Mood Boost

Mood Boost

Keep These 9 Things in Mind to Combat SAD

The days are growing shorter — and you might find your temper doing the same. Irritability is often the first sign of depression, and if your mood grows as dark as the days, you might feel touchy.

How can you combat seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? Here are nine things to keep in mind as we approach what poet Robert Frost called “the darkest evening of the year.”

1. Eat More Nuts

Why should you go a little nutty to keep from growing melancholy as the days shorten? Nuts are high in three vital nutrients — zinc, magnesium and selenium — that may help combat the seasonal blues.

Healthy young women given a zinc supplement showed fewer depressive signs than those on a multivitamin alone. A rodent study revealed that rats low in selenium had decreased levels of BDNF, an indicator of major depressive disorder. Magnesium supplementation works as well as antidepressants in reversing mild to moderate depression.

Don’t pass by that holiday nut tin. A single Brazil nut contains a full day’s serving of selenium, and if you eat a handful, you’ll get other vital antidepressant nutrients, too.

2. Watch Your Simple Starch Consumption

When the days grow short and cold, your cravings for sweets and starchy foods intensify. Think of the traditional Thanksgiving feast laden with yams and various stuffings. Unfortunately, these foods can stick to your waistline and result in unwanted pounds.

When this happens, the scale numbers add to your depression, which makes you want to eat more and stuff down negative emotions. Instead, look at your plate as a clock, and fill 30 minutes of it with cooked vegetables, raw salad or both.

3. Schedule Your Mealtimes

If you don’t follow structured mealtimes, you could fight the urge to snack all day. This behavior likewise packs on unwanted pounds.

Instead, schedule your mealtimes — write them in your planner if you must. Make your work desk a snack-free zone. As a bonus, you won’t get crumbs stuck in your keyboard.

4. Keep Your Body Moving

Exercise is one of the best ways to combat SAD or any depression form. Physical activity releases endorphins, natural feel-good chemicals that ease pain and give you a mood boost.

Working out when temperatures drop below freezing can prove challenging. Find something that you look forward to doing. Instead of forcing yourself to run two miles on icy sidewalks, take a Zumba class or work your whole body while getting more flexible in an Ashtanga yoga studio.

5. Get Outdoors

If possible, get outside every day. Your body can produce excess melatonin in winter, and this sleep hormone can make you feel like, well, hibernating.

Exposure to direct sunlight also increases your serotonin levels. This neurotransmitter plays a vital role in depression and a lack of it can increase the severity of SAD symptoms. Take a stroll on your coffee break or volunteer to walk to the office supply store one block down when your employer runs out of ink.

6. Light It Up

In their infinite mercy, the gods made UV therapy lamps available without a prescription — you can invest in one even if you lack health care coverage. While the real reason you can buy them OTC probably has something to do with patents, market shares and other legal-financial mumbo-jumbo, take advantage.

Let’s face it, if you commute to work and home in the dark and occupy a cubicle, you wither like a houseplant with insufficient sunlight. Buy one for home and work — it’s the next best thing to a stroll in the park.

7. Maintain Your Hobbies

As the days grow shorter, you might find you come home, collapse on the couch, then head to bed early without doing much else. Please try to muster the energy to keep up with your hobbies.

Why? These activities remind you that there is more to life than working, eating and sleeping. They restore your sense of passion and imagination — two powerful characteristics to fall back upon when it feels like life consists of nothing but drudging through the cold.

8. Accept Invitations

Likewise, your company’s office party invitation might fall on unwilling shoulders. However, you know it will benefit your career to go — plus, it might result in a mood-boost.

Loneliness and isolation can increase feelings of depression. If you want to combat SAD, please consider accepting invitations as often as possible. While you don’t have to RSVP “yes” to every invite and overexert yourself, you should select two or three events that matter most to attend.

9. Set a Regular Bedtime

Both a lack of sleep and too many Zzz’s can influence feelings of depression. Too much sleep can make it as challenging to get out of bed and start your day as too little.

When it seems dark more often than light, your sleep schedule and circadian rhythms become disrupted. Try to stick to your regular bedtime. If you awaken during the night, do a quiet activity like sipping chamomile or reading until you fall back asleep.

Combat SAD by Keeping These 9 Things in Mind

If you have SAD, combat it by using the nine tips above. By approaching the oncoming battle with your arsenals stocked with healthy habits, you can survive when Ned Stark declares, “Winter is coming,” again.

 

For more information on the importance of good sleep take a look here: https://sleep.report/20-tips-better-sleep/

 

 

Year-Round Sun Safety Tips for You and Your Family

Year-Round Sun Safety Tips for You and Your Family

So often you hear that SoCal has no seasons—it’s an endless summer of convertible thrills and tank top apparel—not quite true. Our summer does seem to go on, usually in something referred to as Indian summer, which can go on right up to the month of November. It is for this very reason that we need to take extra care and caution when it comes to skin protection. The summer sun feels incredible on your skin, and when it breaks through the clouds on a winter’s day, it’s a taste of heaven. However, even though this source of planetary power offers multiple benefits, it can impact your family’s health.

How can you practice savvy protection in every season? The following year-round sun safety tips will keep your family covered.

Slather on the Sunscreen

One key factor to staying safe in the sun involves slathering on the sunscreen. Which brands are the best to use, and what else do you need to know? 

