Epsom Salt #bebetter52

Epsom Salt #BeBetter52

You may have experienced the calming effects of pouring a cup of Epsom salts into a warm bath. The salt makes you feel slightly more buoyant, relaxed, and rejuvenated, but what exactly is Epsom salt? Its scientific name is magnesium sulfate, an inorganic salt containing magnesium, sulfate, and oxygen.  In the human body, magnesium is responsible for protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation.  Because it's responsible for so much, magnesium deficiency is often called the "Invisible Deficiency."

Although little scientific research has been done on Epsom salt, most  doctors and therapists agree that a dash of Epsom salt in warm water relieves sore muscles, lessens joint pain, and heals burned skin. It’s great to soak tired feet in after a long day. Try adding an essential oil such as lavender for a spa-like atmosphere.

Our #bebetter52 challenge this week is to use Epsom salt. The most obvious use of Epsom salts is to put them in a bath. Make sure the water is warm, not hot, and pour the recommended amount of Epsom salt into the running water. Check out our Epsom Salt Bath recipe below.

If you're feeling a little more adventurous, try using Epsom salt as an exfoliant, to remove scum from dirty dishes, or to fertilize your plants. There are a plethora of uses for this mighty magnesium compound, and we want to hear about how you used Epsom salt this week! Post a pic of how you added Epsom salt in your life with the #bebetter52.

Recipe:

Bath: Add at least one cup of Epsom salt to a warm bath and soak for at least 20 minutes. For aches and pains, add at least two cups. (If you have time, soak for 30 to 45 minutes). You'll be amazed at how relaxing it is as all your aches and pains are soothed. Have a good book on hand to read while you soak! Combine with lavender essential oil or flowers for extra relaxation.

Foot soak: for a concentrated magnesium boost, add one cup of Epsom salt to hot water, and soak for 20 minutes.

Oil: Make a homemade magnesium oil when you don't have time for a soak.

Combine a half cup of Epsom salts with a half cup of boiled, distilled water and stir until dissolved. Put into a spray bottle and spray onto arms, legs, and stomach daily (10 to 30 sprays). It may tingle the first few times, and this is normal. If it doesn't go away or is uncomfortable, dilute with more water. This can be left on the skin or washed off in the shower after 20 to 30 minutes. Moisturize about five minutes after application if leaving on.

Other uses:

Splinter removal: soak in concentrated Epsom salt water before pulling out a splinter.

- Magnesium foot or face scrub: mix with coconut or olive oil for smooth skin.

In the garden: add a tablespoon of Epsom salt to the soil below a tomato plant to boost growth.

Tile or grout cleaner: mix equal parts dish soap and Epsom salts. Rinse well for streak-free shine.

- Homemade sea salt spray will add texture and volume to hair.

Voluminizing hair mask: combine equal parts conditioner and Epsom salt and leave on hair for 20 minutes. Rinse well and let air dry for thicker hair.

- Get rid of slugs.

Laxative for occasional constipation: take one teaspoon of Epsom salt dissolved in water (check with doctor first).

Sunburn relief: dissolve one tablespoon of Epsom salt into warm water and let it cool, then spray on burn for relief.

Rose growth: a tablespoon a week around the soil of your rose bushes can help boost growth.

 

To Do List #bebetter52

To Do List #bebetter52

Are you feeling overwhelmed at work? At home? At school? In relationships? Are you so stressed out you don’t even want to see this week’s #bebetterchallenge because it’s just one more item on an already overloaded plate you probably won’t complete? Luckily, the challenge this week is custom made for you: Make a to do list.

In a world of never-ending emails, 24/7 work hours, and little time to relax, it can be easy to become overwhelmed. In fact, one in four Americans said they had a “great deal of stress in the last month.” This may be due to the fact that we aren’t able to complete one task before we’re given the next one. In psychology this is called the Zeigarnik Effect. According to this phenomenon, our mind tends to get fixated on one unfinished task.  With a to-do list it's easier to complete one task at a time, so we can move onto the next thing without worrying about what we didn't finish.  The checklist keeps you organized, motivated, and efficient. No wonder it’s used by the U.S. Army Air Corps, surgeons, and professional athletes.

Try making a simple to do list of the day’s tasks. Prioritize the list with the most important jobs to complete, followed by ones that are less critical and could be accomplished the next day if needed. Allow for life’s unpredictable happenings: the dirty bathtub on your list is not as important as a friend who suddenly needs your help. The purpose of a to do list is to efficiently organize your time, lessen your stress, and accomplish your most critical tasks. Feel the unmatched joy of crossing tasks off your list. Nothing is more satisfying than looking at a list of projects you have completed.

