan Sea Salt?

Himalayan sea salt is primarily sodium chloride like other forms of salt, but is different in other ways. Himalayan sea salt is unique in that it is naturally pink in color.

It is harvested from Pakistan, and is found in massive salt mines that are around 5,000 feet below the Himalayan mountains.

While it is mostly known to be pink, it has several variations on the color spectrum, ranging from almost red to almost orange, or much paler in color and even sometimes pure white.

The difference in specific mineral content is what causes the range in color, and it’s thought that the iron content causes the pink-to-reddish hue.

Himalayan salt is also known as pink salt, rock salt, or crystal salt, and comes in several different grinds.

What Are the Health Benefits of Himalayan Salt?

Himalayan salt is considered to be the purest form of salt and it also has several health benefits. It contains anywhere between 60 to 84 trace elements, minerals, and trace minerals.

Celtic salt is the only other salt that is comparable to Himalayan salt in mineral content, but Himalayan salt has the most. These include:

  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Molybdenum
  • Iodine

While Himalayan salt still has sodium, like regular table salt, it is considered healthier because it has several nutrients and doesn’t affect blood pressure in the same way that iodized table salt does, although when eaten in excess it can still be problematic for some.

Salt is actually necessary for a healthy body, and too little salt can be far more serious than eating too much salt for most people.

Salt is required for ensuring that the cells function properly, that the nervous system is communicating, that digestion is effective, that nutrients from foods are absorbed, and that waste is eliminated from the body.

Himalayan salt can specifically benefit the following:

Respiratory problems

Himalayan salt is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory and is used in a therapeutic healing process known as halotherapy.

Halotherapy is a natural means of improving lung function and helping address breathing or lung-related issues like pneumonia and bronchitis, and is conducted in rooms or caves that are entirely made of blocks of Himalayan salt, typically with a loose salt floor, much like walking on sand.

Sitting in a room like this can help to loosen mucus, open airways, and decrease immune system reactivity, as in autoimmune disorders. Some modern spas now include salt rooms so that members can breathe in the deeply purified air as part of a rejuvenating cleanse.

Digestion

If digestion is problematic, such as with low stomach acid, reflux, or indigestion, mixing Himalayan salt with warm purified water and drinking it first thing in the morning can help to improve digestion over time.

This mix can also help to improve the muscle movements of the digestive system, known as peristalsis, helping to improve elimination in people who struggle with constipation or irregularity.

It can also boost metabolism. This should not be done by people who have high blood pressure or otherwise need to be on a low sodium diet.

Sleep quality

People who eat an excessively low-sodium diet tend to have more trouble sleeping.

The nervous system needs adequate amounts of salt to go into a proper state of relaxation, and when it doesn’t have enough salt or minerals (which Himalayan salt also provides), it remains in more active state, leading to more frequent wake ups or difficult falling asleep.

While everyone differs in their sodium needs, people tend to be afraid of sodium and salt and many default to not having enough, especially if they eat a diet low in processed foods.

Hydration

Himalayan salt contains natural electrolytes and can help to provide a stable amount of fluids for cellular use. When we become low in fluids or electrolytes, our fluid balance within cells can become disrupted.

While there are many electrolyte drinks available to buy, most if not all contain sugar, artificial sweeteners, and other unhealthy ingredients.

Balancing electrolytes naturally with Himalayan salt provides more benefit with less side effects, and Himalayan salt actually contains all of the required electrolytes: chloride, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous.

You can make your own electrolyte drink by pairing a pinch of Himalayan sea salt with 4 ounces of coconut water or purified water, a ½ teaspoon of raw honey, and a drop of liquid stevia.

Purify air

Himalayan salt lamps are popular and often seen in health food stores, but what do they do?

To a smaller degree than a salt room, Himalayan lamps can help to purify the air in individual rooms of a home or office.

As the lamp heats, it actually draws dust and other allergens and impurities into it, leaving cleaner air in the room, and reducing the amount of pollutants or irritants that you breathe in.

This only works as the salt warms from the heat source of the lamp.

Himalayan salt lamps never expire, since they are made of salt that is hundreds of thousands of years old, but some experts believe it’s best to replace them after a few years to ensure their purity.

Muscle cramps

Himalayan salt contains magnesium and potassium, which can both help to alleviate muscle cramps or Charley horses, especially when part of a regular diet.

Headaches

Many headaches are caused by a deficiency in magnesium, which is a mineral found in Himalayan salt. Magnesium and calcium in proper balance help to relax tight blood vessels, which can be a cause of recurring headaches.

pH Balance

When the body is too acidic, any number of health issues can creep up. Himalayan salt helps bring balance to the body’s pH levels, which is good for immunity and healthy digestion.

When digestion isn’t good, no matter how healthy we eat, we won’t be able to absorb the nutrients that our bodies desperately need.

Most people tend toward being overly acidic, which can cause any number of issues, ranging from digestive issues to vaginal infections to even cancer, as some health experts have suggested.

Thyroid health

Himalayan salt contains naturally occurring iodine which is essential for thyroid hormone production. Hypothyroidism can occur when the body lacks enough minerals or nutrients to make enough hormone or to convert it to the active, usable form.

Regular use of Himalayan salt instead of table salt may help to support the thyroid in normal, healthy function.

Adrenal health

The adrenal glands make hormones that help the body cope with stress, as well as reproductive hormones. They rely heavily on the right amount of nutrients to be able to make these hormones, but when the body is overly stressed or undernourished, adrenal hormones can be some of the first to get off balanced.

Sodium and potassium are especially critical to adrenal wellness, and they’re found in Himalayan salt. Maintaining adrenal health is essential for thyroid health, balanced sleep, and energy problems like chronic fatigue.

How Can You Use Himalayan Salt?

Himalayan salt has numerous uses, which is why it is available for purchase in varying levels of grinds. Ultra fine is perfect for seasoning food, whereas coarse rock salt is ideal for things like body scrub or bath soaks.

Seasoning food

Himalayan salt is not only healthy, but has a distinctly deeper flavor than basic table salt. Less salt can be used to achieve a deeper flavor profile. It can be used before, during, or after the cooking process depending on the type of dish.

In ancient times, Himalayan salt was often used to cure meat or fish. You can also use Himalayan salt when making fermented foods at home.

Using in drinks or with water

As mentioned above, Himalayan salt contains natural electrolytes and can be used to boost regular water, or can be combined with warm water as a digestive system support.

If you need extra electrolytes but don’t want to make an actual electrolyte beverage, you can just add a pinch of Himalayan salt to a glass of 12-16 ounces of water. Note: do not add salt or salt liquids to stainless steel or metal bottles.

Body scrub

Slough off dead or dry skin with a homemade body scrub recipe. While many use sugar, coarse Himalayan salt is magnesium-rich and can nourish the skin better than sugar.

Combine with coconut oil and a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a luxurious smelling scrub that will nourish your skin from the top down.

Pro tip: make small batches of the body scrub so that the salt doesn’t break down over time.

Bath soak

To provide relief to sore muscles, add one half to 2 cups of Himalayan rock salt to a warm or hot bath. This can be especially useful for athletes or people with chronic joint or muscle pain.

Allow the salt to dissolve for a few minutes before stepping into the bath, and soak for at least 10-20 minutes to achieve optimal effects.

Nasal rinse

If you struggle with seasonal allergies or postnasal drip, then an occasional neti pot flush of the sinuses with lightly salted water can have a cleansing impact. This is especially true if Himalayan salt is used thanks to its pH balancing and anti-inflammatory properties.

This is also a great way to manage or recover from a sinus infection. If you’ve never done a nasal rinse with a neti pot, follow the neti pot’s instructions for mixing the liquid, but swap in Himalayan salt instead of pure sodium chloride.

Detox bath

Similar to a bath soak in method, a detox bath focuses more on soaking to draw toxins out of the skin. When Himalayan salt is mixed with water, it has an ionic balance that can help to pull toxins from adipose tissue, or body fat.

Since most toxins are lipophilic, meaning they are stored in fat, this can be an effective method of removing certain kinds of toxins. You can increase the benefits of a detox bath by dry brushing before.

Using a natural fiber brush, sweep the skin in the direction of the heart, starting with legs, then arms, and then trunk.

How to Buy Himalayan Salt

There are lots of pink salts on the market, but not all of them are pure Himalayan salt. When purchasing, ensure that the label says that it was harvested in Pakistan.

Additionally, salt needs to be kept in cool, dark places to maintain mineral content, so purchasing from discount stores often means that it wasn’t always stored in a temperature controlled environment, like a grocery store or health food store might offer.

While Himalayan salt is certainly more expensive than white table salt, its health benefits make it so much more than just basic salt. Investing in Himalayan salt, whether to season your food or to use for other purposes, will address more health issues and provide more positive effects for the body.

Himalayan salt will last indefinitely if stored properly. Always keep it in a sealed container, away from moisture, in a cool, dark area. Most pantries work well unless they’re close to the stove.

If salt does get exposed to steam, it will clump together and may not be as easily used for cooking, but could still work for scrubs or baths. So even though salts will have “best by” dates when purchased, if stored properly, salt can be used long after this date has passed.

Best by dates are not the same as sell by or expiration dates.

Bottom line

Himalayan salt is an ancient mineral-rich salt that is often pink, red, or orange. It contains magnesium, potassium, and other minerals, and can be beneficial for many health conditions.

It can also be used therapeutically for conditions like breathing problems, muscle aches, and headaches, and can be used to make DIY body scrubs, bath soaks, and more.

This article was fact checked for accuracy by Aimee McNew, MNT, a certified nutritionist. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

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Pink Himalayan Salt Benefits: Is It Better Than Table Salt? | HappyBodyFormula.com

References

  1. Yepsen, R.B., Jr. (1987) How to Boost Your Brain Power: Achieving Peak Intelligence, Memory and Creativity. Emmaus, Pa.
  2. Beamon S, Falkenbach A, Fainburg G, Linde K. Speleotherapy for asthma.
  3. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(2):CD001741. Review. Update in: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;(2):CD001741.
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Using Herbs in Your Home
Natural Living, All posts

12 Ways to Use Herbs in Your Home (Other than Cooking!)

Using Herbs in Your Home
Even if you don’t have a herb garden (whether it be a few pots on your windowsill or meters of herbs planted in your backyard), fresh herbs are just a supermarket trip away.

