Letters of Love #bebetter52

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Every Valentine’s Day we are flooded with messages of romantic love. From pastel candy hearts with flirty messages to bundles of red roses scattered throughout every grocery store, the holiday’s emphasis on romantic relationships is loud and clear. Here at Be Better we thought, “Why stop there?”  It is no secret the world needs more love, so let us open our hearts and share love with more people in it. Whether it be our partner, a family member, a friend, or perhaps someone we have never met before.

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This week’s challenge is to spread love to those who least expect it through love letters! But these love letters are going to be written for people you have never met. Luckily, the website, More Love Letters connects us with new individuals. They offer two ways to become involved. The first way is to write a letter to one of the people nominated, (Jack, Taylor, Isa or Anne) who are real people in need of words of love and encouragement. You read their story, write a letter, and mail it to the address provided. The other option is to write little love notes and leave them around your community. Be sure to include the #moreloveletters as well as #bebetter52! Spreading love can have a profound impact, especially in tangible and unexpected ways.

This week’s challenge reminds us to opens our eyes and see where expressions of love might positively affect those who may be overlooked or feeling down.  And it helps us realize the boundless power behind simple, small gestures that can make enormous differences in people’s lives.

Happy Valentine’s Day #bebetter52 friends! Let’s get writing!

Eat Citrus #bebetter52

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When you think of citrus, you might immediately think of Vitamin C, but that's not all you're gaining when you eat grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, and clementines! Citrus is also a source of soluble and insoluble fiber plus potassium. Because of its high water content, it is filling but low in calories. That's not to say that Vitamin C isn't important. Marisa Moore, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that while Vitamin C can't necessarily prevent colds, research suggests that it could help shorten the duration and lessen the severity of your symptoms. Citrus fruits are especially good for those paying attention to their blood sugar levels because they have low glycemic index scores which means they shouldn't cause your blood glucose levels to spike. The soluble fiber in citrus helps to stabilize blood glucose levels, while the insoluble fiber helps you stay regular.

Reap the benefits of citrus fruits with this week's Be Better challenge to eat citrus!

There are many ways to incorporate citrus into your diet. It is easy to eat a clementine, squeeze some lemon into your water or tea, or have a grapefruit with breakfast. If you want to take it a step further, squeeze the juice or grate the zest on chicken, fish, or a salad to instantly boost the flavor. Share your favorite way to eat citrus by posting and using the hashtag #bebetterchallenge.  


 

Find Silence #bebetter52

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The word silence comes from the Latin word “silens” meaning to be still, quiet, or at rest. How much of your day is spent still, quiet, or at rest? Do you allow silence into your home so you can rest, reflect, and grow, or do you tend to always fill silence with something?

In today’s society we don’t spend a lot of time in silence. Your phone is notifying you of an incoming text, the TV is on in the background or music is playing throughout your day. This week’s #bebetter52 is to find silence in your day. Specifically, turn off all the music, the television, the podcasts, and the audiobooks, and sit with yourself in silence for at least five minutes. Find little moments--on your drive to and from work or at night in your backyard under the stars once your kids go to bed.

Sitting in silence might be looked at as time lost when you have an unending to-do list, but the time we sit in silence is not wasted. Silence, solitude, and stillness give us a break from always being "on" and productive. You and your brain deserve a rest from constant noise and input!  Studies prove silence can relieve stress and tension, replenish our mental resources and regenerate brain cells.

Not only that, but silence can also help us tap into “default mode network,” what scientists call “self-generated cognition.” This is the time we daydream, let our minds wander and meditate. Engaging in this network helps us be more creative, reflective and empathetic with others. Taking a break and letting your mind process all you've been working on could lead to an "A-ha!" moment with the potential to propel you forward in your work or creative project.

