Environmental Wellness

“UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

-The Lorax

Happy Earth Day! In honor of Earth Day, I thought it would be the perfect time to focus on one of the seven dimensions of wellness – environmental wellness. Environmental wellness incorporates learning how to engage in sustainable practices and understanding how our daily decisions impact the natural environment. Ultimately, all of our decisions, whether it is the foods we consume or the products we buy, will impact our lovely planet and home.

As much as we should enjoy the beauty mother nature has to offer, we must also take responsibility to protect our planet’s limited natural resources. I believe our decisions should encompass sustainability measures to ensure that we are not creating impossible problems for future generations. At the very least, we should be working towards identifying solutions for the environmental problems we are currently creating. The good news is that there are many organizations who are investing in economic research and working towards solving some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems. These organizations are led by individuals who exhibit growth mindsets and are future-oriented through their commitment to a better future for all human beings.

Food Choices: Did you know that more than 30% of the available food in the United States is thrown away every year? I won’t even get started on my “American food portions are WAY too large” rant. But honestly – I think we have a lot to learn from some of the healthier nations around the world.

  1. ReFED: a nonprofit organization that utilizes a data–driven approach to address the many inefficiencies in our food system. I started reading their report – A Roadmap to Reduce U.S. Food Waste by 20% and the first paragraph left me completely blown away…

    “By 2050, it is estimated that the Earth’s population will top 9 billion. This growing population will undeniably stress our food systems, natural resources, and ecosystems. But consider this: Currently, we waste up to 40% of our food globally. In the United States, this equals roughly 400 pounds annually for every American. Meanwhile, one in seven Americans are food insecure.”

    ReFED has developed a roadmap to address food waste because economic analysis has revealed this is a solvable problem. The necessary resources are available, but we need policymakers and consumers to get involved in order to achieve widespread change. A strategy to solve global food waste has been developed. Now it all comes down to the execution of the strategy, as well as global participation.

  2. The Better Buying Lab: this initiative was launched by the World Resources Institute to develop strategies to enable consumers to purchase and consume sustainable foods. Did you know that different proteins can impact the environment in a variety of ways? Meat and dairy production are extremely resource–intensive to produce compared to plant-based foods. Check out the World Resources Institute’s Protein Scorecard to learn more about how your diet impacts agricultural resources.

“The world’s population is expected to grow to nearly 10 billion people by 2050, requiring 70 percent more food than what’s available today. If we’re to meet the demands of the future, we must develop a sustainable way forward for food production and consumption.”

The three core focuses of the Better Buying Lab include transforming how the food industry communicates about plant-based foods, popularizing dishes rich in plants, and identifying the right environmental metrics, methods, and targets.

These organizations are operating at a global level, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved and bring about change as well!

  • Plant your own small garden! Backyard veggies always taste better and this is a great way to increase the plant-based food consumption in your household!
  • Start your own backyard compost bin! This activity will save you money and make the plants in your garden extra happy!
  • Purchase canvas bags and ditch those plastic bags! But really…it’s time.
  • Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle! Once you start identifying simple ways to become more environmentally–friendly, you’ll be amazed how simple switches will transform into larger lifestyle changes!
  • For more simple ideas, check out the United Nations’ “The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World” and get to work!

Product Choices: Businesses are aware that as the “going green” trend continues into the future, they must engage in sustainable practices to appeal to consumers. As consumers, we must acknowledge that many large corporations are not actually committed to reducing the environmental impact of their operations. We call this “greenwashing” and it occurs when a company spends more money on advertising that they are “green” than what they are actually investing to implement green initiatives. How crazy is that?! Fortunately, the Social Age has forced companies to become more transparent and this sneaky strategy will not lead to long–term success. There are methods to identify which companies are actually committed to reducing their environmental impact – you just have to do your research. The companies who truly care about their long–term impact on the environment are the ones I want to do business with.

How do you engage in sustainable practices? What are the methods you utilize to achieve a balance with nature and how does this impact your other dimensions of wellness? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Running Essentials

“Running teaches us to keep moving forward, one step at a time, especially in the most painful moments.”

