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Wellbeing

Wellness Blog

Top Health Benefits Of Spending Time Outdoors

The sun shines on your skin. You close your eyes and feel your skin cells come to life like a salsa dancer on an overpacked dance floor. You sink into your chair and every thought melts away like a dripping snow cone.

Being outside whether for your daily dog walk, to get your tan on, or playing your favourite outdoor sport, can have a hypnotic-like effect on our mind, body and soul.

These days we are inundated with mental health information and online influencers urging us to get outside and enjoy what mother nature gave us. But why? What’s actually behind the brouhaha of the benefits of getting outside?

When we look beyond the magical properties of nature’ we find there are a few key factors at play.

Increased movement

Yes we’re referring to movement and not physical exercise. Exercise can often be a scary word because we all have our preconceived notions about what it means and how we do it. So the key factor here is getting out to get moving. Whether you’re out for a leisurely stroll, tossing a frisbee at the park, or canoeing at Dow’s Lake, you’re not binge watching another television series on the couch, and that’s what counts. The allure of the outdoors, especially when it’s warm out, reduces the barrier to getting excited about going out and getting more movement.

Opportunity for connection

Even if physical distancing restrictions are in place, being outdoors gives us another way to connect with friends and family. Whether we take the time to stop and chat with a neighbour, research shows that even being around others without interacting can help to reduce feelings of isolation. Isolation is found to be one of the key contributors to poor mental health.

The power of Vitamin D

As Canadians we spend a lot of time indoors. This means that we get less exposure to sunlight. When we get less exposure to sunlight, our body doesn’t produce as much Vitamin D. Beyond absorbing Calcium, various research findings show that there is a link between levels of Vitamin D in the body and experience of low mood or Depression. 

So just by throwing on your runners and stepping outside you’re taking literal and metaphorical steps towards boosting your mood.

Focusing on the present is easier

When you’re outdoors there’s so many different ways to engage our senses; birds chirping, the bright colours of growing flowers, the aromas of a BBQ hard at work. With these natural attention grabbers, we can easily attune our focus to what we notice around us. Being present, or mindful, is not about meditation, it’s about keeping your attention in the here and now. This becomes easier to do when we get outside. Quick how to: Pick a spot to observe and try to notice what you see, hear smell, feel and can possibly taste.

Less tech temptation

Being in the present moment is easier when we are not surrounded by the pings of our electronic devices. Being outside and leaving the tech at home reduces distraction while trying to engage your senses in nature.Doing this connects us to our roots of humanity and the natural world around us. When we get outside, we reduce the temptation to scroll, snap or tweet (assuming you haven’t brought your laptop with you).

Research shows that all these factors have a significant impact on our mental, physical and spiritual health. The context of being outside (regardless of the weather) is what allows all these elements to naturally come together for a one stop shop of wellness.

Wellness Blog

Three Ways To Use Essential Oils To Lower Stress

Everyone could use a few moments of relaxation in their day—especially right now. Essential oils can help. As a natural solution, many essential oils can help your body and your mind unwind—something that is more important than ever in this time of heightened stress.

It’s easy to use essential oils to add calming moments to your day. To get started, choose an oil that promotes stress reduction. We recommend frankincense, lavender, bergamot or ylang ylang, but there are many more options available. Feel free to read up on the topic and try out a variety of oils until you find the one that works best for you. 

Once you have your oil, choose a method to enjoy it.

Inhale

The simplest way to use essential oils? Just breathe them in and revel in the effects. 

You can either inhale pure essential oils straight from a bottle or put a few drops on a dry material such as a towel or a cotton ball. Then, simply inhale. 

 Relax in the bath (or shower)

Consider adding essential oils to your regular bathing rituals. If you prefer a long hot bath to relax, try adding a few drops of oil to your water while you’re filling the tub. Then, light a few candles to enhance relaxation and enjoy a good soak. If you’re more of a shower person, you can try applying oils to your shower walls. The scent should diffuse into the steam, allowing you to breathe in the benefits.

You can also add essential oils to any of your bath products. For a dreamy exfoliating experience, add a few drops to your body wash. To massage the scent into your hair, combine it with your shampoo and conditioner.

Use a diffuser

Using diffusers is a great way to spread your essential oils throughout a room. If you’re working from home right now, consider placing one in your office to help your stress levels throughout the day. Many people also love keeping one in their bedroom to promote relaxation and improve their night’s sleep. 

There are a variety of diffusers on the market, each with their own benefits. The simplest and most cost-effective option to try is using diffuser reeds—wooden sticks that soak up the essential oils and spread them throughout a room. However, if you’re looking to invest a little more into your experience, you can try a nebulizing diffuser (which turns the oil into a mist), an evaporative diffuser (which causes the oil to evaporate into the air) or a heat diffuser (which warms up the oil to make the scent more intense). Candles infused with essential oils are also a favourite option for many people.

Don’t be afraid to take some time to relax and enjoy your essential oils! Now more than ever, self care is important for everyone—so find a routine that works for you.

