Breathing through the nose is essential to much more than just a sense of smell. The nose is a miraculous filter lined with tiny hairs called cilia. The cilia have many functions: they filter, humidify and warm or cool the air (depending on the temperature) before it enters the lungs. It is estimated that cilia protect our bodies against about 20 billion particles of foreign matter every day!
The mouth is not designed to function in breathing that way. Plus, breathing through your mouth regularly dries out and irritates every membrane in the mouth, throat and lungs. Causing damage to teeth, tongue and gums which are essential for healthy food consumption.
Many of us feel stressed out, overworked, and overstimulated during our daily lives, which leaves us in a chronic state of fight or flight response. Breathing in and out through the nose helps us take fuller, deeper breaths, which stimulates the lower lung to distribute greater amounts of oxygen throughout the body. Also, the lower lung is rich with the parasympathetic nerve receptors associated with calming the body and mind, whereas the upper lungs, which are stimulated by chest and mouth breathing, prompt us to hyperventilate and trigger sympathetic nerve receptors, which result in the fight or flight reaction. Thus, continuing and compounding the stress reaction.
Here are a few more of the benefits of nasal breathing:
The lungs extract oxygen from the air during exhalation, in addition to inhalation. Because the nostrils are smaller than the mouth, air exhaled through the nose creates a back flow of air (and oxygen) into the lungs. And because we exhale more slowly through the nose than we do though the mouth, the lungs have more time to extract oxygen from the air we’ve already taken in.
When there is proper oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange during respiration, the blood will maintain a balanced pH. If carbon dioxide is lost too quickly, as in mouth breathing, oxygen absorption is decreased, which can result in dizziness or even fainting.
Air that we inhale through the nose passes through the nasal mucosa, which stimulates the reflex nerves that control breathing. Mouth breathing bypasses the nasal mucosa and makes regular breathing difficult, which can lead to snoring, breath irregularities and sleep apnea.
Breathing through the nose forces us to slow down until proper breath is trained; therefore, proper nose breathing reduces hypertension and stress. It also helps prevent us from overexerting ourselves during a workout.
Our nostrils and sinuses filter and warm/cool air as it enters our bodies.
Our sinuses produce nitric oxide, which, when carried into the body through the breath, combats harmful bacteria and viruses in our bodies, regulates blood pressure and boosts the immune system.
Mouth breathing accelerates water loss, contributing to dehydration.
Mouth breathing leads to dry mouth which is the leading cause of tooth decay, gingivitis and bone loss in the jaw. Fluoride does not correct these issues.
The nose houses olfactory bulbs, which are direct extensions of part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for many functions in our bodies, particularly those that are automatic, such as heartbeat, blood pressure, thirst, appetite and sleep cycles. The hypothalamus is also responsible for generating chemicals that influence memory and emotion.
Research is showing strong links between mouth breathing and asthma. The more you breathe with your mouth open the more inflammation builds in the lungs, causing constriction of the bronchioles. The body is getting too much oxygen and is trying to slow down oxygen intake. It makes the individual feel short of breath until oxygen/carbon dioxide levels are restored in the blood.
The increased oxygen we get through nasal breath increases energy and vitality.
Training Yourself to Breathe Through Your Nose
Now that we have learned how bad mouth breathing is for our health in our post on Mouth Breathing, we know that nasal or nostril breathing is essential to develop.
Here are some simple ways to establish nasal breathing:
Begin by clearing your nose by blowing it, getting some steam or with a nasal wash. If you’re a mouth breather clearing out the cobwebs is essential to get the sinuses open and working again.
Then take a few minutes to practice keeping your mouth closed and slowly breathe in and out through your nose. Notice the way the sinuses feel with proper use.
Next, simply remind yourself to close your mouth throughout the day. Set a reminder on your phone or put post-its by mirrors. Anything you will see or hear that will make you think about breathing though your nose.
The more you stick with it, the more it becomes habit, just like any other practice.
There are products and ideas out there online that can help you with your specific situation. Many people find it beneficial to tape their lips shut to assist in the learning process. Either way you will find that you feel calmer and more relaxed even without changing your world completely. Nasal breathing is essential to whole body health and it is too bad many of us have forgotten this.
Magnesium sulfate is an inorganic salt with the formula MgSO4(H2O). It is often encountered as the heptahydrate sulfate mineral epsomite (MgSO4·7H2O), commonly called Epsom salt. The overall global annual usage in the mid-1970s of the monohydrate was 2.3 million tons, of which the majority was used in agriculture. Epsom salt has been traditionally used as a component of bath salts. Epsom salt can also be used as a beauty product. Athletes use it to soothe sore muscles, while gardeners use it to improve crops. It has a variety of other uses: for example, Epsom salt is also effective in the removal of splinters.
Mineral Milk – 16oz Bag
Nourishing mineral infused milk that moisturizes and heals skin without chemicals, artificial fragrances, or petroleum.
Magnesium sulfate is a common mineral pharmaceutical preparation of magnesium, commonly known as Epsom salt, used both externally and internally. Magnesium sulfate is highly water-soluble and solubility is inhibited with lipids typically used in lotions. Lotions often employ the use of emulsions or suspensions to include both oil and water-soluble ingredients. Hence, magnesium sulfate in a lotion may not be as freely available to migrate to the skin nor to be absorbed through the skin, hence both studies may properly suggest absorption or lack thereof as a function of the carrier (in a water solution vs. in an oil emulsion/suspension). Temperature and concentration gradients may also be contributing factors to absorption.
The magnesium contained in Epsom salt is a mineral that is crucial to the human body’s functioning. Some of the key roles of magnesium include keeping blood pressure normal, heart rhythm steady and bones strong. Sulfate is an essential mineral key to many biological processes, helping flush toxins; cleanse the liver; and assisting in the formation of proteins in joints, brain tissue and mucin proteins. Recent studies have shown that Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) can even be used intravenously for the treatment of asthma and pre-eclampsia (pregnancy induced hypertension) in pregnant women.
Epsom salt is used as bath salts and for isolation tanks. Magnesium sulfate is the main preparation of intravenous magnesium.
Internal uses include:
Oral magnesium sulfate is commonly used as a saline laxative or osmotic purgative.
Replacement therapy for hypomagnesemia
Magnesium sulfate is an antiarrhythmic agent for torsades de pointes in cardiac arrest under the ECC guidelines and for managing quinidine-induced arrhythmias.
As a bronchodilator after beta-agonist and anticholinergic agents have been tried, e.g. in severe exacerbations of asthma, magnesium sulfate can be nebulized to reduce the symptoms of acute asthma. It is commonly administered via the intravenous route for the management of severe asthma attacks.
