Breathing Bliss

Air Quality Awareness Week falls on the last week of April this year, which is coming up starting on the 29th!

In honor of thinking actively about the air we breathe, I wanted to talk a little about how to keep the air you’re exposed to inside your home nice and clean without having to do too much work AND adding a little more ambiance to your home!

Glowing Rocks? Yes please!

Himalayan salt lamps are so cool for so many reasons, and many of these reasons involve cleaning and purifying the air around us, especially around bedtime! For starters, salt attracts water molecules from out of the air in your house. This may at first sound startling, I think my skin started drying out as I typed that sentence! However, I love my salt lamp because along with the water molecules, it absorbs the things attached these molecules, like pollen, dust, and mold! Which is wonderful, especially for this beautiful springy time of year full of allergens like those polluting the air in our homes and making us sneeze like crazy!

Salt lamps also release negative ions into the air, which are often found in natural settings like forests or near running water. Negative ions, despite the connotation of their name, actually do a lot of really positive things for our bodies. For instance, they help boost our metabolism and our immune systems, purify our blood, and neutralize free radicals. Having more of these in the air you breathe without a doubt is doing your body a favor!

Lastly, salt lamps are especially important before bed, air quality aside. They emit orange light (go for the pink Himalayan salt lamps if you can, because while the white ones may look cool, you loose out on this final benefit!), and this helps encourage your body to follow your natural circadian rhythm. Sunset also emits a large amount of orange light, as opposed to white and blue light during the daytime hours. This orange light, therefore, is a natural signal to your body that it is time to go to sleep!

Plants? ALWAYS!

Back in 1989, NASA actually did a study about indoor plants that remove pollutants from the air, and they came up with a lot of really cool results. The short version of this research is: these plants are not only easy to take care of, but they have been proven to clean up the air around you and make breathing indoors more healthy and clean!

The top of NASA’s indoor plants list is the garden mum. This cute little plant can be grown indoors through it’s blooming season and then transplanted outside. They are very easy to take care of, and remove things like benzene, ammonia, and formaldehyde from the air!

Next in line is the spider plant. This plant is very forgiving if you’re a forgetful plant owner (I’ve had mine for months now and I’ve taken week long vacations and totally forgotten about it! Came back, it was totally fine!). It likes indirect sunlight indoors, and sends out these cute little shoots when it wants to expand out of it’s container! You can repot these shoots and end up with TONS of little spider plants. It removes formaldehyde and xylene from the air.

If you want to get really crazy with using plants as air purifiers, you can plant then in the Plant Air Purifier planter to get even stronger cleaning power! This planter comes with special growing media that not only supports the plant growing inside of it, but filters the air that it is exposed to! This planter is also great for forgetful plant owners: it can store enough water for a plant for a whole week!

Plant-Based Rocks? Of course!

Bamboo charcoal was something I didn’t even know existed until very recently, but I MIGHT be obsessed with! It’s been used for centuries for filtration and medicinal purposes across Asia, and it just making it’s debut as an air purifier in the Western world.

A perk to using bamboo charcoal to purify your indoor air is that it is a natural deodorizer, without adding an over-sweet scent to the air instead. This is especially good for smaller spaces, like mudrooms or cars, so that these spaces don’t get overwhelmed by good or bad scents!

And, these fun black rocks get their air-deodorizing powers by cleaning it and getting rid of the things creating those bad smells, such as ammonia, carbonic oxide, and other smog components.

Keeping Your Furry Friends Feeling Fresh

Pets are one of those wonderful natural healers. They can fix a bad day or a severe mood swing, and are even beginning to be brought around to campuses and businesses nationwide as volunteer therapy animals for the people who go to school/work in these sometimes stressful environments.

While pets are healers themselves, it’s important that if you’re thinking of getting one yourself that you know how to take care of your new friend. Because while you may depend on them as a source of love, joy, and companionship, they depend on you to take care of them and make sure they are healthy!

So, here are some things to think about to incorporate a new pet into your home, and keep their health and beauty routines as natural as your own!

Natural Grooming

We like to be beautiful, and I feel like for our animal companions the same thing must be at least a little true! Our furry friends like dogs and cats require things like natural shampoos and conditioners that keep their fur soft and smooth without drying out their skin. Brands like Earthbath make it a priority that their ingredients are good for both our pets and us to be exposed to during bath time, and still leave them smelling fresh and clean!

For our more reptilian friends, like turtles and lizards, little to no grooming is usually required! However, it is important to keep their tanks clean, especially if it is around molting season. And, if you’re feeling like pampering your reptilian companion, a simple “bath” with lukewarm water and a toothbrush for light scrubbing is sure to do the trick!

Natural Feeding

Giving our pets both what they want in a diet and what they need in a diet is very important, and this can be both challenging and exciting to tackle for pet owners. For cats, this involves a lot of protein and not a lot of things like grain meal and corn gluten, which are present in a surprising number of cat foods! Freshpet makes all natural cat food that doesn’t break the bank and keeps friendly felines well fed!

