Food For Thought!
 
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You’re probably still thinking about that mouthwatering cookie you just indulged in at the end of your lunch break, although as hard as it can be to ditch the afternoon cookies for celery sticks, have you ever wondered if your shift in mood, sluggishness, and lack of focus has to do with the diet you have inherited?

Time to say goodbye to the sweet tooth and feed your brain with the proper nutrients it needs! What we eat plays a vital role in the way we think, act and feel, directly impacting the quality of our work life. It’s true when they say you are what you eat! Your gut health has a direct impact on your brain health. So feeding your body and most importantly brain with good foods that enhance our focus, productivity, mood and awareness is vital for your mental functioning and physical energy levels.

Adopting a healthy eating routine and lifestyle is pivotal to a healthy and happy work life balance. Think about what you last ate? Did you manage to get your assigned tasks done for the day without being distracted or tired? Is your diet giving your brain the energy it needs to productively and efficiently get through your work day, week and month?

Feeling lethargic and fatigued is not going get your next deadline met. Many of us are unaware of the causes of these types of feelings and mood change!  An interesting aspect that I’ve recently discovered is the effect that inflammation has on mental and physical health. Many foods we regularly consume are unrecognisably contributing to the the damaging of cells which increase the inflammation throughout our body leaving a long term negative impact on our organs.

My favorite secret? Tumeric! The spice may seem an odd suggestion, however, Tumeric has only recently become highly recognized as an effective natural supplement to support body and brain health with its many benefits and forms of consumption, it’s an easy added value to any healthy meal or beverage. From its medicinal qualities to fighting inflammation and toxins, to (my favorite) boosting brain power! Tumeric has the properties to increase brain levels, improve memory and cognitive function as well and improve blood circulation throughout the body. Needless to say that a little bit of this spice goes a long way!


If your not fan of the distinct taste of Tumeric, no need to worry, healthline can help get you on track and make you power through your next work day with this list of natural anti inflammatory foods which even includes dark chocolate to satisfy those sugar cravings!

If you’re looking to perform well at work it’d be a good idea to red flag food which have an inflammatory response on the body.  That being, heavy meats, high amounts of processed sugar, foods high in fructose, artificial trans fats, and carbohydrates. So take those off your next shopping list!

Taking the time and learning about how foods affect your body will tremendously impact your your lifestyle. Switching your diet for these healthy foods, you’ll notice the ease on the struggle to get out of bed in the morning and have a productive and overall all uplifting day at work without feeling defeated before 12pm even rolls around. Eating well for your mind will improve overall alertness, concentration and problem solving skills and energy so that your work day will feel more productive and accomplished.

Need that extra brain power? Here is a full list of foods that can increase your brain power and wake up feeling energized and motivated to face your day!

 
Laura Santalucia
Clear Your Space: Physically and Mentally
 
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Am I the only one who finds a therapeutic calmness to the dreaded task of cleaning and tidying? Whether it be a big closet clean out, a sink full of dishes or simple reorganization, it never fails to reinvigorate, motivate and bring a sense of clarity to my mood for the rest of the day. There’s nothing quite as gratifying as making something that is untidy, tidy! While being a great stress relief too! Just as important as it is to make sure your physical surroundings are clean and tidy, it’s important to clear and declutter your mental state to refocus become more productive and leave you in a generally happier mindset.

Imagine the effect of cleansing your mental state just as you would clean your house or office. Our brains are estimated to have 60,000 thoughts a day…. Now that's a lot of thinking for one day! With our thoughts being so powerful we can become overwhelmed by negative or stress related thinking, often being the same thing playing over and over in our mind and determining our reality,  it’s no wonder our brains need a break every now and then!

It’s time to give attention to your brain and give it a clear out! There’s a noticeable link between the effect of cleaning a space and how it can assist in the cleansing of your mind. Here are some ways which cleaning out your physical space can allow you to become more productive, focused and generally happier while ‘decluttering’ your thoughts.

Clean and organize your workspace

As I began this blog, physically cleaning a space can have significant effect on your mental clarity and state. Your environment is a reflection of your mental state, often chaotic and disorganized and achieving a clear mind set sometimes isn’t so simple when life becomes crazy. Think about it the way you would think about your workspace: just how your office desk can pile up with paperwork from months ago, your thoughts can clutter your brain and fog its ability to think proactively, decrease memory function, induce feelings of stress, anxiety and become demotivated to complete or even begin a daunting task.  

At Primary, we are big fans of creating work environments which are minimal, refined, clear of clutter, and radiate positive energy. Your work environment effects how productive and focused you are therefore having a clean, tidy and organised workspace will ensure you’re able to work effectively.

Apartment therapy  provides tips on how to declutter your workspace to create a calm more uplifting work environment, some including strategically rearranging your office furniture for increased productivity, clearing clutter and utilizing interiors and decor that will help keep you focused on completing tasks with a sense of accomplishment.

Additional to decluttering your mind and thoughts, cleaning and organizing your space has other benefits to your mind and body.

