Eliciting the Relaxation Response

relaxation response

It’s no secret that stress can have a damaging effect on one’s health. The good news is, understanding the relaxation response, may help us to counter it.
That said, relaxation is “the state of being free from tension and anxiety.” This outcome is essentially what is referred to as the relaxation response.

“The relaxation response” was first coined by Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School. According to Dr. Benson, it is “a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress and the opposite of the fight or flight response.”

Consequently, we won’t elicit the relaxation response by lounging around the house all day or sleeping. Instead it involves using proper tools to better manage the negative stress in our lives.

Stress and the Relaxation Response

Stress is a part of everyday life. However, when the nervous system is overwhelmed by stress, it inundates the body with chemicals that prepare it for “fight or flight.” Yet while the stress response is needed for learning, creativity, and can be beneficial in situations where you need to act quickly, it wears the body down when there is constant activation.

Additionally, abnormal responses to stress can have a negative effect on us behaviorally, emotionally, physically and cognitively. Research even shows that stress plays a role in the onset of many illnesses and conditions, such as high-blood pressure, anxiety, heart disease, headaches and depression. This is why it is so necessary to know how to utilize proper relaxation strategies.

The Benefits of Eliciting the Relaxation Response

Studies reveal that relaxation may reduce the damage caused by the negative effects of stress and have a positive effect on our health. Essentially, when we activate the relaxation response, it enhances our immune system functioning. This means an improvement in breathing, sleep patterns, digestion and mental clarity occurs. Moreover, when we allow the system to experience this rest, it creates a balance awareness that enables us to make healthier and wiser lifestyle choices. It also empowers us to pursue and embrace more joy and peace within.

Utilizing Relaxation Techniques

The most common and effective relaxation techniques involve meditation and proper deep breathing exercises.

Meditation

In the American Heritage Dictionary, Meditation is defined as: a devotional exercise of or leading to contemplation. The word meditation is also synonymous with words like thought, reflection, concentration, and even prayer. Therefore, as essential as these all are, meditation is more than just a practice; it is a lifestyle. For instance, with scripture meditation, the goal is to seek to commune with God by contemplating on His Word. This basically allows us to continuously build our faith, by connecting more with scripture and applying it to our everyday lives.

Breathing Exercises

When it comes to proper breathing, our souls (mind, will and emotions) as well as our bodies, were not meant to function in a healthy way without our natural breathing pattern. This is because the breath is what essentially makes us a living soul. However, for many us, due mainly to the pressures of life, our breathing tends to become more and more shallow over time. Yet this creates an imbalance that can hinder our overall health and well-being. Hence the reason why proper breathing exercises often play such a key role in our pursuit of greater well-being.

Try Free Guided Meditations that combine scripture meditation with proper breathing on Spotify

Managing the Negative Stress in Our Lives

In our everyday lives, we all have to figure out our stress triggers and how we react to them. In other words, know what situations tend to make you stressed and understand those you can and can’t control. It may also be helpful to prioritize tasks and/or prepare for stressful events in advance.

Finally, knowing how to relax and be still are vital aspects of effective stress release. And, ultimately, they both contribute to the maintenance of our overall health and well-being. So don’t rule out visiting a community health and wellness center or consulting a licensed professional if you are having difficulty managing stress.

At-Home Spa Pedicure: Create a DIY Experience

Is an at-home spa pedicure something you have been considering lately? Certainly, there is nothing like a professional spa pedicure. However, you can surely come close to this rejuvenating experience in the comfort of your own home—and with some basic tips and resourcefulness, your DIY pedicure will make you feel like a brand new person!

 

Essentials you’ll need:





 

At-Home Spa Pedicure Directions:
1. Use nail polish remover to remove old nail polish from your toe nails.

2. Add warm water to either a foot spa or basin.

at home spa pedicure

Epsom salt helps get rid of toxins and reduces pain and swelling, while promoting stress release. Try the Spa Luxetique brand in lavender, vanilla and coconut.

 

3. Add some Epsom salt and/or your favorite foot soak or even body wash to the water.

4. Soak your feet for 7 to 10 minutes.

5. Scrub your feet with the foot file, and follow by applying some foot scrub. Massage both feet entirely in a circular motion, and then rinse in the water.

