Why Wellness Now – 2017 End of the Year Performance Review

end of the year performance review

2017 is drawing to a close, and I’m starting to see a lot of people post “year in review” posts on their blogs. I like reading them because I find them interesting. After all, we’re all kind of on this blogging journey together. So, I thought it would be cool if I came up with my own “year in review” post. And this is it.

2017 was a big year for this blog, because it was the year this blog began. I actually started this in the middle of October 2017 because I wanted an online outlet for promoting the many direct sales businesses I’m a member of. However, this blog quickly became much more than that. Now it’s dedicated to all things health and wellness, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m making it more about helping others, rather than just helping myself. And that’s (I’ve found) one of the best ways to find true happiness in this life.

In the 10 or so weeks that this blog has been in existence, I’ve written 26 posts (including this one). Here’s a list of my 10 most popular ones:

5 Tips for Eating Clean

5 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Immune System

Stop Sabotaging Your Health!

Why I Joined Norwex

3 Must-Have Productivity Tools

Put a Little Mud (Mask) on Your Face

Increase Your Happiness by Reaching Out to Others

Must-Have Gifts for People Who Love Essential Oils

Seven Ways to Beat Anxiety Naturally

4 Reasons You Might Want to Stop Drinking Alcohol … At Least for a Little While

LESSONS LEARNED IN 2017

  1. Don’t ignore StumbleUpon if you want steady, targeted traffic. In addition to my discovery that I needed to make this blog less about me and my search for online income, something else big happened in 2017. I learned the power of StumbleUpon. I started really buckling down and using it the right way (stumbling 10 of other people’s posts for every one of my own), and I saw a crazy surge in traffic. In fact, it is now my #1 source of traffic. Lesson learned.

Here’s what my traffic stats looked like in 2017

  • October: 698 hits (367 unique)
  • November: 4173 (1004 unique)
  • December: 16,118 (5,798 unique)

Can you guess when I started upping my StumbleUpon strategy? Yeah, it was December.

Don't ignore StumbleUpon if you want steady, targeted traffic. Click To Tweet

2. You can’t (and shouldn’t) go it alone. I never really wanted to blog alone. Part of the reason for starting a blog is so you can connect with other people, but when you connect with other bloggers and help them develop their blogs while they help you develop yours … that’s something like magic.

starting a wordpress blog

I joined ViralContentBee and started dedicating at least part of my blogging time to promoting the blog posts of others. In return, the others on the site promote my blog posts. Social sharing is critical when it comes to getting people to see your blog, and social social sharing is a win-win for everyone involved.

I also joined a Facebook group for women bloggers (sorry, men!) that is really active and awesome. There are daily threads where you can post your blogs and/or social media accounts. You share other people’s, and they share yours. Again, it’s a win-win.

Finally, toward the end of this month I joined what is probably going to be the single biggest deal for my blog going into 2018, the Wealthy Affiliates community and training program. For just $49 a month ($19 for the first month), you get access to what is basically an affiliate marketing university. It’s awesome.

Oh, you also get unlimited access to the equally awesome Jaaxy keyword research tool. That totally makes it worth it to me. If you’ve never tried this keyword tool, you can try it out for free (up to 30 searches per month). But if you’re anything like me you’re going to want to opt in to the paid program because keyword searching becomes so addictive after a while.

You can't (and shouldn't) go it alone. Click To Tweet

3. You can make money, but you can’t make millions overnight. No matter what anyone tells you or what you may want to believe, you cannot make millions of dollars overnight with a blog. At least, you can’t do it without getting your site penalized for black hat tactics. I decided a long time ago that that was not the way I wanted to blog, and I’m sticking to it.

My ultimate goal is to make $1000 per month with this blog, although I’d be over the moon thrilled if I got up to $5000 per month. I think I could quit my day job then. For now, my blog income is looking pretty pathetic.

I wrote one ebook, one paperback journal, and one freebie checklist (all of these can be attained for free by signing up to my email list. I posted the ebook and the journal for sale on Amazon, and I’ve made a little bit of money selling those. In fact, I’ve had more luck selling the books than I have gaining email subscribers by giving the books away. In the three months I’ve been blogging, I’ve gained two email subscribers (and lost one – when I sent a “Happy Thanksgiving” email, go figure!). So, now I have all of 24. Building my email list is something I’m going to focus more on in 2018, for sure.

Here’s a breakdown of my blog income for 2017 (don’t laugh; please don’t laugh! Everybody has to start somewhere, right?):

  • October: $0 – Yep, that’s right. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
  • November: $2 (ebook and journal sales)
  • December: $7.67 (ebook sales and Amazon affiliate sales)

As you can see, I am pretty far from reaching my goal, but my income is steadily increasing. And, as I plan to release my first Thinkific course some time during January 2018, I’m expecting my income to increase even more. I don’t think my goal is as far off as it seems, although I know I’ve still got a lot of work to do to get there.

You can make money, but you can't make millions overnight. Click To Tweet

Blogging goals for 2018

  1. Learn how to increase email subscribers and do it.
  2. Finish Thinkific course and start promoting that through the blog (and the blog through the course).

2017 has been a year filled with blogging success for me. There have been a few setbacks and some disappointments, but overall I’m choosing to focus on all the progress I’ve made in these last few months of 2017.

What blogging successes and/or failures have you had in 2017? What are your goals for 2018? Let me know in the comments!