Magnesium sulfate is effective in decreasing the risk that pre-eclampsia progresses to eclampsia. IV magnesium sulfate is used to prevent and treat seizures of eclampsia. It reduces the systolic blood pressure but doesn’t alter the diastolic blood pressure, so the blood perfusion to the fetus isn’t compromised. It is also commonly used for eclampsia where compared to diazepam or phenytoin it results in better outcomes
People use Epsom salt baths as a home treatment for:
Arthritis pain and swelling
Bruises and sprains
Fibromyalgia, a condition that makes your muscles, ligaments, and tendons hurt, and causes tender points throughout your body
Psoriasis, a disease that causes red, itchy, scaly skin
Sore muscles after working out
Soreness from diarrhea during chemotherapy
Sunburn pain and redness
Tired, swollen feet
Benefits of Epsom Salt
There is a laundry list of ways to use Epsom salt in your daily life. Here are some of the top benefits of Epsom salt:
Boosts Magnesium Levels: Appropriate levels of magnesium are absolutely key to good health, and it is very common to have a magnesium deficiency. Known as hypomagnesemia, low magnesium levels can be caused by alcoholism, severe diarrhea, malnutrition or high calcium levels (hypercalcemia). By simply soaking your feet or entire body in a bath containing Epsom salt, internal levels of magnesium can be increased naturally without taking magnesium supplements. Magnesium regulates over 300 enzymes in the body and plays an important role in organizing many bodily functions, including muscle control, energy production, electrical impulses and the elimination of harmful toxins. Magnesium deficiencies contribute to today’s high rates of heart disease, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, digestive disorders as well as mental illness. By boosting your internal magnesium levels through external use of Epsom salt, you can help improve or ward off many avoidable health ailments.
Reduces Stress: Everyone has heard of the recommendation to have a good soak in a warm bath after a rough day (whether mentally or physically rough) — it’s a great way to bust stress. If you want to amplify the stress-reducing benefits of a nice, long soak, then add a cup or two of Epsom salt to your bathwater. Not only will the magnesium in the Epsom salt help to relax your muscles, it can also help to relax your mind. According to research from the University of North Carolina, magnesium deficiency enhances stress reactions. Further studies show that magnesium has a profound effect on stress and neural excitability — and magnesium salts such as Epsom salt can reduce stress and improve neuropsychiatric disorders. Magnesium is critical to the production of energy in cells so, by increasing magnesium levels, you can feel revived without feeling restless (as opposed to how people feel revived from caffeine consumption).
Eliminates Toxins: The sulfates in Epsom salt assist the body in flushing out toxins and providing a heavy metal detox from the body’s cells, hence lowering the internal accumulation of harmful substances. Human skin is a highly porous membrane; by adding minerals like magnesium and sulfate to your bathwater, it sparks a process called reverse osmosis, which literally pulls salt out of your body and dangerous toxins along with it. For a detoxing bath, add at least two cups of Epsom salt to bathwater and soak for 40 minutes total. The first 20 minutes will give your body time to remove toxins from your system while the last 20 minutes will allow you to absorb the minerals in the water and help you emerge from the bath feeling rejuvenated. Make sure to consume water before, during and after the bath to protect yourself from dehydration and increase detoxification.
Relieves Constipation: Epsom salt is an FDA-approved laxative and is commonly used to naturally relieve constipation. When taken internally, Epsom salt acts like a laxative by increasing water in the intestines and cleansing the colon of waste. A roundup of studies published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology notes that there is strong evidence that Epsom salt “has potent laxative effect in vitro through the release of digestive hormones and neurotransmitters.” Internal use of Epsom salt can bring about temporary relief from constipation, but like any laxative, it is not meant to be a long-term solution or a substitute for a healthy high-fiber diet. If a laxative solution is a must, it’s smart to avoid many of the harsh laxatives on the market today, which are commonly loaded with artificial colors and flavors and questionable chemicals. To take magnesium sulfate orally, it’s typically suggested to dissolve one dose in eight ounces of water. Stir this mixture and drink all of it right away. You may add a small amount of lemon juice to improve the taste. Make sure to drink plenty of liquids while consuming Epsom salt to prevent dehydration. Magnesium sulfate taken orally should produce a bowel movement within 30 minutes to six hours. Adults are usually advised to take 2–6 teaspoons (10–30 ml) of Epsom salt at a time, dissolved in at least 8 ounces (237 ml) of water and consumed immediately. You can expect it to have a laxative effect in 30 minutes to six hours.
Reduces Pain & Inflammation: A warm bath containing Epsom salt is known to ease pain and relieve the inflammation at the root of most diseases, making it a beneficial natural treatment for bronchial asthma, sore muscles and headaches (including migraines). Epsom salt can also help heal cuts and reduce the swelling that accompanies sprains and bruises. Have an annoying and painful splinter stuck in your hand? Soak the problem area in warm water and Epsom salt, and the splinter should be drawn out of the skin in no time! Soreness after childbirth? Epsom salt can help with that, too. In general, healthy magnesium levels from Epsom salt use can help overall bodily inflammation since low magnesium has been linked with higher C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body.
Improves Blood Sugar Levels: Healthy magnesium levels have been linked with a reduced risk of developing diabetes. Epsom salt is an excellent source of magnesium. Both magnesium and sulfate help improve the body’s ability to produce and utilize insulin. Regular intake of Epsom salts, either orally or transdermally, can help to regulate blood sugar, lowering the risk of diabetes and improving daily energy levels. Studies continue to show how a healthy intake of magnesium is associated with a lower risk of the development of type 2 diabetes in both men and women, proving Epsom salts work as natural diabetes remedies.
Promotes Sleep: Adequate magnesium levels are essential for sleep and stress management, likely because magnesium helps the brain produce neurotransmitters that induce sleep and reduce stress. Magnesium may also help the body produce melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Low magnesium levels may negatively affect sleep quality and stress. Many report that taking Epsom salt baths can reverse these issues by allowing the body to absorb magnesium through the skin.
Volumizes Hair: Adding Epsom salt to hair products can help decrease excess oil, which contributes to hair looking flat and weighed down. One easy way to create your own volumizing conditioner at home is to combine equal parts Epsom salt and conditioner (example: two tablespoons conditioner + two tablespoons Epsom salt). After shampooing hair as usual, apply the volumizing conditioner mix to hair, coating it from the scalp to the ends. Leave the mix in for 10 to 20 minutes before rinsing. This is a great weekly hair treatment.
For Skin Care: Epsom salt may be used as a beauty product for skin and hair. To use it as an exfoliant, just place some in your hand, dampen it and massage it into your skin. Some people claim it’s a useful addition to facial wash, since it may help cleanse pores. Just a 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) will do the trick. Simply combine it with your own cleansing cream and massage onto the skin.
Soften callused feet. If your feet are feeling a little rough around the edges, try this simple at-home softening treatment: Pour ½ cup of Epsom salt into a tub of warm water and soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes. “It will soften the skin,” says Bhatia. You can then take a handful of Epsom salt, dampen it, and massage it on your feet to slough off dead, callused skin.
De-flake lips. Cold weather and even just repeatedly licking your lips year-round can leave you with a parched, flakey pucker. For smoother, healthier-looking lips, mix a few tablespoons of Epsom salt with a teaspoon of petroleum jelly, gently massage the mixture onto your lips, and then wipe off.
Soothe a sunburn. If you miss a spot with your trusty sunscreen and end up with an angry red mark, try this trick for easing a sunburn: Dissolve 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in 1 cup of water in a spray bottle, and then spray the mixture on the sunburn to help reduce irritation.
