Can Salt Lamps Help With Anxiety?

Anxiety is a common, debilitating mental health condition that may affect as many as one in ten adults in Great Britain at some point throughout their lives. Characterised by a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, including a fast heartbeat, hyperventilation, tingling sensations, feelings of doom, and intense fear or worry, people who experience anxiety try many different methods to help control their symptoms and promote a feeling of calm throughout their bodies.

If you think that you might be experiencing anxiety, seeking professional help is the first step toward healing. Therapies like NLP, CBT, Hypnotherapy, and others can help retrain your brain to think in a different way. You’ll also benefit from exercise, such as walking or cycling, and spending time outdoors. Meditation, tai chi, yoga, and other mind-body activities have been shown to have a powerful impact on mental health, too. You might even find benefit from certain plants, teas, and essential oils, such as camomile or lavender.

After speaking with your GP or mental health care professional, take the time to research and explore what could make a difference for your anxiety along with your health care provider’s suggestions. While every person is different, one extra thing that many people have found particularly soothing to have in their homes is a Himalayan salt lamp.

How Do Salt Lamps Help Anxiety?

Himalayan salt lamps have been said to help with everything from allergies and asthma to mental health conditions like anxiety. These salt lamps help pull moisture and positive ions — produced from things like pollution and mould, they aren’t really as positive as they sound — out of the air by releasing negative ions. Negative ions are readily available in nature, from mountain tops to oceans, and they purify the air. There is research to show that they might help increase serotonin in the brain, promoting that  feeling of calm within the body. Negative ions keep us feeling healthy.

Of course, Himalayan salt lamps don’t only help anxiety through the release of negative ions. These lamps are also, quite simply, beautiful to see and experience. Their warm, amber glow helps create an ambiance that encourages a state of relaxation. You can curl up next to your salt lamp after an at-home spa day or tai chi session. They are also great mindfulness tools, as you can focus your mind on the orange hue when meditating. They are also reminiscent of nature, which is naturally soothing to us as human beings. You may not be able to travel to a salt cave, but you can place a salt lamp at your bedside. Himalayan salt lamps soothe in more ways than one.

Choosing Your Salt Lamp

When it comes to selecting a salt lamp to help you on your journey to wellness, you’ll want to make sure that your lamp is genuine. Sadly, due to the popularity of these lamps, there are many imitations. A true, authentic Himalayan salt lamp is made of salt, not plastic or another material, and these lamps are fragile. They are extremely easy to chip, because they are made of pure salt. They also give off a light that is soft and gentle, not bright and harsh like other lamps on the market. And, since they draw moisture from the air, real Himalayan salt lamps are known to “sweat,” or become damp during use, particularly when the air is warm.

This authentic Himalayan salt lamp from Levoit is highly reviewed, has a 2-year warranty in case your lamp chips, and is from Pakistan, the origin of most of the authentic Himalayan salt lamps. This is a wonderful lamp that you can feel confident adding to your home in hopes of helping to clear your air and your mind.

Alleviating Anxiety as Naturally as Possible

Have you tried a Himalayan salt lamp for your anxiety? Do you have other tips for anxiety relief? Share your experiences in the comments below, or follow me on Facebook for more natural ideas to help combat anxiety.

Give the Gift of a Spa Day With Weleda Massage Oil

A spa day is a great way to take a day or even just an afternoon to focus on your well being and your overall health. An evening of relaxation and focus on your own needs can turn a rough week of feeling run down around. Unfortunately, financially a day at the spa isn’t always an option; luckily, you can bring the spa home to you or a loved one who needs some pampering and to focus on their health. A gift of a do it yourself spa day is a great way to show someone you love that you care about their well being- and it’s great to do for yourself when you need a pick me up.

Set the Stage for Pampering

Whether you’re preparing your spa day for yourself or preparing a day for someone else, set the stage for a relaxing evening. This is the time to bring out your softest towels, fresh from the dryer and your fluffiest robe. A large jug of cold water infused with lemon and mint is a great way to refresh yourself while you soak and pamper yourself. Make sure your space is tidy so you can relax while you soak and aren’t worrying about whether you need to put the hamper full of laundry into the washing machine. Light a gently scented candle and relax for the evening.

Use Simple Products

The products you use for your spa day don’t have to be expensive!  A lot of them can be things you already have in your home. Simple epsom salts are excellent for a restorative bath that can help reduce swelling in your body. This can be an inexpensive option compared to premade bath bombs you can get in the store. Hair masks are a great choice if your hair is damaged by heat tools or rough conditions. Olive or coconut oil can make great hair masks that can improve the long term health of your hair. Even if you can’t afford a salon manicure and pedicure, you can splurge on a new bottle of nail polish. Make sure you don’t cut or file your nails while they’re wet from a soak in the tub as they are much softer and likely to be damaged when wet.

