Skip to content

Health WellNews

Tips and Tricks for a Sparkling Spring

For some, Spring cleaning is a productive and anticipated right of passage each year. It’s a time to stock up on essential cleaning and organizational supplies and deep clean the house. For others, it’s a dreaded time to confront the messiness and chaos that can come with a long cold winter. Here are a few tips and tricks to get your Spring cleaning under control and make it less overwhelming.

lemon slices and peppermint

Make it Manageable

The first tip is to break down your Spring-cleaning chores into more manageable chunks. Set the timer on your phone for 15 minutes and then tackle some simple tasks like dusting open surfaces and ceiling fans, door frames and switch plates, or baseboards. This can help you feel like you are accomplishing something without spending a ton of time. Using microfiber cloths and mops can help you pick up dust in a flash. 

Make Your Own Cleaning Solution 

If the chemicals in store bought cleaners concern you, make your own natural cleaning solution with ingredients you probably already have on hand. Combine the following ingredients in a spray bottle and shake it well: 

  • ¾ cup of water
  • ¾ cup of rubbing alcohol
  • 5 to 10 drops of peppermint, lemon, or orange essential oils
  • 1 squirt of natural dish soap

Once your mixture is complete, spray on to surfaces and wipe with a clean cloth.

Keep Your Shower Clean 

One easy way to keep your shower clean is to keep supplies in there so you can clean while you are in the shower. Keep a squeegee in the shower so you can wipe down the walls. Keep a spray bottle or dish wand with equal parts dish soap and vinegar in the shower to scrub things down and keep the potential mess under control. 

Remove Stains

If your favorite coffee or tea mug is embarrassingly stained, use a little baking soda to make them like new. Fill the mugs with one part baking soda and two parts water. Then let it sit overnight and in the morning clean it out with a sponge.  

Use the Right Tools

There are lots of tools to help you clean the toilet quickly and without getting too close to the mess. There are also some great tools to help you clean your blinds and windows. When the days get longer and sunnier, you want to open the blinds and windows, right? And that’s when you notice the dust on the blinds and smudges on the windows. Use tools that help you dust multiple blinds at once. And there are tools to help you tackle those hard-to-reach corners and tall windows. 

Tips and tools abound to help you get your living space sparkling clean for Spring and beyond so take advantage of what’s out there and tackle what you can in small bites and before you know it, your house will be a place of refuge and comfort. 

Fitness Routine Spring Cleaning

With warmer temperatures and longer days, it’s time to evaluate your fitness routine and give it a Spring overhaul. While we might find comfort in being creatures of habit, it’s important to frequently switch up your fitness routine for a few different reasons. One reason is to avoid hitting a fitness plateau. But how do you know when it’s time for a change? If any of the following apply to you, it might be time to freshen things up. 

woman jogging outdoors

If your routine brings with it a sense of dread, it might be time to try something new. If you stop seeing results and you aren’t making any forward progress, then it’s time to make a change. If you feel unusually tired rather than energized after your routine and you watch the clock to count down the minutes, then you definitely need to switch things up. 

Evaluation is Key

Before you just change everything up, make sure to take some time and evaluate your routine and how it relates to your fitness goals. Does your current routine challenge you? Do you look forward to your workouts or dread them? With Spring here, there are lots of options to explore to help you switch up your routine. 

The first thing you can take advantage of with longer days and warmer temperatures is to take your workout outside. Sometimes a simple change in scenery is all it takes to snap out of a dull routine. Some cities offer classes in the park like yoga or aerobics or even an early morning fitness boot camp. 

You also might consider registering for a running club or just register for a 5k or hiking challenge. And with longer days, you can get up earlier to work out before your day fully begins. And add a little variety to your routine by including some free weights, resistance bands, or Kettlebells. Sometimes, a new pair of shoes or yoga pants can provide just the right amount of motivation. 

And if none of that works to infuse a little energy into your fitness routine, try a new class or take a lesson. Group fitness classes can provide you with a connection to a new community and new forms of movement. Take a golf or tennis lesson with family and friends. This can also be a way to get your friend group or family out for some fresh air and activity. 

Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you enjoy it. If you dread your workout, then you aren’t going to reach your goals or enjoy the journey. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to try something new. Everyone’s routine and goals are different and as individualized as you are. Find the formula that works for you and don’t be afraid to make adjustments along the way.