Increase Your Happiness by Reaching Out to Others

ways to boost happiness

INCREASE YOUR HAPPINESS BY REACHING OUT TO OTHERS

“Do what makes you happy.”

Have you heard that as much as I have? You have if you’ve ever felt dissatisfied with a job or any other professional or personal situation. In fact, you’ve probably heard that advice until you’re sick to death of it. This advice is not helpful, and it’s at least slightly misguided.

In today’s world, the pursuit of happiness is a deeply ingrained concept. We’re taught to expect our lives to be fairly happy, and we’re encouraged to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. 

But, as is the case with everything else in life, happiness isn’t that simple to attain, and it may not even be something we really should want to achieve — at least not by itself. Let me explain…

What Is Happiness?

First of all, happiness refers to what you can get from others and your environment. In other words, you’re happy when your material and emotional needs are fulfilled. Happiness is based on circumstances. When things are going well, we’re happy. When things are not going well, we’re not. In that sense, happiness can be a fickle and fleeting thing. 

One of the main social psychology measures of the achievement of happiness is Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Outdated though it may be, it gives us an idea of what people need to be happy and how important those things are in each area of our lives – from basic biological needs like food and shelter to more elevated needs like self-development and creativity.

However, fulfilling these needs doesn’t always make us happy. And in many cases, the fulfillment of these needs may directly conflict with the happiness we seek. For example, you get a job that pays enough to cover basic needs for food, shelter, and security, but it gets in the way of your need for creativity, flexibility, and freedom. How happy are you, really, then? Not very, right? 

Moreover, we tend to think of happiness as static — you either have it or you don’t. However, this is not the case at all. Instead, happiness is fluid and, as I mentioned before, often fleeting.

Happiness is fluid and often fleeting. Click To Tweet

So, is the pursuit of happiness an illusion?

Not necessarily. Instead, to find true happiness, you must first redefine it.

We can redefine happiness by making it broader. It’s not just about the nice, satisfied feeling you get when your needs are met, or when you receive something pleasant from someone else. It’s also about what you can give to others — and how giving gives you a purpose and a connection to your community.

According to psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, giving helps you reaffirm your very humanity. It makes you forget yourself, and give yourself over to the person in front of you. This is the basis of the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31). And it’s even one of the commandments Jesus gave us while He was on the earth (Mark 12:30-31). So, this concept — that of increasing your happiness by increasing the happiness (and meeting the needs) of others — is not a new one, either in the secular or spiritual world.

Luckily, you don’t have to change your entire routine to switch the focus from your own thoughts and needs to those of someone else.

There are a few simple things you can do right now to start giving more:

Listen.

See every conversation as a chance to connect with a person. Instead of just waiting for your turn to speak, pay attention to every word the other person is saying. Notice the tone of his voice and his body language. And don’t forget to ask questions to keep the conversation going.

If you need more help in learning the art of conversation, check out these popular books on Amazon:

Build things for others.

Can you knit, make origami figures, or draw? Maybe you’re good with a hammer and saw or with weaving words together to create a magical poem or story.

Whatever creative skill you have, use it to make something. Then give your creation away without expecting to receive anything in return. That’s what random acts of kindness are all about, even though they might not always be so random. Some of them are planned well in advance (especially if you’re the giver).  

spreading kindness quotes

Be kind.

Make it your mission to be kind to others every single day. Believe it or not, little acts of kindness can be contagious (and they probably won’t seem nearly as little to the recipient as they seem to you). Have you ever seen the movie Pay It Forward? It’s one of my favorites. If you haven’t seen it yet, buy or rent it on Amazon. Tonight. Seriously. It’s awesome.   

If you watch the movie, you’ll probably get some ideas about some nice things you can do for others, but if you need more ideas here are a few:

  • Compliment someone. Notice if she did something with her hair.
  • Help him carry his groceries out to his car.
  • Offer to do some extra work to help out a coworker. 

If you need more ideas, check out this book. It has more than 500 ideas you can use to bring some joy into someone else’s life, even if only for a moment.

Volunteer.

Take five minutes to think about what’s important to you. What are your values? Is there a cause you’d like to champion? Do you have time or skills to give away to that cause?

Maybe you’d like to read books to blind children or sing some songs with the elderly in a nursing home. What about teaching English to immigrants or host guided tours at your local historic site?

Whatever it is you like to do, think about how you can do it and be of use to someone else at the same time. Then, go out and find an organization that will let you partner with them as a volunteer.

 

Become a mentor.

We all started somewhere. We’ve all been lost, confused, and tired. However, you at this moment have answers and insights that can help out someone who is just starting out on his or her journey. 

Maybe you’ve come up with 30 Crock-Pot meals you can share with someone else who needs to save time and money when making dinner. Find those people, and help them. Maybe you’re a seasoned pro at blogging, and you can help someone who’s just starting out with blogging.

I’ve just recently signed up as a premium member with the Wealthy Affiliate community (a community and extensive training program aimed at helping people build their affiliate marketing businesses). So far, I’m loving the support and information I’m getting. I’m being mentored right now and, someday, I hope to be able to mentor others.

By giving, you’re creating connections with those around you.

Life stops being just about seeking satisfaction and it takes on a deeper layer of commitment (the Bible calls this joy). Life is no longer all about you. It’s about creating a positive effect on other people’s lives.