6. Cut your toe nails straight across with the nail clipper, and then use the nail file to smooth/groom each nail.

Finishing Up…

Shea Butter has anti-inflammatory properties, while giving your feet the nourishment they need. Give Tree Hut Shea Sugar Scrub a try!

7. Massage some cuticle oil into your cuticles; use the cuticle pusher (in the nail set) to gently push them back.

8. Moisturize your feet with your favorite lotion or cream. However, be sure to remove any excess oil/lotion from your toe nails with nail polish remover.

9. Place a toe separator on your feet and apply a base coat to your nails, followed by your chosen nail polish. After a few minutes, add some nail polish remover to a q-tip and use it to clean up any excess nail polish around the nail. Finally, add a top coat.

There! Your at-home spa pedicure is now complete! That wasn’t so bad now, was it?

*Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links that allow us to earn a small commission, that is of no extra cost to you. We only share links to other products/services that we think will be of assistance to our readers.

Overnight Face and Hair Mask Recipe

An overnight face and hair mask recipe containing a mixture of organic shea butter and coconut oil can help to strengthen and maintain healthy hair and skin.

overnight face and hair mask

Here’s why:

Shea butter is known to help heal dry skin, as well as tone and soothe the skin and reduce inflammation. As far as the hair is concerned, it promotes regrowth and repairs hair that has been damaged by excessive coloring and blow drying. For this reason, it is often used as either a deep or leave-in hair conditioner.

While coconut oil, in its most natural state, has excellent moisturizing, anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, which are beneficial to both the skin and hair. Additionally, it retards hair loss, improves scalp health and adds luster and life to dry, damaged hair.

Try the following overnight DIY face and hair mask recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Organic Shea Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Organic Coconut Oil

Directions:

  1. Add shea butter and coconut oil to a saucepan, and heat until melted.
  2. Allow to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Pour contents into a bowl.
  4. Stir the mixture again.
  5. Apply to face, hair and scalp.
  6. Cover hair with plastic cap overnight.
  7. In the morning, rinse face and hair with luke-warm water.

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Physical Movement: Fitting it into a Busy Lifestyle

Physical movement provides many clear advantages to the mind and body. However, today, because our lifestyles don’t always require lots of activity, in order to reap these benefits, exercise has to be an intentional part of our routine. Yet for those of us who lead busy lives or aren’t particularly fans of exercise, this can be a bit of a challenge. So the goal is to incorporate exercise into our lives, in a way that is encouraging; this is while still satisfying time limitations, as well as supporting stillness and our overall wellbeing.

physical movement

How Much Exercise Do We Need?

In previous years, the work and lifestyles of our forefathers demanded lots of physical activity. So there was really no need to place such emphasis on exercise. But, the reality is, today our society has totally changed. These days, most of us lead really busy lives, yet with barely any requirement for physical activity—which means today we have to consciously make it a part of our lives.

Therefore, as far as how much exercise we generally need to maintain optimal health: According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), adults need a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical movement per day; while children between the ages of 6 and 17 years need a minimum of 60 minutes per day.

Why Is Physical Movement Important?

Essentially, there are many benefits to engaging the body in regular physical activity. These include stronger muscles and bones, better sleep, healthier skin, better physical health, and greater endurance.

A lack of movement, on the other-hand, can create an imbalance in our system that affects us as a whole. According to recent studies, this imbalance may even disrupt the body’s “circadian rhythms”—affecting the way our bodies are able to determine favorable times for moving vs. being still.

These studies suggest that a healthy body, accustomed to regular movement, will automatically prompt this person to rest after physical activity, and engage in movement after a period of being still. Therefore, when we engage in regular physical activity, we may be improving our body’s’ ability to calculate more appropriate responses.

3 Simple Ways To Fit Exercise Into a Busy Lifestyle

Walking 

This is still the most popular form of exercise. Walking in your neighborhood or a nearby park are always the most convenient outdoor options. If time allows, you can start a habit of using staircases instead of elevators, or parking a distance away from your destination. However, if your schedule doesn’t allow you to walk at suitable times or it’s too cold, etc… don’t rule out walking indoors! One common option is to purchase a treadmill for use in the home. Still, you can try walking in place or do a some laps around the largest area of your home.

