Focus is the ability to concentrate your attention or energy on something. And what prevents that? Distractions, which tend to get in the way of our precious time on earth!
A few years ago, while gardening, being distracted meant planting too many seeds, which led to more weeding, watering, harvesting, cooking and canning. Ugh…what should have been enjoyment was now a drag. And it’s a vicious cycle: The extra time needed for all of the above meant I was unable to accomplish everything I wanted to do, which led to frustration and wearing myself out. Does that sound familiar, at all?
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I once read a book about gaining focus, which surprisingly, I was able to focus on and finish! One part of the book that has stayed with me since was how to recognize, regroup and get back on track when we’re “out of focus.” For me, that means writing down what I want to accomplish, eating healthy, exercising and using a focus essential oil blend. The easiest of all is using the essential oils; I simply breathe them in to help me feel focused.
These essential oils are from plants that have been are scientifically proven to help with focus and concentration:
• Spearmint (menthe spicata) can reduce mental strain, fatigue and stress.
• Peppermint (menthe piperita) helps with concentration, focus and metal fatigue.
• Lemon (citrus limon) can clear the mind and aid in decision making.
• Blood Orange (citrus sinensis) creates a stimulating and up-lifting environment.
Well, I’m off to the garden after smelling my favorite essential oil blend, Nectar Essences Organic Focus Brain-Boost. I’ll be planting the right amount of seeds, this time!
If you want to try it too, use the promo code Desiree15 at checkout for a 15 percent discount.
Want to discover more ways to boost concentration? Check out 13 Foods for Focus for more natural mind-strengthening methods.
Desiree Bell’s inspiration comes from botanicals and natural materials. She is a vegetarian who has a certificate in herbal studies and a certificate from Australasian College of Health Sciences in Aromatherapy. Follow her on Facebook at Beyond A Garden.
Winter is the season for citrus. Oranges, grapefruit, limes, and, of course, lemons are at the peak of ripeness this time of year. And that’s very fortunate during cold and flu season when we could benefit from extra doses of vitamin C in our diets.
When there’s an abundance of lemons and they’re affordable, it’s a great time to make up big batches of homemade concentrate to store in the freezer. It couldn’t be easier, and it’s a great way to have the means to mix up healthy beverages on demand. Since you’ll be mixing up your concentrate in variable quantities depending on how many lemons you decide to get, the recipe ratios for the concentrate are listed in “parts.” If you’re not familiar with this style of measurement, it’s easy to get the hang of. “Equal parts” of ingredients simply means you use the same quantity for each thing. For example “equal parts sugar and water” could mean one cup of sugar and one cup of water, or it could mean one tablespoon of sugar and one tablespoon of water — it just depends on the unit of measure you choose. It’s a really flexible way to measure, and one that I prefer when working with basic recipes because it’s such an easy way to scale up or down.
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How to Make Homemade Lemonade Concentrate
• One part freshly squeezed lemon juice (make sure you dry the zest and/or candy the peels to use in other recipes — minimize waste and maximize your dollar!)
• One part water
• One and half parts sugar
1. First, make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water together. Watch it carefully — you don’t want to make caramel, just heat it through until the sugar is just dissolved. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, then add the lemon juice.
2. Once the concentrate is mixed, portion it for the freezer. I like to freeze it in jumbo muffin tins (half cup per portion) that way I can make as little or as much lemonade at a time as I like.
3. To use the concentrate, you’ll mix one part of concentrate with three parts water, unless you like your lemonade super strong, in which case you’ll want to use one part concentrate to two parts water — it’s entirely up to you.
While ordinary lemonade is great, if you’re fighting off a cold or flu, there are two variations you’ll want to try — herbal lemonade and warm lemonade toddy. Both are great beverages to add a little variety to the hot tea with honey illness routine.
For the herbal lemonade, use one part of the water you’ll use to mix up the concentrate and make a hot “tea” with it first — I like to use equal parts lavender, lemon balm and elder flowers. Lavender is relaxing and soothing, while lemon balm and elder are both renowned for their cold-fighting abilities. They all have a flavor that is nicely complementary to one another and lemons.
Once the herbs have steeped for about 10 minutes, strain the liquid and let it cool. Mix with the remaining parts of water (either one or two, depending upon the strength of lemonade you’re going for) and the lemonade concentrate. Serve chilled or at room temperature, depending on personal preference.
