How Cluttered is Your Home?

How Cluttered is Your Home?
A few years ago, I had 25 bottles of nail polish under my sink even though I only wore a few different colors. Some were old, thick, and drying up.  A few bottles were duplicates. Others were hiding some good polish in the back of the drawer. Why I still held onto them, who knows? It probably spoke more about a poverty mindset than my deep love of colored toenails.

And then in 2016, I participated in a Decluttering Challenge. Over that month, I got rid of over 1,000 items in my home. Some stuff was donated, other stuff was sold, but a LOT was thrown out.

And it was liberating! I’m a naturally organized person, but just because things are where they should be doesn’t mean it wasn’t too much. It felt good to see the bottom of my polish drawer again. And my t-shirt drawer. And the pantry. You get the picture.

So, I thought I’d do my own challenge this October. It’s a great time to do it, just before the holidays start. It’ll help us get our homes—and our minds—detoxed before the season of Advent.

I’ll be posting a daily challenge in my Facebook group that should take about 15 minutes per day. You’ll take before and after pics and count the items you’re removing from your home. We’ll shoot for 1,000 items, but even 500 would be great!

If you’d like to join in this FREE challenge, register here. Challenges are always more fun with friends!

Be well,
Nicole

If you’re interested in more home detox ideas, get my free guide for Three Easy Steps to Detox Your Home.

What I Learned About Antidepressants

What I Learned About Antidepressants
Once upon a time, I had a nervous tic.  And when I say once upon a time, I mean for nearly 40 years.

For as long as I remember, I’ve had long bouts with compulsive, hard blinking. Sometimes the tic changed to wrinkling my nose or clicking my tongue, but it was most often blinking. At times it would go away for a year or so, but it would return again overnight and stay with me for years at a time. Did I say this went on for 40 years? Yeah . . .

About eight years ago, it came with a vengeance.  And this time, it began to seriously affect both my personal and professional life. I felt like everyone noticed . . . all eyes were on me and my freakish, incessant blinking. No matter how hard I tried to focus, I couldn’t stop. I was ashamed that I couldn’t control such a seemingly small thing. Just. Look. Normal.

I was at my wit’s end, so I decided to finally put it out in the open and talk to my allopathic doctor about it. He quickly diagnosed me with OCD and prescribed an antidepressant. I was desperate, so I took it. When the first medicine didn’t work, he prescribed another. After several different versions for a year with no dramatic change in my tic but with a dramatic change in the way I felt, I decided to stop taking them with the help of my doctor.

I was determined to find another way to get rid of this tic once and for all and hoped I could do it without the use of prescription drugs. After a lot of research into alternatives, I decided to give hypnotherapy a try. It seemed a little—okay, a lot—weird, but again, I was desperate. And since no one except my husband and my best friend knew about my venture into hippiedom, I figured all I had to lose was a few hundred dollars and some pride. To my surprise, after three visits in one week and $400 later, the constant blinking that had plagued me for 40 years was gone!

What I Learned

1) According to Harvard Medical School, nearly 25 percent of women in their 40s and 50s are walking around with varying degrees of numbness due to their use of antidepressants. Often, the side effects of these medications are worse than the original reason they started the drugs, leading to a second medication to combat the side effects of the first. As one of those “one in four,” I hated the way they made me feel, but trying to stop them was nearly as bad, which leads me to lesson number 2.  

2) Trying to come off the medications can be extremely difficult. I recall moving to a different medication that was easier to wean from, then that dosage was lowered over time. I dealt with brain zaps, balance problems, and dizziness for months. Some days were worse than just taking the meds. The New York Times published an article that sums it up perfectly. 

3) Hypnosis rocks! I wish I had known YEARS ago that I could get the results I did. I just had to let go of my preconceived notions of losing complete control of my actions while “going under.” It was NOTHING like I thought it would be. I’m not an expert on hypnosis, but in simple terms, it was simply going into a state of complete relaxation and allowing my subconscious mind to open up and hear the words that were being said.  I felt different after the very first session!

