Pharmaca Blog

  • Stress Supplements 101

    Young woman drinking tea at homeWe can all feel overwhelmed by stress sometimes—the last thing we need is to be overwhelmed by the number of stress relief options available. Here’s a short list of popular practitioner recommendations for stress relief, and what they’re good for.

    Racing mind: L-Theanine
    This unique amino acid, found in green tea, supports mental calmness by increasing dopamine and GABA in the brain; it also assists the alpha brainwaves associated with relaxation, without any drowsiness.

    Tense muscles: Magnesium
    Identified in more than 300 bodily processes, magnesium relaxes small muscles and is also a key player in mental relaxation, neuromuscular transmission and energy—serving double duty both rebuilding the body, and giving a sense of wellbeing.

    Anxiety: L-tryptophan/5-HTP
    In the body L-tryptophan is converted to 5-HTP, which can then be converted to serotonin; serotonin deficiency has been linked to poor sleep, loss of appetite, as well as depression and anxiety.

    Long-term stress: B Complex
    “B vitamins are also hugely important regarding stress,” says Cassy Dymond, naturopath at our Wallingford store in Seattle. B vitamin deficiency can exacerbate stress and anxiety, since B vitamins are critical to many functions in the body including calming the nervous system. “When we’re stressed, we burn through B5 and B6 more quickly.”

    Irritability: GABA
    GABA is the predominant inhibitory neurotransmitter that works to calm over-excitement in the nervous system that can lead to irritability, restlessness, sleeplessness and spasmodic movements. GABA increases the production of calming alpha waves and decreases stress-related beta waves in the brain.

    In-the-moment stress: Flower Essences
    Bach’s Rescue Remedy, a combination of five flower essences, is designed for immediate relief from stress or some kind of trauma,” says Lindsay Fontana, homeopath at our Santa Fe store. “Sometimes when you can just get a little distance from things, you can find more peace.” The formula includes essences of rock rose, clematis, impatiens, cherry plum and star of Bethlehem.

    Chronic stress: Adaptogenic Herbs
    Our adrenal glands produce stress hormones (such as cortisol), and can quickly become imbalanced with chronic stress. That’s where adaptogens come in—they help improve adrenal gland function and boost your body’s natural stress response. Our practitioners often recommend rhodiola, eleuthero, astragalus and ashwaganda—in single extracts or combinations.

    Ask a Pharmaca practitioner for other stress-busting supplement recommendations.

  • Celebrity-Approved Beauty

    Celebrities depend on a bevy of skin care solutions and prettifying products to ensure they get the glow required to keep them camera ready—products that can be found right here at Pharmaca. Whether you’re looking to get Gwyneth’s glow, Natalie’s natural radiance or Cameron’s easygoing surfer girl look, these natural beauty skin care brands are not only good for you, but also good enough for the red carpet.

    512px-Barack_and_Michelle_Obama_at_the_Home_States_Ball NEXT UP: THE SKIN CARE LINE MICHELLE OBAMA LOVES

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Ahava

    Obama

    Ahava receives plenty of press, and for good reason. Ahava’s rejuvenating Dead Sea mineral actives help Natalie Portman get her glow. Portman is a fan of Ahava’s Dead Sea Mud Exfoliator, and their powerful mineral products are also enjoyed by First Lady Michelle Obama and actress Kristin Davis.

    Dr. Hauschka

    Supergoop co-owner Maria Sharapova

    This natural skin care company creates chemical-free, botanically based products with garden-fresh, ultra-pure ingredients, so it’s no surprise that this pure line has quite the celebrity following. Vermont-bred Olympic snowboarder Hannah Teter told Glamour magazine her post-snowboarding ritual is to “load on Dr. Hauschka Arnica Energizing Body Oil all over my body and face.” And model Kate Upton enjoys the brand’s gently exfoliating Cleansing Cream, telling InStyle “My skin feels so soft after I use it.”