  • There will be an end to tossing and turning and you’ll get a better night’s sleep when your surroundings are clean and tidy

  • Generally, you’ll have a happier more positive outlook to life with reduced levels of stress

  • Your motivation for health and fitness will increase

  • The Picasso in you will awaken and your creative energy flow

With all the added benefits of simply cleaning out your space, how could you not get out your cleaning supplies out and approach the activity with a mindful attitude, let it clear your thoughts, refresh your day and be a start to a new stress free environment?

If your space is a complete and utter mess and you just don’t know where to start, Inc. has your guide to a complete organized workspace.

Happy cleaning!


 
Laura Santalucia
De-stress your weekends with Fall events this October!
 
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With a Friday afternoon sigh of relief that the work week is almost over, it’s time to put away your computer, switch off your notifications and relax into the tranquility of the weekend. Even if your agenda is crazy, it’s important to utilise the time that we get away from our desks to focus on activities that will allow us to enjoy some downtime to unwind, reflect and re energize for the upcoming week.

The (even though short) amount of time that we get over the weekend is vital to be used for leisurely activities to replenish our attention and motivation, revive your mind and body after all the thinking and doing it does through the work week.

Luckily, New York is a city where there’s always something new and exciting to experience and see! And with the change of season there’s even more new and and accessible ways to spend your free time this Fall.

For this reason, and to motivate you to get out there and relax into the weekend, here are some worthy events and activities you might want to check out. I know I will!

Sometimes the hustle and bustle of the city can get to be too much, try slowing the pace down and take a weekend trip upstate by taking a scenic drive up along the Hudson Valley - breathe in the fresh crisp air and let the beauty and tranquility of fall make this activity all the much more mind clearing and reinvigorating.

Ok, so this might be a winter activity but the rink is up! Take some time out of your day or night and skate across the rink and let any of your weeks thoughts slip away.

You can’t ignore the fact that it’s almost Spa Week in New York! Even just saying it makes me feel instantly relaxed! If you are looking to really unwind, take advantage of this event by zoning out while getting a relaxing facial or deep massage and letting your body unwind to refresh, refocus and reset.

If you’re a coffee lover, then this is your lucky weekend because the New York Coffee Festival is back! Take your time wandering through the vibrant coffee scene, smell the coffee scented air and taste test your way through different coffee brews, enjoy with friends as a way to unwind and relax.

Halloween is near and the Great Jack O Lantern Blaze is on! Make sure to make a stop, take in the bright lights of  the incredibly carved pumpkins and take a walk through the festival , get into the holiday spirit and let the creativity inspire you.

Looking for a more inspiring, positively uplifting and meditative approach to unwinding and relaxing? October events at Primary are a great way to connect with yourself and with others, dedicated to inspiring a better work life balance, from networking events and growing your business to self realization and discovery all while developing ways of taking care of your mind and body.

To keep your mind and body in balance, take the time out this weekend to relax and unwind by doing something that’s mindful to you.   


 
Write it Down
 
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Are you already thinking of tomorrow today? Is your mind in a fog, your memory playing tricks on you, and you just can't seem to keep up with your endless mentally stored lists of “to do’s”? We all get overwhelmed and caught up trying to juggle and prioritize work with everyday related tasks and activities. Interestingly enough, making the traditional “to do list” has been scientifically proven to have more benefits for productivity and a sense of achievement than you may initially think.

Your brain loves lists!

Looking at the psychology behind “list making” is an interesting prospect in terms of productivity, behaviors and patterns when attempting to organize busy schedules and accomplish tasks. So, what’s the deal with list making anyway? We know people love writing down and crossing off listed tasks, but why? Is It that it provides us with a sense of satisfaction with the act of physically crossing things out? Or the feeling relief knowing you have completed a task and are achieving your set goals in a timely manner?

Truth be told, we can create a sense of order and stability to our everyday lives by learning to write and follow a properly prepared to do or check list. “Let me put that on my list” or “ I can cross that off my list” are the most common phrases heard not only related to work but also in everyday tasks and activities. Whether its making a grocery list, a business meeting list, or a simple list of daily activities, having it written down has been proven to create a healthy mindset and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

While lists are designed to make your life easier, making them allows easier retaining of information and ability to break down large tasks into smaller ones for higher chance of achieving them. You can also learn a lot from list making that doesn't have to do with tasks on the list at all. Headspace provides an understanding of the effects that list making has on patterns and behaviors, including how to properly prepare a properly prioritized, efficient, and achievable to do list to avoid the backfire of it seeming overwhelming and creating more stress and anxiety.

Once you have gotten the hang of making your perfectly crafted to do list, you’ll have the pleasure of enjoying some of the most common benefits that writing a list can achieve:

  • Your chaotic state will be overruled by a calmness

  • Your focus will be clear

  • Yes, you will actually get things done! Productivity is now your best friend

  • Tasks will be accomplished with confidence and drive

  • That brain fog will vanish and thoughts will be organised

  • And most importantly, you’ll say goodbye to stress and anxiety

Need a little kick start and motivation to your new organized life?