I’m certainly not a doctor, and I’m not saying there isn’t a place for pharmaceuticals. If you are suffering from depression or if you are thinking of harming yourself or someone else, please see a medical professional immediately. But knowing what I know now, I would beg my sister or best friend to try a natural alternative before resorting to these drugs for anxiety or an obsessive compulsive disorder like mine. I’ve heard amazing stories of ladies who have been successfully treated with natural supplements like zinc, Vitamin B, 5-HTP, and more. I would highly recommend partnering with a naturopath or integrative doctor who can help you find a natural solution.

Friend, there’s a better way to live his life!

Be well,
Nicole

If you’re interested in more healthy living tips, check out my free guide for Three Easy Ways to Detox Your Home. You can also join my healthy lifestyle Facebook group, How to Be a Modern Hippie, here.

Tips and Tricks for a Healthy School Year

Tips and Tricks for a Healthy School Year
2020.  

If the past six months are any indication, this school year could be especially tough. Our kids have been home in our protective bubbles, likely with little routine, a slower change of pace, less pressure to perform academically, and and now it’s time for new experiences, new routines, new exposures, and new challenges. 

No matter if your kids are heading back to in-person schooling or hanging out at home to complete their schoolwork, they still need us to help them care for their bodies. It’s possible for our kiddos to stay vibrant, strong, and living above the wellness line this school year by adopting a few healthy habits that will boost their immune system naturally.

Health Starts in the Home

One of the biggest contributors to negative health is the large number of synthetic chemicals in our homes. Our homes are our sanctuaries, our place of safety and refuge. But sadly, the products we buy often contain ingredients that endanger them. 

We are marketed to and led to believe that even the “all natural” products are safe for our families when in reality, they aren’t. Many common household products can lead to health problems like eye and throat irritation, headaches, respiratory issues, allergic reactions, worsened asthma, focus issues, and possibly even cancer. These chemicals such as formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates, ethanolamines, triclosan, and synthetic fragrance are wreaking havoc on our immune system at a time when we NEED it to be working at its best. 

It’s important to use truly harsh-chemical-free products when cleaning and disinfecting our homes. That also applies to what we’re putting on our bodies for personal care and on our clothing when we do laundry. I encourage your to read the back labels on your all-purpose cleaners, shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, and laundry supplies.  If one contains any of those chemicals shown above, ditch it and switch to a safe, plant-based product that you can feel good about.

Synthetic chemicals aren’t limited to cleaning and personal care products.  I also want to encourage you to ditch those toxic air fresheners, plugins, and candles and switch them out for a much safer solution - an essential oil diffuser. Inhaling an oil can be greatly beneficial for kids! Breathing in essential oils directly influences the control center of the brain, the hypothalamus. This area sends instructions through our body concerning sleep patterns, mood, behavior, appetite, and the release of certain hormones. You’re not only making the air smell better, you’re supporting your family’s bodies! How cool is that?!


Morning Nutrition

Wake up, sleepy head!! It’s time for school. Whether they’re headed to a school building or just the living room, it’s important to fill that tummy with some good nutrition. 

According to kidshealth.org, “Skipping breakfast can make kids feel tired, restless, or irritable. In the morning, their bodies need to refuel for the day ahead after going without food for 8 to 12 hours during sleep. Their mood and energy can drop by midmorning if they don't eat at least a small morning meal.” 

Try to offer options that contain protein, fiber, or whole carbohydrates like fresh fruits, veggies, eggs, nuts, lean meats, or healthy grains. And since a spoon of sugar can suppress the immune system for several hours, sugary cereals and toaster pastries probably aren’t the best options.

It’s tough for our kiddos to always get the nutrients they need, especially if they’re picky eaters like my daughter. She takes a multivitamin that that includes a full range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that deliver whole-food multinutrient support for general health and well-being. Its important to us that it be free of preservatives and artificial colors and flavors too.

A few other daily supplements I recommend:

  • Vitamin C - Because our bodies cannot manufacture vitamin C, we can benefit by consuming this powerful antioxidant daily. It plays an important role in normal immune and circulatory functions, helps to strengthen connective tissues, and promotes overall health, vitality, and longevity.

  • Vitamin D - Vitamin D helps support bone growth, healthy muscle, mood, and hormone regulation. It also plays a key function in respiratory health, and through its innate and adaptive defense mechanisms, supports the body’s respiratory immune system. 

  • Probiotics - We can all benefit from a daily probiotic to promote healthy digestion, support gut health, as well as maintain normal intestinal function for the overall support of a healthy immune system.