    Supergoop

    Supergoop co-owner Maria SharapovaThis natural sun care line is co-owned by tennis star Maria Sharapova, and is another favorite of Gwyneth Paltrow's goop.com beauty editors. Their Daily Correct CC Cream does double duty as a primer and foundation, while smoothing fine lines, hydrating skin and providing SPF 35 sun protection.

    jane iredale

    Anna Kendrick

    Recently, the New York Times ran an interview with Anna Kendrick, in which the actress stated “I’m not big on lip color, but I like to have a little bit of something. I just ordered a jane iredale’s Just Kissed Lip and Cheek Stain. It doesn’t just give you that bee-stung thing for two seconds; it lasts for hours.” Original supermodel Cindy Crawford also told elle.com that she chooses jane iredale’s mineral powder for both herself and her teenage daughter. “I feel like you can’t mess it up. It doesn’t streak; it’s not like a liquid foundation that you can put on too thick, or you can forget a spot. I feel like that’s really easy for her to use.” Jessica Alba credits jane iredale’s 24-Karat Gold Dust for her helping with her red-carpet glamour, using a tiny bit to give shine to her hair, clavicles and décolletage.

    Juice Beauty

    Cameron Diaz

    In her health and wellness tome, The Body Book, Cameron Diaz lists Juice Beauty as one of her favorite skin care lines, touting its commitment to pure, organic ingredients. Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Peel popularity helped the brand to gain quick momentum, garnering celebrity mentions and rave reviews. Juice Beauty has since enjoyed partnerships with celebrities such as actress, vegan and The Kind Life blogger Alicia Silverstone, and its Organic Lip Moisturizer is mentioned as a clean beauty must-have on Gwyneth’s Paltrow’s blog, goop.com. Did we mention that Gwyneth was just named Juice Beauty's creative director? Talk about celeb cache.

    Clarisonic

    Lauren Conrad

    This ingenious beauty tool has enjoyed a swift rise to fame, with promises to remove 60 percent more dirt and oil with its gentle scrubbing brush head. Celebrities have been quick to jump on the Clarisonic bandwagon, including fashion and lifestyle guru Lauren Conrad and country music star Faith Hill—who claimed the Mia as one of her must-have beauty items in InStyle Magazine.

    Dr. Bronner’s

     

    DrB LiqSoap_lavcroppedDr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps are universally appealing to natural skin care devotees. The company’s long-standing commitment to Fair Trade, organic ingredients has not gone unnoticed by stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Lea Michele. Paltrow—who aims to keep readers of her lifestyle blog, goop.com, informed of handmade, healthy products—has listed Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Liquid Soap as a favorite, while Glee’s Michele keeps Eucalyptus Liquid Soap in her shower.

    The Honest Company

     

    HC Healing BalmcroppedJessica Alba defied naysayers when she launched The Honest Company back in 2012 with a mission to provide safe, healthy products for families. The Honest Company has since grown to be a trusted name in natural products, and includes a line of award-winning body lotions and balms—the Organic Healing Balm has been spotted spilling out of several celebrity handbags, while their Honest Wipes are among actress Lena Headey’s on-the-go must haves.

    Deborah Lippmann

    Deborah Lippmann

    With too many celebrity clients to count, manicurist Deborah Lippman founded her own line of 5-free nail color in 1999. Now her natural polishes and lacquers are seen on the runway, magazine covers and the red carpet, adorning the hands of A-list celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon, Lady Gaga, Gisele Bundchen, Alison Williams and Shailene Woodley. We even spotted it on Mindy Kaling's Instagram page the other day!

  • Biodynamic Beauty Basics

    Happy motherWe check skin care labels for parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes and fragrances. But how often do we check the quality of the active ingredients themselves? If you choose products with biodynamically farmed botanicals you can rest assured they’re organic, grown in harmony with nature and of the highest potency.