Wellness Blog

How To Reduce Your Stress While Working From Home

In a time of so much upheaval, adjusting to working from home is anything but easy. It’s always challenging to juggle personal and professional responsibilities while also caring for your own well-being—and with the future so uncertain, it has become more difficult than ever. 

We want to help. Here are a few of our top tips to keep your stress levels low and your spirits high right now.

Set up a calming work environment

Take some time to create the optimal setup for your new space. Just as you would at the office, decorate your desk with things you love—whether it’s photos of your family, art, candles, books, posters, or sports memorabilia. Next, give your back a break by arranging your computer monitor, chair height and keyboard in the most ergonomic way possible (the internet can provide some guidance here). If you can, try to find a spot with natural sunlight and add some plants to purify your air and perk up the space.

Keep a regular schedule

With no commute or evening activities, it’s tempting to abandon your normal daily schedule. Resist that urge. Sticking to a timetable is a great way to manage stress. By breaking your day down into smaller, bite-sized pieces that each have a purpose, it both fills your time and provides a clear focus. Scheduling also helps you create a clear division between personal and professional responsibilities—a distinction that is crucial when working from home.

Take a break to meditate

Consider downloading a mediation app to use during a break in your workday. Meditation isn’t for everyone, but now could be a great time to see if it helps you reduce some day-to-day anxiety. You can even add in some aromatherapy to your practice! To fight stress, we recommend using frankincense, lavender, bergamot or ylang ylang. 

Eat healthy, balanced meals

To help your body combat stress, it’s important to feed it the fuel it needs. Make sure you’re at your best by eating plenty of fresh, unprocessed foods, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. And keep it simple. With all this time at home—and influencers on social media who make it look so easy—you may feel the pressure to bake your own bread, start an extreme diet, or spend hours making elaborate dishes. But there’s no need to add that additional strain to your life. Simply do your best to maintain a balanced diet and keep your body fueled up. 

Keep in touch 

Isolation compounds stress. That’s why it’s more vital than ever to stay in touch with friends and loved ones with regular phone calls and socially distant visits. Additionally, try to maintain some non-work contact with your coworkers throughout your day. You would be surprised by how much a little office small talk over Zoom can help with your mental well-being.

However you choose to manage this new reality, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. In such a challenging time, that’s all we can do.

Wellness Blog

Benefits Of Meditation & 3 Apps To Help You Get Started

Stress levels seem to be at an all-time high as we approach what feels like day 487 of COVID-quarantine. If you find yourself feeling a little more worn-out than usual, know that you are not alone – stress and anxiety are natural reactions to adverse and unwanted circumstances, and the current situation is nothing if not unwanted.

In order to escape the constant cycle of coronavirus news, many have sought new ways to practice self-care. If you haven’t found your zen cultivating a sourdough starter or attending virtual fitness classes, you may want to try the ancient art of meditation.

Meditation is a free and simple way to reduce stress, increase clarity, and promote happiness and mindfulness. While our normal routines have taken a backseat during these uncertain times, we could all benefit from being a little more mindful. Luckily, meditation isn’t as impossible as it seems. Check out these easy-to-follow steps from Andy Puddicombe, co-founder of Headspace, to begin your meditative journey. 

Step 1: Make it a habit. Before getting started, Puddicombe suggests beginners commit to a regular, daily practice by picking a time and place that works for your schedule.

Step 2: Decide on an amount of time to practice. The most important thing is to decide on a length of time that is not only effective, but also achievable.

Step 3: Get comfortable. Sit with your legs and arms uncrossed, feet flat on the floor, and hands in a resting position. Check in with yourself. Be conscious of your posture and senses. 

Step 4: Decide whether you want the meditation to be guided or unguided. As guided meditation is recommended for people who are learning how to meditate, check out a few of the top apps below.

 

Calm 

With over 50 million downloads and over 700,000 5-star reviews, Calm is one of the highest-rated apps for sleep, meditation and relaxation. Check out their Sleep Stories to have Matthew McConaughey’s dreamy Texan drawl lull you to bed. 

Headspace

The brainchild of a Buddhist monk and an advertising professional, Headspace’s mission is to improve the health and happiness of the world. Check out their free Basics course to earn the essentials of meditation and mindfulness.

Aura

Designed for people on the go, Aura offers collections of three-minute sessions and 30-second anxiety busters are perfect for those in need of a mood-booster before a big meeting, a first date, or any other tense situation you may find yourself in. 

While it’s important to check on your friends and family during this difficult time, make sure you’re taking the time to check in with yourself. It’s just like the flight attendants tell passengers before takeoff – put your oxygen mask on first, before assisting others. While meditation may not be a cure-all, its results are proven. And if there was ever a perfect moment to start putting your own self-care first, it’s now. 

 

Sources:

https://www.headspace.com/meditation/how-to-meditate

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gallery/2011/jan/22/how-to-meditate-ten-steps-headspace

https://www.gaiam.com/blogs/discover/meditation-101-techniques-benefits-and-a-beginner-s-how-to

https://www.oprahmag.com/life/health/g29861798/best-meditation-apps/?slide=1

https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-health-and-covid-19#coping

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/#2e758e4d1465 

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