Natural Beauty & Healthy Living
Gluten Free Strawberry Pie Recipe March 14 2019
Strawberries are coming into season here down south, and this is an easy and gluten free recipe to try.
GLUTEN FREE STRAWBERRY PIE RECIPE
For the Pie Crust:
4 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp dried orange peel
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp orange juice
3 1/2 tbsp cold butter, cubed
1 large egg
For the strawberry filling:
1 16 ounce container strawberries, sliced lengthwise into quarters
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp rice flour
For the crust:
In a large bowl, combine all of the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder orange peel, salt. Mix well.
With your finger, make a little whole in the center of the flour mound, then fill it with the orange juice and the egg. Mix those together with a fork (try not to mix it with too much of the flour).
Add the cubes of cold butter, fold everything together with your hands. You can then chill the pie crust dough while you work on the strawberry filling.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the strawberry filling:
Rinse and slice your strawberries lengthwise into quarters.
Put all the strawberries in a large bowl. Add the fresh lemon juice and toss/coat the strawberries with the flour, using your hands. Now add the sugar a few tablespoons at a time, until all of the sugar evenly coats the strawberries.
Grease a 9 inch pie pan. Cut 2 12 by 12 inch pieces of parchment paper. Roll the pie dough into a ball then place it on one of the pieces of parchment; gently flatten it a bit into a disc, then place the other piece of parchment paper on top, so that the dough is sandwiched between the two piece of parchment.
Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the dough about 1/4 of an inch thick, then remove the top layer of parchment. Place the greased pie pan face down over the rolled out pie dough (making sure the pie dough is still on the parchment).
Now, using one hand to hold the pie pan and the other to hold the parchment/pie dough, flip the pie dough onto the pie pan very slowly :). Use a fork to crimp the edges and remove the excess dough hanging over the pie pan.
Now arrange the strawberries over the pie dough in the pie pan. You should have just enough extra dough to make a lattice top for your pie.
Lightly cover the pie with foil so it doesn't over-brown. Bake for about 37 minutes with the foil, then remove foil and continue to bake for 5 more minutes at 350.
It doesn't get easier. You get stronger. March 01 2019
There are several concrete benefits to starting and maintaining a walking routine for any person of any age.
A key thing to point out up front: walking or any kind of cardio, is proven to be cumulative. Which basically means, if you have meetings and commitments throughout the day, you can break up your walk in sections, and the results and benefits are the same, per a NCBI study (https://bit.ly/2H5S6Cu).
Add in the component of walking in nature, and you then have a recipe for a healthier outlook and a reduction in depression - on top of all of the other benefits noted further below.
Stanford researchers concluded that there is quantifiable evidence that walking in nature could lead to better emotional regulation and feeling better mentally overall.
Here are the results of their study:
Specifically, the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that people who walked for 90 minutes in a natural area, as opposed to participants who walked in a high-traffic urban setting, showed decreased activity in a region of the brain associated with a key factor in depression.
“These results suggest that accessible natural areas may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world,” said co-author Gretchen Daily, the Bing Professor in Environmental Science and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “Our findings can help inform the growing movement worldwide to make cities more livable, and to make nature more accessible to all who live in them.”
More than half of the world’s population lives in urban settings, and that is forecast to rise to 70 percent within a few decades. Just as urbanization and disconnection from nature have grown dramatically, so have mental disorders such as depression.
In fact, city dwellers have a 20 percent higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 40 percent higher risk of mood disorders as compared to people in rural areas. People born and raised in cities are twice as likely to develop schizophrenia.
Is exposure to nature linked to mental health? If so, the researchers asked, what are nature’s impacts on emotion and mood? Can exposure to nature help “buffer” against depression?
In the study, two groups of participants walked for 90 minutes, one in a grassland area scattered with oak trees and shrubs, the other along a traffic-heavy four-lane roadway. Before and after, the researchers measured heart and respiration rates, performed brain scans and had participants fill out questionnaires.
The researchers found little difference in physiological conditions, but marked changes in the brain. Neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a brain region active during rumination – repetitive thought focused on negative emotions – decreased among participants who walked in nature versus those who walked in an urban environment.
“This finding is exciting because it demonstrates the impact of nature experience on an aspect of emotion regulation – something that may help explain how nature makes us feel better,” said lead author Gregory Bratman, a graduate student in Stanford’s Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, the Stanford Psychophysiology Lab and the Center for Conservation Biology.
“These findings are important because they are consistent with, but do not yet prove, a causal link between increasing urbanization and increased rates of mental illness,” said co-author James Gross, a professor of psychology at Stanford.
It is essential for urban planners and other policymakers to understand the relationship between exposure to nature and mental health, the study’s authors write. “We want to explore what elements of nature – how much of it and what types of experiences – offer the greatest benefits,” Daily said.
In a previous study, also led by Bratman, time in nature was found to have a positive effect on mood and aspects of cognitive function, including working memory, as well as a dampening effect on anxiety.
The studies are part of a growing body of research exploring the connection between nature and human well-being. The Natural Capital Project, led by Daily, has been at the forefront of this work. The project focuses on quantifying the value of natural resources to the public and predicting benefits from investments in nature. It is a joint venture of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, The Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund and the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.
Harvard Medical includes a list of benefits that make walking a no brainer when it comes to improving our health:
1. It counteracts the effects of weight-promoting genes. Harvard researchers looked at 32 obesity-promoting genes in over 12,000 people to determine how much these genes actually contribute to body weight. They then discovered that, among the study participants who walked briskly for about an hour a day, the effects of those genes were cut in half.
2. It helps tame a sweet tooth. A pair of studies from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute walk can curb cravings for chocolate and even reduce the amount of chocolate you eat in stressful situations. And the latest research confirms that walking can reduce cravings and intake of a variety of sugary snacks.
3. It reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. Researchers already know that any kind of physical activity blunts the risk of breast cancer. But an American Cancer Society study that zeroed in on walking found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14% lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. And walking provided this protection even for the women with breast cancer risk factors, such as being overweight or using supplemental hormones.
4. It eases joint pain. Several studies have found that walking reduces arthritis-related pain, and that walking five to six miles a week can even prevent arthritis from forming in the first place. Walking protects the joints — especially the knees and hips, which are most susceptible to osteoarthritis — by lubricating them and strengthening the muscles that support them.
5. It boosts immune function. Walking can help protect you during cold and flu season. A study of over 1,000 men and women found that those who walked at least 20 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, had 43% fewer sick days than those who exercised once a week or less. And if they did get sick, it was for a shorter duration, and their symptoms were milder.
There are 8 natural sleep remedies supported by medical studies, that can help you get that good night of sleep you've been longing for.
As with all of our posts and claims, these suggestions are backed up with medical and clinical studies (links below).
Tryptophan (also called L-tryprophan) is an essential amino acid that acts like a natural mood regulator, since it has the ability to help the body produce and balance certain hormones naturally. Supplementing with tryptophan-rich foods or taking supplements helps bring on natural calming effects, induces sleep, fights anxiety and can also help burn more body fat. Tryptophan has also been found to stimulate the release of growth hormones and even reduce food cravings for carbohydrates and help kick a sugar addiction in some cases. Food that contain tryptophan: eggs, spirulina, seasame seeds, cashews, walnuts, brown rice, whole grain oats, potatoes, bananas, and turkey of course - if you're not a vegetarian.
Lavender is associated with lower blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature, all necessary ingredients for a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown that inhaling lavender can improve sleep quality, and it may help treat mild insomnia., For postpartum mothers who are still nursing, inhaling a lavender essential oil may be a useful alternative to a pharmacological sleep aid. As an added bonus, lavender has been shown to reduce anxiety, making it a great essential oil to put on your pillow on nights when your racing mind is keeping you awake.
You might think that because bergamot is a citrus fruit (native to Italy and used in Italian holistic medicine), its essential oil would have an invigorating effect. Instead, it is known for its calming effect. Bergamot essential oil signals to your system that it is time for bed by slowing your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure. Plus, it reduces anxiety and stress.
According to the European Neurology Journal, calcium levels are at their highest during our deep rapid eye movement (REM) sleep periods. What this means is that if you never get to the REM sleep phase or if it’s limited, it could be related to a calcium deficiency. Researchers indicate that the calcium is important because it helps the cells in the brain use the tryptophan to create melatonin — a natural body-producing sleep aid.
Studies have shown that higher magnesium levels can help induce a deeper sleep, and as I noted, this is especially true when taken together with calcium for better absorption. Research from the Biochemistry and Neurophysiology Unit at the University of Geneva’s Department of Psychiatry indicate that higher levels of magnesium actually helped provide better, more consistent sleep since magnesium is a calming nutrient. In addition to the goat’s milk kefir, foods like spinach, pumpkin seeds and even dark chocolate can help since they’re loaded with magnesium.
Clinical trials have shown that passion flower can reduce anxiety as effectively as the prescribed drug known as benzodiazepine oxazepam. A four-week, double-blind study of patients with generalized anxiety disorder compared passion flower to the common anti-anxiety drug. While the oxazepam worked a little faster, both were the same in terms of effectiveness — however, the passion flower did not cause problems with job performance, such drowsiness while on the job, unlike the oxazepam.
This shows that passion flower is one of the most powerful anti-anxiety natural sleep aids that doesn’t cause lingering tiredness the next day.
Valerian root is a plant with roots that contain many healing properties, in particular for a relaxation and sedative effects. It’s often found in combination with chamomile in a tea. By increasing the amount of gamma aminobutryic acid (GABA), it helps calm the nerve cells in the brain, resulting in a calming effect. GABA works by blocking brain signals that cause anxiety and that ongoing trickle effect that can come from it. This calming effect has made it a favorite natural remedy for anxiety too.
If you’re not fond of the tea, you can go with a capsule form that can be found at your local health food store
St. John's Wort:
Depression is a common characteristic that can lead to lack of sleep. St John’s wort may be able to help.
More recent studies indicate that chemicals, such as hyperforin and adhyperforin, are found in St. John’s wort, acting as little messengers in the brain that drive mood and work as powerful antidepressants.
The National Sleep Foundation reports that insomnia is common among those who are depressed and notes that people with insomnia have a much higher risk of becoming depressed. Research from the Department of Psychology at the University of North Texas shows that depression may affect many aspects of sleep, from getting to sleep to staying asleep. By treating depression using St. John’s wort, you may be able to find that restful sleep your body and mind longs for.
A Hot Bath:
Your temperature naturally dips at night, starting two hours before sleep and bottoming out at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., according to a 1997 study conducted by New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. When you soak in a hot tub, your temperature risesand the rapid cool-down period immediately afterward relaxes you.
Two hours before bed, soak in the tub for 20 or 30 minutes, recommended by doctors at the New York University School of Medicine. "If you raise your temperature a degree or two with a bath, the steeper drop at bedtime is more likely to put you in a deep sleep," she says. A shower is less effective but can work, as well.
Sleep Pillow Spray Recipe:
1 oz Witch Hazel or Rubbing Alcohol
1 oz Distilled Water
15 drops Lavender essential oil
15 drops Bergomot essential oil
2 or 4 oz. glass spray bottle
Method & Use:
Use a funnel to add the witch hazel, water, and essential oils into your spray bottle. Tighten the cap, and swirl the bottle around to combine.
To use: Spray 3-4 times onto your pillow before laying down.
Calming Essential Oils:
Raspberry & Thyme Margarita February 28 2019
This Raspberry & Thyme Margarita recipe is one of our go to "signature drink" house party beverages. Sure it sounds fancy, but most importantly, it tastes AMAZING. Here's the recipe:
1/2 cup of crushed fresh raspberries
Sugar or salt for rim of glasses (optional)
1/2 cup tequila
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lime rind
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
Fresh sprigs of thyme and whole raspberries for garnish
Rub rim of glass with lime juice.
Dip glass rim in sugar or salt (optional).
combine and blend tequila, sugar, and lime juice.
Add ice to glasses and fill.
Garnish with sprig of thyme and a few raspberries.