How often should you apply sunscreen? Ideally, you should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before heading out and every two hours after that. You should also slather more on after swimming or sweating profusely.

Does sunscreen expire? Your products should stay usable for at least three years, according to the FDA. Some manufacturers do include an expiration date on the bottle.

What ingredients should you avoid? Watch out for products that contain plastic microbeads that can choke marine wildlife.

Keep It Made in the Shade

Direct sun exposure can drain you — and if it isn’t paired with hot weather, you might not notice the damage to your family’s skin. Keep them sun-safe by scoping out  HYPERLINK the shadiest spots on the playground when your toddler has a playdate.

What about your after-dinner walk? Why not take a tip from folks in the desert southwest and carry an umbrella rain or shine? While you might feel silly at first, tell curiosity seekers that you recently returned from vacation — you might become a neighborhood trendsetter.

Find a Fun and Floppy Hat

One of the most effective ways to keep the sun off your face is to wear a hat. However, if you have the wrong size, it will feel uncomfortable. Use a flexible tape to measure your head and select the ideal fit.

What if your little ones balk at wearing a head covering? Why not turn it into a game? If they like old television shows, tell them to put on their “Gilligan” hat before they head outside.

Protect Precious Peepers

The sun can damage your eyes. You know that you shouldn’t stare directly at earth’s nearest star as the ultraviolet rays can burn exposed tissue. However, your retina lacks nerve cells, and you might not notice the damage until your eyesight becomes blurry or spotty.

Accumulated damage can cause cataracts as you and your family age. To protect everyone’s eyes, wear sunglasses with UV protection. If your children tend to lose theirs, attach a cord to keep them secured.

Water, Water, Everywhere 

The sun can also spur dehydration. However, tiny tots might lack the vocabulary to tell you what’s wrong. Please learn the following signs and keep ample water bottles filled in your car and purse. 

Dry, cracked lips and mouth: If your child licks their lips, they could get chapped. When they become dehydrated, though, they may chew their tongue to produce more saliva.

Dark-colored urine and passing less urine than usual: Does your child still wear diapers? You shouldn’t ignore this clue.

Drowsiness and irritability: Little ones can become irritable for many reasons, but if water calms them, suspect this cause.

No tears when crying: This sign is concerning because it means your child’s body lacks sufficient moisture to produce tears.

Learn the Pulse Points Trick

Standing in the sun can overheat you, even if it isn’t excessively hot. Heat exhaustion can lead to troublesome symptoms and progress to potentially fatal heatstroke.

How can you cool your family down if there’s no shade nearby? One method involves placing an ice cube on their pulse points. Because your blood vessels are close to your skin, it drops your body temperature more quickly.

Get the Air Moving 

Another way to cool down when you can’t find shade is to get the air moving. Fortunately, you can purchase mister fans that your kids can wear as a necklace. When they grow overheated on the playground, they have instant relief.

Another trick involves placing a bowl of ice cubes behind your fan. The effect is similar to air conditioning — without the hefty bill.

Recognize the Signs of Trouble 

Overexposure to the sun can become fatal. Learn how to recognize and treat the following conditions.

Heat exhaustion: Heat exhaustion typically precedes deadly heatstroke, so take immediate action by moving your affected family member into the shade and cooling them down. You might notice profuse sweating, cold and clammy skin, and a weak, rapid pulse. The individual may complain of headaches or dizziness, and they may faint. If they vomit or symptoms get worse after cooling down, seek medical attention.

Heatstroke: When exhaustion proceeds to heatstroke, the individual can stop sweating and develop hot, dry skin. Their body temperature soars higher than 103 degrees. Lower their temperature without giving them water and call 911.

Sunburn: Sunburns can cause severe blistering and disfiguration. Try to avoid popping — you could introduce bacteria. Cover up before re-entering the sun and consider aspirin or acetaminophen to reduce inflammation. Take cool showers and use aloe vera to ease the pain.

Keep Your Family Sun Safe Year-Round With These Tips 

While life begins with the sun, overexposure can prove harmful. Keep your family sun-safe year-round with these eight safety tips.

 

6 Tips to Make Your Life As Stress Free as Possible

6 Tips to Make Your Life As Stress Free as Possible

Everyone experiences stress, though different events and experiences can cause more stress in life than others. While it’s impossible to expel all stress from your life, it’s important to practice techniques that can help you bring a bit more tranquility into your everyday routine. Practicing self care and self compassion is a huge part of leading a healthy lifestyle, and there are plenty of ways to start doing it.

If you’re busy and occupied, you probably won’t have time to soak in a bubble bath every night or sip calming tea for a half hour each morning with the sunrise. You’re chasing kids around, picking up dirty socks and rushing to get to work on time. But stress relief can be found in the little moments just like the lasting stretches of you time. It’s important to find a balance of taking time for you and being present with life. That way, you can find consistent calming whenever you need it.

1. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the actions, sensations and sights around you. Often, we rush through life and don’t stop to be present in the moments and surroundings that could bring us joy and peace. Try to tune out the noise and distractions that might normally be present in life so you can focus on the tasks at hand and tune in to the activities in front of you. Whether you’re gardening, driving, playing with your kids or doing the dishes, take some time to slow down and let your mind rest.

2. Stay Organized

Sometimes, stress can be caused by an overload of events in life. When you have an abundance of schedules to keep track of, it can get overwhelming. Especially if you have kids with school and activities, it can feel like you’re running all over the world every day and still forgetting things. Taking a bit of extra time to get organized can make your days a bit easier both for you and your family.