Gallbladder Flush. The gallbladder is not as well-understood or talked about as our other organs, but an optimally functioning gallbladder is something we all should strive for when it comes to our health. Some of the warning signs that you may have a gallbladder problem include gallbladder pain, poor fat digestion, rosacea of skin and leaky gut syndrome. Epsom salt can be utilized in a gallbladder and liver flush recipe.
Headache Relief. There is quite a bit of evidence that magnesium may help headaches and even migraines when used regularly. Some sources even think that magnesium deficiency may increase the chance of headaches. I’ve noticed that when I consume magnesium or use it transdermally, I also don’t seem to get headaches. And my husband swears that the best hangover cure is a long swim in the ocean, which is much higher in magnesium than lakes or swimming pools. What to do: Use any of the methods to get more magnesium. I also find that magnesium spray and magnesium lotion are especially helpful for headache relief.
Epsom salt has a long history of use in the garden as well. For more robust vegetables, you can try adding a tablespoon of Epsom salt to the soil underneath a plant to boost growth. Epsom salt is also great for indoor gardening. For potted plants, simply dissolve two tablespoons of Epsom salt per gallon of water, and substitute this solution for normal watering once a month.
Looking to get rid of slugs from your walkways and patios without using chemicals? Sprinkle some Epsom salt to keep them away!
For itchy skin, bug bites or sunburn, you can dissolve a tablespoon of Epsom salt in a half cup of cool water in a spray bottle and spritz on skin as needed.
Epsom salt can also be used for household cleaning. To clean tile and grout, mix equal parts of liquid dish soap and Epsom salt and apply this mixture to dirty and/or stained surfaces anywhere in your home. Allow the mixture to soak in for a couple of minutes, scrub away the loosened filth and rinse clean.
Epsom salt helps draw the moisture out of lesions caused by rashes, such as poison ivy, according to the doctors. And with bites or stings, Epsom salt reduces the swelling, which eases the itching sensation because the body’s nerves fire less frequently, the doctors say.
Healthy House Plants. House plants are great for cleaning indoor air and we love to keep them around. Just like garden plants, house plants love a magnesium boost once in a while. Add some Epsom salt as part of a regular watering or fertilizing routine for more robust house plants. What to do: Sprinkle a little Epsom salt on the soil in a house plant container or add a little Epsom salt to the water when watering. A tablespoon is usually plenty for a month or two.
Scour Pans. Scrubbing pans with a quarter tablespoon of salt and warm water should get them clean and gleaming.
Regenerate Your Car Battery. The mother of all Epsom salt uses! Make a paste by dissolving about an ounce of salt into warm water, and then spread onto each battery post.
Clean Your Washing Machine. Fill your washing machine with hot water, add the salt and run an agitate-soak-agitate cycle.
Get Rid of Toenail Fungus. Soak feet three times a day in warm water with a handful of Epsom salts dissolved into it.
Remove Hairspray. Combine one gallon of water, one cup of lemon juice and one cup of Epsom salt. Cover the mixture and let set for 24 hours. Apply to dry hair and leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing for squeaky clean strands.
Make a Mask. If you’ve got oily skin, mix one tablespoon of cognac, one egg, a quarter cup of non-fat dry milk, the juice of one lemon and a half-teaspoon of Epsom salt. Apply to damp skin and leave on for 20 minutes.
Soften Fabrics. Mix four cups of Epsom salt with 20 drops of essential oil for homemade fabric softener crystals. Use a quarter cup per wash and add at beginning of each load.
Remove Blackheads. Mix a teaspoon of Epsom salt, three drops iodine and half a cup of boiling water. Dab the solution onto blackheads, allow to dry and rinse with warm water.
Remove Tree Stumps. Drill holes into the tree stump, fill each hole with Epsom salt and then add water to each hole. In a few weeks, the stump should begin to decay.
Health Uses of Epsom Salt
Doctors cite many health benefits from either soaking your feet or taking a bath in Epsom salt, including: soothing muscle pain and aches, providing itch relief from sunburn and poison ivy, removing splinters, decreasing swelling and boosting your body’s levels of magnesium and sulfate. Here are some natural recipes for different at-home remedies and uses of Epsom salt:
What to do for sore muscles, aches, pains, bruises and splinter removal – In each case, experts say taking an Epsom salt is a natural, at-home remedy. Here’s what you do:
Add 2 cups of Epsom salt to the water in a standard-sized bathtub (double the Epsom salt for an oversized garden tub). Soak for at least 12 minutes. The Epsom salt will dissolve quicker if you put it under the running water. Note: For human use, the Epsom Salt Council recommends only Epsom salt with the USP designation.
MAKE COMPRESS – Soak a cotton washcloth in cold water that has been mixed with Epsom salt (2 tablespoons per cup)
CREATE A PASTE TO APPLY TO THE SKIN – Adding a teaspoon of Epsom salt to about a cup of hot water until it dissolves. Chill the solution in the fridge for 20 minutes. Note: Clean the skin and pat dry before applying the paste.
SOAKING ACHING FEET IN AN EPSOM SALT FOOT BATH – Create an Epsom Salt bath by pouring 1 cup into a tub of warm water.
Epsom Salt Detox
Magnesium absorption is the biggest benefit of an Epsom salt bath. There need to be more studies to confirm that your body can absorb magnesium across the skin. One 2004 study looked at 19 participants and found increased levels of magnesium and sulfate in the blood after the baths.
How it works
20-minute bath soak
may soften skin, reduce inflammation, and strengthen the skin barrier to keep skin hydrated
muscle soreness and pain
12-minute bath soak
reduce inflammation, muscle aches, and tension; there’s moderate evidence that magnesium can reduce muscle cramps
relaxation and anti-stress
1-hour bath soak
can help relieve stress (magnesium deficiency may induce anxiety, depression, and stress)
20-minute soak or oral ingestion: 10 to 30 grams for adults; 5 to 10 grams for children 6 years old and above (talk to your doctor if you have an infant under 6 years)
leads to bowel movement 30 minutes to 6 hours after dose
12-minute foot soak
reduces inflammation and pain
Epsom salt paste
can help draw out tiny splinters
12 to 20-minute soak
might restore magnesium (this may benefit people who are at risk for low levels, including those with fibromyalgia)
Safety and Side Effects of Epsom Salt
While Epsom salt is generally safe, there are a few negative effects that can occur if you use it incorrectly. This is mostly a concern if you take it by mouth. First of all, the magnesium sulfate in it can have a laxative effect. Consuming it may result in diarrhea, bloating or upset stomach. If you use it as a laxative, make sure to drink plenty of water, which may reduce digestive discomfort. Furthermore, never take more than the recommended dosage without consulting your doctor first. Some cases of magnesium overdose have been reported in which people took too much Epsom salt. Symptoms of this include nausea, headache, lightheadedness and flushed skin. In extreme cases, magnesium overdose can lead to heart problems, coma, paralysis and death. This is unlikely as long as you take it in appropriate amounts as recommended by your doctor or listed on the package.