    Why biodynamic ingredients are better

    The essence of biodynamic farming is based on the premise that healthy soil, sustainable planting and a connection with nature’s cycles will yield the best crops. Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolph Steiner developed this notion in the 1920s when he conceptualized the farm as part of a greater whole. Today, biodynamic farmers around the world believe that farms should be seen as holistic, self-sustaining ecosystems, following these principles:

    -Healthy, fertile soil is the foundation. Prepared with fermented herbs and minerals, the soil is kept vital with rotating crops and plant diversity.
    -Planting and harvesting is done in sync with the subtle rhythms of the sun, moon and planets. Seedlings planted during the part of the lunar cycle when tides are high receive more moisture to the roots and absorb more nutrients from the soil. And then when the moon is in a descending cycle, farmers revitalize and re-compost the soil.
    -Great consideration is given to sustaining local natural resources.
    -Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) plants and seeds are prohibited.
    -Certification of farms is rigorous; Demeter International ensures biodynamic standards are followed with farm visits and mandatory yearly renewals.Organic practices rule. There are no chemical pesticides or fertilizers. Crop rotation and plant diversity keep disease at bay, and provide home to diverse bird and insect populations that naturally promote pest control.

    Biodynamic beauty

    Using these methods to produce powerful active botanical ingredients is the mission of several premier skin care lines found at Pharmaca. Weleda, for example, was founded by Rudolph Steiner, the very father of biodynamics, and the company now grows more than 300 healing plants and flowers on their farms throughout Europe. In their biodynamic Medicinal Plant Garden, Weleda farmers cultivate calendula flowers and carefully harvest them by hand. Known for its comforting, soothing and antibacterial properties, calendula is the perfect botanical to use on sensitive baby skin. Parents love the gentle moisture from Weleda’s Calendula Baby Oil and the irritation-free, no-tear ingredients in their Baby Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash.

    Eminence is a favorite of spa directors and holistic skin care practitioners, and their Bearberry Eye Repair Cream is a potent treatment. Hand-blended biodynamic ingredients include bearberry extract—a powerful antioxidant that prevents and repairs fine lines around the eyes—and collagen-boosting hops extract.

    Last but not least, Jurlique’s sources its pure, biodynamic flowers and herbs—including customer favorites rose and lavender—from its certified biodynamic Adelaide Hills herb farm in South Australia. Try their incredible smelling Rosewater Balancing Mist, combining skin-calming natural essential rose oil with super hydrating marshmallow root. For superior hydration, their Lavender Hand Cream is a rich moisturizer with natural lavender oil that promotes relaxation and calmness, perfect for stress-free travel.

  • Medicine Cabinet Spotlight: An Herbalist’s Supplement Essentials

    HannahsPicksOur health care practitioners are pros at recommending natural remedies for customers. But what are the essentials they always keep on hand? We asked Hannah Miles, clinical herbalist and nutrition counselor at our store in Pacific Palisades, Calif. to give us her Pharmaca favorites.

    Host Defense MycoShield Spray
    “This product is fabulous for everyday use. I also always have it on hand when travelling. Just two sprays to the back of the throat 2-3 times a day will keep you protected throughout cold season!”

    Host Defense MyCommunity
    “If on the off chance I do succumb to an illness, the first thing I grab is MyCommunity. At the first sign of a scratchy throat, fatigue or aches I’ll take 2 MyCommunity every 3 hours for the first day, then drop down to 2 pills 3x a day for the next 2-3 days, then 1 pill 3x a day for the remaining few days. This will either protect me from coming down with an illness, or if I do actually fall victim, this will significantly cut down on symptom severity and down time.”

    Boiron Oscillococcinum
    “This is specific to the flu, and is something that needs to be taken BEFORE you actually get sick. But it’s fantastic for reducing symptoms and symptom severity.”

    Garden of Life MyKind Organics Vitamins
    “I take their Women’s Once daily, and their D3 and B12 spray. The sprays are delicious and convenient, and it makes it so I don’t have to take a giant handful of pills.”

    Natural Factors CurcuminRich Theracurmin 300 mg
    “I take this for just general all over health support. The research on Theracurmin is compelling regarding its wide reaching anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. Curcumin is also a fantastic herb for liver support."

    Peter Lamas Rice Protein Volumizing Shampoo
    “This shampoo/conditioner gives my hair incredible volume without leaving any build-up! I can't live without it!”

    Acure Lemongrass & Argan Oil Firming Lotion
    “I love all the Acure lotions, but this is my favorite. I love the fresh scent and its long-lasting moisturizing action!”

    Acure Argan Cell Stimulating Body Wash
    “Features a super-light scent and moisturizing feel without leaving any residue on your skin.”