Tools like to-do lists and daily planners work wonders for keeping any schedule in check. If you usually look after your kids’ school planner, you can sit down with them and work out their planner together so your family can have a smoother week.

3. Get Moving

Getting physical exercise — even just thirty minutes each day — can help to reduce stress and increase your overall health in the long term. Moving your body can help to release endorphins that lift your mood and make you happier. Whether you go for a run, do a yoga workout or take a pilates class, exercise can give you some time to yourself and give you an energetic release to relive stress and relax you in the long term and in the moment.

4. Get Enough Sleep

If you’re stressed, it could be caused or worsened by a lack of sleep. While it’s not always convenient, adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night in order to function properly and stay alert throughout the day. Sleep and rest are highly important, as they give your body and mind the energy they need to tackle each day with a clear head. When you aren’t well rested, you’re more likely to experience anxiety, forget important things and feel stressed throughout the day.

Setting up a nighttime routine for yourself can help you get to bed at the same time each evening and wake up at the same time each morning, creating a regular sleep schedule. A sleep schedule can help you carve out the time for those precious hours and get your body used to your much needed rest.

5. Learn to Say No to Things

If you’ve got too much on your plate, you might need to learn how to respectfully say no to new opportunities. It can be tempting to people please and say yes to every favor, tempting opportunity and fun event that crosses your radar, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be good for you in the long term. So much stress comes from taking on too much at once. Learning to politely decline offers and say no can be hard at first, but putting yourself first and prioritizing your needs must have its place in your life.

6. Take Up Journaling

Taking a few moments to jot down your feelings about gratitude, life or even just the events of the day can be a great stress reliever. It can be a place to process your feelings and let out some unresolved tension from the day. You don’t have to commit to journaling every single evening or write pages and pages unless you want to, but taking a bit of time to process your thoughts can help more than you realize. If you’re stuck, you can even turn to some helpful prompts to push you in the right direction.

Get Relaxed

While you can’t dispel all of the stress from your life, you can certainly prioritize your needs and give yourself the daily consideration you deserve. You show up better for your family, friends and yourself when you’re less stressed. You deserve daily happiness, just like anyone else.

Update Your Workout Routine

Update Your Workout Routine

Creative Ways to Update Your Workout Routine

It’s common for workouts to feel a little mundane after a while. Many people who exercise every day find they need to alter their routines so that they don’t feel bored. Whether you like to box, cycle or run, it’s probably time to try a new approach if your workouts have become too mundane. A change can even improve your results!

Here are a few ways to keep your fitness regimen fresh.

1. Look for a New Class

If your routine looks like 30 minutes on a treadmill followed by dumbbell exercises, it’s time to leave your comfort zone. A new fitness class can help you expand your horizons and achieve that dream body. Your current efforts may not have the oomph you need to maintain the toned arms and legs you want. That’s where a guided class at a local gym or center can make a difference.

There are many instructed courses you can take. You may want to try HIIT, dance, Pilates or yoga. You can also explore online class options if you prefer to stay at home when you workout. Why not try a few different exercises to see which one works best? Then, it’ll be easier to find an activity you love.

 

2. Train for a Race

If you don’t have a goal to work toward as you exercise, it’s easy to feel bored. You may want to lose weight or become stronger, but it’s not like you’ll see those results immediately. A more tangible goal like a marathon can help you stay focused on and dedicated to your workout routine. You don’t have to choose the biggest and greatest race, either. It’s better to start small if you’re not an avid runner.

You’ll have to work consistently to train for whatever race you choose, so you should make sure that you have enough time to do so. You don’t need to become super intense — but a marathon does require dedication. It doesn’t even matter whether you finish first or last. It’ll still keep you active and interested as you step closer to that overall goal.

 

3. Try a Group Activity

It’s always fun to exercise when you have a friend present. You can talk and laugh as you workout, which makes the entire experience more pleasant. If you need to update your current routine, it’s smart to explore group activities where more than one person can participate. You can also help your children boost their memory and concentration if you ask them to exercise with you. That’s a simple two-for-one!

You could organize a bike ride or try a kayaking trip. Do you have access to an open field? Set up a baseball or soccer game with your friends and their kids. Choose fun activities that make you forget you’re sweating buckets and burning calories. A weekly event can bring everyone closer together, too.

4. Plan an Active Vacation

Why not mix business with pleasure? A vacation should be about peace and relaxation, but it’s also a unique opportunity to try other exercise methods. If you’ve always wanted to take your snowboard to Vail or your surfboard to Oahu, it could be an ideal time to plan that trip! A once-in-a-lifetime adventure can open your eyes to new experiences that make you a happier and healthier person.

You don’t have to travel far and wide to enjoy a fun and active vacation. Is there a local ski resort you’ve wanted to try? Maybe there’s a local beach that offers some decent waves. You can take a weekend to rediscover an exercise routine that works for you. A consistent exercise routine may create monotony, so it’s essential to break that up with a fun excursion when possible.

5. Explore With a Hike

A hike can be an effective substitute for more traditional cardio workouts. It’s often convenient to walk on a treadmill, especially when you have one at home. But not much compares to a long walk on terrain that truly challenges you as an athlete. Plus, you’ll be able to experience beautiful outdoor scenery that can provide a needed mental boost you won’t find at the gym.