An old Chinese proverb states, “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.”

chinese proverb happiness

When you engage in actions that transcend your own search for satisfaction, you make your life meaningful. You become part of a community. You assert your humanity. You achieve real happiness and fulfillment.

Stop Sabotaging Your Health!

sabotaging your health

Maybe you’re a bit like me. I’m so used to things not going my way that sometimes I protect myself by messing things up before anyone or anything else has a chance to mess it up for me. And sometimes that includes health-related things. 

Many times, we sabotage our health based on subconscious reasons, but we justify it mindfully. Simply put, we screw up our health without even realizing it, but we come up with some really “good” excuses for doing so: “It’s been a rough day; I deserve this chocolate bar … and maybe this one too. Besides, chocolate is full of antioxidants, so I need to eat more”; “I’ve already messed up my eating plan for the day, why not make a McDonald’s run for dinner tonight to save time?”;  “I’ve gone a week without smoking a cigarette. One won’t hurt too much now.”

If you feel like you’re starting to sabotage your own success (either as it concerns health or otherwise), read on to find out how you can stop, and how you can learn to start treating yourself better.

Be Objective

Take a step back and look at what’s happening in your life from a stranger’s point of view. You can even start a journal and write down.

One of the best ways I’ve found to stick with any diet program in the past was by writing down everything I ate and drank – EVERYTHING – and then recording how I was feeling when I ate and/or drank it. Then I could go back and say, “Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that Snickers bar in the afternoon. I wasn’t really hungry. I was just tired and felt like I needed a sugary pick-me-up. I probably should’ve reached for an apple and a glass of water instead.”

That’s why I created this food, water, exercise, and emotion tracking journal. It helps me stay on track every day … or it at least helps me identify when and why I’m derailing, so I can avoid doing that in the future. You can buy it on Amazon for $5, or you can get the PDF version for free when you sign up for my email list.

Be Accepting of Feedback

Getting feedback and open, honest criticism of your health habits is probably the last thing you want, but it can give you a great opportunity to improve your health by realizing what you’re doing wrong. More often than not, you’ll find that the feedback was actually helpful, but only if you don’t take it too personally or overthink everything.

Note: You should only receive this sort of feedback from someone you know you can trust. Someone who won’t go blabbing about it all over town (or among your circle of friends). You might also want to seek feedback only from people who you know will be gentle (but honest), if you’re one of those people who has a hard time accepting criticism. After all, “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1, NIV)

If you want to talk to me about your health struggles, feel free to email me (mishael@mishaelaustinwitty.com), and I’ll be happy to give you a free email consultation (up to six emails back and forth – after that, I’ll have to start charging a modest consulting fee).

Be Wise

The grass that’s much greener on the other side of the fence is that way because of the hard work that went into it. However you envision success (whether it’s losing 20 pounds or being filthy rich), when you imagine the success (the end result) you’re likely not thinking about all the hard work that goes into getting there. Most people don’t. Remember: “overnight successes” are usually years (like, 10 to 15) in the making. 

Click To Tweet

Be realistic about your health goals and break them down into mini-goals. These can be either daily or weekly – it’s up to you. Write down every step you need to take in order to get there, and don’t leave out the times when you fail to reach one of them. Trust in the process. More importantly, trust in yourself, especially if God has called you to do something (then you should trust in Him even more than you trust in yourself). You will reach your goals if you’re truly committed to them.

Be a Little “Selfish”

Some people think that when they sabotage their health, they’re doing it for the good of others around them. For example, a mother may feel she’s putting her kids’ well-being before her own when she doesn’t take the time to eat right or exercise. Or a father thinks that by working all the time and not taking the time to take to care of his health, he’s doing it for the good of his family. My husband’s stepmother put off dealing with her own cancer because her mother was sick and she wanted to take care of her first. You can imagine how that turned out. She’s doing okay now, but she could’ve gotten it treated much sooner (and probably better) if she’d just put herself first. Her mother is dead now.

There’s a reason they give you that instruction on airplanes about putting your own oxygen mask on before you try to help anyone else.

There's a reason they give you that instruction on airplanes about putting your own oxygen mask on before you try to help anyone else. Click To TweetIf you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to help anyone else. It just won’t be possible. Take care of yourself first, and you’ll be able to do more for others (and you’ll probably be able to do it more effectively).

Believe in Your Own Worth 

Throughout our lives, we’re bombarded with messages about ourselves (from the media, from our friends and family members, from coworkers, and even sometimes from people we’re just passing by on the street). 

The negative messages are the ones that stick with us the most. Sometimes it seems almost impossible to break free from these comments. They turn into tangible monsters that haunt us in every decision we make. They may have been ordinary, run-of-the-mill comments that someone made without giving it a second thought (and certainly without intending to harm us). But still, these negative messages dominate our waking hours and dictate our life decisions.

It’s important to move past the negative comments and the limiting beliefs they’ve created within you so you can live life to the fullest.

For an excellent guide on this subject, I recommend this book.

Be Kind to Yourself 

It’s no big deal if you feel uncomfortable in a certain situation, or if you’re not completely certain what to do. Take a deep breath, realize that every single person gets the same heart-gripping fear every once in awhile, and take the plunge, What’s the worst that can happen?