Dancing

If you like music and dancing is your thing, then put on your favorite song (with or without headphones) and just move! Dancing also doesn’t require a specific place or time of the day. Yet a good time for this exercise is immediately after you arrive home from work; as it’s a great way to replenish your mood and spirit after a really long or challenging day.

Exercise DVDs or Streaming

Using DVDs or streaming videos is another convenient option. There are many possibilities available on Amazon. If you are signed up for Prime, many videos are accessible for free. You can sit and watch a few of them before-hand and select the one you connect with the most.

Also, if you are interested in a Christian exercise program that merges faith with fitness, I’ve shared three options below. Essentially, these programs are all centered around faith, where it is used as a direct motivator.

PrayFit is a 28-day program is about giving your best by scheduling time with the Lord and to exercise everyday. It may appeal to men and to individuals interested in strength training and/or building muscle. Also, it is essentially designed for individuals at any fitness level.

Sweating in the Spirit is an inspirational work-out that uses Gospel music as a motivator. If you love to dance and have fun while you exercise, then this program is definitely for you. It includes “gospel aerobics” workouts, as well as stretching, strength and Pilates training.

Wholy Fit is a whole-body fitness technique. Wholy Fit offers programs which integrate gentle exercise movements with worship and the Word of God. If you prefer a more peaceful work-out experience, then this is the perfect program for you. It develops you into “stability,” then “strength,” and “flexibility.”

 

Finally, like any exercise, the above options may require a little discipline to get started; but, make it your intention to just be more motivated to incorporate it into your regular routine and lifestyle.

 

 

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. As an Amazon affiliate we earn a small commission, that is of no extra cost to you. We only share links to other products/services that we think will be of assistance to our readers.

Ways to Shop and Prepare Wholesome Meals

The key to consuming more wholesome foods is being more conscious of how we shop and prepare them. Whole or wholesome foods are unprocessed and unrefined. They are also produced without the use of any chemicals, pesticides or fertilizers. So in essence, this type of diet ensures that we are eating meat and produce in a state which is most beneficial to the body.

A wholesome diet also allows our digestive and metabolic systems to function more efficiently, enabling the proper absorption of nutrients and a more energized and fueled body with the ability to properly eliminate wastes.


A Break-Down of a Wholesome Diet

A complete, wholesome diet includes a well-balanced variety of all the required groups—namely proteins, carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, as well as fats.

whole-foods

Protein

Protein is an essential nutrient. In fact, every cell, organ and tissue in the body contains this very important substance. When it comes to whole-foods, meat and eggs, are however not the only protein sources. We can also obtain this nutrient from plant-based protein sources.

There are basically two (2) protein sourcescomplete and incomplete protein.

complete protein is a protein source which contains an acceptable proportion of all of the nine (9) essential amino acids the body needs to build cells, as it is not able to make it on its own.

Complete protein sources include animal derived protein, such as meats, fish, poultry, as well as milk and eggs.

Incomplete proteins are protein sources which are lacking in one or more of the nine (9) essential amino acids.

Examples of incomplete protein sources include plant-based protein, like nuts, whole grains and beans.

However, two incomplete proteins that compensate for each others’ amino acid inadequacies are often referred to as complementary proteins. The two incomplete proteins combined make up a complete protein.

According to the Utah Department of Health, complementary proteins do not have to be eaten at the same time. As long as they are eaten within the same day, they are still considered complementary.

Examples of complementary protein sources include:

  • Brown rice and beans
  • Peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread
  • Whole grain cereal with milk
  • Cheese and whole grain macaroni
  • Yogurt with ground flaxseeds
  • Spinach salad with walnuts

5.5 ounces of protein and 3 cups of dairy are the daily amounts that the USDA recommends for the average adult.

Fruit and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables contain many essential vitamins, minerals and fiber. As a result, according to the USDA, a diet rich in these two food groups may aid in maintaining healthy stress levels, lowering caloric intake and even averting certain diseases.