Nighty Night!

Getting adequate sleep is uber important for staying healthy. According to Rachel Dawkins, M.D., with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, “Sleep is an essential part of everyone’s routine and an indispensable part of a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that kids who regularly get an adequate amount of sleep have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, and even depression.” 

You might be surprised to learn that children from ages 6-12 should be getting 9-12 hours of sleep a night, and children from ages 13-18 should be getting 8-10 hours a night. 

Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is important, ideally starting at the same time every night. Here are some tips to establish this healthy routine.

  • Stop use of electronics/screens at least an hour before bed
  • Read a short book or excerpt from a book
  • Limit caffeine 
  • Take a warm bath
  • Dim the lights
  • Use calming essential oils topically or in the diffuser


Below the Wellness Line

Unfortunately, falling below the wellness line is a fact of life.  However - it is how our bodies learn to “fight.” According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Once the body has come into contact with a disease-causing germ for the first time, it usually stores information about the germ and how to fight it. Then, if it comes into contact with the germ again, it recognizes the germ straight away and can start fighting it faster.” This is why it’s so vital that we continually support our immune systems, especially if they have been threatened and are in a weaker state. 

One of my favorite things to do when anyone in our house is showing signs of going below the wellness line is a detox bath. This can be a great way to help restore the body, thanks to the ingredients within. Himalayan pink salt removes toxins from the body through a process called reverse osmosis. It also contains very high levels of minerals - like magnesium, calcium, copper, iodine, iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, and zinc. Activated charcoal is  powerfully detoxifying. It also deodorizes, purifies, and is anti-bacterial. Add in some essential oils and it’s a mix made with love that you and your kids are sure to enjoy. Be sure to drink plenty of water after a detox bath to help your body replenish and stay hydrated. 

 
Detox Bath

  • ½ cup Himalayan pink salt
  • ½ cup activated charcoal
  • 3 drops Lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops Frankincense essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl or jar. When ready to use, add 3 TBSP to ¼ cup to a hot bath. Soak for at least 20-30 minutes. 


Oil Up, Buttercup!

Whether your child needs help with focus and concentration, wellness support, sleep, or emotions such as fear, anxiety, excitement, etc., we have access to some amazing tools — essential oils.  Essential oils can play a HUGE role in supporting our bodies when used regularly. Apply them or diffuse them while your family is getting ready in the mornings and during bedtime routines. You can even send rollers to school or apply oils to a diffuser bracelet or fidget spinner. If you’re doing school at home, have oils at the ready to apply or diffuse while the kids work. There are so many ways to use them to support a healthy lifestyle.

Obviously, that wasn’t a conclusive list of healthy back-to-school habits, but it’s a great start for many of us.  For those of you reading this now, I’ve prayed that your family will experience great health, little fear, and comfort with your decision about where you‘re educating your children this school year.  You’ve got this, mama!

Be well, 
Nicole


If you’re interested in more healthy living tips, check out my free guide for Three Easy Ways to Detox Your Home. You can also join my healthy lifestyle Facebook group, How to Be a Modern Hippie, here.








DIY Mask Refresher Spray

DIY Mask Refresher Spray
No matter which side of the mask debate you’re on, we can all agree on one of the downsides . . .

Mask breath.

Even if you brush and floss like the Tooth Fairy, within just a few minutes of wearing a face trap, your mouth can feel stale. That’s likely from breathing in freshly exhaled carbon dioxide instead of fresh air.  But it doesn’t have to be that way—there’s a better way to wear a mask.

I‘ve been adding essential oils to the inside of mine. I use a blend of Peppermint, Ravintsara, Eucalyptus, Lemon, and Wintergreen to create a cooling sensation for the mouth and throat.  The naturally occurring constituents eucalyptol, menthol, and methyl salicylate give the extra bonus of helping me breathe deeper. It’s like an effervescent breeze through a grove of eucalyptus trees.

The easiest way to apply these oils is to use the pre-blended Raven essential oil. This blend has long been known for the chilly, minty experience it creates when applied topically, inhaled, or diffused. We love to make DIY chest rubs with Raven in the winter season for that same reason—with zero harsh chemicals!