Either you’ll fail miserably, which will be somewhat embarrassing, but not the end of the world. Or you’ll stand up, take a deep breath, learn from your mistakes, and try again. But just maybe you’ll succeed, be proud of your accomplishments, and move on to the next task with courage. Remember: Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to feel fear and do it anyway.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to feel fear and do it anyway. Click To Tweet

Bolstering your courage takes practice and time. Commit yourself to the process and the time it takes you to get there. Fear of failure is normal; it’s the “not trying” part that really makes you miss you out on all life has to offer.

Take the time to make goals and put yourself before others, if need be Click To Tweet

Take the time to make goals and put yourself before others, if need be; it’ll make you a healthier, more balanced person. Pretty soon, you’ll discover that you have more time and energy to do the things you need to do, whether it’s for work or family. And maybe you’ll find out that  sabotaging your health just wasn’t worth it.

5 Ways to Naturally Boost Your Immune System

boost your immune system naturally

Getting colds and illnesses can put you in bed for several days, which could mean missing out on important occasions and events, having to skip a week of work, and experiencing plenty of disruption in your life. Apart from that, you’ll feel awful and will spend days wondering when you’re going to feel better and what you can do to help yourself recover. Unfortunately, once you’ve caught an illness, getting rid of it is a lot harder than preventing it in the first place.

A lot of people run out to get a flu shot every year to prevent themselves from getting sick, but sometimes it’s not effective, and it may even be dangerous.  The best way to not get sick is to boost your immune system to keep yourself healthy and fit. Here are five ways you can do this naturally, and you don’t even have to visit your doctor.

Eat Your Vegetables

Vegetables and herbs such as broccoli, carrots, and garlic are great at improving your overall health, thus boosting your immune system to help prevent illnesses from taking hold. If you feel like you are about to develop a cold or flu, improving your diet can help keep it at bay.

And if you can’t stand the thought of eating whole cloves of garlic, you can always start taking a garlic supplement.  Garlic supplements are great for your heart, but they’re also great for your sinuses. I started supplementing with garlic and found out that it was just as effective as Mucinex for thinning out the mucus that always plagues me. Be aware, however, that garlic may exacerbate stomach issues like acid reflux or irritable bowel syndrome. I found this out the hard way!

nutritional data

Get More Vitamin C

You can get vitamin C from oranges, apples, and other fruits and vegetables. Have a glass of pure orange juice at the beginning of the day if you struggle to eat fruits and vegetables. Another way to get this vital vitamin is by taking daily supplements.

My favorite way to get more C is to drink  4-6 ounce glass of Emergen-C every day. In addition to vitamin C, Emergen-C has loads of B vitamins, which are great for increasing your energy (something I find I’m in desperate need of these days). My favorite flavor is the Super Orange, but the Cranberry-Pomegranate sounds delicious too. I might have to try that one next!

Don’t Forget the Vitamin D

In addition to getting enough vitamin C to help your immune system along, you should also get plenty of vitamin D. While it’s not always possible to get this from the sun, you can find it in foods such as cheese, egg yolks, and meats like beef liver and fish.

If you can’t get out into the sun (like in the winter, when there’s not much available), you might want to consider buying a light therapy lamp. It will help give you the vitamin D boost you need to keep you going strong all winter long, and it will help keep you from suffering from seasonal affective disorder (also appropriately known as SAD).

Quit Smoking and Drinking Alcohol

If you smoke regularly, cut down on the number of cigarettes you smoke. The moment you stop drinking, your immune system takes back some of the healing power it lost from the high levels of tar and other chemicals you’re putting into your body with each cigarette. 

The same goes for drinking – limit the amount of alcohol you consume to a few drinks per week. Changes in liver function resulting from excessive chronic drinking can make your body’s immune system turn against your own tissues.

You don’t have to cut either out of your diet completely (although that’s totally advisable – especially the smoking), but it’s important to recognize that these activities will have both short- and long-term negative effects on your health.

Exercise Regularly

If you’re as busy as I am, this can be one of the most difficult things to incorporate into your lifestyle. However, regular exercise can really help to boost your immune system. And the additional beneficial effects of exercise, including  better heart health and a healthier weight, will improve the way you feel overall.

And you might not be as busy as you think. Check out this article for some relatively easy ways to make time for more exercise.

Want even more ideas on how to improve your immune system? Sign up for my email list below and get instant, absolutely free access to my guide on improving your health with essential oils.

 

Learn How to Improve Your Health with Essential Oils

Get you free list of immune-boosting essential oils and/or a free essential oils email consultation by signing up for my email newsletter today.

3 Must-Have Productivity Tools

productivity tools

In addition to running this blog, I work a full-time job at a daycare, and I have a couple of side work-at-home jobs as a freelance editor and a direct sales representative. Needless to say, I’m busy. Busy, busy, busy. But you probably are too. And maybe you’re looking for ways to increase your productivity (I know I always am).

How much do you think your workflow could improve if you could find a way to:

* Limit distractions in this distraction-filled world
* Stay focused on a single task at a time?

You’re well on your way to getting more done, but it’s not always easy to get there. But thanks to the amazing technology we have available to us today, there are a plenty of tools out there that can help.

Here are 3 of my favorite productivity tools that help me limit distractions and stay focused.

rescuetime

#1: Rescue Time 

It’s important to get the distractions out of the way first, because even while technology brings us so many great productivity tools it also brings us tremendous distractions. RescueTime helps you track how you spend your time on your computer and/or your mobile devices, and it helps you identify where you’re spending (or, often, wasting) a lot of your time.