If you’ve never hiked a trail before, it’s important to choose a route that’s not too difficult. Always bring a water bottle, a cell phone and any other gear you think you’ll need. You should also try to hike with a friend if you want to try a more secluded area. A hike at your local state park can be fun — but you should ensure you take precautions to limit wilderness-related emergencies.

A little responsibility goes a long way! You’ll be able to enjoy your hike much more when you prepare adequately.

Try These Tips to Make Your Exercise Routine More Enjoyable

It’s easy to feel bored when you do the same workouts every day. A few changes can make a huge difference if you need to jazz up your fitness regimen. Try these ideas to keep your exercise routine fresh.

 

Quick and Easy Workouts

Quick and Easy Workouts

Quick and Easy Workouts to Add to Your WFH Routines

Have you gained the dreaded quarantine 15? Perhaps you’re new to the WFH world, and you are wondering how on earth you can squeeze fitness into your day with your responsibilities. Juggling homeschooling and childcare with an increased workload can leave you crunched for time.

Have no fear. The following routines will get you moving in a jiffy with no need to devote a full hour to your home gym. You can squeeze fitness in short bursts and still work every muscle, including your heart before you lie down at night to count sheep.

1. Five Minute Morning Yoga

If your morning routine involves slapping snooze while scrolling social media, you miss the ideal time to start your day healthfully. Instead, roll out your yoga mat — or use your bed as a replacement. Perform five minutes of gentle yoga to get your blood flowing. Use this time to focus your mind by setting an intention for your day as well.

If you aren’t sure what to do, you don’t have to spend a dime on lessons. You can find tons of yoga videos on YouTube, many in the 5-minute range. Maybe you won’t jump out of bed singing “Zippedy Doo Dah,” but you’ll feel energized instead of grumpy as you pour that first cup of a.m. ambition.

2. Coffee Brewing Ab Blaster

Did you forget to add the french roast to the pot before you went to bed? While your morning cuppa brews, take the opportunity to engage your core for the day. You can perform several different exercises at your desk as you review your to-do list.

Do chair crunches by leaning back and holding the armrests to steady yourself. Contract your abs and round your lower spine as you bring your knees up toward your chest — take care not to bump them on your desk. Hold for three seconds, then repeat. You can also do bicycles and leg lifts from the same starting position.

3. Morning Break Calisthenics

Calisthenics may sound old-fashioned, but these exercises stood the test of time because they work. Keep light hand weights in your office and use your morning stretch break to perform the following 5-minute routine:

  • Mountain climbers: Get into a pushup position or place your hands on your desk. “Run” in place by bringing your knees to your chest.
  • Pushups: Perform ten repetitions. You can experiment with varying your hand positions if you like.
  • Stationary lunges: With a weight in each hand, step one foot forward, the other back. Make sure your front knee doesn’t extend over your toe when you bend it at a 90-degree angle. Lower down and lift, repeating ten times each leg.
  • Triceps dips: Place your hands on your desk behind you. Keeping your glutes close to the structure, lower and lift yourself ten times.
  • Dumbbell rows: Place one weight in each hand and hinge forward approximately 45-degrees at the hip. Pull the weights up like you’re starting a lawnmower, then lower and perform ten repetitions.

4. Pre-Lunch Boogie

Finally, the noon bell rings, and you’re famished. While your healthy homemade frozen burrito zaps, get your blood flowing by cranking up one of your favorite jams. If you do Zumba, you can choreograph one song. If you don’t engage in regular dance fitness, merely let loose like no one is watching — except maybe your littles, who can get in on the fun.

5. Post-Snack Stroll

Once you eat lunch, you might feel a bit of lassitude creep in — combat it with exercise. Get in the habit of taking a 10-minute stroll after your midday meal. The fresh air will improve your overall mood and boost your afternoon productivity.

6. Afternoon Mini Tabata

Tabata is a specific form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that is a complete four-minute workout of alternating effort and rest. You do 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of relaxation. Since you’re only doing one round, select a cardio move like jumping jacks or burpees. Getting your blood flowing will help you to overcome the 3 p.m. slump.

7. After Work Heart Rate HIIT

When you finally power down your laptop for the day, it’s time for a slightly lengthier full-body workout. Select four moves — one cardio, one upper body, one lower body and one core. Perform each move Tabata-style, and you’ll have worked all your major muscle groups in under 20 minutes. You might try jogging in place, military presses, squats and situps.Try a compound move like combining your squat with your overhead press to get even more bang for your mini-workout buck.

8. Evening Stretch Into Sleep

Before lying your head on the pillow to rest, take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to do yoga. You can find routines for free on YouTube that you can perform on your mattress. Make sure you finish by lying in savasana — and if you drift off, it’s okay.

Get Your Workout in While WFH With These Mini-Workouts

You might feel pulled in 20 directions in your new WFH lifestyle, and you might struggle to squeeze in fitness. The mini-workouts above last no more than 15 minutes apiece, but combining some or all of them will engage your whole body without making you feel more time-pressed.

12 Date Night Recipes for Staying In

12 Date Night Recipes for Staying In

It’s always fun to grab a meal at your favorite restaurant. But every once in a while, you and your partner should dine in your own kitchen. After all, what’s more romantic than a home-cooked meal? Plus, you’ll be able to save a little money and customize these meals to your heart’s content. Dig into a few of these tasty dishes for a romantic date night at home.