We all love to cook with them, but did you know herbs can also be used in a number of fun and helpful ways around your home?

From bathroom products such as body scrubs and soaps, to cleaning sprays, room perfumes and decorative hangings – herbs go beyond garnishing your favorite meal. 

If you’re looking for ways to use herbs in and around your home, then you’re in luck. We’re sharing 12 brilliant DIY herb projects below!

LEFTOVER HERBS INTO CLEANING PRODUCTS

1. THREE WAYS TO TURN LEFTOVER HERBS INTO CLEANING PRODUCTS FROM THE KITCHN

Summertime often brings an abundance of herbs, so if you’ve got some extra bunches lying around your home, why not turn them into not one, but three of these genius (and all-natural) cleaning products?

This tutorial will show you how to use herbs as natural pest repellents, to add additional benefits and aromas to natural cleaning products, and to infuse in vinegar. So clever!

HOMEMADE MINT SUGAR SCRUB

2. HOMEMADE MINT SUGAR SCRUB FROM THE FAMILY FREEZER

Here’s a simple homemade mint sugar scrub that you can make in five minutes or less with ingredients from your grocery store, as well as some trusty herbs.  It’s exfoliating, moisturizing, and so easy to make! The best part?

It takes advantage of all of the fresh mint available this time of year, so you don’t have to let any go to waste.

HERBAL SOAP WITH ROSEMARY AND PEPPERMINT

3. HERBAL SOAP WITH ROSEMARY AND PEPPERMINT FROM LOVELY GREENS

This pretty and herbal soap contains essential oils, mineral color, and dried herbs and flowers, making it not just smell great, but be excellent for your skin too.

When it comes to decorating these soaps, feel free to use whichever herbs take your fancy – whether it be mint, rosemary, chamomile, or more. The herbs don’t just act as a decoration, but also work to exfoliate your dead skin cells.

ESSENTIAL OIL ROOM SPRAY

4. ESSENTIAL OIL ROOM SPRAY DIY FROM JOJOTASTIC

This eucalyptus essential oil spray smells so peaceful and has the added benefit of boosting immunity due to its antimicrobial properties, making it wonderful to spritz around during flu season.

It’s just a three-ingredient process: water, essential oil, and witch hazel, which can then be adorned with your favorite herbs to boost its fragrance (and health properties) even more.

ROSEMARY AND PEPPERMINT ENERGIZING SHOWER SOAP

5. ROSEMARY AND PEPPERMINT ENERGIZING SHOWER SOAP FROM GARDEN THERAPY

The scent of rosemary is used in aromatherapy to promote focus, memory, and reduce brain fog, while peppermint is claimed to help energize and refresh the mind and body.

That’s what makes this soap so beneficial for your morning shower, as it instantly puts you in a positive mood to start the day. Rosemary is also commonly used as a natural deodorizer, making this one all-natural soap that totally works.

HERBAL BATH MILKS

6. HERBAL BATH MILKS FOR WINTER FROM WILL FROLIC FOR FOOD

Bath milk recipes usually include milk powder, but this dairy-free version uses finely powdered oats as a great substitute for milk powder, still creating a luxurious, skin-softening and calming bath.

In this tutorial, you’ll find not one, but three luscious recipes for bath milk, containing goodness such as Epsom salts, clay, jojoba oil, essential oils, and of course, dried herbs!

DIY CALMING CHAMOMILE BATH OIL

7. DIY CALMING CHAMOMILE BATH OIL FROM HELLO GLOW

This DIY calming chamomile bath oil is wonderfully soothing, not just for skin but also for an anxious mind. This herb-infused bath oil contains dried chamomile flowers and essential oils such as lavender, rosemary, cedarwood, and camphor.

Then there’s beneficial ingredients such as sweet almond oil and fractionated coconut oil for moisture. Sounds divine!

DIY CITRONELLA CANDLES

8. DIY CITRONELLA CANDLES WITH HERBS FROM ON SUTTON PLACE

These DIY candles smell wonderful and repel mosquitoes naturally, making it a safer and healthier version than other store-bought alternatives.

They’re the perfect addition to any outdoor space, plus they make a pretty table centerpiece when entertaining guests. You can add herbs such as rosemary, basil, thyme and lavender, along with lemon and lime slices.

ROSEMARY PRESSED HERB CANDLES

9. ROSEMARY PRESSED HERB CANDLES FROM GARDEN THERAPY

These DIY pressed candles aren’t just a great way to try your hand at making candles, but they’re also a wonderful excuse to use up any herbs in your garden.

This project uses a mix of beeswax and soy wax, Mason jars, pressed rosemary leaves, and essential oils. Rosemary looks great in these candles, but you can also use herbs like thyme or lavender that are readily available in the garden, grocery store, or garden center.

DIY NATURAL ROOM SCENTS

10. DIY NATURAL ROOM SCENTS FROM THE YUMMY LIFE

Simply simmer water infused with spices, herbs, and fruit to make your very own natural room scents. Any herb can be used for making a room scent, but the ones that are sturdier and on woody twigs hold up the best.

This tutorial recommends using rosemary and thyme. Simply pair them with ingredients such as lemon, pine or cedar twigs/needles, spices (such as cinnamon sticks or cloves), and extracts.

DIY HERBAL DREAM PILLOWS

11. DIY HERBAL DREAM PILLOWS FROM GARDEN THERAPY

The herbal blend used in these DIY dream pillows is specifically chosen to release a fragrance that will promote calm and send you off to dreamland in a matter of minutes.

We all know how important a good night’s sleep is, but many find it hard to fall asleep quickly, not to mention to stay that way until the sun rises. These perfect little pillows contain ingredients such as dried hop heads, dried chamomile flowers, dried lavender buds, dried rose petals, and dried mint leaves.

MAKE YOUR OWN HERB DRYING RACK

12. MAKE YOUR OWN HERB DRYING RACK FROM HELLO GLOW

Your garden might be overflowing with fresh herbs, but many DIY projects and recipes will often call for the herbs to be dry. Now, we all know that dried herbs can cost a small fortune at the supermarket, which is why your very own herb drying rack can come in handy.

Don’t see the need to dry your herbs? Why not use this as a beautiful decoration within your home (like an alternative chandelier) when guests come over for dinner? Genius!

Time Inspire Your Home With These Amazing Herb Ideas

There you have it – 12 ways to use herbs in your home that you’re sure to love!

Remember, even if you live in the tiniest apartment in the world, you can still benefit from utilizing herbs in your everyday life – whether they’re store-bought or straight from the garden. Herbs contain wonderful health and beauty benefits, plus they give off beautiful aromas to fill your home with.

What’s great about the DIY projects listed above, is that it doesn’t matter how experienced you are at crafting – there’s something on this list for everyone.

Start with the project you feel most comfortable with (like infusing some oil with fresh herbs), then work your way up to those that might take more time and energy.

It’s time to embrace the natural wonders of herbs!

Which herb project will you be tackling this weekend? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

12 Ways to Use Herbs in Your Home | HappyBodyFormula.com

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clay
All posts, Natural Living

9 Reasons to Use Bentonite Clay to Boost Your Health

Bentonite Clay

Bentonite clay has been used to improve health for thousands of years, but modern trends are just starting to catch on. Made of weathered, volcanic ash, bentonite clay is a natural product from the earth that has unlimited potential for wellness.

Named for Fort Benton, Montana, bentonite clay is used to refer to clay harvested there and other locations. It has become the ubiquitous term when it comes to weathered, volcanic ash clays.

Bentonite clay has many health benefits largely due to the fact that when clay is used topically or internally it initiates chemical processes that attract positive ions to its negative electrical charge.

This means that it can help to rid the body of toxins, but also boost digestion and lead to reduced inflammation.

9 Health Benefits of Bentonite Clay

Bentonite clay has numerous health benefits, both internal and topically. These are the most popular ways to use this natural, earthy supplement.

1. Rich in Nutrients

Bentonite clay is chock full of nutrients. Because clay is a natural product from the earth, it is safe for ingestion and in fact offers a hefty nutritional boost.

While there are no known side effects, children and pregnant women should not take it, and anyone who takes prescription medications should be sure to check with their doctor to make sure there are no overlapping concerns.

Clay is rich in minerals which are commonly low in many people’s diets. It includes:

  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Silica
  • Manganese

While these nutrients can be received from other supplements, taking them in via a natural substance like bentonite clay can help to ensure that they absorb better in the digestive tract.

2. Boosts Digestion

Bentonite clay is safe to take internally and when used, can help to boost digestion. This works in several ways.

First, clay can neutralize bacteria in the body which is harmful and can lead to digestive and gut problems. Secondly, not only can clay absorb viruses and other invaders in the body, but it can also address digestive upset symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, and intestinal pain.

It can even address more chronic conditions like IBS and certain forms of irritable bowel disease, although it always needs to be run by your doctor if you’re facing chronic disease.

Bentonite clay has a protective effect on the gut lining, which means it can naturally help to defend against the development of leaky gut and can prevent it from worsening if it is already present.

Clay is best used for digestive benefits when taken regularly.

3. Increases Natural Immunity

In the same way that clay can remove viruses or bacteria from the digestive system, so it protects overall immunity. It can absorb and prevent growth of common bacteria but it can also treat more dangerous infections like salmonella, staph, MRSA, and E. coli. (source)

It can even work in situations where the bacteria have become antibiotic resistant.

While clay has proven benefits, it’s always important to keep your doctor in the loop, especially when it comes to dangerous bacteria.

Don’t self-medicate with clay if antibiotics have been recommended and don’t take with antibiotics as the clay can reduce the efficiency of them.

4. Detoxes the Body

In a similar way that it can remove bacteria and viruses from the body, clay can also promote natural detox. Because clay has negative ions, it can attract positively charged ions in the body and bind with them.

Items with positive charges in the body can include toxins and chemicals from the environment that make their way into the body, such as VOCs (volatile organic compounds), heavy metals, and other harmful substances.

You can take advantage of bentonite clay’s detox benefits by ingesting clay daily. Add a half-teaspoon to a full glass of water and drink it. While you might notice a slight earthy taste, it doesn’t have a strong flavor or scent, making it easy to consume.