It all sounds simple and easy, however applying the practice of making frequent and proper lists may not happen immediately. Productivity can be made motivating and inspirational if you have the right tools to begin your list making efforts. Try purchasing a new notebook or a favorite writing pen and your motivation will spike, you’ll get the urge to dive into making you’re new checklist! Have it with you at all times to ensure easy access if your mind ever wonders and becomes confused again. With the right tools and mindset, productivity can be and accomplishing daunting tasks can be made motivating, inspirational and an easy mindful activity to keep you calm and collected even in times of chaos!

So next time you feel you’ve come to a halt and are not sure where to start, spend a few minutes the night before your crazy day putting together an achievable list, waking up the next morning with a clear positive mindset to start your day.


 
Happy Fall Equinox + Full Moon In Aries
 

Happy Fall Equinox and Full Harvest Moon in Aries. September always brings changes, as we feel the weather shifting, the trees start to change colors, and leaves from the branches that once hung on, let go. As we let go into the unknown shifting gears mentally and preparing for the winter months. This is a time for preparation and deep cleansing. It’s a time to sit without judgment and go back to see what we’ve grown through in the past summer months, and what still needs tending towards now as we enter the Fall Equinox.

 

Aries makes our emotions heightened during this time, and it brings our mind body and soul to the front gates. It fires us up, and connects us to our sacred gifts if we listen closely enough. This is a time when our inspirations and goals are pressing on us fiercely, almost so much that we feel the tendency to run away when things feel like it’s too much to handle. We all know the feeling. The trick is to stay with this fiery aspect and activate our potential to get things done as wisely, lovingly and as patiently with ourselves as we can.

 

This isn’t a time to not tend to your desires, because the affect of not tending to what needs to be looked at during this time can be destructive moving forward.

 

This Harvest Moon is reminding us of responsibility, which comes with the fiery aspect of this moon, as we look at our inner most dark shadow selves we start to clear out whatever needs clearing at this time, so we can continue to work and be well to ourselves, and in affect others.

 

Let’s use the power of this Full Moon to our highest good. Let us bring what we want towards us. As we do this, as we sit with whatever needs letting go of, it helps us move forward on to greater heights. This Harvest Moon is here for us, and to help us move through this time and into the unknown.

 

Be well.

By Elizabeth Scholnick


 
Time For a Tea Break
 
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As the magic of Fall and Winter will soon grace us it comes the time to pull out the winter warmers. Big sweaters, beanies, scarves, indulge in hot chocolate and sit under fluffy blankets watching our favorite movies. Although a much loved time of year, with all its beauty comes the undesirable dreaded cold and flu season.

Luckily, there's the deliciousness of a little something called herbal infused tea to not only delight us with warmth on those cooler days but also provide the health properties to prevent and rid our bodies of the bacteria and germs floating around the crisp air, while acting as a meditative practice aiding the mind and body into a state of relaxation.

Herbal tea has for a long time been considered a natural health remedy, by infusing plant materials such as blending leaves, fruits , bark and roots steeped in boiling water to retain the plants properties. Along with the obvious hydration and tasting incredibly delicious - the infusion of the herbs each contain various  medicinal qualities including antiviral properties, aiding digestion, acting as an anti inflammatory , while acting as an overall well rounded remedy for holistic healing and wellbeing.

Here are some of my favorite infused teas to get you started

  • Peppermint: Your belly’s best friend. Minty fresh flavor commonly used to support digestive discomfort, relieve nausea and reduce stomach inflammation and pain.  

  • Chamomile: For a good night sleep. The pleasant aroma and taste of the Chamomile flower provides its calming properties and stress reducing elements to calm and relax the body inducing it into sleep. While strengthening the immune system fighting cold, flu, sinus and congestion.

  • Hibiscus: Hello glowing skin. Fruity , sweet and delicious to drink, the floral infused ingredients are rich in antioxidants and high in vitamin C eliminating toxins with its liver support function giving you the perfect glowing skin.

  • Lemongrass and Ginger: Happier and healthier you. Zesty and uplifting , the combination of lemongrass and ginger reduces inflammation and high in antioxidants, fighting the common cold while providing a source of energy.

For more herbal blends flavors and benefits healthline lists its “top ten healthy herbal teas you should try” for a better healthier you.

Not a fan of the pre blended options? Try self infused tea as another great simple option to developing healthy flavorsome herbal teas tailored to your purpose and personal taste preference. Have a look at some of  these natural ingredients to help relieve any ailments you might be experiencing by letting their properties soothe you.

So every now and then when you feel that cold coming on - beat the symptoms by indulging in your favorite herbal tea blend and let the warmth take over.



 
health, mood, tea, wellnessLaura Santalucia
Trending: Is Athleisure the New Business Attire?
 
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Move over business attire, is wearing workout apparel to work the “in thing”? We say yes please! How could we refuse such a suggestion!

What would be better than having the comfort of being able to work all day in your go-to yoga pants and comfortable sneakers?  Whether you’re on your feet or sitting at your desk, there's nothing quite like the feeling of being in workout wear - maybe it’s only me, but wearing workout gear instantly brings a sense of motivation, relaxation, and calmness to my day. It’s time to get rid of the business suit and make athleisure your new work wardrobe staple - I promise you won’t go back.