Weleda Massage Oil

Weleda’s Arnica Massage Oil is an excellent product to improve your home spa day or your gift of a spa day to one of your loved ones. The Arnica Massage oil is free from synthetic preservatives, fragrances, colored dyes and are never tested on animals. This sunflower seed based oil is great for being massaged into your muscles before or after exercise or it can function as the perfect ending to your home spa day. This will help soothe your muscles and can help moisturize your skin after a bath. The oil has no strong scent so it won’t interfere with the scents in your bath products. This provides a great finish to your spa day.

Looking for more thoughtful gifts to help boost a loved one’s relaxation and wellness? Follow me on Facebook for more tips and news — and don’t forget to take some time to treat yourself as well!

6 Best Organic Massage Oils

Massaging with oil is an enriching experience that can help you unwind after a stressful day, safely reap the many benefits of essential oils, plants, or herbs, and generally become more aware of yourself and the present moment.

You can apply massage oil directly to the skin after a relaxing bath or at-home spa day. You can also use massage oil as a way of diluting essential oils and avoiding the adverse skin reactions that can occur when applying an essential oil directly to your skin.

Here are six massage oils (and a few extra) that will nourish your skin as well as your mind:

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is one of the more easily absorbed oils, making it a favourite of aromatherapy enthusiasts looking for a carrier oil for their essential oils. With jojoba oil, you can add a few drops of an essential oil like lavender or rose before applying the oil to the skin. Jojoba oil itself has antibacterial 1and anti-inflammatory properties, and is especially known for its ability to heal the skin, as well as the scalp. If you have skin conditions such as eczema or dandruff, jojoba oil is thought to help heal and soothe dry, flaky skin.

Arnica Oil

Arnica oil is another soothing oil with particularly potent anti-inflammatory and pain relieving qualities. This is the ideal oil for tired and sore joints, including sprains and bruises. This is a highly medicinal oil, as arnica flowers have been shown to help with a variety of medical conditions.

Fractionated Coconut Oil

Fractionated coconut oil is a more stable version of coconut oil, giving the product a much longer shelf life and a lighter weight than can be found in the usual extra virgin coconut oils. Like jojoba oil, coconut oils make for great carrier oils for essential oils. These oils also contain antioxidants and are popular choices for hair care.

Olive Oil

You might be surprised to learn that this pantry staple has uses beyond the kitchen. In fact, the vitamins and healthy fats in olive oil make it an incredibly rich massage oil, particularly when combined with essential oils to offset its characteristic scent. This is another one that’s also popular for hair care.

Sweet Almond Oil

Full of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats, sweet almond oil is extremely nourishing for the skin and well-absorbed. It’s also excellent for nails, making it a terrific pedicure choice post-foot spa.

Apricot Kernel Oil

If you or someone in your house has nut allergies, apricot kernel oil is a massage oil that is nut-free and known for its high vitamin content. It’s often used as a carrier oil, as well as for dry skin.

Honourable Mentions: Sunflower Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Sesame Oil, Avocado Oil

There many massage oil options available to you, all with their own healing properties and skin benefits. Sunflower, grapeseed, sesame, and avocado oils are all frequently used oils, but some of these oils have a short shelf life, are heavy (leaving you feeling greasy rather than relaxed), or are more likely to stain towels or other fabrics than oils  like arnica. However, they still have high concentrations of vitamins and minerals, their own benefits (like decreased anxiety or greater circulation), and many people love these oils. It’s worth trying out a variety of massage oils before to figure out what you like best.

There has also been great interest lately in infant massage. The gentle touch of infant massage is said to not only calm, but to stimulate a young baby’s physical and mental development. If you have a little one, choices like grapeseed and avocado are popular for providing light massage to a baby. Edible massage oils are best for infant, just in case your baby accidentally eats the oil.

Have you tried massage for you or a family member? Do you have a favourite massage oil? Find more tips for living a balanced life by following my Facebook page and joining the conversation.

Treat Yourself With These Home Spa Products

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to just apply to your home. We all need a little pampering every now and then, and a home spa day provides just the opportunity for rest and relaxation. The problem, of course, is searching through the seemingly endless product options that are available online. Instead of overwhelming yourself with choices, take a look at some of these tried and true products for a luxurious spa session without ever leaving your house:

Perfect Oils

I’ve talked in previous blogs about the benefits of Weleda arnica massage oil. This unique oil combines sunflower and olive oil with the arnica flower, a sunflower cousin that has major medical benefits. It’s been used to alleviate everything from a flaky scalp to inflammation, making this massage oil the perfect tool for your at-home spa day. Simply massage the oil into your skin after bathing. Arnica flowers are also known for their appealing scent.