For the warm lemonade toddy, you can mix either plain lemonade or herbal lemonade, and simply add a shot of brandy to it. Served warm for a tasty, soothing drink!
So, when life gives you actual lemons — make lemonade concentrate with it. You’ll be glad you did.
Amanda is focused on homesteading in a small-town and blogs about it a Little House in an Old Town, the exurban evolution of her writing at Apartment Farm.
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I think it’s safe to say that meditation is trending. Mindfulness and meditation have become the cure-all for many diseases, and are the current shining stars in the wellness world. It seems as though every few weeks a new study or finding comes out about the benefits of practicing present-moment awareness. Stress relief, weight loss, heart health, increased happiness, heightened productivity and even rebuilding the brain’s gray matter in just 8 weeks are some of what seem to be the infinite perks of meditation.
Okay, we get it – everyone should meditate.
But, it’s not all that cut and dried. Meditation seems like second nature for some, but for many people, it can feel hard and unachievable. If you feel an aversion to meditation, you’re not alone. Many cringe at the thought of sitting in one spot and trying to “zen out.” Additionally, there are so many false beliefs about meditation that can easily create resistance.
For example, a common misconception is that meditation is difficult and you have to know how to stop “thinking thoughts.” That alone can be a scary concept!
The truth is, it’s actually quite easy to get started with a meditation practice. If you’d like to begin, but don’t know where to start, here are some tips to kickstart your path toward your new meditation routine.
Yup, that’s it! Anytime, anywhere. If you’re feeling stressed or just need a quick pick-me-up, stop and take a giant deep breath, fill your belly up with air, expand your rib cage and slowly release through the nose on the exhale. The slower your in-breath and out-breath, the better. Becoming conscious of your breathing opens up the door to mindfulness. We often forget to breathe fully and consciously because it can be an involuntary function. But the cool thing is that it’s also something that can become voluntary and controlled. Many gurus and sages teach that when you master breathing (through the practice of various pranayama techniques) you can balance your chakras and master your life. Now, I can’t promise that you will start levitating once you become a pranayama wizard, but what I can say is that the breath is the fastest way to draw your attention inward, into your body and the present moment. If there’s one easy way to start a mindfulness practice it’s to pay attention to your breath at any given moment.
Mark it on the calendar
Just like any other task or activity that you deem important, put meditation on the schedule. Play with meditation times and find what works best for you. Meditation is easiest for me immediately when I wake in the morning. I roll onto my back and place my awareness on my breath, repeat a silent mantra and set an intention for the day. Another prime time to meditate, in my experience, is before bed. Mornings and evenings are when my kids are asleep and there is quiet and fewer disturbances. Find what works for you and stick it on the calendar.
Start with a simple mantra
One of the easiest mantras to use is the sanskrit word OM. OM is the “sound of the universe”, so it’s an easy one to connect to for most adults and children alike. Repeat the word silently in your mind and “hear” the mantra as if someone is saying it to you. Mantras are an “instrument of the mind” and a way to train yourself to concentrate on one thing. When your mind begins to wander to a thought, sound in the environment or otherwise, simply guide your awareness back to the mantra. It’s just that simple. The more you practice using mantras, the easier it will become to not only focus on the mantra, but also increase concentration in your daily life, making zeroing in on one task or goal much easier.
Use a guided meditation
If you’re stumped about where to start, I highly recommend Grokker.com, an online video wellness site that has tons of yoga and meditation classes. They have various meditation series’ led by experts that easily guide you through mindfulness practices. Everything from “meditation for surrender”, “getting focused” and even an energy meditation series is offered. I’ve noticed that my kids will also join in with these, so I’m able to put them on during the day.
Try a meditation device
I know what you’re thinking, “A meditation device!?” Yes, there are some great tools that can gently help you become more aware of your wandering mind and teach you to be in more control of your thoughts. MUSE, for example, is a brain-sensing headband that connects to your smart device to give you real-time feedback about your brain activity. Throughout your meditation, you will hear a soft breeze in the background and if your mind begins to have increased activity or thoughts, you will start to hear more turbulent wind. In this way, it trains your brain to calm your mind and bring it back to focus. There’s also the Meaning to Pause bracelet, which sends a gentle vibration to its wearer every 60-90 minutes to remind you to pause, breathe, and check in with your physical, mental and emotional state. This bracelet, though it may not be able to teach you to meditate, will encourage coming back to center and the present moment throughout the day, which is a great start.