    Anything from W3LL PEOPLE
    “A fantastic makeup line. I love the fun eyeshadow shades and that it’s one of the cleanest makeup lines on the market!”

  • Meditation: Bringing Mindfulness to Your Life

    MeditationIt’s been an essential part of religion and spiritualism for centuries, but only recently has meditation become mainstream (doctor recommended, even!). Celebrities, business executives and school children are now setting aside 20 minutes a day to simply practice stillness. Why? Fans of meditation swear it lets you focus your thoughts, make better decisions, improves your health and increases happiness.

    Meditation 101: Mantras, Guides or Movement?

    One of the most simple, pure ways to meditate is to find a quiet space, sit down, relax your breathing and clear your mind for 15 or 20 minutes. Mantra meditation uses a repeated word or significant phrase (like “om” or “I am relaxed”) and concentrated breathing to eliminate jumbled thoughts and create stillness in your mind. Although it sounds easy, it does take practice. The book How to Meditate, by Pema Chodron, available in Pharmaca stores, is a good step-by-step guide to help you get started.

    You can meditate interactively, too. Guided meditation walks you through a meditation with a coach or trainer, and you can find many guided recordings like those from UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Resource Center on the web. Or pick up the easy-to-follow Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a DVD/book combo at Pharmaca stores. Some find meditation combined with deliberate physical movements beneficial, and Qi Gong, Tai Chi or Yoga (especially Hatha Yoga) incorporate both movement and mindfulness.

    Clear mind, healthy body
    Devotees of the practice know that relaxation and stress relief are some of the greatest benefits of daily meditation. It can help you gain perspective on difficult situations, focus your thoughts on the present instead of future worries or past regrets, and generally make you feel more positive. Physically, scientists studying mind-body medicine say that meditation not only lowers blood pressure but also can amp up your immune system. Meditation has also been shown to significantly help those with chronic conditions manage pain, especially back pain, headaches and gastrointestinal woes. Those who are facing surgery or a hospital stay can benefit, too. The free recording Guided Imagery and Relaxation for Surgery can help you focus your body’s healing response and experience less pain, according to the staff at California Pacific Medical Center.

    Setting the stage for tranquility
    While all you really need to meditate is a quiet place to focus your thoughts, sometimes setting the mood with a calming ritual can help center your intentions. Essential oils, for example, can be a trigger for your brain to be open to stillness. SpaRoom Essentials’ AromaMist Diffuser fills the air with customized essential oil scents. If your intention is to relax, Pharmaca Essential Oil of French Lavender is a good choice. Need grounding? Choose sandalwood or patchouli oil. And frankincense is said to enhance enlightenment.
    Salt lamps release negative ions that can help clear the air and create a tranquil environment. The soft, warm glow from a Himalayan Crystal Salt Lamp can enhance your meditation experience. Or combine both light and aromatherapy scents with a Himalayan Salt Aromatherapy Diffuser Lamp.

  • Mushrooms and Long-Term Immunity

    Looking for a way to boost long-term immunity for cold and flu season? Mushrooms may be the next big thing in the fight against sickness.

    “Mushrooms are used to strengthen immune function in a powerful way over a long time,” says Matthew Becker, herbalist and lead practitioner at our North Boulder store. “They have a slower effect than something like echinacea, but it’s a deeper effect.”

    Matthew notes that mushrooms are great for helping boost general health. "They can have anti-inflammatory actions and detoxify the liver, and strengthen the adrenals to help lower stress levels," he says. "In other words, they are great allies for all aspects of healing."

    “Reishi mushrooms are considered to be the king of all herbs in China,” says Matthew. “They strengthen immunity, and can be energizing and calming at the same time,” perfect when you’re stressed and more vulnerable to sickness. Matthew likes Mushroom Science Reishi Gano 161.

    Cordyceps are another popular immune-boosting mushroom, commonly used in China–and increasingly in the US–to combat the side effects of chemotherapy. Matthew adds that they also are widely used for heart conditions, weak lungs, asthma and adrenal fatigue. He recommends Fungi Perfecti Cordyceps. (Learn more about cordyceps many uses.)