Why do we need magnesium? (WellnessMama.com)
Magnesium is responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and impacts blood pressure, metabolism, immune function and many other aspects of health. Some experts claim that magnesium deficiency is the single largest health problem in our world today. There are many reasons that deficiency is so widespread in modern times (even though it wasn’t in the past). Depleted soil conditions mean that plants (and meat from animals that feed on these plants) are lower in magnesium. Use of chemicals like fluoride and chlorine in the water supply make magnesium less available in water since these chemicals can bind to magnesium. Common substances that many of us consume daily, like caffeine and sugar, also deplete the body’s magnesium levels. So does stress. In other words, the lucky (but small) percentage of the population that lives near the ocean (a good source of magnesium) and eats foods grown in magnesium rich soil, drinks magnesium rich water, and doesn’t suffer from stress or consume sugar or caffeine might be ok… but the rest of us might need some additional magnesium.
Magnesium Deficiency Leads To:
Calcification of the Arteries – Though this is not (hopefully) the first symptom of magnesium deficiency, it can be one of the most dangerous. Calcification of arteries from low magnesium levels can lead to coronary problems like heart attack and heart disease. In fact, half of all heart attack patients receive injections of magnesium chloride to help stop the blood clotting and calcification.
Muscle Spasms and Cramps – Just as calcification causes stiffening of the arteries, it can cause stiffening of muscle tissue as well, leading to cramps and spasms. I had horrible leg cramps during one of my pregnancies. Potassium didn’t help at all, but magnesium fixed the problem almost instantly (which makes sense in light of the sodium:potassium pump).
Anxiety & Depression – There is a lot of research showing that magnesium deficiency can have a tremendous impact on mental health. Psychology Today explains one possible reason: Magnesium hangs out in the synapse between two neurons along with calcium and glutamate. If you recall, calcium and glutamate are excitatory, and in excess, toxic (link is external). They activate the NMDA receptor. Magnesium can sit on the NMDA receptor without activating it, like a guard at the gate. Therefore, if we are deficient in magnesium, there’s no guard. Calcium and glutamate can activate the receptor like there is no tomorrow. In the long term, this damages the neurons, eventually leading to cell death. In the brain, that is not an easy situation to reverse or remedy.
High Blood Pressure/Hypertension – This is perhaps one of the most well-studied areas of magnesium deficiency. A Harvard study of over 70,000 people found that those with the highest magnesium intake had the healthiest blood pressure numbers. A follow up meta-analysis of available studies showed a dose-dependent reduction of blood pressure with magnesium supplementation. A University of Minnesota study showed that the risk for hypertension was 70% lower in women with adequate/high magnesium levels.
Hormone Problems – I personally saw the effects of low magnesium in my hormone levels. The higher the estrogen or progesterone levels in a woman’s body, the lower the magnesium (pregnancy anyone?) This is also part of the reason why pregnant women experience more leg cramps and women notice more of these muscular type complaints and PMS in the second half of their cycles when progesterone/estrogen are higher and magnesium is depleted. Chocolate is a decent source of magnesium, and there is speculation that cravings for chocolate may be a sign of magnesium deficiency. Muscle cramps related to the menstrual cycle can also be related to magnesium levels. Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of the Magnesium Miracle, often recommends that women with bad PMS and cramps take magnesium early in their cycles before the symptoms begin.
Pregnancy Complaints – Related to the hormone problems above, magnesium levels can drastically affect pregnancy health and mood. I noticed this when my morning sickness was tremendously less in my pregnancy when I supplemented with transdermal magnesium. Magnesium is also often used to help with pregnancy related hypertension and muscle cramps, to help ward off preterm labor and to alleviate headaches.
Sleep Problems – With all of the above symptoms of deficiency, it makes sense that magnesium would have a drastic impact on sleep, but the impact is often immediately noticeable when a person starts taking magnesium. Dr. Mark Hyman calls it the ultimate relaxation mineral. Magnesium helps relax the body and the mind, which both contribute to restful sleep. Additionally, magnesium is needed for proper function of the GABA receptors in the brain, and GABA is the neurotransmitter that allows the brain to transition to a restful state.
Low Energy – Magnesium is required in the reactions that create ATP energy in the cells. Let’s flash back to freshman biology for a minute. ATP or adenosine triphosphate, is the main source of energy in the cells and it must bind to a magnesium ion in order to be active. In other words, without magnesium, you literally won’t have energy on a cellular level. This shows up as fatigue, low-energy, lack of drive and other problems.
Bone Health – Calcium is always considered the most important mineral for bone health, but it turns out that magnesium is just as important (or even more so!) In cases of magnesium deficiency, the bones suffer in multiple ways:
Vitamin D Absorption: Magnesium is needed for Vitamin D to turn on calcium absorption- this is why it is also important to get enough magnesium when taking Vitamin D (or magnesium levels can become even more depleted)
Proper Calcium Use: Magnesium is needed to stimulate the hormone calcitonin which draws calcium out of the muscles and soft tissues and into the bones. This helps explain why magnesium helps lower the risk of heart attack, osteoporosis, arthritis and kidney stones.
Other Mineral Deficiencies – Many vitamins and minerals work synergistically, and magnesium is a work horse on this list. It is needed for proper utilization of calcium, potassium, Vitamin K, Vitamin D and many other nutrients. By using magnesium externally, or transdermally (meaning “across the skin”) the body can absorb what is needed without absorbing to much. It is similar to soaking in an Epsom salt bath or in the ocean.
Homemade Healing Bath Salts
3 cups Epsom salts
1 cup baking soda
Water to fill bath (as hot as you can stand without burning yourself)
40 drops lavender essential oil (or use 20 drops lavender essential oil and 20 drops juniper berry essential oil)
Large glass jar
Combine dry ingredients and store in a closed container
At bath time, add 1 cup of dry ingredients and the essential oil to the water
Other Common Names: Blowball, canker wort, clock flower, dente de lion, dudhal, dumble-dor, fairy clock, huang hua di ding (yellow flower earth nail), Irish daisy, lion’s tooth, lowenzahnwurzel, mælkebotte, milk gowan, min-deul-rre, monk’s head, mongoloid dandelion, priest’s crown, puffball, swine snout, tell-time, white endive, wild endive, witches’ milk.
Habitat: Dandelion can be found in the temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. Hundreds of species of this hardy and beneficial herb are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Some botanists believe that the plant is circumpolar; that is, native to all the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. Other botanists classify the dandelion as a species introduced to North America from Eurasia. It is found growing wild in meadows, pastures, waste grounds, sand, gravel, rocks, and even cracks in concrete. Most commercial dandelion is cultivated in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom.
Plant Description: Dandelion is a hardy, variable perennial that is closely related to chicory (Cichorium intybus) that can reach a height of nearly 12 inches. The roots are fleshy and brittle roots are filled with a white milky substance that is bitter and slightly odorous. The dark brown roots may reach into the soil for a foot or more. The shiny, hairless leaves are irregularly dentate or pinnate, either oblong or spatulate. The leaves grow in a rosette from the milky taproot. The grooved leaves funnel rainfall down to the roots. The yellow flowers grow singly on a straight stem that is leafless, hollow, smooth and pale green; it may be tinged with mauve. The flowers are light-sensitive, opening in the morning and closing in the evening or in the event of cloudy weather. The familiar puff-ball that succeeds the flower is a globular cluster of achenes, each of which is fitted with a parachute-like tuft that easily floats on the breeze in order to distribute the seeds. Dandelion flowers open with the sun in the morning and close in the evening or during gloomy weather. The dark brown roots are fleshy and brittle and are filled with a white milky substance that is bitter and slightly smelly.
