This easy to make foot cream can be a wonderful part of your nightly sleep routine. As an earlier blog mentioned, scent can either help or hinder sleep. Sweet smells send us more quickly into slumber while unpleasant smells detract from our sleep quality and can keep us awake. The lavender in this balm boosts deep sleep while vanilla soothes and relaxes. Both have been shown to have a calming effect that reduces symptoms of anxiety and lulls us right to sleep.
Try rubbing this into tired or dry feet at night and following with a warm pair of socks. The socks will allow the cream to sink into your feet, resulting in wonderfully soft skin!
- ¼ cup shea butter
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ ounce piece of beeswax, grated
- 10 drops vanilla essential oil
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- Mix together all ingredients in a small saucepan over very low heat. Stir until melted.
- Remove from heat. Stir until well combined and add desired essential oils.
- Pour into a sealable glass jar.
- To use, take a small amount into your palm and massage into feet. Focus on particularly dry areas like heels and toes.
- Relax for 15 minutes, enjoying the scent of your rub. Then put on thick socks and let yourself fall right asleep!
You can make another version of this rub with peppermint oil to regenerate and refresh tired feet. In fact, any combination of essential oils you enjoy could make a wonderful balm – myrrh and vanilla, mandarin, chamomile and jasmine, or sandalwood all make centering, calming or comforting scents.
How often do you feel better after a hug from your mom or husband or child? If your day isn’t going just as planned, don’t you enjoy the moment when someone you know and love gives you a full-bodied hug?
Just the other night, my son came up to me out of the blue and gave me the best full-bodied, strong, squeezing hug. My response, while a bit surprised, was to squeeze back and tell him what a great hug that was! I felt so much better once he turned away. I realized I was smiling both outside and inside. Not only had I loved the impromptu encounter from my teenage son, but his affection had also left me with a feeling of warmth and quiet in my body.
Research gathered by Dr. Paul Zak shows that the human brain produces oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that acts like a hormone, and releases it in the body when we feel safe and secure. This chemical tells our brain that “everything is all right.” Dr. Zak has determined that the brain produces and releases the majority of this chemical during activities like breast-feeding, hugging, snuggling, holding hands, partner dancing, having bodywork and massage, and during prayer.
Physical touch can be so soothing to many and can even calm anxiety. When babies cry, don’t we pat them on the back to calm them down? And if someone is upset or depressed isn’t our first reaction to reach out and touch their shoulder or to hug them tight and say something about “things will be alright”? I know that whenever I visit relatives or friends, I consistently greet each member with a full hug and do the same when it is time to leave.
Dr. Zak’s determined that physical touch stimulates the most potent release of oxytocin. To further this research, Guastella and Colleagues conducted a study on volunteers and the role of oxytocin in recalling faces. Their research found that people who received boosts of oxytocin were more likely to remember and recall happy faces over angry or neutral facial expressions, thus lending to the “everything is all right” emotion that hugs can leave an individual feeling. Which honestly makes so much sense! Don’t you feel better encountering a smiling happy face then an angry or neutral expression? I certainly do.
So the next time someone says they feel “warm and fuzzy” inside, it could be the effects of a good hug they are truly feeling. So do yourself a favor whenever you are feeling low and unsure about a situation, and go hug someone! Dr. Zak prescribes at least eight hugs a day to feel happier and more content. Luckily, this is one prescription that is ok to become addicted to!
This simple slow-cooker recipe couldn’t be healthier. White beans are very high in fiber, protein and slow-digesting carbohydrates. Because they are so low on the glycemic index, white beans don’t spike blood sugar levels. This helps us feel fuller longer and keeps cravings and mood swings at bay.
If you prefer a spicier chili, feel free to add cayenne pepper, chili powder, red pepper flakes or the spices of your choice. Leftovers can be frozen or kept in the fridge for several days.
- 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3 (19-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15 ounce) can no salt added whole-kernel corn, drained
- 1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chilies
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 tablespoons (1 ½-ounces) pre-shredded reduced-fat Mexican blend or cheddar cheese
- 6 tablespoons reduced fat sour cream
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Baked tortilla chips (optional)
- Combine the first 13 ingredients in an electric slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on high for one hour.
- Reduce heat to low and cook for four hours.
- Ladle 1 cup chili into each of six soup bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese, 1 tablespoon sour cream and 1 teaspoon cilantro.
- Garnish with tortilla chips, if desired.
Yield: 6 servings.
Source: Cooking Light: Make it Simple
Practicing Nonjudgment with Artwork
Last week we worked on our mindfulness skills by observing and describing what is happening in the present moment. Mindfulness reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. It prevents us from lamenting over our past and worrying for the future — right to the present. We have control over the present moment. It becomes beautifully manageable. Mindfulness opens our eyes to becoming aware of how we react, think and feel.