Three Steps to Keep Winter Allergies at Bay

You might think that the cold winter season would bring relief for seasonal allergy sufferers, however, it just brings about a different set of indoor allergens. As those colder temperatures become the norm, people tend to spend more time indoors which brings them into contact with indoor allergens. 

pine cones and berries

Inside Allergy Triggers

These indoor allergy triggers have likely been in your house all year, but when you hibernate inside during the colder months with the windows closed and the heat on, they tend to become more pronounced. Some of the major triggers include dust particles, mold and mildew, and pet dander. 

Perhaps the most unique winter allergy that really is a part of the season is Christmas tree allergies. This can be a complex problem as it could be an allergy to pine (or the tree itself) or the tree could be covered in allergens like pollen or mold spores. If you are sensitive to smells, the strong odor might be an issue throughout the Christmas season. 

Outside Allergy Triggers

If you live in a wet and rainy area, outdoor mold can begin to form in late winter and early Spring. Much like an allergy to pine, cedar pollen can create havoc for people sensitive to this allergen. Cedar is largely contained in the areas of Southern Missouri, Oklahoma, central and western Texas and Northern Mexico. This allergy is often referred to as “cedar fever.” The cedar pollinates from December through March and can sometimes release so much pollen it looks like the trees are emitting smoke. 

Allergy Symptoms vs. Cold Symptoms

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if you are suffering from allergies or a cold as some of the symptoms might be the same or similar. Common allergy symptoms include sneezing, a stuffy or runny nose, itchy eyes, ears, or throat, dry coughing, or a low-grade fever. In severe cases, symptoms can be related to asthma and include chest tightness, wheezing, rapid breathing, and feelings of exhaustion.

The way to tell the difference between allergies and a cold is to examine the source. Colds come from a virus that is passed by someone infected with it. Once your body fights off the infection, the cold symptoms end. Allergies come from your body’s release of histamine as a response to the allergens. Symptoms will persist if you are breathing in the allergens. 

Treatment Options

There are many different treatment options depending on the severity of the symptoms. Over-the-counter antihistamines are a common course of action for many allergy sufferers. Nasal irrigation or using distilled water to flush out nasal passages, is another option. Nasal sprays are also common and for those who have severe symptoms, allergy shots are an option. 

If you are looking for a drug-free alternative, acupuncture has also been proven a successful treatment option. As a general assessment, typical allergy acupuncture treatments will involve weekly or twice-weekly appointments spanning several weeks or even months depending on the symptoms. Your acupuncturist can then determine if annual or semi-annual treatments are needed to maintain results. 

The root cause of allergies is different for everyone. Another option your acupuncturist might explore with you is to add herbal formulas to your treatment plan as this can greatly increase the efficacy of the treatments. Adding herbal formulas along with the traditional needle treatment can be an effective one-two punch for treating winter allergies. 

Prevention

Some easy steps to take as you head into the cold winter months is to regularly wash clothes, bedding, and any removeable upholstery covers. This helps to reduce the pet dander and dust build up. Regularly vacuum your home and in severe cases, you might want to think about removing carpet and replacing it with tile or wood flooring. Seal any cracks or openings near windows and doors and fix any leaks so mold doesn’t have the chance to form. Do what you can to limit exposure and keep your environment allergen free so you can feel better overall.

Healthy and Hearty Winter Recipes

When the weather gets colder there is nothing better than a warm and comforting bowl of goodness to keep the chill away. But sometimes the challenge is to keep things healthy as the temperatures drop. We often tend to drift away from our fresh vegetable dishes of summer into carb heavy dishes of pasta and other carbs. That is all fine in moderation, but if you are looking to keep things healthy through the winter, this recipe is a great way to eat the rainbow.

healthy ingredients

During the long, dark nights of winter, it can be a treat to find something colorful, warm and filling to eat. Bowls are a great way to incorporate different food groups, keep an eye on portions, and still find the comfort that comes from a warm dish on a cold night.

Some nutritionists call these types of bowls “nourish bowls” and they are completely customizable depending on what you like and what’s in your pantry at the moment. They are perhaps the easiest way to incorporate grains, protein and lots of veggies. They are also a great way to mix textures and different flavors and if you have picky eaters in your family, remember they are customizable so you can incorporate different toppings to suit the needs of your household. And another pro tip, these are excellent options for meal prep so you can enjoy a warm, comforting, and nourishing dish whether you are working from home or heading to the office. 

This recipe is just a sample of one bowl option. Remember, you can customize to what you like. This bowl will definitely help you to eat the rainbow during winter. 