Speaking of scents, essential oils dispersed through a diffuser or the use of bath products containing essential oils can promote further relaxation as you soak away the day. Ylang ylang, lavender, sandalwood, jasmine, rose, and camomile are some favourites for calming the mind and soothing the body. Just remember not to actually drop essential oils directly into the water without diluting them with what is known as a carrier oil (such as jojoba or olive oil) first! Otherwise, you may end up with skin irritation — not exactly the kind of relaxing home spa day you were planning.

Essential Bath Products

A warm soak requires the right bath products, and Weleda doesn’t only offer an amazing massage oil. You can also try their creamy lavender body wash.  This is a fragrant wash that combines organic lavender with sesame seed oil to soothe and restore. Other Weleda body wash options include wild rose, pomegranate, citrus, and sea buckthorn washes, all designed to provide excellent aromatherapy benefits and nourish your skin.

Remember Your Feet With a Foot Spa and Pedicure Tools

Our feet work hard everyday, but we often forget about them until they’re sore and achy. Pamper them with a high-quality foot spa to ease the ache, improve circulation, and help you unwind. Don’t forget to include a foot soak, like this tea tree oil therapeutic foot soak, and to finish up with a pumice stone and favourite lotion. Aloe, in particular, is a terrific choice for feet.

Relax with a Quality Robe

This personalised bathrobe will elevate your at-home spa experience. Plus, embroidered bathrobes makes amazing gifts, as well.

The Right Spa Products Can Make All the Difference

With Weleda arnica massage oil and body washes, essential oils, enjoyable tools for your feet, and a luxurious bathrobe, you’ll come home from work, school, or exercise ready to enjoy a spa-like experience right in your own home, reducing your stress levels and refreshing you for the next day ahead.

Have you tried any of these spa products? What are your favourites? Leave a comment below or share with me on Facebook, where you’ll want to follow along for more ways to feel relaxed and restored.

The Healing Benefits of 10 Common House Plants

Plants are incredible, natural sources of health and wellness. We’ve talked about how having certain plants in the bedroom encourages a restful sleep, but plants have other tricks up their sleeves, as well. Here are 10 plants that are known for their healing qualities, from medicinal plants and herbs to stress-reducing florals:

Aloe Vera Plant

The succulent aloe vera plant is perhaps one of the most well-known medicinal plants, used to treat sunburns, soothe skin irritations, and even act as an antiseptic for minor cuts and abrasions. Nutritionally, aloe vera juice is quickly gaining popularity as a healthy beverage. Aloe vera has been said to be effective in aiding digestion and boosting immunity, along with carrying antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.

Plus, aloe vera is an easy plant to grow at home, tolerant of most light and water conditions (although it prefers a bit of sun and infrequent watering).

Mint

Mint is a fragrant, fast-growing plant that you may not have realised is quite the healer. There are many varieties of mint, from peppermint to spearmint, and all have health benefits. Peppermint is known for its ability to quell stomach upsets and headaches, while spearmint tea has been extensively studied for use in certain hormonal conditions. It also helps lower blood sugar and, yes, helps stop bad breath in its tracks by killing the offending bacteria.

Some gardeners are hesitant to grow mint in their yards, as the herb has been known to take over gardens, but with a little careful planning, you can easily grow mint. The trick is to grow your mint in its own container, separate from the whole of your garden. Like aloe vera, mint is a tolerant plant; it will continue to grow under most any condition.

Ginger

Ginger is an extraordinary plant that has been used in ancient medicine for centuries. Ginger root, alongside honey and lemon, makes an immune boosting tea that is soothing for sore throats. Ginger tea is also healing for stomach upsets, and is particularly recommended in moderation for expectant mothers. Ginger is extremely versatile, serving as a tea, a spice, a candy, and an ingredient in a wealth of recipes.

You can grow ginger in a garden, or you can pick up ginger in all of its forms at your local supermarket.

Basil

Basil is likely in your spice rack right now, but there is so much more to this common food ingredient than as a dash of flavour. Basil is naturally antibacterial, which is perhaps one of the reasons it came to be so commonly used in meals. Basil also contains phytochemicals, compounds found naturally in plants that are thought to help protect cells from damages leading to cancer.