    For a more full-spectrum approach, try a combination formula such as Fungi Perfecti MyCommunity, a blend of 17 different mushrooms that work together to strengthen immunity. Matthew also likes Immune Builder by Mushroom Science, a high-quality blend of reishi, maitake, shiitake and others.

    Don’t forget about astragalus
    Matthew also recommends astragalus. “Regular consumption can have a remarkable effect on your ability to fend off sickness,” he says. “People who begin to take it a few months before the cold and flu season hits will find it much easier to stay healthy.” He recommends Vital Nutrients Astragalus Root capsules, twice a day for a few months.

    Bring all of your immunity questions to the pharmacists and practitioners at Pharmaca.

  • Magnesium: A Cornerstone of Health

    Swiss chard RainbowMagnesium is essential for so many things: the beating of our heart, a positive mood, energy production, releasing tension…in other words, we can all benefit from magnesium!

    Identified in more than 300 processes inside the body, magnesium is a powerful building block that contributes to overall health and wellness in a unique way. A key player in physical and mental relaxation, neuromuscular transmission and energy, magnesium serves double duty both rebuilding the body, and giving it a sense of wellbeing.

    Magnesium also functions closely with potassium, calcium and phosphorus. It hums through the body, maintaining an electrical charge between cells and inside muscles and nerves. Magnesium has a very special relationship with the heart, and studies show that both acute and chronic magnesium deficiencies are associated with an increased risk of heart attack.

    Another main role of magnesium is to perpetuate a game of checks and balances with calcium inside the body. It is fundamental for both the absorption and excretion of calcium, and assists in the safe elimination of calcium through the urinary tract, preventing kidney stones and soft-tissue calcium deposits.

    Magnesium deficiency is very common in the elderly, and magnesium supplementation is recommended for those with intestinal or renal distress. Approximately 30-40 percent of dietary magnesium is absorbed, depending on the form consumed, and on individual intestinal transit time. For this reason, large doses of magnesium can be used for occasional constipation without being depleted in the body.

    Pregnant women can also benefit from therapeutic magnesium supplementation to help prevent pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, as well as during the birthing process. Magnesium can also help prevent or lessen the effects of PMS through its ability to regulate mood, appetite changes, energy, cramping and overall response to stress.

    Magnesium is even vital for protein synthesis and healthy blood sugar levels, making it a key nutrient for building muscle and helping maintain a healthy body weight.

    Truly, magnesium has something for everyone. An optimal dose is about 350-450 mg per day, and I recommend getting it in small doses—especially through magnesium-rich foods like kelp, seaweed, almonds, cashews, molasses, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, coconut water, aloe vera, barley grass and legumes. Speak with your health care practitioner before beginning any supplement regimen, and to have your magnesium levels tested. 

  • Natural Eczema Relief

    PlayfulScience has yet to figure out the exact cause of eczema, a chronic skin condition, but those who experience it know there are variety of things that can set it off—causing red, inflamed, crusty or itchy patches. Children are especially prone; about 10-15 percent of babies will have symptoms. Heat and stress can trigger flare-ups, as can food allergies, soaps, detergents, perfumes and even rough fabrics like wool. If you or your little ones suffer from eczema, try these practices to help ease symptoms.

    Cleanse with shea butter or neem oil. Body washes or soaps can be very drying to sensitive skin; look for one with shea butter or neem oil that are rich in skin-saving fatty acids. Shea Moisture's Raw Shea Chamomile and Argan Oil Baby Eczema Soap cleanses babies and adults with super hydrating shea butter and argan oil, as well as soothing chamomile. Theraneem's Maximum Strength Neem Oil Cleansing Bar Soap combines neem, olive and coconut oils to calm and safely cleanse sensitive skin.

    Moisturize naturally, without synthetic chemicals. Keeping skin well hydrated locks in your skin’s own moisture in and can prevent dry patches from occurring. Moisturizing lotions or creams should be applied often during the day, but be sure they are free from potential irritants like fragrance, parabens or synthetic additives. For severely dry and inflamed skin, esthetician Renee Oleson in Portland says Avene’s Trixera+ Selectiose Emollient Cream is a customer favorite. Featuring mineral-rich thermal spring water and evening primrose oil, this soothing balm calms hyper-sensitive skin and has received a seal of acceptance by the National Eczema Association.