Ingredient Options

Start off with some sweet potatoes for a satisfying orange base. You can roast them in the oven alongside some chickpeas and spice them up for extra flavor. Quinoa can add some protein and bulk to your bowl. Kale and spinach add that nice leafy green touch of freshness. Red cabbage adds another touch of crunch and freshness, and Tahini makes a great base for sauce or dressing to toss with your bowl. 

Assembling Your Bowl

After you have seasoned and roasted your sweet potatoes and chickpeas on a baking sheet for 25 minutes at 350 degrees, you can toss your kale with apple cider vinegar and salt and spread it onto a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, flip the kale chips and roast for another five minutes. While the ingredients are roasting, cook your quinoa according to the package instructions. In a small bowl, whisk together tahini, water, lime juice, maple syrup, garlic powder and salt for an amazing dressing for your bowl. Wash and chop your fresh spinach, red cabbage and half of an orange for some added zing and freshness.

Assemble your bowl with your sweet potatoes, chickpeas, quinoa, kale chips, spinach and red cabbage and then top with orange slices and some toasted walnuts or almost and drizzle with that amazing tahini dressing. 

The only thing left to do is enjoy! 

Three Tips for Maintaining Your Mental Health in Winter

Many people struggle during the winter months with their mental health. It could be the shorter days and darker nights, or it could be related to family issues and the holiday season. People deal with this in different ways, but it can lead to avoidance of social interactions, overeating or emotional eating, as well as a mental fogginess that can lead to negative thoughts and overwhelming feelings. 

winter landscape at golden hour

The survival instinct for many of us, especially those living in extremely cold regions of the world, is to wrap up in a blanket, eat lots of comfort food, and hibernate indoors. But it’s important to take inventory of your mental well being as much as your physical. Here are three tips to follow when evaluating your mental health this winter. 

Listen to the Needs of Your Body

The winter days are shorter and the nights colder and darker and this definitely has an impact on our internal clocks. This low light can have our bodies ready for sleep earlier than usual in the lighter summer months. You might find yourself going to bed 20-30 minutes earlier than usual. Your body will tell you what it needs so make sure you listen and possibly incorporate a power nap mid-day if necessary. 

Nutrition is Key

As previously mentioned, our tendency can often be to eat more and move less in the cold weather. Warm bowls of soup or pasta are often our favorite things when the temperature drops. But feed your hunger wisely and make sure you don’t go completely overboard with the comfort foods. Stock your pantry with nutritious food like nuts, crackers and hummus, yogurt and sweet potatoes. This will keep your physical health and your mental health strong through this cold season. 

Keep on Moving

When it’s cold and snowy or rainy outside, the tendency is to grab a warm blanket and curl up with a book or binge watch the latest show you have been saving for just such weather. And this is a great plan in moderation. It’s important that you keep moving even when it’s cold outside. Our bodies need movement to stay healthy. If you don’t have a time set aside for regular exercise, you should consider adding this to your daily schedule. If you work inside and sit at a desk all day, set an alarm that reminds you to get up every hour and move; take a walk, stretch, or simply take the stairs instead of the elevator. Anything to keep your body in motion. This is a great way to keep your mind active as well. 

Our physical and mental health are tied together so make sure they aren’t neglecting one or the other. Taking care of them both will set you up for a productive winter and help you welcome Spring with a healthy mind and heart. 

Tips to Manage Fall Allergy Season

After such a scorching summer in much of the country, Fall is a welcome season bringing cooler temperatures, comforting food, and a gentle lead into winter. However, for many people, Fall also brings with it some severe allergies. 

autumn leaves

While most people may associate severe allergies with the Spring and Summer months when everything is in bloom, there are those who only suffer during the autumn. The main cause of Fall hay fever is typically weed pollen but, depending on where you are located, common fall allergens can include ragweed, sagebrush, burning bush, tumbleweed, and Russian thistle just to name a few. 

If you suffer from these types of allergies, you are more than likely aware of days when pollen counts are especially high (windy and warm days). Rainy days are a welcome relief until the grasses dry and pollen counts soar once again. 

A common Fall occurrence in many parts of the country is burning leaves after they fall from the trees. This is when mold can become a problem for those suffering from Fall allergies. When those piles of damp leaves are left alone to rot, mold can form and cause allergy sufferers all kinds of issues.

In some areas of the country, ragweed can cause problems from late August to mid-November. Ragweed thrives on warm days and cool nights and is found in every part of the country. As with most grasses, pollen counts are highest early in the morning. 

