4 Ways to Honor Heart Health Month

While some think of Valentine’s Day during February, we also need to remember that it is Heart Health month, too! According to WebMD, when your heart isn’t getting the proper care it needs, serious issues occur and can lead to “heart attacks and blockage of blood flow in the arteries.”

This month, we propose you look out for your heart! Some small ways you can do so include exercise, controlling cholesterol levels, limit stress levels and eat heart healthy foods.

Get your heart moving

It is no secret that movement and exercise is great for heart health. After all, cardio is one of the best ways to put your body (and heart) into motion! If you aren’t into fast-paced exercising, that’s okay – you can still find a type of exercise that fits your preferences and helps your heart.

John Hopkins Medicine lists aerobics as a great form of exercise to promote heart health. They explain that aerobics “improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate.” Some of these aerobic exercises include brisk walking, swimming and cycling/spin.

Aerobics is not the only type of exercise you are limited to when focusing on heart health! Believe it or not, strength/resistance training is also recommended by the American Heart Association.

Healthline explains that “when combined with aerobics, strength training will help to raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol [which] can also reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.” Strength training includes using free weights (dumbbells, barbells), weight machines, resistance bands and body-resistances (sit-ups, squats).

While exercise is definitely one of the key methods to promoting heart health, you don’t need to be locked into one kind of routine. We recommend finding a type of exercise that fits your lifestyle and preferences best!

Control those cholesterol levels!

Cholesterol – we all have it, most of us have heard about it, and some of us actually know about it. Usually, cholesterol has a bad rap. However, there are two different types of cholesterol – LDL and HDL, which are known as bad and good cholesterol, respectively.

The American Heart Association explains that LDL is typically viewed as bad because “it contributes to fatty buildups in arteries.” In contrast, they claim “experts believe that HDL [carries] LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where the LDL is broken down and passed from the body.” Essentially, LDL rids the body of bad cholesterol, which is why it is often considered as good.

So, what are some ways you can keep your LDL levels under control? The short answer is to incorporate heart healthy foods and exercise into your daily routines. While this may seem oversimplified, we recommend finding exercise routines and recipes that work best for your preferences.

However, Mayo Clinic provides a few helpful guidelines when focusing on heart healthy foods. Some of the guidelines listed include:

  • Reducing saturated fats
  • Eliminating trans fats
  • Increase Omega-3 fatty acids

As always, the best place to receive recommendations about maintain your cholesterol is through your primary care physician/doctor.

Cut that stress out!

It is no secret that the inevitability of stress plays a role in your mental and physical health. Evidentially, stress can lead to factors that impact heart health or increase your risk for heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, elements such as “high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, physical inactivity and overeating” can be caused by stress and lead to a decrease in heart health.

The AHA recommends learning to manage stress in order to promote heart health. It is a good idea to take a step back if you find that you are stressed or feeling overworked. By prioritising healthy habits, you are closer to protecting your heart and all that comes with it.

Protect your heart through food

Maintaining a well-rounded diet is one of many ways to manage a health heart. While all foods fit and are good in moderation, there are specific foods that are more beneficial to heart health. As identified by CNN Health, some of these heart-friendly foods include oats, low-fat dairy, leafy greens, nuts/seeds and avocados.

An easy way to start the day with a heart healthy breakfast is by whipping up a bowl of our Steel Cut Oatmeal. CNN Health explains that oatmeal contains “a special type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan,” which reduces cholesterol levels. Steel cut oats are a great breakfast because you can top it off with anything! If you’re into savory oatmeal, you can double up and top your oats with leafy greens and avocado.

Breakfast isn’t the only meal you can incorporate heart healthy ingredients into. We love using low-fat yoghurt to make a Pancake Puff Banana Split! Top it off with some nuts or seeds, and you’ve got yourself a heart-healthy dessert.

If you are trying to introduce more heart healthy ingredients into your diet, we recommend choosing what fits best for your lifestyle! Honoring your heart can take many shapes in forms. By combining exercise routines, mental health promotion and heart healthy foods, you are sure to be on the right track to honoring your heart!

The Health Impacts of Stress Eating

During this “new normal” many of us may have let our health and wellness goals fall to the wayside. One major change in your health goals may have something to do with stress eating. Shifts in our typical dietary habits are one of the most common changes.

Specifically, stress-eating has become a popular coping mechanism as news related to the coronavirus continues to unfold. In turn, this has caused a number of people to experience significant health ramifications. These changes can impacted our mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

Whether you have acknowledged your stress-eating or not, it’s important to be aware of the negative effects. Read on to learn about how stress eating may be impacting your overall well-being!

Weight gain

One of the more obvious health impacts of stress-eating is weight gain. Emotional eating tends to push people towards high-fat, surgery foods. They are often referred to as “comfort foods.” This is due to the release of certain stress hormones such as cortisol, which works to increase appetite and motivation. Consequently, this results in you eating more food than normal.