I enjoy running. Okay – maybe I should rephrase that sentence. I enjoy running in nice weather, on flat courses, when I am in the “right mood.” I am a picky runner and I am perfectly content with that. I love 5Ks and I can handle 10Ks. However, after my last half marathon, I made a promise to myself that would be my last half-marathon without more than a week’s worth of training.

I struggle with training consistently because my schedule is just a tad crazy right now, so there is always some excuse to go running on a different day. I will be running a 5K in the near future, so tonight I had to have a serious talk with myself and start training. The first day back is always the hardest. My legs started aching about 1/8 of a mile in. Pathetic, right? I have to remind myself that what matters is that I am being active. At this stage in my training, it does not matter how fast I go – all that matters is that I am out there moving.

The wonderful thing about running is that once I get back into it, I remember that even though my body will experience some aches and pains, running makes me feel GREAT.  Living an active lifestyle makes me feel more energized and improves my emotional dimension of wellness. Running reminds me how important it is to set goals and work my hardest to achieve those goals. My first short-term running goal is to be prepared for my upcoming 5K. Baby steps. One day at a time. Progress matters. 

Thankfully, essential oils can be incorporated into your pre-running and post-running routines to improve both the physical and emotional dimensions of wellness.

Before Running:

  • Apply a few drops of Peppermint or the respiratory blend to your chest and/or wrists a few minutes before beginning your run. Peppermint will clear the airways and enhance alertness.
  • Inhale or apply the grounding blend to stabilize emotions and clear the mind of outside thoughts.
  • Did you know Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties? Apply a few drops to your legs to reduce muscle fatigue.
  • Apply 1 drop of Frankincense and 1 drop of Peppermint to the bottom of each foot for energizing and cooling sensations while running.

After Running:

  • There are a variety of essential oils that are wonderful to soothe muscle tension. Apply Lemongrass, Eucalyptus, Wintergreen, White Fir, or Frankincense to your calves or other sore muscles to relieve tension.
  • Rehydration is essential! Add 1 drop of Lemon to each 8-ounces of water you drink to benefit from its uplifting and cleansing properties.
  • Take an Epsom salt bath with Lavender to soothe sore muscles and experience ultimate relaxation. If you missed my post on the importance of a detox bath, you can read it here!
  • Cypress supports circulation! Apply a few drops to your legs after running to promote blood flow and reduce muscle fatigue.
  • Blisters? Apply 1 drop each of Lavender, Melaleuca, and Chamomile to speed up the healing process!

What are some of the natural solutions you utilize to enhance your running or workout experiences? I would love to hear your thoughts!

All-Natural Spotlight: Pantry Products

I am always on the lookout for new, local products that align with my holistic health mindset. My birthday was a few months ago and one of my besties got me a few items from Pantry Products.  I instantly fell in love with their organic bar soap and bath teas.

First, I want to take a quick look at the unique business structure of Pantry Products:

  • Pantry Products uses only 100% natural, organic ingredients – plant oils, butters, therapeutic-grade essential oils, and so on.
  • Michelle M. Czarka, Pantry Products’ proprietor, blends the products to reflect her love for the culinary and handcrafted arts. Additionally, all products are made in small batches by hand!
  • Pantry Products pursues a “reduce, reuse, and recycle” mindset. I am a big supporter of sustainability and I love seeing smaller companies taking the initiative to reduce their impact on the environment. Sustainability is an ongoing process and we all must engage in more mindful practices if we want to promote real, positive change.

I have not (yet) tried all of the available products, so I am only going to focus on the specific items I picked up during my last visit!

Image Source: Organic Facial Steam

Organic Facial Steam: Facial steams are fantastic at opening up your pores to eliminate toxins and dirt. If you are in need of a quick route to a peaceful evening, try out an organic facial steam. Facial steams should last for about 5 – 10 minutes and they will keep your skin glowing if you incorporate them into your weekly ritual! If you want to learn more about facial steams, check out this post. Pantry Products has two variations of their Organic Facial Steam: Sierra and Sunshine. I am currently using the Sierra blend and yes, it actually has pieces of star anise!