Now that you know some of the more common Fall allergies, what can you do to make this season as painless as possible? It’s not realistic to lock yourself inside with nose spray and tissues but you can be strategic in your plan of attack to deal with the dreaded Fall allergy season. Here are a few tips to ease the burden:

  • Make sure you are aware of pollen counts so you can limit your time outside during peak hours if possible. 
  • Use a HEPA filter and humidifier to keep airborne pollen levels manageable. 
  • Keep doors and windows closed, especially on days when pollen counts are high.
  • Vacuum and dust regularly.
  • Change clothes and take a shower after outdoor activities. 

In addition to over-the-counter nasal sprays and antihistamines, check with your health care provider to discuss treatment options including acupuncture (which has a history of effectively treating allergies) and herbal remedies, as these are more natural options to dealing with Fall allergies. 

Fall’s Best Comfort Food

One of the best things about the approach of Fall is the cooler temperatures that bring family recipes filled with warm comfort food. It’s no wonder Fall is often described as soup season. Hearty and warm soups filled with fall produce and rich broth bring warmth and comfort to family tables no matter where you live. 

pumpkin soup

One of the most recognizable Fall vegetables must be pumpkin. But pumpkins aren’t just cute Halloween decorations. A quick search of the Internet will deliver dozens of pumpkin soup recipes right to your inbox. Here’s a favorite you may not have tried before: Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk. You can vary this soup recipe by choosing butternut squash as well and the addition of the coconut milk instead of heavy cream won’t be noticeable to most. Finishing it off with a healthy spoonful of plain Greek yogurt, chopped parsley and a drizzle of high-quality olive oil will have you going back for seconds and thirds! Making a double batch also leaves you extra to freeze and warm up later when time is short. 

The prep time for this soup is approximately 30 minutes and the cook time is one hour and 35 minutes. This recipe will serve 8. And the roasting of the vegetables gives this soup a rich flavor you won’t forget.

Ingredient List:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 small pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (shortcut: you can buy already cubed butternut squash in the freezer section of most grocery stores but fresh is best!)
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 large red onions, halved
  • ¼ cup high-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of flakey sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 pinch of white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 4 cups checking stock
  • 2 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wrap sweet potato in foil and bake until soft, about 45 minutes
  • While the sweet potato is roasting, place pumpkin, carrots and onions on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, allspice and white pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes until soft.
  • Peel sweet potato and squash when cool enough to handle. Transfer to a large saucepan and add carrots, onions, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, ginger, salt and pepper. Stir in chicken stock and coconut milk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and summer 20 minutes. 
  • Puree soup using an immersion blender or regular blender until smooth.

Serve warm with crusty bread and enjoy the tastes of Fall!

3 Tips to Keep Mentally Healthy in Fall

While many people embrace the approach of Fall, with its vibrant colors, cooler temperatures, and shorter days, others notice a dangerous shift in their mental health. For some, the decrease in temperature means more time indoors and that can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health. Here are three tips to maintain your mental health during the Fall. 

sun shining through fall leaf

Keep Your Vitamin D Levels in Check

It’s easy to get lots of Vitamin D during the warm summer months, but with shorter days comes fewer hours of sunshine which can translate to less time spent outside. This can make it increasingly difficult to get the Vitamin D you need. 

Low levels of Vitamin D can cause a host of health issues so keeping your levels in check is important during the colder and sometimes darker fall and winter months. While you can increase your intake through diet changes, a Vitamin D supplement might be the most effective way to maintain your intake. The daily Vitamin D recommendation is 400-800 IU but some people need between 1000-4000 IU per day to keep levels in the right range. Make sure you talk to your health professional to see what is right for you. 

The Importance of Sleep

The cooler temperatures of Fall can often bring the urge to hibernate or spend a little more time under those cozy blankets. But keep in mind that this could be disrupting your sleep patterns which can also bring about a host of health issues. The fewer hours of sunlight can also give the urge to stay in bed longer. Sleep experts recommend keeping the same bedtime and waking time throughout the week. Don’t let yourself sleep the weekends away! Use the cooler temperatures to your advantage as the body sleeps best in a cool environment. 

Stay Hydrated

Believe it or not, we’re more likely to be dehydrated in the winter months. It makes sense if you think about it. It’s not as warm out so we’re less thirsty. Dry skin and a lack of energy might just be the keys to recognizing you’re dehydrated. 

