Mommypotamus 2017-02-26T19:45:26Z http://www.mommypotamus.com/feed/atom/ WordPress http://cdn.mommypotamus.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/cropped-MP-logo-purple-32x32.png Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Astragalus Root For Hormone Balance, Energy And Immune Support]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=45566 2017-02-25T22:15:53Z 2017-02-23T19:52:35Z Known as the “yellow leader” or “yellow energy” due to its golden roots, this sweet, warming herb has been woven into Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Known as a mild adaptogen – or herb that helps the body adapt to physical and emotional stress – that is well tolerated, astragalus membranaceus has earned mentions […]

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astragalus-benefits-uses

Known as the “yellow leader” or “yellow energy” due to its golden roots, this sweet, warming herb has been woven into Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Known as a mild adaptogen – or herb that helps the body adapt to physical and emotional stress – that is well tolerated, astragalus membranaceus has earned mentions in historical texts such as the Divine Husbandman’s Classic of the Materia Medica, which was published in the first century AD.

It has long been used to support immune function, and “is also regarded as a potent tonic for increasing energy levels.” (source) This may be due to its positive impact on the mitochondria, which serve as the “batteries” that power our cells. (source)

Newer research also suggests that it may also have anti-aging properties and support hormone balance.

Anti-Aging Benefits of Astragalus

In one study, researchers found that a compound within astragalus activates production of the telomerase (hTERT) enzyme. (source) This enzyme maintains or lengthen telomeres, which is significant because telomeres directly impact cellular aging.

Telomeres are sometimes compared to the plastic ends on shoelaces that prevent them from fraying, only instead of protecting laces they protect our DNA. Here’s how an article in Scientific American explains it:

Telomeres consist of up to 3,300 repeats of the DNA sequence TTAGGG. They protect chromosome ends from being mistaken for broken pieces of DNA that would otherwise be fixed by cellular repair machinery. But every time our cells divide, the telomeres shrink. When they get short enough, our cells no longer divide and our body stops making those cells. (source)

The faster the telomeres shrink, the more quickly we age at a cellular level. By helping to maintain telomere length, astragalus is thought to support optimal aging.

Astragalus & The Immune System

“In China, astragalus has enjoyed a long history of use in traditional medicine to strengthen Wei Qi, or ‘defensive energy,’ or in Western terms, the immune system.” (source) Several modern studies support this traditional perspective, and in fact it is not recommended to be consumed with immune-suppressing drugs due to it’s potential to counteract them. (source 1, source 2, source 3)

Because of its immune supportive properties, astragalus is a favorite herb to include in tinctures and teas during cold and flu season.

Astragalus & Hormone Balance

As I shared in this post on rebooting our body’s stress response, when we get stuck in stress mode, our bodies “steal” a hormone called pregnenolone to make extra cortisol. Pregnenolone is often called the “mother hormone” because it’s used to make all kinds of hormones – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and of course cortisol.

Adaptogenic herbs like astragalus help the body maintain hormonal balance by making it more adaptive to stress. Here’s a guide to getting started with adaptogens.

astragalus-uses-benefits

How To Use Astragalus

Astragalus is rarely used alone. Instead, it is combined with complementary adaptogens such as licorice root, ginseng, shisandra and cordyceps, among others. I include it in my adaptogen chai tea recipe and take it as a tincture when I need energy or immune support.

Is astragalus safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Though it is a Safety Class 1B adaptogen, no studies are available on the safety of using astragalus membranaceus during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is generally considered safe and appropriate for “young, old, weak, strong, and even small children and infants (dosage would need to be adjusted accordingly).” (Source: Adaptogens in Medical Herbalism, 369)

Though renowned herbalist Susun Weed does not mention breastfeeding specifically, she does recommend it to postpartum mothers whose children were born by cesarean. (source)

Certain varieties, such as A. lentiginosis or A. mollissimus (locoweed), are toxic and should be avoided.

How much is recommended?

Adaptogens are herbs rather than pharmaceutical drugs, so there are no dosages. However, herbalists do share knowledge about what methods of consumption seem to produce a beneficial effect for most people.

In Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief, ethnobotanist David Winston and herbal expert Steven Maimes recommend the following:

  • For a 1:5 tincture (1 ounce dried astragalus by weight, mixed with 5 ounces of 60 proof or higher alcohol) – 40-80 drops, three times per day. (Mommypotamus note: Another option is to purchase a pre-made astrgalus tincture and follow the instructions that come with it.)
  • As a decoction – Simmer 2 teaspoons dried, sifted roots in 12-16 ounces water for 20-30 minutes, then let steep for an additional 30 minutes. Drink up to three cups per day.

What else do I need to know?

“In traditional Chinese medicine, tonic herbs such as astragalus should not be taken when someone has an acute infectious illness such as colds, flus, bronchitis, or pneumonia, because it can cause stagnation and ‘feed’ the illness.” (Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief, p. 149)

Due to its immune supporting properties, astragalus may counteract immune suppressing drugs.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Restless Leg Syndrome Home Remedies]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=22750 2017-02-25T05:08:57Z 2017-02-20T15:27:07Z Creepy crawly misery. I can’t speak for everyone else’s experience with Restless Leg Syndrome, but that pretty much sums it up for me. I struggled with this sleep thief off and on since I was about 8 years old, and was taking tranquilizers to manage it by my early twenties. Fortunately, through a little trial […]

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Restless Leg Syndrome Home Remedies

Creepy crawly misery. I can’t speak for everyone else’s experience with Restless Leg Syndrome, but that pretty much sums it up for me. I struggled with this sleep thief off and on since I was about 8 years old, and was taking tranquilizers to manage it by my early twenties.

Fortunately, through a little trial and error I’ve been able to eliminate my symptoms without the help of medications. I’ll be sharing what I did in this post, but first a disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this post is not intended to diagnose or treat anything. I’m just a girl whose doctor once said “The next step after this is basically a horse tranquilizer” who wanted (and found) a medication-free approach that worked for me. See my full disclaimer here. Okay, moving on!

What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders:

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by throbbing, pulling, creeping, or other unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable, and sometimes overwhelming, urge to move them. Symptoms occur primarily at night when a person is relaxing or at rest and can increase in severity during the night. Moving the legs relieves the discomfort. Often called paresthesias (abnormal sensations) or dysesthesias (unpleasant abnormal sensations), the sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful.

The most distinctive or unusual aspect of the condition is that lying down and trying to relax activates the symptoms. Most people with RLS have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Left untreated, the condition causes exhaustion and daytime fatigue.

Creepy crawly misery. That was my experience until I used these home remedies that calmed my restless legs.

What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?

Just like a stomachache can be caused by a virus, eating too much, constipation, etc., there are several possible causes for restless leg symptoms. Here are a few worth considering:

magnesium-and-sleep

Magnesium Deficiency

Restless Leg Syndrome is often related to nutritional deficiencies, particularly magnesium. (source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4)

Magnesium is needed to push excess calcium out of cells so that smooth muscle can relax. A deficiency can cause muscle tightening, twitches, involuntary jerks, and spasms. Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is common these days because:

  1. Modern soil is very depleted in magnesium, as are the crops grown in it. (source 1, source 2)
  2. Stress causes us to burn through our stores more quickly (source)

So how can we improve our magnesium levels?

