Healthy Living, Parenting, Spring 2017

9 Reasons Why Adults Benefit from Play

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Play is vitally important during one’s formative years. Spending uninterrupted time playing can improve a child’s mood and health, and help them develop important social skills. Moreover, research claims that children learn best when they play. However, there is an abundance of research that indicates adults also benefit from periods of unaltered play.

Dr. Stuart Brown from the National Institute of Play claims that individuals should define “playing” according to how it applies to themselves. Play is a state of mind rather than any specific activity. Ultimately, it is a voluntary activity a person engages in solely for fun. Whether you’re participating in a board game, playing cornhole, or clearing levels in a virtual dungeon, when you take the time to enjoy yourself, your mind and body reap the benefits.

1. Play Relieves Stress

Perhaps the most obvious of the benefits of play is stress relief. Balancing work, responsibility, and social engagements as an adult is difficult and can garner a lot of stress. Exposure to stressful stimuli increases your cortisol levels, which can have lasting harmful effects on the body. Long-term exposure to stress factors can result in various issues including anxiety, headaches, fatigue, and sleep problems.

Engaging in fun activities lowers cortisol levels and releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural feel-good chemicals that help relieve pain and can induce feelings of euphoria. Playing also encourages laughter and levels of happiness, both of which are antidotes to the negative effects of stress.

2. Playing Helps Develop Social Skills

While play can be a solitary activity, you benefit more when you engage with others. Ample amounts of play help develop communication and cooperation skills in children and young animals. Young crows play tug-of-war or swinging on tree branches, and dogs and cats teach their young how to fend for themselves through mock battles or wrestling.

In fact, studies show that forgoing playtime causes dysfunction in animals. The social impact of playing in a group isn’t lost on adults. Playing a game of cards with your co-workers or even something as simple as hangman during breaks can improve workplace relationships and communication.

3. Play Stimulates Your Brain

Research into children’s learning habits indicates kids learn better while at play. The results of one such study show that learning names for colors is linked to increased gray matter in the brain. During the experiment, participants received colored cards with nonsensical names and memorized the new monikers over the course of three days. Afterward, MRI scans of participants’ brains indicated the growth of new gray matter.

Solving number puzzle games such as 2048, Sudoku, or chess stimulates brain activity. They help you develop decision-making and critical thinking skills. If you don’t enjoy logic puzzles, there are a variety of games available that have a similar effect on the brain. Simple matching or other memory games are just as stimulating and are available in many phone or tablet app stores. Word games such as Scrabble, word searches, or crossword puzzles also stimulate the mind and encourage brain growth.

4. Play Improves Relationships

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Just as play at work can help improve workplace communication and cooperation, it can be beneficial for the vitality of other relationships. Research suggests that individuals who play together, stay together. Whether you’re playing video games, poker, or a round of Uno, playing games with friends fosters a sense of trust and increases camaraderie.

Play is also important for romantic relationships. One study showed that couples who reminisced regularly over enjoyable or funny experiences were happier than those who did not. Taking the time enjoy an activity with someone helps develop a sense of intimacy between the individuals. Sharing fun experiences leads to greater relationship satisfaction.

5. Playing Improves Your Health and Prevents Disease

Taking time out of your busy schedule is good for your emotional, mental, and physical well-being. When you play outside with friends, children, or pets, you engage with nature, which can improve your mood. You also reduce your risk of vitamin D deficiency. If your playtime includes at least 30 minutes of physical or aerobic activities like yoga, it can lower your blood pressure, reduce arthritis pain, encourage weight loss, and lower your risk for diabetes.

If you aren’t a fan of rigorous exercise like biking or running, or don’t have access to a gym, physical play is an excellent way to become more active. Walking your dog burns roughly 230 calories per hour. Dancing burns around 320 calories, and a game of Frisbee can burn anywhere from 105 to 765 calories every half hour, depending on how much you move.

Moreover, activities like ballroom dancing, checkers, or playing a musical instrument are associated with preventing or stalling the development of Alzheimer’s disease. By releasing neurotrophic factors (biomolecules that support the growth and survival of mature neurons), these activities encourage neurons to grow and make new connections.

6. Play Increases Productivity

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The phrase “work hard, play harder” is a great way to approach completing your assignments. If you’re working on a long project, try taking regular breaks to stretch, play a short game, and disengage from your task for a few minutes. Taking a break to play might seem counterintuitive, but it’s beneficial to your overall work progress.

Playing and setting aside time to have fun increases your motivation to work. Taking short breaks from focusing for long periods can result in greater problem-solving skills because you allow your mind to rest and commit to memory information you’ve internalized.

Furthermore, research from the University of Nebraska and VU University Amsterdam states that fun activities such as telling engaging jokes at work can help break down barriers of communication, which is vital to successful group projects.

7.  Playing Increases Your Energy

According to playwright George Bernard Shaw, we don’t stop playing because we grow older. Rather, we grow older because we stop playing. Physical play is good for your overall health, as it can combat many factors that affect your physical and mental well-being. However, play in general boosts your vitality and energy levels. The more you play, the more relaxed and healthy you’ll feel.

