Natural Health
Healthy living, herbal remedies and DIY natural beauty.


Dandelion Benefits Biodiversity, Soil and Your Health

Dandelion Field With Blue Sky

Photo by pixel2013

Did you know there are tons of amazing and medicinal actions dandelions can perform for both your health and the earth? Just to confirm, yes you read that correctly: We are absolutely talking about those yellow flower bearing “weeds” that seem to grow just about anywhere and everywhere.

To many people, these highly prolific plants, are often thought of as a nuisance or an eyesore amongst a garden or well-kept lawn. However, if more people knew about some of the incredible actions dandelions can perform, they would likely be welcomed in any garden, lawn, or pathway.

Dandelion’s Benefits to Biodiversity and Soils

Dandelions play a very important role in the livelihood of many ecosystems, as they are one of the first blooming plants in springtime. This makes dandelion an essential food for bees and other pollinating insects in the early spring months, when most varieties of flowers have not yet bloomed. Getting some fuel from dandelions, bees and other insects then go on to do the important job of pollinating numerous plants and crops. In fact, the Urban Pollinators Project housed at the University of Bristol, found that dandelions are the most visited urban plant by important pollinators out of all plants growing in urban settings.

Not only do dandelions help support the pollinator populations, they are also extremely helpful in facilitating healthy soils. One of the ways they do so is by restoring soil mineral content. This in turn produces more nutrient dense fruits, vegetables, and other crops. This is especially important in areas where soil has been degraded of essential minerals from industrial farming practices.

Dandelions have also been found to help create drainage pathways in compact soils. This can prevent the stagnation of ground water and potential puddling in a garden or flooding in an ecosystem. Because of this, dandelions can be highly beneficial to your garden, especially if you’re growing root vegetables (beets, carrots, potatoes, etc.) in dense soil.

Health Benefits of Dandelion

Inflammation. Incorporating Dandelions into your day-to-day can be very beneficial for your health as the functions they can perform when ingested are vast and varying. For starters, this yellow “super plant” is very anti-inflammatory which is extremely important for overall vitality. A 2006 Harvard Health study has stated that chronic inflammation can be thought of as the common factor in causing most illnesses.

Digestion. Dandelions have been seen to help with a variety of digestive disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, heartburn, and constipation. When taken prior to a meal, they can increase your body’s natural production of hydrochloric acid, which in turn aids with protein digestion.

Kidney support. Dandelions are also considered a “diuretic” and support the kidneys in reducing water retention. Believe it or not, dandelions can also help with detoxification and support the liver with the numerous actions it performs to rid our bodies of toxins.

Skin. Just in case you aren’t convinced of dandelions super powers; you should know that even its stem can be useful! Dandelion stems are filled with a substance that can be used topically on unwanted skin conditions such as warts.

So now that you know some of the many ways dandelions are incredibly helpful for both human health and the earth, the next time you see one you might choose to marvel at it, honor it for its amazingness, or pick it to use it. Stay tuned for Part 2 to learn how to incorporate dandelions into your diet in a variety of unique ways such as, your salads, stirfrys, teas, and even baked goods!

Meghan De Jong is the founder of Meg De Jong Nutrition, her personal nutrition platform, which offers tons of seasonal recipes, food growing tips, and nutrition education. She works with clients one on one to provide “garden-to-kitchen” nutrition support, and is the author of e-book entitled Eat to Nourish. She currently is creating a 4-part guide to seasonal eating. Check out the spring edition, then connect with Meg on Facebook and Instagram.


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Healing Herbal Salves: Chickweed, Calendula and Cannabis

 

The growing season can provide many different medicines straight from your yard or garden, sometimes wild and sometimes cultivated. Here are a few of my favorites to make for our family from our farm:

Chickweed Salve

Chickweed is a wild, edible "weed" that pops up in the cool weather of late winter and early spring in our area of Northern California. Nutritious {full of trace minerals and vitamins} and delicious in a salad, Chickweed applied topically also has a cooling, drying and healing effect on the skin which can aid in treatment of minor burns, cuts, rashes and bug bites. Also acting as an astringent, a compress of fresh Chickweed is helpful in pulling out splinters. Chickweed can be identified by the single line of hairs that run along the stalk and the cute white flowers that bloom with maturity.

