How Can We Process and Handle Emotions During These Stressful and Uncertain Times?

StressAs we continue through the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is likely that each of us have some level of emotional stress. Whatever your situation, there has been and is change and uncertainty.  Emotional health is particularly important during times like this.

What is Emotional Health?

Emotional health is your ability to regulate your emotions instead of allowing them to control you and your life. Emotional wellness requires you to accept your feelings, and acceptance can lead to understanding, greater insight into yourself and your life, and the ability to make better decisions for yourself. You also know how to express your emotions in healthy ways, which can lead to stronger relationships and feeling closer to other people.

Being emotionally healthy also means that you are better able to handle the obstacles and setbacks that life will offer you from time to time. Emotional well-being comes when you are more resilient to disappointments and change, and it allows you to set and honor healthy boundaries for yourself and others.

Four Life Hacks for Improved Emotional Health

Here are four life hacks that can be used daily to help process and handle emotions.

Name What You are Feeling

The most important habit that can help you improve your emotional health is being able to understand your emotions. This starts by naming what you are feeling. Identifying your feelings and understanding the nuances between, say, apprehension and fear, helps you to recognize patterns, identify triggers, and determine which emotions are causing you to make which decisions.

Without understanding what you are feeling or where these emotions came from, you cannot make the best decisions about what to do with them. Plus, when you put a label on your feelings, your physiological response is decreased. When you recognize that you are feeling rage, for example, your body stops producing as many stress hormones because it understands that you are not in danger.

Practice Mindfulness 

Mindfulness is a mental state in which you focus your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

Mindfulness teaches you to accept and acknowledge these things rather than become overwhelmed by them. This means you are managing your emotions better, which can make you more self-aware while enhancing your ability to concentrate improve your emotional health.

Turn Negative Self-Talk Around

Self-talk is the voice inside your head that is narrating your life. It can be a voice of optimism and positivity, but too often, it is a voice of criticism and pessimism. When your self-talk focuses on what you did wrong, what is wrong with you, and how you need to improve, it affects your emotional health and well-being. Changing that negative self-talk into more positive affirmations is essential for improving how you feel.

When you hear that negative voice chime in, ask yourself if what you are saying to yourself is based in reality. If the answer is no, then you have confirmation that your own negative bias is sabotaging you, so you can ignore those thoughts and move forward. If the answer is yes, then decide which two or three things you need to do to resolve the problem, then start acting. Ignoring that negative voice is also a good tactic. If you ignore your inner critic long enough, they will eventually stop talking.

Become More Curious. 

Curiosity is a hallmark of the emotionally healthy. When you are curious, you are open to ways to keep learning and growing in your life. This leads to continuous improvement and development. When you are curious about yourself, you become more self-aware and pay more attention to your needs, as well. Asking questions of yourself and others keeps you open to new perspectives and ideas, which helps you develop better empathy, too.

Perhaps the most important things we can do during these times is to seek out tools like those above to help us navigate uncharted situations.  New situations are confronting us regularly, and that is going continue into the foreseeable future. Take care of your emotional health as diligently as you do your physical health and you will be more equipped to weather all that is ahead.

If you are curious about this topic and eager to learn more, this book can help:

Master Your Emotions, The Art of Feeling Good by Jason Dyer

 

Deep Breathing for Stress Relief

Breathe“Calm down, take a deep breath.” “BREATHE.”  We often give or receive this advice when we or someone else is stressed, irritated or angry.  It is really good advice, but a few breaths in the midst of a stressful situation are but a tiny piece of the most effective use of deep breathing for our well-being.

During these days of the pandemic, we have a group of stressors that we may not have experienced before. Expanding our repertoire of tools to deal with them can only be a good thing.

Did you know that your body has a natural relaxation response?  Deep breathing exercises can effectively invoke your natural relaxation response and change the way your body responds to stress.

Your body can use deep breathing to allow the following body functions to happen:

  • You can increase the level of NO (nitric oxide) in your cells. This helps dilate blood vessels
  • You can lower your blood pressure
  • You can slow your breathing down with deep and meaningful breaths
  • You can lower your heart rate so you can feel calmer
  • You can slow down your metabolism so that it is more relaxed and efficient

Deep breathing exercises can be done anywhere and at any time. By doing deep breathing, you engage your brain so that you experience an increased sense of focus, profound calmness, and relaxation of the body.