8. Playing Can Heal Emotional Wounds

When you participate in fun social activities, you engage in the same behavior that positively shapes the minds of children. Fun activities promote emotional health in children and help them grow into well-adjusted adults. For emotionally insecure individuals, playing regularly with a group or a partner can help replace negative notions and behaviors for positive ones.

9. Playing Boosts Creativity

In addition to helping you feel healthier and stress-free, playing refreshes the mind and boosts creativity. Whether your designated play time involves reading, watching funny videos, playing outdoors, or solving a puzzle, playful activities will stimulate your imagination and expand your innovative psyche.

2016 Holidays, Food/Beverage, Healthy Living

KOR Stylish Personal Hydration Products

Samples sent for feature

KOR logo

KOR Stylish Personal Hydration Products

Can someone on your gift list use a quality water bottle or filtration product? If you are shopping for kids in sports, parents on-the-go, teachers, office workers, coaches, gym users, runners, college students and others I may be forgetting then these KOR water bottles will be a hit.

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It is easy to accumulate water bottles and I have so many in my cupboard that it is time to donate some away. So when my new KOR water bottle came I wondered how I could justify owning another water bottle. I would get rid of all the ones I have and let this be my only one. I have the KOR One special edition water bottle and am in love with it.

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Of the hundreds (probably not over exaggerating that number) of water bottles that have passed through this house in 24 years of raising boys starting with my husbands oldest, I have never had one like this. The design is the most stylish, the shape is ergonomically perfect and the function is free of leaks. KOR has always done hydration right and I never had a water bottle compliment until I carried this one around.

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Visit KorWater to see all of the styles.

2016 Holidays, Food, Healthy Living, Kids, Natural Foods

GREAT Kids Snack Box Subscription #HolidayGiftguide

Sample box sent for feature

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Here is a fun gift idea for a family. It is the GREAT Kids Snack Box subscription. This box is loaded with healthy snacks kids will love. I choose the word loaded because it was like a never ending supply of snacks in one box. It has ben so nice having these around as he grabs one to put in his backpack pocket for his first recess snack at school each day.

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As my son went through this boc, he quickly found some familiar snacks like Honey Stinger which he loves. He found some Justin’s PB cups and Popchips Ridges to name a few.

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GREAT Kids Snack Box is a subscription service bringing a box full of healthy snacks for $29.95 to $39.95 a month. I have a promo code for your first box-see below. I figure that at about $5-$6 a full size bag or box of snacks, I would buy a few at this subscription rate and not know if my son will even like them. I love these boxes so that you can try before you buy.

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To learn more, visit the GREAT Kids Snack box website. SAVE 25% on your first box with code: Erin25 at checkout.

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Food, Healthy Living, Natural Products

Adora Chocolate Calcium Supplements

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Getting healthy can seem like a daunting task. I think that is because there is so much information out there it becomes overwhelming. But, I have learned that to get healthy means just making 2 or 3 small changes. Once you get those down, add another change and before you know it you become healthier along the way and it hardly seemed like a huge task. I started thinking for myself. National Women’s Health and Fitness Day is September 28 so this is a great time to make some changes. Here are some small changes I can make today and stick with.
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Take Supplements
 
Perhaps you eat healthy as it is and don’t feel you lack nutrients or maybe you need supplements but never remember to take them. For the most part we all need some supplement even if we eat healthy enough. You may lack Vitamin D or C or may need joint support or immune support so it is safe to say that perhaps adding a supplement can make a difference to your health. But, who likes swallowing pills? I don’t! I do love eating chocolate and Adora can give you that extra Calcium in chocolates that are delicious! These dark chocolate and milk chocolate discs taste like real chocolate and it may be hard to eat just one! The good thing is that you are not limited to just one because you can have up to 3 a day! End each meal with a treat that has a benefit from Adora Calcium Supplements!
Take a neighborhood nature walk with your children
 
Does the sound of putting on running shoes and heading out your door bore you or are you limited because you have kids at home? Take them with you and make it a mission! You will almost feel as good about your walk as you will about the experience you give your child. Pick a letter of the day and head outside to find things you see on your walk that start with that letter. You can collect them as you walk or come home and do some art about what you found. In the end-you just got outside for a healthy walk and so did the kids! For my son and I, Pokemon Go has been our motivation to walk a lot more.
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Buy a fun, large water bottle
 
Because you need water! You hate water-so buy a fun bottle, fill it and drink it by the end of the day! Try an infuser bottle. You can pre-slice watermelon, lemons or cucumbers each week and store in the fridge to drop in the bottom of your diffuser bottle and you have water that is naturally flavored and tastes better to you. However you need to inspire yourself to drink more, do it today!
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I think it is so great when brands understand some habits are hard to form without the right motivation. I promise you will want all of your vitamins to be as delicious as Adora! Find a retailer near you!
Parenting

From Baby To Toddler: Things You Need To Be Thinking About

Nothing is quite as exciting as becoming a parent. The journey you are embarking on is one filled with emotion, happiness and a lot less sleep. But once you have gotten through the fog of those newborn days. You have come to terms with being a mother to a baby, it’s time to consider the next phase of their lives. When a baby turns into a toddler, some things do change. Of course, there are many milestones to look forward, but there are also some things to consider and decisions to make. With that in mind, I thought I would share with you some of the things you should consider.