So, put on your aprons and take a look at these delightful date night recipes.

1. Baked Salmon With Maple Mustard Glaze

If you’re after an antioxidant-rich dinner, you can’t go wrong with salmon. It’s basically a blank slate – in other words, it works alongside any glaze or rub. But this mixture of maple syrup and Dijon mustard conquers all. It’s deliciously sweet and savory, which means that it pairs well with a starchy side. You can also adjust this recipe to your tastes. If you like a bit of heat, add a dash of chili powder.

2. Lemon Asparagus Chicken Pasta

This tasty pasta dish uses linguine or spaghetti as its base. Then, it’s topped with crispy chicken and lemony asparagus – and a creamy, cheesy sauce. What’s better than a meal that’s both healthy and indulgent? Feel free to make garlic bread or another small side to accompany this recipe. It yields four servings, so prepare to enjoy leftovers for lunch the next day.

3. Garlic Butter Steak

A romantic meal isn’t complete unless there’s a tender, juicy steak and a bottle of red wine. This recipe calls for a ribeye cut – a favorite amongst steak lovers. You’ll use a mixture of garlic, rosemary, butter and thyme to baste the meat. This step produces a delicious coat on the outside. Serve your steak with a side of roasted potatoes and glazed carrots – or whatever else you like.

4. Pizza Margherita

What’s a Friday night without a slice of pizza? Grab your significant other and flour your countertops, because you won’t want to miss this Margherita pizza. It’s ridiculously easy – but sometimes, the best recipes are the simplest. You’ll need tomato sauce, olive oil and fresh mozzarella and basil. Aside from your dough, that’s it. To make this pizza a little bit healthier, opt for a whole wheat crust.

5. Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork)

It’s time to whip up some margaritas and enjoy this delectable carnitas dish. Traditionally, Mexicans make carnitas from braised pork. They serve it on tortillas with diced onions, refried beans and fresh salsa. This recipe calls for a pork shoulder, which you’ll pop into a slow cooker for about six hours. Make sure to pan-fry the meat after it’s done for a crispy finish.

6. Baked Turkey Breast

If you’re after a chicken alternative, look no further. It doesn’t have to be Thanksgiving to enjoy a yummy turkey dinner. This recipe uses a delicious rub made up of butter, plus rosemary, thyme and parsley. When you pull it out of the oven, this turkey is perfectly moist. You can prepare a side dish like mac ‘n cheese or sweet potatoes as the perfect addition.

7. Tomato Basil Soup

Once you taste this homemade tomato basil soup, it’ll be hard to return to the store-bought version. And best of all, it’s chock-full of nutrients and only takes 25 minutes to make. Use home-grown tomatoes for a more vibrant flavor – or stick with canned goods in a pinch. Either way, you’ll be able to put together a tasty soup that reminds you of your childhood.

Ask your partner to whip up a few grilled cheese sandwiches, too.

8. Easy Mediterranean Shrimp

With a few simple ingredients, you can create a yummy shrimp dish. In this recipe, you’ll coat the shrimp with several tasty spices – like coriander, paprika and cayenne. Bell peppers, diced tomatoes and lemon juice allow for a balance of fresh, citrusy flavors. Serve atop a bed of white or brown rice and enjoy! Don’t forget to reserve some of that white wine for you and your significant other.

9. Penne alla Vodka Pasta

Not much comes close to a rich, creamy vodka sauce. It’s best served atop al dente penne pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and chopped basil. And of course, it’s super customizable – so feel free to add grilled chicken or sausage to the mix. You can also include spinach if you want some greens. Pair this dish with a few slices of garlic bread

10. Roast Beef Tenderloin

Who said that you couldn’t be a little fancy at home? Beef tenderloin is an excellent way to celebrate an anniversary – whether you’ve been together for one year or decades. In this recipe, you’ll concoct a divine red wine sauce that uses a few simple ingredients. After you cook the meat, be sure to serve it alongside a heap of whipped potatoes and a glass of merlot.

11. Skillet Mushroom Chicken Thighs

There’s no better combination than chicken and mushrooms – especially when they’re doused in garlic and butter. This recipe results in beautifully-cooked, golden-brown chicken thighs. You’ll use crimini mushrooms, alongside shallots and herbs, to create a delightful dish. Delegate your partner to vegetable duty, as a side of roasted potatoes works perfectly with these flavors.

12. Homemade Vegetarian Chili

If it’s a little rainy outside, you can’t go wrong with chili. It’s a terrific choice for everyone – and this recipe welcomes vegetarians and vegans with open arms. And thankfully, it’s just as hearty as the real deal. Instead of ground beef, you’ll use a few cans of black and pinto beans. There’s a ton of flavor to this chili, which comes from the garlic, cumin, oregano and paprika.

Use These Recipes for a Delightful Date Night at Home

 

 

Why We Need Self-Care Now More Than Ever 

Why We Need Self-Care Now More Than Ever 

Few people anticipated the depth and breadth of the COVID-19 pandemic, including world leaders. You are far from alone if your anxiety level has skyrocketed during these uncertain times. Depending on your circumstances, you could slip into an understandable, yet devastating, depression.

Experts advise folks to act with more kindness during times of crisis, and this principle applies to yourself, too. During tumultuous times, people need self-care now more than ever. Developing positive habits that demonstrate self-love can help you stay healthy when life lobs lemons at you.