A very important piece to remember when practicing these skills is to refrain from judging our present self. This takes some time and practice! Once our eyes are open to what is happening internally and externally, this awareness becomes another way for us to pick apart others and ourselves. We must learn to simply observe.
This is a brief exercise to aid the practice observing and describing. Taking note of the present moment may involve developing a new language and way of thinking. Try this: walk around your house and describe the artwork on your walls. If you don’t have artwork up at home, it’s a great excuse to visit an art museum or gallery in your area! You may do this out loud or write your descriptions down.
You will want to remove any opinions and bias in your description. For example, describing something as “poorly drawn” or “beautiful” is an opinion. Even a positive opinion is an opinion. Right now you are simply stating what IS. What is in the image? How are things placed? What colors are used? How do the forms interact?
This is the way we must approach our own present moment: by observing and describing the interaction of elements in our environment. Now, the next time you create a piece of artwork, describe it to yourself. Remove any judgments or opinions. When we work to practice nonjudgment, we set others and ourselves free.
My uncle was considered strange in his family for being the first to work. A decorated colonel, success for him lay beyond what he knew and in the court of law. For many working women, though, this is not the case. Rather than measuring success in terms of career, many women view success as maintaining a happy family, doing charitable work, or expanding their learning. For others, success is staying free from mental illness.
It is an interesting observation in that many women choose to leave their careers to take care of their children (their idea of success). Yet a part of them feels unfulfilled and they return to work, at least part-time, in order to nourish this part of themselves.
Success is more than family or career or physical health. Success is the culmination of all of these. To view a single aspect of our lives as the key to happiness or success is to invite the others to fall to neglect.
This thought process is the foundation of Brookhaven Retreat’s Poncho® Program – that no aspect of life should be unexplored. Rather, all aspects of life should support health and happiness.
If we focus solely on our family as the bearers of success, a part of us remains unfulfilled. Likewise, society emphasizes money and power as the keys to happiness. This narrow focus ignores love, family, health, mental wellness and personal exploration.
We must each examine what success means to us. No matter what we enjoy most in life, success lies in doing it passionately. Living passionately suffuses every aspect of our lives to fill it with joy and happiness.
Do everything passionately. Take a walk in the icy cold. Go to a museum just to visit your favorite painting. Share your passion for a perfect apple pie with your closest friends. Whatever is important to you, do it passionately and with all your heart, and you will not fail to succeed.
Ultimately what you do is secondary. But how you do it is primary. ~ Eckhart Tolle
Have you ever gone to the store for a single item and come back with twenty? Tried a brand because it was on sale? Paid far more than you’d like for a single item? There’s a reason why.
Everything from a store’s layout, temperature, music, promotions, scent and light is meant to influence purchasing. Classical music is associated with more expensive purchases. Though stores that play classical music do not influence volume of purchases, the music makes shoppers more likely to purchase expensive items. This is why a certain grocery store can get you to pay six dollars for a chocolate truffle.
Discounts lure us into sales at stores we wouldn’t have visited otherwise; we likely wouldn’t have spent any money at all if it hadn’t been for that $50 coupon. Even scents are influential. A well-known electronics company uses a combination of vanilla and mandarin to make women feel at ease in its stores.
It’s a good strategy to have a list ready when you walk into a store. Sticking to this list can prevent unnecessary purchases, as can stopping and asking yourself if you really need what you are shopping for, and evaluating your cart before heading to the register.
Being aware of the tricks stores employ can also help us be more mindful of our shopping behaviors. This can be especially helpful if we are prone to use shopping as an emotional tool to boost mood; this boost is only temporary and quickly followed with guilt or depression. Simply being aware of the traps we can fall into allows us to avoid them in the first place.
Take a look at a store’s layout, lighting, music and scent the next time you are shopping. How does it influence your desire to purchase?
We’re all aware of the benefits of good sleep hygiene. Adequate sleep improves mood, attention and physical health. It prevents depression and anxiety. A relaxing bedroom with the right lighting, colors and temperatures, which is free from electronics and infused with a soothing atmosphere, encourages restful sleep. But a recent study found another surprising contributor to a good night’s sleep: scent.
The study found that we feel more relaxed in a nicely scented bedroom and that, because scent is so powerfully linked with memory, a pleasantly scented room can be an integral part of a routine that encourages a good night’s sleep. Lavender and jasmine were found to be particularly helpful: lavender boosts deep sleep while jasmine relieves nerves and tension.
Research also found that unpleasant smells detract from sleep quality. These can range from stale cooking smells to old laundry to fresh paint. It greatly benefits both mood and sleep to stay on top of laundry and air out the house whenever cooking, painting or completing a project.