DIY Activated Charcoal Mask, Cleanser and Scrub February 25 2019
We love sharing fun and easy DIY recipes and here's a winner for anyone who is combating acne and breakouts.
Depending on your preference, you can use candelilla wax, beeswax, or solidified coconut oil.
Researchers do confirm that activated charcoal can help draw microparticles, such as dirt, dust, chemicals, toxins, and bacteria, to the surface of the skin, to make removing them easier.
(Study results here: http://www.ejpmr.com/admin/assets/article_issue/1512093026.pdf)
You can find most of these ingredients at your local health food store.
ACTIVATED CHARCOAL CLEANSER, MASK & SCRUB
1/2 cup Hemp Seed Oil OR Pure Aloe Vera (Juice)
1 TBSP. Jojoba, Argan, or Castor Oil
3 tsp. Activated Charcoal
3 tsp. Bentonite Clay or Any Powdered Clay You Prefer
1 Heaping T. Candelilla Wax, Beeswax, or Solidified Coconut Oil
20 Drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
20 drops Lavender Essential Oil
Create a double boiler by adding water to a medium sized pot.
Place a glass bowl over the pot or place a measuring cup inside the pot.
Add oil, clay, charcoal and wax/oil to the glass cup.
Turn stove top to medium heat.
Allow wax/oil to melt.
Thoroughly mix ingredients.
Remove glass from stove top and pour into a 4 ounce glass container.
Allow to cool.
Mediterranean Diet: Best Overall Diet of 2019 February 20 2019
For the second year in a row, US News and World Report has rated the Mediterranean Diet the best diet for overall health, which beat other diets in 7 categories.
It’s the best overall diet choice for diabetes and heart disease.
It's generally accepted that the folks in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea live longer and suffer less than most Americans from cancer and cardiovascular ailments. The not-so-surprising secret is an active lifestyle, weight control, and a diet low in red meat, sugar and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts and other healthful foods.
The Mediterranean Diet may offer a host of health benefits, including weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, and diabetes prevention and control. By following the Mediterranean Diet, you could also keep that weight off while avoiding chronic disease.
Because this is an eating pattern – not a structured diet – you're on your own to figure out how many calories you should eat to lose or maintain your weight, what you'll do to stay active and how you'll shape your Mediterranean menu.
The Mediterranean diet pyramid should help get you started. The pyramid emphasizes eating fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices; fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week; and poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation, while saving sweets and red meat for special occasions. Top it off with a splash of red wine (if you want), remember to stay physically active and you're set.
The Mediterranean diet might help you lose weight. While some people fear that eating a diet like the Mediterranean diet that is relatively rich in fats (think olive oil, olives, avocado and some cheese) will keep them fat, more and more research is suggesting the opposite is true. Of course, it depends on which aspects you adopt and how it compares to your current diet. If, for instance, you build a "calorie deficit" into your plan – eating fewer calories than your daily recommended max or burning off extra by exercising – you should shed some pounds. How quickly and whether you keep them off is up to you.
Here's a look at a few studies addressing weight loss on the Mediterranean diet:
- A 2016 study in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal that analyzed data from Predimed – a five-year trial including 7,447 adults with Type 2 diabetes or at risk for cardiovascular disease who were assigned either a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil, the same diet supplemented with nuts or a control diet – found that people on the Mediterranean versions added the fewest inches to their waistlines. The olive oil folks lost the most weight.
- A 2010 study in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism assigned 259 overweight diabetics to one of three diets: a low-carb Mediterranean diet, a traditional Mediterranean diet or a diet based on recommendations from the American Diabetes Association. All groups were told to exercise 30 to 45 minutes at least three times per week. After a year, all groups lost weight; the traditional group lost an average of about 16 pounds while the ADA group dropped 17 pounds and the low-carb group lost 22 pounds.
- Another study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008, assigned 322 moderately obese adults to one of three diets: calorie-restricted low-fat; calorie-restricted Mediterranean; and non-calorie-restricted low-carb. After two years, the Mediterranean group had lost an average of 9 7/10 pounds; the low-fat group, 6 4/10 pounds; and the low-carb group, 10 3/10 pounds. Although weight loss didn't differ greatly between the low-carb and Mediterranean groups, both lost appreciably more than the low-fat group did.
- A 2008 analysis of 21 studies in the journal Obesity Reviews concluded the jury is still out on whether following the Mediterranean diet will lead to weight loss or a lower likelihood of being overweight or obese.
Mediterranean Shopping List:
Mediterranean Power Bowl Recipe
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake & Buttercream Frosting January 24 2019
We had the best time making this gluten free cake with buttercream frosting! Just when you think the indulgent holidays are over, think again! This is delicious and beautiful - a perfect choice for that up and coming gathering you're going to.
For the Cake:
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour
1 cup Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa -- check brand for GF
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 cups sugar -- divided
2/3 cup butter -- softened
4 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract -- gluten-free
For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
6 tablespoons butter -- softened
2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa
½ teaspoon instant espresso
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8" or 9" round pans with cooking spray and lining the bottom of each pan with parchment.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the multi-purpose flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum, and 1/2 cup of the sugar.
Place the butter and 1 cup of the sugar in the bowl of a mixer and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, buttermilk, water, and vanilla into your mixer bowl, and mix until well blended.
Blend in the dry ingredients 1 cup at a time, beating for 1 minute and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
Once all of the dry ingredients have been mixed in, beat at medium-high speed for 2 minutes, to make a smooth batter.
Pour the batter equally into the prepared pans. Using a kitchen scale helps to get the batter evenly divided.
Bake the cakes for 30 to 33 minutes, about 3 to 4 minutes past the point where a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.
Remove the cakes from the oven, and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn pans over onto a rack and cool cakes completely.
Once cooled, frost cakes, or serve with a dusting of powdered sugar or whipped cream.
For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
In bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, mix confectioner’s sugar with cocoa and espresso.
Add vanilla to milk. Blend sugar mixture with butter and vanilla milk, alternating between the two, beating well after each addition. Beat until smooth.
Calories: 2743kcal | Carbohydrates: 425g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 121g | Saturated Fat: 71g | Cholesterol: 597mg | Sodium: 1758mg | Potassium: 1843mg | Fiber: 31g | Sugar: 319g | Vitamin A: 73.6% | Calcium: 62.1% | Iron: 79.2%
Unexpected Rewards January 24 2019
Caring for others has a hidden and pleasant reward: it makes us feel loved when we share some love. What are some things you're going to try to do today to make others feel cared for?
It's Okay To Be Bold Sometimes January 24 2019
It's okay to be bold sometimes. That doesn't mean loud, or harsh, or unpleasant. Let's remember that we teach people how to treat us. If you need to, be bold and stand your ground.
Dream Big: The Benefits of Goal Setting January 15 2019
Dream big. You know the old "shoot for the moon" saying, but it's also a fact that setting goals can help up get outside of our comfort zone, get comfortable with risk, and find pleasure in change and challenges. What are your big goals for 2019 and beyond? #liveinspired #happiness #positive #youcandoit#findyourstrong #positivethinking #goals #goalsetting
Your Value January 14 2019
Pomegranate Fruit Water January 14 2019
Looking for a fun and nutritious alternative to lemon water? Pomegranate is a great choice, as it is considered one of the healthiest fruits on the planet.
Pomegranate has been proven to fight cancer, reduce hypertension, relieves osteoarthritis, boosts heart health, improves memory, provides lots of antioxidants, and fights inflammation.
Give this pomegranate water a try, you'll love it!
Fresh whole pomegranate. Lime. Fresh ginger. Ice and water.
- Cut off the top of the pomegranate. Cut gently along the ridges from the top to the bottom. Open the fruit. Then remove the seeds from the fruit and place in a jug.
- Peel the ginger and cut into thin slices.
- Rinse the lime and cut into slices. Add the lime with the ginger to the jug.
- Fill the jug with 2 liters of water and serve with ice cubes and leave to infuse in the fridge. The longer it infuses the stronger the taste.
The True Cost of Multi-Tasking January 14 2019
Does this describe you? While you are on a teleconference call you are writing up your quarterly report, checking your email, and texting your friend about where you are meeting for lunch. You would say that you are good at multi-tasking, right? You might want to re-think your strategy. Recent estimates are that you can lose up to 40% of your productivity if you multi-task.
Task switching, not multi-tasking -- The term multi-tasking is actually a misnomer. People can't actually do more than one task at a time. Instead we switch tasks. So the term that is used in the research is "task switching".
Task switching is "expensive" -- There has been a lot of research on task switching. Here's what we know from the research:
- It takes more time to get tasks completed if you switch between them than if you do them one at a time.
- You make more errors when you switch than if you do one task at a time.
- If the tasks are complex then these time and error penalties increase.
- Each task switch might waste only 1/10th of a second, but if you do a lot of switching in a day it can add up to a loss of 40% of your productivity.
- Task switching involves several parts of your brain: Brain scans during task switching show activity in four major areas: the pre-frontal cortex is involved in shifting and focusing your attention, and selecting which task to do when. The posterior parietal lobe activates rules for each task you switch to, the anterior cingulate gyrus monitors errors, and the pre-motor cortex is preparing for you to move in some way.
I know it's popular to think that you are multi-tasking, but the research is clear that people actually can't multi-task, with one specific exception that I’ll get to in a minute.
One thing at a time -- For many years the psychology research has shown that people can only attend to one task at a time. Let me be even more specific. The research shows that people can attend to only one cognitive task at a time. You can only be thinking about one thing at a time. You can only be conducting one mental activity at a time. So you can be talking or you can be reading. You can be reading or you can be typing. You can be listening or you can be reading. One thing at a time.
We fool ourselves -- We are pretty good at switching back and forth quickly, so we THINK we are actually multi-tasking, but in reality we are not.
The one exception -- The only exception that the research has uncovered is that if you are doing a physical task that you have done very very often and you are very good at, then you can do that physical task while you are doing a mental task. So if you are an adult and you have learned to walk then you can walk and talk at the same time.
Then again, maybe there isn't an exception -- Even this doesn't work very well, though. In a study by Hyman et. al. in 2009, people talking on their cell phones while walking, ran into people more often and didn’t notice what was going on around them. The researchers had someone in a clown suit ride a unicycle. The people talking on a cell phone were much less likely to notice or remember the clown.
But young people can multi-task, right? – If you think that it’s only older people that can’t multi-task, think again. A study at Stanford University demonstrates that multi-tasking doesn't work, even with college students. Clifford Nass's study found that when people are asked to deal with multiple streams of information they can't pay attention to them, can't remember as well, and don't switch as well as they thought they would – even college students.
So if multi-tasking is not effective what should you do? How do you effectively cope with all the input and distractions you have in your life, especially at work?
1: Use the 80/20 rule -- 20% of the work you do gives 80% of the impact and effectiveness. We often make the mistake of thinking that being busy means being effective. And the busier we get the more multi-tasking we end up doing. According to the research the result is that you are actually less effective. Focus on identifying the 20% of your tasks that are really effective, and do them one at a time.
2: Implement "batch processing" -- Do you sit at your desk with your email open and then get sucked into reading and answering emails all day long every time they come in? This encourages multi-tasking. Instead, try batch processing your emails. Decide on certain times of the day (in the morning, at noon, in the late afternoon, for example) that you are going to check and deal with email. Some people (Timothy Ferriss, for example, author of The 4-Hour Workweek) get really radical with this idea. Ferriss advocates that you check email once a day or less! If you are like me, that radical an idea is probably not feasible, but experiment with this idea of batch processing. You can use this not only for email, but for anything that is usually a distraction for you, such as making phone calls, checking voicemail, texting, etc. If you do batch processing you can then eliminate that task as a multi-tasking distractor during the other parts of your day.
3. Work on your most important tasks first -- I think one of the reasons that we give in to multi-tasking is that we feel more and more anxious as the day goes on that we have not accomplished what we wanted to, or what was important to us. So identify at the start of each day (or better yet, at the end of the day before) one or two really important things that you want to accomplish during that one day. Then do those tasks first. The sense of relief and accomplishment is immense, and you will find that you are more relaxed as the day goes on. You will not feel the anxious drive to do more and more and more, and it will be easier to resist multi-tasking.