Sierra blend: linden blossom + cinnamon stick + juniper berries + orange peel + star anise + eucalyptus

Sunshine blend:  lavender + chrysanthemum + calendula + chamomile + linden blossom + rose petal

 

Image Source: Soul Soother Bath Tea

Soul Soother Bath Tea: Bath teas are quickly gaining popularity. This proprietary blend is the ultimate “soul soother”. Not only does this bath tea have salts, but it also contains herbs and flowers (eucalyptus + spearmint + peppermint + lavender + roses), as well as eucalyptus essential oil. I have a Eucalyptus obsession, so this product truly speaks to my heart. In case you missed my post on the importance of a detoxifying soak, you can read it here! Insider tip: bath teas can also double as facial steams!

If you are still trying to figure out why this is called a bath tea, I strategically saved the best part for last! To prepare your bath tea, you add the bath tea blend to a reusable cloth tea bag and then “steep” your warm bath water for about 5 – 10 minutes!

Tip: For an extra calming bath, add 1 drop of Chamomile essential oil to the bath tea and sip on a steaming cup of chamomile tea! Trust me now, thank me later.

 

Image Source: Cold Process Organic Bar Soap

Cold Process Organic Bar Soap: The last product I am currently swooning over is the cold process organic bar soap. The amazing thing about this bar soap is that it actually leaves you feeling “squeaky” clean. Pantry Products does not use any of the chemicals found in most bar soaps and body washes, so your skin will actually feel both nourished and fresh! Organic coconut oil, raw shea butter, pure essential oils – need I say more?

With the bar soap, you have your choice of some very unique scents: calendula + chamomile | cinnamon + ginger | cocoa + mint | lavender + oatmeal | coffee + orange | orange + clove | rosemary + spearmint | sea salt + peony | seaweed + eucalyptus

My current bar is of the orange + clove variety and it is perfectly refreshing for a morning shower! Another great thing about this bar soap is that it does not get that gross soapy residue (due to the elimination of chemicals), so the quality of your bar will not deteriorate during its lifespan.

I just barely covered a small portion of Pantry Products’ all-natural product line, so you should visit their shop in The Basement Reno and take a peek at their beautiful website! Pantry Products is a small, local business located in Reno, NV. If you do not live in the Northern Nevada area (or even if you do), Pantry Products will ship products to you anywhere within the United States!

Now that you are aware of this fantastic company, I am counting on you to let me know what you think of their detoxifying seaweed sea salt soak, lavender-frankincense clay mask, and the warming chai milk bath if you get there before my next trip!

Have you tried anything from Pantry Products? Do you have any other companies with all-natural products that you just can’t get enough of? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Traveling with Essential Oils

“A mind stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.”

I recently went on an adventure to the “land down under” and primarily explored the incredible city of Sydney. Sydney is unique in the sense that it is an extremely large city, yet it exhibits a “local” feel. This was my first time traveling abroad, so I was both excited and nervous in the days leading up to my trip. With all of these varying emotions, I once again relied on my essential oil buddies. I was well aware I would face unexpected events while traveling internationally, but I had an open mindset and knew that I would go with the flow and make the best out of every situation, regardless of the circumstances.

Traveling Internationally: At first, I was concerned about traveling internationally with essential oils. I did not want to pack any essential oils in my checked bag in case there was an issue with one leaking. Thankfully, I did not experience any issues going through security or customs in Australia with my essential oils as I was in compliance with the specified liquid guidelines.

Defining Your Version of “Essential”: On an average day, I probably use around 10 different essential oils. For this trip, I was motivated to pack light (something I am not normally known for). I was able to narrow down my oil supply to just two oils. Yes, just two essential oils. Unfortunately, this meant I would be going without my daily eucalyptus shower. I also had to leave my diffuser at home, which meant no drifting to sleep to my favorite calming essential oil aromas. Rather than bringing my regular essential oil bottles, I stuck with the rollerballs as they provide a more efficient application method.

  • Lavender: this essential oil is a true lifesaver. Whenever I began to feel stressed during my trip, I either inhaled the Lavender aroma directly from the rollerball or applied the Lavender directly to my wrists for an instant grounding feeling.
  • Peppermint: if you have ever been on a long flight (mine was about 15 hours), you understand the many difficulties associated with an extensive flight. The meals you get on the plane are okay, and the cabin pressure can mess a little with your head and stomach. Peppermint is great for eliminating headaches and easing nausea.

