Five Natural Ways to Stay Healthy and Happy this Holiday Season

If your family is anything like mine, there is bound to be someone who isn’t feeling well when we all gather for the Christmas holiday. No one wants to be the culprit who brings the germs and makes everyone sick. I started feeling a tickle in the back of my throat earlier this week and immediately went into defensive mode. I surely don’t want it to be me this year! I feel much better now but was inspired to write this post to share five of my go-to tips for nipping the sniffles, or worse, in the bud.

  1. Don’t let the stress get to you! If you don’t get stressed during the holidays then I commend you. But for most people, the holiday season can bring about a lot of stress. Parties to attend or host, gifts to buy, friends to see, food to cook, with the possibility of some travel thrown in the mix. There has been a lot of information that has come out linking chronic, long-term stress to many of the common diseases in our society. Some level of stress is inevitable (we don’t live in a vacuum), so what matters is how we manage it. Think of what you like to do to relax and calm yourself down. A hot bath? A walk in the woods? A cup of tea? An hour or so in the gym or on the yoga mat? Everyone has different ways they cope. Find yours and set aside some time in your day to do it.
  1. Get your ZZZZZs: I don’t know about you, but when I am busy sleep is the first thing that goes, even though it is one of my favorite things to do. And I have been fairly busy lately, so you can imagine how that has worked out for me. When we sleep our bodies go into rest and repair mode. Lack of adequate levels of sleep (around 8 hours a night) alters the function of our immune system, can increase stress levels (see 1 above), makes us irritable (who wants to be a grouch over the holidays?), and has a direct impact on hormones that regulate our appetite. If you are taking some time off over the holiday, this is the perfect opportunity to get in those 8 full hours, or more. I love mornings when I don’t have to wake up to an alarm (especially when it’s to doggie kisses instead) and I intend to take full advantage during my week off next week. Have trouble falling asleep at night? Take a quick inventory of your caffeine consumption during the day. I personally know that if I drink coffee after 3 pm I won’t be able to fall asleep in the evening. Everyone has a difference tolerance, so experiment and figure out what works best for you. Drinking one less cup or switching to green tea could do wonders for your snoozing.
  1. Echinacea tea and Manuka honey: I grew up with a mother who believes that tea is the cure for all that ails you. I admit that, at times (especially as teenager), this annoyed me. But now that I am older and try to live as nPurchase this image at http://www.stocksy.com/122602atural of a life as possible, tea is the first thing I go to when I’m not feeling well (funny how you realize as you get older that your mother was really right all along…). I drink herbal tea every night before going to bed, especially during the colder months. It is comforting and soothing. To boost my immune system I drink Echinacea tea with a dollop of Manuka honey. Echinacea is a well-known cold and flu combatant due to its immune strengthening and antimicrobial properties. It works by activating certain chemicals in the body that decrease inflammation. Manuka honey comes from the Manuka tree, which is found in New Zealand and parts of Australia where it is classified and regulated as a “therapeutic good.” When buying Manuka honey, make sure the label displays a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor), which indicates the level of anti-bacterial potency, of 10+. If you can’t find Manuka honey, local honey made by bees that pollinate from flowers in your environment is the next best thing.
  1. Essential oils: Essential oils are awesome. For those of you who are into natural remedies, essential oils are where to go. I am on a mission to slowly build up my stock so I have something for every common ailment, from headaches, to runny noses, to period cramps. For colds, your best bets are eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender. You can diffuse and inhale peppermint and lavender to help with a runny nose. For those without a diffuser, add a few drops to a steaming cup of water, cover your head with a towel and inhale the vapors (who cares how funny you look, it works). Apply eucalyptus or peppermint to your chest if you have a cough or chest congestion. Check out this website for an easy to follow guide where you can search by symptom or by oil. If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, leave me a comment here and we can chat about it further! I am all about sharing the essential oil love. For those who are curious, I get my oils from doTERRA.
  1. Eat with the season: As I’ve said many times before, our bodies haven’t changed too much since we were hunter-gatherers. Back then, we would forage for and kill whatever was around us to eat. This changed depending on where we lived and what season it was. Fast-forward to today, the concept is the same. Our bodies perform their best when we eat foods that are common to the region we live in and the season. In the summer we are drawn to cooling foods such as raw salads and smoothies. In the winter we are drawn to foods that are warming such as soups and stews. It is approaching winter where I live and I have broken out the soup pot a few times already and have swapped my morning smoothie for oatmeal. These days in the U.S. we can get produce year-round from all over the globe, so many of us really don’t even know what is considered “in season.” Winter is the season of root vegetables (carrots, potatoes, turnips), cabbage, onions, pumpkins, winter squash and apples, to name a few. Try to keep your geographical location and the season in mind when you go shopping. Pinterest is a great place for ideas on how to whip up delicious stuff from the goodness that is winter vegetables. I will make sure to post some of my favorite stews on here over the next few months. 🙂

Whatever holiday you are celebrating and whoever you are celebrating it with, I wish you and yours the healthiest and happiest of holidays.

Peace, love and mistletoe,

The Yogi~Foodie

photo credit – http://www.stocksy.com

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The Technological Life

Oh technology, how I both love you and hate you. Let me count a few of the ways.

I love how you and Waze help make my commute a little less painful. I love how you and Uber make it so easy to hail and pay for a ride. I love how I can snap a photo and quickly share it with whomever I choose. I love how I can create and share playlists with friends on Spotify. There is probably an app for almost anything tangible your heart could possibly desire.