Plant Parts Used: Leaves, flowers, and root. Dandelion leaves act as a diuretic, increasing the amount of urine your body makes. The leaves are used to stimulate the appetite and help digestion. Dandelion flower has antioxidant properties. Dandelion may also help improve the immune system. Herbalists use dandelion root to detoxify the liver and gallbladder, and dandelion leaves to help kidney function.
Available Forms: You can find dandelion herbs and roots fresh or dried in a variety of forms, including tinctures, liquid extract, teas, tablets, and capsules. Dandelion can be found alone or combined with other dietary supplements.
History: In the past, dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems. Native Americans also boiled dandelion in water and took it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), dandelion has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast problems, such as inflammation or lack of milk flow. In Europe, dandelion was used in remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.
Dandelion flowers have been used to make dandelion wine, for which there are many recipes. Most of these are more accurately described as “dandelion-flavored wine,” as some other sort of fermented juice or extract serves as the main ingredient. It has also been used in a saison ale called Pissenlit (the French word for dandelion, literally meaning “wet the bed”) made by Brasserie Fantôme in Belgium. Dandelion and burdock is a soft drink that has long been popular in the United Kingdom.
Another recipe using the plant is dandelion flower jam. In Silesia and other parts of Poland and the world, dandelion flowers are used to make a honey substitute syrup with added lemon (so-called May-honey). Ground roasted dandelion root can be used as a non-caffeinated coffee substitute.
Dandelion is on the FDA’s list of safe foods and is approved by the Council of Europe.
The chief constituents of Dandelion root are Taraxacin, acrystalline and Taraxacerin, an acrid resin, with Inulin (a sort of sugar which replaces starch in many of the Dandelion family, Compositae), gluten, gum and potash. It contains substantial levels of vitamins A, C, D, B-complex, iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, choline, calcium and boron.
Diuretic, tonic and slightly aperient. It is a general stimulant to the system, but especially to the urinary organs, and is chiefly used in kidney and liver disorders.
Dandelion is not only official but is used in many patent medicines. Not being poisonous, quite big doses of its preparations may be taken. Its beneficial action is best obtained when combined with other agents.
Note there are some dandelion look-alikes such as cat’s ear (Hypochoeris radicata), hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella), young wild lettuce (Lactuca spp.) plants, and sow thistle (Sonchus spp.) (Tilford, 1997; Virginia Tech, n.d., Edible Wild Food, n.d.). Note that dandelion differs from these plants in that it only has one flower per stem (no branching stems), has a hollow stem containing milky latex, and is not hairy. Cat’s ear and hawkweed, for example are both hairy and have multiple flowers per stem on branched, solid stems.
Medicinal Uses and Indications
Most scientific studies of dandelion have been in animals, not people. Traditionally, dandelion has been used as a diuretic, to increase the amount of urine and eliminate fluid in your body. It has been used for many conditions where a diuretic might help, such as liver problems and high blood pressure. However, there is no good research on using dandelion as a diuretic in people.
Preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs). A specific combination of dandelion root and leaf extracts of another herb called uva ursi taken by mouth seems to help reduce the number of UTIs in women. In this combination, uva ursi is used because it seems to kill bacteria, and dandelion is used to increase urine flow. However, this combination should not be used long-term because it is not known if uva ursi is safe for extended use.
Inflammation of the tonsils (Tonsillitis). An early study found that people who had their tonsils removed recovered faster if they ate soup containing dandelion compared to those who ate soup without dandelion.
Fresh or dried dandelion herb is also used as a mild appetite stimulant, and to improve upset stomach. The root of the dandelion plant may act as a mild laxative and has been used to improve digestion. Preliminary research suggests that dandelion may help improve liver and gallbladder function. But this study was not well designed.
Preliminary animal studies suggest that dandelion may help normalize blood sugar levels and lower total cholesterol and triglycerides while raising HDL (good) cholesterol in diabetic mice. But not all the animal studies have found a positive effect on blood sugar. Researchers need to see if dandelion will work in people.
Scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine have discovered the cancer chemopreventive potential of dandelion root against breast cancer. Conventional anti-cancer drugs target only the bulk of the tumor cell population, but not the rarer cancer stem cells, which are capable of indefinite self-renewal and proliferation, says Michael Lewis, Ph.D., an assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology at the Baylor College of Medicine. The results of this experiment, published in the “Journal of the National Cancer Institute,” showed that dandelion root kills both breast cancer stem cells and the bulk of the tumor.
A study by S.J. Chatterjee and colleagues published in the journal “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” on December 30, 2010, reported that dandelion root can be a major strategy to prevent chemical-mediated breast cancer because it can detoxify carcinogens, thus protecting tissues against carcinogenesis. In MCF-7 breast cancer cells, dandelion root extract also showed the capacity to induce apoptosis, or programmed cell death, study findings have suggested.
A few animal studies also suggest that dandelion might help fight inflammation.
Surprising Benefits Of Dandelion
Improves Bone Health: Dandelion is rich in calcium, which is essential for the growth and strength of bones and is also rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and luteolin, which protect bones from age-related damage. This inevitable impairment is often due to free radicals and is frequently seen as bone frailty, weakness, and decreased density.
Treats Liver Disorders: Dandelion can help the liver in many ways. While the antioxidants like vitamin C and luteolin keep the liver functioning in optimal gear and protect it from aging, other compounds in dandelion help to treat hemorrhaging in the liver. Furthermore, dandelion aids in maintaining the proper flow of bile, while also stimulating the liver and promoting digestion. Proper digestion can reduce the chances of constipation, which in turn reduces the risk of serious gastrointestinal issues.
Controls Diabetes: Dandelion juice can help diabetic patients by stimulating the production of insulin from the pancreas, thereby keeping the blood sugar level low. Since dandelions are diuretic in nature, they increase urination in diabetic patients, which helps to remove the excess sugar from the body. Diabetics are also prone to renal problems, so the diuretic properties of dandelion can help in removing the sugar deposition in the kidneys through increased urination. Furthermore, the dandelion juice is slightly bitter to taste, which effectively lowers the sugar level in the blood, as all bitter substances do. Consistently lower blood sugar and a regulated insulin release prevents dangerous spikes and plunges in diabetics, so dandelion extracts can be a perfect solution!
Treats Urinary Disorders: Dandelions are highly diuretic in nature, so they help eliminate deposits of toxic substances in the kidneys and the urinary tract. The disinfectant properties of dandelions also inhibit microbial growth in the urinary system. In fact, the diuretic properties of dandelions are so strong that in France, the flower is also called “pissenlit” which means “urinate in bed”.
Skin Care: Dandelion sap, also known as dandelion milk, is useful in treating skin diseases which are caused by microbial and fungal infections. This treatment stems from the fact that the sap is highly alkaline and has germicidal, insecticidal and fungicidal properties. You should be careful while using this sap and avoid any contact with the eyes. This sap can be used on itches, ringworm, eczema, and other skin conditions without the risk of side effects or hormonal disturbances commonly caused by pharmaceutical skin treatments.