4. Use concentrated time -- The opposite of multi-tasking is concentrated time. So if you are trying to stop multi-tasking you must start doing the opposite -- give yourself blocks of time during which you are only working on one task. The idea of setting aside an entire day to work on that presentation you have coming up, may seem like it is impossible right now, but it doesn't have to be an entire day. Start by taking one hour. Close down your email and all your other software. Turn off your phone or turn down the volume. Close the door to your office if you have a door. If you don't have a door then figure out a place to go where people won't find you. Then take that hour or 2 hours or half day or full day and work ONLY on the one task. You will be amazed at how much you will accomplish and how energized it makes you feel.
5. Leave blank spaces – The research on creativity tells us that it is the pre-frontal cortex that puts ideas together. But the pre-frontal cortex can only work on one thing at a time. When you are multi-tasking you are taxing your pre-frontal cortex. You will never solve problems if your pre-frontal cortex doesn't get quiet time to work on integrating information. This may sound paradoxical, but if you STOP thinking about a problem or particular topic you will then be able to solve it! This means you have to make time for blank spaces in your day. You need to have time in your day when you are doing "nothing" as far as your brain is concerned. Not talking, not reading, not writing. You can go for a walk, get exercise, listen to music, or stare into space. The more blank space the more work you will get done! Multi-tasking is the enemy of blank space.
6. Accept it -- The first step to change any behavior is to accept it! So if you want to stop multi-tasking the first thing you need to do is accept that you are multi-tasking and that multi-tasking is not effective. That might be the hardest step of all. We are actually addicted to the constant buzz of activity that multi-tasking gives us (see my blog post on dopamine). So just take a deep breath and accept that you've got this habit along with most of the people you know. Just noticing when you are doing it and saying, "oh, there I go again" will actually help tremendously in changing it. Putting your attention on what you want to change is a vital first step.
7. Go “off grid” to re-calibrate – Last year I spent a week "off the grid" on an island in Lake Michigan. No internet, no email, no cell phones. I spent time on my computer (updating my iPhoto albums, etc), but not communicating with anyone online. It was different, interesting, and strange. I was actually glad to get back to the grid. But the experience made me think. The major difference for me was that I stopped "multi-tasking".
When I was off the grid I found that I started doing one task at a time. I would do one thing for several minutes, and in many cases several hours. I believe that being online encourages task switching. When you can go from email to chat to texting to twitter to phone to facebook you switch tasks more. When I was off the grid all my communication channels were gone. So instead I spent time with one task and with one program. One day I worked in iPhoto for 3 hours straight. I think this week off grid “calibrated” my sense of what normal task switching is.
Less task switching = more happiness? -- . I have found since then that I do less task switching. I’m not perfect. I fall into it sometimes, but since my week of re-calibration I follow the guidelines above more easily. I also believe that I am less agitated. It's my hypothesis that task switching not only wastes time and increases errors. Task switching causes fatigue, exhaustion and agitation.
What do you think? Have you been able to do less task switching? Have you tried?
It's Never Too Late January 10 2019
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Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone: Benefits & Suggestions December 18 2018
You've seen inspirational quotes that encourage you to get out and do something strange—something you wouldn't normally do—but getting out of your routine just takes so much work. There's actually a lot of science that explains why it's so hard to break out of your comfort zone, and why it's good for you when you do it. With a little understanding and a few adjustments, you can break away from your routine and do great things.
It's important to push the boundaries of your comfort zone, and when you do, it's kind of a big deal. But what is the "comfort zone" exactly? Why is it that we tend to get comfortable with the familiar and our routines, but when we're introduced to new and interesting things, the glimmer fades so quickly? Finally, what benefit do we derive from breaking out of our comfort zone, and how do we do it? Answering those questions is a tall order, but it's not too hard to do. Let's get started.
Simply, your comfort zone is a behvioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk. It provides a state of mental security. You benefit in obvious ways: regular happiness, low anxiety, and reduced stress.
The idea of the comfort zone goes back to a classic experiment in psychology. Back in 1908, psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson explained that a state of relative comfort created a steady level of performance In order to maximize performance, however, we need a state of relative anxiety—a space where our stress levels are slightly higher than normal. This space is called "Optimal Anxiety," and it's just outside our comfort zone. Too much anxiety and we're too stressed to be productive, and our performance drops off sharply.
The idea of optimal anxiety isn't anything new. Anyone who's ever pushed themselves to get to the next level or accomplish something knows that when you really challenge yourself, you can turn up amazing results. More than a few studies support the point. However, pushing too hard can actually cause a negative result, and reinforce the idea that challenging yourself is a bad idea. It's our natural tendency to return to an anxiety neutral, comfortable state. You can understand why it's so hard to kick your brain out of your comfort zone.
Even so, your comfort zone is neither a good or bad thing. It's a natural state that most people trend towards. Leaving it means increased risk and anxiety, which can have positive and negative results (which we'll get to in a moment), but don't demonize your comfort zone as something holding you back. We all need that head-space where we're least anxious and stressed so we can process the benefits we get when we leave it.
What You Get When You Break Free and Try New Things
Optimal anxiety is that place where your mental productivity and performance reach their peak. Still, "increased performance" and "enhanced productivity" just sound like "do more stuff." What do you really get when you're willing to step outside of your comfort zone?
You'll be more productive. Comfort kills productivity because without the sense of unease that comes from having deadlines and expectations, we tend to phone it in and do the minimum required to get by. We lose the drive and ambition to do more and learn new things. We also fall into the "work trap," where we feign "busy" as a way to stay in our comfort zones and avoid doing new things. Pushing your personal boundaries can help you hit your stride sooner, get more done, and find smarter ways to work.
You'll have an easier time dealing with new and unexpected changes. In this article at The New York Times, Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, explains that one of the worst things we can do is pretend fear and uncertainty don't exist. By taking risks in a controlled fashion and challenging yourself to things you normally wouldn't do, you can experience some of that uncertainty in a controlled, manageable environment. Learning to live outside your comfort zone when you choose to can prep you for life changes that force you out of it.
You'll find it easier to push your boundaries in the future. Once you start stepping out of your comfort zone, it gets easier over time. This same NYT article explains that as you step out of your comfort zone, you'll become accustomed to that state of optimal anxiety. "Productive discomfort," as they call it, becomes more normal to you, and you're willing to push farther before your performance falls off. This idea is well illustrated in this infographic at Future Science Leaders. At the bottom, you'll see that as you challenge yourself, your comfort zone adjusts so what was difficult and anxiety-inducing becomes easier as you repeat it.
You'll find it easier to brainstorm and harness your creativity. This is a soft benefit, but it's fairly common knowledge (and it's easily reproducible) that seeking new experiences, learning new skills, and opening the door to new ideas inspire us and educate us in a way that little else does. Trying new things can make us reflect on our old ideas and where they clash with our new knowledge, and inspire us to learn more and challenge comfirmation bias, our tendency to only seek out information we already agree with. Even in the short term, a positively uncomfortable experience can help us brainstorm, see old problems in a new light, and tackle the challenges we face with new energy.
The benefits you get after stepping outside of your comfort zone can linger. There's the overall self-improvement you get through the skills you're learning, the new foods you're trying, the new country you're visiting, and the new job you're interviewing for. There's also the soft mental benefits you get from broadening your horizons.
How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone
Outside your comfort zone can be a good place to be, as long as you don't tip the scales too far. It's important to remember there's a difference between the kind of controlled anxiety we're talking about and the very real anxiety that many people struggle with every day. Everyone's comfort zone is different, and what may expand your horizons may paralyze someone else. Remember, optimal anxiety can bring out your best, but too much is a bad thing.
Here are some ways to break out (and by proxy, expand) your comfort zone without going too far:
Do everyday things differently. Take a different route to work. Try a new restaurant without checking Yelp first. Go vegetarian for a week, or a month. Try a new operating system. Recalibrate your reality. Whether the change you make is large or small, make a change in the way you do things on a day-to-day basis. Look for the perspective that comes from any change, even if it's negative. Don't be put off if things don't work out the way you planned.
Take your time making decisions. Sometimes slowing down is all it takes to make you uncomfortable—especially if speed and quick thinking are prized in your work or personal life. Slow down, observe what's going on, take your time to interpret what you see, and then intervene. Sometimes just defending your right to make an educated decision can push you out of your comfort zone. Think, don't just react.
Trust yourself and make snap decisions. We're contradicting ourselves, but there's a good reason. Just as there are people who thrive on snap decisions, others are more comfortable weighing all of the possible options several times, over and over again. Sometimes making a snap call is in order, just to get things moving. Doing so can help you kickstart your personal projects and teach you to trust your judgement. It'll also show you there's fallout to quick decisions as well as slow ones.
Do it in small steps. It takes a lot of courage to break out of your comfort zone. You get the same benefits whether you go in with both feet as you do if you start slow, so don't be afraid to start slow. If you're socially anxious, don't assume you have to muster the courage to ask your crush on a date right away, just say hello to them and see where you can go from there. Identify your fears, and then face them step by step.
There are lots of other ways to stretch your personal boundaries. You could learn a new language or skill. Learning a new language has multiple benefits, many of which extend to learning any new skill. Connect with people that inspire you, or volunteer with an organization that does great work. Travel, whether you go around the block or across the globe. If you've lived your whole life seeing the world from your front door, you're missing out. Visiting new and different places is perhaps one of the best ways to really broaden your perspectives, and it doesn't have to be expensive or difficult to do. The experiences you have may be mind-blowing or regrettable, but that doesn't matter. The point is that you're doing it, and you're pushing yourself past the mental blocks that tell you to do nothing.
Trying new things is difficult. If it weren't, breaking out of your comfort zone would be easy and we'd do it all the time. It's just as important to understand how habits form and how we can break them as it is to press yourself out of your comfort zone by doing specific things.
Why It's Important to Return To Your Comfort Zone from Time to Time
You can't live outside of your comfort zone all the time. You need to come back from time to time to process your experiences. The last thing you want is for the new and interesting to quickly become commonplace and boring. This phenomenon, called hedonistic adaptation, is the natural tendency to be impressed by new things only to have the incredible become ordinary after a short time. It's why we can have access to the greatest repository of human knowledge ever created (the internet) at our fingertips (on our smartphones) and still get so bored that all we think of is how quickly we can get newer, faster access. In one way it drives us forward, but in another it keeps us from appreciating the subtle and the everyday.
You can fight this by trying new, smaller things. Ordering something new at a restaurant where you get the same thing every visit can be eye-opening the same way visiting a new country can be, and both push you out of your comfortable spaces. Diversify the challenges you embrace so you don't just push your boundaries in the same direction. If you've been learning Latin-based languages and you find yourself bored, switch gears to a language with a completely different set of characters. If you've taken up running, instead of just trying to run longer and farther, try challenging yourself to run on different terrain. You still get the challenge, but you broaden your horizons in a different way.
Take It Slow, and Make Stretching Your Boundaries a Habit Of Its Own
The point of stepping out of your comfort zone is to embrace new experiences and to get to that state of optimal anxiety in a controlled, managed way, not to stress yourself out. Take time to reflect on your experiences so you can reap the benefits and apply them to your day to day activities. Then do something else interesting and new. Make it a habit if you can. Try something new every week, or every month. Our own Adam Dachis has committed himself to doing something weird and new every week, just to test his boundaries.
Similarly, don't limit yourself to big, huge experiences. Maybe meditation pushes you out of your comfort zone just as much as bungee jumping. Try the former if you've already done the latter. The goal isn't to become an adrenaline junkie—you just want to learn to learn what you're really capable of. That's another reason why it's important to return to a comfortable state sometimes and just relax. Just don't forget to bring back as much as you can carry from those inspired, creative, productive, and slightly uncomfortable moments when you do.