RescueTime will:

  • Alert you when you’re spending a certain amount of time on a specific activity
  • Allow you to block distracting websites during focus time
  • Keep track of what you accomplished throughout the day
  • Identify how much time you spend on a variety of activities, including email, meetings, etc.

And you can sign up for either the “lite” version, which is completely free, or the premium service to gain access to added features.

focus booster pomodoro app

#2: Focus Booster Pomodoro App

The Focus Booster app is based on the Pomodoro Technique, which is a long-standing productivity technique that uses a timer for focused work periods (usually 25 minutes), followed by a  3-5-minute break. After you complete 4 work periods, you get a 15-30-minute. The idea is you stay completely focused on the task at hand during the work period.

There are a lot of apps that can help you execute the Pomodoro Technique, but Focus Booster is one of the best. They have a free starter plan that allows you up to 20 sessions per month, or you can sign up for one of thei reasonable yearly fee plans and get unlimited sessions and extra features (after a free 30-day trial).

The app keeps a time sheet for you and produces a report that allows you to track your productivity and identify ways you can become even more productive.

focus at will

#3: Focus @ Will 

I love, love, love this program! It’s something very different from probably anything else you’ve ever tried, but it’s scientifically proven to increase your focus and productivity. And if you love music like I do, you’re going to be really excited about this.

Focus@Will uses human neuroscience and music to help you focus, limit distractions, get productive, and retain more information. All you do is answer a few questions, and the software will determine the right music to put your brain in a flow state that makes you super productive. And this really works! I know. I’ve tried it, and they totally nailed it for me!

There is a free 2-week trial, so you can see if it works for you. I really think it will, and you’ll never want to stop using it.

Try the tools on this list, and let me know what you think. And if you’ve got a productivity tool you love, let me know about it in the comments below. I’d love to gather up your answers and make a follow-up blog post featuring more great productivity tools!

5 Tips for Eating Clean

tips for eating clean

Eating clean means making sure you choose the healthiest option in each food group at every meal (or at least however often you eat them). In order to eat clean, you need to know what your food is made of. And you need to make sure you consume everything in its natural form, as far as is possible. If you want to start living healthier but aren’t sure exactly what to change in your diet, here are five great tips for eating clean.

Stock Up on Fresh Produce

The type of diet you’re following doesn’t really matter. You’ll need to stock up on fresh produce. Always. This is the golden rule of proper nutrition, as your body needs fresh fruits and vegetables to function properly. You can’t get this amount of minerals, vitamins, and other crucial nutrients from other types of food. Plus, eating fresh produce is much healthier and more natural than taking supplements.

Many people don’t eat as many fruits and veggies as they should. To make sure you do, you’ll need to bring some variety to your dishes. The best way to do this is to learn when certain fruits and veggies are in season, since that’s when they’ll taste better (and they’ll be a little less expensive to buy).

If you have a garden, you can also plant some herbs and spices. This will not only provide you with a fun new hobby, but it will also help encourage you to eat healthier by giving you the option to consume foods straight out of your garden. And herbs always bring flavor (in addition to some awesome health benefits of their own) to your dishes.

Limit Processed Foods

It can be pretty hard to avoid processed foods. Almost all the snacks you purchase in your local supermarket are filled with too much fat, sodium, and sugar. Processed foods are basically any foods that have been altered in some way, either for convenience or safety reasons. The main difference between eating processed foods and preparing something at home from scratch is that when you’re preparing something, you know how much sugar and salt you’re adding to the food.

It’s important to note that just because a food is processed doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy. For example, milk has to be processed (more specifically, pasteurized) in order to remove harmful bacteria. However, when excess fat, sugar, and salt get added to foods to make them tastier and prolong their shelf life, this opens up the door for you to develop some severe health problems. Consuming a large amount of unhealthy, processed foods can lead to a higher risk of heart disease or cancer.

Focus on the Nutrients

Many people make the mistake of focusing on calories instead of nutrients when they start dieting. However, you need to remember not to get caught up in the numbers game too much. Instead, focus on the nutritional value of the food you’re eating. Just because a certain food is low in calories doesn’t make it healthy. For example, a serving of Jelly Belly jelly beans has only 35 calories and zero grams of fat, but it also has no fiber and 9 grams of carbohydrates (7 of which are from sugar).

Although you should make sure you’re not consuming too many calories, it’s much more important to pay attention to the nutritional value of the foods you’re eating. One surefire way to consume all the nutrients your body needs while keeping your calorie count low is to stock up on fresh produce, as mentioned above.

Don’t Be Too Strict

Remember, it’s completely okay to have a cheat meal sometimes. If your diet is too strict, then you might end up dreading mealtime every day, and that’s no way to live. To stay on the right track, you might want to indulge in some enjoyable unhealthy food (like those Jelly Belly jelly beans?) one day each month, just to keep from going out of your mind.

Drink More Water

Sometimes, when you’re feeling “blah,” all you need to do to feel better is to drink more water. By drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water each day, you will feel healthier and more energized, and this will increase your motivation to eat clean. Unfortunately, many people consider water “boring” due to the extremely high number of flavored drinks that are available. Note: there are natural water flavor enhancers that can solve this problem, to some extent. And if you’re looking for healthy drinks besides water, check out this post. However, water is an essential nutrient that should never be overlooked.