If you know Primary, you know we are dedicated to creating the perfect work life balance and today we had the presence of Athleta Apparel at our Primary Penn Station location to share tips and tools with our members on the importance of feeling great at work through their current “work to workout”  apparel pieces. This combined with a mindful meditation session by Primary Ambassador Beckie Warren on “Desk Friendly Movement and Meditation” was a great success! Our members received a lesson in refocusing and recharging the mind and body throughout your work day, which can be the ultimate productivity booster. Primary is passionate about inspiring a wellness routine and incorporating health, fitness, and mindfulness into both your workspace and Monday to Friday schedule for a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.

Feeling a little unsure about wearing yoga pants to work? Luckily , the best part is society agrees with your desire to wear today’s Athleisure apparel to work, everyone’s thinking it so why aren’t we doing it?  It’s simple - by combining traditional athletic fabrics with a casual approach purposely made to transition between work, workout and everyday attire. Thankfully, casual attire is trending along with an emphasis on health and fitness consciousness. These concepts, coupled with flexible and co working environments on the rise, you won't be the only one showing up to your office in your running shoes!

Even better, is that athleisure is now a fashion trend acceptable to wear anytime and anywhere, pairing work out clothes with other fashion pieces such as coats,  jackets or even a nice piece of jewelry makes it easier to wear your staple workout wear doubling as casual work attire - all while being comfortable at the same time.

So why not give it a try and wear athleisure on your next day at work? You’ll be saving time and are instantly ready to hit the gym or your go to a studio class as soon as 5pm rolls around.  

 
Stop and Take a Breath
 
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The natural inhalation of oxygen and exhalation of carbon dioxide is so organic we forget it’s even happening.  The act is so involuntary that it has become unnoticed that many of us are in fact breathing with the wrong technique. What would happen to our mental and physical state if we pay more attention to proper breathing as a wellness and holistic approach, improving our focus and productivity? A thought most often forgotten particularly as our professional and personal schedules get busy and our to-do lists become countless.

As we become inundated with endless work, deadlines, and an inbox full of messages yet to be responded to, it is inevitable that stress, panic, and anxiety can quickly take over. Good news is that you’re already practicing the solution to your nail-biting, hair-pulling moments. You know how to breathe so there’s no lesson to learn there, however we can easily transition into a state of calm by understanding our awareness of breath.

Many of us have become shallow or chest breathers causing our muscles to tighten inducing stress, panic attacks and fatigue as a response. Over at Headspace they explain the difference between shallow breathing, its negative health effects and the positive effects of proper diaphragmatic slow breathing. Proven to lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate and relax muscle tension.

Perfecting your awareness of breath isn’t magic and won’t happen overnight, however you can easily begin your journey to proper breathing by taking a look at the steps Susan Kaiser Greenland provides in her “11 minute awareness of breath Practice” .

Take a few minutes of that “me time” - lock the office door and begin the art of breathing properly.

Don’t have 11 minutes to spare in your busy schedule and need a quick fix as you feel the panic and heavy breathing coming on? Try this quick and easy one minute process to soften and let go of tension and begin to instantly relax.  

  • For one minute try inhaling for a count of two seconds hold and exhale for a count of 3 seconds.

To further create a well rounded breathing session try include the help of the soothing and relaxing scents of your favourite essential oils. Hint: lemongrass and ginger is a Primary favourite. Along with its many benefits, the scent acts as an antidepressant, boosts confidence, hope and mental strength. Otherwise, try the ever popular Lavender - directly inhale or diffuse while practicing your newfound breathing techniques for an immediate calming effect.  

Still can’t get into the rhythm of it? If you feel you are unable to become attuned to the practice of slow breathing on your own, consider the guidance of these deep breathing mobile apps as a starting point to ultimate body relaxation and re focus.

There you have it, the next time you feel you’re unable to shake that feeling of panic, stop and take a breath. A proper breath that is.  

 
Relax with a DIY Massage
 
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Massages have a multitude of health benefits in addition to that “aahhhh”-inducing effect. However, you don’t have to find a professional to get the boosts of a massage--actually, you don’t have to find anyone!

Just like you can DIY your home decor or a multitude of crafts, you can DIY a massage (BYO oils or lotions optional!).

Self-massage can help relieve pain, including symptoms of osteoarthritis. Researchers had study participants suffering from osteoarthritis (OA) in the knee do 20-minute self-massage therapy sessions, focusing on their quadriceps muscle. The OA patients who did the self-massage felt significantly less OA pain and stiffness.

The benefits can also be mental. In one study, smokers trying to quit were prescribed three daily hand and ear self-massages during their withdrawal symptoms, including cigarette cravings. After one month, the smokers reported feeling less anxious and moody--two common smoking cessation withdrawal symptoms. Not only that, but those who did the self-massages smoked fewer cigarettes each day by the end of the study than those who did not do-self massage.

In a study of adults suffering from wrist and/or hand arthritis, self-massaging every day (paired with a weekly massage done by someone else) resulted in lower levels of anxiety, depression, and physical pain, while also increasing the strength of their grip.