When you’re just starting a bentonite clay detox, start very small—perhaps even just one-eighth of a teaspoon, and gradually increase over several days to a few weeks. Pay attention to how you feel. Don’t exceed more than one full teaspoon daily.

You can drink bentonite clay daily, or you can do it a few times per week, or you can do it sporadically (drink it daily for a week or two, and then take a few weeks or months off).

When you’re first getting started with a clay detox, you may notice detox symptoms like headaches, body aches, or fatigue as the clay rids the body of toxins. Hydrate more as needed to help address this discomfort.

Before ingesting clay, ensure that the type you’ve purchased is for internal use as some products are exclusively for topical purposes.

5. Supports Healthy Skin

Clay can help to promote healthy, supple, and vibrant skin by adhering to bacteria and other toxins on the surface and removing them.

Clay masks are a popular spa therapy that can also help to promote skin firmness and elasticity and can help to keep pores free and clear, leading to reduced blemishes and acne occurrence.

Clay is so nourishing and supportive of healthy skin that it’s also an effective topical therapy for cuts, burns, stings, and rashes—even poison ivy.

Bentonite clay can be used regularly without harsh side effects. It’s also beneficial for addressing eczema and psoriasis without further aggravating the conditions.

6. Builds Respiratory Health

Respiratory infections can range from mildly irritating to dangerous, especially in those with compromised immune systems or existing chronic conditions. Clay can help to combat adenovirus and similar infections that cause respiratory issues like difficulty breathing.

It can be taken internally with water, one-quarter to one-half teaspoon daily. It’s important to understand that clay can’t replace medical treatment of infections, but is a natural therapy that may improve health and help other treatments to be more effective.

7. Encourages Natural Weight Loss

Fat in the body stores toxins, so in much the same way that clay can bind to toxins and remove them from the body, it can help to encourage the shedding of excess body fat.

Consuming clay internally can work well in conjunction with eating antioxidant rich and alkalizing foods and gut-boosting nutrients.

While research on the effects of clay on weight loss is limited, it has shown that regular intake of bentonite clay can lower cholesterol levels and result in lowered inflammation, both of which are associated with healthier body weights.

8. Purifies Drinking Water

Fluoride is added to drinking water and dental products because it’s thought to prevent cavities, but the problem is that fluoride stays in the body and has been linked to chronic conditions like thyroid disease, diabetes, hormone disruption, brain damage, inflammation, and toxicity.

When clay is added to basic tap water along with magnesium or pH balanced drops, it can help to increase the purity of the water. It’s far simpler and less expensive than most in-home filtration or purification systems and is perfect for drinking water on the go.

9. Improves Dental Health

The mouth has the potential to be a breeding ground for bacteria, toxins, and chemicals. Even with proper dental healthcare methods, the gums can still be susceptible to inflammation and disease, many times in response to hormone changes, diet, lifestyle, and side effects from medications.

Clay can bind to the toxins in the mouth, including around the teeth and gums, and remove them. This can both be preventive for gum disease or inflammation and can also help to naturally address it.

Bentonite clay is naturally antibacterial which is why it’s commonly seen in natural toothpaste and mouthwash. You don’t have to buy existing products though—you can easily make your own.

Even brushing your teeth with pure clay powder is an effective way of cleansing the mouth.

Swishing with clay in water once or twice daily can help to address gum inflammation and can even work to balance mouth irritations like canker sores, cuts, or burns.

Bottom line: Bentonite clay has numerous health benefits that stem from its ability to bind with toxins, chemicals, and bacteria and remove them from the body. It can be used internally or topically, and is safe for regular use.

 14 Ways to Use Bentonite Clay

Bentonite clay is a completely natural product with few known side effects or complications. Use it in the following ways to boost your health and level up your wellness routine.

Whether it’s for your skin, your mouth, or your digestion, or anything in between, bentonite clay is the kind of staple you’ll always want to have in your medicine cabinet.

  1. Apply clay directly to skin to address conditions like eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and rashes. Mix clay and water in a one-to-one ratio to form a paste. Apply to affected areas a few times a day for as long as needed.
  2. Use clay for acne, pimples, or skin blemishes. Apply to the affected area after mixing with water and allow to dry. Gently cleanse with warm water. Use once or twice daily as needed.
  3. Exfoliate the skin by making a facial mask with clay.
  4. Fight wrinkles and saggy skin by using clay masks, which help to boost collagen and increase natural firmness.
  5. Take the sting out of bug bites and stings by applying the area as a poultice.
  6. Address minor burns by applying a clay paste.
  7. Add one-third of a cup of bentonite clay to your bath for a whole-body skin-soothing and nourishing experience. Soak for 30 minutes and moisturize with coconut oil or a similar body oil afterward.
  8. Spread clay paste on your armpits daily for a few weeks to a month to ease the transition from conventional, toxic antiperspirants to natural deodorants, or even to eliminate the need for deodorant altogether. Alternatively, you can use it to make your own deodorant by pairing it with some coconut oil and applying as a deodorant paste. You can even add your preferred essential oils for a scented version.
  9. Gargle clay in your mouth for 30-60 seconds as a detoxifying mouth wash. Spit and rinse afterward. Do not swallow, as the clay will collect toxins from the mouth that you don’t want to ingest. This is especially beneficial for gum disease or gingivitis.
  10. Dip your tooth brush in bentonite clay and use as a natural tooth powder. It is basically tasteless and can help to clean the teeth without harmful ingredients and does not bother sensitive teeth.
  11. Swish daily with bentonite clay in water to help add necessary minerals to the mouth but also to strengthen tooth enamel and boost natural whiteness.
  12. Bentonite clay can be used as a baby powder to cut down on redness, irritation, or infection in the diaper area. Apply the plain powder in the same way that other baby powder works.
  13. Use clay as a natural way to help pets recover from illness, too. It’s safe and can reduce vomiting or diarrhea.
  14. Clay can bind to parasites within the body and help to remove them, although if you have a true parasite its essential to consult a qualified medical practitioner for a proper line of treatment.

How and Where to Purchase Bentonite Clay

Bentonite clay is available for purchase in most health food stores and online. When choosing a product, make sure that it suits your purposes.

While all clay can be used topically, some of it will be marked that it’s not to be used internally. To ingest clay, make sure to choose a supplemental form of clay that is safe for internal use.

Clay is a grayish or cream color that can sometimes have a greenish hue. If clay appears to be bright white it can be a sign that the product has gone bad and should not be used. Most clay will appear brown, tan, or a medium gray color.

Clay doesn’t have a strong odor and only has a mildly earthy taste.

To determine the dose, follow the instructions on your product, but always start smaller than recommended and work your way up to avoid any unpleasant detox symptoms, which can be more common when first starting to use clay.

9 Reasons to Use Bentonite Clay to Boost Your Health | HappyBodyFormula.com

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how-to-use-witch-hazel (1)
Beauty & Skin Care, All posts, Natural Living

Wonderful Witch Hazel – The Secret To Glowing Skin

When it comes to medicine cabinet and skincare staples, there are few things I get as enthusiastic about as witch hazel. I just love this stuff!

It’s refreshing, effective, and I look forward to using it everyday in the morning and the night. My skin loves to soak this stuff up for good reason, and I’ve found so many creative uses for it.

It’s gentle enough to use 2-3 times per day, and it keeps my skin hydrated, toned, and acne-free.

Because I love it so much, I want to share a little more about witch hazel with you guys today. We’ll talk about what exactly witch hazel is, some of its beneficial properties, and a few awesome ways to use it.

What is witch hazel?

witch-hazel-benefits-1 (1)

Witch hazel or Hamamelis virginiana is a flowering plant with species that grow in North America, China, and Japan. As you can tell, this deciduous shrub is quite beautiful and vibrant!

Not only is this plant a lovely addition to your year-round garden – it’s also a medicinal shrub, and its extract is often used topically as an astringent compound.

It’s quite common to find it as an ingredient in skincare products. In fact, you may have seen it packaged and sold all on its own.

Let’s break it down! The main constituents of witch hazel include calcium oxalate, gallotannins, safrole,  tannins, flavonoids, saponins, choline, gallic acid, and bitters which work together as a powerful skincare tool.

It’s been used for medicinal purposes in Native American culture for many years. Traditionally, the astringent is created by boiling the shrub stems although distillation is necessary for optimal beneficial properties.

The benefits of witch hazel

how-to-use-witch-hazel (1)

For skin health, witch hazel is key. It’s no surprise that it’s been used for centuries as a natural topical remedy.

Because it is anti-bacterial, astringent, antioxidant-rich, and anti-inflammatory, it provides a wide range of relieving treatments for all things skin-related which we’ll talk more about below.

Considering the skin is technically the body’s largest organ, it’s vital to take care of that. Naturally, there are foods and certain nutrients that are great for skin health and some of that work is done from the inside out.

In addition to that, it’s important to consider all that our skin is exposed to daily. In our modern world, there’s a whole lot going on and our tough skin takes the brunt of it.

Instead of adding fuel to the fire with unnatural, additive-ridden skincare products, reducing that toxic load begins in your medicine cabinet.

Witch hazel is gentle, mild, and seldom elicits a reaction, making it safe for most people to use without undesired side effects. Not only does it work to give you that natural glow on the face – it’s also a powerful healing agent for minor abrasions, burns, and even hemorrhoids.

How to use witch hazel

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Everyday toner

Use witch hazel after washing the face and before applying moisturizer as a natural toner. Toner works to pick up any extra dirt on the face and in the pores while smoothing out the pigmentation of the skin.

It also helps keep acne at bay. Simply use a washcloth or cotton ball to gently dab witch hazel on the face, avoiding the eyes. Let dry and apply your favorite moisturizer and/or serum.

Gentle makeup removal

You can simply use witch hazel after a wash to make sure all the makeup is gone if you wear lightweight makeup like a tinted moisturizer or mineral powder.

If you have a heavier face of makeup to remove, DIY your own effective removal concoction. Mix 3-4 tablespoons of witch hazel with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil or softened coconut oil.

Shake it up and use before the two separate. This will prevent an oily face and clogged pores while still effortlessly gliding off even the toughest makeup – just be careful around the eyes, and keep your eyes shut while removing eye makeup.