Dogs need lots of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals, and similar to cats they should avoid gluten-rich foods as much as possible. Snakes typically consume their prey, which are usually mice, whole, and it doesn’t get much more natural than that I suppose! Other reptiles like turtles like to be fed dark leafy greens, so things like kale and spinach are easy ones to keep these little guys going strong. You have the option to get food pellets to additionally nourish reptiles like lizards and turtles, but be sure that these pellets contain things mostly along the lines of herbs and leafy plants.

Natural Aging

Just like people, animals age, and the effects of getting older can hit our animal friends pretty hard if we’re not keeping up with a little extra care for them everyday.

Some common issues for animals as they age can be vision loss, limited liver function, and diabetes development. The vision loss sounds like the scariest, but actually many animals can adjust pretty quickly to life with limited or no vision. Since many pets are very in-tune with their owners’ emotions, the best thing you can do for your pet if they experience vision loss is stay calm and do your best to maintain an upbeat attitude! Some physical things to do to help prevent vision loss include treating eye infections promptly and keeping a close eye on the clarity of your animals’ eyes.

Reduced liver function is another common problem for aging pets, but is often easily fixed through the use of supplements like those made by Pet Wellbeing or PetAlive. The key here is catching the symptoms early! In dogs, this can be things like a suddenly limited appetite, vomiting and jaundice in the eyes, nose and ears.

Finally, the best thing to do about those tricky hip problems in large dogs, or arthritis in cats, or really any bone issue is make the house or apartment you live in more safe for your pet. Things like Natural Area Rugs animal stair treads can help make one of the biggest obstacles in a home for a bone-challenged animal (the stairs) a little less daunting or unsafe!

Pesky PMS (and how to deal with it!!!)

If you’re anything like me, around a certain time of the month, I just don’t feel like myself. Aches and pains don’t begin to cover how painful, annoying and emotional PMS can be, and this is true for a lot of women (to a point that they’ve given painful period cramps their own name- dysmenorrhea!).

The women in my family are no strangers to fainting from period pains, or from complete mental breakdowns over something spilled-milk-esque (or even, literally, spilled milk!), and often this tumultuous time leaves me feeling very helpless. I had tried turning to the health center at my school, only to be pointed to birth control pills that landed me in a heap of anxiety and depression immediately following my sophomore year of college.

While it’s fantastic that birth control pills and extreme hormone controls work wonders for some women, I quickly learned that I had to turn to some more natural methods for dealing with my periods. Oddly enough, it was that journey to find natural remedies to help me feel better that started me on my all-natural health and beauty routines to begin with!

So, here are my words of wisdom on the issue that started all this: PMS.

Hormonal Aids

While I found that hard-core birth control pills were too much for my system, hormone regulators and aids can be very helpful when dealing with period symptoms. They can not only relieve pain, they can help curb mood swings and make bleeding much lighter overall.

There are also lots of great options for supplements you can take that specifically work to regulate hormones during that-time-of-the-month to help you feel more balanced and relaxed. Brands like Nutramedix and New Chapter both have lots of natural hormone balance supplements that can make PMS symptoms far more tolerable, and without changing up your lifestyle or eating habits for an entire week every month.

Movement Aids

I’m sure you’ve read it as many times as I have: exercising makes your period symptoms more tolerable. This is totally true, however it can be very challenging to remind yourself of this when you’re in the middle of dealing with the physical and emotional roller coaster that is PMS. So, if you also find it hard to motivate yourself to get to the gym during this time, don’t worry, you have options!

Stretching is one that I find seriously helps me relieve tension and relax my muscles, and not only while I’m PMS-ing. Stretching a little every morning, but especially during your period, can help relax your body and stop the cramps from coming on so strong so quickly.

Another interesting method for physically relieving period symptoms, I’ve found, is rubbing your abdomen in a clockwise direction, right over where the cramps usually kick in. This method is often used to relieve abdominal pain that comes from the stomach and not the uterus, however it can help reduce bloating, which in my opinion is always a plus! This little trick along with a heating pad on your back is truly an unstoppable combination, and can make you feel much more ready to take on the day in the midst of PMS.

Food and Drink Aids

Finally, if there are a few things you can work in amongst the salty-foods and chocolate cravings, I would recommend raspberry leaf tea and almonds. And as a side note before we get into that, let yourself indulge in the cravings! Dark chocolate is something that has actually been found to help ease period pains, and the salty foods can help make up for the amount of iron you’re loosing during blood loss while you’re on your period. Our bodies crave things for a reason, so don’t be afraid to listen to your body when it lets you know what it needs.

Alright back to helpful foods. Raspberry tea has been my true savior in my PMS/period pains journey, and Traditional Medicinals actually makes a raspberry leaf tea called Healthy Cycle, which makes it super easy to identify at the grocery store. Red raspberry leaf tea is such a life saver because it actually boosts your immune system and slows down blood flow, which can make your periods feel lighter and ease cramps at the same time!

Almonds are another food I turn to frequently for period relief. They are packed with magnesium, which can help regulate serotonin receptors and help lift your mood! Plus they can satisfy that need for salt that tends to accompany PMS. Also… you can cover them in chocolate. And I’m going to end my article at that! 🙂