Try massaging all the way down to your toes: Foot massages also have considerable benefits, including boosting your mood while tamping down stress. Also, in one study, researchers found that the immune systems of people who gave themselves foot massages improved over time. (Put that tip in your back pocket for flu season!)

DIY:

Here are some tips from the Arthritis Foundation, aimed at those with arthritis, but could be helpful to anyone interested in trying some self-massage:

  • Start by warming up your muscles by using large, vigorous strokes, then switch to smaller strokes focused on areas you’d like to target. Applying heat before starting your self-massage can also help your muscles relax.

  • When you move into the smaller strokes, you can try holding certain points, rubbing back and forth or deeper strokes along the length of your muscle

  • Pressure-wise, just be sure that you aren’t pressing hard enough that it hurts

  • You can add oil or lotion (scented for an aromatherapy boost as well!) to make the stroking easier.

  • If you already visit masseuses regularly, you can also add self-massage between visits to enjoy the benefits longer.

Go ahead, rub on some relaxation. You deserve it.


 

 
Down Dog for Digestion
 
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The next time your stomach is bothering you, you may want to reach for your yoga mat.

Research shows that yoga can help boost your digestive system, not only for people with occasional issues, but also for people with more chronic ailments, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

It’s not just that when you twist your torso your yoga teacher says you’re “detoxing” your system. Yoga affects your digestion in more ways than one.

If your digestion is slow, performing yoga poses can increase your blood circulation, while also giving an internal massage to the muscles around your digestive system. This can help get your system back up and moving again.

A yoga practice can mean you get more out of the foods you eat, as results from a study out of India suggested that it can aid the body in nutrient absorption.

Put It Into Practice:

A twice-weekly Iyengar yoga practice helped patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by alleviating their symptoms.

To get the biggest digestive benefit each time you do yoga, make sure to engage your core with every pose, which also massages, contracts, and stretches the organs responsible for your digestive system. When you stretch in certain ways you create more space for your organs to function.

Also be sure to focus on your breath. Abdominal breathing can aid your digestive system.

How to Power Your Practice:

If you’re going to a class, try to eat one to two hours before hitting the mat. If you’re working with this timeframe, opt for choices that have complex carbohydrates, protein, and fats--yoga teacher and nutritionist Jennifer Vagios, RD suggests cooking ¼ cup of eats and topping it with walnuts and plain Greek yogurt.

If you are rushing from the office and only get a chance to eat 15 minutes in advance, have something with easily digestible natural sugars and a bit of fat and protein, she says, citing a smoothie made with a date, ½ frozen banana, 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, and cinnamon as a good choice for this situation.

So, there you have it--the next time you hear your stomach rumble, take it to the mat.

By Hannah Woit

 
Select Sprouts for a Nutritional Boost
 
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There are so many terms popping up on food labels it can be hard to know how to make sense of it all - organic, biodynamic, heirloom, natural… What is worth the extra money?

One term that might be worth looking out for? “Sprouted.”

Sprouting refers to when the seed has just begun to grow, before it becomes a plant.

Why Sprout:

When the sprout begins to germinate, the seed breaks down starch, which increases nutrient levels.

This process also breaks down chemicals that can lessen bioavailability, which translates into how well your body absorbs the other nutrients present in the food. In grains, this means that your body will benefit from more vitamins such as folate, iron, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, and protein. You’ll be getting more nutrients in less food.

Since germination also lessens the amount of starch in the food, it can make sprouted grains easier to digest, which can be especially helpful for those who sometimes have issues digesting grains.

Sprout Safely:

There are a couple of caveats to keep in mind with regards to sprouted foods. First, be mindful of bacteria. Sprouts can be contaminated by harmful bacteria such as E. coli. Buy your fresh sprouts from somewhere you trust. Also, be sure to enjoy your sprouted foods sooner rather than later--within two or three days. If you’re bringing them to work, be sure to put them in the office fridge when you get in--sprouts and sprouted products should generally be kept in the refrigerator.

If you want to be super careful, use sprouts in cooked foods. Kristina Secinaro, a registered dietician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, suggests incorporating them into your baked goods, by grounding sprouts into a paste that you can add to your recipe. You can also cook the raw sprouts as part of a dish. The cooking process can kill that potentially harmful bacteria.

Sprout On:

Sprouting is something you can do in your own kitchen to save money and be in control of the process to make sure it is done safely. Try this recipe from The Kitchn for sprouted grains. If you’re interested in branching out from grains, you can use this guide to see how long it takes to sprout different legumes and grains.

If you don’t want to DIY, Secarino suggests checking nutrition labels to find the healthiest sprouted products, since some have only a little bit of sprouted ingredients, but many preservatives.

So, the next time you're getting groceries, keep an eye out for those sprouts!

 
Play On: Have Some Fun For Your Health
 
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By Hannah Woit

What did you enjoy doing as a child that you no longer do as an adult? Make sandcastles? Spend some quality time with a coloring book or whizzing through the air on a swing set? Play a pickup game of soccer with your friends? The things that come to mind are likely to be what we used to do as play--and unfortunately have become activities we do less and less frequently as we grow up.