Acne treatment

Acne is often caused by a buildup of oil throughout the day. If you have particularly oily skin, you know it can be a pain to manage when it’s acting up. Swab witch hazel throughout the day to keep your skin balanced and avoid acne-prone situations.

Witch hazel is particularly effective because it won’t dry out your skin in the process like many other products designed specifically for oily skin.

Relieve itching from bug bites

Summertime is prime time to be outside and enjoy the sunshine! Unfortunately, that also means lots of irritable, itchy bug bites.

Instead of suffering through it, dab a bit of witch hazel on the inflamed areas to speed up the healing process. Witch hazel contains both anti-itch and anti-inflammatory properties which will provide immediate relief in addition to reducing swelling.

Reduce ingrown hairs & soothe razor burn

Witch hazel makes a great aftershave product. It will help to clear out any bacteria after a clean shave to prevent painful and unsightly ingrown hairs and other skin infections.

Moreover, it will help soothe any irritation you might have from razor burn, even in sensitive areas. Say goodbye to red, rash-y skin!

Treat hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are a huge pain in the butt – no pun intended. As an anti-inflammatory agent, witch hazel is a great way to reduce the uncomfortable pain.

Simply apply to the irritated area after each bowel movement. You can safely use it up to six times per day to prevent further inflammation, bleeding, itching, and burning.

Of course, it’s best to check with your doctor first. Furthermore, make sure to use plain witch hazel as some contain other scents/ingredients that may not be safe for this purpose.

Get rid of dark under eye circles

You don’t want to wear a bad night of sleep all over your face. Those puffy, dark, under-eye circles can be burdensome and take the pep out of your step.

The soothing, anti-inflammatory nature of witch hazel can help you look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in a pinch. Use a cotton ball to swab some beneath the eyes to reduce discoloration and water retention.

Minor skin rashes

For minor instances of redness, irritation, or itchiness, witch hazel can help. It’s safe to use even for diaper rash as it’s a gentle formula suitable for even the most sensitive skin.

It is helpful – especially in this instance – to do a patch test on the skin to assure there is no reaction.

Speed up healing time from minor injuries & wounds

For minor cuts and burns, you can use witch hazel to speed up the healing process. It’s “nature’s Neosporin.” You can use it in place of alcohol to clean out a cut or burn.

It also works well on blisters or bruises.

Use it to reduce appearance of scars

Scars and stretch marks can make us feel rather self-conscious. Over time, they’ll hopefully fade into a lighter color.

Witch hazel application can lighten scars/stretch marks, reducing visibility and making the overall process a bit more efficient. On the same hand, they can also be used to reduce appearance of varicose veins.

Natural deodorant

Because witch hazel is astringent and works to remove excess oil, it can be used as a natural deodorant. Many conventional deodorants contain aluminum which you want to avoid.

You can dab it on with a cotton ball. For those with underarm hair, using witch hazel from a spray bottle will be more effective. If you want to add some fragrance to the mix, simple dilute a drop or two of your favorite essential oils into the mix.

Boom – you’re fresh all day (even in the gym!).

Hair & scalp treatment

Many people have a dry scalp that causes dandruff. Many folks also have a rather oily scalp, burdened by the need to shampoo daily which depletes natural oils from the hair.

Witch hazel can help both conditions with its moisturizing and oil-reducing properties. Mitigate the excess oil and replenish moisture with witch hazel.

Like with oily skin, witch hazel won’t cause dry scalp while doing its job to remove the oil. You can simply add some to your normal shampoo or conditioner, or make your own hair product with it using argan oil, coconut oil, and essential oils.

Additionally, you can use it in-between shampoos to normalize and balance texture.

Treat poison ivy and poison oak

If you got unlucky in the woods, witch hazel is here to the rescue! Poison oak and poison ivy can be excruciatingly painful and irritating.

Use witch hazel for pain relief and to reduce redness while the affected area clears up.

Reduce gum and tooth pain

Witch hazel isn’t just good for topical application. Because it’s anti-inflammatory, witch hazel can be used as a pain-relieving mouthwash.

Swish some around in your mouth if your gums and teeth are sore or irritated. It will help clean out any ulcers or bacteria. For the best results, use after brushing. Make sure not to swallow any witch hazel, and rinse with water after using.

Clear up ear infection

Finally, you can use witch hazel in the ears to reduce wax, treat swimmer’s ear, or help to clear up an infection. Due to its antibacterial properties, it will slow or inhibit the growth of infection entirely, soothing sore ears and helping to lessen the frequency of ear infection.

Simply use an ear dropper or syringe to place a few drops in the ear, or use a cotton swab to clean the outer parts of the ear with it.

Let us know – do you use witch hazel? Are you as in love with this essential skincare product as much as we are? If you’re not already convinced, we hope you learnt more today and that you’ll give it a try.

Want More Natural Products You Can Use Around Your Home?

Home Remedies ToolkitThen get yourself a copy of the Home Remedies Toolkit downloadable guide with 215+ DIY recipes for making your own natural health and beauty products and non-toxic cleaning supplies. Each recipe is beautifully presented with stunning photography and will save you a fortune as you discover how to stop buying toxic products for your home, health and beauty regime and instead replace with better, greener and cheaper alternatives. Get your copy here. 

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10 Kitchen Habits Will Help You Lose Weight

There’s the old saying, “Abs are made in the kitchen – not the gym,” and there’s a lot of truth in that. You can work your butt off in the gym and end up getting nowhere – especially when it comes to weight loss – if you’re not paying attention to your nutrition. Eating healthy takes a lot of dedication and preparation, but we’re all about helping you make things easy in the cooking department. That’s why we’ve created a make-ahead meal plan and the 30-day Happy Body Formula program. When you have an outline and rules to follow, you’re simply more inclined to do it by the books.

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Whether you find yourself constantly slipping from the routine or just can’t find your groove with a spatula in-hand, these kitchen habits are what we’ve found – ourselves and with our participants – to be the most essential to long-term, sustainable weight loss.

1. Prep your veggies

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Food waste can become quite burdensome when you shift over to primarily cooking from scratch. One scenario is that you set the bar too high to complete the task of working through all that fresh food and instead opt for eating out a few times over the course of the week , inevitably eating larger portions and more calorie-dense foods. OR, you find the portions of real food to be a bit large. This is actually a common problem that most people don’t expect. When you’re eating protein and veggies, you can really stack your plate high!

If cooking seems like it just takes too long sometimes and you run out of steam, prepping your veggies is a motivational way to actually get around to eating ’em. Use a spiralizer or food processor to easily “noodle” or “rice” your veggies. Chop vegetables to eat as snacks, or slice and dice them for quick and easy stir-fry or addition to omelettes and salads. This way, you produce is accessible, even if you’re feeling uninspired to eat it. We have to create our own convenience.

2. Clean out the pantry

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Perhaps before anything, you should rid the kitchen of temptation. Whether or not you’re confident in your willpower and ability to resist, we all face weak moments when chocolate is the only answer, and right now. Having a bar of dark chocolate for emergency situations is a lot different than a pantry full of snacks for the ‘kids’ that you occasionally dip into. Examine your current habits and cravings, and ditch anything that sets you back.

It’s easier to make healthy choices when we make it easy. If you can’t do a full-on clean sweep, at least remove any temptation from direct vision and clear out the countertops. Modern society and eating standards don’t exactly make saying, “No” a simple task all the time. Considering you have the freedom of choice under your own roof, you should be taking advantage of it. Plus, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ works.

3. Prepare for the snack attack

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Meal prep is good and all, but when your snack attack inevitably hits, you need to be prepared. A bare pantry isn’t going to lend itself well to healthy snacking, and you’re going to be much more likely to seek that sweet or salty treat from an outside source. Moreover, it’s likely going to be a convenience food, and food that is convenient isn’t notoriously healthy.

Make yourself some pre-measured bags of nuts/seeds, make sure you have fresh, seasonal fruit on the counter, grab some bars you enjoy (we love RXBAR!), boil eggs in the beginning of the week, stock the fridge with protein-rich foods like deli meats, or get a fat boost with nut butter or your favourite olives. Other favourites of mine include kale chips, pork rinds, and half an avocado with some hot sauce. The key is having options at your disposal and having the right portions of these snacks handy.

4. Get into the habit of measuring food

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You might be surprised at what you think is a normal portion versus what is actually a normal portion. Whether or not you’re opting to count calories shouldn’t matter. Being mindful of how much you’re consuming is a good habit to get into for weight loss. Use measuring spoons and measuring cups to your advantage for almost-effortless portion control. If you want to get into it, start weighing out energy-dense foods – fatty cuts of meat, nuts, and oil/dressings, in particular. A food scale can be a fabulous addition to the counter if you use it.

Eventually, you’ll have a better eye for what a normal portion looks and feels like. That way, you can be more intuitive about cooking the right amount of food for your goals, and eyeing up healthy portions while eating out. Many people simply have no idea what a normal portion looks like, especially with restaurants dishing out super stacked plates more and more frequently!

5. Buy freezer-friendly foods

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This can take on two habits. First, you can buy food that’s already been frozen. Frozen veggies are often picked at their peak and flash frozen, thus retaining loads of nutrients! They could actually be more nutritious than the fresh veggies, especially if you’re buying at a big-box grocer. This also opens up more options. Many grocery stores will have healthy options like frozen cauliflower rice, already-roasted veggies, spiralized veggies, and more. These make cooking healthy meals a breeze, and you don’t have to worry about food waste.

Another option is to freeze produce yourself. You can easily freeze any fruits you have without much more than slicing and dicing them. If you want to freeze veggies, many can be frozen raw, but it’s good to par-boil them first. Lay everything flat in plastic bags for optimal storage, and label them. You’ll thank yourself later. Having a stocked freezer means you seldom run out of options for a quick, nutritious meal.

6. Batch cook

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This is a rule we can get behind. You can really adapt batch cooking to your style. For starters, you can choose the standard style of doing some meal prep once a week. Get in the kitchen for just 3-4 hours with a few recipes in hand and portion them out for easy, grab-and-go meals throughout the week. If you need help starting this habit up, check out our free 7-Day Make Ahead Meal Plan.

Another option is to cook as you go throughout the week, but double or triple (depending on how many people you’re feeding) the recipe so you have lunch for the next day. That way, you’re only cooking once or twice a day, but still eating homemade, nourishing, weight loss-friendly meals three times a day. You do the math – it pays off!