While you can do deep breathing exercises anywhere, you need to do it for 20-30 minutes per day to lower your levels of stress and anxiety. That time can be spread throughout the day, as described below. Deep breathing will bathe your brain in the vital oxygen your brain needs at all times.  You can experience calmness, peacefulness, and a better sense of well-being.

Types of Deep Breathing Exercises

There are several ways you can go about deep breathing to reduce stress:

  • Visualization with deep breathing. This only takes a few seconds to complete the exercise. You consciously relax the tenseness in your shoulders and neck, which is where many people tighten up during stress. Then you take a deep breath and visualize the bottoms of your feet as having holes in them. Imagine that, through those holes, warm, comforting air is flowing up from the ground to fill up your entire body. The warmth is relaxing and you’ll feel less stress within seconds. Imagine your muscles soaking up the warmth and relaxation under the feeling. Do this several times a day when you feel the most stress.
  • Breathe with a stuffed animal. This exercise takes a little bit longer but it can be extremely soothing. The purpose of the stuffed animal is to remind you to breathe through your abdomen. As you take those deep breaths, it will rise and fall with each breath. If it isn’t, you aren’t breathing deeply enough. Lie down on a couch or bed and put one hand in the area of your chest. Place your stuffed animal in the middle of your abdomen. Keep your eyes closed and allow your body’s muscles to sequentially relax from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet. Breathe in a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and slowly breathe out. Try this for about twenty breaths and repeat throughout the day when you feel the most stressed out.
  • Escape breathing. Escape into your mind by seeing yourself in a calm and serene place. Use all your senses to imagine yourself in this place. Breathe deeply and imagine yourself as calm as possible in this place. It may be a beach with the crashing waves of the ocean, the forest with its rustling leaves and the sounds of birds, or a meadow, where the wind is blowing serenely on your face as you breathe in deeply.

Fitting Deep Breathing into your Day

Try these tips:

  • Do the deep breathing exercises while engaged in other daily activities: while stuck in traffic, waiting for an appointment, sitting on the train or bus. You can even do deep breathing while walking around.
  • Set one or two deep breathing sessions per day, perhaps in the morning and just before going to bed. This will allow you to de-stress so that you can start your day stress-free and end your day stress-free.
  • Practice mindfulness techniques. Mindfulness is when you use your brain just to notice the world around you without any type of judgment or criticism. This will increase your focus on the here and now so that you aren’t dwelling on past stressors.

To explore the topic more, check out these books for adults and children about deep breathing for health:  Deep Breathing for Adults and Children

Can Reflection Help You Deal With Change?

changeWe are all in the midst of change these days, aren’t we? Change is tough for all of us to deal with, and for some especially hard. Sometimes, reflecting on our own experiences can be helpful when dealing with change.

Think about these questions. How do you typically deal with change in your life? Do you immediately dig in your heels to avoid moving in new directions? Are you cautious but open? Are you eager for anything new? Knowing how we generally operate can be helpful to you and to those around you during this time.

Change is to a large degree what we make of it, how we respond to it. If we choose to embrace it, we often find it works to our benefit. If we are highly resistant, we block ourselves from seeing and embracing the positives that the change may present.

How have you been responding to the restrictions placed on us by our covid-19 crisis?  And how are you looking toward the decisions about when you will resume some form of activities that were your “normal”? Your comfort level and convictions about what is best for others around you will influence your responses.

As we move deliberately from “stay at home” to less restrictive living, we will be making these decisions. They are significant steps that can have major implications. Sometimes it is okay to fight the change when something doesn’t seem right about it. It can take courage to be the one standing up for what you believe if others are rushing back into activities about which you have discomfort or fear.

If you are not doing so already, try journaling about these ideas and questions. It can be amazing what clarity you can have when you begin writing rather than just allowing things to swirl around in your head. You can download and print a journal designed for these times where you can reflect and record what these days have been and are for you and those close to you. You can print as many copies of each page as you can use. http://carolbrusegar.com/Journaling-Through-Crisis

Reading about others’ experiences during challenging times can be affirming and illuminating.  You can start with newspaper and magazine articles that are current. The experiences of medical workers, of those in prison or in specific geographic locations widen our perspective of what is happening.