The Power of Positive Thinking December 18 2018
Oh the power of a positive outlook and a hopeful attitude. A medical study at John Hopkins determined that smiling - even fake smiling - can calm a patients heart rate, improve blood pressure, and spark "happy" signals in the brain.
What big, exciting plans to you have for the new year?
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Practicing mindfulness - what kind of emotion does that conjure in you? Reluctance? A calming sensation? Not everyone thinks they can benefit from meditation and mindfulness, but a recent Harvard study suggests that the benefits for the general population are a long list.
Researchers study how it seems to change the brain in depressed patients
In 2015, 16.1 million Americans reported experiencing major depression during the previous year, often struggling to function while grappling with crippling darkness and despair.
There’s an arsenal of treatments at hand, including talk therapy and antidepressant medications, but what’s depressing in itself is that they don’t work for every patient.
“Many people don’t respond to the frontline interventions,” said Benjamin Shapero, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and a psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s (MGH) Depression Clinical and Research Program. “Individual cognitive behavioral therapy is helpful for many people; antidepressant medications help many people. But it’s also the case that many people don’t benefit from them as well. There’s a great need for alternative approaches.”
Shapero is working with Gaëlle Desbordes, an instructor in radiology at HMS and a neuroscientist at MGH’s Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, to explore one alternative approach: mindfulness-based meditation.
In recent decades, public interest in mindfulness meditation has soared. Paralleling, and perhaps feeding, the growing popular acceptance has been rising scientific attention. The number of randomized controlled trials — the gold standard for clinical study — involving mindfulness has jumped from one in the period from 1995‒1997 to 11 from 2004‒2006, to a whopping 216 from 2013‒2015, according to a recent article summarizing scientific findings on the subject.
Studies have shown benefits against an array of conditions both physical and mental, including irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, psoriasis, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. But some of those findings have been called into question because studies had small sample sizes or problematic experimental designs. Still, there are a handful of key areas — including depression, chronic pain, and anxiety — in which well-designed, well-run studies have shown benefits for patients engaging in a mindfulness meditation program, with effects similar to other existing treatments.
“There are a few applications where the evidence is believable. But the effects are by no means earth-shattering,” Desbordes said. “We’re talking about moderate effect size, on par with other treatments, not better. And then there’s a bunch of other things under study with preliminary evidence that is encouraging but by no means conclusive. I think that’s where it’s at. I’m not sure that is exactly how the public understands it at this point.”
Researcher Gaelle Desbordes is probing mindfulness meditation’s effect on depression, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to take before and after images of the brains of depressed patients who’ve learned to meditate. The work seeks to understand the internal brain processes affected by mindfulness meditation training in this population.
Desbordes’ interest in the topic stems from personal experience. She began meditating as a graduate student in computational neuroscience at Boston University, seeking respite from the stress and frustration of academic life. Her experience convinced her that something real was happening to her and prompted her to study the subject more closely, in hopes of shedding enough light to underpin therapy that might help others.
“My own interest comes from having practiced those [meditation techniques] and found them beneficial, personally. Then, being a scientist, asking ‘How does this work? What is this doing to me?’ and wanting to understand the mechanisms to see if it can help others,” Desbordes said. “If we want that to become a therapy or something offered in the community, we need to demonstrate [its benefits] scientifically.”
Desbordes’ research uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which not only takes pictures of the brain, as a regular MRI does, but also records brain activity occurring during the scan. In 2012, she demonstrated that changes in brain activity in subjects who have learned to meditate hold steady even when they’re not meditating. Desbordes took before-and-after scans of subjects who learned to meditate over the course of two months. She scanned them not while they were meditating, but while they were performing everyday tasks. The scans still detected changes in the subjects’ brain activation patterns from the beginning to the end of the study, the first time such a change — in a part of the brain called the amygdala — had been detected.
Functional MRI (left) showing activation in the amygdala when participants were watching images with emotional content before learning meditation. After eight weeks of training in mindful attention meditation (right) note the amygdala is less activated after the meditation training. Courtesy of Gaelle Desbordes
The Daily Gazette
In her current work, she is exploring meditation’s effects on the brains of clinically depressed patients, a group for whom studies have shown meditation to be effective. Working with patients selected and screened by Shapero, Desbordes is performing functional magnetic resonance imaging scans before and after an eight-week course in mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT.
During the scans, participants complete two tests, one that encourages them to become more aware of their bodies by focusing on their heartbeats (an exercise related to mindfulness meditation), and the other asking them to reflect on phrases common in the self-chatter of depressed patients, such as “I am such a loser,” or “I can’t go on.” After a series of such comments, the participants are asked to stop ruminating on the phrases and the thoughts they trigger. Researchers will measure how quickly subjects can disengage from negative thoughts, typically a difficult task for the depressed.
The process will be repeated for a control group that undergoes muscle relaxation training and depression education instead of MBCT. While it’s possible that patients in the control part of the study also will have reduced depressive symptoms, Desbordes said it should occur via different mechanisms in the brain, a difference that may be revealed by the scans. The work, which received funding from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, has been underway since 2014 and is expected to last into 2019.
Desbordes said she wants to test one prevalent hypothesis about how MBCT works in depressed patients: that the training boosts body awareness in the moment, called interoception, which, by focusing their attention on the here and now, arms participants to break the cycle of self-rumination.
“We know those brain systems involved with interoception, and we know those involved with rumination and depression. I want to test, after taking MBCT, whether we see changes in these networks, particularly in tasks specifically engaging them,” Desbordes said.
Desbordes is part of a community of researchers at Harvard and its affiliated institutions that in recent decades has been teasing out whether and how meditation works.
In the 1970s, when transcendental meditation surged in popularity, Herbert Benson, a professor at Harvard Medical School and what was then Beth Israel Hospital, explored what he called “The Relaxation Response,” identifying it as the common, functional attribute of transcendental meditation, yoga, and other forms of meditation, including deep religious prayer. Benson described this response — which recent investigators say is not as common as he originally thought — as the opposite of the body’s adrenalin-charged “fight or flight” response, which was also identified at Harvard, by physiologist Walter Cannon Bradford in 1915.
Researchers found that patients with IBS or IBD who used the relaxation response saw improvement in their quality of life. The relaxation response, a physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices such as meditation, was first described more than 40 years ago by Herbert Benson, a Harvard Medical School professor.
Meditation may relieve IBS and IBD
Researchers found the relaxation response showed improvements in the two gastrointestinal disorders
Other MGH researchers also are studying the effects of meditation on the body, including Sara Lazar, who in 2012 used fMRI to show that the brains of subjects thickened after an eight-week meditation course. Work is ongoing at MGH’s Benson-Henry Institute; at HMS and Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine; at the Harvard-affiliated Cambridge Health Alliance, where Zev Schuman-Olivier directs the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion; and among a group of nearly a dozen investigators at Harvard and other Northeastern institutions, including Desbordes and Lazar, who are collaborating through the Mindfulness Research Collaborative.
Among the challenges researchers face is defining mindfulness itself. The word has come to describe a meditation-based practice whose aim is to increase one’s sense of being in the present, but it has also been used to describe a nonmeditative state in which subjects set aside their mental distractions to pay greater attention to the here and now, as in the work of Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer.
Another challenge involves sorting through the many variations of meditative practice.
Recent scientific exploration has largely focused on the secular practice of mindful meditation, but meditation is also a component of several ancient religious traditions, with variations. Even within the community practicing secular mindful meditation, there are variations that may be scientifically meaningful, such as how often one meditates and how long the sessions are. Desbordes herself has an interest in a variation called compassion meditation, whose aim is to increase caring for those around us.
Amid this variation, an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course developed in the 1970s by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center has become something of a clinical and scientific standard. The course involves weekly two- or 2½-hour group training sessions, 45 minutes of daily work on one’s own, and a daylong retreat. The mindfulness-based cognitive therapy used in Desbordes’ current work is a variation on that program and incorporates elements of cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves talk therapy effective in treating depression.
Ultimately, Desbordes said she’s interested in teasing out just what in mindful meditation can work against depression. If researchers can identify what elements are effective, the therapy may be refined to be more successful. Shapero is also interested in using the study to refine treatment. Since some patients benefit from mindfulness meditation and some do not, he’d like to better understand how to differentiate between the two.
“Once we know which ingredients are successful, we can do more of that and less, maybe, of the parts that are less effective,” Desbordes said.
Take Care Of Yourself: Advance Your Health & Boost Your Mood December 14 2018
Taking care of yourself isn't just a great way to feel good, indulged and pampered, it actually provides medical benefits that justify that special treat you've had your mind on:
Can reduce inflammation.
Stabilize insulin levels.
Improve cognitive thinking.
A Harvard medical study shows that these four basic acts of self care can greatly improve your life:
Be physically active. Exercise busts stress, boosts the mood, and elevates our energy level, not to mention the heart health benefits. Believe it or not, you can exercise just about anywhere, anytime. It doesn’t have to be at the gym. It doesn’t have to be a scheduled class. And it doesn’t have to be more than a few minutes a day. All activity counts. I encourage patients to think of an activity that they enjoy. Anything. Think about how that enjoyable activity can fit into your life: maybe you can ride your bike to work, or take your kids on an easy hike, or get the whole family to rake leaves with you. Let’s brainstorm about activities that will fit into your life: Maybe make your next meeting a walking one, or take a brisk walk at lunchtime. Try a few minutes on the exercise bike in the kitchen, or dancing around your living room in your socks. On my very busy days, I make sure I take the stairs whenever I have the option. I park farther away than I need to and walk a little more. If I’m going to the grocery store and I only need a few things, I use a hand basket instead of a cart. It. All. Counts. And the more, the better.
Eat well. That means eat healthy. The mountain of studies supporting a whole-foods, plant-based diet for our health is almost as large as the exercise one. Stay away from inflammatory, sugar-spiking, insulin-releasing foods like processed carbohydrates (think all added sugars and anything made with flour). Aim for things that grew on plants or trees. The more colorful the fruits or vegetables, the more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants they have and the healthier they are. Vitamin pills and other supplements just don’t work as well. Not going vegetarian to save your life? Got it. Just get colorful fruits and veggies into your diet wherever you can. We don’t have to be perfect, but the more plant-based our diets are, the better.
Calm your mind. We all have stressors in our lives. What varies is how much we let the stressors stress us. What can we do? Yes, meditation works. The relaxation response works. Yoga works. But for those patients who stare at me blankly when I mention these, I talk about other calming activities. This can mean knitting, baking, walking, swimming. Anything quiet and peaceful, when one can take deep breaths and be calmly, enjoyably focused. Me? I try to do a few favorite yoga stretches at the end of the day, right before bed. This is usually after the kids fall asleep, and I can’t even be bothered to find my yoga mat. I just get right to it on the carpet in my daughter’s room: downward dog, plank, cobra, and then some of my own moves, to stretch out my back.
Sleep well. Aim for a refreshing amount of sleep. While this will differ for everyone, generally it’s about eight hours. It’s tempting to stay up late to cram in those last household chores or answer email, but really, the world won’t end if the laundry is dirty for another day, or the dishes are piled up in the sink. Sleep deprivation causes irritability, poor cognition, impaired reflexes and response time (think: car accidents!), and chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to depression and anxiety. Create a short, easy bedtime routine. Stretching or yoga, prayer, or reading a book can be relaxing. But stay away from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop, as the light interferes and interrupts the natural sleep onset. Alcohol near bedtime also interferes with sleep, and is a common cause of nighttime or early-morning awakening.
The bottom line.
Maybe we can’t do all these things every day. But if we make self-care a goal, and try to address all of these factors regularly, then we will feel and function better. The better we feel and function, the more we can do for the people and things we care about. And that is a win-win.
Positive Energy for 2019 December 13 2018
Chemical Peel For Acne Scars | Optimistic & Reliable Results October 25 2018
The Benefits of Trichloroacetic Acid for Your Skin October 24 2018
Trichloroacetic Acid Uses, How It Works & Facts October 18 2018
Everyone wants prettier, longer, thicker eyelashes. While conventional cosmetics can look beautiful, there's a good chance they contain ingredients that could be considered harmful and irritating. This can hinder lash growth. Another popular and expensive alternative is lash extensions, but this is an added burden and expense to your beauty routine, and the adhesives used are also potentially hazardous and harmful.