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Taking care of those little teeth

Babies tend to start developing teeth from as young as six months. They grow over a period of time. This is where you try and get them booked into the dentist once a few have made their appearance. But it’s also the time you start to brush them regularly and introduce this routine to your child. While they are a baby, it’s easier to keep them clean. But as they get more independent they can sometimes gain a dislike to this. Don’t be discouraged, try and continually encourage them to learn how to do it. It’s also vital you keep up with regular check with your dentist. This is much easier to keep on top of for the whole family when you have a plan in place. You can gain some more information on CarefreeDental.com

Encouraging communication

Once they enter the toddler years, those lovely “mama” and “dada” sounds become full words. This is when the excitement can kick in. There is nothing quite like the sound of your little one’s voice, telling you something they feel passionate about. Words become sentences, and then those sentences get strung together. It’s best to keep encouraging this communication and educate your child on new words as often as you can. It will help with their communication skills when they start school.

Keeping an enthusiasm towards food

During the toddler years is when most children develop an element of fussy eating. This can be hard for any parent to handle. Especially if they have been so good during the weaning stages. Try and remain upbeat and positive during meal times. A great tip would be to eat together and also try and develop and enhance favourite meals to include more good stuff. If you are after hidden vegetable recipes, then check out http://www.smallstepsonline.co.uk/Recipes.

Discipline and toddler tantrums

Finally, the toddler years tend to mean naughty behaviour from your child. This might be tantrums or not listening to instruction. This is when you need to consider the technique you want to use to discipline your child. It’s important to teach them what is right and wrong. Many parents consider things like the naughty step or time out. However, it’s always best to research different ideas to find the best one for you.
I hope this has given you an insight into the next stage of your child’s life.

Healthy Living, Parenting

New Essential Oil Blends from GuruNanda

I was sent samples for feature

New Essential Oil Blends from GuruNanda
 
Several months ago I received my very first essential oil diffuser and it was a GuruNanda diffuser that came with some oils. I now own 2 more and have them throughout my home and have even given diffusers as gifts. They work so well in my home I like to share the joy and I am often asked what oils to use and why should someone own an essential oil diffuser. Now GuruNanda has new essential oil blends that bring you relief and emotional healing.
Benefits of using a GuruNanda essential oil diffuser
  • You can control the diffuser-set to continuous or intermittent on many models
  • They have proven antibacterial and antimicrobial properties-they can destroy the microbes in the air
  • The oils are available as natural and healing scents providing calming and immune strengthening benefits
  • You can select the best oils for your needs-anti-stress, anti-depressant, relaxation, etc..
  • All GuruNanda scents are safe and beneficial, even for children in diffusers 
  • No bulbs or high heat sources within the units
About the GuruNanda Oil Blends
  • Tranquility: The sweet, apple-like aroma of Roman chamomile soothes skin flare-ups and body aches while calming and relaxing. The Frankincense and Ho wood give a therapeutic and calming effect on the skin, mind and body.
  • Relaxation: Frankincense, Ho wood and Camphor are blended to create a soothing balance perfect for that end of the day de-stress. It is relaxing, restorative, gently clarifying and meditative.
  • Calming Sleep: The blend of Lavender, Marjoram and Chamomile will bring serenity to your bedtime routine
  • Harmony: The blends of Mandarin, Bergamot and Sweet Orange provide a calming and soothing aroma for our emotional fortitude
  • Breathe Easy: The cooling and warming effects of peppermint with Lemon promotes respiratory health so you can feel refreshed and energized
  • Focus: Stay grounded and focused with the blend of Lemongrass and Rosemary to soothe aching muscles and Citronella to relieve anxiety, sadness and negative feelings
  • Invigorate: The refreshing blend of grapefruit for a cleansing and purifying effect to relieve fatigue, Lemon for cleansing and Peppermint for comfort. Truly invigorating to breathe it all in.
  • Refresh: For the pick me up you crave, the Cedar wood is soothing for your emotions, the Siberian fur needles and Clary sage lightens your mood to provide you more positive energy
You are able to place the diffusers in your home and office and choose oils that are right for the mood of that space. Set a diffuser in your room with relaxing oils or in your office for immune boosting oils. 
 
If you are new to oils and have an infant or toddler, remember that oils like Peppermint alter your mood and energize so it could counteract tiredness and make naps and bedtime difficult if diffusing near their room, but do wonders at awake time for their mood. The oils really do their job and choosing the right blends for the right times are a huge benefit to everyone in the family. Make sure you choose oils that are only 100% natural such as the ones at GuruNanda.