7. Reserve leftovers for leftovers

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It’s easy enough to head back to the hot food on the stove when you’re still feeling peckish after dinner, but in reality, you likely haven’t given your food enough time to digest. If you have trouble with going back for seconds or thirds, packing up the leftovers into glass containers (check out our safe storage recommendations) and putting them into the fridge will help you differentiate what’s for dinner now, and what’s for dinner later.

For some people, this could really change the portion control game in a pretty simple way, thus helping you reach your weight loss goals. Plus, it reinforces the whole notion of batch cooking. What good are leftovers if you eat them at dinner? No good if they no longer exist.

8. Eat from smaller dishes

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One of the problems we face when we serve ourselves is the plate size. Naturally, we want to fill up the plate. It’s human nature, and it’s what we’ve been taught to do. How many of you are members of the “clean plate club?” Often, it’s ingrained in us that we have to finish every last bite (thanks mum and dad!), but that puts a lot of pressure on us when the plate we’re eating from is large in the first place, and it’s loaded to its edges.

Buy a set of smaller dishes to eat from, and you’ll inherently fill it up with less food. While less food isn’t always better, this is yet another simple way to tap into more mindful eating, getting your portion sizes right, and losing weight. In the case of starches and heavier foods, it can cut back on the amount you’re taking in significantly. It’s still good to measure your food, but consider this a kitchen experiment and see how it goes for you.

9. Make the kitchen a mindful space

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Rushing through a meal, scrolling through Instagram as you shovel in food by the forkful, or watching television with dinner on your lap are all big no-no’s if you’re trying to lose weight. When you enjoy eating, pay attention to the flavours and aromas, and focus on how thankful you are for your food, you’re more likely to stop when you’re full and eat more intuitively.

When we’re distracted, our brains aren’t 100% focused on managing our hunger cues which means we’re prone to overeating. When we make this a habit, it really deters us from weight loss and can even contribute to weight gain. Learn more about mindful eating, and start practicing mindful meals with as few distractions as possible. For starters, shut off the TV and leave your phone in the other room. Turn on some music, talk to the company you have, or simply enjoy the peace and quiet.

10. Make smoothie packs

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It’s good to have a freezer packed with food, but you want some easy-to-make options in there as well. Making smoothie packs could be the answer. Use some of your favourite fruits, add in some healthy fats from avocado or coconut milk, toss in a handful of greens, and you’re good to go. This makes smoothie blending in the morning simple, and you hardly even have to think about it. That way, you can measure the ingredients ahead of time.

When you blend up, consider adding some collagen peptides or one of our recommended paleo protein powders to make it a complete meal. If you don’t have a blender, it’s time to get one! We recommend the NutriBullet. Take the 7-Day Green Smoothie Challenge if you want to experiment with new and exciting ways to get in those nutrients. For those struggling with weight loss, making one liquid meal per day can really help keep hunger in check if you use the right ingredients.

Feel free to comment below with your own kitchen tips that helped get you in shape. What’s your secret? If you liked this article, make sure to share it!

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20 Mantras to Keep You Motivated

Who doesn’t love a good inspirational quote? Sometimes, you read a few lines that just stick with you. That’s what we hope to give you here today with these mantras. I love finding quotes that resonate with me and writing them down in my bullet journal, tossing them up on a sticky note attached to my mirror, or highlighted in a book. Often, I read a good quote at the right time – just when I need it the most.

Sometimes, these quotes become mantras. A mantra is a little different; to me, it’s something you live by. It’s one of those repeat-worthy thoughts that boil up in your head as soon as the going gets tough. They’re gentle reminders to yourself that this is how I live. Hopefully, you find some motivation and inspiration here.

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Realising you can choose whether or not to act or react is a big “aha” moment for so many people. Next time something out of your control causes an initial knee-jerk reaction to boil up, think before you act or before you speak. You can respond thoughtfully and mindfully – you have that freedom! (Quote: Buddha)

motivational quotes and mantras

Now that is what I call a mantra! This one is easy to remember with the three C’s. Those three words, repeated over and over and applied to different situations in your life, will carry you though as you embrace choice, chance, and change, both together and as a whole process. (Quote: Unknown)

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Failure scares everyone. You’re not alone. If failure deterred everyone from trying, nothing would ever get done. None of the most groundbreaking discoveries would be made. People’s dreams would never come true. Doubt is the enemy, and you have two ways around it; embrace doubt and welcome it in, or gently push doubt aside and keep putting one foot in front of the other. (Quote: Suzy Kassem)

motivational quotes and mantras

Think of this life – or simply the hurdle you face – as a mountain. Better yet, think of it as untouched land. Nobody has ever walked this earth before you. Yes, it’s scary to take on the unknown. Remember this, though; you are not alone, and by doing this now, you will inspire others to do the same. Gear up, grab a friend, and put on your brave face. Every step of that journey will be worth it when you reach the summit and look out over the edge. (Quote: Unknown)

motivational quotes and mantras

This is a powerful one for many. The golden rule – “Treat others as you would like to be treated” – isn’t thought of in reverse quite often enough. Think of the way you approach friends, family, and even your children. You do it gently with love and compassion, especially when they are struggling! You have to do the same for yourself. (Quote: Jane Travis)

motivational quotes and mantras

Comparison is the thief of joy. It’s easy to look at other people’s achievements, accomplishments, and experiences and think to yourself, “I’m not enough” in some capacity. It’s even easier to do with social media and a constant stream of someone else’s highlight reel at our fingertips. Working on your own growth and vibrancy is YOUR focus. Don’t let someone else’s success undermine what you’ve already done. (Quote: David Peplinski)

motivational quotes and mantras

Think of each time you’ve felt accomplished. Truly, utterly accomplished. Those times are often accompanied by looking back at where you started and the word “impossible” comes to mind. You have to focus on the outcome, not just the immediate results of your action. The most worthwhile pursuits are never easy, and we often face a lot of setbacks on the path to where we want to go. Just keep going. (Quote: Elon Musk)

motivational quotes and mantras

Life is absolutely full of uncertainty and existential questions. It can feel overwhelming and cause anxiety at times. When those questions get to be too much, harness in on what IS certain, always; you! You can always work on improving yourself even in the face of adversity. You’re the most important project in your life at any given time, so give it a good go. (Quote: Albert Camus)

motivational quotes and mantras

The times in which you feel defeated are the most crucial to your success. Those are the times in which you need the most to push forward. Sure – you can take a step back, you can reevaluate, you can take a break, but don’t accept defeat. By proving to ourselves we can work hard when it feels like we can’t go forward, we build up the strength we need. Show yourself how strong you can be. (Quote: Maya Angelou)

motivational quotes and mantras

There is no better time to start than now. The worst disservice you can to do yourself in the face of your dreams, hopes, and desires is to put them off for another moment. There is always something you can be doing to working towards making that happen. Do it for YOU. (Quote: Napoleon Hill)

motivational quotes and mantras

It’s easy to get discouraged when we don’t feel like we’re at the right place to begin, or we don’t have the resources we have to get started, or that our potential just isn’t great enough. Here’s a secret: IT IS. Use what you have in this moment. Whatever it is, it is enough. (Quote: Arthur Ashe)

motivational quotes and mantras

Courage can be hard to come by and even more difficult to cultivate. When we’re feeling doubtful, anxious, or unprepared, it’s much more difficult for us to show up. Whether that’s in our partner’s life, at our jobs, or just taking up space with our bodies or our words, you have to step foot in the room first. Let yourself be seen – shoulders back, chest out, head high – as you are. (Quote: Brene Brown)

motivational quotes and mantras

What is mastery built upon? Practice does make perfect, so repeating the same tasks over and over will undoubtedly make you better at them. Whether this is an actual skill you’re developing or simply the mastering if your ideal lifestyle and personal development, consistency is key. Change doesn’t happen in a night. Think of all the years you spent out of practice, and remember, to reverse the process can take just as long – if not longer. Don’t let that discourage you from getting whatever it is you’re working on done each day. (Quote: Robin Sharma)

motivational quotes and mantras

Think about everything in your life that has changed. Think about the most beautiful acts of transformation you’ve ever witnessed in yourself, in the people you love, or in nature. Think about this: those acts of change weren’t resisting that change. It’s easy for us to get caught up in what we used to be, what we used to want, and a whole lot of the past in general. Reevaluate. Recognise who you are now. Start in a new place. We have to give up to move on sometimes. (Quote: Cheryl Strayed)

motivational quotes and mantras

In the darkest days of your life, and during your greatest struggles, you will also find the most light shining in. There, you will find your greatest triumphs. Remember this when you’re on top; remember the times you fell. Acknowledge them and appreciate them. The yin and yang of life is always present. Don’t ever doubt your strength. (Quote: Rupi Kaur)

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What if being you was enough? It is. It really, truly is. Maybe it’s a cliche, but you are one of a kind! Nobody else is like you. If you can manage to make some good of that, you’re golden.

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Let’s push tough love to the back burner for a moment and give ourselves some permission here. Telling yourself to “stay strong” all the time can feel a bit fake considering it’s not always as simple as it seems to toughen up and face the music. Kick and scream. Throw a fit. Be a child about it. Vent to a friend. Cry and cry and cry. Set aside time to do these things. You can be angry or hurt or discouraged as long as you resolve to ACT instead of react to those emotions. (Quote: Unknown)

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When you’re feeling a little dragged down by the monotony of day-to-day life, work, and obligation, remember this: you have choices. Are you making time to feed your soul? What makes YOU happy? It’s out there – go and find it. (Quote: Dele Olanubi)

Mantra and quotes

Remaining true to ourselves is the best gift we can bestow upon our own lives. We can’t follow other people’s orders, or do things at someone else’s pace. You have to seek what you want. Awaken your dreams, wishes, hopes, and desires. Look inside for answers when you can’t find them. You might be surprised. (Quote: Carl Jung)

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Be flexible in all that you do. Bend to your OWN wants and wishes rather than bending for someone else’s, which is undoubtedly a more common tactic. Strength comes in our ability to recognise the change in our needs and our paths. Be aware, but be willing to take a new trail when it presents itself. (Quote: Japanese proverb)

We hope you’re feeling inspired and motivated today to take on new challenges and truly live your best life, as your best self. Keep trucking forward. You’ve got this!