Making the switch to all natural plant based cosmetics and products is a great start, and the tips below will help encourage healthier lash growth.
One important addition you can make for healthier eyelashes, is Our Eyelash Growth Serum has the perfect blend of beneficial ingredients and a 5 star rating.
Castor Oil will stimulate hair follicles and encourage healthier hair growth. It will also assist in fighting micro-organisms that hamper growth.
Olive oil will help promote thicker, stronger, healthier hair.
Brushing your lashes will encourage stimulation of growth and blood circulation, which can directly benefit hair.
Lemon Peel Extract:
Lemon Peel is rich in vitamins C and B, folic acid and other nutrients that promote the growth of eyelashes. Create an extract using fresh lemon peel and soak in olive oil, allowing to sit for at least one week.
Green Tea / Extract:
Green tea will stimulate hair growth, and is a strong antioxidant and rich in flavonoids. Steep green tea in a small amount of water and apply directly to lash line with a cotton bud.
A Healthy Diet:
A well rounded, healthy diet is a very good way to promote healthier hair growth and a healthier body all around. A sure give away to an unhealthy diet is dry, brittle, thinning, unhealthy hair. Some recommendtions to add to your weekly diet: Salmon, pumpkin seeds, lean protein, strawberries, almonds, beans, shiitake mushrooms.
You can formulate a serum of the ingredients above to help encourage natural eyelash growth, by applying to lash line morning and evening. These ingredients may not naturally emulsify, so give your serum a good shake to disperse before application.
There are several imperative ingredients we add to our lash growth serum that have been proven to help encourage natural eyelash growth:
Carnitine: Carnitine is a plant derived amino acid. Many studies have shown that Carnitine will help hair growth significantly.
Horse Chestnut: Is plant derived, and well known as an antioxidant, anti inflammatory. It's also well known for it’s anti aging qualities. Because it can greatly improve vascular health and strength, is it found to encourage hair growth.
Niacinamide: Niacinamide is derived from whole grains and green vegetables. It has been proven to stimulate hair growth in medical studies.
Stinging Nettle: is a plant derived extract that is proven to help promote hair growth, even in the difficult situation of hormonal hair loss. It also has been used since medieval times for inflammation.
Boswellia Serrata (Frankincense): Derived from a tree in India, this active ingredient can preserve the elasticity in skin and help skin retain hyaluronic acid levels in skin.
Saw Palmetto: Saw Palmetto is derived from a tree and is well known as an inflammatory and an immune system booster. Saw Palmetto is shown to inhibit the body's production is DHT, a hormone that prevents hair growth.
Grape Seed Extract: Grape Seed Extract has been proven in studies to stimulate hair growth. It also helps supress the hormone DHT, which can cause hair growth.
Keratinocyte Growth Factor (KGF): KGF is a protein that stimulates hair growth when added to hair follicles.
You can read about all of our ingredients here.
Impressive Eyelash Serum Reviews By Confirmed Customers
One of our top selling products is our eyelash growth serum, which is completely natural, vegan, and cruelty free. As with all of our products, it is made to order fresh, the day you order it, not pulled from a shelf or inventory.
We have a 5 star rating on our eyelash serum reviews, and it's something we're very proud of. Take a look at the most recent comments from our happy customers.
Remember, we offer a no hassle guarantee for all of our products, so you are never stuck with a product that isn't right for you.
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Let's take a little time to put aside the needs of friends and family, so that we can refill our tank with what we need to go on. Sometimes a few minutes to ourselves allows us to feel grounded and calm again.
- Re-read a favorite book
- Diffuse essential oils
- Take a walk
- Take an epsom salt bath
- Light a scented candle a let it fill your home
- Make a homemade body scrub & exfoliate
- Color or write in a journal
- Listen to your favourite album growing up
- Make a hot drink with all the fixings
- Get into bed early
- Bake something
- Read inspiring quotes
- Organize your makeup
- Cozy up in a few blankets
- Buy yourself flowers
- Turn off your phone for a few hours
- Say no
- Do your nails or go get a manicure/pedicure
- Sit in the sunshine
- Treat yourself to your favourite dessert
- Play with your pet
- Do yoga
- Do a DIY project
- Deep condition your hair
- Plan a stay-cation
- Start a gratitude journal
- Watch the sunset
- Watch one of your favorite movies
Oh Glycolic Acid Cleanser, I love you, and let me count the ways! This is formulated to turn your skin around in a number of ways - including combating acne, balancing skin, reducing sun spots and sun damage, minimizing fine lines, and giving skin a firmer tone.
This is a sensitive skin safe, completely natural option for those looking for a clean list of ingredients. It's scent is uplifting, with a hint of freshly cut apple and crisp tart cranberries.
Let's break down the entire ingredients list of our Glycolic Acid Cleanser, in alpha order so that you know exactly what you're getting and how it can benefit you:
Aloe Vera: Pure Aloe Vera Gel is known for its ability to soothe, moisturize and protect the skin and hair.
Apple Fruit Acid: Our apple fruit acid contains alpha hydroxy acid and malic acid, which promotes smoother, healthier skin, by exfoliating the top layers to reveal fresher skin.
Alpha Hydroxy Acid: Alpha Hydroxy Acid is an organic acid containing a hydroxyl group that help exfoliate skin and keep pores clear.
Citric Acid: A gentle acid that is derived from acidic and sour fruits, it is often used as a natural preservative and can help balance skin, as well as gently exfoliate.
Cranberry Seed Oil: Rich in tocopherols and antioxidants.
Glycolic Acid: Our glycolic acid is of high quality and benefits skin greatly by gently exfoliating layers of the skin to remove hyperpigmentation and signs of aging.
Lactic Acid: Our lactic acid is derived from cane and beet sugar and is vegan certified. This is another excellent natural choice to help exfoliate skin and reduce skin issues.
Fermented Coconut Fruit Natural Preservative: This is a very mild zero to low irritation preservative that is naturally derived, and will prevent the growth of yeast and mold in products. It's gentle quality makes it appropriate for all skin types.
Lactobacillus Ferment Preservative: Lactobacillus Ferment acts as a natural broad-spectrum antimicrobial derived from kimchi and sauerkraut, .
Lecithin: Our lecithin is vegetable derived and rich in B vitamins. Used as a natural emulsifier, and can fight dry damaged skin as well as treat eczema.
Malic Acid: Malic Acid is derived from fruits and can improve hyperpigmentation by decreasing the production of melanin.
Sea Kelp Bioferment: Extracted from kelp leaves and contains many vital nutrients, it is an excellent oil free moisturizer.
Sea Kelp Extract: Sea kelp has a high content of vitamins and minerals, and helps invigorate the skin and tissue thereby improving the appearance of wrinkles. The vitamins and minerals nourish and soothe the skin and hair.
Vegetable Castile: Our castile is vegan derived from coconut and olives, and is a natural ingredient in our cleansers. It is considered very mild and is free of parabens or sulfates.
Vegetable Glycerin: A vegetable derived humectant that can restore elasticity and moisture levels.
Our lightening facial cleanser is a super effective and gentle way to brighten up your skin tone and reduce brown spots, sun spots, and sun damage. Safe for sensitive skin and all skin tones.
It's intoxicating and invigorating scent of fresh lemon and honey will perk your senses and give you that kick start to begin your day feeling like you've done the right thing by treating your skin to a completely natural and chemical free product.
Free of parabens, harsh chemicals, sulfates, synthetics, dyes, artificial fragrance, and cruelty free.
Each product is made fresh the day you order it.
Enjoy free shipping in the US.
• Fade Discoloration Naturally
• Remove Cosmetics Safely
• Antibacterial with Fresh Honey & Lemon
"Very clean list of ingredients and very pure." - Gina T.
"I love the soft sudsing action and fresh lemon smell." - Mayone W.
Aloe Vera, Calendula Extract, Chamomile Extract, Fermented Coconut Fruit Natural Preservative, Fermented Vegetable Natural Preservative, Honey, Lecithin, Lemon Essential Oil, Lemon Peel Bioferment, Licorice Root Extract, Melatonin, Niacinamide, Peach Kernel Oil, Shea Butter, Tocopherol, Vegetable Castile, Vegetable Emulsifying Wax
KEY INGREDIENTS AND HOW THEY WORK
Lemon: Lemon is naturally acidic and acts as a bleaching agent which will help to fade uneven pigmentation.
Licorice: Licorice root has been used to effective fade pigmentation and lighten skin.
Melatonin: Melatonin Improves skin elasticity, improves pigmentation, and protects against solar radiation.
Niacinamide: Niacinamide Improves skin color, decreases inflammation, improves blotchiness, and can lighten skin per the National Library of Medicine.
50 Easy & Delicious Snacks For Clean Eating June 06 2018
What is clean eating? Clean eating is about eating whole foods, or "real" foods — those that are un- or minimally processed, refined, and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.
One of the first rules to clean eating is choosing non processed foods that do not come from a box or bag. Second rule is eat foods that remember where they came from. There are some exceptions to the box / bag rule, as some fresh foods do come packaged in a container - we can overlook that small detail and focus on freshness.
1. Apple Slices
2. Veggies and Hummus
4. Air-Popped Popcorn
6. Greek yogurt with fruit
8. Homemade Popsicles
10. Veggies and Guacamole
12. Olives & Pickles
13. Dried Fruit
14. Hard Boiled Eggs
16. Peaches with Cottage Cheese
18. Dark Chocolate
20. Fresh Fruit Smoothies
22. String Cheese
24. Bananas with Peanut butter
26. Frozen berries
27. Fresh Fruit Salad
28. Fresh Mango Chunks
29. Fresh Fruit Popsicle
30. Fresh Fruit Skewers
31. Carrot Sticks
32. Mixed Nuts
34. Mandarin Oranges
35. Sliced Cucumbers
37. Watermelon Slices
38. Baked Sweet Potato
39. Apple Chips
40. Fresh Pineapple Chunks
41. Coconut Yogurt with Granola
42. Baked Zuchinni Chips
44. Cinnamon Popcorn
45. Oatmeal w/ Fresh Fruit
46. Plain Baked Potato
47. Brocolli & Cauliflower Florets
48. Veggie wrap with Salsa
49. Fresh Smoothie
50. Frozen Grapes
Our tca cream is the perfect choice for dealing with a variety of skin care concerns. Our formulation is specifically designed to be effective yet easy to use at home without the need for an esthetician or doctor. We include a substantial yet safe percentage of TCA and glycolic acid to help you achieve your skin care goals. Read on to find out how it works and how to use it.
The past few years TCA (trichloroacetic acid) has been more available to the general public, and it's benefits can solve a number of skin care issues. It can significantly reduce sun spots and discoloration, scarring, acne, and wrinkles.
TCA can be derived from vinegar and/or acetic acid, which is in turn derived from apples, grapes, oranges, pineapples, and strawberries. Most versions of tca are modified in a lab to ensure stability and high quality.
TCA is considered slightly more aggressive than glycolic acid. It is considered a medium peel option, as opposed to glycolic acid being light and phenol being deep and rather invasive.
TCA can be used to face tattoos, acne scarring, and reduction/elimination of warts.
TCA peels are great if you hope to even out your skin tone and get rid of imperfections, fine wrinkles, scarring, and imperfections that you've acquired along the way. AHA peels are considered mild and cannot rid the skin of finer wrinkles, but TCA can. The results are more noticeable than those of AHA peels, but less dramatic than the results achieved with phenol peels. Recovery time follows the same pattern. It takes longer to recover from a TCA peel than an AHA peel, but much less time than a phenol peel.
Unlike phenol peels, a TCA cream peel can be effective on people with darker skin. They are less likely to leave your skin looking permanently bleached, but don't be over zealous with the strength, as that can cause some discoloration. As far as popularity goes, TCA cream peels are equal to AHA peels. This is largely because the concentration of trichloroacetic acid can be altered to produce results similar to those of both AHA peels and phenol peels. Even better, the whole procedure requires very little time and you can go about your day without any worry of down time or long recovery.
