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.

The Great Reopening

The Great Reopening
I don't know what it's like where you live, but things are starting to reopen bit by bit in my town after months of the weirdest, most stressful, and scariest time of my life. I'm not exactly sure what the "new normal" is going to look like when we get back, but I've got to hope that it closely resembles the "old normal." Can I get an amen?

As you head back to wherever you call work, it'll be more important than ever to focus on hygiene, health, and hydration. I've got some staples in my arsenal that my family has on our checklist. We started kicking toxins a decade ago, so of course, these products are harsh-chemical free.  Our bodies have enough to fight without adding nasty, synthetic chemicals to the mix!


Thieves Hand Sanitizer and Thieves Spray
Young Living has an entire line of products based on its Thieves essential oil blend of Lemon, Rosemary, Cinnamon, Clove, and Eucalyptus, and it's a POWERHOUSE! 

The name ‘Thieves’ was inspired by the legend of four 15th-century French thieves who formulated and wore a special aromatic combination of clove, rosemary, vinegar, and other botanicals that they believed provided protection while they were stealing. The story goes on to say that when the thieves were caught, they were offered a lesser punishment if they would divulge to the king the secret to their immunity, despite being exposed to a highly infectious, deadly disease. Pretty interesting, huh??

Thieves Hand Sanitizer
  • Kills 99.9% of germs and eliminates common, harmful bacteria
  • Formulated with powerful essential oils and plant-based ingredients
  • Lightly moisturizes with aloe vera and vegetable glycerin
  • Perfect for on-the-go
  • Leaves no chemical residue behind
  • Contains no petrochemicals, mineral oil, parabens, sulfates, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, dyes, preservatives, or toxic ingredients
Thieves Spray
  • Contains naturally derived, plant-based ingredients
  • Doesn’t require rinsing after use and has no harsh fumes
  • Easy to throw in a backpack, purse, or luggage with its on-the-go size
  • Cleans many different surfaces, such as counters, sinks, toilets, and door handles
  • Safe to use around the whole family, including children and pets

Raven
Odds are, you're going back to work wearing a face covering.  Unless that face covering is made of cheese cloth, I'll bet you'll have moments throughout the day when you have difficulty breathing.  I'll let the experts debate the efficacy of masks, but breathing something other than your own CO2 would be beneficial. That's where Raven comes in.

Raven is a cool, refreshing combination of Ravintsara, Peppermint, Eucalyptus Radiata, Lemon, and Wintergreen essential oils that provides a refreshing, aromatic experience when diffused or inhaled. I'll be putting one drop of Raven on the inside of my face mask periodically to promote the sensation of deeper breathing. I'm certain that it will give me that little boost of energy and motivation I'll need to conquer my day!

In addition to practicing deep breathing, be sure to take frequent breaks throughout the day. Getting fresh air every hour will be uber important for keeping your lungs healthy!
 

Stress Away
Masks. Mandates. Social distancing. Closures. Reopenings.

No matter which side you're on, you're probably stressed out about the current state. And the workplace is probably not the best place to have a debate about it. When those conversations start, my plan is to roll up and roll out--you know, social distancing like a beast! 

My favorite "roll up" blend is Stress Away. It's a unique combo of Lime, Copaiba, Cedarwood, Ocotea, and Lavender essential oils plus a hint of vanilla--kind of like "beach in a bottle."  Stress Away promotes relaxation and a calm feeling for the body and the mind.  It also relieves occasional stress and tension, which you're sure to have when you return to work.


Oil-Infused Water
Staying hydrated is one of the keys to a healthy immune system.  Experts say that when you are masked up for hours on end, you will likely become dehydrated easily, so you need to make sure to drink plenty of fluids--and that doesn’t include sugary soft drinks!

Under normal circumstances, you should be drinking half your weight in ounces of water.  So if you weigh 150 pounds, you would need to drink 75 ounces of water per day to stay adequately hydrated.  However, when you are wearing a mask, your water goal should be higher.  Remember, once you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Does drinking that much water sound daunting? It won't be if you actually enjoy the taste of your water! Try adding a drop or two of Lemon Vitality or another citrus essential oil to your water for delicious flavoring that has health benefits of its own. 

What’s so great about Lemon Vitality? 

  • It has antioxidant properties.
  • It supports the immune system.
  • It provides circulatory support. 
  • It contains cleansing properties.
Be sure to use a glass, ceramic, or stainless steel container; citrus oils can eat away at the petrochemicals in plastic, and you don’t want to accidentally ingest plastic--that would NOT support your wellness goals! And don't worry about the Lemon essential oil being hard on your tooth enamel. Lemon essential oil is cold-pressed from the rind of the fruit, so it doesn't contain the high acid content that the inside of the fruit does.


Thieves Mints
If you've worn a mask for more than 15 minutes, you know how it leaves your mouth feeling.  I won't be too descriptive here because, frankly, it grosses me out just thinking about it.  But you know.

You can solve that problem with Thieves Mints. They’re naturally sugar free,  are from naturally derived ingredients, and are free of artificial sweeteners, dyes, and preservatives. And since they contain that amazing Thieves blend that I mentioned earlier, sucking on a mint will also promote a healthy immune system.  You won’t get any of that with traditional mints!

So that’s my short list for when I return to the office. If you’re interested in more health tips  for your office, check out my free Wellness at Work guide.  And if you‘re ready to get a Young Living account so you can purchase products of your own, I’d love to help you get started. Let’s talk!

Love,
Nicole

Cooking with Oils

 
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