For most people, Easter is a welcome break from the daily grind. For one weekend you can sit back, enjoy a few extra days off, and absolutely binge on chocolate. Whether you’re a parent with little ones waiting for the Easter Bunny, or an adult with a serious chocolate craving, Easter is often a time of overindulgence. Although highly enjoyable by any measure, these excessive Easter habits can cause havoc to your body.
But, there’s still good news to be had. These four simple tips can help you have the best of both worlds, enjoying Easter while keeping yourself healthy and glowing.
Take It Slow
The key to getting the most out of your Easter, without throwing your health into turmoil, is to take it nice and slow. Don’t sit down with all your Easter goodies and pig out. Instead, try and pace yourself over the long weekend, making sure that you’re able to have a little bit of the good stuff every day.
If you’re terrible at resisting temptation, consider laying out all the chocolate you have to eat, and allocating a small amount every day. Remember, Easter isn’t the only time you’re allowed to eat chocolate (nor is it likely to be the only time you will), so don’t overdo it. Keep your servings in check, and the effect on your body will be lessened.
What most people don’t realise about chocolate is that it isn’t the chocolate itself that’s bad for you. It’s all the added extras that chocolate companies toss in to improve and normalize flavour. So, to minimise the negative effects of a sudden increase in chocolate in your diet, consider opting for dark chocolate over milk or white varieties.
Dark chocolate can be more expensive, but its flavour is often more complex and interesting to eat. Its somewhat bitter aftertaste is positive not only as it keeps kid hands off it, but it isn’t something you can binge on extensively. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t taste good, and with more options on the market every Easter, it’s worth a try.
If it’s chocolate you’re craving, there might be more options than a quick Easter weekend trip to the shops. Instead, why not try making some Easter goodies yourself? Using carob, coconut oil and raw cacao is an easy way to bring more chocolate into your life without compromising your health. There are an endless number of recipes online, many of which are simple to make and perfect for easter.
Thinking outside the box when it comes to Easter treats is easier than you think, so it pays to do some research and get an idea of your options. The other bonus of making Easter treats yourself is that you know exactly what goes into it, and you’re less likely to binge excessively.
The problem that many people face, especially over Easter, is that the need to relax overshadows necessary exercise. But, instead of being avoided, exercise should be embraced over Easter. After all, it’s a time that is all about new beginnings, starting over, and crafting healthy habits. So, instead of sitting back all Easter, head out and enjoy the world.
Take a walk with your partner, your family or just yourself, getting the most out of your beautiful surrounds before winter is upon you again. You can even combine both worlds by packing a healthy Easter picnic, with a few treats, and heading out on a long walk.
What do you love doing over Easter to stay healthy?
There’s a certain feeling that you get, perhaps when you realise you’re playing a juggling game with your life, that you just need to take some time for yourself. The problem is, you have no time to spare. Life is busy, and ten minutes is just about all you can give towards your own sanity, and there’s no way that’s enough right?
In fact, ten minutes is all you need to go through our seven simple steps to de-stressing, and reaching that wonderful state of relaxation.
Here’s how you do it.
Find A Quiet Place
The space you choose is entirely up to you. All that it has to be is quiet, and a spot where you won’t be interrupted as you relax. You could even lock yourself in the bathroom if you want, there’s really no place that you can’t find your little moment of peace.
Wherever you’re going to relax, your phone and other electronics are not going with you. Yes, there might be an emergency while you’re away, but you’ll be back in 10 minutes and fully able to deal with it then. If you take your phone with you, you’re more likely to be interrupted and lose the peace and quiet you’re looking for. Although you might feel a little bit naked without your phone in hand, it is going to be a blessing for your stress levels.
Find a spot to sit where you feel comfortable. In general, we would recommend trying to find a place where you don’t slouch, and where the pressure on your spine is minimal. Try exhaling and relaxing your shoulders to get into an ideal position, resting your hands lightly on the top of your thighs. There’s no specific method of sitting, just find something comfortable for you.
Focus On Your Breath
This is usually most easily accomplished by closing your eyes, and cutting all external distractions. Just take a minute to focus entirely on your breath, in and out and in and out. Think of your chest like a wave coming in and leaving the shore. If that is too much to manage, just try counting each external and internal breath for a moment, focusing your attention there.
Tighten And Release
Starting from either your head or your feet, move slowly through your body focusing on tightening and releasing each muscle and body part. As you release the muscle, focus on the feeling of pressure lightening in those areas, and the relaxation that follows. Your mind might wander in this process, but gently bring yourself back to the tightening and releasing, and that feeling of gentle relaxation.
Once you’ve worked your way through your body, take a minute to enjoy the feeling of your body in a state of relaxation. Allow your mind to wander and freewheel in any manner you like, these minutes are just for you to enjoy.