Our cream is carefully designed to be applied to clean, dry skin, and left on. You will experience a few minutes of slight tingling and then the acids will complete their process and the strength will be diminished. Then you skin will be left with the hydrating and healing ingredients in the cream to ensure fast healing and hydration.
There are many benefits of cinnamon for acne and a variety of skin issues including the production of collagen and anti aging.
Cinnamon has been used for centuries in Chinese and Indian cultures as a topical and internal medicinal ingredient. Among the various internal benefits which cinnamon offers, one of the most important is its role in maintaining healthy skin.
Cinnamon can also help remedy various skin related diseases and infections. Thus, cinnamon can be used in multifarious various to improve your skin. It’s a wonderful choice for eczema, acne and anti aging (collagen production).
IN 2012 a medical study was conducted that proved that cinnamon promoted the production of collagen synthesis, and the National Institute of Health determined that cinnamon extract is useful in antiaging treatment of skin.
Recent research suggests that cinnamon is an excellent antibacterial and antifungal agent, making it very effective in the treatment of infections. Due to its antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral and antiseptic properties, it is effective on treating external as well as internal infections. It helps in destroying germs in the gall bladder and the bacteria present in staph infections.
The antibacterial effect of cinnamon is the most studied of its properties.
A 2007 study published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry demonstrated the effectiveness of cinnamon extract on five bacteria including Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella anatum and Bacillus cereus. The study found that cinnamaldehyde and proanthocyanidins contained in cinnamon are responsible for this broad-spectrum antibacterial action.
Cinnamon is an effective ingredient for fighting acne. This broad-spectrum antibacterial activity makes cinnamon effective against acne-causing bacteria like P. acnes and S. epidermis.
By removing these bacteria from the skin, cinnamon prevents the clogging of the skin pores and reduces the inflammation and increased sebum production caused by the microbes.
Cinnamon also reduces skin inflammation by other means. A 2002 study discovered that cinnamon inhibits the production of nitric oxide. Since nitric oxide is a major component of the inflammation process, reducing its production can help reduce acne swelling which presents as superficial (pimples, whiteheads and blackheads) and deep (nodules and cysts) acne lesions.
Yet another mechanism by which cinnamon reduces inflammation in acne is through the inhibition of COX-2 or cyclooxygenase-2 synthesis.
COX-2 is also a major component of the cascade reaction in the body that leads to skin inflammation.
We feature cinnamon extract and cinnamon essential oil in our Natural Acne Treatment Cleanser:
Jeanette Quillen, Owner & Formulator
Our products are freshly batched for every order that is placed. Made to order skin care handmade fresh for you every day.
We never pull from an inventory, and there's no need for harsh preservatives or chemicals since our items are not sitting on a store shelve or in a warehouse for months at a time.
We include only the finest, most pure ingredients.
Our products are stabilized with natural plant based preservatives to keep things fresh and natural.
Rest assured with our no hassle money back guarantee.
Consider trying any of our best selling products and turn your skin around in no time.
Freshly batched made to order skin care and beauty products - just for you!
Are you looking for a natural and safe way to lighten you skin naturally? Alpha arbutin is certainly a strong contender to deliver dramatic results.
Alpha Arbutin is completely safe and naturally derived from the leaves of the Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). It has been proven in clinical studies to prevent the formation of melanin and lighten the skin. This is great news for those who not only wish to improve their skin and eliminate pigmentation issues, but continual use will also prevent built up of pigmentation caused by sun damage and aging.
Alpha Arbutin is dubbed as the safe alternative to hydroquinone, and is a valuable antioxidant that benefits skin greatly. There are no medical studies to support any notable side effects per recording via NCBI.
Arbutin is used in skin lightening treatments designed for long term and regular use. An active agent in brands of skin lightening preparations, it is more expensive than traditional skin lightening ingredients like hydroquinone, which is now banned in many countries. In vitro studies of human melanocytes exposed to arbutin at concentrations below 300 μg/mL reported decreased tyrosinase activity and melanin content with little evidence of cytotoxicity.
There are several significant studies that show alpha arbutin works very well and is a worthwhile alternative to harsh and synthetic skin lightening ingredients.
We offer a few made to order products that include alpha arbutin:
Are you searching for truly natural ways to lighten up your skin?
Hoping to avoid chemicals and synthetics but find something that will really make a difference?
This is the right place for clear answers that are backed by medical studies and research.
We've broken down this guide into a few sections: Introduction, Home Remedies, Active Ingredients, and Recommendations
There are a few different ways and steps you can take to naturally lighten skin and eliminate skin discoloration. Just about everyone over the age of 20 has some degree of sun damage to their skin which often leaves spots and dark patches and overall discoloration.
Sometimes acne scarring can leave skin discolored as well. This too can be eliminated with natural ingredients.
Think of how much happier you’d be if you felt more confident to forgo foundation and concealer. Your cosmetic routine would be much easier and as far as skin goes, nothing is more beautiful than healthy looking bare skin. Men and women can agree, there's nothing more encouraging than feeling good about making a memorable first impression.
You can accomplish natural skin lightening in a variety of ways, with some options that include simple ingredients that you might have in your own home. There are techniques and ingredients that you can incorporate at every phase of your skin care routine – cleansing, toning, scrubs, masks, moisturizers and treatments.
Most people will say that it’s best to address this issue in a natural way. Harsh prescriptions are expensive, and synthetic chemicals can bring problems of their own. Many times individuals attempt to lighten skin with strong chemicals only to find out they've damaged their skin further.
While some active ingredients are not readily available in your own home or the grocery store, they are easily obtained and affordable in products that you can count on. Our skin lightening products have 5 star reviews and are freshly batched made to order.
There are a variety of reasons your skin might have some discoloration. A man came into my store last week to discuss some discoloration he now has after a bought of shingles. Perhaps it could be some damage from long term eczema, or the effects of medication, or the result of an illness that has passed now leaving you with some dark areas or spots you’d like to get rid of.
While a dermatologist will most likely recommend a prescription and/or a strong chemical peel, all of these suggestions have side effects and can leave you with "down time", which is the time it takes to heal completely from the procedure.
Other areas to consider beyond just your facial skin: Neck, chest, and the back of your hands. Certainly these areas collect an equal amount of discoloration and sun damage as your face will, and many people forget to pay attention to these areas. I often recommend that people use their favorite skin care products also on backs of hands, neck and upper chest.
Let’s start with a list of home remedies, as these are suggestions you could try as soon as today if you have these particular ingredients handy. As simple as these may seem, each suggestion can offer some real results.
NATURAL HOME REMEDIES THAT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE:
This includes some ingredients to gently peel and exfoliate the skin. This will save you the added expense of a doctors visit and expensive prescriptions. Most recommended prescription creams can cost more than $500 and are probably not covered by insurance.
Natural home remedies are a super easy way to go to make an immediate yet subtle difference. Continued use can make an impact on your skin lightening efforts. Many of the suggestions below include a mask or scrub recipe/combination for superior effectiveness.
Plain Yogurt: Yogurt contains lactic acid, and lactic acid in natural, plain unsweetened yogurt will help exfoliate the top layer(s) of the skin, which will cause spots and discoloration to be smaller and less prominent. Apply this to clean dry skin and leave on for about 10 minutes. Rinse off thoroughly and gently go over your skin with a wash cloth to remove softened dead skin.
Milk: Same concept as with plain yogurt, the lactic acid in milk will help exfoliate skin leaving it looking brighter, less damaged, and therefore subtly lighter. Same as with the yogurt, leave on skin for about 10 minutes and then rinse away. Go over your skin with a wash cloth to help remove any traces of dead skin.
Fresh Lemon: It's best to use fresh lemon. Bottled lemon juice will not be as effective. The acidity in the lemon and the vitamin c will do wonders for natural skin lightening. Slice lemon and apply to clean dry skin. As with the yogurt and milk, leave on skin for several minutes and then rinse away with clean water.
Sugar: Sugar is a great and simple choice for an exfoliant and the natural glycolic acid that occurs will help your efforts to naturally lighten and brighten skin in a subtle way. Consider mixing sugar with a little fresh lemon juice or yogurt and gently use to scrub skin for a few minutes. Rinse away and follow up with your favorite moisturizer.
Salt: As with sugar, salt is a great choice for a natural exfoliant. If you happen to have Epsom or Himalayan salt at home, these are superior choices based on their mineral contents and nutrients. Make a paste of salt and milk or yogurt and apply to skin, using this as a scrub to effectively and naturally lighten skin. Rinse away thoroughly.
Fresh papaya: Fresh papaya is an excellent choice for a natural skin treatment. It encourages the production of collagen, contains natural enzymes for exfoliation, and is high in vitamin c – always a very attractive nutrient for skin. Apply crushed fresh papaya to clean dry skin as a mask and leave on for 10-15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and repeat a few times throughout the week to help you lighten skin and fade sun damage.
Fresh pineapple: As with fresh papaya – fresh pineapple is an optimum choice as it also contains enzymes to slough off dead skin and it’s very high in vitamin c. Apply freshly crushed pineapple to clean dry skin as a mask and leave on for 10-15 minutes. Rinse away.
The following are the very best in effective active ingredients that can be found in our natural skin lightening products. Keep an eye out for these ingredients when researching ingredients as you determine the best product choices for your skin care needs:
ACTIVE INGREDIENTS TO LOOK FOR:
Betulinic Acid: Naturally derived from white birch trees, this antiviral antibacterial ingredient is very well rounded for not just lightening of the skin, but offers some pleasant firming qualities as well.
Alpha Arbutin: Alpha Arbutin is derived from the Bearberry plant, and is a great natural alternative to skin lightening. While it is natural, it can be faster and safer than chemical alternatives. Arbutin will correct sun spots and discoloration.
Lemon Peel Bioferment: Naturally derived and a great skin lightener, it will reduce sun spots and pigmentation issues. Also great for stimulating circulation and brightening the skin.
Kojic Acid: Kojic acid is a by-product in the fermentation process of malting rice. It is a mild inhibitor of the formation of pigmentation, induces skin lightening, and the fading of sun and liver spots.
Elder Flower: Excellent for lightening skin and has calming properties for irritated skin. It is an anti-inflammatory and can stimulate skin to turn over skin cells faster, hence revealing healthier looking skin.
Licorice Root: Licorice Root or Licorice Extract can help eliminate the formation of hyperpigmentation and sun spots, as well as act as an anti-inflammatory for stressed and irritated skin.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C has shown to lighten skin and fade sun spots in clinical studies. Vitamin C will oxidize if exposed over time to sun and air, so use it fresh the reap the benefits.
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate: Also known as MAP, it is naturally derived and also known as the “vitamin c that doesn’t degrade” as mentioned above when describing vitamin c. While Vitamin c is one of the best choices for your skin lightening efforts, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate does not oxidize over time and turns into ascorbic acids as it synthesizes into the skin. It has been proven to lighten and brighten skin very effectively.
Our most popular skin lightening products are an excellent option in your efforts.
Questions? Please feel free to contact us direct at anytime!
770-568-8921 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boost Your Skin Lightening Efforts with Stunning Results April 24 2018
If you're looking for a completely natural yet dramatically effective and affordable way to lighten your skin, reduce sun spots, and correct hyperpigmentation, we're this is the answer.
Our Skin Lightening Treatment Powder is a powerful combination of Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Alpha Arbutin, Kojic Acid, Lemon Essential Oil, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Niacinamide - all meant and proven to lighten skin.
This is a perfect way to amp up your efforts to naturally lighten skin, eliminate dark spots, correct sun damage. It's as easy as simply adding one or two small scoops to a small portion of your favorite lotion, cream, serum, facial wash, or mask and applying directly to your skin as you normally would.
Ascorbic Acid: Known to prevent aging of the skin and repair damage.