Most of us today are tired of bumps, fatty pockets and increasing health issues, and have tried everything in our power to stay fit and healthy. There are hundreds and thousands of remedies available on the market that promise to put you back in shape and redress health issues. While some doctors suggest medicines and lotions, others claim proper diet, yoga and regular exercise to be very beneficial. But with today’s extremely hectic schedules and lifestyles, we’re hardly left with any time to spare for workouts at the gym or following a strict diet.
Switch to green tea. It’s not just a green liquid, it is a medicinal beverage with a multitude of uses —from preventing cancer to lowering blood pressure and much more. The reason that green tea has more health benefits than other natural products is apparent because of the way it’s processed. Green tea, when processed, retains the maximum amount of antioxidants and polyphenols, like flavonoids and catechins, which give it its plentiful benefits. So, let us discuss some of the health issues drinking green tea, every day, can help you address.
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Green tea increases metabolic rate. The polyphenol present in the beverage intensifies the fat oxidation level and the rate at which a human body converts food into calories. Several studies, over the years, have shown that regular consumption of green tea can significantly decrease body fat, especially in the abdominal area.
Type II Diabetes is a disease which has reached epidemic proportions and has affected nearly 300 million people all over the world. Green tea helps regulate the level of glucose, further slowing the rise of blood sugar level after meals. A cup of this organic beverage not only prevents high insulin spikes and the resulting fat storage, but also lowers the risk of developing Type II Diabetes.
Scientists believe that green tea relaxes the lining of blood vessels in order to withstand any changes occurring in blood pressure. It also offers a protection against the formation of clots which are typically the primary cause of heart attacks in most people.
Eating oily food with high-fat content on a regular basis puts our health at a higher risk of developing high cholesterol and cardiac diseases. Replacing unhealthy food and drinks with green tea can help keep the cholesterol level down. A powerful antioxidant in green tea, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), discourages cholesterol absorption in the large intestine and further boosts the immune system.
Healthy Gums and Teeth
Drinking a cup of tea is usually considered to be bad for our teeth. The hot beverage contains tannic acid which gives it its dark color and can stain tooth enamel. However, the consumption of green tea is actually considered to be beneficial when it comes to our oral health, particularly in avoiding periodontal disease.
Compounds present in green tea, such as caffeine and amino acid L-theanine, have the ability to improve the brain’s function and make you smarter. Caffeine, the active ingredient in green tea, is a known stimulant. The quantity present in this green beverage is less than that found in coffee, yet enough to produce a response which leads to improvement in various aspects of brain's function including vigilance, mood, reaction time and memory.
Carrots and spinach have long been considered foods that promote good eyesight, but scientists claim that antioxidants found in green tea can penetrate into the eye tissues and produce antioxidant activities. Catechins, a key antioxidant in green tea, have the prowess of being absorbed into the tissues of the eyes easily.
Theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid in tea leaves. It is this compound that provides a relaxing effect and serves as a great benefit to its consumers. Theanine also affects levels of serotonin and dopamine, which in turn affects mood.
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, the antioxidants present in green tea and their anti-inflammatory activities help fight against wrinkles, other signs of aging, and redness developed after UV exposure in an effective and efficient manner.
Cancer is a class of disease characterized by uncontrolled growth of mutated cells. Green tea is an excellent source of powerful antioxidants which have the ability to lower the risk of several types of cancers, especially esophageal cancer, pancreatic cancer, oral cancer and many cardiovascular diseases. Its strongest antioxidant, EGCG, causes the formation of reactive oxygen species in cancer cells and helps kill them through the annihilation of cell’s mitochondria. It’s in this weakened state that forces the mitochondria to surrender to EGCG and die. Green tea is also suspected to become a possible alternative to chemotherapy.
The green miracle beverage from China has already made its way into the mugs of individuals all over the world for its research-proven and vouched-for health benefits. From weight loss to preventing heart disease, green tea has evolved into a medicinal drink that caters to a host of illnesses. So, add a cup of green tea to your daily plan and welcome a healthy life.