Self-Care Helps You Fill Time With Positive Activities

Right now, you probably have some additional time on your hands. Even if you are still working, you might have lost your daily commute. Since everyone needs to do their part to help flatten the curve, why not treat yourself to some positive activities during quarantine?

Some ideas for positive self-care activities include the following.

  • Write in a journal: Why not use this time to start a gratitude journal? You will automatically switch your thoughts to more positive ones if you focus on what makes you feel thankful.
  • Give yourself a spa day at home: Who said you had to drop hundreds at a day spa — many of which are closed — when you can produce similar effects at home? Paint your toes and let the kids help, if you have them. Take a luxurious bubble bath and add some healing tea leaves to soothe aches and pains. Have your SO treat you to a massage — and return the favor.
  • Lose yourself in a novel: When was the last time you curled up with a juicy book for an entire afternoon? If you have the time, indulge in this rare pleasure.
  • Practice a relaxing hobby: Do you like to cook? Why not whip up some new recipes? Has the afghan you were knitting gathered dust in the corner of your closet? Finish it for a unique holiday gift.
  • Try Yoga and Meditation: If you haven’t practiced before, you can find free yoga videos as well as guided meditation exercises on YouTube. All you need is a quiet space and room to stretch your body and mind.

Self-Care Helps You Avoid Addiction and Disease

Alcohol sales have skyrocketed by a staggering 243% since the coronavirus pandemic began. It’s understandable to want to hit the bottle, but doing so can lead to significant problems down the road. The substance not only gives you a nasty hangover, but it also messes with levels of neurotransmitters in your brain and can damage organs like your liver.

In the past 20 years, alcohol-related deaths have risen by 69%, so if you overdo it, now is the time to change. Substitution can help. Try replacing drinking with a healthier activity. Even during the shutdown, you can find online therapists and support groups to help if you struggle.

Self-Care Can Reduce the Symptoms of Some Physical and Mental Disorders

Stress can cause a host of health woes, from headaches and low energy to gastrointestinal distress. Long-term tension can exacerbate the symptoms of diseases as diverse as rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. Additionally, it can worsen depression and anxiety.

“How on earth can I avoid stress right now,” you might think. During a crisis, it is more challenging to relax. However, positive self-care activities like eating well and exercising can boost both your mood and immune system. Working out can take the edge off your panic and make it less likely that you will get sick if exposed.

Self-Care Doesn’t Have to Cost a Dime

Far too many people procrastinate on self-care because they think they have to drop a bundle to do it right. However, you don’t have to spend a dime. If you have staples like rice and beans in your pantry, you can make a healthy veggie burrito bowl by adding some fresh produce from your windowsill garden, for example. That qualifies.

If your jurisdiction allows you to venture outdoors, you can lace up your tennis shoes and take a sensory walk. You will marvel at all the birdsongs you hear with less traffic on the road. You can always indulge in a leisurely nap on your back porch hammock.

Self-Care Serves as an Anchor in Stormy Seas

Finally, self-care practices soothe your soul during tumultuous times by providing you with routines within your control. If you lost your job due to the downturn, you might struggle to find reasons to get out of bed in the morning. However, if you know that you work out when the alarm sounds, that creates a sense of purpose.

You can incorporate self-care into any part of your daily schedule. For example, after you job-seek for two or three hours, take a break and prepare a nutritious snack or stretch for 10 minutes. If you are working, wind down afterward and improve your mood by putting on a favorite song and dancing around your living room. Such end-of-day rituals are especially critical if you are new to telecommuting. They help you draw the line between work and family life.

We Need Self-Care More Than Ever — Be Kind to You Today

During troubled times, everyone needs to treat each other with more kindness. However, it is critical to demonstrate self-care, too. Comfort yourself with one of these ideas today.

 

Creative Indoor Hobbies to Try This Month

Creative Indoor Hobbies to Try This Month

Since most of us will be spending more time at home for a little while, Jennifer Landis (from mindfulnessmama.com) has put together a few hobby ideas you might like to try. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comment section below. Stay healthy and positive, everyone.

Learn to Cook

You’re already at home, so why not use this as an opportunity to learn how to cook? If you live on a diet of plain pasta and grilled chicken, you’re overdue for a change. The same idea goes for oven-baked sweet treats. That’s right – no more store-bought cookies for the sake of you and your family’s tastebuds, please.

It helps to begin with the basics, like how to cut and sauté an onion. If you’re able to brown ground beef in a pan, you’re already off to a fantastic start. This way, you can add several hot, simple recipes to your repertoire, such as stir-fry noodles and vegetables. You don’t have to be Julia Child to learn your way around a kitchen.

Take your time, and don’t hesitate to make mistakes. After all, that’s the only way that you can learn.

Paint a Portrait

Now’s the perfect chance to break out those watercolors and acrylics. Grab a canvas, t-shirt or mug and get to work. You could paint a portrait of your dog or your backyard. Or, touch up the trim around your windows. Paint a mural on your bedroom wall. This activity can be either therapeutic or intense – it’s up to you.

Look on YouTube for tutorials from Bob Ross and other famous artists. You’ll be able to discover a few techniques and approaches. Many websites also offer printable guides or outlines so that you can work with an example or two. Don’t expect to be an expert right off the bat, as you can’t learn a new hobby overnight. But if you practice every day, you’re able to make excellent strides.

You’ll find that you feel relaxed and calm as you paint. And of course, you’ll create beautiful art, too.