Repeat As Needed
This process might not seem like it makes a big difference, but the key aspect of it as that it is fast, effective, and easy to fit into any day. Working through these seven steps can have a big impact on your stress levels and feelings of well-being, so try and sit down for ten minutes every day, and just take time for you. Believe us, you’ll be thankful for it.
Over the last decade or so, there has been a growing number of people switching to a vegetarian diet. This diet, once limited to social outliers and the ‘hippie’ movement, has been fully embraced by many, both in Australia and around the world.
Followers of the vegetarian diet are quick to point out the benefits of the diet compared to an omnivorous eating plan, but fact and fiction are often confused.
Let’s start clearing up exactly what the vegetarian diet is, and what the health benefits might be, right now.
Different Styles of Vegetarianism
The first thing that anyone new to the vegetarian movement should know is that there are different types of vegetarianism. The most well-known of these is veganism, those who avoid all animal products to varying degrees. But there are also fruitarians, who avoid all animal products and all processed foods, lacto-vegetarians, who eat dairy products but not eggs, and lacto-ovo-vegetarians, who eat both dairy products and eggs.
The Vegetarian Diet
With these classifications and subdividers in mind, let’s look at just what we mean when we talk about the vegetarian diet, and what the diet consists of in its entirety. Basically, the vegetarian diet involves lots of fruits and vegetables, the possibility of dairy products, although soya is a regular substitute, a variety of grains and cereals, and often legumes, nuts and seeds.
The Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
There have been numerous studies done into the possible benefits that a vegetarian diet can have on the individual, but keep in mind that no one diet is a placebo or a guarantee. Still, the evidence certainly suggests that a vegetarian diet can have a positive effect on:
Heart Health: Many fatty red meats, and most processed meats, are high in saturated fat, so it follows logically that removing, or limiting, those foods in your diet will reduce your risk of heart disease. Studies undertaken by the University of Vermont of 500,000 people showed that eating even a small steak every day increased the risk of death from cardiovascular disease among participants.
Weight Loss: Meats can be very high in calories, and although eating large amounts of meat can lead to weight gain in the short-term, there are long-term weight effects as well. A large study in London concluded that individuals who ate around 250 grams of red meat, poultry or processed meat gained more weight over five years than those who ate less meat, even if the number of calories consumed was the same.
Cancer Risk: There have been a number of studies over the years working to either show or debunk the meat-cancer connection. Certainly at present the results seem clear, with a study in the British Journal of Cancer indicating that women who ate the highest level of red and processed meat had the highest risk of breast cancer. In other studies, the consumption of meat has also been linked with pancreatic, colon and gastric cancers.
Skin Health: If is wasn’t enough that a vegetarian diet could make you feel better, there is now evidence that it might make you look better too. The combination of having less fatty and processed meats in the diet, as well as the substantial increase in the consumption of fresh produce filled with antioxidants, has been shown to improve skin health. The antioxidants help to improve circulation, positively alter skin pigmentation and maintain skin tone.
There is certainly a lot of strong evidence indicating that a vegetarian diet may be healthier overall for those that choose to follow it. But, if you aren’t quite up for giving up all of the meat in your diet, consider simply subbing out some meat meals with vegetarian alternatives, and a larger amount of produce. It might not be a full vegetarian change, but it is still a healthy change, and could make a difference to you.
The idea of ‘getting healthy’ is so vague that to many people it seems inaccessible. LIfe is so busy, full of things that must be done, that finding time to simply keep us with the necessities is a chore, let alone finding time for ourselves.
But, there is some good news. Getting healthy, and feeling better about yourself and your well-being, is easier than it first appears. In fact, we’ve compiled a couple of simple things, each of which you can do in less than 10 minutes, to start you down the road of feeling better today.
Eat A Piece of Fruit
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in convenient snacking and forget that the best snacks are the ones provided by nature. A muesli bar might have the sugar in it to keep you going, but snacking on an apple or a banana will make you feel better, for longer. So, next time you’re feeling peckish, try reaching for natural produce first, and seeing how what the effect is.
Do Some Speedy Exercise
Lots of people think that they don’t have time for exercise. But the truth is that any exercise can be good for you, even if is is just 10 minutes of jumping jacks, or a quick run up the stairs. Regular exercise, even in short bursts, can have a marked impact on your sense of well-being, as well as your mood and stress levels.
Think Something Positive
Negative thinking doesn’t just get us down, it can be really bad for our health. By constantly focusing on the negative, we bring unnecessary stress and worry into our lives. So, next time you look in the mirror or go to put yourself down, think something positive instead. There’s really no point in being your own worst critic.