However, research indicates that we may want to pick these activities back up if we want to live our happiest, healthiest lives.

Are You Playful?

“Playfulness” can reference a person’s tendency to approach situations in ways that entertain those around them and make them more engaging and fun.

Playfulness in adults is associated with:

Play at Work?

Just as more foosball tables are popping up in workspaces, researchers are conducting more studies around playfulness at work. You might assume that play at the office leads to decreased productivity or distraction, but some research indicates that “organizational playfulness” can make for a climate that is more conducive to creativity. How? Researchers posit that playfulness can make people feel more open and motivated, and to forge more relationships built on working together. It can also foster greater trust amongst team members.

Also, making meetings more playful can actually make them more productive because play can inject energy and increase engagement during an otherwise dull meeting.

Make Time for Play:

Been a long time since you set out to play? If you need inspiration, University of Wisconsin psychologist Shilagh Mirgain, PhD suggests:

  • Game nights with friends

  • Play with pets or children

  • Arts and crafts

  • Playing in a physical group activity, such as tennis, Frisbee, or kickball

  • Doing something you enjoyed as a child

Mirgain also brings up scheduling time for play. However, don’t get too serious about it: play being voluntary is key. And it has to be something you enjoy (versus something other people tend to enjoy or something you think you’re supposed to enjoy).

Go on, get out there and have some fun!

 
Create Your Way Well
 
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By Hannah Woit

Maybe you’ve purchased one of the adult coloring books that has risen atop of Amazon’s bestseller list, ripped up all of your magazines to create a vision board, or have a home full of Pinterest-inspired DIY projects--coloring books are no longer just for kids. There are many factors that have contributed to the rise in adults doing art projects--and the pursuit of mindfulness and health is a major one.

Art therapy has been around for years. So how does using your creativity impact your health and wellbeing? Read on for ways that picking up a paintbrush, splurging on a set of colored pencils, or an art break at the office can be a boost.

Paint the Stress Away:

When researchers looked at how making art such as collaging, drawing, clay modeling, and coloring helped students in Maine cope one week before their final exams, the effect was clear: The subjects’ anxiety levels decreased, even only after doing art for a short time.

Some research has also indicated that the way participants are doing the art matters. When undergraduates at a Canadian university were assigned to groups that would either choose the colors they used or color by copying the colors in a completed image, the ones who had the ability to choose experienced greater drops in their anxiety levels than those in the other group after a coloring session.

However, some structure to the activity may actually be beneficial. Researchers in Illinois found that being assigned to color a mandala or plaid pattern resulted in a greater improvement in the intensity of the participants’ anxiety than those who were asked to draw freely.

Perk Up by Coloring:

As we’ve discussed previously, your health is tied to your emotions. It turns out that you can use art to change your mood. If you want to try an artistic pick-me-up, studies indicate that you may want to consider the structure of the activity. For example, coloring circular shapes versus squares might be more impactful in cheering you up, according to research. How you use your emotions also matters. Findings published in the Art Therapy Journal of the American Art Therapy Association have demonstrated that drawing freely may be more optimal than being instructed to draw with the intention of expressing how you’re feeling.

Consider this your coloring book prescription!

by Hannah Woit

 
The Long View: Optimal Eye Health
 

By Hannah Woit

Ironically, we often overlook our eyes when it comes to health. Considering it is one of our most precious organs, it may be time for you to take a look at how you’re doing when it comes to the necessary steps you need to take to protect them.

1. Schedule an eye exam.

Glaucoma, diabetic eye disease, macular degeneration caused by aging, and other common eye illnesses often are only detectable once they begin through a dilated eye exam. The more regularly you get an exam, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to catch issues before they get progressively serious. If you’re 20-39 years old, the suggested range is 2-5 years. For those 40-64, every 2-4 years, and for 65 years or older, every 1-2 years. If you have diabetes, have had an eye injury or surgery, have family members who have had glaucoma, or have other risk factors, you may need an exam more frequently.

2. Look at your plate.

It’s not just carrots that help protect your vision. Dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale support eye health, as do omega-3 fatty acid rich fish. Opt for coldwater options like salmon or tuna. Lutein, zinc, and vitamins C and E are also eye boosters.

3. Don some shades.

Sunglasses that block out at least 99% of UV-A and UV-B rays are best for preventing eye damage  on those sunny summer days.

4. Break once in a while.

Workplace-related eye issues go beyond goggles for scientists or protective eyewear for construction workers. Just like your muscles after a hard workout, your eyes can get tired after a long time of staring at a computer screen or focusing on one point. When we do this we often forget to blink. The National Institute of Health recommends implementing the 20-20-20 strategy: After each 20-minute interval of computer work, look at things 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. Set a timer on your computer or phone if that helps!

 
health, workHannah Woit
Feel All the Feels: Emotional Management for Optimal Health
 
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By Hannah Woit

Your emotional feelings and physical feelings are connected. Positive emotions can benefit your health while negative ones can harm if they are not dealt with in the right way.