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8 Healthy Travel Essentials to Keep Your Routine in Check

Whether you’re soaking up the sun on your summer vacation or you’re escaping the cold down under for a tropical retreat, travel is on the menu for many of us throughout the year. For some people, it’s a big part of what they plan to look forward to, and for some, it’s a more regular occurrence than it is for others. In any case, maintaining a healthy lifestyle while you’re jet-setting can be pretty tough.

There’s a lot of underlying stress during the act of travelling, factors like jet-lag and fatigue to take into consideration, and oftentimes, there’s no kitchen to do your weekly meal prep or cook healthy ingredients from scratch in. Moreover, taking a holiday is a time when we should be enjoying ourselves and letting loose a bit. This means a little cheese, a little wine, and a little bread!

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One of the biggest challenges is maintaining a routine. Routines are the backbone of any healthy lifestyle, and travelling compromises our day-to-day eating habits, gym time, sleeping, and overall balance. Fortunately, you don’t have to abandon it all just to have a little fun in a different place. Here are some of my essential items for keeping up good health while travelling, whether you pack ’em in your bag or you pack ’em in your brain.

1. Bullet journal

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Everywhere that I go, my bullet journal goes. It’s a tiny little thing, so it easily fits in any bag, purse, backpack, or luggage that I’m toting along. Bullet journaling is a simple concept; instead of writing out long-winded diary entries, you simply use bullet points to organise anything you so desire! Amongst the most useful bullet journal layouts I use while travelling are my habit and mood tracker and my food and exercise tracker.

While my bullet journal won’t tell anyone if I’m eating loads of sugar or not working out, I certainly feel a level of accountability to make it happy. This helps me to see if I’m taking too many rest days in a row, indulging too often, or feeling anxious and tired. When I have all this data, I can help pull myself out of a rut or bad travel eating habits, motivating me to make the best decisions I can.

2. A gym pass

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Sure, it sounds like a frivolous expense. If the hotel you’re staying in has a gym, even better! When you’re booking accommodations, look at your options for fitness. Of course, some trips come with built-in exercise; if you love the outdoors as much as I do, then the gym is rather secondary if you’re putting in long hiking days. If you’re touring a big city, you can easily just stick to walking. Otherwise, I like to line up gym access – especially if my trip duration is longer than a week.

Snag a guest pass from a friend if you’re travelling near people you know, or call gyms to see weekly rates. Some gyms will have very inexpensive monthly rates that are worth the daily pump, or you can use ClassPass to find individual classes at fitness studios. This gives you a healthy daily habit to keep your routine strong while you’re away from home. While you can do at-home workouts on vacation, it’s more motivating just to be inside the gym. Plus, you’ll feel better about having that slice of pizza or plate of pasta later!

3. A good probiotic

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Gut health is the centre of our body’s health. It impacts everything from digestion to mood, and we want both to remain in good standings – especially during travel! Stress, unhealthy foods, a lack of hydration, sleep changes, and everything else that comes along with a good holiday impacts our gut flora big time. Travel can also wear down the immune system. How many times have you gotten sick mid-trip, or upon returning home? Our bodies just know something is up when we’re away from home for extended periods of time, and we need a little boost to combat the swift change in routine. Think of a probiotic as easy acclamation – it will simply help you better adapt to a new environment.

A quality probiotic can keep the good bacteria in the gut thriving through even the most treacherous conditions. If you’re going to pack ONE supplement, this is it.

4. The Headspace app

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Headspace is the easy way to meditate. If you’ve never meditated and you want to get started, I couldn’t recommend it enough. While many people – myself included – enjoy travel, there’s also some anxiety surrounding plans, flights or long drives, and just getting everything together! Meditation is the answer. It’s a great way to calm down, especially on a flight. This can be super helpful for someone who is afraid of flying!

I always download a session ahead of time so as soon as the flight is in the air and I have a few hours to myself, I can zen out for 10-20 minutes. This puts me in a great head space – no pun intended – and rejuvenates me after a long day spent checking baggage, cooped up in an airplane seat. It also gives me a good excuse to find a bit of downtime for myself each day, even if my itinerary is otherwise full. I like to meditate in a nice green space, city park, or while I take a rest during a hike. Download the free app here.

5. Snacks

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I’ve made this mistake WAY too many times, but I’ve successfully learnt my lesson. The airport is a tough place for food. While the outrageous prices generally deter me from making any impulse decisions, it’s not smart to hit the airport on an empty stomach. If you’re travelling a long  distance without healthy options, I strongly suggest making a full meal or eating something satiating prior to boarding, but for short to medium-length flights, a few snacks will do! Stress, fatigue, jet-lag, and unexpected happenings like flight delays can all lead to cravings, and the airport has plenty of sweets and junk food to soothe ’em. Don’t give in!

Some of my favourite snacks are Rx Bars which have a nice boost of protein, flavoured seltzer water which keeps me hydrated while curbing my sweet tooth, some mixed nuts, or freeze-dried fruit. For more ideas, check out some of my favourite paleo-friendly protein bars.

6. Rose water spray

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Daily hygiene and skincare rituals are a huge part of daily routine, but they tend to get pushed to the wayside when our regular stock of supplies isn’t available to us. Of course, you can invest in travel-sized containers for all of your products, but for me, I like to stick to carry-on luggage with a size limit for liquids. If I had to choose one beauty essential, rose water spray is it. It’s a refreshing way to wake up, clean up, and refresh after a long travel day. It’s good for toning and moisturising the skin, and I can use it on sun burn or bug bites for quick relief, too. I like to use this right after a flight when I’m feeling a bit stuffy and my skin is feeling dry.

7. Water bottle

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Okay, okay – we’re getting back to basics here. Still, it’s a crucial carry-on item for me whether I’m taking a walk down the street or flying across the country! Buying water at the airport means waiting in line and spending an absurd amount of money. The tiny cups of water they fill up on-flight aren’t enough to quench my thirst which seems to be exacerbated by travel. I always carry my 32-ounce Nalgene water bottle and fill it up as soon as I make it through security. It’s always empty by the end of my flight. Hydration is key for feeling healthy and happy.

8. Ear plugs & eye mask

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You never know where you’re going to be sleeping. At home, we have a lot of control over our sleeping environment including sounds, lights, and overall comfort levels. If you’re staying in a city hotel, you’re going to be fighting off some light and noise pollution. You might be sharing a room with someone who snores. You might just have trouble sleeping away from home. In any case, being armed with some simple, basic, and small tools for a good night’s rest is going to be something you thank yourself for when you’re energised enough to trot around a new location all day.

A good pair of ear plugs to drown out any noise and an eye mask to keep the light out are my go-to sleep luggage. This means I can sleep anywhere, from hotels to the backcountry.

 

Where are you headed this season, and what’s in your bag? Let us know, and share this with your jet-setting travel partners so your whole crew stays healthy on the go!

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Top 5 Essential Oils For Every Home (Backed By Science)

Whether you’re just starting up with essential oils or you’re looking to expand your collection, there’s a lot to learn! Some oils are great for keeping things clean, while others are fabulous to have handy in the medicine cabinet for when you’re feeling a bit under the weather.

Having a big collection means you’ll have an oil for essentially everything – no pun intended.

It can be intimidating to begin collecting, though, or feeling like you’re getting the most bang for your buck. If you have five essential oils in your house, these are the five you should have… because science.

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1. Lemon eucalyptus oil

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This study shows that essential oils can be used as a natural bug spray effectively which is great news considering some chemicals like DEET in traditional bug sprays can be very harmful to insects, mammals, and potentially humans – especially the kids.

Using natural plant oils instead poses no threat, and can generally be safely used on children under the age of three.

Finally, you can apply most essential oils directly to skin, whereas bug spray is advised to be used primarily on clothing. Finally, essential oils just smell a lot more pleasant than most bug sprays – right?!

You can learn more about the specific compounds that make this oil work to repel insects here. Lemon eucalyptus, for example, is comprised of 85% citronellal, making it quite an obvious choice for bug repellent!

That’s the same scent as those citronella candles you light on your outdoor patio or deck. The only issue is that its effects tend to wear off rather quickly, so you’ll have to continually apply your bug spray.

Quite a few different oils have similar properties to lemon eucalyptus in effectiveness of repelling insects such as citronella, lemongrass, tea tree, or rosemary. You could use any of the following or a mix of oils in the following recipe.

Homemade insect repellent recipe:

Mix into a spray bottle and use on body and clothes, avoiding eyes to repel insects. Re-apply every hour for ultimate protection. Purchase lemon eucalyptus here.

2. Thyme oil

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This is easily one of the best options for using in any homemade cleaning agents. Thyme oil has fabulous antimicrobial properties, so it’s very effective at eliminating germs and bacteria on hard surfaces.

Use this in a kitchen or bathroom cleaner with confidence that it will cut through the harmful stuff!

This science comes down to the constituents of the essential oil being soluble in water, because the antimicrobial and anti-fungal activity are due to their solubility in a specific layer of the cell membranes.

Fun stuff, right? Anyways, this means that thyme oil can ward off unwanted bacteria.

This study even shows its effectiveness against salmonella! Additional research also shows that it’s potent against strains of Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia and Pseudomonas genera – these include strep throat, urinary tract infections, and the like.

Considering the facts, thyme is fantastic at getting things clean, and this is the must-have household essential oil!

Thyme oil disinfecting cleaning agent recipe:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 15 drops thyme oil
  • 15 drops lemon oil (optional – for fresh scent)

Mix in a spray bottle and use as you would any other multi-purpose, multi-surface household cleaner! Purchase thyme oil here

3. Cinnamon bark oil

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Cinnamon bark is particularly useful for respiratory problems including chronic bronchitis. If you feel yourself coming down with a cough, some cinnamon bark oil could help alleviate the symptoms.

Better yet, inhaling essential oils through a diffuser means the positive effects and benefits can work quickly. This study explains that the vapors of the oil are an effective ‘chemotherapy’ against respiratory tract mycoses such as fungus that causes black mould, ABPA – an allergic reaction that inflames the lungs, common with cystic fibrosis or asthma, strep throat, and more.