To make a topical salve, cut your desired amount of plant, equal to the volume of oil you will be using, and allow to wilt overnight. Wilting the Chickweed decreases the moisture content, which decreases the chance of spoiling your infusion while still allowing the fresh properties of the plants to be used. After wilting overnight, cover the chickweed in the oil{s} of your choice for infusion. I also like to run this through the blender a bit to really increase the surface area of the plant for infusion. To maximize the strength of the infusion, using a crock pot on the lowest setting {‘warm’ on my model} heat the chickweed and oil mixture until dark green in color, over several hours. Once infused and darkened in color, strain the solids out with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Mix 1 cup of infused oil with 1oz of beeswax {more in very hot climates} to create a solid salve and store in a glass jar or metal tins.

Calendula Salve

Calendula not only makes for bright and cheery flowers in the garden, the edible petals can add some fun to a salad and make a healing salve to use year round. Calendula comes in a range of colors from yellows, to pinks, to oranges. Calendula has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, a muscle relaxer, antimicrobial, and to promote wound healing. Think of it like a herbal Neosporin! Calendula is very easy to grow and easily reseeds itself for years of harvests. To make a topical salve you’ll want to harvest the flowers just after blooming and before setting seeds, cut at the bottom of the flower head right where it meets the stem. The more you cut, the more will bloom! Dry these flower heads where they have good airflow {to prevent mold} until fully dry, then infuse the oil{s} of your choice over a period of weeks until your infusion is golden in color. Strain the spent flowers through a mesh strainer or cheesecloth and either compost the flowers or I sometimes feed them to my chickens for any leftover nutrition. Mix 1 cup of this infused oil with 1oz of beeswax {more in very hot climates} and store in glass jars or metal tins.

Cannabis Salve

Another favorite topical salve of mine is cannabis salve for pain, healing and more. For more details on the why and the how you can find my article on cannabis here.

If DIY isn’t your thing but you would like the benefits of either chickweed or calendula salve, you can find both in my Etsy shop here, straight from our farm!

Growing, harvesting and crafting homemade salves can be a rewarding and easy way to incorporate more of nature into your life.

Nicole Wilkey transitioned from a corporate job to small-scale farmer in 2015. Since then she has run California based Flicker Farm to accommodate meat pigs, mini Juliana pigs, pasture based poultry and sells goats milk soap and lotion on Etsy. Connect with Nicole on Instagram and Facebook.


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Roundup Exposure and the Battle for Justice, Part 2: The Battle Continues

 

Read Part 1 to this story, published December 2018.

The weedkiller Roundup has long been a topic of controversy, and cause for concern. More and more, we are seeing that the concern surrounding the weed killer was not without reason.

It’s no secret that there are currently a lot of lawsuits pending against Monsanto. In fact, as of 2019, there are over 11,000 lawsuits pending against the company over its Roundup product. Though these cases have been slow-moving, they are moving, and the latest case is not looking good for Monsanto.

Second Lawsuit is Ending in Decision Against Monsanto

Here’s the deal, on March 19th, 2019 a jury unanimously decided that Roundup was a “substantial factor” in the development of Edwin Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL).

This lawsuit is set to be the second case ever to be decided against Monsanto over Roundup. Additionally, it has a lot in common with the first case which was decided in favor of a groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson. This could make Edwin Hardeman, a California resident, may be the second individual to be awarded damages over Monsanto’s Roundup product.

Since, the 1980’s Hardeman, who is now 70, has used Roundup to control weeds on his 56-acre property. His life took a turn when, in 2015, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This form of blood cancer was the same type of cancer Mr. Johnson had developed. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is a form of cancer which is commonly thought to be caused by the weedkiller Roundup.

The judge in charge of the trial, Judge Vince Chhabria, split the trial into two parts. In the first part of the trial, the jury was to decide whether Roundup was a “substantial factor” in Mr. Hardeman’s NHL or not. To this question, the jury unanimously said it was. Now, in the second phase of the trial, the jury will determine whether Monsanto should be held responsible for Hardeman’s cancer or not.

