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.  





Attracting the Good Guys in the Garden

Attracting the Good Guys in the Garden
For me, Mother‘s Day is the official beginning of gardening season. Each year, my gift includes a dozen or more varieties of flowers and green plants to adorn the pots scattered about my outdoor living spaces. My husband knows that getting my hands in the dirt makes me happy and that nightly watering is a much-needed getaway for my mind and soul.

Plants = My Perfect Gift!

There was a time when I used some pretty harsh chemicals on my flowers to keep them looking beautiful and to keep the bad guys away. However, once I started growing my own herbs, I decided I had to make a shift because what I put on my plants would end up in our bodies once we consumed them, leading to bio-accumulation of toxins that are linked to many chronic diseases.

After a bit of research, I discovered that those synthetic chemicals aren't just harmful to our families, but they're also responsible for the decline in our pollinator population. Although some fruits such as peppers self pollinate, not every plant does that.  Lots of them need the help of cross pollination between male and female plants, and our pollinating friends--the bees and butterflies--are crucial to the process. So instead of using harsh chemicals that can repel or harm our pollinators, I've discovered a way to actually ATTRACT them to our gardens.

Think about it this way . . . pollinators are attracted to the smell of flowers.  Luckily, many wonderful essential oils are distilled from . . . flowers! As it turns out, you can create this simple spray using essential oils to spritz on the flowering buds of your garden to encourage pollinators to come in and get the job done.


And while you may want to attract the bees and butterflies to your garden, other insects can totally ruin your garden plans. From eating your plants to taking a bite out of you, they can can really dampen your gardening dreams. I've created a free Gardening + Oils guide with recipes to help you with that and other aspects of gardening naturally, including unwanted growth, keeping pets away from your plants, and even companion planting.  I've even got a free gardening journal that you'll love to get your green thumbs on. 

If you don't have your own essential oils, it's time! Click the link below to set up a time to chat.

Be oily and be well,
Nicole 

DIY Perfumes and Colognes

DIY Perfumes and Colognes
A long shower. Freshly shaven legs. A favorite (or better yet, new!) outfit. And a spritz of perfume on the pulse points. It’s the perfect setup for date night!

Unless you're sensitive to fragrances, then not so much.

That was me. Back in the day, I loved a popular grapefruit-y perfume that I used on special occasions, but that one spritz of fragrance could affect me within minutes in a very negative way. Sometimes it was just a headache, and other times it would be a full-blown migraine. Either way, it was no fun!

Maybe that's you or someone you love.  Do you get nauseated from the smell of perfume? Or have you ever been nearly knocked over by the smell of someone's cologne as he walked past, leaving you coughing, sneezing, or with a headache?

If you answered yes, it’s likely because of the harsh chemicals often blended into commercial fragrances. A large number of those chemicals are harmful to the human body. Many of them are even listed on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste List for being carcinogenic, neurotoxic, and hormone disrupting.

And it’s not just perfumes or colognes. Many products list “fragrance” on the label, but very few name the specific ingredients that make up a “fragrance.” This makes it very difficult to know what’s actually in your perfume or cologne. Some of these chemicals have been linked to serious health problems such as cancer, reproductive and developmental toxicity, allergies, and sensitivities.

The good news is that we don’t have to trade the confidence that wearing fragrance gives us for the risk from synthetic fragrances. We can ditch fake and harmful fragrances and make our own perfume and cologne and reclaim our flirty, sexy, confident, perfume-wearing selves! 

Ready to find out how? Here we go . . .

Fragrance Basics

Every quality perfume or cologne needs a good base. This allows for the fragrance to remain intact throughout the life of the perfume/cologne. You want it to have a nice shelf life so you can enjoy it for as long as possible.

You’ll want to choose a carrier with little to no scent. For spray-on fragrances, use a clear, scentless solvent like vodka or witch hazel (I prefer vodka). This helps the essential oil distribute evenly throughout the bottle. For roll-on fragrances, use an unscented carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil.

If you choose to use water as your base, which you can, be sure to choose distilled water. The minerals and impurities have been removed so it’s a “safe” option to use in sprays. However, just know that vodka or witch hazel would allow the essential oils to be more evenly distributed.