Basil, like ginger, may be a little more difficult than other plants to grow at home, unless you have a proper garden or area for growing. But, then, basil is also an easy store find.

Echinacea

Echinacea is a beautiful composite flower plant that, like ginger, makes an immune boosting tea that can be easily paired with honey, lemon, and even mint. Echinacea has long been a popular cold and flu remedy, as well as a medicinal herb for general immune support.

Echinacea as a plant often eludes gardeners. It seems to be here one minute, and then gone the next. However, if you have the means, growing echinacea provides an exciting challenge, and the plant is beneficial not only to humans — it is beloved by bees and butterflies, too.

Hibiscus

Hibiscus is a beautiful plant reminiscent of something you’d see on a summer holiday, but it isn’t just a pretty plant. Hibiscus has long been observed for its ability to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol profiles, provide natural antioxidants and cancer-fighting polyphenols, as well as fight bacteria. The most common way to take hibiscus is probably as a flavourful, refreshing tea that has a floral, berry-like taste.

There are a couple of varieties of hibiscus, one of which wouldn’t be particularly easy to grow in Britain, thanks to our tough winters. The hibiscus syriacus variety (known in some places simply as common hibiscus), however, is a stunning plant for any garden and a great deal hardier than its counterpart.

Give the tea a try before you grow by ordering hibiscus tea at places like Ocado or Amazon.

Camomile

Camomile is perhaps most famous for its use as a calming herbal tea that soothes the mind. This healing plant has other uses, too, though, from treating skin conditions to easing insomnia. Regularly drinking camomile in tea form has even been shown to potentially help manage diabetes.

Camomile is a vibrant plant to grow, and camomile beverages have a bright, unmistakable yellow colour with a lightly aromatic fragrance. This is an extremely soothing plant.

Orchids

You may be surprised to see this plant on the list, as orchids aren’t routinely talked about in medical circles like ginger or camomile plants, but they do have a rich history in traditional Chinese medicine. In China, orchids are regularly used to make teas and relaxing essential oils.

Orchids are also naturally wonderful air purifiers, and terrific plants to have in the house to help the air quality.

Rosemary

Another popular herb, it might be easier to ask what rosemary doesn’t do than what it does, as rosemary has been associated with cancer prevention, brain and eye health, less inflammation, greater antioxidant activity, pain relief, and even longer hair!

Related to mint, rosemary can easily be grown in a large container and is tough enough to last for many years.

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is a powerful plant when it comes to controlling diabetes and possibly even maintaining or regaining liver health. Silymarin, the main ingredient in milk thistle, is believed to be a major player in its healing effects. It’s also being studied in cancer research.

Milk thistle is most commonly taken as a capsule, but it can be crafted into a kind of tea, as well.

Nature as a Chemist

You can find out even more here:

https://www.tipsbulletin.com/plants-that-clean-the-air/

What is your favourite healing plant? Have you tried a hibiscus or camomile beverage? Let me know what you thought in the comments below, or on Facebook, where I share more easy, unique ways to enhance your wellbeing.

What Your Feet Can Tell You About Your Overall Health

One of the most important things to understand about wellness is how each part of your body plays a role in your health. You may be surprised to learn how some of the smaller features of your body, features that may not always draw your attention, can actually provide clues to your overall health. Your eyes, for example, can reveal to your doctor valuable information about your blood pressure and even diabetes. Your feet, as well, can offer insight into your health.

Let’s take a look at some common foot symptoms and what your feet might be trying to tell you:

Wounds That Won’t Heal

If you have a wound or ulcer on your foot that isn’t healing, you might want to check your blood glucose levels. Open sores, particularly on the bottom of the foot, are an extremely common problem in people with diabetes, and can be caused by everything from circulation issues to neuropathy related to diabetes. All of this, of course, can turn serious. Diabetic neuropathy can also cause foot tingling or numbness. If any of these things occur, visit your GP to discuss the problem, as well as your blood sugar control. Open wounds can end up causing dangerous infections.

Toenail Problems

When examining your feet for problems, take special note of your toenails. Spoon-shaped nails could be a sign of a nutritional deficiency, such as anaemia caused by a lack of iron (or its opposite, hemochromatosis, too much iron), as well as a variety of other conditions. Toenails that are strangely coloured, particularly yellow, could also indicate medical problems, some even serious. This is another time when you’ll want to pop into your GP for a quick foot check-up.

