Blog

Getting the Sleep You’ve Been Dreaming Of

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We all know that getting enough sleep is important and that 8 hours of sleep is what we should aim for. But exactly why do we need that much sleep? And what happens if we don’t get that? More importantly, what can you do to get better sleep?

Now, most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, yes. But it’s not just about how much sleep you get, it is just as important to get quality sleep.

Benefits of Sleep

Energy Restoration

Cell Regeneration

Growth and repair of tissues and bones

Strengthening the immune system

Regulating Weight 

Good quality sleep is needed for you to be able to think clearly, process memories, concentrate, and have quick reactions.

Lack of sleep can also affect your immune system.  Studies show that people who don’t get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as the common cold. Lack of sleep also affects how fast you recover if you do get sick. Long-term sleep deprivation has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.

So, with that said, let’s focus on learning how to actually get quality sleep!

Create a Bedtime Routine

Make a bedtime schedule for yourself when you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Yes, even on the weekends! Keeping a schedule is important because your body will get used to going to sleep at a certain time. It will give you signs that it’s tired so you’ll know to start winding down to go to sleep.  You can even use your smartphone for this!

Create a bedtime routine to unwind from your day, such as reading a book, taking a bath, or listening to relaxing music. You can even do all of these at the same time! Look at this as your ME time, something you can do just for yourself after working hard all day. Light some candles, throw in a bath bomb or bath beads, and get comfortable! Another perk of taking a bath is that the drop in body temperature that happens after taking a warm bath also helps with sleep!

Try reading a book or doing yoga instead of watching tv or using your laptop or phone at least 30-60 minutes before bedtime. The blue light found in electronics with screens disturbs your circadian rhythm (your body’s biological clock) and suppresses the release of melatonin (a hormone that influences circadian rhythms). Doing a yoga session in the evening will not only reduce stress but will also calm your mind before bedtime. You don’t have to be a yogi to try yoga at home!

Get Exercise

Get exercise! About 20 to 30 minutes each day is a good start. As for when to do it? This is individual — some people have a hard time winding down if they exercise in the evening but you should see what works for you! Experiment with the different kinds of exercise, as well as different times during the day. Maybe a morning jog, maybe an afternoon Pilates class, or an evening treadmill session. Try some free workout apps that you can conveniently use from home!

Cut the Caffeine

Stick to water and other decaffeinated drinks before bedtime. Keep in mind, while green tea has many benefits, it does contain caffeine! As for alcohol, while it may make you drowsy and go to sleep, your quality of sleep will be affected. So, if you’ll be having that glass of Pinot Noir, just make sure to do it earlier in the evening!

Bedroom Temperature

Make sure your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature. Research shows that the sweet spot is between 60 and 67 degrees. And have your room quiet, with little to no light.

Make Your Bed Comfy

Have a comfortable mattress and pillow — whether you like for it to be extra firm or soft, do whatever works for you. You might also want to try different styles of comforters and sheets for warm and cold seasons. Silk or satin sheets and pillowcases are said to be good for your skin, as well as, helping to regulate body temperature.

Noise Machine

Try a white noise machine – or if you find the sound of rain soothing, get one with rain noises. There are different kinds of sound machines out there or you can try listening to rainforest jungle sounds for free on YouTube!

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is de-stressing and soothing. Try scented candles in your bedroom or an essential oil diffuser! Lavender has been used for generations as a home remedy for sleep; try putting a lavender sachet under your pillow or add several drops of lavender oil to your bath or in the diffuser.

Binaural Beats

Listen to binaural beats, sound waves that help create the frequency needed for your brain to create the same brainwave pattern that one would experience during meditation. You can find a ton of these on YouTube or on an app! Binaural beats are said to reduce anxiety, reduce stress, increase relaxation, as well as, benefit mood, performance, and mental health. Keep in mind that binaural beats do not have an effect without headphones since when you listen through stereo headphones, you are introducing sound directly to the ears. 30 minutes or less per day should be enough.

Meditate

Get in the habit of meditating before bedtime. Meditation to your brain is what physical exercise is to your body. It is also a great way to calm your mind and relax. There are apps that provide guided meditation or you can create one for yourself.

Step 1: Choose a calming focus. Good examples are your breath, a sound (“Om”), a short prayer, a positive word (such as “relax” or “peace”), or a phrase (“breathing in calm, breathing out tension”; “I am relaxed”). If you choose a sound, repeat it aloud or silently as you inhale or exhale.

Step 2: Let go and relax. Don’t worry about how you’re doing. When you notice your mind has wandered, simply take a deep breath or say to yourself “thinking, thinking” and gently return your attention to your chosen focus.

Try this sleep meditation from the Help Guide!

Now that you know how to get a good night of sleep, get to dreaming!

