5 Ways to Relax That Are Good For You Too!

Some of the ways you relax after a hard day’s work – like watching TV shows or having sweets – may temporarily make you feel calmer, but there are healthier ways to reduce tension that have a better impact on your health. Practicing relaxation regularly can have physiological benefits on your body, including a decrease in your heart rate, a drop in blood pressure, a reduction in muscle tension, as well as decreased anxiety and improvements to your overall well-being. When you feel relaxed and at ease, you feel more in control during challenging situations, which leads to calm, realistic responses. Here, find some healthy ways to unwind that will also have you feeling better as a whole.

Relaxation

 

Brew a cup of black tea. If sipping a hot beverage is something you associate with relaxation, brewing the tea yourself by putting a kettle on and waiting for water to boil may also decrease stress, according to some research. Other studies have discovered that drinking black tea can help lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.

Indulge your funny bone. If you’re having a stressful day at work, watch a video that’ll make you smile during your break or, read a joke or funny cartoon. Researchers say that laughter is a great form of stress relief that enhances your intake of oxygen immediately, as well as stimulating circulation in the body and helping your muscles relax. So go ahead and give yourself permission to giggle for a few minutes – you’ll feel better and do your body good!

Practice yoga regularly. Yoga can help reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve your mobility, flexibility and balance, according to some studies. It may also help relieve and/or alleviate chronic conditions, including depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia. If you’re new to the practice, try a beginner’s DVD or visit a studio in your neighborhood and give it a few sessions to start reaping the post-practice relaxation benefits.

Steal a kiss from your partner. Kissing, cuddling, and even lovemaking with your special someone can cause your brain to release feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. If you don’t have someone to smooch, hug any loved one for at least 10 seconds so your body can release the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and cause the stress hormone levels to drop.

 Eat a “healthy” happy meal. Include low-fat turkey as part of your next meal or snack to boost your mood. Turkey is rich in L-tryptophan, an amino acid that triggers the release of that relaxing brain chemical, serotonin. Have rolled-up deli turkey slices as part of your snack with fruit or veggies, or use lean ground turkey as the base for tonight’s healthy dinner.

 


4 Reasons to Wear Red on National Wear Red Day

Did you know that today is National Wear Red Day? That’s why I’m sporting my red apron all day long at thePlate Boutique. Well, technically this is the apron I wear everyday while working the store floor; however, it has particularly special meaning on this day.

Kati Wearing Red

If you aren’t familiar with National Wear Red Day, it is a day designed to bring awareness to heart disease; a disease that affects many men and women daily.  The color is meant to signify confidence and power; two attitudes we are encouraged to embrace when fighting against the number one killer of women.

Related: 10 Simple Steps Dramatically Reduce Your Heart Disease Risk

Wearing red allows us to bring awareness not only to the disease itself, but to the many ways in which we can change the statistic. Today, on the 12th anniversary of the campaign, I hope you’ll wear red with me for the following reasons:

Reason #1: To encourage people to check their risk factors. Its really easy to know what your risk factors are when it comes to heart disease. Thanks to the American Heart Association and great campaigns like Go Red for Women, its as simple as going online to discover where your heart disease prevention starting point is. To identify your risk factors, visit the the Go Red for Women website.

Reason #2: To encourage people to do their homework. When you wear red, don’t be surprised if you get a few questions related to heart disease and the importance of knowing more about it. Use this opportunity to encourage people to do their homework. Whether this means identifying risk factors or even learning some of the facts about heart disease, odds are good that they or someone they know will benefit from knowing more. Remember, positive change is hard to make happen when you don’t even know why you’re making the changes in the first place.

Reason #3: To encourage people to make one simple change.  No matter someones individual risk, making simple changes to prevent heart disease and just live a little healthier each day can be beneficial for all. By wearing red, perhaps you’ll be able to inspire someone to make one small change today. Heart disease has many controllable risk factors, which means their are may different ways to reduce risk and improve quality of life. Whether its a dietary change or the decision to get active each day, what better time than now to get started.

Related: 8 Foods Your Heart Will Love

Reason #4: To encourage people to spread the word. Lastly, Wear Red Day is a great opportunity to encourage others to spread the word. Since the launch of the Wear Red Day campaign,  lots of great things have been happening! For example,

  • Nearly 90% of women have made at least one healthy behavior change.
  • More than one-third of women have lost weight.
  • More than 50% of women have increased their exercise.
  • 6 out of 10 women have changed their diets.
  • More than 40% of women have checked their cholesterol levels.
  • One third of women has talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.

So put on your red and make a difference! It’s amazing what one small action can lead to.

(h/t GoRedForWomen.org)

Are you wearing red? We’d love to see you sporting this rockin’ color! Take a selfie and share it on our Facebook page today!

How Robyn Lawley Proves Healthy Eating Isn’t About Your Size

Sports Illustrated is full of surprises this year and we hope its the start of a very pro-health sort of year. Not only did they run their first ad featuring a plus-sized model, but now they’re revealing another first… a plus-sized model will also be featured in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue!

Related: Plus-Sized Model Ashley Graham Rocks Tiny Bikini in ‘Sports Illustrated’ Swimsuit Ad 

Meet Robyn Lawley… Sports Illustrated’s first plus-sized model!

credit: Sports Illustrated
credit: Sports Illustrated

Yep, you heard me right! Plus-sized. Not quite what you were expecting? Well, I’ve never been a big fan of labels or trying to fit people into specific categories, ESPECIALLY based on physical attributes, but I am a big fan of progress towards body acceptance and I think we may be making progress… finally!