Meggie Haneckow is a niche writer and blogger who loves to write on trending topics and share her personal experiences and knowledge through her writing. She is also a health enthusiast, so she loves to share health-care related tips through her blogs.
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The shelves of any store are full of choices. Overwhelmingly full.
For a consumer, a parent, or even a physician, making an informed decision about the best solutions can be downright exasperating. Soothing throats, easing tummy woes, or just maintaining health and wellness is a challenge when so many products offer similar outcomes. When choosing solutions to keep your family healthy, reading the label is of particular importance to ensure that what you put in your body is as natural as possible, while still effective.
Taking a step back and considering the efficacy of the ingredients available to us in nature is an important first step in choosing a wellness plan for yourself and your family. Homegrown remedies will always have their place, but you and your family deserve solutions that are grounded in solid, scientific evidence.
Quality, wholesome products can be difficult to find. Even more trying is selecting a product made with naturally derived ingredients that are proven to be efficacious. At the end of the day, consumers want a healthy solution, but they also need a product that works. Fortunately, by reading labels carefully and conducting some basic research on the clinical impact of handpicked ingredients, you can have both.
Always speak with your physician.
It should go without saying that your physician should always be your first stop for guidance about maintaining wellness. Many physicians’ offices and pharmacies have staff members available during business hours, so that you can consult a professional regarding the best choice for your routine.
Choose natural ingredients, when possible.
Many times a natural ingredient can support wellness or solve a problem for people of all ages, including for children. Simple, wholesome solutions can be effective, without the harmful, negative side effects.
Determine clinical effectiveness.
When using natural ingredients, be sure to confirm their clinical effectiveness. Everyone has heard of plant-based solutions to promote well-being, but be sure that the products you choose are supported by clinical evidence.
All of this information may leave you wondering exactly which ingredients are effective for everything from soothing throats to digestive wellness and general health. Often nature’s most powerful remedies come from the most unlikely places.
Bees produce certain dark honey blends that are liquid gold for people experiencing throat irritation by providing a dose of nutrients to help calm coughs. Tiny Austrian elderberries provide big support to the immune system through a blast of antioxidants and vitamins, while marine algae in South Carolina delivers a type of omega 3 nutrient to support brain function.
To learn more about the efficacious properties of dark honey, elderberries, and algae follow along with this upcoming blog series where we will focus on several key natural ingredients to keep your family healthy because you deserve a simple, authentic approach to wellness.
Bret Furio is the CEO of Zarbee’s NaturalsTM , a whole family wellness company with a commitment to providing consumers with simple, handpicked, quality ingredients to support family health & wellness. Zarbee’s uses clinical evidence to identify ingredients, and strives to avoid many unwanted additives, components or fillers, resulting in wholesome, safe, and effective options for the entire family.
Of the most joyful events of your life can easily turn into a nightmare. Postpartum depression is real, and it affects 1 in 7 women.
Postpartum depression can cause mothers to feel sad, overwhelmed and inadequate to the point of wanting to harm themselves or even their baby. It’s a problem for many women, but the good news is there are ways to naturally prevent and treat it.
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Medication vs. Natural Remedies
The concern many women face is taking medication following the delivery of their baby when they are breastfeeding. Since what the mother consumes can enter her breastmilk, many women forgo anti-depressants. This can lead to much more devastating consequences when postpartum depression gets out of control.
As an alternative, many women have been turning to natural remedies such as placenta encapsulation, omega-3 supplements, Sam E, bright light therapy and acupuncture.
Placenta encapsulation is the process of manufacturing a pill with pieces of your placenta inside of it. Since the placenta delivers all of the nutrients to the growing fetus, it is full of them even after delivery. There’s also estrogen in the placenta, which the body lacks after having a baby. These low levels of estrogen can play a role in depression, which is why getting it from the placenta may be helpful.
To make the placenta ready for encapsulation, it must be dehydrated, steamed and then ground. The grounds are what go inside of the pills.
Besides providing them with nutrients and hormone replacement after birth, some women report it increases milk supply. Since many new mothers feel inadequate when they cannot produce enough milk for their baby, this boost can also help women avoid feeling depressed.