So, with that in mind, where do we go from here if we want to cultivate an emotional life that supports our overall health? Are we supposed to walk around pretending everything is fantastic and that we actually love the fact that we just dropped our ice cream cone on the ground or got all the way to the office only to realize we left our cell phone at home?

Deal With It:

For better or worse, life has its highs and lows. It would be silly to act as if that’s not true. In fact, ignoring your feelings--negative and positive--may be the worst thing you can do.

According to the University of Minnesota, failing to deal with or ignoring your anger can be associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, infection, and digestive issues. Instead, you should feel your emotions and express them without judging yourself.

Feel it, then you can let it go.

Work It Out:

If you tend to hold on to negative things that have happened, this doesn’t mean you are doomed for poor health. A study supported by Stanford and the Department for Veterans Affairs showed that you can learn how to forgive. In the study, adults who were trained in forgiveness experienced fewer physical ailments, less anger, and fewer feelings of hurt.

If you want to develop a more positive approach to life, there are things you can do to mould your outlook for the better. Dr. Barbara Fredrickson suggests that you aim to experience three positive feelings for every negative one to reverse the potential physical damage that negativity can inflict. And, she posits that positivity is like a muscle that can get stronger over time with practice to make you more resilient emotionally.

So, just like you have a gym or workout routine, it may be worth implementing a routine for checking in on and working through your emotions--your body will thank you.

 
Feelings: The Mind-Body Connection Important for Your Health
 
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By Hannah Woit

The impact of your emotions goes beyond your mental health--your feelings have implications for various aspects of your physical health as well. Here’s a rundown:

The Positive:

It pays to be positive! According to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, in addition to increased creativity, awe, and possibilities, positivity can get you more sleep and happiness overall and less time for recovery from cardiovascular stress and colds.

And the correlation doesn’t seem to be that the happier you are, the better your health. How is your emodiversity? Emodiversity is the mixture of your emotions and their intensity. Research indicates that the more diverse the positive emotions you experience, the more likely you are to have lower inflammation. This seems to hold irrespective of your average positivity and negativity, your body mass index, anti-inflammatory medicines, personality type, and other factors.

Another boon for our physical health is our ability to forgive, which some in the medical field define as “fully accepting that a negative event has occurred and relinquishing our negative feelings surrounding the circumstance”. Studies have found that being more forgiving can be positive for our mental, emotional, and physical health. Forgiveness is associated with having lower blood pressure levels, superior cardiovascular health, a stronger immune system, and a longer lifespan.
 

The Negative:

Negative feelings and outlooks are associated with chronic stress. In the shorter term, this can throw your hormones out of balance, as well as the chemicals in your brain that have to do with happiness, and suppress your immune system. It can also prevent you from living a longer life by shortening your telomeres, which are the tips of the strands of your DNA, by quickening the aging process.

However, there are things you can do to combat negativity in a way that protects your health. Keep an eye out for this upcoming Monday’s post, which will feature tips for maximizing your positive emotions and processing your negative ones so you can live your happiest, healthiest life.

 
Vitamin Z: The Latest on Sleeping Well
 
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By Hannah Woit

How well did you sleep last night? The amount and quality of your sleep can be both an important marker of your overall health and a significant determinant of it. What makes for good shuteye? If you’re not sure how your sleep stacks up, Arianna Huffington has a questionnaire on her website to give you an idea of how you’re doing and what to look out for.

Many people experience acute insomnia, which is not frequent or long-lasting and often circumstantial, caused by stressful things going on in their lives and usually doesn’t require formal treatment.

Chronic insomnia is more frequent and persistent than acute insomnia. Its severity is largely defined based on how long it lasts and how often: If it happens at least three nights per week for at least three months, it is chronic.

The causes of chronic insomnia include:

  • Changes in your surroundings or circumstances

  • Poor sleep habits

  • Doing shift work

  • Other medical issues

  • Certain medications

So what to do?

There’s a lot of information out there about how to get the best z’s. What has been proven and what is merely a theory?

Here are a few things that might help you lull yourself to better sleep, according to science:

Acupuncture has been shown to reduce insomnia in cancer survivors, both in the short and longer term, with few side effects.

You’ve probably heard exercise mentioned as being conducive to sleep, but studies show that there are a few things to keep in mind if you’re exercising to help yourself sleep:

  • It’s exercise that is best when it comes to cultivating a healthy sleep schedule--not just any kind of activity that wears you out. One study found that women who consistently get recreational physical activity (rather than lifestyle or household-related activity) on average get better sleep than those who don’t.

  • You may have also heard that what time of day you exercise matters for sleep. A National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America Poll showed that exercising at a moderate or high level less than four hours before going to bed generally doesn’t discourage sleep. However, those who exercise vigorously in the morning (more than 8 hours before bedtime) get the best sleep overall, and also are more likely to say they get good quality sleep and wake up refreshed.

For serious insomnia, one treatment that has been rigorously tested is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, defined by Psychology Today as “a form of psychotherapy that treats problems and boosts happiness by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts”. It can be more effective than acupuncture and sleeping pills, research says.