So naturally, Raven is the perfect blend of oils to make a Mask Refresher Spray. It’s small enough to carry in a purse or backpack, and it will even make it through airport security. My family has found that just a few sprays helps us to be less irritable while doing what we need to do.

Lavender spray is shown here

Here‘s what you’ll need to make your own.

5 ml perfume spray bottle
10-15 drops Raven essential oil blend
1/4 t. witch hazel
Distilled water

Directions: drop oils into the bottle. Add witch hazel, then fill almost to the top with distilled water. Spray the inside of your mask liberally as needed.

You could also make your Mask Refresher Spray with different oils based on your family’s needs. Try Lavender or Peace and Calming when you’re feeling anxious, Peppermint when your tummy feels off, or Thieves anytime you need those powerhouse molecules inside your body.

Ready for a bonus tip?

If you’ve been drinking coffee or you haven‘t had an opportunity to brush your teeth after lunch, put a drop of Peppermint Vitality oil on your tongue. 

Ready to get your own oils? Contact me below!

Be oily and be well,
Nicole

If you’re interested in more healthy living tips, check out my free guide for Three Easy Ways to Detox Your Home. You can also join my healthy lifestyle Facebook group here.  





Surviving Summer

Surviving Summer
I don't know about you, but I love summertime! I wake up every day, ready to get outside.  95 degrees? Not a problem for me. That's what pools, beaches, and lakes are for, right?

There is so much summer sun to take in while spending time at those pools, beaches, and lakes, plus in the garden, hiking, or just enjoying a walk through the neighborhood. Exposure to sunlight is good for the soul AND your health! When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes Vitamin D from cholesterol. This vitamin plays an important role in our immune system (important even in summer!), so it can be hugely beneficial. However, overexposure to the sun can lead to burned skin, wrinkles, eye injuries, and even skin cancer. So let’s protect that beautiful skin, shall we?

We could snag a bottle of sunscreen from the market in hopes of protecting our skin, but although we may not get sunburned, we aren't really protecting ourselves.  Most traditional sunscreens are actually packed full of toxic chemicals like avobenzone, oxybenzone, parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, PABA and 1, 4-dioxane, UV chemical absorbers, artificial colors, and synthetic fragrances. And our bodies are absorbing these chemicals, where they end up in our bloodstream and can accumulate in our bodies. Scary!!

Young Living’s Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 is the perfect solution! It’s a natural, broad-spectrum sunscreen and is synthetic- and harsh-chemical-free, making it a healthy alternative for adults and kids. This dermatologist-reviewed product is formulated to easily smooth on skin without leaving white residue. Enjoy the outdoors worry-free with up to 80 minutes of water- and sweat-resistant lotion. It’s reef-safe and made with non-nano zinc oxide. Most other "natural" sunscreens are using nano-particle-sized zinc oxide that enters the bloodstream. This might just be the best sunscreen you’ve ever used. It even has the Skin Cancer Foundation's seal of approval!

And if you happen to forget your sunscreen and that gorgeous skin of yours gets a little toasty, don’t fret! Young Living has created LavaDerm After-Sun Spray that can help you refresh and recover. This naturally derived after-sun spray offers temporary relief from the pain and itching of minor burns, minor cuts, sunburns, scrapes, insect bites, and minor skin irritations, so your family can keep playing all day!

  • Dermatologist tested and hypoallergenic
  • Soothes, cools, & provides immediate relief to the skin
  • Moisturizes to help prevent peeling & promotes healthy-looking skin
  • Made with plant-based and naturally derived ingredients
  • Formulated without alcohol, parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, animal-derived ingredients; synthetic preservatives, fragrances, or colorants

Want to whip up your own After-Sun spray? Try this easy recipe.

DIY After-Sun Spray

½ cup witch hazel
2 T pure aloe vera gel
10 drops Lavender
10 drops Peppermint

Add all ingredients to a 4 oz. spray bottle. Shake well and apply generously to skin that needs cooling. Re-apply as needed.

Ready for loads more essential oil-infused recipes to help survive summer? I've got you covered, from DIYs for surviving outdoor annoyances, to drinks, appetizers, main dishes, desserts, and even some kid-friendly activities! Grab my free printable recipe guide here!

I hope your summer is full of fun in the sun and memory-making with your family and friends!

Be well,
Nicole

If you are interested in more info about having a healthier home, check out my free Home Detox guide.
 
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