As I already mentioned, it’s challenging to get enough magnesiums from foods due to soil depletion. However, homemade bone broth is a good source that contains complementary minerals as well.

I also find it necessary to supplement, which is tricky because many oral forms are either not well-tolerated or not well-absorbed. This is what I use because it contains co-factors that assist with absorption and releases slowly in the body to maximize the amount that the body is able to hold onto. However, because the amount that can be absorbed via the digestive tract is limited, I also apply it topically. Magnesium is well absorbed through skin via magnesium oil, epsom salt baths, or magnesium chloride flakes dissolved in a warm bath.

But what about the 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium intake I’m supposed to have? Won’t this mess me up? 

Experts often suggest that people need to consume twice as much calcium as magnesium for bone health. According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, the supposed “ideal” ratio is a myth. Apparently, the recommendation goes back to statements made by French scientist Jean Durlach, who warned that calcium intake should never dip exceed twice the amount of magnesium consumed. New research indicates why he made this suggestion –  without adequate magnesium, calcium can calcify soft tissue and contribute to heart disease. (source)

According to Dean, “A hundred years ago we enjoyed a diet high in magnesium with a daily intake of 500 mg. Today we are lucky to get 200 mg.[8] However, calcium in the diet has never been higher. This high-calcium, low-magnesium diet, when coupled with calcium supplementation, can give a calcium to magnesium imbalance of 10:1 or even higher — which constitutes a walking time bomb of impaired bone health and heart disease.” (source)

Dr. Dean recommends getting a 1:2 or at least a 1:1 (calcium to magnesium) ratio in the diet.

Other considerations: Lot of drugs – from Prilosec OTC to Flonase to Ritalin – deplete magnesium. Here’s a partial list. Also, some drugs interact with magnesium – more info here.

Low Iron

According to this study, “Patients with RLS have lower levels of dopamine in the substantia nigra and respond to iron administration. Iron, as a cofactor in dopamine production, plays a central role in the etiology of RLS.”

Low dopamine can cause neurological problems such as the creepy crawly sensations described above. That’s why Parkinson’s drugs are often used to treat Restless Leg symptoms – they contain dopamine antagonists which mimic dopamine in the brain.

Before you supplement with iron, though, there are three things to consider:

1. Iron and magnesium compete for receptor sites in the body, so taking too much can affect magnesium stores.

2. Sometimes an individual can consume adequate amounts of iron yet still be deficient because the iron is being “stolen” by an overgrowth of iron-loving microbes in the gut. Here’s how Dr. Campbell-McBride, author of Gut & Psychology Syndrome, explains it:

 Most people with abnormal gut flora have various stages of anaemia. It is not surprising. . . . people with damaged gut flora often have a particular group of pathogenic bacteria growing in their gut, which are iron-loving bacteria (Actinomyces spp., Mycobacterium spp., pathogenic strains of E. coli, Corynebacterium spp., and many others). They consume whatever iron the person gets from the diet, leaving that person deficient in iron. Unfortunately, supplementing iron makes these bacteria grow stronger and does not remedy anaemia.” (Gut & Psychology Syndrome)

This is not to say that we should be afraid to consume iron, but rather that if something doesn’t feel like it’s adding up this is something worth exploring. This article is a good starting point.

3. Most iron supplements contain nonheme iron, which can be difficult for the body to absorb. Heme iron, which is found in liver (or dessicated liver capsules) and red meat is more bioavailable. Another option is Floradix, which is an herbal preparation of iron that is well-absorbed.

B-Vitamin Deficiency

Low levels of vitamin B12 and B9 (folate) are also documented causes of Restless Leg Syndrome. (source) About 30-50% of Americans have a genetic mutation called MTHFR that reduces our ability to utilize vitamin B9. In those cases, it can be helpful to supplement with a highly bioavailable form along with the other B-vitamins. More info on that here.

What Else Can Cause Restless Leg Syndrome?

According to Chris Kresser, LAc, Restless Leg Syndrome may also be caused by systemic inflammation/ immune dysregulation, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), or Vitamin D deficiency. You can read more about his approach to those issues here.

RLS is also related to several factors/conditions and may have a genetic component in some cases, but researchers aren’t yet certain what the connection is. Some – such as medications that deplete nutrients such as magnesium – may cause RLS, while others may simply share underlying causes.

My Experience

Supplementing with magnesium and B-vitamins resolved the symptoms for me – my legs became calm and I was able to fall asleep without any problems. I’ve been medication-free for over ten years without any issues except during pregnancy, which leads me to . . .

Restless Leg Syndrome And Pregnancy

Unfortunately, Restless Leg symptoms often increase during pregnancy, possibly due to the body’s increased utilization of magnesium, iron, B-vitamins and other nutrients. My symptoms would occasionally reappear during pregnancy, but if I increased my magnesium and B-vitamin intake they would resolve.

In A Nutshell: Tips For Calming Restless Legs

  1. Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption because they deplete B-vitamins and magnesium stores (source 1, source 2source 3, source 4, source 5)
  2. Manage stress, which causes the body to burn through magnesium and B-vitamins more quickly. Adaptogenic herbs can be helpful for managing stress, as can these tips.
  3. Make sure to get adequate amounts of magnesium, iron, and B-vitamins.
  4. Get moderate exercise.
  5. Take a warm bath before bed, ideally with epsom salts or another form of magnesium.
  6. IMG_2323

    {Psst! February 1-28 Only}

    If deep, restorative sleep is one of your priorities there’s a pretty sweet deal on my favorite non-toxic mattress this month.

    You’ll get 10% off your mattress order, and you can pick one of these three gifts:

    The Re-timers look strange but they are seriously awesome – review coming soon.

    And just in case you’re wondering, I purchased everything I just mentioned – my bed, blue-blue blocking glasses, and Re-Timer for the same price you’d get if you bought them all individually. I only recommend products that I feel are worth spending my own money on. 🙂

    You can read about why I love my mattress here or order yours here – use the coupon code MOMMYPOTAMUS at checkout for 10% off. Okay, back to the post!

Want more research-backed natural remedies?

No problem, I’ve created a free ebook for you – Kitchen Apothecary: 25+ Natural Remedies Using Ingredients From Your Pantry – as a gift for signing up for my newsletter. You’ll also get updates when I post about safe essential oils for pregnant/breastfeeding mamas, exclusive gifts and coupons (I was able to give away a jar of free coconut oil to anyone who wanted it recently!), plus other goodies.

What’s worked for you?

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How I Use Light Therapy For Improved Mood, Focus and Sleep]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=54770 2017-02-20T16:14:24Z 2017-02-16T18:38:30Z When you wear sunglasses outside, it increases your likelihood of getting a sunburn. Yes, seriously. As Sharon Moalem MD, PhD explains it, daylight entering your eyes signals the body to produce melanocyte stimulating hormone, which tells your body to increase production of melanin, a protective skin pigment that reduces our absorption of UV radiation. (source) If our eyes don’t […]

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what-is-light-therapy

When you wear sunglasses outside, it increases your likelihood of getting a sunburn. Yes, seriously. As Sharon Moalem MD, PhD explains it, daylight entering your eyes signals the body to produce melanocyte stimulating hormone, which tells your body to increase production of melanin, a protective skin pigment that reduces our absorption of UV radiation. (source) If our eyes don’t get the message because we have sunglasses on, our body’s protective response is diminished.