Start a Coin Collection

If you’re a history buff, here’s a wonderful hobby for you.

Take a peek inside of your wallet and see if you’ve got any change. You’ll want to focus on more unique coins, like special edition quarters, but you can start anywhere. Create separate groups for different currencies and types. You can base your collection around a time period or mint mark – or whatever else you choose.

There aren’t any rules for this activity. You should become aware of the terminology so that you’re in-the-know. But otherwise, collect to your heart’s content!

Meditate on this

Maybe you feel stressed or worried at the moment. If so, you’re not alone. But through meditation, you can turn those negative emotions into positive thoughts.

Place a yoga mat outside for a bit of fresh air. Or, find a quiet spot inside. Mindfulness encompasses meditation, so you’ll want to turn off your phone and limit other potential distractions. Then, close your eyes and follow your breath. Let your mind wander as you continue to inhale and exhale. Meditation allows you to take a pause from reality so that you feel more at ease.

You can meditate for as little or as long as you please. There’s no time limit, so enjoy yourself.

Become a Photographer

So, maybe you can’t leave your house right now. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t take a few pictures.

Break out your camera or phone and snap away. Shoot portraits of people and animals, or go for a landscape style outside. Once you feel a little more comfortable, you can start to use more in-depth techniques at different times. Don’t hesitate to take photos of unique objects and settings. Basically, do whatever you please. Like many hobbies, there’s no set of guidelines to follow – other than the rule of thirds.

Use this time to create some memorable pictures.

The 10 Biggest Skincare Trends of 2020

The 10 Biggest Skincare Trends of 2020

Beauty trends change every year. Decades ago, women used to focus on giving their hair as much volume as possible. Later, everyone wanted the perfect rouge or heaviest liner. It’s hard to imagine those same trends being as popular today, mostly because the beauty world has zeroed in on the landscape of skincare.

Taking care of your skin goes beyond washing your face at night and occasionally using lotion. If you want to unlock a gorgeous glowing look, discover the 10 biggest skincare trends of 2020.

1. Reusable Facial Cloths

People around the world are starting to go green and live more sustainable lifestyles. They’re changing the companies they buy from and how they live their daily lives, including their beauty routines.

In 2020, more people will leave one-use makeup remover wipes in the past and instead opt for reusable facial cloths. You can already find many eco-friendly products available to clean your skin and remove makeup, such as gentle organic cotton. Try it out for yourself to compare which is better for your skin.

2. Charcoal Facial Cleansers

You may have seen charcoal masks before, but facial cleansers will be the next big trend. Charcoal is a natural element that purifies skin by attracting pollutants, naturally whisking them away from pores. Lather your hands up with a facial cleansing bar or liquid to feel the immediate effect of charcoal detoxification.

3. Whipped Cream Moisturizer

Add a dollop of whipped cream to your desserts and skincare routine. Whipped cream moisturizers will become popular because they contain ceramides, an oil-based substance that locks in moisture to heal skin, which constant dry patches need badly.

4. Light Brightening Serums

Heavy brightening serums have turned people away in the past, but lighter versions are on the market now. Light serums contain hyaluronic acid, which minimizes redness and tightens skin, alongside other beneficial ingredients like vitamins C and E.

5. Plant-Based Organic Deodorant

Rumor has it that antiperspirants cause cancer, and while studies have failed to definitively link the two, beauty gurus want to try out organic deodorants. Look for options that don’t contain aluminum or parabens to maximize the purity of what you buy. Test it out when you’re not around people to see how it mingles with your natural body odor and switch brands a few times to get the best blend if necessary.

6. All-Natural Glycerine Toners

Old toners can make your skin feel sticky, but not modern blends made with glycerine. When you apply a glycerine-based toner to your face, it will reduce acne and moisturize skin without requiring you to spend money on extra supplies. If you tend to reach for two-in-one products, glycerine toner is about to become your new best friend.

7. Rose Petal Facial Toner

Rose petal-based toners might be the most-significant trend so far in 2020. When you use this product on your face once a day, it balances your skin’s pH levels to reduce oiliness and inflammation. Opt for an alcohol-free option if you tend to have dry skin and want maximum moisturization.

8. Beauty Sculpting Bars

Many women want tighter, brighter skin, which is where sculpting bars can help. If you use one across areas with wrinkles, dark circles or puffiness, it’ll stimulate your blood flow. Your skin will naturally produce more collagen, tightening fine lines and smoothing out discoloration.

9. Honey Hydration Masks

Beauty gurus in 2020 will start using more honey hydration masks because they want something all-natural and healing. People have used honey for antibacterial purposes for centuries. Now that same power can heal acne, abrasions left by psoriasis and blemishes faster than before. It also lifts dead skin cells, allowing hydrating ingredients to absorb into the layers of your skin more effectively.

You can find honey hydration masks at beauty supply stores, but you can also make one on your own with what’s already in your pantry. Before you start mixing ingredients, ensure you have all-natural honey, not the kind made entirely of sugar.

10. Lip Treatment Kits

It’s easy to forget about your lips during your skin care routine, besides the occasional use of a moisturizing balm in the winter. Now people want entire kits dedicated to lip care. Look for these products as they start becoming more widespread. You’ll find moisturizers, balms and even lip masks. They’re fun to experiment with, especially if they come in different flavors. With the right routine, you’ll never have to deal with cracked lips in winter again!