Written by:

Natalya Pigulskaya, current Komplete Business Dietetic Intern

Olivia Laughman, current B.Komplete Nutrition Marketing Assistant

#sleep #tips #meditation #healthy #quality 

Blog

Mindfulness to Improve Your Happiness and Well-Being

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Mind-full or Mindful?

After celebrating the end of 2020 with great enthusiasm, we are back to reality. The stress and anxiety that have plagued us since March are creeping their way back now that the holiday festivities are over. Our minds are left full of questions, thoughts, and worries.

The biggest one being: Will 2021 be better?

What if we told you that you can start making this year better right now? You’d probably think that is impossible given the circumstances. You’re working from home while your kids are remote learning, unsure about the stability of your job and finances, worrying about the health of your loved ones. How can you possibly feel at peace at a time like this?

There is a solution: implementing daily acts of mindfulness can make this volatile environment feel less stressful. We’re here to walk you through how to make these small changes and why it is so beneficial.

Why Practice Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of how you feel at a given moment. It may seem simple, even trivial, but being more mindful is scientifically proven to benefit your mental and physical health. This in turn creates a healthier and more productive workplace.

Here are just a few of the reasons why you should add mindfulness into your daily routine:   

  • Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression: Putting space between you and your stressful situation can help alleviate anxiety. In addition, learning to redirect your negative thoughts to something positive can be a successful way of treating depression. Studies show that meditation actually causes the amygdala, the part of the brain in charge of fear, stress, and anxiety, to shrink.   
  • Improved cognition and working memory: As mentioned above, meditating everyday actually changes your brain, which can improve memory in addition to reducing stress. One study showed that practicing mindfulness for 8 weeks increased the volume of brain regions in charge of learning and memory, such as the hippocampus. 
  • Reduced tendency to get distracted: Just a couple of weeks of daily meditation can improve your focus and concentration. Research shows that it decreases mind wandering by reducing activity in the brain region known as the default mode network. This helps us stay focused and redirect our thoughts quickly when we do get distracted. 
  • Improved emotional regulation: Stressful situations, especially unexpected ones, can leave you feeling frustrated, angry, and anxious. Practicing mindfulness helps reduce emotional reactivity, allowing you to shift your focus away from the negative situation. 
  • Improved immune function: By reducing your stress levels through meditation, you can actually help your immune system. This is vital in the midst of this global pandemic. 

Mindfulness While Living in a Volatile Environment

The pandemic has created a high stress environment for many people. Lay offs, excess workload, decreased social interaction, kids learning remotely, financial stress, etc. After almost a year, it has really taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. Therefore, learning to redirect your thoughts through meditation can be so beneficial for alleviating the stress and anxiety.

Not only has our new, ever-changing environment brought on excess stress, it has also added even more distractions, This can lead to decreased productivity in the workplace. Most living rooms have switched from a place to relax, to an office, conference room, and classroom all rolled into one. You cannot focus on work when your kids are running around playing. Nor can you unwind on the couch at night when your mind is racing with thoughts about work. While practicing mindfulness will not get rid of these distractions, it will teach you how to focus on the task at hand and separate work time from “you” time.

How to Practice Mindfulness

Now that you know why you should practice mindfulness, here are some ways you can start practicing right now:

  • Meditate: Close your eyes and focus on the sensations of your body and breath. Notice any thoughts that may come up and then redirect your attention back to your breath. 
  • Find joy in the little things: Reading a book, talking to a friend on the phone, and your morning cup of coffee are all simple things that can bring you joy. 
  • Write down things you are thankful for every morning: By starting your day on a positive note, you’ll be less likely to focus on any negative thoughts that come up. 
  • Put away your phone while working: This will reduce mindless scrolling through social media and distractions.
  • Be aware of your emotions as they arise: When you experience a stressful or frustrating situation, pay attention to your emotions. You will be able to feel your anger or anxiety rising and can then redirect your thoughts to something positive or look at the situation from a new perspective. 
  • Set boundaries: Working remotely means we could be online and available 24/7. Choose to take time away from answering emails or thinking about work so you can be fully present in other aspects of your life. 

Start Slow and Give Yourself Time

While mindfulness is not a panacea, research shows that you can reap many benefits by practicing it a little everyday. However, it is important to remember that the point of mindfulness is to reduce your stress. So don’t get frustrated with yourself if your mind keeps wandering off in the middle of your meditation session. It may take you a little while to get the hang of it, but stay positive. 

In the words of Buddha, “Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.” 

Nutrition and Food

Your Go-To Guide to Essential Oils

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Essential oils were used in folk medicine throughout history, dating back to use by ancient civilizations BCE. Oils  have recently been gaining popularity as a natural, safe and cost-effective therapy. The use of essential oils can be another wellness technique to add to your lifestyle. 