Exhibit Awareness: I also selected Lavender and Peppermint for reasons beyond their physical and emotional benefits. Lavender and peppermint have relatively subtle scents and they are common fragrances that do not seem to bother other people. Trust me – you do not want to whip out and apply a strong and slightly unusual smelling essential oil on a plane with one hundred other people.

Meet Lavender – Your New BEST Friend: So picture this – I am anxiously awaiting to begin boarding the plane. Plot twist! I am informed that my flight is delayed for an unknown period of time. Inhale Lavender. The main problem with this flight delay was that I barely had an hour layover to catch my connecting flight to Sydney. Inhale Lavender. To make a long story short, I frantically ran to my gate once I landed in LAX, only to find out that I missed my flight to Sydney. Inhale a whole LOT of Lavender. Unfortunately, the next flight was not for another 24 hours. Hopefully, I don’t run out of Lavender before I even leave the country.

Remember the “Essentials” Beyond Essential Oils: After missing my connecting flight, I suddenly realized my rookie packing failure. My carry on basically contained school work, shoes, and my rain jacket. It probably would have been a good idea to carry some of the essentials with me, considering I was going to be on a long flight. Yes – I was that person who wore the same outfit for almost 3 days. United Airlines did provide a very basic amenities kit, but it would have been nice to have a few extra essentials.

Jet Lag Remedies: Sydney, Australia is 18 hours ahead of the Pacific Time Zone. Talk about an awkward time adjustment. Fortunately, when I first got to Australia (and basically throughout the whole trip), I was so very excited that I am pretty sure I was basically running on adrenaline. Returning home was a completely different story. Jet lag is no joke. There are a variety of essential oils that can combat the struggles associated with jet lag.

  • Apply invigorating essential oils to the bottom of your feet in the morning: Peppermint, Eucalyptus, or Wild Orange
  • Apply calming essential oils to the bottom of your feet before bed: Bergamot, Rosemary, Lavender, or Geranium

Have you had any unique experiences while traveling with essential oils? Do you have any additional travel tips or natural jet lag remedies? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Water Wisdom

“Life is simple. Just add water.”

Why is water so important for our bodies? Did you know that the human body is made up of approximately 60% water? It is vital that we continue to replenish our bodies with water for a variety of health reasons. Water is essential for healthy cell life, body temperature regulation, chemical and metabolic reactions, the transport of nutrients, and the removal of wastes. It is recommended the average person drink about 2 liters of water per day. That is about 64 ounces or at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day. Easy, right? Some people love drinking water, while others loathe it. Here are some tips and tricks to encourage yourself to drink more water if you find yourself struggling to meet the recommended daily intake.

Give a Flavor Makeover! Add 1 drop of your favorite citrus or mint essential oil to 8-ounces of water for a refreshing drink! Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit, Wild Orange, and Tangerine are all great citrus options! The wonderful thing about citrus essential oils is that they do not provide an intense sour flavor as they are cold pressed from the rinds of the fruit. Basically, you get the energy boost from the fruit, while only experiencing a mild citrus taste. If you are trying to kick those sugar cravings, Grapefruit will be your saving grace (the chemical constituents have been found to suppress sugar cravings). If you prefer a minty pick–me–up, Peppermint and Spearmint are also great flavor options!

  • Tip: When adding essential oils to water, you want to drink out of a glass or stainless steel container because the essential oils will pull toxins from plastic. Since we are trying to be healthy here, you can see the potential predicament you would place yourself in if you choose to go the plastic route. 
  • Looking for a new water bottle? I am obsessed with S’well Bottles! They provide stylish, stainless steel water bottles that will keep your water ice cold all day long!

Make it a Challenge! If you have the type of mentality in which a challenge really motivates you to push yourself, download a water app! Apps like Daily Water Free assist you in counting and tracking your water intake, as well as providing reminders throughout the day to keep you on a strict water drinking schedule.

  • Tip: It is important you consistently drink water throughout the day to keep your body fully hydrated. Do not wait until you feel thirsty to start drinking water because that is an indicator that your body is already headed down the road towards dehydration.