Prevents Acne: Dandelion juice is a good detoxifier, diuretic, stimulant, and antioxidant. These four properties make it a great treatment for acne. Before we know how it treats acne, we must know what causes it. Acne typically arises during the teenage years, when the body undergoes many physiological and hormonal changes. The flood of new hormones that bring about the changes in the body must be regulated, but if they don’t remain at a healthy ratio, they tend to deposit somewhat toxic substances into the body. These toxins tend to come out along with sweat through the sweat glands or sebaceous glands on the skin.
During these hormonal changes, these glands secrete more oils which, when mixed with dead skin, block the pores and the secretion of toxins is obstructed. Therefore, the toxic substances cannot escape and eventually result in acne. This situation is exacerbated by the microbial infections on the affected places. Dandelion juice, being a stimulant, diuretic, and detoxifier in nature, can help to regulate proper secretion of hormones, increase sweating, and widen the pores. All of these factors help to facilitate the removal of toxins through sweat and urine. Furthermore, dandelion sap, if externally applied to areas with acne, can inhibit microbial infection and reduce the signs of acne. Also, it can speed up healing due to its vitamin C content, so the scars and ugly red inflammation that traditionally follows acne treatment will be less noticeable.
Weight Loss: Our urine consists of up to 4% fat, so the more we urinate, the more water and fats are lost from the body. Dandelions, being diuretic in nature, promote urination and thereby help in losing the dreaded “water weight” without causing any side effects. Furthermore, dandelions are low in calories, like most leafy greens, but for the small expense of calories (~1oo cal. /4 cups), you get a huge amount of beneficial side effects. This is also why dandelions are sometimes used as sweeteners because they are not packed with unhealthy sugars.
Prevents Cancer: Dandelions are high in antioxidants, such as vitamin C and luteolin, which reduce the free radicals (major cancer-causing agents) in the body, thereby reducing the risk of cancer. Vitamin C also detoxifies the body, which further helps to protect from the development of tumors and various cancers. Luteolin poisons essential components of cancer cells when it binds to them, rendering them ineffective and unable to reproduce. This characteristic has been demonstrated most notably with prostate cancer, although there are other studies being done.
Treats Jaundice: Jaundice is primarily a disorder of the liver in which the organ starts overproducing bile, which ultimately enters the bloodstream and wreaks havoc on the body’s metabolism. The excess bile is also reflected through the color of the skin and eyes, which typically develops a yellow tint. The treatment of jaundice includes three main steps. First, you need to curb the production of bile. Second, you must remove the excess bile from the body, and third, you have to fight the underlying viral infection.
Dandelions are very helpful in all of these steps. They promote liver health and regulate bile production. Being diuretic in nature, they promote urination, where the excess bile can be eliminated. Finally, as an antioxidant and disinfectant due to the presence of vitamin C and luteolin, dandelions fight viral infections as well. They are most beneficial when taken with sugarcane juice since they replace the sugar in the body, which is significantly lowered due to the impact of excess bile. A lack of sugar can cause extreme fatigue and weakness, so dandelions help to boost your energy levels after infection.
Prevents Gall Bladder Disorders: Dandelions are very beneficial for the gallbladder and liver, because they improve their general functioning, protect them from ill effects of oxidants and infections, and regulate the various secretions from both organs.
Cures Constipation: Certain components of dandelion, namely the high levels of dietary fiber make it a beneficial aid for digestion and proper intestinal health. Dietary fiber stimulates healthy bowel movements by adding bulk to stool and also reduces chances of constipation as well as diarrhea. It regulates bowel movements, which can prevent serious gastrointestinal issues. It is commonly prescribed for children who are experiencing constipation, as it is relatively soothing on the stomach. It has also been used to stimulate the appetite, particularly following trauma or surgery.
Prevents Anemia: Dandelions have relatively good levels of iron, vitamins, and protein content. While iron is an integral part of hemoglobin in the blood, vitamin B and protein are essential for the formation of red blood cells and certain other components of the blood. This way dandelion can help anemic people keep their condition in check.
Regulates Blood Pressure: Urination is an effective way of lowering blood pressure. In fact, most of the modern medicines for lowering blood pressure are based on this phenomenon. Dandelion juice, being diuretic in nature, increases urination, both in quantity and frequency. Therefore, it helps to lower high blood pressure. The fiber in dandelion is also helpful in reducing cholesterol and thereby assists in lowering blood pressure since cholesterol is one of the factors that increase blood pressure. Finally, there is a high potassium content in dandelions, which is very effective in lowering blood pressure by replacing sodium.
Other Benefits: Dandelions can also be used as a vegetable and are a good source of fiber. It promotes digestion, and in the past, it was used to treat scurvy because of its high levels of vitamin C. It also has healing effects on dyspepsia, infections in the stomach, intestines and urinary system.
How to Take it
Pediatric: Ask your doctor before giving dandelion supplements to a child so the doctor can determine the dose.
Adult: Ask your doctor to help determine the right dose for you.
Dandelion Tea— Infuse 1 OZ. of Dandelion in a pint of boiling water for 10 minutes; decant, sweeten with honey, and drink several glasses in the course of the day. The use of this tea is efficacious in bilious affections, and is also much approved of in the treatment of dropsy.
Or take 2 OZ. of freshly-sliced Dandelion root, and boil in 2 pints of water until it comes to 1 pint; then add 1 OZ. of compound tincture of Horseradish. Dose, from 2 to 4 OZ. Use in a sluggish state of the liver.
Or 1 OZ. Dandelion root, 1 OZ. Black Horehound herb, 1/2 OZ. Sweet Flag root, 1/4 OZ. Mountain Flax. Simmer the whole in 3 pints of water down to 1 1/2 pint, strain and take a wineglassful after meals for biliousness and dizziness.
For Gall Stones— 1 OZ. Dandelion root, 1 OZ. Parsley root, 1 OZ. Balm herb, 1/2 OZ. Ginger root, 1/2 OZ. Liquorice root. Place in 2 quarts of water and gently simmer down to 1 quart, strain and take a wineglassful every two hours.
For a young child suffering from jaundice: 1 OZ. Dandelion root, 1/2 oz. Ginger root, 1/2 oz. Caraway seed, 1/2 oz. Cinnamon bark, 1/4 oz. Senna leaves. Gently boil in 3 pints of water down to 1 1/2 pint, strain, dissolve 1/2 lb. sugar in hot liquid, bring to a boil again, skim all impurities that come to the surface when clear, put on one side to cool, and give frequently in teaspoonful doses.
A Liver and Kidney Mixture— 1 OZ. Broom tops, 1/2 oz. Juniper berries, 1/2 oz. Dandelion root, 1 1/2 pint water. Boil in gredients for 10 minutes, then strain and adda small quantity of cayenne. Dose, 1 tablespoonful, three times a day.
A Medicine for Piles— 1 OZ. Long-leaved Plantain, 1 OZ. Dandelion root, 1/2 oz. Polypody root, 1 OZ. Shepherd’s Purse. Add 3 pints of water, boil down to half the quantity, strain, and add 1 OZ. of tincture of Rhubarb. Dose, a wineglassful three times a day. Celandine ointment to be applied at same time.