Evidence Used in the Case

Hardeman’s case relied on evidence from about 30 studies which link glyphosate, the active compound in Roundup, to a range of cancers, and other biological disorders. One study showed that Roundup can disrupt proper cell division in sea urchins. A second study showed that Roundup, in particular, is more toxic to the human umbilical cord than glyphosate alone.

Additionally, the case also relied heavily on the World Health Organization's classification of glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen” in 2015. This classification has lead to many lawsuits like Hardeman’s, and many of them will be heard throughout 2019.

Multiple 2019 Studies Link Glyphosate Use to Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

More and more information is linking Roundup to cancer. Most specifically, chronic use of Roundup appears to be linked to NHL. With all the publicity surrounding these lawsuits, a lot of new studies are being conducted to test Roundup’s safety.

In fact, recent meta-data research conducted in 2019 found that exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides increased the risk of NHL by 41%.

Another study, published in March of 2019, analyzed farmers from Norway, France, and the US. It was found that risks of NHL were elevated in farmers who used glyphosate-based herbicides.

Lawsuits on Roundup Moving Forward

These types of cases are far from over. Another trial is set to begin in April of 2019, and currently, with over 11,000 cases pending against the company, this will not likely be the last of such cases decided against Monsanto. If you want to follow the lawsuits as they unfold, a great source is the “Monsanto Papers”, by the US Right To Know. Stay tuned, there is a lot more to come.

UPDATE: Within a few hours of writing this article it came out that the jury awarded Mr. Hardeman $80 million dollars for the damages caused by Roundup.

If you are looking for alternative forms of weed control there are plenty of great alternatives to Roundup. There is a lot of articles on natural weed control on Mother Earth News which are worth checking out. Here are a few:

Control Garden Weeds Organically

Horticultural Vinegar for Weed Control

Late Summer and Fall Intercropping

Read Part 1 to this story, published December 2018.

Douglas Dedrick is a professional landscaper, and writer on lawn care, plant nutrition, human health, and law topics. His writing can also be found at HealingLaw.com


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Skin-Soothing Chamomile and Olive Oil Body Butter Recipe

Chamomile Body Butter Recipe Ingredients

Photo ©Michael Piazza Photography. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

Your skin “eats”. Did you know that?

It sure does!  It “eats” or absorbs up to 60 percent of what you apply to it (to what degree depends on age, condition and temperature of your skin, state of current health, and the molecular size of product ingredients).

Now that you’re aware of this, doesn’t it make you want to use only those body oils, lotions, creams, and body butters that are made with natural ingredients versus products concocted with synthetics and deleterious fillers (artificial colors, fragrances, mineral oil, propylene glycol, parabens, etc.)?  As a licensed holistic esthetician, herbalist, aromatherapist, and author, I’ve formulated skin and body care recipes for the last three decades and I’ve figured out — with much trial and error - how to design these recipes so that the average home cook can become a master kitchen cosmetologist — able to churn out effective personal care products that rival their commercial counterparts.

All-natural skin conditioners, whether rich and semi-heavy or light and silky, improve the skin’s barrier function by sealing in moisture and preventing evaporation.  They also lubricate your skin, improving overall suppleness and elasticity. Applying some type of nurturing conditioner, be it a hydrating moisturizer, silky body oil, or thick butter (like the recipe below) or balm, is a daily essential, a vitally important skin care step that should never be skipped.

Chamomile and Olive Body Butter Recipe

Homemade Body Butter Chamomile Recipe

Chamomile and Olive Body Butter, photo by Stephanie Tourles

This herbal butter deeply feeds your skin from the outside and especially benefits inflamed, irritated skin.  It also makes a fabulous cleansing cream and facial moisturizer for all skin types and a wonderful nail conditioning cream. It even works well to moisturize the ends of dry, frizzy hair if applied sparingly, and is a restorative after-sun cream.

This recipe includes both German chamomile (Matricaria recutita, syn. M. chamomilla) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile, syn. Anthemis nobilis) essential oils.  When combined, they offer many beneficial properties for uncomfortable, distressed skin: calming, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, analgesic, and antihistamine.