Omega-3s are fatty acids found in fish. They can help boost women’s moods after having a baby. Hormones and the life transitions that come along with having a new baby can alter moods. To keep them more stable, women sometimes take omega-3 supplements or increase their intake of fish.
Sam-E is a natural molecule found in neurotransmitters. Studies have found this supplement may be able to decrease the risk of postpartum depression. The good news is that there are no reports of side effects in breastfed babies.
Folic acid, or vitamin B6, is something most women take during pregnancy, and they should continue the supplement after delivery. It’s been known to help with depression because a deficiency in it often leads women to have low energy, which can make caring for an infant difficult.
Bright Light Therapy
Bright light therapy has been used for quite some time to help people with seasonal depression. In a postpartum study, the therapy was shown to help with depression as well. This therapy involves sitting under a 10,000 lux light source from 30 to 60 minutes each day.
Acupuncture may also be a consideration. While there still needs to be more research on using it for postpartum depression, it may have some benefits since it has been shown to help women who suffer from depression during pregnancy.
Besides one of the above natural remedies, remember to eat healthy foods during this important time in your life and the babies. Something as simple as adding prebiotics to your diet could make the necessary changes to keep postpartum depression at bay. Just speak to your doctor before you start to make sure these methods are safe for you and your baby.
Ali Lawrence is a tea-sipping writer who focuses on healthy and sustainable living via her family blog Homey Improvements. She was born and raised in Alaska and dabbles in PR, Pilates, and is a princess for hire for kid’s parties. Find her on Twitter @DIYfolks.
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According to the Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF), January is National Glaucoma Awareness Month, which is an important time of the year to spread the word about this “silent thief” of sight. Responsible for over four million cases of blindness worldwide, over three million Americans are afflicted with this disease, while sixty million globally have glaucoma.
Left untreated, glaucoma can rob a person of up to 40% of their irreplaceable eyesight before a person is even aware they have the disease. While there is no known cure, there are treatment options available and while many people believe that glaucoma mostly strikes the elderly, people of all ages are at risk.
Genetics and Descent
It’s believed that, as with many forms of eye disease, glaucoma can be hereditary, so if you have a family history of this condition, you should consider yourself at a higher risk. Glaucoma is also more prevalent in those of African and Hispanic descent according to the GRF, when compared to their Caucasian counterparts.
Asians are also more susceptible to glaucoma simply due to the general makeup of their eyes themselves. One of the most aggressive forms of this disease, PACG (or primary angle-closure glaucoma) accounts for up to 90% of blindness throughout all of China, the largest population in the world.
Health and Welfare
A healthy lifestyle is also believed to contribute to the prevention of many eye issues including glaucoma. For example, smoking leads to high blood pressure (or hypertension) and unhealthy eating habits puts people at a greater risk for diabetes, which are both linked to eye problems and diseases like glaucoma.
Speaking of smoking, many people believe that natural remedies like marijuana can be used to treat glaucoma, but some experts disagree. While THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana lowers pressure to the eye caused by glaucoma, it only offers temporary relief and should not be used to actually treat the condition itself.
More Problems with THC
Since smoking causes damage to the lungs, some will administer this remedy orally to achieve the same results, but there are still hazards to this practice. Drowsiness and a loss of judgment caused by marijuana can be problematic for some users. One study found that nine out of nine participants with advanced glaucoma who were taking THC in pill form, discontinued use after nine months due to side effects. Experiments with eye drops containing tetrahydrocannabinol have been investigated, but so far, introducing a sufficient concentration of THC into the eyes has not been found to be effective.
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The Jury is Still Out
While the debate on the use of medicinal marijuana continues to rage, benefits versus risks, some doctors believe there is a lack of evidence to support the fact that it actually alters the course of the disease itself. A type of catch-22 situation also exists with the use of pot when offering temporary relief from glaucoma conditions.
As mentioned previously, while THC reduced pressure to the eyes, it also lowers blood pressure, which results in a lower amount of blood flow to the optic nerve. This reduction of blood supply could conceivably cause further damage and make conditions of glaucoma, including vision loss, even worse. Given its side effects and short-duration of relief, while doctors may (or may not) shy away from the use of marijuana in glaucoma patients, it is up to each individual to choose what they believe is appropriate.