Consider including scent as part of your nighttime routine. You could take a sweet-smelling bath before sleep, rub lavender moisturizer on your feet, use aromatherapy, or burn a delicious candle before going to bed (just remember to blow it out!).
Have you noticed any of these effects? Do you incorporate scent into your nightly ritual?
Title: Meta Description: Sleep Hygiene Study – a Brookhaven Retreat blog about using scent to help get a good night’s sleep by guest blogger Jessica W. Meta keywords: mood, depression, anxiety
Clay Mask Varieties
One of the best things we can do for our skin is to make time for a weekly clay mask. Clay masks absorb dirt, oil and toxins from our skin. They also gently exfoliate and increase circulation. There are, however, different types of clay and each one offers a different benefit to our thirsty faces.
White Clay: Also known as kaolin, this is the mildest of clay. White clay gently cleanses and removes impurities without drawing oils from the skin, making it perfect for dry or sensitive skin.
French Green Clay: Montmorillonite clay is extremely powerful at drawing toxins and debris from the skin. This highly absorbent and anti-inflammatory clay is excellent for oily or acne prone skin, but less so for drier skin types.
Red Clay: Also called rhassoul clay, this clay is a Moroccan beauty secret. Used in the best of spas, it is highly anti-inflammatory and has anti-bacterial, astringent properties. Red clay is wonderful for mature or sun-damaged skin.
Beyond the type of clay, you may also wish to employ various wetting agents tailored to your skin’s individual needs. Try:
Rose water: Its luxurious aroma is a mood enhancer that will melt stress and anxiety away as you drift off and enjoy your mask. Rose water is extremely gentle and soothing to irritated skin.
Green tea: This tea is rich in antioxidants, making it a potent free-radical fighter and perfect for anti-aging applications.
Honey: Anti-bacterial and humectant honey will replenish dry skin’s moisture and kill bacteria. This makes it great at fighting acne without over drying skin.
Skincare experts say there are three phases of a clay mask. During the wet phase, skin drinks in the clay’s minerals. As the clay begins to dry, the mask contracts, stimulating blood flow. Finally, once the mask is entirely dry, it can suck moisture out of skin or create irritation.
To apply a clay mask, mix the appropriate clay with the wetting agent of your choice until you create a spreadable paste. Gently rub this mixture onto your face starting at your chin and working your way up to your forehead. Relax with soothing music or a good book and enjoy your me-time until the clay begins to dry. Before it is entirely dry, gently wash off your face with warm water and follow with your favorite moisturizer.
With the war in Syria, shootings, natural disasters and bombings all over the news, we see causes for posttraumatic stress disorder on every channel we turn. But divorce, bullying, abuse, car accidents, muggings and death can also cause PTSD. The truth is that everyone is at risk every day.
Women with PTSD suffer from traumatic memories that have changed the brain’s chemistry. Many situations can trigger flashbacks and nightmares, and women may arrange their lives around avoiding reminders of the trauma.
Unresolved trauma can easily lead to coexisting mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse. This only serves to worsen the emotional disconnect, irritability and isolation that PTSD sufferers deal with on a daily basis.
It is possible for women to move past emotional breakage into lives of health and wellness, but this requires hard work rather than avoidance. Trauma must be worked through and processed rather than ignored. A variety of therapies and emotion regulation skills help change women’s perceptions and behaviors regarding trauma, ultimately changing the way they think about these events.
We all experience PTSD to a small degree in our daily lives. When people hurt us, we may hang on to that pain and refuse to forgive, let go and move on. By not letting go, we continue to allow the event to worsen our pain and emotional state. In this way, it is quite similar to PTSD.
Forgiveness is the only solution for the everyday wrongs we hang on to. Only through forgiving others do we give ourselves the permission to let go of the resentment and toxic emotions we hang on to.
Are there people or events that have bothered you and you are still hanging on to? Would you live more happily, with less anger if you forgave and forgot?
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
- 2 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- 4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Cooking spray
- 1 cup chopped plum tomato
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 avocado, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 cup diced onion
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 cup basmati rice, uncooked
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ¼ teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
- Begin by preparing saffron rice.
- Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Coat pan with cooking spray.
- Add onion and garlic to the pan; cook 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently.
- Add basmati rice, chicken broth and saffron to pan.
- Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- While rice is cooking, prepare the chicken.
- Combine cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and chicken in a large bowl; toss and let stand 3 minutes.
- Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade.
- Sprinkle chicken with ¼ teaspoon salt.
- Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
- Coat pan with cooking spray.
- Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done.
- Prepare the salsa by combining tomato, onion, lime juice, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
- Add avocado and stir gently.
- Serve salsa over chicken with side of saffron rice.
Source: Cooking Light Quick & Easy Low-Calorie Recipes