If you have small kids and it's difficult for you to find silence, try to include them in your challenge! Sit together in silence and take deep, slow breaths. Tell your kids to let their thoughts pass like clouds in the sky. Let them think, imagine and wonder about anything that comes into their thoughts. Teaching children to be comfortable in silence is a precious lesson that can help them feel calm and in tune with their emotions. We love some of the suggestions highlighted by Psychology Today to help teach your children the value of silence. They state, “Set aside time at the home where no one will be plugged in to anything, go for walks outside in nature, and use time in car when no one listens to music.”

As Herman Melville once wrote, “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.” This week you will reap the reward of self-awareness, reflection, meaning, imagination, and inspiration, all by finding some silence throughout your day!


 

Eat Seeds #bebetter52

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Seeds are not just for birds! They have amazing health benefits for us as well. This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to incorporate more seeds into your diet. Go to the store and buy a pack of seeds you rarely eat or have never tried and commit to eating them. You can find them at your local grocery store, often sold in bulk. What kind of seeds? You have plenty of options! From chia seeds to sunflower seeds to hemp seeds, sprucing up your diet with these small but powerful food sources will benefit your health.

Ways to incorporate seeds into your diet:

1.     Add them to a healthy smoothie.

2.     Put them in your cereal or oatmeal.

3.     Use them as toppings to salads.

4.     Eat them by the handful or in a trail mix.

What type of seeds are the healthiest?

Our favorite resource for good information on "super seeds" is at www.self.com. It highlights many different types of seeds you can incorporate into your diet. They list 7 seeds that help in a variety of ways. For example, pomegranate seeds are good for weight loss, sesame seeds for a healthy heart and flax seeds for cancer prevention.

Chia seeds are becoming increasingly popular in American culture for good reason. They are easy to digest and don’t need to be ground up. Chia seeds can help you reach your weight goal by decreasing your appetite and helping you feel full faster. They also provide hydration, a big perk for athletes. Chia seeds are rich in Omega-3, an essential fatty acid found in fish and certain plants.

Another great seed is the flax seed. Also high in Omega-3, flax is additionally a great source of fiber. Include these seeds in your cereal or other breakfast foods for energy all day. Flax seeds can help reduce cholesterol, which creates a more heart-healthy you.

A more commonly consumed seed is the sunflower seed. It is great in salads or just to snack on. Sunflower seeds are a natural vegetable protein, and we all know how good protein is for the body. Like flax and chia, sunflower seeds help lower blood pressure.

Three other power seeds include: Sesame seeds, high in antioxidants and rich in protein, are also a source of zinc; Pumpkin seeds are a tasty source of iron, zinc, B vitamins, magnesium and protein with a high concentration of the amino acid tryptophan to help lower anxiety levels; Sacha inchi seeds are one of the best plant sources of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids.

Great nutrition often comes in small packages. Let us know how you use seeds this week and share your best ideas with others.

Buy a Plant #bebetter52

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How do you feel when you’re in a room with an abundance of plants? Happier? More energized? Does the air feel cleaner? You aren’t just imagining these feelings! Plants greatly improve your indoor environment, and that’s why this week’s Be Better Challenge is to bring a plant into your home!

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Adding plants indoors can increase oxygen levels. Some plants like the Gerbera daisy can promote deep sleep by giving off oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide at night when most plants do not. Plants are natural humidifiers and can help to decrease instances of dry skin, colds, sore throats, fatigue, headaches, and coughs.

NASA has done extensive research on plants and their impact on indoor air quality. They have found that “low levels of chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde can be removed from indoor environments by plant leaves alone.” Not only are plants aesthetically pleasing, but also plant leaves alone can reduce air pollution from chemicals omnipresent in our homes.

It’s really as simple as getting a plant! The best plants for indoor use include the Spider plant, Dragon tree, Gerbera daisy, Snake plant, Peace lily, Philodendron, English ivy, and Boston fern; however, don’t feel tied to buying one of these suggested plants. If you’re feeling called to succulents or air plants (typically easier to care for and great for those who don’t consider themselves to have green thumbs), then that’s what you should get. Share a picture of your new plant with the Be Better community by posting and using the hashtag #bebetter52!

We encourage you to read this eye opening article from NASA written in 1988 regarding the benefits of indoor plants.