    For a lightweight, yet deeply hydrating, moisturizer, Alaffia’s EveryDay Shea Butter Unscented Body Lotion combines unrefined shea butter with soothing lemongrass. And for kids, parents love Babo Botanicals’ Oatmeal Calendula Moisturizing Baby Lotion, filled with gentle organic botanicals that calm and colloidal oatmeal that comforts dry skin, especially on the scalp.

    Ease the itch with herbs and minerals. Topical ointments can help soothe the itch, and prevent infections in scratched skin. Herbal remedies with burdock root and barberry like Derma E’s Psorzema Creme are great for reducing inflammation. Water can soothe itchiness too, and Avene’s Thermal Spring Water Spray's cooling mist is pH balanced and rich in trace elements and minerals. Or try a warm epsom salt bath—the magnesium in the salt helps reduce swelling (stick with just a teaspoon of salt in the water for babies, and be sure to moisturize afterwards). Hydrocortisone creams are a quick fix, but aren’t recommended for long-term use because they gradually thin the skin and make it more prone to infection.

    Add anti-inflammatory and immune-strengthing supplements to your diet. Supplements like fish oil and probiotics can help, says Dr. Lee Dennis, a naturopathic doctor in Portland, by adding important nutrients that reduce inflammation and modulate the immune system to keep it healthy. Fish oils, like Pharmaca’s Omega-3 Clinical Strength Fish Oil, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that researchers say can reduce leukotrienes, an inflammatory substance that plays a role in eczema. Probiotics are another good addition, as they can keep our immune system strong. Try Jarrow Formulas’ Jarro-Dophilus EPS Higher Potency capsules or Baby’s Jarro-Dophilus Powder, which deliver a blend of beneficial probiotic bacteria.

  • Get Inspired by our Practitioners’ Healthy Resolutions!

    Get the year started on a healthy note with these smart goals for the new year.

    HF VitamineralGreen 300g Go green
    "Starting the day off with powdered greens is a great habit to get in to. It’s very simple and can help with digestion, detoxing, everything! Try adding Healthforce Nutritionals’ Vitamineral Green to your first glass of water.”-Anne, Herbalist, La Jolla

    SHOP GREEN FOODS >

    Pastilles Try a new way to destress
    “A lot of people are interested in aromatherapy right now, especially Aloha Bay’s Chakra Candles, as well as Pharmaca’s Becalm Lavender, a soothing blend of lavender, orange and geranium. And Rescue Remedy Pastilles are good for everyone in need of a safe way to stay calm, even kids.”-Sarah, ND, West Seattle

    SHOP STRESS & ANXIETY >

     

     BioS_006_BOX CAPS_080210.indd Nourish your skin from the inside
    “I can’t live without Natural Factors’ Biosil. It can bring your hair back to life, it helps with fine lines and wrinkles…when you take it regularly in combination with omega-7s, it’s like a mini facelift!”-Tammara, Esthetician, Greenwood Village

    SHOP HAIR, SKIN & NAILS HEALTH >

    M_CranberryEnzymeMask Use a facial mask once a week
    “I read an article by a skin care guru that said that consistent at-home care of your skin can do so much to help skin look good and put off the need for professional interventions. So I’m going to start with Sanitas’ Cranberry Enzyme Mask!”-Mary Catherine, Lifestyles Buyer

    SHOP FACIAL CARE >

     RawCleanse Clean up your diet
    “Start the new year by detoxing from the inside out! Learn which foods might be contributing to inflammation, low energy, foggy thinking, extra pounds. Talk to our practitioners about healthier food choices and cleansing supplements. And follow that up with yoga, hiking and getting outdoors more!”-Shizandra, Herbalist, Nutritionist, Sonoma

    SHOP CLEANSE & COLON HEALTH >

  • 10 Healthy Habits For a New Year, New You!

    Woman Doing YogaIt’s been almost four weeks since we’ve made resolutions for better health in 2015. But so often our lofty health aspirations set us up for failure; this year, let’s make the resolution to be easier on ourselves and more accepting of our limitations. Instead of a whole life-overhaul—strict juice cleanses, promising to work out every day, consuming nothing but kale and water—consider a simpler approach: step by step, add in a few healthy habits. By starting small, we can eventually effect dramatic change.