Important tips: Read this before you start melting and blending any ingredients! Blending homemade creams, lotions, and body butters takes practice.  You’re attempting to combine oily and fatty ingredients with water-based ones — which naturally repel each other — and get them to stabilize chemically and form an emulsion. Just as occurs with homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, or gravy, though, when watery ingredients and fats are blended properly and at the right temperatures, magic happens! A fabulous cream appears right before your eyes.

In order for everything to blend properly, the fatty mixture should be approximately the same temperature as the watery mixture — about body temperature or slightly cooler.

To make your body butter thicker or firmer, add a tad more beeswax or shea butter. Experiment and see which one produces the consistency and texture you like best. Shea butter will always remain softer than beeswax and it takes much, much longer than beeswax to thicken as it cools.

Prep Time: Approximately 30 minutes, plus 30 minutes to completely cool and set up

Yields approximately 2 ¼ cups

Ingredients:

• ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil or chamomile-infused olive oil
•¼ cup unrefined coconut oil
•2 Tablespoons beeswax or vegetable emulsifying wax
•1 Tablespoon shea butter (refined or unrefined)
•1 cup distilled or purified water; or chamomile, lavandin, lavender, or rosemary hydrosol
•1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
•10 capsules 200 IU vitamin E oil
•30 drops German chamomile essential oil
•30 drops Roman chamomile essential oil

Note: You may add ¼ cup of commercial aloe vera gel or juice for added skin-healing benefits, but if you do this, please reduce the water or hydrosol to ¾ cup.

Directions:

1. Heat.  In a small saucepan over low heat or in a double boiler, warm the olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax, and shea butter until the solids are just melted. Do not allow to simmer, just gently warm the ingredients. In another small pan, warm the water or hydrosol (and aloe vera gel or juice – if you decided to use it) and the vegetable glycerin, and stir a few times until the glycerin dissolves in the liquid.

2. Cool.  Remove both pans from the heat.  Pour the oils/wax/shea butter mixture into a blender and allow to cool for approximately 10 to 20 minutes, or until it begins to turn slightly opaque. Leave the lid off the blender during the cooling process. Time will vary depending on the temperature of your ingredients and kitchen. DO NOT walk away and forget what you are doing and allow this mixture to get too thick or it will not blend properly and you may have a difficult time getting it out of your blender.

3. Blend.  Now, place the lid on the blender and remove the lid’s center plastic piece. Turn the blender on medium speed. Slowly drizzle the water and glycerin through the center of the lid into the vortex of swirling fats below. Almost immediately the cream will turn off-white to very pale yellow and will begin to thicken.

If the watery mixture is not properly combining with the fatty mixture, turn off the blender and give the body butter a few stirs with a spatula, being sure to scrape down any residue from the sides of the blender container. Then replace the lid and blend on medium speed for another 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat this process once or twice more, if necessary, until the texture is smooth.

Turn off the blender and add the vitamin E oil (pierce the capsule skin and squeeze the contents into the mix) and essential oils. Put the lid back on, then blend for another 5 seconds or so, until the body butter is smooth and thick. It should be a pale greenish-blue color.

4. Package and cool. Pour or spoon the finished body butter into dark glass or plastic storage containers(s) — 1- to 4-ounce containers are recommended. Lightly cover each container with a paper towel and allow the blend to cool for about 30 minutes before capping and labeling.

To Store:  This body butter is best stored in a dark, cool cabinet. Use within 60 to 90 days. If your storage area is very warm, please use the butter within 4 weeks for maximum potency and freshness. On the day you notice any mold growing in your container, toss it out and make a fresh batch.

If, after a few hours or days, water begins to separate from your body butter, don’t worry. You can pour off the watery liquid and use the resulting super-thick product as a foot, shin, knee, or elbow balm. The mixture can separate if the temperature of the fatty ingredients and that of the watery ingredients are not relatively equal and cool enough when the two portions are blended. Keep trying — making perfect creams and butters is an art!

To Apply: Immediately following a bath or shower, slather this butter on your damp skin — really massage it in. Because it’s very concentrated, begin with 1 teaspoon at a time. If your skin has an oily residue after 5 minutes, you’ve used too much. Simply wipe off the excess with a towel and use less next time around. Body butter may be used daily, if desired.