Test Out These Top 2020 Skincare Trends

The most well-received trends aren’t always what’s right for your skin. Approach each new product or kit with caution, noting any before and after differences. With time, you’ll discover a new routine that’s great for your face, no matter what kind of solutions you’re looking for.

12 SoCal-Inspired Brunch Recipes for a Weekend at Home

12 SoCal-Inspired Brunch Recipes for a Weekend at Home

12 SoCal-Inspired Brunch Recipes for a Weekend at Home

Aah. There’s nothing like a lazy Sunday when you can take your time getting out of bed, then rock your PJ’s all day long. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rainy day indulgence or a planned Netflix binge day for you and your SO. You’ll eventually need to eat!

When your stomach starts growling, it’s time to whip up a to-die-for brunch. You don’t have to bother with pants to look restaurant-appropriate. You can design a spread worthy of the Four Seasons with these recipes.

  1. Eggs Benedict

The trickiest part of this recipe is making the homemade hollandaise sauce, but it’s no more complicated than making mayonnaise. If you have a partner in crime, one of you can poach the eggs while the other handles sauce duty. The result? A decadent dish rich enough to star on many exclusive brunch menus — including the one served at Casa de You.

  1. Lobster Hash

What says decadence more than lobster? Guess what? This white meat isn’t only for dinner anymore! By adding eggs and potatoes, you can create a tasty hash that will fill you up all day long. This dish is a snap to make because the potatoes primarily cook themselves. And because you’re getting a dose of lean protein, you’ll fuel your muscles. You know, in case you do something vigorous later on — like returning to bed.

  1. Herby Everything Cheddar Swirl Buns

Brunch isn’t complete without bread — why not make your bun a rich and savory indulgence with this recipe? If you feel a cold coming on, the thyme in this meal may help ward it off — the herb contains a potent mix of vitamins and minerals to boost your immunity. The cheddar cheese keeps these buns moist, even if you don’t add a pat of butter when they finish baking.

You can prep these the night before and leave them in the fridge overnight. Then, when the morning comes, preheat the oven, and enjoy fresh-baked goodness in minutes.

  1. Whole Grain Waffles

Waffles are a classic breakfast staple for a good reason. Because this recipe contains flax seeds, it’s ideal for shiny hair and supple skin. If you have a sensitivity to the gluten in wheat, you can substitute an ancient grain, such as quinoa or amaranth. You can freeze the leftovers — making this dish perform double-duty as a quick weekday morning snack. You can top these with maple syrup or any variety of your favorite fruits.

  1. Smoked Salmon Smorrebrod

The horseradish sour cream steals the show in this recipe, which you can modify to include nearly any type of meat. If you have allergies or a sinus infection, the heat from this meal will open swollen passages. The lemon juice helps to detoxify your body, as do the fresh herbs. Radishes add a refreshing crunch and help balance out some of the heat.

  1. Easy Frittata

If your response to “cheese” is “yes, please,” then this dish is for you. The blend of ricotta, mushrooms and spinach elevates this recipe well beyond your basic omelet. In approximately 15 minutes, you’ll have a brunch delight fit for a king or queen.

  1. Curry-Avocado Crispy Egg Toast

Nothing says So-Cal more than avocado, but this isn’t your mama’s standard toast. The curry powder adds an exciting flavor, and the turmeric contained in the spice is a potent anti-inflammatory. Plus, the vitamin E in avocados supports healthy joints, so if you have arthritis, make this dish a brunch-time favorite.

  1. Healthy Banana Bread

Banana bread is delicious at any time of day, but it adds a hint of sweetness to your morning meal. Plus, because this recipe uses no animal products, it’s friendly for the vegan in your life — or yourself, if you follow the lifestyle. The coconut sugar won’t spike your glucose levels as significantly as ordinary cane sugar does, helping you ward off a mid-afternoon crash.

  1. Paleo Pumpkin Waffles

Paleo is all the rage these days — but who wants to live their life without waffles? Indulge without blowing your diet by whipping up this recipe. The coconut flour lowers the glycemic load of this meal, making it safe for your eating plan. Topping it with a low-glycemic fruit like raspberries reduces the sugar level.

  1. Strawberry Parfaits

Who doesn’t adore parfait? You can whip up this dish in a jiffy with no need to heat the oven or stove. Layer granola, Greek yogurt and strawberries in a glass. Add a drizzle of honey, and you’re ready to indulge!

  1. Hellfire Club Bloody Mary

Lazy weekend brunches make it okay to do a bit of day drinking. Plus, if you overindulged the night before, this recipe serves as the ideal hair-of-the-dog. It has the precise amount of spice to open your sinuses, although you can go heavier on Tabasco if you like to sweat.

  1. Sweet Sunrise (Virgin)

Hey, you don’t have to include alcohol to have a fun, foo-foo drink with your weekend brunch! Skip the tequila and enjoy this flavorful mocktail that won’t leave you craving a nap by noon. You’ll get heaps of vitamin C, perfect for battling off any cold or flu germs.

MEET THE AUTHOR: JENNIFER E. LANDIS

Hey there! I’m Jennifer. I’m a writer, mother, and healthy living blogger living it up in Central Pennsylvania.

I am a fan of food (obviously), distance running, and almost every type of tea there is (except red tea…which is gross).

I’m also excited by yoga and setting new fitness goals.

Toddlers are a challenge but, my family is the cutest, so that makes up for all of the crazy.

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