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils (EOs) are not FDA approved. Unlike drugs, they are not intended to cure, diagnose, prevent, or treat diseases. However, they can be great when used in a complementary manner, as long as you are mindful of any drug interactions.  When in doubt, speak with your Primary Care Physician.

Essential oils (EOs) are concentrated and are marketed to have ‘powerful health benefits.’ They contain various chemical components, in which, are absorbed by the body. Additionally, they can be absorbed by four routes via olfaction, through the skin (both externally and internally), and by ingestion. They can be used aromatically, topically, and internally.  There is a whole study that focuses how EOs are absorbed, called pharmacokinetics.

Aromatic

Inhaling EOs is the fastest method of getting EOs into your body. Components can travel to your lungs, brain, or both. Inhalation can be direct (only to you) or indirect (to a room of people).

 

Direct Inhalation without steam

  • Aroma patches– apply patches to skin, preferably on collar bone
  • Aroma sticks– add 15-20 drops EO onto the wick, place wick inside inhaler
  • Cotton balls– add 1-5 drops of EO to a cotton ball and inhale for 5-10 minutes
  • Aroma packets– open packet to breath in contents
  • Aroma ribbons– can be attached to anything, such as pillows for a comfort aroma
 

Direct Inhalation with steam

  • Steam water– add 1-5 drops of EO to a bowl containing steaming water. Place head over bowl and place towel over your head, inhale for 10 minutes

Indirect Inhalation

  • Room fresheners– add 1-5 drops of EO to a bowl containing hot water and place in a safe place
  • Burners– fill container suspended above with water and add 1-5 drops of EO 
  • Fans– add 1-5 drops of EO to a pad, place inside the fan
  • Humidifiers– fill container with water, place EOs on a tissue in the direct pathway of the exiting steam
  • Diffusers– add 1-8 drops of EO; they deliver micron-sized essential oil droplets in the air 
  • Nebulizers – drops of undiluted essential oils are placed inside glass attachment, most do not use heat 
  • Spritzer Sprays– add essential oils in water inside a spritzer spray bottle, important to shake bottle for even distribution
  • Aroma stones– they gently warm essential oils
 

Topical

The amount that is absorbed through your skin depends on skin permeability as well as concentration of EO used. For example, EOs that are diluted in a carrier oil (used for dilution and application) are absorbed slower than undiluted EOs. EOs are absorbed faster when the skin becomes thinner and or damaged by systemic disease, dermatological problems, injury, and dehydration. Avoid applying EOs to damaged skin, as it is absorbed more readily and can have adverse effects. Moreover, less is absorbed during periods of stress because stress results in vascular shut-down. Whereas, dilated blood vessels caused by friction from stroking or massaging, can increase EO absorption, except when the body is trying to lose heat.  Always use caution if you select to apply an EO topically; some may need to be diluted, some should not be applied to certain areas, some EO’s may make your skin more sensitive, and some could even cause an adverse reaction.

What Does the Research Say?

EOs are used to treat or relieve stress, pain, dental issues, infection and/or inflammation (ex. sore throat, vaginal and urinary infections, gastrointestinal issues (ex. IBS, nausea and vomiting), insomnia, anxiety, and promote well-being. However, according to research, there is a lack of studies to support EO effectiveness. Most studies had a small sample size, which may not be reliable. There is a need for more well‐designed, large‐scale randomized controlled trials, before conclusions can be drawn and recommendations can be made for clinical use. Regardless of the insufficient amount of data regarding their effectiveness, EOs continue to be used for the healing properties all around the world.

Tips on How to Use EO's

Blending EOs is an art, as it requires training and experimentation. Typically, oils from the same botanical family blend well. The order in which the oils are blended is key to maintain desired therapeutic and chemical properties and fragrance. Your oil blend should be stored in dark-colored glass bottles. If you are not familiar with mixing, it is encouraged to layer the individual oils, by applying one at a time, rubbing it in, and then applying another oil a few seconds after.

If dilution is necessary, a carrier oil may be needed. Carrier oils are naturally derived from plant sources. They have a neutral smell and do not evaporate like essential oils, making them an great medium for dilution and application purposes. The purpose of carrier oils is to reduce the concentration and absorption rate of the EO, at the same time not changing any therapeutic properties. Dilution is especially important for infants and children.

Some examples of carrier oils include: V-6 mixing oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, coconut oil, argan oil, arnica oil, rosehip oil, broccoli seed oil, flaxseed oil, magnesium oil, evening primrose oil, cocoa butter and shea butter.

Lastly, not all essential oils are created equal. In fact, most of them are of poor quality and are often synthetic. When you are ready to purchase essential oils make sure they are certified USDA organic, 100% pure, therapeutic grade and indigenous sourced.

Here are some brands that you could try:

There are many other different brands.  Some are more expensive, and some are subscription based.  Select the option that best works for your budget and lifestyle.  