There are lots of ways to track your hydration including apps and fancy water bottles. You can also maintain your hydration through drinking herbal tea for a warm beverage during those cooler mornings and evenings. And you can incorporate foods with high moisture contents including apples, pears, celery, lettuces, cucumbers, butternut squash, and pomegranate among other options. 

As you embrace sweater weather, embrace your mental health and make sure you are getting enough sleep, staying hydrated and keeping up with your Vitamin D. This can make all the difference in whether or not you enjoy a healthy Fall.

Cultivating Defensive Qi to Fight Summer Allergies

As the rebirth of Spring gives way to the long, hot days of summer, seasonal allergies may not go away with the change of season but might just shift to a new or more intense set of symptoms. These warmer temperatures can lead to even more pollen production which can lead to even harsher symptoms that Spring produced. 

summer allergens

While Spring allergy season brings the pollen from the trees and flowers, summer is the time for grasses and weeds to release their pollen which then triggers a whole new round of sneezing, watery and red eyes. While pollen is still the main culprit, weeds like ragweed (the most common allergy because it can travel for hundreds of miles in the wind), sagebrush, tumbleweed, and pigweed to name a few will bring their own set of irritants. And grasses like Bermuda, blue grasses, sweet vernal and red top will also cause havoc for the sinuses. And don’t forget the increase in pet hair as pets shed to keep cool in the warm summer months.

And adding another layer of irritation is the insect bites that come from some of summer’s new residents like bees, wasps, yellow jackets, and fire ants. Dust mites also peak during summer and thrive in warm, humid temperatures. 

Instead of just treating the symptoms of seasonal allergies, acupuncture goes to the root problem by rebalancing the body’s energy systems, enhancing the immune system, and helping the body to heal naturally. Your acupuncturist will go through a complete health history to help you determine the cause of the allergies and target meridians on the body including the lungs, stomach, spleen, and colon to circulate qi (a type of energy connected to immunity) and provide a defense against seasonal allergies. Stimulating certain acupuncture points on the body will lead to a restoration of balance and relief from the sometimes debilitating symptoms of seasonal allergies. 

For a one-two punch in fighting your summer allergy symptoms, take the following precautions as you begin your acupuncture treatments:

  • Limit your time outdoors when pollen counts, and smog levels are too high. 
  • Use an air purifier to keep pollutants at bay.
  • Make sure you regularly clean air filters, vents, and anywhere pollen can collect.
  • Wash your bedding and rugs in hot water so dust mites don’t have a chance to attack.
  • Dust and vacuum often and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Wear a mask when cleaning and working in your yard.

Your acupuncturist may also develop an herbal formula to help you deal with your allergy symptoms. Herbs are a great addition to your treatments so talk to your acupuncturist about all your options. Don’t spend another groggy day suffering from your symptoms and the effects of the over-the-counter medications. Let your acupuncturist help you develop a safe and effective treatment protocol, so summer allergies don’t leave you hiding inside during these warm months. 

3 Tips for Healthy Summer Fun

Summer is here and it’s time to get out and enjoy the warm weather. But it’s also important to stay safe and healthy so here are three tips to help you stay healthy while enjoying these longer days. 

girl jumping on beach

The first tip is to get up and move! Now that it stays lighter into the evening hours, make sure you can get outside and move. This is especially important if you have a job where you sit most of the day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity every week. This increase in action has immediate benefits like better sleep and reduced stress and anxiety.

The second tip is to protect your skin by using proper sunscreen and taking care of your skin throughout the summer months. The most natural way to protect your skin is to cover up when out in the sun. This includes long sleeve sun guards, hats, sunglasses, and bathing suit coverups. Using an SPF sunscreen is also important, as is building up your exposure slowly, especially if you live most of the year in a cold climate. 

The third tip is to add more delicious summer fruits and veggies to your diet. You may have heard of “eating the rainbow,” which means eating foods that are each color of the rainbow regularly. Another suggestion is to make half of your plate veggies. This is easier to do in the summer when there are so many delicious fruits and vegetables that are in season and easily available. 

And a bonus tip is to make sure you stay hydrated! If you are going to be spending the day out and about in the heat (especially if you are exercising or otherwise exerting yourself) you should boost your water intake. It’s recommended to add 12 ounces of water for every 30 minutes you spend in the heat sweating. 

Use these tips to make the most of this time of year where the days are longer and warmer than usual, and you can get out and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Your body will appreciate the Vitamin D, exercise, and heathy eating!

4109970390