While eating clean can be challenging, it is perfectly doable — and so worth it. For a handy guide to eating clean, check out this popular book on Amazon. You’ll be eating clean like a pro in no time!


5 Reasons to Consider Hypnosis for Dealing with Stress

hypnosis for stress relief

There are two types of stress: good and bad. Good stress is the acute kind that raises your heartbeat, elevates your blood pressure, and gets you on the alert so you can take quick action, if need be. It can happen to you during an intense meeting at work, while your watching your kid’s soccer game, or when you’re driving and someone cuts you off. The adrenaline starts pumping in your veins, your thinking becomes sharper, and your reflexes get faster.

However, the good kind of stress goes away after a while. Then your adrenaline levels return to normal, and your blood pressure is able to stabilize.

Now let’s talk about the second type, the bad kind of stress. This type of stress is chronic, and it because it doesn’t stop it leaves you worn out and exhausted. It wreaks havoc on all your bodily systems, sometimes even to the point of manifesting itself in chronic diseases.

Being exposed to cortisol and other stress-related hormones for long periods of time may lead to the following:

  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Higher risk of heart disease
  • Weakened immune system
  • Depression
  • Type-2 diabetes
  • Digestive problems
  • Cancer
  • Body aches and pains
  • Loss of energy

There are many ways to treat stress. Treatment usually entails meditation, low-impact aerobic exercise, or massages to promote relaxation.

But all of these things just deal with stress on the surface. If you really want to get a handle on your anxiety, you have to dig down deep and pull out the weeds by the roots instead of just trimming off the top.

That’s what hypnosis does. Hypnosis is one of the least-understood therapy techniques, despite the fact that it has helped with many physical and mental ailments.

does hypnosis actually work

What are some of the benefits of using hypnosis to treat stress?

  1. It’s time-efficient. Hypnosis can usually get right to the source during the first session. That’s really fast compared to other methods of treatment.
  2. It gets to the bottom of things. Through hypnotherapy, you can pinpoint the trigger behind your stress and anxiety. It could be due to a negative past experience, a specific situation that left its mark, or the harsh reality of dealing with a chronic disease. Regardless, your hypnotherapist can help you diagnose and treat your stress through hypnosis.
  3. It heals the “whole” you. Hypnosis treats the entire package — body, mind, and soul as one entity.
  4. It’s gradual. The hypnotherapist first asks you to name what you’re feeling. Then you’re asked to put your hand on where that feeling hurts in your body. In this way, you recognize on a basic, human level that what you’re feeling in your mind is manifesting itself in physical form. In order to get rid of that, you have to release the stress from your body. And the only way to do that is to face your feelings head-on, without fear or trepidation.
  5. You’re in control. I used to hate hypnosis (and consciously fought it hard), because I thought it meant I would be losing control of my mental state and the circumstances around me. But in spite of what many (including myself, at one point) claim or believe, during hypnosis you’re awake and remain conscious the entire length of the session. The only part the licensed hypnotherapist (and this has to be someone whom you trust and with whom you are completely comfortable) plays during the session is to guide your suggestions of how you’re feeling, where it hurts, and how to get rid of the pain. Other than that, you are in control of your entire experience the whole time.

Hypnosis is successful because when you’re in a trance, you’re in a state of deep relaxation. That’s when the brain is open to suggestions. It’s a way of unlocking the potential of changing negative thoughts into positive ones, breaking free of the existing stress-inducing, debilitating patterns, and learning how to react in the face of adverse situations.

Hypnotherapy can help you change your perceptions of certain stress triggers in your life. And since stress is created through your thoughts and perceptions, this method of treatment yields great results by lowering anxiety levels and reducing stress, leading to a happier, healthier, more balanced you.

Must-Have Gifts for People Who Love Essential Oils

gifts for essential oil lovers

Must-Have Gifts for People Who Love Essential Oils

Is there someone in your life who loves essential oils? Then you’ve come to the right place if you’re trying to find the perfect gift for a birthday, holiday, or a just-because gift.

There is truly something on this list for every essential oil lover. Just keep reading…

TABLETOP ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSERS

Like this one

This is a lot like the one I have, although mine came from Melaleuca. And I didn’t even have to pay for mine. I got it for free with my Learn to Earn shopping dollars. That’s just one of the perks of being a Melaleuca preferred customer, and if you’d like to know more I’d be happy to share with you. Just click on the link above and contact me for more information.

Then there’s this one…

I love the wood design of this diffuser. If you’re looking for a more rustic piece to fit your decor, then this is definitely the way to go. Just beautiful!

Or even this one…

I can totally imagine a genie coming out with the steam from the top of this one. Except with this diffuser you get something better than a genie. You get the benefits of improved mood and overall better health.

WEARABLE ESSENTIAL OIL DIFFUSERS

I love my tabletop essential oil diffuser, but you know what I love even more? Wearing an essential oil diffuser! Here are some of the prettiest (and cheapest options).

Necklaces

Tree of life necklaces are so popular right now, and they are incredibly beautiful. Pair that with the ability to diffuse and wear your favorite essential oils 24/7, and you’ll have any essential oil lover wrapped around your finger. This one is available from Amazon for just under $26, but I just got this one from Wish.com for only $1.

aromatherapy necklace

While it’s not a tree of life necklace, I know they have one on the site. Just search for aromatherapy necklace, and you’ll see all the stunning diffuser necklace designs Wish has to offer.