Whatever the cause of your sleeplessness, it may take several tries to find the best combination of strategies that works for you. It’s worth persisting considering how important shuteye is for your overall health and wellbeing!

Sleep well, be well!

 
Hannah Woit
Do Your Surroundings Spark Joy?
 
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By Hannah Woit

Skip spring cleaning this year? It’s not too late!

You’ve likely heard of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It is based on her KonMari Method of curating and organizing your living spaces in a way that creates joy in your life. There are 6 rules:

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up.

  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.

  3. Finish discarding first.

  4. Tidy by category; not by location.

  5. Follow the right order.

  6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

Some might assume that decluttering enthusiasts believe the fewer items, the better, but it’s not that simple, at least not when it comes to the KonMari Method. The key is having items around you that spark joy and to be grateful for them. You can also apply the principle to other areas of your life. For example, think about your schedule and ask yourself, what can you get rid of so that you have more time for what makes you happy and what really matters?

It’s not as simple as looking around and throwing out the junk mail that has piled up. Lisa suggests going deep--taking everything out of where it is stored so you can see everything. You may even rediscover something you’ve forgotten about that deserves to have a place in your home where you see it every day!

Intrigued? If you are a Primary member, please join us at Primary on Tuesday, July 10th at 5:30pm for “Tidy Up Your Home With KonMari & Start Living Your Best Life!”. Certified KonMari Consultant Lisa Tselebidis will teach you how to simplify your home space and life in a way that maximizes your joy. 

Lisa will cover:

  • The effects of clutter & disorganization on your well-being
  • Benefits of a tidy home
  • Vision creation
  • Introduction to the KonMari Method
  • Example of a KonMari transformation
  • Clothing folding demonstration

Calm your surroundings so you can calm your mind. And, make room for joy!

 
For Greater Flexibility and Faster Recovery, Get To Know Your Fascia
 
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By Hannah Woit

Last week, in a conference room in Manhattan’s Financial District, twenty-five people sat rubbing their hand joints and jawlines. That was the scene during the closing of Primary’s most recent monthly member networking luncheon. Every luncheon ends with a brief talk or demonstration by one of Primary’s ambassadors on a wellness topic. In June, Saron Smith-Hardin introduced Members to their fascia, something many of us aren’t aware is there, but we’ve carried around inside us for all of our lives.

Fascia… Say What?

Your fascia envelop and connect all of your body structures (think muscles, bones, etc.). Yoga Journal compares it to the membrane that goes around individual sections of an orange--it separates, but also connects different parts of your body. It also contains nerve endings and contributes to our awareness of how our body is moving.

Runner’s World offers another useful analogy when thinking about the fascia: like a t-shirt. If you tug upwards on the collar of your t-shirt, your whole shirt moves--the bottom edge moves up, the sleeves rise up your arms. When you release your collar, it moves back into place.

How Do I Care For It?

1. Movement:

When you are inactive, the fascia lose their flexibility and can restrain your range of motion. If you’re standing up to leave the office after a long day at work, do a full body stretch--same goes for when you’re getting out of bed in the AM.

High-intensity physical training can also tighten your fascia, warns Dr. Christiane Northrup, which leads us to...

2. Pressure:

Applied pressure can help keep the fascia supple and hydrated, so use fascia health as another excuse to do some foam rolling or go for a massage.

Pair your pressure with...

3. Hydration:

Your fascia contains water, so stay hydrated to keep it at its healthiest. Dehydration can lead to tension.



 

 
Hannah Woit
Bug Off: How to Deal with the Worst Part of Summer
 
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By Hannah Woit

They say that in life, you have to take the good with the bad, and, along with all of the great parts of summer (Beach days! Sunshine! Vacation!), there’s one bad thing that comes back year after year… bugs.

As of right now, the most common products we reach for rely on DEET. The EPA says that it doesn’t pose a health risk to people of all ages, but a final decision on its latest review of the chemical is pending the completion of testing of its effects on the endocrine system.

Here are some tips to keep you bug-free this summer:

  1. The American Association of Dermatology says that if you are wearing sunscreen and bug repellent at the same time, you should put on your SPF first and wait for it to dry before applying the insect repellant.

  2. Although it might be tempting to opt for products with both SPF and bug repellent ingredients, it’s not worth the convenience in this case, as you should lather on sunscreen as much as possible, while bug repellant should be applied less liberally.

  3. Alternatives to DEET include Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. On the EPA website, you can search bug repellents by ingredient, which pests it repels, how long you need it to be effective for, and other factors.

  4. When you can, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.

  5. Prevent mosquitoes from getting indoors by making sure that you use door and/or window screens.

  6. If you do get stung, how you deal with it depends on if it’s painful (think bee stings) or itchy (mosquito bites). If it’s a painful one, take a painkiller like ibuprofen. If it’s itching, try icing it and/or an anti-itch cream. You can also use ice if the bite is swelling.

  7. If you get a rash, start to run a fever, or feel achy after being bitten, call your doctor.

 
Hannah Woit