Word of Caution: Dandelions can be helpful in lowering blood sugar, but for patients already taking blood-sugar modulators, this can result in hypoglycemia, an equally dangerous condition. Consult your doctor before adding dandelion supplements on top of your normal treatment. Also, the milk sap of dandelions has been known to cause itchiness, irritation, or allergic reactions on the skin, and should be kept away from the eyes. Finally, there is a rare type of fiber in dandelions called inulin and some people have a predisposed sensitivity or allergy to it which can be quite severe. While adding dandelion greens to your diet in any way, start small and closely monitor your body’s response.
Precautions: The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. However, herbs can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs under the supervision of a health care provider.
Dandelion is generally considered safe. Some people may have an allergic reaction from touching dandelion. Others may get mouth sores.
If you are allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigold, chamomile, yarrow, daisies, or iodine, you should avoid dandelion.
In some people, dandelion can cause increased stomach acid and heartburn. It may also irritate the skin.
People with kidney problems, gallbladder problems, or gallstones should consult their doctors before eating dandelion.
Dandelion leaf may act as a diuretic, which can make drugs leave your body faster. It also interacts with a number of medications that are broken down by the liver. If you are taking prescription medications, ask your doctor before taking dandelion leaf. Medications that may interact with dandelion include:
Antacids: Dandelion may increase the amount of stomach acid, so antacids may not work as well.
Blood-thinning medications (anticoagulants and antiplatelets): It is possible that dandelion may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you already take blood thinners such as aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), or clopidogrel (Plavix).
Diuretics (water pills): Dandelion may act as a diuretic, causing your body to produce more urine to get rid of excess fluid. If you also take prescription diuretics, or other herbs that act as diuretics, you could be at risk of electrolyte imbalances.
Lithium: Lithium is used to treat bipolar disorder. Animal studies suggest that dandelion may worsen the side effects of lithium.
Ciproflaxin (Cipro): One species of dandelion, Taraxacum mongolicum, also called Chinese dandelion, may lower the amount of the antibiotic ciproflaxin that your body absorbs. Researchers do not know whether the common dandelion would do the same thing.
Medications for diabetes: Theoretically, dandelion may lower blood sugar levels. If you take medications for diabetes, taking dandelion may increase the risk of low blood sugar.
Medications broken down by the liver: Dandelion can interact with a number of medications. To be safe, ask your doctor before taking dandelion if you take any medication.
Dandelion Pesto – Adapted from The Wild Wisdom of Weeds by Katrina Blair
2 cups fresh young dandelion greens
1 cup basil
1 cup cashews, almonds, or pine nuts
½ cup olive oil
1 cup water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
Wash and dry dandelion greens and basil.
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.
Serve as a dip with vegetable crudites or crackers, on pasta, or as a sandwich spread.
The Health Benefits Of Dandelion For Dogs
If your dog suffers from digestive issues, dandelion may be a great herb to consider. The dandelion flower may be used for its antioxidant properties and may improve the immune system. It is also high in lecithin. Dandelion leaves are loaded with potassium. They also stimulate the appetite and help digestion along with kidney function. They are an ideal choice for dogs with chronic indigestion or those with gas. Dandelion leaf also acts as a diuretic, making it useful in cases of arthritis, kidney stones, congestive heart failure and gallbladder disease. And best of all, dandelion leaf contains lots of potassium, which can be lost through urination. Dandelion leaf also stimulates the liver and promotes the elimination of waste material from the body. Dandelion root is also quite useful and nutritional. The root is a liver tonic and helps to remove toxins from the body, via the kidneys. Signs of toxicity can include:
Dandelion root can also treat gallstones and gallbladder inflammation.
Using Dandelion: Dandelion can be used as a dried herb, a tea or as a tincture.
Dandelion Tea – To make dandelion tea:
Use 5g to 30g dried herb infused in 8oz water.
You can use 1/3 of a cup per 20 pounds of your dogs body weight, up to 3 times a day.
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A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.
Mother Jai’s makes the perfect oil for your New Year Resolutions.
Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.
The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.
In the medieval era, the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.
At watchnight services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions.
This tradition has many other religious parallels. During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness.
People can act similarly during the Christian liturgical season of Lent, although the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility.
In fact, the Methodist practice of New Year’s resolutions came, in part, from the Lenten sacrifices.
The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.
At the end of the Great Depression, about a quarter of American adults formed New Year’s resolutions. At the start of the 21st century, about 40% did. In fact, according to the American Medical Association, approximately 40% to 50% of Americans participated in the New Year’s resolution tradition from the 1995 Epcot and 1985 Gallop Polls. A study found 46% of participants who made common New Year’s resolutions (e.g. weight loss, exercise programs, quitting smoking) were likely to succeed, over ten times as among those deciding to make life changes at other times of the year.
In a 2014 report, 35% of participants who failed their New Year’s Resolutions admitted they had unrealistic goals, 33% of participants didn’t keep track of their progress, and 23% forgot about them; about one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.
A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, wherein resolutions are made in terms of small and measurable goals (e.g., “lost a pound a week” rather than “lose weight”).
Some popular resolutions are:
Promise to donate to charities more often
Try to become more assertive
Strive to be more environmentally responsible.
Improve physical well-being: eat healthy food, lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, stop biting nails, get rid of old bad habits
Improve mental well-being: think positive, laugh more often, enjoy life
Improve finances: get out of debt, save money, make small investments
Improve career: perform better at current job, get a better job, establish own business
Improve education: improve grades, get a better education, learn something new (such as a foreign language or music), study often, read more books, improve talents
Improve self: become more organized, reduce stress, be less grumpy, manage time, be more independent, perhaps watch less television, play fewer sitting-down video games
Take a trip
Volunteer to help others, practice life skills, use civic virtue, give to charity, volunteer to work part-time in a charity organization
Get along better with people, improve social skills, enhance social intelligence
Make new friends
Spend quality time with family members
Settle down, get engaged/get married, have kids
Pray more, be more spiritual
Be more involved in sports or different activities
Spend less time on social media (such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr etc.)
Spend more time listening to different or conflicting points of view
Instead of making resolutions, setting measurable goals is more likely to lead to success in seeing your hopes and dreams come to fruition. Want to increase the chances of seeing your dreams become reality? Here are some goal-setting tips that will get you started on your journey towards reaching your goals.
Focus on Intention Rather Than Outcome
Most New Year’s resolutions focus on an outcome, e.g., losing 10 pounds or being more productive at work. But what if you turned your focus inward instead, focusing on your intention rather than any results? Your goals for the year might then change; instead of losing weight, maybe your goal is to treat food as nutrition rather than enjoyment. You might be surprised at how effective such a mindset can be!
Highlight the Things You Do Well, Not What You Need to Change
Who says you need to change, anyway? You’re just perfect the way you are: every flaw, every weakness, every time you chose to sit on the couch and watch TV instead of going to the gym. Maybe these aren’t things to be fixed but rather to be celebrated as unique aspects of your personality and life. Perhaps it’s okay to leave the betterment plan for another time and instead focus your attention on the things you like about yourself.
When it comes to goal setting, S.M.A.R.T. is a familiar acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive. Too often, people set goals that are vague and unrealistic. Not only does this lead to frustration, but it also decreases the likelihood of actually achieving the goal. The S.M.A.R.T. method can be applied to a variety of goals, whether professional or personal, giving you the tools you need to succeed in your goal setting endeavors.