Foot Spasms, Tingling, or Pain

Foot spasms or pain can be a sign of a long day at the office, or an athletic injury, but just like the other symptoms on this list, it can also be a sign of something more concerning. Nutritional deficiencies, circulation problems, injuries, and more can all result in pain or tingling. One condition, plantar fasciitis, is a common cause of heel pain and results from inflammation of the connective tissues on the bottom of your foot. Your GP can help sort it all out.

Swollen Feet

Swollen feet can be another signal of circulatory problems and definitely warrants a visit to your GP. If swelling and even pain is felt more in your joints, like your toes, you might have a form of arthritis. Of course, swollen feet can also just be a sign of too much stress on the feet, but if you’re noticing the symptom regularly, a check-up can help ease your mind.

Freezing Feet

We’ve all had those moments where our feet are icy, and chances are good that you just need some extra layers on your feet, but if your feet are always cold, you could have anything from a thyroid condition to, yes, the aforementioned circulatory issues. If you’re overly tired or have noticed unusual weight gain alongside your freezing feet, you might ask your GP for a thyroid check. If you’ve noticed other signs of circulatory problems, like foot swelling, you might also want to mention this to your GP.

Flaky Skin on Your Feet

A common cause of flaky feet is athlete’s foot, a scaly, red foot condition that is so named because of its association with sweaty feet inside of too-snug shoes. Athlete’s foot typically starts between the toes, and causes unpleasant sensations, like burning and itching. Luckily, your GP can prescribe an easy fix for athlete’s foot, such as an ointment.

Of course, you can also have certain types of skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis on your feet, as well. Either way, there’s certainly no need to suffer when you could see a medical professional about the problem.

Time for New Shoes?

Poorly fitting shoes can be quite damaging to the feet. Bunions, corns, and calluses all can result from wearing shoes that don’t fit properly. If you do end up with these conditions, there are a few steps you can take (after, of course, investing in new shoes!):

  • For bunions, special shoe inserts can help while your toes heal. Your GP may also recommend a splint to help straighten the toes.
  • For bunions, corns, and calluses alike, pamper those feet. The use of a warm foot spa, followed by the gentle use of a pumice stone, can help heal and soothe these skin conditions.

What About…the Smell?

No one wants to talk about smelly feet, but odour is another area where your feet are trying to tell you something! Poorly smelling feet can result from conditions like Athlete’s foot or just basic daily sweating. Ease the problem by regularly wearing clean shoes and socks, switching out your shoes everyday, keeping your feet well groomed, and letting your feet get some air by going barefoot when you can at home.

Who Knew Feet Could Tell You So Much?

Your feet are at the lowest point of your body, and as such, they can be important signals to problems with the body’s circulation, thyroid, nutritional profile, and so much more. If you’re concerned about what your feet might be telling you, contacting your GP is never a bad idea.

Your feet are a reminder to take care of yourself from head to toe (literally). Curious about more ways to improve your health? Follow my Facebook page and check out my thoughts on mindfulness, hypnotherapy, and the benefits of tai chi.

Living a Balanced Life

Particularly in our fast-paced society, finding the balance between our home and work responsibilities, and our commitment to our own wellness, can be difficult. Yet, finding that balance is vital for our health and happiness. Perhaps not surprisingly, a 2017 piece for The Telegraph describes our current “stress epidemic” in detail, noting that four out of five people admitted to feeling stressed throughout the week — nearly everyone! The article goes on to explain that much of this increased stress level comes from the overly connected world in which we live.

There’s no question that technology has changed our world in both positive and negative ways. In fact, the Internet and smartphones can actually help us to be more mindful, more aware, and more positively connected thanks to blogs, dedicated apps, and more. However, since it seems nearly everyone has a smartphone in their pocket these days, this constant connection also means that the workday never really has to end. We can so easily continue to take phone calls, check email, complete assignments, and basically never shut-down at the end of our allotted work time. This extra stress carries over into our other responsibilities, from cleaning the house to caring for the kids.

Without balance, our health and relationships can begin to suffer. Our work life can also slip through the cracks, as never having a break actually damages our productivity. Our brains and bodies need opportunities to refresh and reset in order to be the best that we can be in all of these meaningful aspects of our lives.

Finding Balance at Work and at Home

Whether you work from home or you go to an office, you must allow yourself proper time to recharge. No matter how strong the temptation, don’t allow your workday to continue into your weekend. This may be especially difficult if you work from home, as you are literally surrounded by your work environment. Regardless of your work responsibilities, make a realistic schedule for yourself and follow it. Remember that you’ll actually be less productive if you never give yourself time away from work.

During those off hours, resist the urge to respond to work-related matters, and instead, engage in a hobby or activity that you enjoy. Spend time with family and friends. Maybe take the kids on a hike or go for a walk solo. Both exercise and spending time in nature are time-proven ways to reduce stress and calm the mind.