But despite all of the conveniences technology brings to my life, it worries me that I feel lost and get nervous when I don’t have my phone with me. I hate it when I walk Tucker and people I pass on the sidewalk are staring down and typing away, not interacting at all with the world around them. I hate how technology perpetuates our fast paced, “I want it now” society. These days the world is at our fingertips and we expect quick results, immediate answers. I think it is so sad when I see a family out at a restaurant and all of the children have tablets in front of them.

When I saw this video recently I knew immediately that I wanted to share it and write a blog post about it. It gets the message across perfectly and I tear up every time I watch it. Trust me, this 5 minute video could change our life. It is called Look Up.

Have you ever felt sometimes that life is passing you by? I have said in previous posts that this life we have is short and precious. Spend time with those you love. Play a board game or cards or just sit and have a chat. We don’t need technology to have fun and connect with others. Show our young ones what it is like to have a family meal at the dinner table. Tell them stories from your childhood when you would play outside from dawn ‘til dusk. Teach them that it is normal and okay to look a stranger in the eye and say hello. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

These days I try hard not to let technology rule my every move. I put my phone on airplane mode when I sleep (yes, the alarm still works folks). I always have my phone on silent so I don’t have the desire to reach for it every time it dings and buzzes. I don’t bring it with me when I walk Tucker. When I get home from work in the evenings my phone goes on my nightstand and I don’t look at it again until right before I go to sleep. I no longer check my email every hour on the hour. The world will not fall apart if I don’t respond for a little while.

What is the role of technology in your life? How often to you check your email or Facebook? I encourage you this holiday season to slow down, put the phone away for a little while and create some homegrown, technology-free fun. And now that you’ve read this post (and shared it with others!), put your computer away and go do something that doesn’t involve your tv, phone or tablet. I personally am off to whip up my pumpkin granola (recipe here!), hummus and bison chili and will round out my afternoon with some time on my yoga mat.

Peace, love and veggies

The Yogi~Foodie

Embracing Change

“Change is the essence of life; be willing to surrender who you are for what you could become.”– Anonymous

Today marks the start of a new chapter in my life. After many days of indecision, weighing pros and cons and hours of contemplation about what I wanted in my life, I decided to pursue a new job. It was a very hard decision for me to make, a scary but necessary leap. My constant mental deliberations went something like this: Do I94a45c3a22b990e053714268e8b48884 just stay where I am and grin and bear it until I am ready to leave the corporate world or do I see what is out there that I may enjoy doing in the meantime while I grow my business into a self sustaining venture? I asked myself this question over and over again. Ultimately I went with the latter and chose to search for something that would make me happier now. I realized that life is too short to just grin and bear it and that holding on to a future possibility of something better doesn’t really help solve the problems of the present.

So I searched for an opportunity in my current field (accounting) that would hopefully be less stressful, provide me with new adventures and allow me to save some money on the side to fuel my dream. I did this with a promise to myself that I would continue to pursue my dream of becoming a holistic health coach on the side and to not let excuses and whatever life throws at me get in the way of one day achieving that dream. Today is the first day of that new job. This decision and new path has got me thinking a lot about change, why we do it, why we avoid it, and what emotions can come up at these big turning points in our lives.

Do you like change or is it something that you avoid like the plague? Take a moment and really think about where you fall in this spectrum. Are you maybe in a current position that you don’t really like but are scared to leave because you are afraid you may fail or afraid of the uncertainty of trying something new? Or are you a frequent changer, always looking for the next opportunity and not scared to take on new adventure?

I think I fall somewhere in the middle, leaning a little bit more towards the frequent changer end. One of the main reasons that I am able to take on change with confidence is due to how I grew up. I was raised in a military family and moved often in my youth. Every few years there would be a new home, a new neighborhood, a new soccer team and a new school. It was terrifying in many ways but I also learned how to adapt, meet new people and build a new life. These skills have come in handy often in my adult life, but also make me somewhat restless. Every few years my body starts to subconsciously prepare for change and I get antsy. I have tried many a time to bury this feeling and stick on my current path. I ask myself, why do I want to move again? Why do I not feel comfortable and happy right where I am? Why do I always have to constantly look for the next best thing? What if I never get comfortable and settle?

After thinking about this further I have realized that there is a reason my body feels this way. It is because I have not yet found where I am meant to be. All of these decisions I am making and the emotions that come with them are taking me one step closer. When I reach this place my body will know and it will lay down roots.

To me, resisting this pull to change that I feel is akin to stifling my potential and shortchanging myself. It is keeping me from a fulfilling, life-affirming future. And I think I deserve nothing but a future like this. I think everyone deserves a future lia7d80c7afa819562d34397c3cfe9d052ke this and that we shouldn’t stop changing until we reach it. Of course life will always have an aspect of change to it, we don’t live in a static world. There isn’t just one place to reach where time will just stop and everything will be rosy and happy, though sometimes we wish it would. But I believe that there is a point of potential we can reach. Where our current dreams can be realized and what awaits is a truly happy and fulfilled life. It is possible to achieve but is not easy by any means. This path can be filled with hurt, pain, sorrow, and doubt. But it can also be filled with joy, contentment, achievement and confidence. The key is to remember these good times when the road gets a little rough and bumpy and to stay the course.

It may take my entire life to reach this place or maybe I will reach it in the next 5 or 10 years. But I’m not going to stop searching, adapting, changing. And when I eventually get there, I’m sure more dreams will pop up and I will continue my travels, but from a place of confidence that I have my roots to support me in whatever direction I choose to go.

Life is an adventure. If you are not happy with where you are, what can you do to change your circumstances? It doesn’t have to happen overnight. Even just thinking about it is the first step. Get in touch with yourself and follow that lovely, big, pure heart of yours. It knows exactly where you are meant to go.

Peace, love and cheers to your next adventure,

The Yogi~Foodie