Write it Down
The daily minutiae of life is enough to rattle even the most skilled multi-tasker. With family dinners, kids’ sporting events, and household chores, life is truly a juggling act. Still, we manage to fall into the routine of getting those things done without a need to write them down. When it comes to goals, however, we are not very likely to simply fall into a routine. Achieving goals involves deviating from the daily monotony, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and challenging yourself. Writing down your goals allows you to free up some of that mental clutter so that you can visualize those things that you want to achieve. Also, tracking your progress by checking things off will give you a sense of accomplishment, motivating you to keep going.
When you are working towards improving your life, it is common to compare yourself to other people. Your perception is that they are superior to you, or more privileged in some way. The social media phenomenon doesn’t help; your ‘news feed’ overflows with announcements of your friends’ new love interests, weight loss, and new jobs, quickly turning you into a green-eyed monster. How does this serve you, exactly? It doesn’t. When you compare yourself to others, you rob yourself of time you could be spending on your own self-improvement. It is also important to keep in mind that everyone’s journey is different; although we have similar destinations, our paths are often quite different. Follow your own path.
Anticipate Setbacks & Opportunities (bolster your resilience)
Research shows that using “If/then” thinking encourages us to be more flexible and creative when it comes to problem solving; it’s what Peter Gollwitzer has called “implementation intention.” Basically, your mindset is “If X happens, then I’ll do Y.” This has you thinking proactively and forces you to pay attention to situational cues; it can be used in almost every situation too. Let’s say you are trying to smooth out what has been a bumpy relationship with a friend; you begin by thinking, “If she’s open to talking, then I’ll talk to her about how we might resolve our differences.” Needless to say, if she appears not to be open to talking, you will reframe and wait for a better moment. Sticking to a single plan is a terrible idea so keep using “If/then” thinking. Your ability to quit and pivot is absolutely key to success.
Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki says that “successful people don’t fear failure but understand that it is necessary to learn and grow from.” Setting goals involves learning what you need to do in order to achieve personal growth. Embracing failure by seeing it as a necessary part of achieving your goals will only make you stronger and more resilient as you continue on your road to towards achieving your goals.
Enjoy the Process
Big success is made up of small victories. If your weight loss goal is 20 lbs, chances are that you will not lose it all at once. Still, you can celebrate your pants fitting a little looser every week. Having goals is important; however, we don’t stop living while we pursue them. Life happens while you are in the midst of seeing your dreams realized. Don’t allow your focus on the outcome to keep you from enjoying the process.
Celebrate Your Successes
Appreciation can sometimes be played down in life and we tend to forget to appreciate what we’ve done and what we have. Appreciating our small wins and the small steps we take can be the difference between failing and succeeding. Lack of appreciation and gratefulness can lead us down the slippery slope of not being able to see the importance of our small successes. Celebrating the small stuff is us acknowledging that we are well on our way to achievement – in fact we are achieving all the time and it’s a myth that we are only successful once we’ve reached that elusive goal.
People move through their lives never celebrating success because they often don’t recognize when they have been successful. Our personal definition of success greatly influences our perception of self and the meanings we place on our experiences. Developing your authentic and personalized definition of success is key when talking about healthy ways to celebrate.
Psychologist and author of Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion and Pride, David DeSteno, PhD, studies the relationships between emotions and success. In his work, DeSteno shares that emotions, such as pride, can lead people to greater future success. Regarding prosocial emotions such as gratitude, compassion and pride, he states: “These feelings – gratitude, compassion and pride – are easier to generate than the willpower and self-denial that underpin traditional approaches to self-control and grit. And while willpower is quickly depleted, prosocial emotions actually become stronger the more we use them.”
Celebrating vs. Rewarding
When we think of celebrating, we may think about rewarding ourselves after accomplishing a goal or job well done. Although rewarding yourself may feel the same as celebrating, a reward suggests that there is no continuation of effort in that particular task after earning the prize. Celebrating is about an appreciation of the process, your effort, those who have supported you along the way and where you would like to go next.
Extrinsic motivation is when we feel motivated to complete a task because we want to earn an external reward, such as a gift, ribbon, trophy or money. The process of completing the task becomes more about the final outcome than the process and effort required to complete the task. When we rely too much on extrinsic motivation and reward, it can be difficult to find the energy to engage in the task itself when that external reward is removed.
Intrinsic motivation, on the other hand, is motivation that comes from within rather than focusing only on the outcome or reward. This type of motivation has more to do with the process and effort of the task than the outcome. When intrinsically motivated, people will engage in a task for the joy of doing so, even if there is no trophy to be won at the end. Celebrating success in a healthy way allows us to enhance the positive emotion around our effort, further increasing our intrinsic motivation.
How to Celebrate in a HealthyWay
There are a few simple ways that you can celebrate your success and promote motivation to continue on your journey to personal fulfillment.
What is it that you are celebrating? Sure, winning the game or meeting your sales quota would be reasons to celebrate, but if we take away the outcome and look at the journey it took to get there, what would you want to celebrate most? Take time to reflect on things like the elements of your value system that guided your decision making and the personal strengths that helped you achieve your goal.
When celebrating success, it can be easy to forget others who may have helped us, in ways big or small, to reach the finish line. Including others in your celebration is a wonderful way to build and strengthen connection with coworkers, loved ones or others who helped you along the way. Give them specific feedback about the ways that they helped you achieve your goal and express gratitude for their help. People enjoy feeling helpful, appreciated and connected. When you celebrate success with others you are nurturing the kind of meaningful relationships that allow those same people to want to help you in the future.
In our fast-paced society we seem to always be focused on the future. When we have reached one goal we quickly move on to the next, often with no celebration at all. In fact, sometimes it can feel uncomfortable for people to celebrate their own success for fear that they would be drawing too much attention to themselves or setting themselves up for embarrassment. Celebrating your success, especially in the ways we are talking about here, includes slowing down to appreciate and live the experience of your success with those who are important to you.
Celebrate in fun ways that nurture your mind, body, and spirit. Decide to celebrate in ways that speak to you and what you enjoy most. Examples of ways to celebrate while nurturing at the same time include:
Dinner party with loved ones
Walk or jog in the park
Watch sunrise or sunset
Massage or spa treatment
Game night with friends
Start a new journal
Go on an adventure
Try a new hobby
Creating Successful Habits
Successful habits equal success. We all know creating and changing habits can be hard as our minds find it difficult to adapt to new routines but acknowledging and celebrating the small wins are how you help yourself establish the habits you need and to keep you going. Our brains need reinforcement so allowing yourself to be rewarded will develop an ‘addiction to progress’ that will cause your brain to want to carry on to the next steps.
So, what is the secret to a successful habit? It’s all about understanding the importance of the present moment. We tend to take the present moment for granted – it seems insignificant and we believe the little things we do in the moment aren’t changing us. You must invest in the small things over a long period of time and understand that you only have the moment you are in and although these moments seem insignificant when determining whether you succeed or fail at something, it is the combination of moments over time that achieve the big things.
Celebrating your wins not only feels great physically, it also reinforces the positive attitude and behavior you want to have show up when you face a new challenge or opportunity.
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