You might also want to participate in activities that have been shown to have a strong impact on stress reduction. Reading, for instance, is not only good for the mind, but an excellent meditative and relaxation practise, as well. For something a little more physical, consider a class in Tai Chi, a workout that strengthens the body and re-focuses the mind.

Don’t minimise the impact of healthy eating and proper sleep, as well. If you have trouble sleeping, try adding specific, sleep-encouraging (and clean air promoting) plants to your bedroom.

Incorporate Wellness Into Your Entire Life

As you start to shift your life towards a focus on wellness, one of the first emotions you might feel is guilt. When we hear our phones ping with the receipt of another unanswered work email on the weekend, or when we go to an exercise class without folding the laundry first, it’s easy to feel like we should be doing these other things instead. But, ideally, wellness should be incorporated into your entire life, and it is this devotion to your health and well-being that will make you better at all of life’s responsibilities. So, allow yourself that time, and remember that no one functions at their peak when riddled with stress.

If you’ve ever spent time on Pinterest or Instagram, you may have come across “mood boards.” Mood boards are collages filled with quotes and photographs that inspire. Surrounding ourselves with messages that resonate with us can help keep us focused on our wellness goals. I love this simple art piece that reminds us, “Life is a beautiful ride — it’s all about balance.” Indeed, putting our mental and physical health first allows us to give much more fully to our life responsibilities.

How do you maintain a work-life balance? Are there certain mantras or quotes that uplift and inspire you?

I regularly post tips and insight into finding balance on Facebook. Give me a follow and let’s work together to create a life of balance and harmony.

How Plants in the Bedroom Can Help You Sleep

We live in an age of stress, where fatigue and even total exhaustion are common complaints. So many of us are actually chronically sleep-deprived, and this lack of sleep creates a cycle of more stress, which leads to even less sleep, and a host of issues that stem from improper rest, including moodiness, less ability to focus or concentrate, and a severely lessened overall wellbeing. Good sleep is essential to our physical and mental health. So, what can you do if turning out the lights just results in a rush of thoughts you can’t turn off? What about those mornings when you wake up groggy, feeling ill-prepared to take on the day?

You might be surprised to learn that filling your bedroom with living plants is a simple, natural way to calm your mind and induce a restful sleep. Plants improve air quality and have a major, positive impact on our moods. Studies have even shown that plants help stressed students lower blood pressure by calming the sympathetic nervous system (the creator of our fight-or-flight adrenaline response to stress and anxiety), improve employer focus while on the job, and generally contribute to a more productive and healthy environment.

As human beings, we are inherently drawn to nature, so while all plants will certainly  provide physical and mental benefits, there are a select few that have been studied and used more than others for their ability to promote relaxation and sleep. Some, in particular, were studied by NASA back in the late 80s for their ability to detoxify air.

Here are a few of those commonly researched plant suggestions to help you start the new year healthily rested and ready for what each day brings:

The Snake Plant

If you’re afraid of snakes, you might not think that a plant with snake in the name would be particularly soothing (it’s also known as the mother-in-law’s tongue plant!), but the snake plant’s large leaves make it ideal for air purification, and it’s general hardy nature means that even the most inexperienced gardener can keep this plant thriving. Just water your plant when the soil is dry. Check out this snake plant available on Amazon, already potted and ready to be placed in your home.

The Spider Plant

From snakes to spiders, the spider plant is another greenery that has been shown to promote cleaner, clearer air and promote sleep. These plants are well-adjusted to artificial lighting; in fact, too much direct sunlight can actually harm them, so they’re perfect for an indoor environment.

Jasmine Blooms

If you’re seeking something a little more flowery, jasmine is a beautiful plant to have at your bedside. Jasmine is a scent often used in aromatherapy to calm and soothe, particularly for people with anxiety, making it an ideal choice for a goodnight’s sleep. Interestingly, a 2010 research study found that jasmine, as well as another plant — gardenia — was as effective as strong anxiety medication in non-human research subjects.

You can also enjoy jasmine in additional ways, like in a relaxing tea before bed.

Gardenia

Gardenia is a beautiful plant with a lovely scent and a long history of encouraging relaxation. That being said, this special plant is also one of the more temperamental on this list. If you’re interested in purchasing a gardenia, you’ll want to read up a little on the care and keeping of this flower. Gardenias are tropical plants, so they enjoy much more sunlight than a snake plant or a spider plant. However, they also need just the right amount of shade. While it may take some time to figure out the best plan for your gardenia, the trouble will be well worth the effort, as gardenia has such soothing and air clearing properties.