Based on U.S.D.A. requirements, the daily recommended intake for the average adult is:

Fruits – 2 cups for men and 1.5 – 2 cups for women
Vegetables – 3 cups for men and 2.5 cups for women
Note: Determined by sex, age and the amount of physical activity performed each day.

The Daniel Fast is a partial fast consisting of only fruit and vegetables, only water as a beverage and no sweeteners or bread. It is a diet based on two scriptures in the book of Daniel.

This book is one of the most popular Daniel fast resources, written by a widely recognized expert on this 21-day fast. Finally, the Daniel Fast is usually followed when individuals want to combine prayer and fasting or enter into a spiritual discipline to draw closer to God.

The Daniel Fast: Feed Your Soul, Strengthen Your Spirit, and Renew Your Body

Carbohydrates

The cells in our body require carbohydrates for them to function properly. This is because carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for the body. Besides that, glucose, a component of carbohydrates, is the main nutrient that the brain uses for fuel.

Both simple and complex carbohydrates convert to glucose.

Simple carbohydrates are found in processed sugars such as sodas and candy. However, they also occur naturally in fruits and milk. Complex carbohydrates on the other hand, are found in veggies, peas and whole grains.

Whole Grains

When it comes to grains, we are frequently told to opt for whole grains over refined grains. According to the Whole Grains Council, “eating whole grains instead of refined grains can lower the risk of many chronic diseases.”

Whole grains can be consumed in the form of pasta, rice, breads and cereals to obtain the benefits of these healthy carbohydrates. However, some people do have an abnormal immune response when their body breaks down gluten during digestion.

What exactly is Gluten-free?
Gluten is a protein in wheat. The most prevalent form of gluten intolerance is Celiac disease. This is an auto-immune disorder which causes harm to the small intestines and affects the absorption of certain vital nutrients.

Doctors usually recommend a gluten-free diet for individuals with an abnormal response to gluten – avoiding all foods with gluten like pasta, baked goods, cereals and beer, then choosing other gluten-free alternatives.

Fats

Fats provide the body with a concentrated source of energy. Healthy fat sources (good fats) help to ensure the proper functioning of the immune system. They are also responsible for the health of the cell membranes and help to maintain a good hormone balance.

Healthy Fat Sources

Monounsaturated Fats – Monounsaturated fats are in a variety of whole-foods; including nuts and high-fat fruits. Essentially, these healthy fat sources lower LDL cholesterol (known as the bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.

Sources: walnuts, almonds, pistachios, avocado, olive oil.

Polyunsaturated Fats – Polyunsaturated fats are mainly in plant-based oils and fish sources.

Omega-3 fatty acids – Omega-3 fatty acids are present in fish oil and in plant-based sources. Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids may help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. It may also lower the risk of coronary heart disease. Furthermore, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is another omega-3 fatty acid which is present in some plant-based sources such as flaxseeds, walnuts, spinach, kale and soybean. The body converts ALA to DHA and EPA.

Sources: Sardines, salmon, flax seeds and walnuts.

Omega-6 fatty acids – Omega-6 fatty acids are found primarily in plant-based sources. They may also help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and prevent heart disease.

Sources: Soybean oil, corn oil and safflower oil.

The daily allowance of oil for the average adult is 6 teaspoons per day, according to the USDA.

Maker’s Diet Meals is a biblically-inspired recipe book based on the Maker’s Diet health plan, written by the founder of Garden of Life company. It is a 40-day diet rich in whole, organic foods—that after some time also includes red meat, carbs, and some saturated fats.

The first goal of this diet is the elimination of toxins. It also involves eating the aforementioned foods in their natural and unaltered state  – unprocessed, unrefined, and free of pesticides or hormones. This book provides a step-by-step guide for preparing meals and snacks for the entire day.

Maker’s Diet Meals: Biblically-Inspired Delicious and Nutritious Recipes for the Entire Family

Finally, the following is another resource you’ll find helpful:

LocalHarvest.org – A directory of family farms and farmers markets, along with restaurants and grocery stores that provide fresh meat and produce in your area.

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