In addition, reflections and reports of others who have lived through pandemics are available. The Flu Epidemic of 1918 is probably most like this situation; seek out and read more about that. Amazon has a wide variety of things to consider.  https://amzn.to/2KG52zs

The polio epidemic which began in 1949 is another occurrence to read about. https://amzn.to/2YsOEL1

Even if you aren’t a history buff like I am, I highly recommend that you gather some of these resources and share them with others.  You will gain new perspective on the present and what is to come.

“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

~ Maya Angelou

 

Self-Care During Stay-at-Home Time and Beyond

self careOur personal situations during this stay-at-home days vary widely. You may be telecommuting/working at home or not, be alone or with children and spouse, have a pleasant atmosphere or not. Your reactions to all this may change as time goes on. What first seemed like a break may feel more like a confinement.

It’s a good time to remind ourselves about the importance of self-care, which also can (and perhaps should) change as time at home goes on.  You may be in a routine that includes good ways of taking care of yourself. Or the dynamics may be changing within your household and it may be helpful to consider some different self-care practices.

Self-care helps to relieve stress, improves mental health, and increases self-esteem. It gives you some space for just you. The activities may be brief or longer, and there are many options. I suggest you consider these; they may also give you additional ideas that particularly suit you.

Try Sensory Activities

Think of activities that use different senses, like touch, smell, taste, or sight. Perhaps it’s feeling the breeze or walking in the rain. Perhaps you have a firepit in your back yard. Light it and smell the fire, see the flames, feel the warmth, taste the marshmallows you roast. Try to find activities that really awaken your senses. Indoors, there’s always a bubble bath with candles lit around the room. Feast your eyes with the online options  like virtual tours of museums, national parks, zoos, etc. They can transport you to another place for a brief time. Cooking and baking are sensory too. The shortage of yeast in our stores indicates that lots of people are baking bread; kneading the dough is certainly sensory.

Do Creative Activities

Perhaps you have already been doing some creative activities during this extended time at home. Consider trying something else or take what you’re doing to another level.

  • Sketching, painting, charcoal or chalk art can be very enjoyable. Or get a new adult coloring book – there is an incredible range of options available to order online. (See link below)
  • Think of a type of craft you did as a child that would just be fun to do again.  I remember the one where you cover a sheet of paper with bright colored crayon designs, filling in all the spaces. Then you use the black crayon to cover it all. Then use a pointed tool to scratch out a design which reveals the colorful background you created. That takes me back!
  • Is there a craft project you’ve thought of doing and never did? You probably have lots of materials tucked away that can be used or you can re-purpose things that are stored away. An example of the latter: I have several seasonal wreaths that I have made. By removing the silk flowers, etc. I can start over and create a new one.
  • Do you have a bag or box of yarn that you purchased and didn’t crochet or knit into the intended object? Dig it out and start a project, even something very basic. How about fabric? A friend had a stockpile of unused fabric and has taken it out and is sewing beautiful face coverings for her own family and friends and is selling them besides. You may think of other ways to use yours.
  • Do you have lots of photos from the past? Creating collages or scrapbooks of some of them can be both creative and heart-warming. They can be for you or for others as gifts. In fact, as we are separated from family members, this is a great way to send some memories and love their way.

Watch Something Funny

Don’t underestimate the power of laughing! Watch funny movies or TV shows. Go to YouTube and search for your favorite classic comedies – Golden Girls, I Love Lucy, etc. Laughing is extremely healing and can quickly change your mood or mindset. This is also a good thing to do with others in your household. Laughing together can break through some of the stress of being together so much.

Write

Journaling is of course a good self-care activity. In addition, try writing some poetry, maybe some silly rhymes or limericks. Limerick: a humorous, frequently bawdy, verse of three long and two short lines rhyming. Google some. You’ll probably find ones that make you belly laugh. Be creative with your pen and paper.

The main thing is to take care of yourself during this unprecedented time in our lives.