You see, beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. So does healthiness. Yet somewhere down the line, healthiness and beauty took on a very specific shape, one that isn’t always achievable or desirable. Or perhaps its always been this way.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a change. I’m ready for a world where beauty and health isn’t defined by a number. I’m ready for a world where being healthy means  taking care of ourselves so that we’re ready to tackle the day ahead and make a difference in the world.

My hope is that this is one small step towards re-imagining what health and happiness looks like. That deciding to become a healthy eater has less to do with how you look, and more about how it empowers you to live life courageously, boldly, and confidently.

And just in case you were curious what Robyn Lawley eats, here’s a great run down. And yes, we’re loving many of the foods she’s incorporating into her day!

I’d love to know what you think! How do you feel about Robyn Lawley being Sports Illustrated’s first featured plus-sized model? 

Finding the Right Yoga for You

by Caitlin Boyle for Discover and Play

Yoga isn’t just a good stretch – it’s a workout focused on the mind-body relationship. In fact, the word ‘yoga’ means ‘to unite.’ The practice of yoga creates strength, flexibility, and balance in the physical body and mind.

Practiced for thousands of years by billions of people, yoga is an umbrella term for many styles that suit different needs and appeal to different people. Here’s a breakdown of the five most common types of yoga practiced in America:

Yoga Poses

Hatha:  Hatha yoga is the perfect style for a beginner or a former yogi looking to return to the practice after a long break. These classes are slow, relaxing, and offer more instructor feedback. You won’t flow quickly from down dog to up dog – you’ll take your time, focusing more on gentle stretching, correct positioning, and deep breathing.

Ashtanga:  A fast-paced class that follows a standardized pattern of six series of pose sequences.  Ashtanga classes are very challenging and best-suited for experienced yogis with a firm understanding of a wide range of poses. At a Mysore Ashtanga class, students practice at their own pace in silence, without the instructor calling out poses. Ashtanga classes are regimented and fast-paced. These classes are more cardio than relaxation.

Bikram: Much like Ashtanga, Bikram is an intense, advanced yoga style. Bikram also follows a standard pattern of pose (two cycles of 26 poses in a specific order).  Unlike Ashtanga, however, Bikram is practiced in a hot, humid room – over often 100 degrees, which fans of the practice say encourages deep breathing and muscle relaxation.  Bikram is a cardio workout that’ll blast away calories – upwards of 600 calories an hour.

Power:  Power yoga, also known as vinyasa or flow yoga, describes a very Westernized approach to yoga. Focused less on inner calm and more on aerobics, power yoga transitions quickly from one pose to the next in a ‘flowing’ motion. Your instructor will often remind you to breathe with movement. Power classes vary greatly from studio to studio; an introductory class would work for beginners, but regular classes are more advanced (and yet still more attainable than Ashtanga or Bikram). Power classes are great for athletes like runners or Crossfitters who are looking for deep stretches but get antsy in slower classes.

Prenatal:  Designed especially for pregnant women, prenatal yoga classes are slow, gentle, and include many pose modifications to accommodate the mommas’ growing baby bumps. Prenatal classes often include a focus on meditation and group discussions.

Caitlin Boyle  is a blogger, motivational speaker and author of the book Healthy Tipping Point: A Powerful Program for a Stronger, Happier You. She helps her husband run a holistic health clinic in Charlotte, N.C. She is a frequent contributor to Life and Beauty Weekly .

Surprising Sleep Stealers

by Jennifer Kelly Geddes for Discover and Play

The AC hums, your husband snores and garbage trucks clank outside the window. Add in kids, work, housekeeping – even a dog – and it’s no wonder you’re unable to properly rest. If you’re faced with an uphill battle at bedtime, it’s time to take a closer look at your environment. How you set the stage for slumber is as critical as powering down your laptop and nixing caffeine late in the day. Read on for 5 important considerations when trying to get the best sleep.

Sleeping Couple

The windows: Contrary to what you might think, complete darkness isn’t the right choice for everyone. For some people, the tiniest glimmer of light from the window can be a disruption, while others sleep well (and wake up refreshed) with opaque coverings – or even with the blinds wide open. Experiment to see which choice works best for you.

The clock: Are you staring at it all night long? If you’ve set it—just forget it. But if you can’t keep from checking the time, put the clock in the bedside table drawer or place it under the bed (though still within arm’s reach). Or have your partner take charge of the alarm and keep the clock across the room on the other side of the bed.

The sound: All kinds of things go bump in the night, something you already know if you’re a light sleeper. But even if you’re not, trying out a pair of earplugs might make a big difference in the amount of sleep you get. You’ll block the radiator’s hiss, the dog’s jingling tags and car alarms that invariably go off in the middle of the night.

The dog: And speaking of dog tags, if Fido is a regular member of your nighttime nest, consider making a change. Putting aside issues of hygiene, dogs (and cats) tend to groom, scratch, turn in circles, jump around, cry to be fed, walked or put outside—all at 2 AM. Of course it’s cozy to snuggle up to a pet, but if yours is preventing you from catching zzz’s, put your pooch in another room.

The stress: If you’ve addressed all of the above and still can’t seem to drop off to sleep, count the number of the balls you’re juggling and find a way to reduce the load. Taking on too much (school committees, volunteer work, pet duties) can weigh on the psyche and interfere with much-needed rest.

Jennifer Kelly Geddes is a New York-based writer and editor who has written for Parenting, iVillage.com and Time Out New York Kids. She frequently contributes to Go Vibrant.