Also weird but true: Light does a lot more than tell us when to increase melanin levels. Bright early morning light – either outdoors or inside using light therapy devices – can activate a cascade of positive effects, including:

  • increased focus and alertness during the day
  • deeper, more restorative sleep at night
  • improved mood due to increases in serotonin and other neurotransmitters
  • improved adaptation to different time zones when traveling (source: Harvard Health Publications, source 2)

You see, when our eyes take in the right kind of light at the right time of day, it switches on responses in our bodies that affect our emotional health, how deeply we sleep, our weight, hormonal balance, overall health, and more.

Here’s how Dr. Breus, who is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and the author of The Power of When, puts it:

In the morning, sunlight comes into your eyeballs, travels along the optic nerve, and activates the SCN to begin each day’s circadian rhythm. The SCN is the master clock that controls dozens of other clocks throughout your body. Over the course of the day, your core temperature, blood pressure, cognition, hormonal flow, alertness, energy, digestion, hunger metabolism, creativity, sociability, and athleticism, and ability to heal, memorize and sleep, among many other functions, fluctuate according to and are governed by the commands of your inner clocks.”

Obviously, the simplest way to align your body clock is to hop out of bed and go for a 30-60 minute walk every morning. However, if you’re like me and you live in Parent Land where dirty dishes materialize out of thin air and you spend most of your time “watching this,” that’s not always practical.

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Psst! February 1-28 Only

If deep, restorative sleep is one of your priorities there’s a pretty sweet deal on my favorite non-toxic mattress this month that includes the light therapy glasses I mention in this post.

You’ll get 10% off your mattress order, and you can pick one of these three gifts:

The Re-timers look strange but they are seriously awesome – more about them in the post below.

And just in case you’re wondering, I purchased everything I just mentioned – my bed, blue-blue blocking glasses, and Re-Timer for the same price you’d get if you bought them all individually. I only recommend products that I feel are worth spending my own money on. 🙂

You can read about why I love my mattress here or order yours here – use the coupon code MOMMYPOTAMUS at checkout for 10% off.  Okay, back to the post!

These glasses have been featured by CNN, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. They help with alertness and  mood as well as sleep. More about why I love them in this post . . .

Light Therapy For Real Life

My first attempt to realign my circadian rhythm was to buy this daylight lamp and put it on the kitchen table in the morning. My kids sit under it and work on art projects while I start breakfast. My plan was to join them and sit for 30 minutes or so planning my day, but that didn’t usually happen.

I need to be mobile in the morning – starting laundry, pulling out a chicken to roast later, etc. – so I invested in a pair of Re-Timer glasses.

Why? Because they’re AWESOME. Maybe not as a fashion statement, but certainly as a way to increase mental alertness, mood and improve sleep. They were developed by an Australian university and are currently listed as CNN’s #1 gift idea for travelers because they’re ability to help realign the circadian rhythm is helpful for people who hop time zones often. (They’ve also been featured by Forbes and the The Wall Street Journal.)

Re-Timers use blue-green light, which research suggests is more effective than white light typically used in light boxes. (source)

Of all the things I’ve tried to get a better night’s sleep – and I’ve tried a few – these glasses have made one of the most noticeable differences. Within a few days of wearing them I started waking up naturally (with no alarm clock) within five minutes of my optimal wake time each morning. A few days after that I started texting my husband things like “My brain is alllllliiiivve!” . . . and then he started using them, too. 🙂

Don’t Forget The Flipside

As important as it is to get blue/green light in the day, it’s equally important to avoid it at night. That’s why I’ve mentioned the orange glasses I wear after sundown. Our bodies respond to blue light no matter when it occurs – in the daytime it’s great for keeping us alert, but at night it can block the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

Scientific American recommends going camping to realign the body clock. I hope to do that this spring, but since I’m not ready to live outdoors all the time, I am grateful that the Re-Timer glasses and my blue light blocking glasses help my body’s clock stay on schedule, producing the right hormones at the right time of day.

Questions about light therapy?

Leave them in the comments below!

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How To Turn Your Favorite Photo Into A Watercolor Canvas]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=54700 2017-02-14T20:04:57Z 2017-02-13T15:33:52Z I promise we’ll get back to topics like the science of amazing sleep, homemade shampoo bars, and natural remedies for pink eye soon, but first I just have to share this with you. After reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up a couple of years ago, I stopped asking questions like “Does this wall art […]

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I promise we’ll get back to topics like the science of amazing sleep, homemade shampoo bars, and natural remedies for pink eye soon, but first I just have to share this with you. After reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up a couple of years ago, I stopped asking questions like “Does this wall art match all my stuff?” and started looking for ways to fill my home with objects that are truly personally meaningful.

Since my art skills are indistinguishable from my three year-olds and commissioning a painting was not in my budget, there’s a spot above my dresser that’s been empty for, um, awhile now.

Recently, though, I discovered Waterlogue – a $4 app that converts photos to watercolor-inspired masterpieces. Although I love original paintings, I also love that Waterlogue allows me to choose the style I want and see the finished product before I invest in printing it on canvas.

photo-watercolor-waterlogue-app

For the wall above my dresser, I chose a photo of my three littles sitting on the beach we visit every year. It’s holds a lot of meaning for me because it represents one my favorite family traditions, and I love how it turned out:

photo-to-watercolor-canvas (1)

Just for fun, I also played with a few more photos. Here are the first garlicky radishes I fermented on my family’s homestead (the original photo is on the right) . . .

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Here’s my daughter on the beach I mentioned above several years before our littlest arrived . . .

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And here’s a pier I photographed in Mahahual, Mexico when my husband and I were newlyweds.

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Did I mention all the Instagram photos I ran through?

Downloads218

Helllp, y’all. I need an intervention . . . or more walls.

How To Make Your Own Watercolor Canvas

Step 1: Download Waterlogue

It works on Apples and Windows-based phones and tablets. Get it here.

Step 2: Filter your photos using Waterlogue

Tap the different filters on the bottom of the screen to select them, then tap the preview image that pops up if you want to view the image in full-screen mode.

Step 3: Upload your image to a canvas print shop

I used Canvas HQ because a photographer friend had a discount code available. I reached out them and they created a coupon code for you to use as well. Use MOMMYPOTAMUS for 35% off and FREE shipping.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How To Make Tallow Balm]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=54633 2017-02-09T16:31:23Z 2017-02-09T15:29:39Z Years ago, when I misplaced my regular moisturizer in a move, I discovered by happy accident that tallow is uniquely compatible with our skin’s biology, leaving it supple and nourished after use. Rich in fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K along with a saturated fat ratio that closely resembles what our cells use to maintain integrity, it absorbs […]

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how-to-make-tallow-balm-recipe(1)

Years ago, when I misplaced my regular moisturizer in a move, I discovered by happy accident that tallow is uniquely compatible with our skin’s biology, leaving it supple and nourished after use. Rich in fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K along with a saturated fat ratio that closely resembles what our cells use to maintain integrity, it absorbs easily without leaving a greasy residue behind.