Here is a free mandala for your to download, print and color. (When printing, if the preview doesn’t fill the page, change the “photo size” to full page)  Enjoy!

http://carolbrusegar.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Marvelous-Mandalas-13.jpg

http://carolbrusegar.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Marvelous-Mandalas-16.jpg

If you are interested in adult coloring books, there is a huge variety available on Amazon. Here’s a link: http://carolbrusegar.com/Adult-Coloring-Books

 

Stay Hydrated – Always Good Advice, Especially Important Now

WaterDrinking enough water is important all the time. In this current disruption of routines, it may be that you are drinking less. The standard recommendation is 8-10 (or more) 8 ounce glasses per day. Here are 3 reasons that relate specifically to being in this stressful situation for all of us to drink enough water every day.

  • In general, our bodies need water to function and drinking more helps your body operate more effectively – including your immune system.
  • Drinking water improves cognitive function which means we are more aware of our actions and their impact. That helps us make healthy and safe decisions.
  • AND drinking more water means we will use the bathroom more often and wash our hands more often for at least 20 seconds with foaming soap.

In addition, adequate hydration can relieve headaches, improve weight maintenance and weight loss, and give us more energy.

Seven Ways to Drink More Water

Here are some great ideas to help you increase your water intake every day.

  1. Drink Water Before Every Meal, Snack and Cup of Coffee or Other Beverage
  2. Make Infused Water – It adds flavor and may make drinking more appealing. The simplest way is to add wedges of lemon or lime to your water after squeezing some of the juice into your glass. You can also experiment with fruits, vegetables and herbs to find flavors that you especially enjoy.  Read more about doing this here: https://carolbrusegar.com/infused-water-for-health/
  3. Choose a Cup or Bottle You Love to Use – It’s not just appearance, but functionality. You want it to be easy to hold onto while walking. If you drive a lot, you want it to fit perfectly in your cup holder. Depending on your activities, you may want other features. For example, if you bike, you may want a tight lid, but one that is easy to pop off when drinking while riding. You also want the size that contains the amount of water that you need.
  4. Limit Other Drinks You Consume – You can still consume juice or soda occasionally but get in the habit of going first for water when thirsty.
  5. Dilute Juice When You Have It – If you add 4 ounces of water to 8 ounces of juice, you are adding to your day’s water intake as well as reducing your calories, carbs and sugar for that drink.
  6. Enjoy Fruits and Veggies With High Water Content – this can augment your consumption on days when you have not had as much water.  Those with high water content include cucumbers, grapefruit, apples, pineapple, lettuce, celery, radishes and watermelon.
  7. Try Some Water Drinking Reminders Throughout Your Day – If you get into the habit of drinking a glass of water in connection with things you regularly do, you won’t forget to drink enough water. For example, drink a glass of water:
  • Before every meal, snack and other beverage as mentioned earlier
  • When you wake up
  • Before or after walking or workouts
  • After every trip to the bathroom
  • Every time you enter your office or home

Track Your Intake

As you are trying to increase your water intake, it can be very helpful to track it on a daily basis until it is so much a routine that you no longer need to it. It can help to track for a couple of days before you begin to increase intake so that you have an idea what you ordinarily consume. Choose an easy way to track it for you – a notepad or planner, an app on your phone, a program on your computer.

Remember your goal is 8-10 glasses (8 ounces each) per day. Staying hydrated is important to our health all the time, and even more during this time of the pandemic. It’s a simple way to increase our general health.

 

Who Else Feels Life is Getting More and More Surreal?

Who Else Feels Life is Getting More and More Surreal?
surreal
Surreal: “resembling a dream; fantastic and incongruous”

Yes, that’s how I feel these days. Somehow just about everything is different. Is it real?? An 88 year-old friend says she’s never experienced anything like this. And that says a lot.

Whether it’s increased isolation of seniors living alone or in assisted living facilities or nursing homes, or students whose sports and musical competitions are being cancelled, or parents struggling to make arrangements for their children when schools close for periods of time, it hardly seems real.

As with so many things in life, balance is important. Neither listening constantly to media about the outbreak nor ignoring it entirely are advisable. Find and use a trusted source for information and advice. Many advise that our bottom line sources should be the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) or your state health department. If the media sources you are using don’t refer to those sources, check elsewhere.