Library Card #bebetter52

Photo Courtesy of Maddy Fredrick
Photo Courtesy of Maddy Fredrick

Library Card #bebetter52

When is the last time you visited the library?  We all know reading is good for the mind and the soul. Adults who read literature on a regular basis are more than two-and-a-half times as likely to do volunteer or charity work, and over one-and-a-half times as likely to participate in sporting activities. 

Yet busy schedules and the gravitational pull of Netflix have prevented us from reading as much as we should.  Globally, people spend 6.5 hours a week reading.  That’s a minimal amount of time when the average American watches 4 hours of tv a day.

Mobile devices, tablets, and online readers have helped more of us read, but they have also discouraged any interaction between human hand and those beautiful, musty book pages.  

This weeks #bebetter52 challenge is to obtain a library card, an essential step to connecting with your community.  It costs nothing. You can rent a wide assortment of books, movies, magazines, and journals, and you’ll be exposed to a new group of people.  Make time this week to explore your local library by yourself for peaceful me-time or bring along the kids for a literature-themed treasure hunt.  

Our photo challenge is to snap a picture of the experience you gained from visiting a local library and/or using your library card. You may meet someone new, encounter an old friend, or discover something different about yourself through this simple task.  Try it out, and let us know how it goes.

“We should read to give our souls a chance to luxuriate.”

Henry Miller

Recycling #bebetter52

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b119ac70-9d60-48b5-bcc5-6a8641d72c52Recycle #bebetter52

Recycle, recycle, it’s not hard to do, you can reduce the pollution and help the world too!

This Week’s #bebetter52 challenge is easy . . . recycle! It can be paper, plastic, bottles, cans, etc. Anything that has the three-chasing-arrows symbol is fair game.

The average American produces about 4.3 pounds of garbage a day. Multiply that by the 300 million-plus people who live in the United States, and that’s enough waste to fill 63,000 garbage trucks. Where does all this trash go? Approximately 55 percent ends up in landfills, 12.5 percent goes to incinerators, and only 33 percent is recycled.

Everyone has been told that recycling helps the earth but not necessarily why. The benefits of recycling are endless. Recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills, conserves natural resources, prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials, saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and helps sustain the environment for future generations. On top of all its environmental rewards, recycling also helps generate new, well-paying jobs. Knowing all that, who wouldn’t want to recycle?

Here are some ways to recycle and keep our Earth green:

  1. Buy reusable bags or reuse plastic bags.
  1. Buy rechargeable batteries.
  1. Buy products made from recycled material.
  1. Recycle phone and other electronics if they die.
  1. Compost.
  1. Donate clothing.

So this week, remember that by recycling, you are not only bettering yourself but the entire world!

More on recycling:

Why Recycling is Important

Ways to Recycle

Recycling Facts

Give Flowers #bebetter52

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IMG_0998Give Flowers #bebetter52

Stop and smell the roses. And, while you’re at it, pick a few for a loved one! With spring blooming, there’s no better gesture to show someone you care.

This week’s #bebetter52 challenge is to give flowers to someone, whether it’s to show romance, friendship or simply gratitude and appreciation. The flowers can be handpicked or store-bought; the important part is the thought!

Giving flowers is an integral part of social customs dating back to ancient China, Greece, Rome and Egypt. In Greek mythology, flowers are used to represent gods and goddesses. The custom of gifting flowers continued in the Middle Ages, with the French and English keeping the tradition alive and strong. During the Victorian era, gifting flowers was prevalent because it was considered ill-mannered to express feelings in words. That is the era when many of the rules for gifting flowers were created and modern customs surrounding the gifting of flowers began.

According to a study done by Rutgers University researcher Jeanette Haviland-Jones, both men and women who give flowers are perceived as happy, achieving, strong, capable and courageous people. Haviland-Jones also found that men and women who give flowers come across as more emotionally intelligent and show that they can effectively express their feelings and take time to understand the feelings of others. On top of that, female floral gifters are viewed as more appreciative of beauty and nature.

Here are the traditional meanings of flowers you might want to give:

Carnations: Carnations, the most popular flowers in the world, symbolize love and fascination.

Bells of Ireland: These green beauties represent good luck.

Iris: This vibrant, purple flower represents friendship.

Hyacinth: These stunning flowers come in many different colors. The purple is often given to say, “I’m sorry.”

Roses: Of course roses are thought of for romance, but they are also used to say congratulations. Yellow roses represent high achievements.

So present flowers to a special someone; you’ll see that person light up over your gift.

More on giving flowers:

Language of flowers

History of giving flowers

Science of giving flowers