Arbutin: Alpha Arbutin is derived from the Bearberry plant, and is the natural alternative to skin lightening. While it is natural, it can be faster and safer than chemical alternatives. Arbutin will correct sun spots and discoloration. A key ingredient in your skin lightening treatment powder.
Kojic Acid: Kojic acid is the by product of the fermentation of malting rice. It is known to prevent and correct pigmentation issues. Another key ingredient in our skin lightening treatment powder.
Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate: One of the most important skin ingredients available, it is an antioxidant and transforms into vitamin c when applied topically. It is known for wound healing, collagen production, corrects pigmentation issues, and improves elasticity.
Niacinamide: Improves skin color, decreases inflammation, improves blotchiness, and can lighten skin per the National Library of Medicine.
Contest: Win $50 in Free Product April 18 2018
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Proper Perspective March 14 2018
At first that may sound unkind, but we've all given our attention to those situations that will never be fruitful or give us what we need to be healthy and happy.
Sometimes it's good to take a personal inventory of what we're focusing on and see if perhaps it's not the best thing for us.
The Benefits of Gotu Kola for Your Skin March 14 2018
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica or brahmi) has been used as a medicine for thousands of years in India, China, and Indonesia, particularly for healing wounds, improving mental function and treating the symptoms of leprosy. It even has a reputation for promoting longevity.
Historically, gotu kola has also been used to treat syphilis, hepatitis, stomach ulcers, mental fatigue, epilepsy, diarrhea, fever, and asthma. Today, in the U.S. and Europe gotu kola is most often used to treat varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency, a condition where blood pools in the legs. It is also used in ointments to treat psoriasis and help heal minor wounds.
Gotu kola is not the same as kola nut (Cola nitida). Unlike kola nut, gotu kola does not have caffeine, and is not a stimulant.
Medical studies show that Gotu kola can:
• Increase the strength of the dermis and increased keratinisation (healing) of the epidermis of the skin
• Stimulate blood vessel growth into connective tissue
• Increase antioxidant and collagen concentration in wounds and stimulate wound healing
• Enhance growth of connective tissue, skin, hair, nail and joint repair
• Exhibit anti-anxiety activity and enhance mental function
• Have anti-inflammatory qualities
Gotu kola has chemicals called triterpenoids. In lab studies, these compounds seem to help heal wounds. For example, some studies suggest that triterpenoids strengthen the skin, boost antioxidants in wounds, and increase blood supply to the area. Based on these findings, gotu kola has been applied to the skin, or used topically, for minor burns, psoriasis, preventing scars after surgery, and preventing or reducing stretch marks.
An overview in the Indian Journal of Medicine calls gotu kola a “potential herbal cure-all” while a research summary published in Phytomedicine, says: “Centella asiatica has been subjected to quite extensive experimental and clinical investigations.”
Recently, researchers delving into how gotu kola heals wounds have identified specific plant chemicals called triterpenoid saponins (more specifically asiaticoside, brahmoside, brahminoside, madecassoside and madecassic or madasiatic acid) that have been shown to help heal wounds by boosting antioxidants, increasing the blood supply to the area and strengthening the skin.
In a 2012 study, researchers conducted a study of topical application of gotu kola and found that if applied to open wounds, it inhibited bacterial growth, fueled the growth of new skin cells and increased skin “tensile strength” and resilience.
There’s also good evidence that gotu kola helps repair veins. Recent research shows that unlike some herbal extracts, is able to penetrate the skin well enough to be utilized effectively.
Some people take gotu kola supplements to treat respiratory infections, such as colds, and in the past it was used for that in China. It has been called "the fountain of life" because legend has it that an ancient Chinese herbalist lived for more than 200 years as a result of taking gotu kola.
Using skin care treatments that contain gotu kola can greatly improve the elasticity, rate of repair, and youthful appearance of your skin.
Our Humectant Repairing Serum features Gotu Kola / Centella Asiatica, and is rich in antioxidants and healing ingredients:
Sign Up & Save March 13 2018
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Pep Talk March 08 2018Sometimes you have to give yourself a pep talk, like "Hello, you're a bad ass, don't be sad, and I love you".
Everything You Need To Know About CoEnzyme Q10 February 12 2018
We have incorporated Coenzyme Q10 into a couple of our skin care treatments because of it's amazing benefits. It's an extremely powerful antioxidant that's great as a supplement and as a topical ingredient.
There are a few supplements that almost everyone can benefit from (we're looking at you, probiotics), and there are others that are really worth the money if you have a specific condition or ailment that your body needs support to work though. On this list of supplements that really shine is Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), or ubiquinone, an antioxidant that your body produces naturally. CoQ10 has been around for a long time (it's an oldie but goody, if you will). If you're considering supplementing with it—or if you're just beginning your research into its uses in benefits—you've come to the right place. Here's what you need to know about it.
The basics. What CoQ10 is and what it does.
As mentioned before, CoQ10 is an antioxidant found naturally in almost every cell of your body. Antioxidants are substances that help break down free radicals, which are molecules produced in the body that can cause damage. Free radicals are natural by-products of some cellular reactions, but things like too much alcohol and smoking can cause free radicals to build up, and this is bad news for your body. According to Dr. Robin Berzin, an integrative medicine physician and founder of Parsley Health, "When there are too many free radicals floating around, these highly reactive entities damage the healthy parts of your body they come in contact with. When free radicals come into contact with DNA, they can damage it, even causing mutations that lead to cancer. Free radicals also play a role in heart disease, stroke, arthritis, alcoholic liver damage, and even the aging process."
The good news is that your body produces antioxidants, which find and neutralize free radicals to turn them into harmless substances, so it has a built-in defense. Other antioxidants that your body produces naturally include vitamin E, vitamin C, flavonoids, phenols, ligands, and the master antioxidant glutathione, which has been shown to boost levels of all the other antioxidants floating around in the body. You can also get antioxidants from outside sources. The best sources? Plant-based foods like fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, and foods like cocoa and green tea. Lucky for us, high-antioxidant foods are normally also high in fiber and good sources of vitamins and minerals, so you're getting a plethora of benefits in one food.
What is it and where does it come from?
Rich sources of CoEnzyme Q10 come from fish, meat, nuts, soybeans, fruit, vegetables and eggs.
Before you go out and get a supplement, you should know that there are various foods that are naturally high in CoQ10. Increasing your intake of these foods is a great way to get more CoQ10—and antioxidants in general—in your life. So what foods are highest in this nutrient? Here's a list to get you started:
Oily fish: Fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel are high in antioxidant CoQ10 and are also high in healthy fats.
Organ meats: Liver and kidney meats also have high levels of coenzyme Q10.
Vegetables: Veggies like spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower naturally contain high levels of this antioxidant.
Legumes like peanuts and soybeans are the best non-animal sources of the substance.
Unlike vitamin D or other nutrients, CoQ10 deficiencies are not that common in the general population. That being said, your body's natural CoQ10 production does decrease as you age, and deficiencies have been related to some specific conditions, so for some people, getting their daily CoQ10 from their body's natural production and foods might not be enough. If you do decide that a supplement is right for you, here's how to find one that you can trust.
Stocking your pantry with quick sources are highly recommended – almonds, pistachios and sardines. It is in every cell of the body (the name ubiquinone stems from its ubiquity), but is present in higher concentrations in organs with higher energy requirements such as the kidneys, liver, and heart.
What can it do for you?
CoEnzyme Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that your body naturally makes, but can decrease for individuals over 35. Internally, there are studies that show that it can improve the symptoms of muscular dystrophy, as well as slow the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Topically, it has been proven to be a very important part of anti aging skin care. Biofactors has medical study documentation that shows it decreased the depth of wrinkles and helped dramatically protect the skin against UVA radiation. It has the distinct ability to block the suns damaging rays that create and spread melanoma. Topically applied CoQ10 penetrates the skin’s surface to the living layers of the epidermis, where it reduced oxidative stress, a known contributor to aging and disease. Other studies show that it can boost the skin’s ability to repair itself and reduce free radical damage, slowing the aging process. Including this ingredient in one’s skin care and anti aging regime is insurance to ward off the signs of aging and protection from the elements.
Different uses for CoQ10.
There are a lot of different uses for CoQ10, but one of its major roles in the body is to help convert the food we eat into energy to power our bodies and brain. That being said, the effects of CoQ10 do not end at energy production. In fact, researchers think it may be able to help with conditions like heart disease, immune function, diabetes, cognition, and even migraines because of its antioxidant activity, effect on energy production, and ability to prevent blood clots. Here are a few of the exciting areas of research when it comes to this antioxidant:
CoQ10 and energy production.
Energy conversion in the body is one of those things we rarely really think about, but it's crucial to our overall health. We can eat all the amazing, nutritious foods we want, but if our bodies can't take those nutrients and convert them into usable energy—a process that takes place inside our cells and has everything to do with the mitochondria—we aren't going to get very far. What are mitochondria? At revitalize 2017, Dr. Frank Lipman, an integrative medicine physician and mbg health expert, explained that, "The mitochondria are power plants in the cells that turn your food and oxygen into energy in the form of ATP. These mitochondria power the biochemical reactions in your cells. To me, they are the Western equivalent of chi, or energy." Dysfunctions in the mitochondria can majorly affect your health (and may explain why you're tired ALL the time). Dr. Ilene Ruhoy, an integrative neurologist and one of mbg's favorite brain health experts, says that CoQ10 is a mainstay in mitochondrial support. Why? Because "Coenzyme Q10 carries the electrons that are needed to make the complex chain of enzymes work." The take-home message? Energy production and CoQ10 are intricately connected. (If you want to learn about other supplements Dr. Ruhoy recommends for optimizing energy levels, click here!)
CoQ10 and heart disease.
Studies have suggested that CoQ10 might be able to prevent a heart attack recurrence in people who have already suffered from a heart attack. One study, specifically, showed that patients were less likely to have another heart attack and chest pain if they took CoQ10 within three days of having a heart attack. There is also some research to support the idea that people with congestive heart failure might have low levels of CoQ10, and studies have also shown that supplementing might benefit people with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Another study on over 100 patients showed that taking a combo of CoQ10 and other nutrients could be linked to a quicker recovery after bypass and other heart surgeries. In other words: If you have heart disease in your family, are struggling with it currently, and are interested in supplements, talking to your doctor about CoQ10 has some scientific validity behind it.
CoQ10 and hypertension.
According to Dr. Joel Kahn, a cardiologist and professor in our Advanced Functional Nutrition Training, "a group called the Cochrane Database Review looked at studies of CoQ10 for hypertension and found an average 11 mmHg BP drop, which is similar to many prescription medications." Other studies, however, have found that CoQ10 didn't have much of an effect on blood pressure, so there are some mixed results. (And remember, you should always talk to your doctor before starting any supplement regime.)
CoQ10 and reproductive disorders.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is some evidence that CoQ10 might improve semen quality and sperm count in men struggling with infertility. It's not entirely clear if this will, in reality, improve chances of conception, but the research looks promising.
CoQ10 and statin drugs.
Taking statin drugs may lower a person's levels of CoQ10, and some studies have shown that taking this supplement might improve some of the side effects of statin drugs, mainly muscle weakness that some patients experience.
CoQ10 and brain health.
Some studies have shown that people with cognitive disorders have lower levels of CoQ10 in their blood than people with healthy brain function. Other research has suggested that supplementing might slow deterioration in cognition for people with Alzheimer's disease, but more research is needed on the effects of this antioxidant on cognitive function and brain health.
CoQ10 and migraines.
The science on this is also only preliminary, but some research points to the thought that CoQ10 can help with migraines.
CoQ10 and gum disease.
According to Dr. Joel Kahn, CoQ10 levels may be low in people with gum disease, and some research has suggested that boosting levels by taking supplements or applying it topically can help speed gum healing.
CoQ10 and other illnesses.
According to the NIH, various research studies have looked at the effects of CoQ10 for ALS, Down syndrome, Parkinson's, diabetes, and even age-related changes in genes, but none of them have been definitive.