Beyond the precautions being recommended, I suggest considering these additional things:

  • Establish some personal and/or household intentions about how you will come through this challenge. They may have to do with accomplishments, relationships among you and with others, future plans or other areas you may
  • Look at ways to make positive use of the restrictions. It is all too easy to slip into fear, anxiety, depression, or a combination of them all because of the changes. How can we use the additional time at home in ways that lift our spirits and other people’s spirits? This includes staying in contact and increasing contact through phone calls, cards, letters, online contact (Face Time, Skype, Facebook, etc.) with others who are feeling isolated and depressed. I think particularly of those older people at home alone or in nursing homes or care facilities.
  • Think of things you and others in your household enjoy doing or want to do at home but never seem to have time for. Reading, watching movies, listening to each others’ favorite music, playing board games and art/crafts are always good. How about setting up some challenges around these or other activities to provide something to work toward? This is a more positive way to think about this rather than just “filling time.”
  • Take on tasks and projects that have been put off over and over. These can become challenges to complete and see as accomplishments during this time. The obvious ones are cleaning out and arranging closets and garages. You may gather things to be given away to others or contributed to organizations helping those in need. It may be rearranging rooms or special cleaning projects. Writing and posting a list of the things you will do from the above suggestions where you can see it and check off accomplishments as well as add new ideas is useful.
  • Journaling during this time can be very helpful. Reflecting on our situation and how we handle it will both record these times for the future and help each of us work through our feelings, challenges and frustrations. Writing is so powerful; take time to do it yourself and encourage others to do the same.
  • Practice Hygge principles. Although Hygge is often connected with surviving winter in cold climates, the principles have to do with creating “a quality of coziness (= feeling warm, comfortable, and safe) that comes from doing simple things such as lighting candles, baking, or spending time at home with your family.” You can read more here: https://carolbrusegar.com/hygge-art-of-coziness/

By focusing on balance, positive use of time at home and reflecting on our experiences, all of us can make the best of a challenging situation. Everything we do to keep ourselves and others positive, hopeful and forward-looking will pay large dividends.

 

Black Pepper During Flu Season

PepperI previously talked of some natural approaches to prevention and treatment of cold and flu: https://carolbrusegar.com/using-natural-preventatives-and-treatments/

Another preventative and treatment that is right in your cupboard is black pepper!  We think of it as a basic seasoning and perhaps little more, but it is known to have powerful cold-fighting properties. Not only is it great for the immune system, but it’s also known to help with a wide range of other ailments too.

How can black pepper help during flu season?

Regular consumption of black pepper can help to fight off infections and boost the immune system. It contains an especially high amount of Vitamin C – a crucial vitamin in the treatment of colds. Black pepper contains a high level of anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It is these which prove useful in the prevention and treatment of colds and the flu.

Another great benefit of black pepper is that it can help to alleviate congestion. A common symptom of colds and the flu is chest congestion. So, even if it’s too late to use black pepper to prevent a cold, you can still use it to help alleviate the symptoms.

How can you use it?

There are numerous ways you can use this spice to prevent and help to treat a cold. Of course, add more to various foods on an ongoing basis – soups, stews, egg dishes, salads, in rubs on meats, etc.  If you’re already fighting a cold, you could try mixing black pepper with honey. This is especially great for suppressing a cough and it’s been used in Indian medicine for centuries. You’ll need to crush up the peppercorns and mix it with a little honey for maximum benefits.

Another way of using black pepper to combat colds is to add half a teaspoon to a cupful of water. Add in some ground tulsi leaves* and half a teaspoon of chopped ginger. You should aim to drink it at lukewarm temperature. If you’re not keen on the taste, you can add a spoonful of honey.

*Tulsi, also called Holy Basil, is a close relative of culinary basil for cooking. The three varieties of Tulsi do, however, have additional medicinal benefits. These include being anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants, and ability to stimulate the immune system’s activity. It comes in a variety of forms – leaves, tea, capsules and more. To explore the options, go here: Tulsi Options

Are there any side effects?