Recipe excerpted from Pure Skin Care: Nourishing Recipes for Vibrant Skin & Natural Beauty (c2018 by Stephanie Tourles). Photo ©Michael Piazza Photography. Used with permission from Storey Publishing.

Book Cover Pure Skin Care

Stephanie Tourles is a licensed holistic aesthetician, certified aromatherapist, and gardener with training in Western and Ayurvedic herbalism. She has also written many other books, including her best-selling, Organic Body Care RecipesHands-On Healing RemediesRaw Energy In a GlassRaw Energy; Pure Skin Care; and Naturally Bug-Free (all available in the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store). Visit her website www.StephanieTourles.com to learn more, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Spirituality When You are Living Off-Grid

 fire

I had the unique upbringing to have parents from widely different religious backgrounds; my dad grew up Italian Catholic while later in life he went back to the reservation to be exposed to and study his Native roots, while my mother is from Israel. While my mother grew up with atheistic parents in Israel, everything is grounded in Judaism, from the language, holidays and education. The setting is similar for someone who is not Christian in America but still learns about the Christian knowledge and how we as a country celebrate many public holidays that were original Christian holidays.

My parents didn’t want to force me to be any particular religion therefore as I was growing up wanted me to have a well rounded knowledge of what is available, so we would attend any and all religious events. I have been to almost every type of Christian church (there seem to be hundreds of varieties) from kneeling down in Catholic mass to seeing snakes handled in church to holy holy revivals with people speaking in tongues to being baptized in a river to singing the gospels with thousands, touched my head to the floor with Muslims and Sufis, chanted with New Agers, hugged trees on full moon nights, danced around a fire with hundreds, visited holy sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, had sweat lodges with elders, talked with self proclaimed gurus, lived with a monk, ate (broke bread) with people (many now friends) of every background, held hands in a circle with hundreds at the Teotihuacán pyramids in Mexico, and have been touched by the spirit at all of them.

My greatest feeling of wonder and greater purpose is when I am in nature. Knowing that my church is anywhere and everywhere I am makes me want to respect, take care off, and have wonder for everything and everyone I see and experience.

I think of God for want of a better word as everything, Oneness. I think at one time we were all One big ball of energy and as times goes on our oneness with each other and the universe has spread out. When we do things together, by occupying the mind and body, whether at a church, religious establishment, or dancing together at a concert, our spirits are free to get reconnected to the oneness and this connection to each other reminds us that we were once all One.

Have you ever felt a connection to everybody, beyond just a telepathic connection, and everything when you get a large group of people together doing the same thing; whether ritual or dance or a concert?

grateful

Since it takes both positive (good) and negative (evil) to make energy, I think that we should never worry about negative things as we need them to be in balance. Without negative things how do we know something is positive? You have to have one to know the other and life is all about having a good balance of both. I think the greatest people I have ever met were people that went through “hell” and therefore know and appreciate what they have. The happiest people I have met have been the ones with the least amount of material wealth.  If we don’t feel grateful for what we already have, What makes us think we would be happy with more?

I look forward everyday to the interactions I have on my Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page and hope you will join the discussion there.

Stay energized, aur

Aur Beck has lived completely off-grid for over 35 years. He has traveled with his family through 24 states and 14,000 recorded miles by horse-drawn wagon. Aur is a presenter at The Climate Reality Project, a fellow addict at Oil Addicts Anonymous International  and a talk show co-host at WDBX Community Radio for Southern Illinois 91.1 FM. Find him on the Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page, and read all of Aur's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

What is 'Real' Soap?

Goat Milk Soap

What is soap? Real soap, by definition? Let me nerd out for a second and explain: soap is a fatty acid salt. To make soap you must emulsify an alkaline solution {lye} with fats/oils {goat milk, coconut oil, olive oil etc.} to cause saponification. Saponification is just the chemical reaction between the alkali {lye} and the fats {oils}. Saponification results in the salts of fatty acids and a humectant, glycerin. Then you have REAL soap that works by mixing with water to create micelles {tiny spheres that grab dirt} to wash particles away. Sodium Hydroxide lye is used to make hard soap where Potassium Hydroxide lye is used to make liquid soap.