You will greatly benefit by adding a skin care product that contains CoEnzyme Q10 in your daily regime can greatly benefit your anti aging efforts. We have two excellent options, freshly batched the day your order it:
7 Life Hacks For Healthier Skin December 13 2017
7 Life Hacks For Healthier Skin
If you're a novice in skin care or an avid student of things related to skin care you already know that skin is the body's largest organ. When healthy, its layers work hard to protect us. But when it's compromised, the skin's ability to work as an effective barrier is impaired. We have therefore found the best ways to improve skin health to support it in maintaining its protective role.
With a few simple alterations to your skincare routine, you could have radiant-looking skin in no time.
Your skin is the window to your body that reveals the stories of your life. From acne breakouts during your teenage years to the radiant glow of pregnancy and the sunspots of aging, both your age and your health are reflected in your skin.
Skin has many functions, making it the ultimate multitasker of the human body. Its most important role is being the first line of defense between our bodies and the outside world, protecting us from bacteria, viruses, and pollution and chemical substances that we encounter in the workplace and at home.
Skin regulates body temperature, maintains fluid balance, and controls moisture loss. It also acts as a barrier and shock absorber, recognizes pain sensations to alert us to danger, and protects us against the sun's harmful ultaviolet (UV) rays.
Many factors impact your skin. Genetics, aging, hormones, and conditions such as diabetes are internal factors that affect the skin. Some of these you cannot influence, but there are many external factors that you can.
External influencers such as unprotected sun exposure and washing too frequently or with water that is too hot can damage skin. An unhealthful diet, stress, a lack of sleep, not enough exercise, dehydration, smoking, and particular medications can all impact the skin's ability to operate as an effective protective barrier.
Here are Medical News Today's skin health tips to help you banish wrinkles, get a radiant glow, and keep your skin supple and soft all year around.
1. Eat A Healthy Diet
There is a multi billion-dollar industry dedicated to products that keep your skin looking its best, and which claim to fight signs of aging. But moisturizers only go skin deep, and aging develops at a deeper, cellular level.
What you eat is as important as the products that you put on your skin. Your diet could improve your skin health from the inside out, so a clear complexion begins with eating a healthful diet.
Here are some foods that have been acknowledged by research as being skin-healthy:
Mangoes contain compounds with antioxidant properties. These compounds help to protect components of the skin, such as collagen.
Tomatoes have skin cancer-prevention benefits. One study in mice revealed that daily tomato consumption decreased the development of skin cancer tumors by 50 percent after UV light exposure. Consuming tomatoes on a daily basis may help to protect against skin cancer. Research has shown that incorporating tomato paste into your meals may help to protect against sunburn. After 10 weeks, people who consumed 40 grams of tomato paste per day had 40 percent less sunburn than the control group. Lycopene, the pigment responsible for giving tomatoes their deep red color, is thought to play a role in the protective effect of tomatoes against UV damage.
Olive oil is associated with a lower risk of severe facial photo aging — that is, cumulative damage to the skin that includes wrinkles, dark spots, and discoloration, which result from long-term sunlight exposure.
Cocoa flavanols found in dark chocolate may improve the structure and function of skin. Scientists discovered that cocoa flavanols decreased roughness and scaling on skin, increased skin hydration, and helped to support the skin's defenses against damage from UV rays.
Green tea has been tied to many skin benefits. Compounds found in green tea called polyphenols rejuvenate dying skin cells, which suggests that they may be useful for healing wounds or certain skin conditions. It has shown promising results as a potential treatment for skin conditions such as psoriasis and dandruff. Patches of dry, flaky, and red skin often feature in these conditions — usually as a result of inflammation and the overproduction of skin cells. Green tea may slow down the production of skin cells and suppress inflammation.
White tea has anti-cancer and anti-aging properties. One study indicates that some ingredients in white tea may protect the skin from oxidative stress and immune cell damage.
Kale is one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. Lutein and zeaxanthin may protect against light-induced skin damage, especially from UV rays.
Omega-3 found in oily fish, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds or oils such as linseed oil and corn oil may prevent dryness and scaling of the skin.
Soy may help to improve crow's feet skin wrinkles that appear at the outer corner of the eyes in menopausal women.
Never rely on foods to protect you from the sun. To protect yourself from sun exposure, always use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, seek shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and wear clothing that covers your skin and a wide-brimmed hat.
2. Calorie Restriction Diet
Research has demonstrated in mice that reducing calorie intake slows down the cellular aging process. This finding could prove to be an anti-aging strategy to test in humans in the future.
Scientists found that reducing the number of calories consumed by 35 percent had an impact on aging inside a cell. Cutting calories caused the cell's protein makers, called ribosomes, to slow down, and the aging process also to decelerate.
This decreased speed not only lowered the production of ribosomes, but it also gave them time to repair themselves and keep the entire body functioning well.
Other early research has shown that allantoin — a compound found in many anti-aging face creams — mimics the effect of calorie restriction diets and increases lifespan by more than 20 percent. The elixir of life could be hiding in your bathroom cabinet.
Unfortunately, this research has so far only been conducted in worms. It may, however, eventually pave the way for new longevity pathways to explore in humans.
3. Minimal Alcohol
Cutting your intake of alcohol could lower your risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancers. Research uncovered that higher alcohol intake was associated with a higher risk of developing basal cell carcinoma and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.
Researchers discovered that for each 10-gram increase in consumption of alcohol per day, the risk of basal cell carcinoma rose by 7 percent and the risk of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma rose by 11 percent.
4. Keep Stress In Check
Have you ever noticed that right before an important event, an unsightly pimple appears on your face? Well, scientists have identified some links between stress levels and skin problems.
In a study of college students, those who experienced high stress levels were more likely to experience skin issues such as:
Using stress reduction techniques could help to keep your skin looking fresh and clear.
Other research showed that teenagers who reported high stress levels were 23 percent more likely to have severe acne.
The researchers suspect that stress increases the quantity of sebum, which is the oily substance that blocks pores. This, in turn, leads to greater acne severity.
Reducing your stress levels may lead to clearer skin. If you think that stress is having an impact on your skin, try stress reduction techniques such as tai chi, yoga, or meditation.
5. Keep Skin Moisturized
Skin moisturizers keep the top layer of skin cells hydrated and seal in moisture. Moisturizers often contain humectants to attract moisture, occlusive agents to retain moisture in the skin, and emollients to smooth the spaces between skin cells.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following ways to keep moisture in and prevent dry, red, and itchy skin.
- Moisturize your skin immediately after getting out of the shower to lock in moisture.
- Take one 5- to 10-minute shower or bath per day. Excessive washing can strip away the oily layer of the skin and dry it out.
- Use warm water instead of hot water.
- Minimize the use of harsh soaps. Use a gentle and fragrance-free cleanser.
- Stay away from abrasive scrub brushes, bath sponges, and washcloths that can damage the skin's surface.
- Pat skin gently dry with a towel.
- Moisturize immediately after washing. To trap in moisture, ointments, lotions, and creams need to be applied within minutes of drying off.
- Use ointments or creams rather than lotions in order to minimize irritation.
- Never scratch the skin. Cold compresses and moisturizers should help to control itching.
- Wear non-irritating clothes. When wearing clothing made from wool or other rough materials, wear silk or cotton underneath.
- Use hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
- Avoid getting too close to fireplaces and other heat sources that can dry out skin.
- Switch on a humidifier in the winter to replenish moisture in the skin's top layer.
- Contact your dermatologist if these simple changes do not bring relief from dry skin. They can provide targeted treatment for your specific skin complaint.
6. Quit Smoking
Smoking ages facial skin and skin located in other body areas. Smoking narrows the blood vessels found in the outer layer of the skin, which reduces blood flow and exhausts the skin of the nutrients and oxygen it needs to remain healthy.
Quitting smoking can improve your skin health and prevent smoking-related wrinkles from forming.
Collagen and elastin give the skin its strength and elasticity. Smoking may reduce the natural elasticity of the skin by causing the breakdown of collagen and reduction of collagen production.
Furthermore, the repetitive expressions that are made when smoking — such as pursing the lips — can contribute to wrinkles on the face.
If you currently smoke, the best thing that you can do for your skin health is quit. You can visit Smokefree.gov, an initiative from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), for information about quitting smoking.
7. Get Your Beauty Sleep
Getting your beauty sleep will banish those dark circles around your eyes and improve your skin tone, and, best of all, it is free.
Getting the recommended hours of sleep could do wonders for your complexion.
The National Sleep Foundation recommend that adults sleep for between 7 and 9 hours every day. Sleeping for under that amount of time could be detrimental to your health — and your skin, in particular.
Chronic sleep deprivation is known to be linked with obesity, immune deficiency, diabetes, and cancer, but research has shown that sleep quality may also have a significant impact on skin function and aging.
People classed as poor sleepers had increased signs of premature skin aging and a decreased ability for their skin to repair itself at night from environmental stressors such as sun exposure.
During deep sleep, your body enters repair mode and regenerates skin, muscles, and blood and brain cells. Without adequate sleep, your body is unable to produce new collagen. Collagen prevents your skin from sagging.
Try to get an early night and sleep for a full 7 hours to look your best.
Keeping your skin healthy and young does not necessarily mean breaking the bank by purchasing expensive creams and lotions; by following these simple steps, you can make dull and lifeless skin glow.
3 Things To Do Every Day to Feel Less Messy December 13 2017
Do you feel like your house is messy all the time? Perpetual piles, endless clutter, laundry, dishes, toys…..This messy feeling can lead to simple annoyances and it can also affect our mood, behavior and mental state in extreme cases. I’m here to tell you that your house doesn’t have to be messy. You can come up from under the overwhelming to dos and gain control of your home and surroundings.
There are three simple things you can do every day to propel yourself forward and set a routine in motion. So, instead of looking around and going down the search engine rabbit hole, simply start with these 3 things every single day.
Make your bed.
If you’re thinking – why make my bed, I’m gone all day or I don’t go back in the bedroom until the evening, who cares? Try making your bed for a week. Pull up the covers and fluff the pillows. You might be surprised how this simple 1-2 minute task can set the tone for the day.
Do a load of laundry from start to put away.
Doing a load of laundry every.single.day is one of the things that I stress as a game-changer when it comes to homekeeping. If you’re easily overwhelmed with laundry like I am, staying on top of it with smaller, more manageable loads is essential to keeping the mess away. No piles in the corners, on furniture, in baskets getting wrinkled…..
Deal with a pile of clutter every day.
Clutter might seem never ending but with a daily habit, you’ll find that it is manageable and that you can turn that habit into small systems throughout your home which will lead you to less clutter and less mess. Deal with the mail, school papers, toys, piles, and any other little or large spot of clutter that you have in your home. Try putting a basket on your steps or in a convenient location to put clutter in during the day. At the end of the day bring those items to their proper location – kids can do this too!
These three things are part of my daily routine and I guarantee that completing these are the simplest ways to start finding your way out of the mess. Once you have these three mastered, add the rest of the daily routine.
Heavenly At Home Spa Treatments November 08 2017
If you're holed up at home this coming weekend and looking for something indulgent yet healthy (fresh, yummy, invigorating, and fun) to do - look no further than the home spa recipes below. I especially like the hydrating hair mask recipe:
Whatever Your Past Has Been November 08 2017
It can be hard to leave the past behind for a variety of reasons. Maybe we feel guilty. Maybe we hang onto the hurt we carry to tightly that it becomes a part of our every day life. Whatever the reason, we can be confident that letting it go is the best thing we can do for ourselves and our families.
The apostle Paul ends a section in Philippians 3 by saying, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (verses 13–14). Is Paul instructing us to forget everything that ever happened before we met Christ? Is this a command to purge our minds of all memories?
The word forgetting in means “no longer caring for, neglecting, refusing to focus on.” Our memories store millions of pieces of information gained through our senses since birth. Some experiences are impossible to forget, and any effort to forget them only makes them more prominent. Paul is not advising a memory wipe; he is telling us to focus on the present and the future, rather than the past.
It's great advice regardless of your beliefs or faith. In all circumstances, we can benefit greatly by putting the past behind us.
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