Set Your Bedtime
Sometimes the best thing that we can do for ourselves is to rest, allowing your body to reset and heal from those long and stressful days. But, it can be easy to tell yourself you’re ‘too busy’ to head to bed. Instead of allowing this to happen, try setting a solid bedtime, and heading to bed even if you don’t feel tired. You might be surprised how easily you fall asleep, and how much it can improve your overall health.
Drink A Glass of Water
Dehydration is at the centre of more health problems than more people realise, and from skin conditions to headaches and even stress, not getting enough water can have a serious impact. Luckily, combatting this is as easy as having a glass of water as soon as you get up, and regularly throughout the day. One simple action, with amazing results.
Life now is digital, which makes it easy for the modern individual to get caught up in an online world that isn’t compatible with their reality. To avoid this, try switching your phone off in the evenings, or putting it somewhere you won’t reach for it. Then, instead of participating in constant screen time, enjoy your real-life surroundings with gentle conversation, or a good book.
What we want you to get out of this article is that there’s nothing impossible about getting healthy, and feeling better in yourself. We’ve laid out just a few simple actions you can take, in the space of just 10 minutes, to start feeling better, but there are so many more little things that you can do, which really make a big difference.
The world that we live in is a busy one, with more stressors, more responsibilities and more worries than ever before. One, often unintentional, human response to this busy world is to try and pack more and more activity into our day, which in turn leads to us getting less sleep.
Considering the importance of a good night sleep on us as individuals, this is a worrying trend, and one that is backed up by facts. Some 90% of all Australians will suffer from one of more than 70 sleep disorders during their lifetime. In fact, sleep problems are at the centre of 9% of work related injuries, 8% of depression cases and 7% of motor vehicle accidents.
But, those are just statistics, often not enough to motivate change. So, instead of educating you on what happens when you don’t get enough sleep, we thought we’d explore what happens when you do. Here are the six unexpected benefits of getting enough sleep.
1. Less Stress
If you’re feeling so stressed it’s overwhelming, tucking yourself into an early night might be the best move to make. Although it seems counter-intuitive to many, getting enough sleep can help to manage your stress levels, and keep you sane. When you’re sleep deprived, your body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol, making it harder not to sweat the small stuff.
2. Longer Life
The jury is still out on this as a proven fact, but it has long been suggested that too little sleep (or too much) can lead to a shorter lifespan. Certainly, a complete lack of sleep will kill you, but consistently getting less than five hours of sleep a night can affect your quality of life in the short-term, as well as your potential time on this lovely planet.
3. Better Memory
If you think time asleep is time wasted doing nothing, prepare to learn something. When you’re asleep, your brain is busy, working on a process known as consolidation. During this process, the brain takes skills you learned when you were awake, and strengthens your memories of them, essentially practicing them as your snooze. This means that you’re better at them when you wake, and more rested too.
4. Weight Control
Sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same sections of the brain, so its no surprise that not getting enough sleep can hinder your weight loss goals. In fact, when you’re sleepy, the same hormones rise in the blood that appear when you’re hungry. So, although staying up late might be great for getting things done, you’re likely to confuse your body into craving food, when you really need sleep.
5. More Creativity
Researchers have found that during sleep the brain consolidates information (as we’ve already talked about) as well as restructuring it. This reorganization of information is thought to help to motivate creativity, and streamline the creative process by strengthening the emotional aspects of your powerful memories.
6. Nicer Skin
A considerable number of skin disorders and general problems can be linked to inflammation in the body, a condition that happens to be found more often in people who sleep for fewer than 6 hours every night. These individuals tend to have higher blood levels of inflammatory proteins, which can lead to those pesky skin problems, as well as other health issues.
Clearly, getting a good nights sleep has more of an impact than you think. With far-reaching consequences, there’s more to think about before skipping the sleep-in than the time you think you’re wasting.
You don’t have to be an organic, raw food only, vegan-loving individual to see the potential benefits of having your own vegetable garden. Once the staple feature of many backyards, vegetable gardens have sadly fallen from grace. But, the ever-increasing costs of produce, along with a rise in self-sustainable lifestyle followers have started to change this.
Vegetable gardens are now officially back in fashion, and to help you keep up with the trend, we’re offering a simple, seven step guide to starting your own.
Planting a vegetable garden is unfortunately not as easy as heading out and digging a hole, and leading with that is the easiest way to doom your garden before it even begins. Instead of running wildly into the unknown, create a solid design for your garden, a plan that you can follow in building. This allows you to better anticipate issues and solve them before you start. Also, if it is your first time creating a garden, we recommend you start small.