    1. Get an exercise buddy. Accountability is so important. Letting others down doesn’t make us feel good, so committing to an activity with someone else makes us more likely to stick to the plan. Find someone with similar health goals to meet up with for a walk around the park, a class at the gym, or a run around your neighborhood.
    2. Sub a smoothie for a meal. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can get your garden-fresh greens and fresh fruits in a delicious, rich and quick blend of fruits and vegetables to give you all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs. On the go? Fill a Blender Bottle with Vega’s Protein Smoothie or Nutritional Shake powders for a fast, super healthy meal substitute. (Get inspired by a few healthy, green smoothie ideas here.)
    3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Studies show that you’ll be more likely to choose a healthy snack if it’s within reach. Set a fruit bowl on your desk or kitchen counter, making sure this cornucopia of good health is in your eyeline as a constant reminder of good fuel for your next snack attack.
    4. Get up, stand up. You’ve most likely heard about how too much desk-sitting can cause all kinds of health problems. If you’re a deskworker, considering asking your boss about installing a standing desk, which they may happily subsidize in order to prevent injuries and conditions such as carpal tunnel or chronic back issues. If you have a laptop, using boxes or books to elevate it can work in a pinch. Want to switch it up, but don’t want to stand? Rotating between a fit ball and chair may be just the thing to keep your core engaged and gradually strengthen back muscles.
    5. Fill your feed with healthy food. If you’re like the majority of the world, it’s likely one of the first things you do in the morning is to check your social media and news feeds. Get inspired by cooking magazines such as Cooking Light and EatingWell on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. If you surround yourself with ideas, you’re more likely to keep healthy meal ideas—and their fresh ingredients—in mind when grocery shopping for your next meal. Use your social media feeds to discover new blogs, get out of a cooking rut, or to explore other diets (Check out PaleOMG for paleo suggestions, or fulfill your quest for a Meatless Monday with ideas from vegetarian food blogs such as The Sprouted Kitchen).
    6. Make a meal for the week. A simple meal of quinoa and vegetables makes a filling, healthy lunch, is easy to prepare and stores well in the fridge. Whip up a batch on Sunday night, then separate into 5 to-go containers. By eliminating one decision from your week, life just got a whole lot easier. Similarly, make a healthy breakfast the most important—and most convenient—meal of the day by preparing a big pot of oatmeal and packing containers of healthy toppings (e.g. berries, flaxseed, granola, chopped nuts and toasted seeds) for each morning.
    7. Practice gratitude. The power of a gratitude journal can be surprising and life changing. Something as small as writing down what you are appreciative of can help you keep perspective while encouraging positive thinking, optimism and increased energy throughout the day.
    8. Make sleep a priority. Without enough sleep, productivity and efficiency suffer. Make sure to get 7–8 hours of quality sleep a night by setting a schedule and committing to a bedtime that gives you enough rest. Instead of watching TV or checking your social feeds, take the last hour of your day to prepare for the following day—making a schedule or to-do list, packing a lunch, laying out clothes. Creating a consistent environment is also key to sufficient sleep; for some, white noise helps to drown out distractions. Humidifiers do double-duty – providing both much-needed moisture and soft background noise (we like the aesthetically pleasing Drop Humidifier from Crane).
    9. Meditate. Intimidated by meditation? Don’t be. While deep meditation takes practice, a good beginner routine is as simple as relaxing your brain for 5–10 minutes a day. Similar to resting during periods of exercise, your brain also needs time to recharge after writing an intensive proposal, participating in a meeting or coordinating a day of intricate scheduling.
    10. Stay social, stay smart. When you connect with other people, your brain stays alert and focused through the exchange of ideas. Making new contacts and increasing your social circles also helps to keep the brain synapses firing, opening your mind to new opportunities and creativity. Make it a monthly goal to have lunch with someone outside your immediate network—chances are, you’ll end up happier and more well-connected.

    Do these steps still feel too big? Start small: try to floss your teeth, drink more water and call your mother.

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