I’ve used this tallow balm for dry/chapped skin, diaper rash, and sunburns, and many of my friends swear by it for soothing eczema. But don’t think of it just as a “boo boo” balm – it makes an amazing daily moisturizer for the face and body. You can also slather it on your feet and throw some socks on for an intensive moisture treatment.

If you have tallow on hand – either homemade or purchased – it’s super easy to make. However, if you don’t have easy access to tallow or are short on time, my friend Emilie sells pre-made tallow balm blends that smell amazing. Although I love to make my own so that I can customize my essential oil blend, there are times when I’ve got too much going on and order from her instead.

She’s carefully formulated the essential oils in each balm to be safe for use on the face and with children. If you want to try it out, click here and use MOMMYPOTAMUS at checkout for 10% off your first order.

tallow-balm

Wondering what essential oils to use?

For skin balms I prefer oils that support skin repair and renewal, elasticity and firmness, and even skin tone, such as

Two pre-made blends that would also work beautifully are Anti-Age (which smells amazing) and Soft Skin.

Note: The essential oils marked with an asterisk (*) should be avoided if pregnant or nursing. For a longer list of essential oils to avoid during pregnancy/breastfeeding click here, and for a list of oils that are considered safe for pregnancy/nursing click here.

how-to-make-tallow-balm-diy-recipe

How To Make Tallow Balm

Makes approximately 1/2 cup – I fill a 4 ounce jelly jar to the brim when I make a batch.

Ingredients

  • 3.5 ounces tallow by weight – about 1/2 cup melted (Buy it here or render your own tallow using this method)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 27 drops essential oil for face application, or up to 54 drops for body application (optional, see suggestions in the post above)

Instructions

Melt the tallow gently over low heat, then pour into a large bowl and mix in the olive oil and essential oils. Allow to cool for about an hour, then whip with a hand mixer until it looks like frosting. Whipping gives it a lighter consistency that makes application easier. Place in a clean jar and use as needed. Shelf life is at least one year.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Can Orange Glasses Really Help You Sleep Better?]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=54534 2017-02-09T16:40:13Z 2017-02-07T17:03:59Z There are some laws you don’t probably don’t need to know about unless you plan on wearing a suit of armor to English parliament, catching fish with your bare hands in the state of Indiana, or stealing used kitchen grease in North Carolina. However, if you want enjoy life instead of fighting against your body, there are some you […]

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blue-light-blocking-glasses

There are some laws you don’t probably don’t need to know about unless you plan on wearing a suit of armor to English parliament, catching fish with your bare hands in the state of Indiana, or stealing used kitchen grease in North Carolina.

However, if you want enjoy life instead of fighting against your body, there are some you do . . . the laws that govern your circadian rhythm, for example.

If you’re thinking, “What laws?” – keep reading. When it comes to this subject, ignorance is not bliss. In fact, knowing the laws of bio-time – as sleep researcher Dr. Michael Breus calls it – can dramatically improve your mood, energy levels, the quality of your sleep, and overall enjoyment of life.

 

Visible Light with wave length difference between spectra colors which give different properties human eye can see white color spectrum which composed of all colors of rainbow

“The most disruptive event in the history of bio-time occurred on December 31, 1879,” wrote Dr. Breus, who is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and the author of The Power of When.

You see, before 1879 we all pretty much followed bio-time, but when Edison introduced the first commercially viable light bulb he did more than put a dent in the candle industry’s profits.

Light bulbs emit a fundamentally different type of light from firelight – blue spectrum light. In the natural world we see blue/green light in the daytime via sunlight, and red light in the evening via firelight. Our circadian rhythm uses these types of light to keep time – to tell our bodies when to be alert and when to become sleepy.

Using blue-light emitting devices such as light bulbs, smart phones, and t.v.’s during the nighttime hours scrambles our master timekeeper – the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) – which affects our sleep/wake cycle and a whole lot of other internal clocks that follow the SCN.

Over the course of the day, your core temperature, blood pressure, cognition, hormonal flow, alertness, energy, digestion, hunger, metabolism, creativity, sociability, and athleticism, and your ability to heal, memorize and sleep, among many other functions, fluctuate according to and are governed by the commands of your inner clocks.” – Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and author of The Power of When

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{Psst! February 1-28 Only}

I don’t usually interrupt myself like this, but if deep, restorative sleep is one of your priorities there’s a pretty sweet deal on my favorite non-toxic mattress this month.

You’ll get 10% off your mattress order, and you can pick one of these three gifts:

The Re-timers look strange but they are seriously awesome – review coming soon.

And just in case you’re wondering, I purchased everything I just mentioned – my bed, blue-blue blocking glasses, and Re-Timer for the same price you’d get if you bought them all individually. I only recommend products that I feel are worth spending my own money on. 🙂

You can read about why I love my mattress here or order yours here – use the coupon code MOMMYPOTAMUS at checkout for 10% off. Okay, back to the post!

benefits-blue-light-blocking-glasses

What are the effects of blue light exposure at night?

When we become chrono-misaligned, or out of sync with our biology, we can experience symptoms such as:

  • insomnia and/or chronic sleep deprivation (source)
  • hormonal imbalances
  • adrenal fatigue
  • anxiety and depression (source)
  • a sense of being chronically tired or overwhelmed
  • weight gain
  • decreased REM sleep and overall reduced sleep quality (this study was done specifically on iPads, but applies to all blue-light emitting devices)

Even the American Medical Association has warned that high-intensity lights “emit unseen blue light that can disturb sleep rhythms and possibly increase the risk of serious health conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular disease,” writes The Washington Post. They’re talking about street light specifically in that warning, but the same principle applies to all blue-light emitting devices used at night.

blue-light-blocking-glasses-sleep

Can blue blocking glasses REALLY help realign your body clock?

In a word, YES. Researchers have found that blue-blocking glasses effectively “impede the capacity of bright light to suppress melatonin production.” (source)

In this study, researchers asked participants to wear either blue-blocking (amber) or yellow-tinted (blocking ultraviolet only) glasses for three hours prior to sleep over a three week period. Those that wore the blue-blocking glasses experienced a significant improvement in sleep and mood compared with those who wore the ultraviolet-blocking glasses. Other studies have found them helpful for improving the sleep of shift workers.

I first learned about blue-blocking glasses from my friend Katie of Wellness Mama, and have been using them for a few years now. The impact has been so significant that my entire family wears them now – including my littles. (They wear the $9 Uvex ones, though, because kids.)

Other Ways To Block Blue Light At Night

  • Because most of us live in place where light pollution enters our windows at night, blackout curtains are helpful for creating a truly sleep-friendly environment. Fortunately, they don’t just come in black. Check out some of the colors that are available here.
  • If you want to read by lamp light in bed at night – or you have a child that wants the light on as they fall asleep – consider a biologically compatible nighttime lamp such as this Sleep Ready Light or this Sleepy Baby Light.
  • Install F.lux on your computer, phone or tablet – It’s a free software that removes blue hues from your screen at night. Download it here.