Bracelets

There are aromatherapy bracelet designs to match the necklaces, like this one.

And then there are the bracelets made from lava beads (you put the essential oil directly onto the lava bead, and the lava acts like a natural diffuser). I love this one in particular because of the rainbow stones. It’s next on my to-buy list.

lava bead bracelet

Earrings

And what jewelry ensemble would be complete without earrings?

I love the rough, earthy look of these earrings (again, made with lava rock, so they diffuse the oil naturally). 

And, of course, there are several options to choose from on Wish.com, like these.

aromatherapy earrings

ESSENTIAL OIL GIFT SETS

The Plant Therapy Essential Oil Starter Set is the perfect gift from someone who’s just getting started with essential oils — or someone who’s expressed interest in getting started with essential oils.

Plant Therapy is my second choice for essential oils. They’re all of very high quality, not diluted with junk like other brands (even some that claim to be high quality).

plant therapy essential oil starter set

Eden’s Garden is another company that’s committed to bringing its customers high quality oils. They have various gift sets available on Amazon. I’m particularly partial to the biblical set (especially around Christmas), since it contains frankincense,  spikenard, and myrrh.

RARE ESSENTIAL OILS

The surest way to make any essential oil love swoon is to  give them a bottle of rare and expensive oil.

Here are some of the most expensive:

Want to know what some other rare oils are? Check out this list … or this one.

BLENDING SUPPLIES AND STORAGE

When I first started out with essential oils, I wasn’t sure I wanted anything to do with blending, but my daughter had other plans. Soon we were mixing our own perfumes, and I found out that I didn’t quite have everything I needed.

Same with essential oil storage. I didn’t even think about needing an essential oil storage box until I started expanding my collection and realized that it wasn’t the best idea to just line them all up on my nightstand. Essential oils keep best when they’re stored in a dark place.

So, if you know someone who’s just starting to build their essential oil collection, you might want to consider getting them some of the following useful (but not always thought of) tools:

  • Glass stirring rods
  • Glass pipettes – These are especially useful if you (or the gift recipient) are/is trying to put your essential oil perfume into the next item on this list. I know this from experience. Don’t be like me. Get something that will measure exactly how much you need to put into your receptacle of choice. That way you won’t have to be guessing.
  • Spritzer bottles, dropper bottles, and/or roller bottles – Whenever possible, get the blue- or amber-tinted glass bottles to store your essential oils and/or essential oil creations. Essential oils last longer (i.e., retain their beneficial properties longer) if they are kept out of direct sunlight, which is one reason why you might need one of the following:
  • Essential oil wooden storage box
  • Padded essential oil carrying case

This is also really attractive as a display case, but it’s not so practical for carrying your essential oils from place to place. They might all fall out.

 Now that I’ve given you some ideas as to what to buy for the essential oil lover in your life? Tell me: Which one is your favorite? Can you think of something I left out. Let me know in the comments!

 

Learn How to Improve  Your Health with Essential Oils

Get you free list of immune-boosting essential oils and/or a free essential oils email consultation by signing up for my email newsletter today.

 

3 Ways to Quickly Relax Your Body When You’re Stressed

3 WAYS TO QUICKLY RELAX YOUR BODY WHEN YOU’RE STRESSED

relax your body

 

In the fast-paced world we live in, most people are under more stress than they realize. Over time, a continual high stress level can take its toll on both the brain and the body. Here are three techniques you can use to help de-stress your body.

BREATHING EXERCISES

Either used as a standalone therapy or in conjunction with other relaxation techniques such as yoga, reducing stress through breathing is popular because it works for everyone, it’s free, it can be done anywhere, and it doesn’t take much time out of your day.

While there are several different types of breathing exercises, the one demonstrated here is deep breathing. Also known as diaphragmatic breathing, it involves using the diaphragm (in the center of your body), instead of just the lungs.

Here is how to do it.

  • Inhale deeply through your nose for four seconds.
  • Use your diaphragm to extend your stomach outward.
  • Hold that breath for seven seconds.
  • Slowly pull your stomach in and exhale for eight seconds. 

Do this as a routine several times a day, or whenever you are feeling stressed. You’ll know you’re doing it correctly if you don’t feel your shoulders going up and down (a sure sign of shallow lung breathing).

PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION

Known as PMR, this is another simple technique that relaxes the body. It involves tightening up a specific group of muscles, holding them tense for a few seconds, and then slowly releasing that tension. This technique is one of the best ways to reduce the physical tension caused by stress.

To do this progressive muscle relaxation technique, start by finding a comfortable place to sit or lie down. Tense all the muscles in your face; close your eyes tight, and hold them closed. Do the same with your teeth. Now use the deep breathing technique explained above. This time, on the exhale slowly release the tension in your eyes and teeth, and feel the stress drain away.

Work your way down your body doing the same thing for your neck, shoulders, both arms, your abdominal core, buttocks, and legs a couple of times a day. All it takes is about 15 minutes for each session. There are several audio guides available on Amazon (one you can stream for free) that can help you do this just the right way.

PHYSICAL EXERCISE

When you are stressed out, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. This hormone is only meant to be released occasionally, our busy lifestyles cause almost continual stress, prompting the continual release of cortisol. Over time, this can take its toll on the body by inducing weight gain and causing other health-related issues.