Depending on the size of the bottle you’re using—either a spray or roller bottle—you will want to loosely follow an 80:20 ratio. Use a carrier oil or solvent for 80% of the spray and an essential oil blend for the remaining 20%.

Blending by Notes

Let’s start with some simple guidelines to help you build a personalized blend of fragrances using your oils.

Essential oil fragrances are classified as “notes.” Just like music, you want all the notes—top, middle, and base—to harmonize, making a beautiful “sound.”
 
The Top Note is the scent your nose detects first. It is the “first impression” scent, usually a citrus or herb.

The Middle Note is the scent detected 10-45 minutes after applying and can last several hours on the skin. It is often referred to as the “heart note,” the one noticed after the top note is gone. It’s typically warm and well-rounded.

The Base Note lasts far beyond the other notes. It’s the scent that appears once the others have evaporated. It creates a lasting impression.

Use this quick table to guide you as you start blending notes. Start by choosing 2-4 oils in each row to work with; add as much as your nose likes! There are no hard and fast rules to blending; just do what smells good to you.


Be Safe

It’s important to mention that essential oils are potent and careless use of them can cause harm. Here are a few general safety ‘rules’ to keep in your back pocket.

Diluting oils is the number one way to protect yourself from accidental irritation; following the 80:20 dilution is a very conservative way to start, especially if you are more sensitive in nature to begin with. If you feel like you need your oils diluted less or more, go ahead. It’s totally up to you!

Some essential oils cause photosensitivity thanks to the compounds found within. I only use Young Living essential oils, and thankfully, their oils that cause photosensitivity are labeled. Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, Orange, Bergamot, Tangerine, Peace & Calming, Stress Away, Citrus Fresh, Gentle Baby, and Joy are some of Young Living’s popular oils that cause photosensitivity, but other oils can come with these risks as well. Always check the label to see what cautions are associated with the oil you’re using.

But don’t let that keep you from enjoying citrus oils in your DIY perfumes and colognes! Your essential oils are diluted in the recipes you’re creating, but just to be safe, spray or roll on those perfumes in a place where the sun doesn’t shine or simply cover the area with clothing if you plan to spend a lot of time in direct UV rays.

A Recipe to Get You Started

Here’s a light, refreshing scent for everyday use.  This little blend will have you smiling all day!


Interested in a some more DIY perfume and cologne recipes? I have a free guide that I'd love to share with you. 

And if you want more info on the world's best, purest essential oils, let's set a time to talk. You'll be smelling amazing again in no time!

Be oily and be well,
Nicole

Where Are You Headed?

Where Are You Headed?
Imagine you are on an airplane, and the pilot makes a slight deviation to the flight plan . . . maybe just a one percent deviation.

Will you feel the shift?

No. But you can bet that after thousands of miles, you will end up in a very different place than where you were originally headed. Maybe even a different continent.

Twelve years ago today, I made that slight deviation. I was watching an episode of Oprah while folding laundry when her guests, Sophie Uliano and Julia Roberts, caught my attention.  I discovered that day that the detergent and fabric softener on the towels I was folding were actually harming my family.  That day I learned about the huge number of toxins in our household, personal care, and cleaning products and the silent and not-so-silent damage they are doing to our health.

And that day, I made a decision to ditch them. I immediately began making my own household cleaning products with essential oils and other basic pantry items. And that first decision led to another good decision and another and another. My family is now at a very different place than where we were headed.

Our generation has a problem.  I see the rise in disease . . . allergies, infertility, depression, cancer, and more. We have more than 6,200 hospitals in the United States—not because people are well, but because they are chronically ill.  And much of it can be attributed to our exposure to toxic chemicals in our foods, our cleaning products, our personal care products, and even our makeup. The average adult is exposed to thousands of synthetic, harmful chemicals each and every day. Where our generation is headed is nowhere we should want to go.

But it doesn’t have to be this way . . . there’s a better way to live this life.  It starts with making a deviation to your route, slight or dramatic—you choose. We are the gatekeeper of our home, and WE get to decide which products cross the threshold of our doorway. 

Will we choose products that oppress our cells or products that help us live a life of vitality?

I help women discover a lifestyle of wellness with fewer harsh chemicals. I want to be your Oprah.  Let’s connect below!
 
And if you’re interested in making a quick impact on your home, get my free guide for Three Easy Steps to Detox Your Home.
 
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