Next Up: Realigning Your Body Clock With Bright Light

Managing our light exposure is the most powerful tool we have to get deep, restful sleep. Blocking blue light at biologically inappropriate times (nighttime hours) is just half of that equation – the other is getting about the other is getting about 30-60 minutes of bright light exposure in the early morning.

For most of us that’s not really practical, but I’ve discussed some workarounds in 18 Science-Backed Sleep Tips.

Continue Reading...Can Orange Glasses Really Help You Sleep Better?

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Heather Dessinger and Natcha Maithai, RHN, FDN, CPT, PN1, PhD(c) http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[How to Balance Hormones Naturally]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=49575 2017-02-07T23:01:13Z 2017-02-02T17:10:20Z “WELL, THAT EXPLAINS A LOT.” <– If that was your reaction after reading this post on the symptoms of hormone imbalance, you’re in the right place. Although hormone testing can be incredibly helpful – and is certainly important to talk with your practitioner about if you suspect something is off – there are some things that tend to […]

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how-to-balance-hormones-naturally

“WELL, THAT EXPLAINS A LOT.” <– If that was your reaction after reading this post on the symptoms of hormone imbalance, you’re in the right place.

Although hormone testing can be incredibly helpful – and is certainly important to talk with your practitioner about if you suspect something is off – there are some things that tend to benefit everyone when it comes to balancing hormones naturally.

Start with lifestyle redesign: optimize nutrition, exercise, and mental retraining. No need for testing . . . before beginning these strategies,” writes Harvard-educated Dr. Sara Gottfried in her book, The Hormone Cure.

In this post we’ll be discussing many of the strategies she recommends, but for a deeper dive you can pick up her book here.

One quick note: Please keep in mind that this article is for informational purposes only and is based on the opinions of the authors. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment – a full disclaimer can be found hereOkay, let’s jump in!

Are women more vulnerable to hormonal imbalance?

Yes. According to Dr. Sara Gottfried, “For one thing, women have babies. Pregnancy amplifies the demands on the endocrine glands, which release hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, thyroid, leptin, growth hormone and insulin.”

However she adds that women who have not had babies also tend to be more vulnerable to imbalance than men because “Women are exquisitely sensitive to hormonal changes. And they’re susceptible to the stress of juggling multiple roles.” (The Hormone Cure)

When our hormones are working properly, they're like really good dance partners that two-step through life with us. But when one falls behind or steps ahead, it can affect seemingly unrelated systems, including the brain, the digestive system, and energy levels.   Here's how to balance hormones naturally.

How to Balance Hormones Naturally

As mentioned earlier, although it’s a good idea to work with a practitioner, below are some lifestyle changes tend to benefit everyone. Please don’t try to do everything! This post includes many options for accomplishing a goal – reducing stress, for example. Choose what works for you and ignore the rest.

#1: Reboot your stress response

It’s not everyday that a mother fights a polar bear to protect her seven year-old son, or two sisters lift a 3,000 pound tractor off their dad. However, both are examples of how the stress response primes us to act quickly in response to physical danger. It’s an internal alarm that helps us respond to situations, sometimes in extraordinary ways.

Unfortunately, our bodies aren’t always good at differentiating major threats from minor stresses and annoyances. With modern life the way it is, our alarms can easily get stuck in “on” mode. When that happens, our bodies may “steal” the building blocks we need to make progesterone, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA to make extra cortisol instead.

Here are eight ways to manually reset the alarm.
tips-for-balancing-hormones

#2: Reduce exposure to hormone disruptors

There is no end to the tricks that endocrine disruptors can play on our bodies: increasing production of certain hormones; decreasing production of others; imitating hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signaling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones.” – Environmental Working Group

Hormone disrupting chemicals are everywhere, from the BPA on store receipts to the flame retardants in kids pajamas and furniture. Oh, and then there’s the whole beauty aisle, plus plastic food containers, non-stick cookware and the pesticides used on fruits and vegetables.

Fortunately, through a few simple lifestyle changes we can dramatically reduce our exposure:

  • Avoid BPA-lined cans and opt for glass water bottles and glass food storage containers rather than plastic ones. Also, don’t be fooled. Many “BPA-free” products actually contain a form of bisphenol that is thought to be even worse.
  • Read the labels of your skincare, makeup, and body care products. Be sure to avoid products with parabens, pthalates, petroleum, glycol ethers and perfume/fragrance (companies often hide chemicals they don’t want to disclose under the “fragrance” section because the formulas are considered proprietary and don’t have to be disclosed.) Or, better yet, rather than simply trying to avoid chemicals, opt for personal care products whose ingredients are easy to recognize:  For example, tallow balm is uniquely compatible with our skin’s biology,  this tooth powder leaves your mouth feeling incredibly clean, and this deodorant only contains ingredients you can pronounce. This shopping list is currently in the process of being updated – you’ll find a lot more personal care product recommendations soon.
  • Make your own products at home, and save money too!

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#3: Nourish yourself with hormone-friendly nutrients

It’s only when we have enough building blocks for our hormones that our bodies can make adequate levels of them. A hormone-friendly diet should comprise of a (mostly) nutrient-dense, whole foods diet, such as:

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Meat and bone broth – Organ meats are especially helpful. If you’re new to preparing them, check out this chili and this bacon and liver pate.
  • Wholesome fats such as butter, ghee, lard, tallow and coconut oil
  • Herbs and spices
  • Properly-prepared legumes and grains, if tolerated (Grains are somewhat controversial. Some people tolerate them well while others don’t. White rice is often embraced by the paleo community despite it’s status as a grain, and many people do well with beans prepared using this traditional method. Everybody’s different!)

Fiber to help the body clear excess hormones

Go for organic and pastured products as often as your budget allows. Also, consider cutting out gluten if you suspect you might be sensitive to it. According to Dr. Sara Gottfried, “Typically, problems with gluten cause diarrhea, abdominal pain and bloating. In women, however, sometimes the only tipoff is bone loss, irregular cycles, or difficulty getting pregnant. Gluten intolerance has been linked to altered estrogen levels and consequences such as amenorrhea (no periods for several months), infertility, and diminished ovarian reserve.” (The Hormone Cure)

Unfortunately, it is possible to experience nutrient deficiencies even when you are eating an optimal diet if your digestive system is compromised and absorption is low. In addition, stress, toxicity, inflammation, and genetics (such as an MTHFR mutation) may increase your demand for certain nutrients, such as B-vitamins and folate. We can often detect nutrient deficiencies via lab tests, such as a urine organic acids test for some B vitamins. In this case, it will be wise to supplement and to support the digestive system accordingly.

#4: Stabilize blood sugar

While sugar may have a bad rep, every cell in your body runs on glucose, the sugar that we have in our blood.

Maintaining a steady level of glucose in the blood is so important to our survival that our bodies have 4 hormones that can increase blood sugar, but only one that decreases blood sugar (i.e. insulin). Two of the hormones that can increase blood sugar are cortisol and adrenaline, which are both adrenal hormones.

Low blood sugar can put your body into a fight or flight response. It increases cortisol and adrenaline and is a major source of stress. Low blood sugar can cause hormone imbalances by increasing the demand for cortisol and adrenaline at the expense of other hormones.