However, physical exercise reduces the effects of too much cortisol by countering it with the release of endorphins – known as the “feel good” chemicals. These are responsible for what we know as the “runner’s high.” Research has found that people who exercise regularly build up a type of immunity to stress, so they are not affected as much by it as those who do not exercise on a regular basis.

louise solomon yogilates

This is my all-time favorite stress-relieving workout. It’s easy to follow, even if you’re just starting out, and it’s a perfect blend of yoga and Pilates. Plus, Louise Solomon’s voice is so soothing! You can’t feel stressed after completing this workout. It’s just impossible.

The next time you feel stressed, try any or all of these three physical stress reducing techniques to kick stress to the curb. You may find that in addition to your physical stress level, your emotional stress level will decrease, as well. A double win! 

Feeling more than a little stressed? Check out my guide for beating anxiety naturally.

How to Make Perfume with Essential Oils

diy perfume with essential oils

I’ve always loved wearing perfume. Before I had kids, I thought nothing of plunking down $50-$100 on designer fragrances. After kids, obviously, my money went to other things, but my love of fragrance never subsided.

The problem with most fragrances on the market today (aside from the high ticket prices) is that they contain a lot of chemicals. As a matter of fact, any beauty and/or bath product that has the word “fragrance” in its ingredient list most likely contains chemicals. Some fragrances are natural, but most are not.

Why take a chance on putting something harmful on your skin (after all, it only takes 26 seconds for something you put on your skin to be absorbed into your bloodstream – and most chemicals are)? That’s what I kept asking myself. And then I was introduced to the world of essential oils, and I discovered that I absolutely don’t have to.

HOW TO MAKE PERFUME WITH ESSENTIAL OILS

I started making my own perfume using essential oils, and I don’t think I’m ever going to go back to the store-bought kind. I’ve even got my eight-year-old daughter interested in making her own perfume with essential oils, as you can see from this video.

She did a fabulous job with her first perfume-making experiment (and her first ever Youtube video), but she was a little non-specific about the ingredients and amounts she used. So, I’m going to try to fix that.

Perfumes are made up of base, middle, and top notes. The top notes are what you usually smell first, and then the middle and base notes start coming through. The base notes are what you’re going to want to put in first, and then you add the other two.

THE RECIPE FEATURED IN THE VIDEO

I always start with my carrier oil of choice, fractionated coconut oil. I pour three tablespoons into the container I’m going to use to mix it together.

THEN I ADD

  • 6 drops of PURE’s Merry & Bright blend (a mixture of sweet orange, cassia, cinnamon, clove, vanilla fruit absolute, may chang, pine, black spruce, fir balsam, and geranium essential oils)
  • 4 drops of PURE’s Holly & Pine holiday blend (a combination of Gurjum balsam, Siberian fir, copaiba, orange, pine, cedarwood, clove, bergamot, juniper, bay laurel, vanilla, and labdanum)
  • 6 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 4 drops of lemon essential oil
  • 6 drops of orange essential oil
  • 4 drops of peppermint essential oil

You stir it all up, and then either leave it in the container you used to mix it up or put it in some roller bottles to use later (or maybe even share with friends). You’ll want to store it in either a dark place (like your medicine cabinet) or a dark bottle (like the ones I linked to above) because essential oils break down more quickly if they are exposed to light. This particular formula is fairly long-lasting. I put some on in the morning before I went to work (at a daycare, where I wash my hands a lot), and I could still smell it on my skin 6 hours later.

There are some DIY essential oil perfume recipes that use alcohol, but I prefer this one because you can use it right away. You don’t have to wait for the alcohol smell to fade. Plus, unlike alcohol, coconut oil is so good for your skin.

Note: Use any perfume made from essential oils with caution. I had no trouble at all with putting this on my wrists, but when I rubbed some on my neck (which is apparently very sensitive) I broke out in some bright red splotches (that faded after about 30 minutes). Also, avoid contact with clothes as much as possible because some oils can stain.

WHERE TO BUY ESSENTIAL OILS

The PURE oils I use the most, I bought from Melaleuca. It’s a great company, with amazing customer service. And the quality of these oils is top-notch.

Melaleuca is a shopping club (kind of like Sam’s Club), so it comes with an annual fee ($20) and a monthly required purchase of 35 points (an average of about $50). Some people don’t like the monthly requirement. I don’t mind it because I just figure it into my monthly grocery budget, and I can always find something I want and need (especially the oils, which are the higher-point items, anyway, I find). It’s totally worth it to me.

Still, if you’re one of those people who don’t want to deal with the monthly purchase requirement but still want to get high-quality essential oils, I recommend Plant Therapy. I shop there for the essential oils I can’t get from Melaleuca (there are some they don’t carry, unfortunately). To learn more about the quality of Plant Therapy’s oils, visit this page.

The thing I love most about making perfume with essential oils is that you can experiment with all kinds of different blends to come up with your own perfect scent. It’s fun (especially if you get your whole family involved, like I do), and it can save you hundreds of dollars and save you from exposure to harmful chemicals. You have nothing to lose, so try making your own perfume today!

Don’t want to make your own perfume? You can buy the perfume shown in the video above by visiting our Etsy store.

Learn How to Improve Your Health with Essential Oils

Get you free list of immune-boosting essential oils and/or a free essential oils email consultation by signing up for my email newsletter today.