Gerbera Daisies

Another equally beautiful choice is a gerbera daisy. This plant was one referenced in the NASA study for its ability to purify air, and it’s also safe to keep around animals. If you have pets or children, this is important to note. It’s always best to research what plants may actually be toxic if consumed, so that you can place those plants in locations where they can’t be accessed by your little ones — or, so that you can choose a different, safer plant altogether.

Lavender

Lavender, like the jasmine and gardenia plants, is a kind of wonder plant, with a fragrance that has been shown in numerous studies to help with anxiety and promote a more refreshing sleep. Lavender is also found in everything from essential oil to bedtime teas, so a natural lavender plant in your bedroom could potentially do wonders for establishing a healthy sleep and calmer mood.

Nature Improves Our Overall Wellness

Having plants in the home not only makes for a more soothing, restful environment, but caring for the plants provides further opportunity for practising mindfulness. Make sure you read any care tags or booklets that come with your plant, or seek out information online, so that you’re aware of the best way to keep your plant alive and growing, as well as any information you might need to know regarding your pet’s or child’s access to the plant.

Do you have plants in your home? Have you found them beneficial for your rest and wellbeing? Interact with me on Facebook, where I share more thoughts on daily wellness, or leave your own thoughts below.

Make Someone’s Day With an Inspirational Card

Christmas is just around the corner, providing many opportunities to express warmth and affection to our family and friends. While gifts and group meals are plentiful this time of year, there is something that seems to be forgotten more and more each season — the humble greeting card.

In decades past, exchanging Christmas cards was as essential to Christmas as tree trimming and stocking stuffing, but with the rise in technology and the advent of social media, the sharing of paper greetings has since declined. This is unfortunate, both because there is something uniquely personal about receiving a tangible greeting card, and because the very act of sitting down to compose a greeting provides the writer with a moment for mindfulness and reflection.

There Is Nothing Better Than Receiving a Greeting Card in the Post

Particularly since we are in an age where technology rules, receiving a carefully considered card in the post is a guaranteed way to brighten someone’s day. Our post, sadly, is often not particularly uplifting, filled with junk mail and bills. Seeing a handwritten envelope amongst the pile of everyday messages is incredibly uplifting. Cards can be kept, treasured, and displayed. They convey a sense of the physical person that all of our apps just can’t convey. Cards aren’t deleted in a Snapchat message or buried in a Twitter feed. They provide a level of connection that feels more real than what comes across our Smartphones everyday.

Year Round Inspiration

While Christmas provides the most obvious opportunity to sit down and compose a handwritten greeting, cards are items that can be sent year round to offer a special surprise or boost to loved ones. This is an area where technology and the real world collide, as the Internet offers endless choices for selecting the right card. From charity Christmas card packs to inspirational cards that can be sent anytime of year, your choices for your message are seemingly limitless.

Inspirational greeting card packs also provide terrific gifts this time of year, both for old school stationery lovers, and for today’s children who may not have had much experience writing cards or letters. Gift a child with a pack of inspirational cards and assist them in expressing their gratitude to those who gave them Christmas presents, or even just let them have fun with the cards, writing their own letters and stories. The inspirational cards available online are often so beautiful that they can even be framed and hung as artwork! Most importantly, their messages are carefully selected by you, giving the card yet another personal touch that can deeply impact and encourage the recipient.

Writing for Mindfulness

We don’t spend as much time writing by hand these days, but the very act of doing so is a way of practising mindfulness, as well as a way to harness our innate creativity and even improve our mental health. We can get our thoughts out of our heads and onto the page, clearing our minds and activating areas of the brain that are stimulated by the use of our fine motor skills. Handwriting offers a space for reflection and contemplation.

While my upcoming book on mindfulness will offer greater insight into this beneficial practise, a writer should focus on the feeling of the pen against the hand, and the feeling of gliding the pen across the paper or card. Simply by participating in these simple actions — being present as you write — you are engaging in a meditative practise that should never become a lost art.

What are your thoughts on inspirational cards? Do you plan to send Christmas cards this year, or write thank you cards with your children? How does writing impact your practise of mindfulness? Connect with me in the comments, and on Facebook, where I offer more tips and tricks to improve your wellbeing and enhance your life.

All About Salt Lamps: What Do They Do?

Himalayan salt lamps are all the rage these days, and for good reason. These aesthetically pleasing lamps come in a surprisingly wide variety of styles and colours, from natural amber to hand-painted designs, and they boast an equal array of benefits. But, what exactly are these unique-looking lamps? And, how can they potentially help you?