In conclusion, we enjoy using Essential Oils for stress management and mental clarity.  Please understand the research on EO is highly limited, and EO should not be considered a medical treatment.  Speak with your health-care provider for any individual questions.

If you are more interested in EO’s and would like a live event held at your company, we have the solution!  B.Komplete offers Wellness Awareness Stations on Essential Oil and Stress Management, and we also have a Seminar to discuss Alternative Medicine.  Contact us at info@bkomplete.com to book our inspiring services for your company.  

Corporate Wellness

The Untapped Power – Mindfulness Meditation

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Let’s rewind to 2014 for a moment. B.Komplete was just getting started and I was just beginning to develop the wellness programs you see from us today.  While researching comprehensive wellness programs, one of the keys to well-being that I discovered was the power of mindfulness and meditation. Well-being is far more than physical health – mental and emotional health are also vital to overall wellness. With this in mind, myself and my team developed a variety of stress reduction tools to guide anyone to a healthier mindset. B.Komplete now offers life coaching, yoga, meditation, chair massage, acupuncture, stress reduction stations, stress reduction seminars, workshops, and stress reduction challenges.

Fast forward to 2017 when I had been away from the “front lines” for a bit too long, and knew that I had to get out there.  I decided it made sense for me to personally teach one of our stress reduction workshops. At this point I was practicing yoga frequently and had learned a little bit about meditation and how to use it. However, I had never really focused on becoming mindful myself, and I had definitely never committed to doing so on a consistent basis. I am a firm believer that in order to be the most effective teacher you can be, you must have personal experience with the subject matter. I wanted to experience the power of mindfulness and meditation for myself, and be able to share my experience with others. Here’s a little bit more about my journey to unlock my power through mindfulness meditation…

Life Before Mindfulness Meditation

Life before mindfulness meditation…

I have been a high stress person throughout my entire life. Stress has always been a major factor in my life, and probably always will be. Soon after starting graduate school I noticed I was losing large clumps of hair. I was obviously alarmed, and saw my doctor. The doctor told me, “you need to chill out a little bit, don’t let the school kill you.” Like I said, stress was a major factor for me. I noticed other physical changes in my body during periods of great stress. My body weight would fluctuate, my jaw would be sore from grinding my teeth, I had dark circles under my eyes. I could tell my body was not happy with the way I was handling stress.

 

How My Journey Began

I started with a 30 day mindfulness meditation practice. I practiced between 5 and 8 minutes daily and it was perfect. I found that it was really helpful to practice first thing in the morning, before starting work.

The changes I experienced during the first 30 days…

First of all, I gained an awareness that I had not been very mindful at all before starting this practice. As I made my way through the first 30 days I grew a whole new view of the world around me. I appreciated the nature, the scenery, and the leaves on the trees so much more. My world became much more vivid, more beautiful, and more inspirational, as I became more mindful.

My overall impression of my mindfulness and meditation practice…

It blew my mind! It totally changed my life by expanding my horizons and changing the way I perceived the world. I started noticing I was able to handle my stress in a much healthier way and had this new, positive outlook on life. I was more capable of handling stressful situations. As soon as I started my practice, I developed resiliency. When life tried to knock me down, I came back stronger and more focused. I started to notice my reactions changing. When difficult situations presented themselves I resorted to my practice.

The specific factors that helped me gain the full potential of my practice…

Developing a personal mantra was incredibly beneficial to me. In times when stress was mounting inside me, I came back to my breath and my mantra. The mantra drew me back to the present moment and brought me clarity and focus. I could feel the anger, frustration, stress, and other negative emotions dissipate as I focused myself on the present moment using my mantra. The way I see a mantra, is as a tool to change your mindset. I developed my mantra to help motivate me professionally by using words I connected deeply with to create a phrase I knew would help me get my mind back on the right track.

As a business professional, mindfulness helps me work.

Mindfulness has greatly benefited me from a professional standpoint. When business gets overwhelming, I take a step back and focus on what is going on right now. Mindfulness makes the tough stuff easier to handle. One thing I have struggled with in the past is focusing too much on the future. I would start to think about everything I had on my to do list and it became cumbersome. Mindfulness has helped me take a step back. I take things day by day now. I focus on what needs to be accomplished each day, and I do it. This has made my life so much more manageable. I find much more happiness and excitement in my day to day work now that I concentrate on one day instead of worrying about the next 3 months!

Recommended Tools to Get Started with Mindfulness and Meditation.

The Center for Wellness at Harvard University has great resources from guided meditations to mindfulness tools. When I was first starting my practice I used online, guided meditations.

B.Komplete offers a wide variety of stress reduction programs. If you are interested in personally benefiting from a mindfulness and meditation practice, and would like to share this gift with your office group, contact us at info@bkomplete.com for additional information and to schedule our stress reduction events.