Once you’ve laid out your plan, it is time to prepare your garden beds and soil. Many people now choose to create raised beds for the gardens, which have a number of benefits including ease of design, preparation and construction. Once you’ve raised your beds, or created your garden bed via other methods, you’ll need to get your soil ready by fertilising and watering to encourage an ideal growing environment.
The next step is to start the process of collecting seeds to plant in your garden. If some of your friends are gardening, you can get seeds from them, otherwise look at seed or farming collectives in your area, a growing trend. Of course many outdoor stores sell seeds, but the choice can be limited. You might even have luck buying from certified online seed sellers.
The biggest thing to remember when you’re planting your garden is how your plants are going to be organised. Many people believe that rows are the best way to grow produce, but in fact that style is more suited to large scale farming. There are a number of simple planting styles, including triangular and intensive planting, that are better suited to smaller garden spaces.
Some types of produce flourishes by growing up, and providing for these kinds of plants isn’t just good for them, it can save you lots of space. These kinds of plants include tomato vines, cucumber, beans and many more. Many gardens choose to use stakes to support these plants, but trellises and cages can maximise your growing space and your harvest.
Seasons change, and so too should your garden. Make sure that you don’t just plant your garden and neglect it, keep reading on how to streamline it and help it reach its full growing potential. This includes reading up on seasonal planting, extending your garden’s growing season, and planting compatible produce combinations. You garden is always growing, and your knowledge about gardening should be too!
There’s nothing quite like harvesting fresh produce straight from the plant to your plate, so don’t get scared when it comes time to pick. Remember that many plants, like zucchini and lettuce, can be harvested at different points in their growing cycle for different tasting produce. In many cases, the more you harvest from a plant, the more it will produce, so get picking!
A vegetable garden is a chance for you to educate yourself and your family about the value of real food, and is likely to make you think twice about what you buy and what you eat. It can also be a great way to save money, and enjoy a regular, gentle exercise, with rewards worth working for.
Let’s be honest here: nobody like to be stressed. But life, as it will, tends to get complicated or challenging, so before you know it everything is too overwhelming, and stress has taken control. Of course people get stressed for all kinds of reasons, and that stress can have marked negative impacts on our health and wellbeing.
So, what can you do about it?
Unfortunately for all those folks suffering from a little stress, there’s no easy fix. But, luckily there are a few simple steps that you can take to help you deal with the stress in your life… without creating more.
1. Get Organised
Good organisation is an easy way to combat stress before it even happens. Living in an organised space helps you to cultivate an organised mind, which in turn suffers from less stress. The thing to remember when you’re in the process of getting organised is that simplicity is key. Removing clutter from your life, your house and your workspace can all help to streamline your thought process, and help to manage your day-to-day stress.
Never underestimate the incredible healing powers of a few hours (or minutes) spent out enjoying the beautiful world that we live in. If you’ve had one of those stressful days that seems beyond repair, try taking some time out of your day to take a walk or do some other kind of exercise. The physical exercise, combined with the healing potential of a natural environment, can lead to a notable improvement in your state of mind.
This can be a hard concept for people to grasp, especially after a period of intense stress, but laughter really is the best medicine. Getting the giggles, even if you force yourself into it, is a great way to decrease tension, lift your mood and even increase your energy. If you’re stuck for ideas, trying hopping online and watching funny viral videos. They might just be enough to make your day.
Everyone procrastinates, and most people love to multitask. Unfortunately, doing both too often is an easy way to get stressed. The procrastination leaves you with too many things to accomplish in less time, and trying to multitask means splitting your focus, and often not doing a very good job. Try to set yourself bite-sized tasks with small rewards upon completion, like a short break, to help you get through the day.
5. Eat Healthy
Following a healthy eating plan is one of the best things that you can do for your body, and your stress levels. A balanced diet should contain lots of fresh produce, protein and essential vitamins and minerals, and not so much processed fats and sugars. These unhealthy foods can cause blood sugar spikes, reducing your awareness and focus capabilities, and leading to stress.
On stressful days it can help to look at the big picture. Think about the specific situation or individual that is making you stressed, and then ask yourself if this would still stress you in a year, or five or ten. We often stress too much over little things that have no future impact, and observing the situation from a big picture viewpoint is a simple way to control this.
This is a modern world we’re living in, and in that world things happen fast. Sometimes, just trying to keep up with social networks, real world responsibilities, work commitments and more is enough to make you scream. But instead of that, try just sitting down and allowing the world to slow around you. Consider trying some meditation, or even slow yoga, to help quiet the many voices of your stress, and cultivate a sense of calm. It might only last for 15 minutes, but it is rest that is absolutely necessary.
Stress is one of those things that can be impossible to avoid. But, like most things that life throws at us, it can be dealt with, and we hope that our tips help you do just that.