While ‘lye’ is a big scary word to many people, most aren’t aware that lye is actually made from wood ash. So while it can burn you and you do need to take safety precautions when working with lye, it is nice to know that this chemical does have natural origins. Through the saponification process, all of the caustic qualities of lye are eliminated.

Why should this matter to you? I get the question often regarding my goat milk soap "will this actually clean?" Not only will it give you a great cleansing, it will leave your skin in better condition and more hydrated when compared to commercial 'soap' from the store.  Why? The big name brands we all know from the store aren't soap at all, they are almost always detergents!

Goat Milk Soap

Detergents are made of synthetic cleaning agents, and tend to be a bit more harsh to hold up to hard water. They rarely contain natural oils or glycerin, or very little of it, and almost never use lye which is required for the chemical reaction. Detergents tend to strip away all traces of oil with synthetic lathering agents. While this may be beneficial if I’m in need of a harsh cleaning agent, it’s not what I want when I’m washing my face.

Speaking of washing your face, how many of you need a makeup remover in addition to your facial cleanser? As ‘detergents’ usually don’t contain oil, they have a hard time dissolving oils in makeup. Why? Because of the chemistry rule ‘like dissolves like’. The real soap contains oil, the makeup contains oil. Therefore, both being non-polar substances, the real soap will dissolve your makeup without requiring any additional solvents. They are ‘like’ each other. So to simplify- when I use real soap, not detergents, I wash with soap only and all traces of makeup are gone. Or face paint, or grease, or most any other type of hard to remove substances.

Benefits to Using Real Soap

1. Decreases your exposure to synthetic chemicals and toxins. Our skin is our biggest organ and acts like a sponge with anything that we put on it. It will also keep your skin in its best condition.

2. Real soap can be used not just for lathering up in the shower, but also as a makeup remover, as a shaving cream/lotion for both men and women. It can simplify your bathroom routine!

3. It’s better for the environment as its production is done with natural ingredients.

4. You can use it to clean your whole house: I like to dilute real liquid soap with water in a spray bottle to clean my counters and mop my floor.

If you are looking to make the switch from detergents to real soap, just as you read food labels, start reading soap labels! Look for ingredients such as fats and oils you are familiar with and can pronounce and don't be scared away by lye, also listed as either sodium or potassium hydroxide. If you are interested in real soap from our little farm, you can find it here: Flicker Farm Raw Goat Milk Soap.

So there you have it, soap > detergent!

Nicole Wilkey transitioned from a corporate job to small-scale farmer in 2015. Since then she has run California based Flicker Farm to accommodate meat pigs, mini Juliana pigs, pasture based poultry and sells goats milk soap and lotion on Etsy. Connect with Nicole on Instagram and Facebook.


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The Importance of Unplugging for Your Health

 

When I was in my twenties, I bought into the lie that many people do. The harder you work and the less time off you take, the more productive (and thus successful) you will become. SO many people are afraid of unplugging. The reasons can be many including inability to connect or really relax when taking time off, fear of being replaced in the Corporate world, fear of what others will think if you take time off or simply, the false notion that you will somehow miss out on productivity or success if you do. These feelings are often times heightened and more intense if you are living in the modern day Western society.

Stress and burnout are at an all time high with side effects that can produce chronic illness and a great increase in the decline of mental health and increase in anxiety disorders. 37% of adults in the US stated their stress has increase exponentially between 2012 and 2017 as researched by Statista. Some of the greatest increases came from demands of schedules and financial worries coupled with the inability to shut off. 

My hopes through this article is to encourage you to take a fresh look at unplugging and to realize that it is really essential to success in each area of life. It took me a lot of hard lessons learned and tripping to get these concepts and once I b

What is unplugging? Simply put, unplugging allows you the rejuvenation to better perform in your business, life and various tasks. It gives you the needed TIME to free up your thoughts, think more clearly long-term and to rest and allow your body the needed time to slow down. 