It works essentially as a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.

Overall, you can use cinnamon oil to alleviate any respiratory symptoms whether it’s mucous buildup or you’re trying to clear up a stuffy nose. You can simply add a few drops to hot water with some honey in it if you’re treating a sore throat. Purchase cinnamon bark here.

4. Lavender oil

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Lavender is commonly known as a relaxation agent. It’s used for stress relief and most often, to promote better sleep. All the hype is true. This lovely-smelling plant produces an oil with big benefits if you have trouble relaxing or getting a restful night of sleep.

Lavender oil’s main constituents –  linalool and linalyl acetate – are thought to be what induces a more relaxed state of being. In this study done with mice, lavender oil decreased motility in the mice. Thus, it could potentially have effects reminiscent of muscle relaxers without all the side effects.

Considering the evidence, we know that lavender can calm both the body and the mind, making it a safe and natural sleep supplement. Lavender oil has also been studied as a component of lower back pain relief, in conjunction with acupressure.

You can diffuse lavender oil before you go to bed at night, or use it in a relaxing bath. You could rub it on the wrists or temples, or use it on your bedding and pillows to promote relaxation as soon as you hit the sheets. Purchase lavender essential oil here.

5. Lemon oil

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Lemon oil is undoubtedly one of the most versatile essential oils. It can be used in place of fresh lemon in water or other recipes, or you can add it to homemade cleaning products for a fresh lemon scent plus some antimicrobial action.

We love it for healthy, natural, DIY skin care though. Lemon oil’s constituents have compelling anti-inflammatory properties according to research, which can help address many types of skin inflammation from acne to rosacea.

It’s also a natural wound-healer. You can use lemon oil on cuts, burns, or sunburn to reduce swelling and decrease healing time. This is one for the first aid kit!

Purchase lemon oil here.

What essential oils do you use the most often? Let us know in the comments below, and share this with friends who could use some tips on how to get started, or which oils to stock up on! 

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Top 5 Essential Oils For Every Household (with Science Behind Them!)

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10 Steps to Effective Planning and Fighting Procrastination

Are you a procrastinator? Raise. Your. Hands. Let me see ’em! Believe me – I can relate. If you’ve spent enough time putting off big tasks for later, you’ve probably also spent a considerable amount of time searching for the magic key to boundless productivity, motivation and discipline.

If you’ve come here on just that mission, I’m going to warn you that I don’t have the answer. I’m also going to ask that if you find it, to please send it my way.

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However, there are ways to combat procrastination and nip it in the bud. The technique is simple, accessible, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming.

Maybe you’re already used to writing things down in your planner or calendar, but you still find yourself having trouble focusing on tasks and goals. If you’re too busy with no time to spare, you’re likely standing in your own way.

After all, I should remind you that it does take time to procrastinate in the first place!

1. Set aside the time to plan

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This step is first and foremost, and you cannot skip it. I would highly recommend not putting this one off or going at it with low effort. This hour of your day determines so much about the next seven days.

The process is WORTH IT. Schedule it somewhere into your weekend, or at the very latest, do it on Monday morning. This process should be mindful and somewhat enjoyable.

Choose a format that resonates with you, or the one you’re most likely to use. I personally use a handwritten calendar in conjunction with many online organization tools for my work. Your method should suit you, your tasks, your work and your lifestyle!

Using a calendar on the computer or phone can be helpful to those who have many repeated events because drag and drop is a breeze.

Some people are more likely to follow through with actual checklists and the ability to physically mark the tasks done. Some people like a little bit of both.

If you come back to it each week and you pay it some mind each day, it’s probably working. Stick with it. If you tend to neglect your schedule, perhaps it’s time to try a new strategy.

2. Choose an appropriate level of detail

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Planning should take into account your individual needs. Sure, these pretty planners and all of these meticulously organized bullet journalers on Instagram have a color code and a Washi tape for everything, but if it’s just not your jam, or it intimidates you too much to keep up with using your preferred method of planning consistently, forget about it.

Determine the level of detail that keeps you motivated, sufficiently methodized and tabulated and routinely crossing things off the list.

Take a few things into consideration: do you need to plan by the hour or by the day? Will you do better with a weekly calendar broken down into individual days, or do you just need one?

Do you need to write down specific objectives or big ideas? Will you use a digital format, or will you opt for pen and paper? Then, get into smaller details: do you prefer a template like the Panda Planner, or do you prefer to build your own?

Will you benefit from using a color code, or do you keep it simple with black and white? Think about what speaks to you the most.

3. Embrace flexibility

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Flexibility is something to be welcomed in both your planning technique and your plan. It gives us room to breathe, first and foremost, and helps us scale back on black and white “perfectionist” thinking.

If life always went according to plan, we probably wouldn’t have to plan so hard in the first place. Besides, what fun would that be? Leave room for error, running out of time and good old-fashioned spontaneous fun.

4. Work backwards

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Match your time to your work rather than fixing work to your time. There’s only so much time in the day, and you should be setting healthy boundaries anyways! Prioritize your calendar over your to-do list.

Repeat it to yourself: there is only so much time in the day. Twenty-four short hours to be exact, and during some of those, you should very well be asleep.

Quit overbooking, and you won’t find quite as many reasons to procrastinate because a) you won’t be overwhelmed and b) you won’t have a huge overflow each week from tasks you didn’t get to.

5. Start un-planning

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To elaborate a bit on working backwards and how effective it can be, un-planning takes a similar approach to planning. Sounds like an oxymoron – right?

Un-planning consists of scheduling into your calendar or journal all of the things you have to do outside of work, personal development, hobbies or whatever else you make space for.

Think about the time it takes you to feed or bathe the kids, walk the dog, make coffee and breakfast and whatever other mundane, default activities you are obliged to for one reason or another.

You’ll see that despite our best efforts, we have non-negotiables to tend to that carve into our “productive” time. By losing that time living life, we set up unrealistic expectations (more on that later), end up “late,” and perpetuate that procrastination mind because *gasp* we’re already behind!

Instead, just take some time to pencil in the moments when you can’t be tending to your schedule. This is especially useful for those who work remotely because starting time isn’t always the FIRST thing we’re able to do.

6. Schedule beyond tasks

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While un-planning takes care of the mundane for us – or rather, we accept it for what it is – scheduling beyond tasks helps us to take good care of ourselves. It drives home the idea that self-care is just as important to prioritize as that big work project or whatever deadline is looming over our heads.

This will also look different for everyone, but without placing precedence on things like a certain amount of sleep each night, time to cook healthy food, meditation, exercise and social interactions, we’re going to feel FAR less motivated to tackle those not-so-fun to-do tasks!

It’s vital to create space for fulfilling routines. Procrastination is driven by the idea that we don’t have time, so creating personal time can feel really difficult for some when in fact, it could be the solution to having more time.

When we feel fulfilled, refreshed and energized by meeting our basic human needs which include the occasional bubble bath, day trip and friendly potluck, our creative forces are sparked and our energy is higher, ultimately granting us with a will to be more productive – and happily so!

Include in your planner a focus on your values, beliefs and toss in some inspiration here and there.

7. Be realistic

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Nothing will make you feel like you’re not pulling your weight and being productive than over planning. You know yourself better than anyone else, and to some extent, you’re in control of your schedule.

First and foremost, think of what doesn’t work! Come back to the amount of time you DO have and work with it. Make friends with it. Shake its hand and give it a hug. Respect it and plan accordingly.

Being overbooked not only presents us with logistical problems, but it also creates more problems the more often we indulge it. We feel obligated to do x, y and z, and it drives home that FOMO or fear of missing out.

We’re less inclined to say NO even when we need to. We end up with heavy duty overflow each week, and we end up behind and feeling like catching up is an impossibility. If we’re realistic, we can avoid the guilt and once again, perpetuating procrastination.

8. Don’t forget to check in

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Sometimes, I’m in the middle of a work day and I remember that my planner even exists. It’s a feeling I quite like, because I can head back into the schedule and check stuff off the list.

If I was that distracted, I’ve probably made some serious progress! It’s good to continually check in. My usual routine involves my planner open to its most relevant page – whether it’s my daily checklist or my current project brainstorm – for quick and easy reference.

It helps me to maintain focus and stay motivated. Think of it as your personal accountability coach. If it were a real person, it might be concerned if it didn’t hear from you for awhile! Don’t wing it – use your resources wisely.

Besides, sometimes, we start getting dragged down. Occasionally doing a mind dump – where you sort of shift priority, let go of some brain clutter and readjust – can be incredibly helpful and just the push you need to keep it happy, healthy and productive.

9. Make it fun!

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My planner isn’t an all work and no play kind of deal. Of course, how much “fun” you inject into the mix is going to depend on how much it might distract you, but once again – the plan shouldn’t be 100% task-oriented.

Create space to write down personal goals both long-term and short term. For example, my journal includes a habit tracker to mark off my meditations and exercises each day.

I also use a reading progress tracker in mine so I’m more motivated to make space to read for both pleasure and personal development. Finally, I enjoy supplementing my to-do lists with more obtuse goals so that my work doesn’t lose meaning or feel monotonous.

If your planner is fun, you’re going to like it more. The more you like something, the more you’re going to do to make it happy. That’s what love is all about, right?

It’s okay to have a *minor* love affair with your calendar. Another good way to make planning interesting is to use fun, colored pens, highlighters and stickers to add your own flair to your routine.

10. Don’t leave home without your plan

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This is why I would generally recommend a small planner like the Moleskine I use because it fits in my backpack, my purse and even many of my pockets. Without a plan, you’re merely hoping.

There’s no better time to lose focus than when you’re out and about, traveling or just always on the go! While it’s helpful to unplug sometimes, I personally like to make sure my basic self-care needs are met even if I’m breaking from work and to-do lists.

If you tote your planner around, you can always maintain that feeling of calm and control. It’s a good one.

Let me ask you – what is YOUR number one tip for reducing procrastination and staying organized by planning? Share your ideas and tips with us below, and share this article if you found it helpful! Happy planning.

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12 Steps to Joy – The Top Habits of Happy People

Smile! We’re talking about joy today, and mastering the art. When it comes down to it, there really isn’t an art.

Happiness looks different for people all over the place, and there isn’t some key that unlocks the door to a palace of pure bliss where everything is always rainbows and butterflies.