In terms of using black pepper in cooking, there aren’t any side effects to be aware of. However, if you’ll be taking black pepper supplements, you’ll want to stick to ones with a strength of 5mg to 20mg. Higher strengths could produce burning sensation in the throat or high absorption of medication. These are the only two potential side effects identified.

What other ailments does black pepper help with?

As well as helping to fight off colds and flu, black pepper can also potentially help with other ailments such as:

  • Arthritis inflammation
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • High blood sugar
  • Poor gut health

The health benefits of black pepper are extensive – and it is one of the cheapest and easiest spices to use!  So in general, to boost your immune system, be generous in your use of pepper in your food and explore additional uses. If you do develop a cold or flu, you can use supplements or more potent black pepper remedies to eliminate the symptoms.

Here’s a selection of pepper, peppercorns and more: Black Pepper

And a Black Pepper Supplement

USING NATURAL PREVENTATIVES AND TREATMENTS DURING FLU AND COLD SEASON

Cold-Flu 2

Be proactive to avoid and cut short colds and flus! Flu and cold season – which seems to get longer and longer – is a challenge to navigate. Even the flu vaccines are not totally effective because of the various strains of flu in a given year. There are additional over the counter medications and prescription drugs available as well. We are encouraged to avoid getting or spreading these conditions by washing our hands a lot, not touching our face, staying home if we are sick, etc.

In addition to all of this, I personally favor natural preventatives and treatments as much as possible. I found an article from a couple of years ago that offers 10 natural cold and flu remedies that work that you may want to consider. A couple of them were new to me and perhaps you also will find a natural preventative or remedy to try.

Here are some of the suggestions provided by the author on The Healthy Maven blog:

  • Gargle with salt water – do this at the first sign you may be getting sick. I have personally done this just recently and it was effective.
  • Honey – this can be as is, or in over the counter cough syrups (all-natural varieties). Raw honeys are the best if possible.
  • Ginger which comes in a variety of forms – root, powder, capsules, even candies.
  • Elderberry Syrup which both is a great preventative and treatment. There are a variety of other elderberry options. I have used and found elderberry to be very effective. Here’s more information in an earlier post: https://carolbrusegar.com/what-are-elderberries-health/
  • Propolis – produced by bees to seal their hives and very anti-viral and anti-bacterial. It’s available as a throat spray. Reviews indicate that this throat spray is a good preventative when used daily, as well as to nip a scratchy throat or other symptoms quickly. Propolis Throat Spray
  • Essential Oils – Eucalyptus and peppermint as well as combinations of various oils can be used effectively. These can be infused and benefit everyone in the household as well as being applied topically or ingested. It’s important to know exactly how to do this.

There are a couple of additional natural approaches that are widely recommended: hot green tea and turmeric.

Hot green tea is high in antioxidants and stimulates organ function; add honey for a double benefit.  Turmeric reduces inflammation in our bodies, and we hear more and more that inflammation is related to many conditions. It can make us feel achy and sometimes lead to illness. Make a paste from powdered turmeric (from the spice shelf) with water and mix into warm milk or tea.

Let’s do everything we can to avoid colds and flus and to get rid of them if we happen to get them, using natural substances as much as possible!

 

 

The Benefits of Elderberries Throughout the Year

Benefits of ElderberriesDuring the flu/cold season, I posted “What are Elderberries and What Can They Do for Me” . The focus was on how they help during the winter. For many people, elderberry is their go-to to ward off or shorten flu and colds. But there are many other benefits of elderberries. The benefits of this unique fruit can be gained all year-round.

Before I get into that, I must tell you why elderberries have come to mind now. Late summer and early fall was when elderberries were ripe and ready to pick along the rural roads when I was growing up in southern Wisconsin. It was always such a treat to find them and bring them home to be carefully taken off the stems, washed and readied for pie or jelly.

Elderberries

Elderberries then were a treat which we looked forward to. Until recent years, when I found and began purchasing the jelly and learning more about it, I had no idea of all the health value of these tiny berries. They have become one of the superfoods sold in various forms: fresh or dried berries, syrups, extracts, supplements and tablets, and jellies. There are even gummies now for those who prefer that type of supplement!