I remember clearly the first time I took a two week vacation (we take several 2-3 week vacations PER YEAR) and I felt so guilty. I kept trying to 'perform' and work. I woke up to my 'to do' lists and I was still trying to do what had for so long...to work myself into the ground. For me, work and my career became my security and somewhere along the way I bought into the lie that I couldn't stop ... because if I stopped, I would lose everything I had worked for. Much of this was deep rooted stuff from my upbringing too — and an unhealthy imbalanced way to achieve success.

Subconsciously, I think many of us are or have in the past struggled with the fear of being replaced or somehow losing what we have worked so hard for. It takes being honest with yourself and taking a long hard look at your life and what you really want most. There is such a thing as balance in this world and when you find it, you'll become more productive than ever. 

It took real practice for me to learn what it meant to unwind and unplug. It started with customizing messages for my email and phone which were auto replies to let people know my 'away dates'. The hardest part of my initial unplugging was learning that I didn't run an emergency service and I didn't have to respond immediately to each and every message that came through. I know some of you can resonate with this. When you take this time to refuel and refresh, it is key to fully allow yourself this precious time to step away from it all. 

Unplugging and Unwinding Benefits

Unplugging allows you to clear your mind and have a better thought flow. When you stay busy 'running' so much and exhausting yourself, you leave no time for reflection and evaluation. This is crucial to success. 

It allows you to connect with what and who matters most. So many times, when you are busy working (and only working) you do so to the neglect of family and those people who mean so much to you. It is true that the best thing you can do for your family is spend TIME with them.

It allows you time to goal set and to reflect on those things that are working in your life and those things that are not. When you give yourself time to evaluate what is or is not working, it gives you valuable opportunity to change gears or move direction. 

It makes having FUN and enjoying the hard work you put in possible. Keeping yourself so busy that you can't enjoy the rewards of your hard work is not good. A balanced life is a life of productiveness but also rest and enjoying the moments & memories that make up life. Spending time enjoying various hobbies you may enjoy, making lasting memories with family or simply allowing yourself 'room' to live without the clock for a period of time.

Ways to Unplug for Health and Vitality

Here are some simple ways to help make unplugging easier for you. Remember, it takes practice to learn how to slow the pace and really allow yourself this needed time to relax.

When you take a vacation set your "away" messages both on email and your phone. Most phones have a 'do not disturb' feature that allows you to customize an away message similar to how you create an auto response on email. I simply customize mine when away and I also use this weekly to auto-respond to messages after business hours. Remember, setting healthy boundaries during the week is as important as when you step away and unplug.

Consider putting your phone on airplane mode and doing a "social media" detox. You can limit yourself more than you typically would and allow your mind this time of rest.

Load up on your healthy vitamins and nutrients to feed your body while you take this time of rest. For example, I tend to load up more on 'magnesium' during these times of rest & especially before bed. When you go from a state of constantly being 'wound up' it can be hard to come down and these little things make a massive difference.

Enlist the help of your family. No one knows us better than our family and likewise, no one knows our hangups and struggles better than family. Ask them to help hold you accountable to being more present and less distracted during your times of unplugging. Having healthy accountability and support is key.

Allow yourself to experience nature whenever possible. When Alex and I take our down time we always love to be close to the mountains or the beach. We enjoy breathing in the fresh air, having great conversations and putting our bare feet on the ground (this is a real thing ya' know.... it's called grounding) and lots of sleep of course. Nature has an incredible way of helping you to relax.

You do not have to feel bad for taking a break, taking a step back or unplugging. Deep down, I know this is something that most people feel makes them 'lazy' but this couldn't be further from the truth. I hope this has encouraged you to look at taking steps towards living a truly productive life that strikes the vital balance between work and play & between work and family. Taking time to evaluate your life, spend time with family and to allow yourself a break from the day to day grind is never time wasted. No matter if you can only take a week or a month, approach it mindfully and use these tips to 'unplug' and watch how rested and productive you feel. I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback after you do. 

Alexander and Ashley Poptodorov are health and wellness enthusiasts who has a passion for helping others to achieve their very best through optimal living. In 2005, they opened A+A Wellness in Atlanta, Ga. Alexander and Ashley are excited to share their experiences and excitement with you about the endless possibilities of being healthy. Read all of their MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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