Artful Decor

Himalayan salt lamps are, at their heart, decorative lamps. Although various types exist, the most common setup consists of a wooden base with a small light bulb and power cord with a “shade” that extends from the base and completely covers the bulb comprised of pink salt crystals which are extracted from areas near the Himalayas. When lit, these lamps emit a calming amber hue that provides the ideal ambiance for homes, workplaces, and areas of meditation. They are also great for physically mindful areas of activity, such as in a Tai Chi or yoga studio.

Of course, there is so much more to a Himalayan salt lamp than merely its artistic appeal.

Turning the Negative Into a Positive – Helping to Balance Yin and Yang

Himalayan salt lamps have the positive effect of producing negative ions. Despite its optimistic name, positive ions in the air, generally created by the electronic devices in our lives, are thought to cause a host of issues, both physical and mental.  Himalayan salt lamps draw in these positive ions and send back out negative ions. These negative ions occur in nature from things like the ocean and lightning. They produce positive effects such as increasing your energy levels by increasing oxygen and blood flow in the body. As such, having a Himalayan salt lamp around can be extremely beneficial to your overall health and well-being.

Help with Allergies, Asthma, and More

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about Himalayan salt lamps is their ability to help with allergies, asthma, and other conditions that involve particles in the air. The salt lamps are hygroscopic, meaning they attract moisture in the air to themselves, an act which often causes the lamps to “sweat,” particularly in moist environments. As the lamps attract moisture, particles in the air join along for the ride.

These little lamps pack a big punch in the fight against mould, dust, dander, and other air pollutants, as they actively trap contaminants in the salt. Light a salt lamp in your bedroom, office space, or any other area where you feel that the air could use a bit of freshening, and you can begin to breathe in clean air once again.

Guide Your Mindfulness and Aide Anxiety

Since a Himalayan salt lamp easily lends itself to creating a meditative environment, it is ideal for your mindfulness and meditation sessions. Mindfulness is an important part of your mental health, and while my upcoming book will touch on these topics in greater detail, salt lamps can provide a focal point for your meditative practises, similar to the flame of a candle. You can stare into the lamp as you would a flame, focusing on remaining in the present moment, or on a specific intention.

Mindfulness and meditation can provide great benefit to those suffering from anxiety, as with practises such as Tai Chi and yoga. With its soft glow, a salt lamp enhances the effective stress reduction of these activities. Plus, with the lamp ridding your space of positive ions, you’ll potentially experience further reduction in the levels of stress that they could be causing. It has been theorised that the negative ions it produces may have a positive effect on your mood by stimulating the production of serotonin.

Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder

The mental health benefits of Himalayan salt lamps are without question. Another area they seem to affect is in the condition of Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a major depressive disorder with symptoms that include a loss of interest in activities and social interaction. This disorder most often affects people during the winter months. This is thought to be, at least partially, due to the lack of sunlight during this time of the year. Himalayan salt lamps produce a glow that is similar to that of natural sunshine, helping you to reduce your risk of SAD throughout the year.

Finding the Lamp for You

While there are many options for Himalayan salt lamps, not all of them are created equal. It may be disheartening to learn that you have to ensure that the salt lamp you purchase is genuine. Carefully observe your lamp. If it gives off a soft glow, that’s a sign of a quality lamp. If, however, you have a brighter kind of light, similar to a typical table lamp, then it’s likely not the real thing. A true Himalayan salt lamp is likely to have originated from the salt mines of Pakistan, and, being made of salt, they are fragile. If you’ve dropped or knocked your lamp and it hasn’t at least chipped a bit, there’s reason to be suspicious.

Another thing to look at is colour. Most lamps will be pink to orange hued. White salt lamps do exist, but they are also a more expensive type of lamp, so if you’re seeking a white lamp, but noticing low prices, be on guard. Also, remember that it is normal for lamps to “sweat” during use. Truly, perhaps the most telling sign of whether or not your lamp is a real Himalayan salt lamp actually has to do with the retailer itself. Genuine retailers know how fragile their lamps can be and so have generous return policies, such as this lamp from Levoit, which carries a 1-year warranty and lifetime support. Levoit is one of the most reputable Himalayan salt lamp sellers on the market today, focused on quality and safety. Plus, their lamps are budget-friendly. You definitely don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a genuine Himalayan salt lamp.

What have been your experiences with salt lamps? Have you purchased one, or do you have questions about what your lamp can do for you? Let me know in the comments, and follow me on Facebook for more tips and tricks to better your health and well-being.