Benefits of Elderberries 

Elderberries help lower blood sugar levels by stimulating glucose metabolism (study in the Journal of Nutrition). This can be both a preventive and assist if you are struggling with your blood sugar levels.

Elderberry is often used as a diuretic, whether as the fruit (fresh or dried), a supplement or syrup. Using it in your food – a smoothie, in tea, in baked goods, or as jelly on bread – or taking it in other forms are all helpful. It also improves digestion and general gut health.

Many berries are high in antioxidants, and elderberries are no exception. They have lots of vitamin C, flavonoids as well as additional immune-strengthening compounds. All of these help us stay healthy and fight off infections by protecting our cells.

Allergy season is actually multiple allergy seasons, depending on what you are specifically allergic to. Allergens tend to increase inflammation in your body, which leads to symptoms like swelling, redness, itching, coughing and congestion. Elderberry boosts your immune system as described above and also helps reduce the inflammation.

And there’s more! Elderberry can improve bone and joint health, thanks to the various natural properties of the plant, including the anti-inflammatory properties and the antioxidants. It can be of value to those with arthritis and osteoporosis.

In addition to the internal health benefits, elderberry promotes healthy skin by improving skin rejuvenation. There are commercial products like scrubs, tinctures, and masks available through shops that sell natural beauty products. These can provide softer, more supple, glowing skin and also help with acne and blemishes.

 

As the benefits of elderberry have become more widely known, more and more products like syrups, supplements, gummies, etc. have been developed. A variety of them can be found here: https://amzn.to/2KRWZkd
Dried elderberries and powder can also be purchased: https://amzn.to/2Hkc4sz , as well as teas: https://amzn.to/31U5cK8

These tiny berries pack a wallop! Give them a try and see how they benefit you.

Are Seasonal Allergies Plaguing You?

sneezingSpring brings a lot of beauty into your life – you are able to enjoy the outdoors thanks to the warmer weather and get to enjoy all the new fresh flowers and produce. Unfortunately, with more time outdoors and new flower growth comes the unfortunate seasonal allergies for many people. If you suffer from spring allergies, you may have tried many over-the-counter products, even getting prescriptions from your doctor. There are also natural remedies that can help. Of course, we are all different and what works for one person doesn’t work for another. You may find something that works for you!

Use Raw Honey
Among the different natural remedies for seasonal allergies, using honey is one of the best options. The trick here is to go for raw honey, preferably local honey instead of what you find in the supermarket or health food store. If you have a farmer’s market near you, that is probably the best place to find local, raw honey. Honey can not only help you relieve your current allergy symptoms, but using it on a regular basis year-round can actually help you build up a tolerance to those pesky spring allergies.

Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Your diet may also need to change when you start experiencing allergy symptoms. Follow an anti-inflammatory diet that consists of foods like broccoli, ginger, avocado, chia seeds, beetroot, pineapples, and nuts. You want to avoid foods that tend to cause extra inflammation and might worsen seasonal allergy symptoms, including dairy, fried foods, corn oil, and processed foods. Sticking to a diet mostly of clean and fresh ingredients will make a big difference in how you feel.

Try Essential Oils
Essential oils can be very healing for you, with many of them being great for allergy symptoms. With the right oils, you can reduce your allergy symptoms, getting a break from the headaches, coughing, sneezing, and breathing issues. The best oils for springtime allergies are basil, peppermint, and eucalyptus. These have a fresh scent that is perfect for spring, just make sure you get the pure essential oils and not fragrance oils. You can use a diffuser when you are at home and explore other options for when you are not. Here’s a list of possibilities: https://oneessentialcommunity.com/25-ways-to-diffuse-essential-oils-without-a-diffuser/

Apple Cider Vinegar
If you have been reading about natural remedies, you have probably run across apple cider vinegar more than once. This seems to be a cure-all for everything from digestive issues to helping with heartburn. It also happens to be excellent when you have seasonal allergies. It is going to detox your lymphatic system and reduce mucus production, which helps with the coughing and sneezing from your spring allergies. It can be as simple as putting 2-3 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar into a glass of filtered water, adding local honey to taste, or your favorite juice. Drink this before each meal.

May you find a way to alleviate your spring allergies!!