Conversely, high blood sugar may not only lead to diabetes, but in women, it can also lead to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which results in high testosterone, ovarian cysts, and infertility.

Here are ten ways to balance blood sugar naturally.

#5: Look into leptin

Although not as famous as insulin or testosterone, leptin is really the CEO of all your hormones. Your fat cells secrete leptin, so the more body fat you have, the more leptin you have. Leptin signals to your body that you’ve got adequate energy stores (aka fat) and it’s time to reduce food cravings.

On the other hand, if your body fat level is too low your leptin levels will be low. This signals to the body that you need to eat more, and it also shut downs production of your sex hormones, adrenal hormones, and thyroid hormones. It figures you don’t need them until you get your fat stores back up, because pregnancy is a better idea when you have access to adequate nutrition. That’s why a very low body fat percentage can cause hypothalamic amenorrhea, a condition where women stop menstruating.

So, what does it mean when you have adequate fat stores AND food cravings? Shouldn’t the leptin your fat cells are releasing lower appetite? Yes, they should. However, hormones are like keys that fit into very specific locks (cells) in the body. If the locks are broken, it doesn’t matter whether you have 1 key or 1,000,000. When the locks – or cells – are unable to receive the leptin, you may have symptoms of low levels leptin even when levels are high. This is called leptin resistance.

Leptin resistance can be caused by:
  • Sleep deprivation or misaligned body clock
  • Inflammation
  • Chronic or yoyo-dieting, or simply under-eating
  • Morbid obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • High cortisol from a mentally or physically stressful lifestyle
  • Being on a very low carb or ketogenic diet for a long time without long term re-feeds  (source 1, source 2source 3, source 4)

So how do we support a healthy response to leptin? To balance hormones, it’s important to re-align your body clock and strive for deep, restorative sleep and nourish the body well (see #3 above).

If are asleep for more than 8 hours every night, but feel like you can never get enough sleep, it may be helpful to ask your doctor about testing for nutritional deficiencies and/or getting a referral for a sleep medicine specialist. Also, if you are dealing with morbid obesity and insulin resistance, you should speak to your doctor before making changes to your diet and lifestyle plans.

#6: Support mitochondrial function

Your mitochondria are the small energy powerhouses in your cells. They are responsible for many things, but some of the most important functions are the production of your steroid hormones and energy production.

Low mitochondrial function is usually experienced as feeling “low-energy.” Most of us aren’t born with genetic problems that affect the mitochondria, but many things our environment and lifestyle can negatively impact the mitochondria. These include:

  • Medications, especially statin drugs, because they lower CoQ10 (source)
  • Pesticides (source 1, source 2)
  • Oxidative stress caused by inflammation (source)
  • Environmental toxins (source)
  • Nutritional deficiencies

Fortunately, there are many ways to optimize mitochondrial function:

  • Eat a nutrient-dense diet, with more mitochondria. Organ meats, especially heart, brain, and liver, typically contain a lot more mitochondria than other meats.
  • Supplements including B vitamins, antioxidants, magnesium and CoQ10
  • Light to moderate exercise. (Note from Heather: Walking and short, 10-15 minutes kettlebell workouts are two of my favorite options.)
  • Near-infrared light – “The effect on cells of near-infrared light, which has a wavelength of 670 nanometres, was first reported 40 years ago. The light causes mitochondria, the cell’s powerhouses, to produce more ATP, a compound that provides the cell’s energy.” (source) Some infrared saunas – like this one – incorporate near-infrared light.

#7: Support Detoxification

Have you ever seen the I Love Lucy chocolate factory episode? It’s pretty much the perfect metaphor for what our detoxification systems face these days.

Not only do our bodies need to break down excess hormones that we produce, they also need to get rid of synthetic “hormones” we encounter in the environment, plus other compounds that affect hormone function.

Detoxification practices such as sweat lodges were practiced by traditional cultures long before these new challenges were introduced, and they’re even more important today. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Herbs such as yellow dock root and burdock root support the liver’s ability to detox (we’ll be talking more about these herbs and others you may find helpful soon)
  • Dry brushing supports the lymphatic system
  • For individuals with the MTHFR mutation, working on methylation can optimize the body’s detox pathways
  • Infrared sauna therapy induces sweating. Sweat contains both hydrophyllic (water soluble) and lipophilic (fat soluble) components makes it an elimination pathway for a variety of toxins, including hormone disrupting chemicals such as BPA, PCB’s, and phthalates, plus heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury.

How to Balance Your Hormones in a Nutshell

1) Live a clean, non-toxic lifestyle

2) Manage stress using these eight strategies

3) Get consistently good quality sleep

5) Exercise, but don’t over-exercise

6) Eat a nutrient-dense diet, and supplement as necessary. If needed, work on balancing blood sugar.

7) Support detoxification

Now, it’s possible to take this approach and still deal with symptoms hormone imbalance that just won’t go away. Sometimes hormones take time to heal. Other times, we need a health detective with a magnifying glass and some lab tests to really see what’s going on.

What’s your experience been with hormone balancing?

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[Jalapeno Poppers Recipe]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=50643 2017-02-07T23:02:48Z 2017-01-31T16:39:43Z Me: When the game is on commercial I have a big ask. Husband (hits mute): What’s the ask? Me: Will you build me a platform bed like in this photo? (Turns laptop screen around so he can see.) My husband hits record on the t.v. and heads to the hardware store to pick up supplies. […]

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jalapeno-poppers-recipe

Me: When the game is on commercial I have a big ask.
Husband (hits mute): What’s the ask?
Me: Will you build me a platform bed like in this photo? (Turns laptop screen around so he can see.)

My husband hits record on the t.v. and heads to the hardware store to pick up supplies. It’s wasn’t my birthday or our anniversary, but I had just made him a big plate of sriracha shrimp lettuce wraps from the Wellness Mama Cookbook and he loved them. Is he an amazing husband? Absolutely. Did the sriracha shrimp tip things in my favor? I’m gonna go with yes.

Although he loves sports, my husband doesn’t watch a lot of them due to work or family stuff. So when he does sit down to watch a game, I try to make it special for him with the sriracha shrimp, buffalo wings, or these jalapeno poppers. (And now I make sure to make my requests AFTER the game!)

The poppers are simple to make and perfect for parties, game days, or any day really. And if you’re looking for more ideas, check out the Gluten-Free Party Foods ebook. The author, Lindsay, has a recipe for jalapeno poppers that’s also delish. Ours are very similar, only I prefer smoked paprika, a smidge of cheddar, and onion powder instead of garlic. I’ve made a few of the other recipes in the book and they’ve all been super yummy.

Cheesy and smokey with just the right amount of heat, these jalapeno poppers are perfect for game days and movie nights.