I’m certain I don’t have to explain that to you. Fortunately, if we want to turn happiness into something of a science, we can deduce a few habits of truly happy people as roughly the same across the boards.

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Ask yourself: “Am I happy?” It’s a vague term with a lot of room for interpretation, but I encourage you to take a few moments to contemplate where your happiness lies and moreover if you’re indulging that enough.

Are you creating space to let joy in? We inherently set limits for ourselves, and we hold out on the daily practices that increase our fulfillment, our gratitude and our overall good spirit.

In fact, there are some key things that also tend to universally hold us back from unleashing our true happiness.

These habits don’t need to be put into force at full-speed and altogether, but just adding some mindfulness to your ethos can make a huge difference in where you find bliss and how much of it that you take away, hold on to and give back to others.

1. Get grateful

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More importantly, make it a point to stay grateful. Gratitude is a simple practice, and all it takes is a moment each day to reflect on what you feel appreciative for.

In the big picture, it offers us perspective and allows us to make room for positive thinking. We can master the ability to focus on what’s good in our lives rather than dwelling on what isn’t going right.

Perhaps even more importantly, it gives us a new frame of reference on our past experience so that we can see the good outcomes of what we’ve struggled with and place value on to those things we’d otherwise feel resentful towards.

My favorite ways to practice gratitude include gratitude journaling and meditations focused on loving-kindness or thankfulness.

2. Move past the past

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The past holds us down more than we realize. Our past experience establishes habit patterns in us which can even become addictive.

Our past relationships determine our current relationships if we’re still holding on to old grudges. Moreover, they can present us with big trust issues which harden us enough to impact the depth of our relationships with ourselves and others.

All of these things prevent us from tapping into happiness at its fullest. If you’re harboring anything that looks like anger, resentment, or unresolved pain, it’s time to work through it.

Dismantle habits that are so ingrained in you that you’ve stopped even giving yourself the choice to say yes or no.

One of the best tips? Realize that making amends does not necessarily require the other party, even if that party is an actual person.

Coming to terms with your gripes can be done on your own, and forgiveness can happen individually if that person is unwilling to participate or cooperate. Remember that if you’re trying to tie up loose ends with an ex, an old friend or a toxic family member.

3. Avoid gossip

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It’s tempting, but it’s incredibly unrewarding and has some serious negative side effects. Happy people don’t find joy in talking down on others. In fact, it probably tends to bring them down.

Here’s a classic quote to sum things up: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Increase the meaning of your conversations!

Talking about other people doesn’t connect us to the people we interact with. Rather, it drives us apart further. More meaningful conversations will help us help ourselves, help others and learn more about the world around us!

It will help us to grow. When we get caught up in gossip and small talk, we never feel that social fullness that offers us contentment and gratification, plus deeper relationships overall.

If I’m in a group of people who are gosipping, I try to change the topic of conversation to something we can all easily talk about, or something funny and lighthearted instead of participating.

If I don’t succeed, I simply remove myself from the conversation! Like I said, gossip can be tempting. Rise above it.

4. Socialise (and prioritise it!)

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If socialization feels like a frivolous expense of sorts to you, think again. Happy people have close friends and they speak with them often.

Happy people also tend to find themselves engaged in working groups, involved in the process of giving their time and energy towards a cause alongside a team. Volunteering is, after all, a key factor in longevity!

Having friends who we feel deeply, truly connected to is important to overall fulfillment, and getting to do that often enough is important. It’s fantastic to have one-on-one time as well as group gatherings.

Find people who can bridge the gap between silly conversation and intellectual conversation because laughing is the best medicine!

My friend group gets together 1-4 times per week for different reasons. Sometimes, it’s for community organization and “work,” while other times, it’s just for a potluck and board games.

Try organizing themed nights that tend to work for your friend group week after week, and use Facebook to create events where you can invite people – that way, they won’t forget! We know people get busy.

Lastly, if you’ve made big moves in your life or have friends and family far away, aim to use Skype or Facetime more often. It really helps the distance.

5. Quiet time and deep breaths

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Sound familiar? I’m talking about meditation. I’ve touched on why meditation is so fantastic for numerous reasons on this blog, and there’s no doubt that happiness is one of the most convincing.

While meditation can be hard to “master,” letting go of the need to be perfect with it and just doing it every day can bring on the true joy you had no idea existed within you.

Deep breaths, quiet space and a platform to just accept and watch your thoughts come and go helps the individual to come to terms with what’s bothering them, background stressors and actual, physical surroundings instead of trying to control thoughts, push them away or become reactive to them.

My tip? Prioritize meditation. Put it in your planner, on your calendar or set an alarm. It should be as important as eating breakfast or brushing your teeth, and it’s easy to push to the wayside.

The happy benefits are too good to pass up, so don’t! Everyone has ten minutes per day to spare.

6. Sweat it out

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Exercise is actually proven to make you happy. Runner’s high, anybody? It works, and you don’t need a whole lot of it to reap the benefits at all.

Many people exercise towards aesthetic goals, but keeping in mind that running, lifting, yoga, swimming or anything you really like to do will offer you a little break in the day for just you while releasing some happy chemicals in the brain is enough reason to keep hitting the gym, the mat or the trail.

See? It’s really for everyone, and we can all find a little way to sweat it out that brings a smile to our face.

My tip to you is to keep it interesting. Some days, running does not make me happy even though I know it will later. I find a balance, instead!

A walk can boost endorphins too, and you don’t need to carve out a whole hour in the gym to reap the benefits of that. 20 minutes can take your mood from a 7 to a 10, no problem. Our 30-day squat challenge might be a good place to start. Full disclosure: it BURNS.

7. Catch some real zzz’s

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You don’t like yourself when you’re sleepy, and most other people probably don’t either. It’s hard to be happy when you can’t keep your eyes open.

We end up grumpy, treating people and ourselves worse and going through life putting forth a tad bit less effort because… well, it’s hard to go hard when you’re exhausted.

Moreover, it impacts our decisions and tears at our willpower, meaning we’re more likely to feel less inhibited to make good choices. Hello, snoozy sugar cravings! It might seem obvious, but if you’re doing everything right and you’re still dragging a bit, perhaps your sleep is suffering.

It’s a matter of quality and quantity, so it’s worth patching up the rough spots. Happy people’s favorite time of day is bedtime – but don’t quote me on that.

If you need any help catching up or feeling enthusiastic about sprucing up your sleep pattern, check out our free 7-day sleep challenge which is loaded with helpful and actionable resources!

8. Love yourself!

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I hardly want to dig this cliche into anyone’s head today, but in order to love anyone else – or your job, the place you live, your art or your hobbies – you’ve gotta love yourself first!

Think back to a time when you were really down on your luck. Think of a time in which you blamed yourself for x, y and z even if those things had nothing to do with you. Think back to a time when you put ideas in your head because of your own inability to love yourself.

Can you remember how difficult it was to create space to let anything else in, let alone passion, affection and unconditional love for something or someone else? It’s quite the impossibility.

Love for yourself will wax and wane, but keeping it intact and practizing methods of self-care to cultivate love and compassion for YOU are such important habits to practice daily for happiness.

9. Grow your mindset

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Adapting to a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset is a necessary part of keeping your happiness levels consistent and consistently growing – hence the name.

A fixed mindset allows us to grow complacent and ambivalent about it; we are where we are, and we may as well be happy there because where else is there to go? UP! That’s where!

It’s okay to sit back and relax sometimes, but generally speaking, we should always be seeking ways to improve ourselves. Humans aren’t designed to reach a point in which they’ve completed the process.

We are constantly growing and changing, and we have to be receptive to what that means. What can help you move forward? If you’re stuck, get unstuck. If you don’t like where you are, move. If you’re unhappy, get happy.

I personally like to keep tabs on my progress by writing a lot and bullet journaling, which offers me some perspective I wouldn’t have otherwise.

It can help me see how far I’ve come, and where I might like to adjust now. Beyond setting long-term goals and working towards them with short-term objectives, setting long-term goals and working towards them with short-term objectives, it’s all about taking inventory and seeing what you have more or less of now.

This is bound to change, and we have to recognize that in order to also change.

10. Be honest

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Liar, liar, pants on fire… and who the heck is happy when they’re on fire? Nobody, and especially if the pants you were wearing were pants you really liked.

Beyond the sea of flames, lying tears away at our integrity, our relationships and other people’s ability to trust us. It never quite goes away, either. Many lies will turn into multiple lies over time, or grow in size the longer they extend.

It becomes a matter of keeping up appearance which is a pain. Being authentic requires us to also be truthful, noble, vulnerable and real. It helps us to establish a healthy relationship with ourselves and our own dialogue, which inevitably gets muddled  – especially in the day and age of sharing on social media.

Keep it genuine and watch your joy blossom. Truth brings us peace, acceptance and transformation.

Here’s a quote I really love that touches more on acceptance: “More people would learn from their mistakes if they weren’t so busy denying them.” Owning up to our experience whether it is good or bad has amazing benefits for our wellbeing!

11. Say what you think – if it’s nice!

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This is a simple and effective one. Happy people are the ones telling you that you look nice today, or that your work is really well done. If you have something nice to say, just say it.

We don’t go around just telling people what’s so awesome about them enough. You’re going to make someone’s day, and knowing that is going to make your day. It’s a simple equation.

This also extends to taking opportunities to help other people. If you can make a difference, it goes without saying that actions speak louder than words (and might even make us happier!).

12. Positive thinking

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Think happy thoughts! Positive thinking works for obvious reasons. It allows us to turn negative thoughts into happy ones, generally approach things with a more optimistic outlook and see value in things we would otherwise deem worthless.

It helps us to cultivate compassion for ourselves and the people around us while also becoming solution-oriented. It’s a good sign of emotional intelligence and maturity which generally increases our ability to tolerate stress and conflict.

My number one tip for becoming a positive thinker would be to meditate regularly. That’s basically what it’s made for, or it certainly makes it easier to do! Once you make it a habit, it becomes quite second nature.

I hope you found a little smile in this article. Let’s hear from you – what’s YOUR key habit to happiness? Share this with someone who could use a boost. Share this article on Pinterest from here.

12 Steps To Joy - The Top Habits Of Happy People

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