Double as a Detox! There are multiple ways you can add flavor to your water beyond the scope of essential oils. I absolutely love the taste of cucumber water because it gives you that “relaxing day at the spa feeling”. And yes, in case you were wondering, cucumbers are a fruit. Cucumbers have anti–inflammatory properties and they are also a great source of potassium, magnesium, and Vitamin B. Drinking cucumber water will boost your metabolism and flush toxins out of your body.

  • Tip: Cucumber slices float, so top your water with some ice to keep the little guys submerged and fully infusing your water! 
  • If you are feeling extra adventurous with your cucumber water, throw in some pineapple for a tropical escape, or add a citrus essential oil!

Eat your Water! You can also increase your water intake by eating water–rich foods. Bell peppers (94% water), raw broccoli (91% water), celery (96% water), and cantaloupe (90% water) are just a few of the many hydrating foods. Click here to view a more in–depth list.

Chia, Chia, & More Chia! Chia seeds are a true superfood – they are rich in antioxidants, high in dietary fiber and calcium, treat diabetes, boost metabolism and energy, regulate cholesterol, and contain more protein than most plant–based sources. Quite the impressive résumé, right? Some people describe the flavor of chia seeds as mild and nutty. In my honest opinion, chia seeds are basically flavorless. Chia seeds are the perfect little package as they provide immense health benefits and they can be added to foods and drinks without affecting the overall flavor.

  • Tip: Add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to an 8-ounce glass of water and drink it as you are getting ready to boost your morning energy level. As if I have not already mentioned it enough, add 1 drop of a citrus essential oil and I guarantee you will start your day on the bright side.

What are some of your tricks to ensure you drink water throughout the day? If you are a chia seed addict, how do you incorporate this superfood into your daily routine? I would love to hear your thoughts!

The 7 Dimensions of Wellness

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.”

-Thomas Edison

How do you define wellness? Overall wellness is comprised of seven dimensions – physical, emotional, spiritual, social, environmental, intellectual, and occupational. It is critical that we give equal attention to all dimensions of wellness in order to pursue a state of holistic health.  

Now you might be thinking – how can each of these dimensions of wellness be equal? Have you ever noticed that when you experience the loss of someone who greatly impacted your life, that you begin to struggle in other aspects of life beyond your emotional state? Your mourning period stemmed from the emotional dimension, but it also had varying levels of impact on your physical, social, and spiritual wellness – as well as the remaining dimensions.

The seven dimensions of wellness are completely intertwined. When you begin to focus your energy on enhancing the relationships between these dimensions, you will truly begin to thrive. Let’s take a quick look at each of the dimensions!

Physical Wellness: involves making more informed lifestyle choices. Engaging in physical activity, improving nutritional choices, and getting a sufficient amount of sleep will benefit the physical state of your body.

Emotional Wellness: focuses primarily on improving how you feel about yourself and your life in general. This is the dimension that can often be the most challenging to regulate.

Spiritual Wellness: expands beyond the scope of religion. This dimension emphasizes finding purpose in life, understanding your personal values, and being open to developing connections to things that are much bigger than yourself.

Social Wellness: encompasses all types of relationships – family, friends, and significant others.  This dimension allows us to fulfill some of our deepest needs – to feel connected and supported by other human beings.

Environmental Wellness: incorporates learning how to engage in sustainable practices and understanding how our daily decisions impact the natural environment.

Intellectual Wellness: includes mental stimulation and pursuing creative outlets to challenge and open our minds to new ideas.

Occupational Wellness: promotes searching for a meaningful career and engaging in professional organizations and hobbies.  It is essential to prioritize the expansion of one’s skills and seek opportunity to help others.

Essentially, holistic health requires you to view your health from the broadest perspective by focusing your energy on prioritizing each and every one of the seven dimensions of wellness.  It is vital you learn to understand your body, as well as the connection your physical being has with your mind, spirit, and the world around you. Trust me – this is quite the challenging feat and I continue to struggle with maintaining balance in my life through all seven dimensions of wellness. What matters most is that you make the decision to continually work to improve yourself.  

I welcome you to join me on this journey and together we will explore how a holistic health approach and essential oils can bring you pure, personal empowerment. How do you balance the seven dimensions of wellness? I would love to hear your thoughts!