Jalapeno Poppers Recipe
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 12 small to medium jalapenos
  • 12 slices bacon
  • 6 ounces cream cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese, gently packed
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Cut the jalapenos in half, remove the seeds, and place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  3. In a medium bowl, use a fork to combine the cream cheese cheddar, smoked paprika and onion powder.
  4. Divide the mixture into roughly 24 pieces, then roll between clean hands until the cheese resembles a thick noodle. Place the cheese in the jalapeno halves.
  5. Cut the bacon strips in half and wrap them around the jalapenos. The bacon will shrink as it bakes so I overlap the bacon quite a bit so that the bacon creates a solid "strip" when it's finished baking.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[3 Ways Clutter Steals Joy (And What You Can Do About It)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=24555 2017-01-25T16:08:40Z 2017-01-25T12:18:25Z I look at everyone else, and I think, ‘How on earth does she have the time to do all that she does?’ I look at my staggering, never-ending-to-do-list, the expectations heaped on my plate, the thoughts swirling around in my head like an unappetizing casserole I never ordered, and I think – this is not […]

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I look at everyone else, and I think, ‘How on earth does she have the time to do all that she does?’

I look at my staggering, never-ending-to-do-list, the expectations heaped on my plate, the thoughts swirling around in my head like an unappetizing casserole I never ordered, and I think – this is not a way to live.” – Tsh Oxenreider, “Spend Your Days: How To Control Time With Rocks, Bullets, Chisels and a Boat”

Confession time: It is really hard for me to spend quality time with my littles when my house is a mess. We sit down to read Little House In The Big Woods, and everyone else is riveted. Me? I’m trying to ignore the pile of dirty dishes in my peripheral vision. “Good moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens, and happy kids,” I say.

“Good luck with that,” say the dishes. Breathing exercises ensue. 

And then there is mental clutter – the “I should” list. You know, the string of undone tasks that your brain’s PA System starts blaring in your head while you’re trying to snuggle your little one close?

If any of this sounds familiar, this post is for you.

How clutter stole my joy (and what I did about it)

I used to think that my desire for order was something that I needed to give up for my kids, and to a degree that’s true. Anyone that’s seen my kitchen after they help make dinner knows that.

But what if – WHAT IF – there was a way we could both be happy? What if they could have all the experiences that lead to sticky floors, and I could have a home that felt peaceful?

It’s possible.

A few years ago, my husband and I bought a farmhouse that was less than half the size of our previous home. Because I’m an optimist, I tend to think I can handle more than I really can. Homeschool, make meals from scratch, dive into homesteading with NO EXPERIENCE, write here on Mommypotamus, tidy the house and care for my (then) newborn along with my other two little ones?  Sure!

Um, no.

Trying to manage too much landed me in adrenal fatigue, and in order to heal I had to reclaim my life from clutter – both mental and physical. Through that process I learned three things that changed the way I do things around my house, and I want to share them with you.

#1: Clutter Costs Your Relationships

Your short-term memory is not a USB drive. It’s more like a magnifying glass. This means you can think of only two or three things at once before you get distracted by your own mental load. A distracted parent is a parent who gets frustrated easily, forgets important things, and feels like she’s not doing anything particularly well.” – Kelly Holmes, “Never-Ending To-Do List: A One Hour Solution For Busy Parents Who Want Less Stress And More Fun”

As you know, having a low frustration tolerance is not a recipe for joyful parenting. Realizing how clutter was affecting my daily life motivated me to make some changes. I used the approach described in The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up to declutter my home and – after trying and quitting several methods – found a way to manage my to-do list that works for me.

You know what happened? Clearing clutter – both physical and mental – created space for a lot more joyful moments in my life. I began to enjoy time with my littles without feeling guilty about all the things I “should” be doing.

Is it a work in progress? Absolutely. As new opportunities or items come into my life, I have to decide what old task or item to let go of to make room for it. Instead of feeling sad about those choices, though, I feel relieved!

#2: Clutter Drains Your Wallet

Do you have clothes in your closet that you haven’t worn in years, but hang onto “just in case?” Sometimes these attempts to be frugal can end up costing us money in the long run. For example, have you ever:

Spent more money on storage fees than the items being stored were worth?
• Had to pay a late fee because a bill got lost in your clutter?
Forgotten about a doctor’s appointment and had to pay their fee anyway?
Held on to something because it would “come in handy” someday, only to find it was broken or too out-of-date to use later on?
Accidentally bought a duplicate of something you already owned because the original was lost in your clutter?

I have done all of these things, except the doctor’s appointment was a chiropractor’s appointment. Decluttering has helped me save money and given me the mental bandwidth to do things that were previously on the “someday” list that I never seemed to get to. (Like planning more family trips.)

#3: Clutter Sucks Away Your Time

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

It’s tempting to think that if we just have enough boxes, bins and labels we can manage things, but constantly rearranging stuff we don’t need takes up a lot of precious time.

For example, before I decluttered my kids playroom it was a constant source of stress for us all. Sometimes it seemed like they spent as much time managing their toys as they did enjoying them.

When I worked with them to let go of items they no longer used, we got rid of more than half of their toys. They were resistant at first, but we talked about all the children who would love to play with the toys they’d outgrown and that seemed to help. The real clencher, though, was when they realized how much more time they had to play each day because cleaning up took so little time. They were overjoyed, and now cooperate happily every time we do a new sweep.

What worked for my littles applies to us as well. It’s time to spend less time managing stuff and more time enjoying life.

Clutter-001

Is my house always in perfect order?

Nope! I don’t strive for perfection, as you can see from the snapshot above. My goal is to able to find things quickly, not master the art of perfectly folding fitted sheets. Also, that thing about having a mental conversation with the dishes as I read a book to my littles? Still happens sometimes.

However, it’s pretty easy to get things back into shape now because I’ve already done the deep decluttering work.

conquer-your-clutter

How To Conquer Your Clutter

Your stuff – whether it’s physical stuff in your home or stuff you need to do – is not the boss of you. You’re the boss of your stuff. Or at least, you can be. 

All the books I’ve mentioned in this post except The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up are currently included in the Conquer Your Clutter Bundle that his happening right now. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a collection of e-books, e-courses and bonuses that have been put together to help you get organized. It’s valued at $658.53, but right now you can get it for as little as $29.97.

Now, I love The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up and highly recommend it, but at the time the author wrote it she wasn’t a parent. If you are, you know that’s a complete game changer. The Conquer Your Clutter Bundle includes some incredibly helpful resources that help with the mental clutter that comes with managing a family. Here are a few I found helpful:

  • Never-Ending To-Do List: A One-Hour Solution for Busy Parents Who Want Less Stress And More Fun by Kelly Holmes
  • Spend Your Days: How to Control Time with Rocks, Bullets, Chisels, & a Boat by Tsh Oxenreider (I really loved this one)
  • Freed from Clutter: Declutter Course by Becky Mansfield (Not exactly naturally minded, but there are lots of good ideas that you can use. There’s also a free Facebook group that you can join for encouragement.)
  • Motivated Moms Chore Planner (This is meant for moms but I adapted it as a chore chart for my littles. 🙂 )

Not every suggestion resonated with me, so I just took what worked and left the rest.

Life is messy, houses get messy, and that’s okay! However, it is possible to have great experiences – even ones that make big messes – and then default back to a peaceful, organized home. If that sounds like something you’re ready for, click the link below to learn more.

Click here to find out more and buy the Conquer Your Clutter Super Bundle

 

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Heather http://www.mommypotamus.com <![CDATA[8 Ways To Reboot Your Body’s Stress Response (Even When It Feels Impossible)]]> http://www.mommypotamus.com/?p=54449 2017-02-09T16:50:52Z 2017-01-24T16:17:43Z Do you ever read advice that says “Learn to let the stress go” and just feel MORE stressed because you have no idea how to do that? Or maybe you read this post about how stress can throw of our hormone balance and wondered if it’s possible to support healthy hormones without renouncing civilization and moving into a […]

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Do you ever read advice that says “Learn to let the stress go” and just feel MORE stressed because you have no idea how to do that? Or maybe you read this post about how stress can throw of our hormone balance and wondered if it’s possible to support healthy hormones without renouncing civilization and moving into a yurt.

Well then, this post is for you. Stress is “not a bad thing in itself,” writes Harvard-educated Dr. Sara Gottfried, adding that:

under normal conditions, your body produces a brief surge of cortisol – the hormone released when you’re under stress – that is beneficial and protective and, ideally, infrequent. The stress reaction is an appropriate alarm; perhaps a friend has had a medical emergency or your house was burglarized. Once you respond and cope with the situation, your cortisol should return to normal levels, similar to the rise and fall of a tide. When your cortisol is functioning properly and proportionally, so is your alarm system, and vice versa.

However, for many women, the alarm – that cortisol surge – never turns off. The pendulum, which is designed to gently sway, gets stuck on the “alarm” side.” (The Hormone Cure)

When we get stuck in stress mode, our bodies “steal” a hormone called pregnenolone to make extra cortisol. Pregnenolone is often called the “mother hormone” because it’s used to make all kinds of hormones – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and of course cortisol.

You see the problem here, of course. Consistently overproducing cortisol leaves little pregnenolone left to produce other essential hormones, thus leading to hormone imbalance.

When that happens, we need to manually reset the alarm.

Tips For Resetting The Stress Response

There is no one “right” way to deal with stress. Some people love meditation . . . and some people find meditating while little humans crash things around them a little counterproductive.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to support the body in stressful times and/or reset the stress response, and many of them work together synergistically. Some are like a hard reboot with immediate effects, while others have a cumulative effect over time. Don’t underestimate the ones that aren’t immediate, though. They can be incredibly helpful in increasing our overall resilience to stress.

adaptogens

Adaptogens

When life feels like trying to hold onto a firehose that is going full-blast, think of adaptogens as weights that help support and ground the body through it all. Here’s a beginner’s guide to using adaptogens, and here are some specific ones worth considering:

Adaptogenic herbs work together synergistically, meaning that they tend to work better together than alone. They can be taken as a tea such as this Happy Adrenal Tea, or a tincture like this Adapt + Thrive recipe.

balancing-hormones-naturally-hormetic-stress

Beneficial Stress (Let Me Explain)

MORE stress doesn’t seem like the logical path to de-stressing, but sometimes it can be. Chronic stress is never a good thing, but small doses of short-term (acute) physical stress can have a positive effect. This type of beneficial stress – called hormetic stress – causes a temporary spike in cortisol, but after it’s over the body relaxes and stress hormones drop to levels far below the previous baseline.

Why does this work? Because our bodies stress response system is designed to deal with mostly physical threats – tigers chasing us, being caught in a blizzard, etc. Chronic stress doesn’t have clear boundaries that let the body know when the threat is over and it’s okay to relax, but if you introduce a manageable physical stress and then remove it, your body gets the “threat is over” message and reboots.

The important thing is to remember that it must be manageable. Exercise is a form of hormetic stress, but too much exercise can over-tax the body if you’re already in a stressed state. My favorite types of hormetic stress are infrared sauna therapy, short kettlebell workouts (about 7-15 minutes), and cryotherapy. Whenever my husband and I are super stressed out – we both tend to take on more than is wise at times – we drive to town and jump into a -200F cryotank for two minutes and then hit up a real-food sandwich shop. It counts as a date for us. 🙂

Do you ever read advice that says "Learn to let the stress go" and just feel MORE stressed because you have no idea how to do that? Here are eight ways to manually reboot your stress response when you feel stuck.

Sleep

As mentioned in this post on the symptoms of hormone imbalance, our hormone grandmaster (the hypothalamus and pituitary) works in sync with our circadian rhythm – aka our internal clock –  to orchestrate the ebb and flow of hormones within our bodies.

Blue light from computers screens, t.v.’s and phones can disrupt our circadian rhythm and therefore our hormones, but there are ways to mitigate their effects without giving them up. Here are some steps you can take to optimize your circadian rhythm for sleep.

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{Psst! February 1-28 Only}

I don’t usually interrupt myself like this, but if deep, restorative sleep is one of your priorities there’s a pretty sweet deal on my favorite non-toxic mattress this month.

You’ll get 10% off your mattress order, and you can pick one of these three gifts:

The Re-timers look strange but they are seriously awesome – review coming soon.

And just in case you’re wondering, I purchased everything I just mentioned – my bed, blue-blue blocking glasses, and Re-Timer for the same price you’d get if you bought them all individually. I only recommend products that I feel are worth spending my own money on. 🙂

You can read about why I love my mattress here or order yours here – use the coupon code MOMMYPOTAMUS at checkout for 10% off. Okay, back to the post!

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Earthing

Research suggests that physical contact with the ground – often called earthing – helps balance cortisol levels, calms our nervous system, reduces inflammation, and supports immune function. It’s free available everywhere. Here’s an explanation of why it works and how to get started.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

It’s only recently that we Westerners have learned that breathing unilaterally through the right nostril activates the sympathetic nervous system and left hemisphere of the brain, and that unilaterally breathing through the left nostril activates the parasympathetic nervous system (the relaxation response) and right hemisphere of the brain.” – Dr. Sara Gottfried, The Hormone Cure

Here’s a video tutorial that explains the technique.

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Meditation

According to Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar, meditation not only reduces your stress . . . it changes your brain for the better. Some people love guided meditation DVD’s like this one or free guided meditation options like these, but I prefer the cheater’s approach – a device that helps your brain attune to alpha waves using light and sound.

Laughter

Dr. Lee S. Berk – who is a preventive care specialist and psychoneuroimmunology researcher at Loma Linda University and director of the molecular research lab at SAHP, Loma Linda – and his colleagues “were the first to establish that laughter helps optimize the hormones in the endocrine system, including decreasing the levels of cortisol and epinephrine, which lead to stress reduction.” (source)

Ready to try it out? Okay, read this and laugh until you cry. (Note: There is some language, so if that bothers you watch a funny movie instead.)

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Journaling

As I mentioned here, happiness researchers – yes, real academic researchers, neuroscientists and even economists – are now intensely studying how to increase happiness. One thing they’ve found is that keeping a gratitude journal lowers stress levels and improves sleep. Here are some other benefits of keeping a gratitude journal, along with a link to the one I have.

Next in this series: How to balance hormones naturally

Resetting the stress response is one of the most important things we can do to balance hormones, but there are steps as well. In the next post in this series, we’ll cover my top six.

Continue Reading...8 Ways To Reboot Your Body’s Stress Response (Even When It Feels Impossible)

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