High levels of cortisol and insulin are the hormone responsible for absorbing the extra sugar in your blood. When combined with the hunger hormone ghrelin, we tend to turn to high-calorie junk foods as a way to ease our nerves.

While stress-eating has proven to be effective in counteracting anxiety, it is not beneficial for preventing weight gain, which is why it’s important to monitor your food intake and calorie consumption.

What You Can Do: To avoid sabotaging any weight loss goals you may have and stop those additional pounds from accumulating, practice intuitive eating. By doing this, you’ll be able to further monitor your food intake and your body’s needs.

Beyond that, be sure to keep up with physical activity. Hiking, swimming, running, or a simple at-home workout are all great ways to combat those extra calories caused by stress-eating!

Acne & Stress Eating

A clean, clear, healthy-looking complexion isn’t only dependent on the skincare routine you follow and the products you use. Rather, it pertains to the ways in which you care for other parts of your body like your immune and digestive system.

When you eat foods that have a high glycemic index, you’re causing your blood sugar to spike rapidly. When this happens, your body produces more insulin, which can trigger inflammation in the skin and sometimes can cause blemishes to occur, according to studies.

Additionally, high-cortisol levels can often send your body’s sebum (oil) production into overdrive. Therefore, it’s easy to understand why stress-eating can wreak havoc on our skin.

What You Can Do: It’s a good idea to introduce low glycemic index foods into your diet. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and unrefined carbohydrates better support your immune system and keep insulin levels low.

Aside from that, you’ll also want to focus on skincare. To maximize results, consider using specialized acne treatment products in your skincare regimen a few times a week. This will help to target blemishes and breakouts more effectively and prevent future acne from occurring.


The integral relationship between the foods we eat and our mental health is an ongoing topic of research. The connection between blood sugar fluctuations and nutritional imbalances can have an impact on our mind and general well-being.

An improper diet that comes as a result of stress-eating can be detrimental to your mood. The minimal nutrition that often stems from stress eating can cause you to miss out on vitamins, minerals, and other necessary nutrients.

Your gut holds 90% of your serotonin receptors, which are the neurotransmitters responsible for regulating your mood. That being said, poor gut health caused by stress-eating may be reducing your energy levels and worsening your mood.

What You Can Do: Although it may be easier said than done, try limiting your intake of processed foods. This can do wonders for your mind and body. Remember to pay attention to the way certain foods make you feel by jotting down your thoughts in a food and mood journal.

Additionally, try to make a point to practice other mindfulness activities. Even if it’s only for ten minutes a day, taking some time out of your schedule to practice yoga or meditation will be a sure-fire way to improve your mood!

It’s important to find healthy coping mechanisms that support both your wellness goals and overall well-being. Instead of relieving stress through emotional eating, try following more mindful practices like the ones listed above. After all, your health does deserve your utmost attention! It’s never too late to start implementing routines that make you feel good!

At Home Remedies to Combat Stress

In the height of what seems like endless uncertainty and chaos, it is difficult to remember to prioritize mental health. When societal aspects of life change (such as embracing social distancing), it is critical to remain calm and relieve stress/anxiety whenever possible.

Simple, at home remedies to combat stress are important during this time. This can be done through exercise, meditation/mindfulness and spending time doing something you love.

Stress relief through exercise

Getting your body in motion is beneficial for you physically and mentally! According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), exercise has been found “effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function.”

The reason people tend to feel better after exercising is due to the body’s release of endorphins. These are chemicals in the brain, known as neurotransmitters.

Essentially, endorphins act as a naturally occurring form of painkillers. So, when you exercise, endorphins are released and feelings of stress, anxiety or other mental pains are decreased.

Any form of exercise “counts” and allows the release of endorphins! This can be done in fast-paced exercising such as long distance running. It can also occur in aerobic exercises such as yoga and stretching.

Mindfulness & meditation

In addition to yoga, or in lieu of exercising, practicing mindfulness has been linked to decreasing feelings of stress and anxiety. When you meditate or practice mindfulness, your body and mind tune out the energy that surrounds you.

By doing this, you can focus on your breathing and forget about the feelings of stress and anxiety. Clearing your mind allows you to be hyper-aware of what is going on mentally and physically.

According to the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center at the University of Washington, mindfulness includes the following elements:

  • Awareness
  • Focus
  • Acceptance
  • Observation

These elements, and mindfulness as a whole has been found to ease mental/psychological feelings of stress, anxiety and pain. As a result, mindfulness helps to improve mood and overall brain function.

Focus your energies elsewhere

Sometimes, taking a break is all you need. Spending your time doing things you love allows you to get your mind off of the stressors in your life.

Here are some things to do in your free time to take your mind off of what is causing you stress:

  • Read a book
  • Catch up on a new show
  • Get into the kitchen and try a new recipe
  • Pick up a new skill or craft
  • Start a blog or journal

In times of uncertainty and chaos, finding things to occupy your time with can be very helpful. Instead of channeling your energy into areas that cause more stress, spend your days focusing on the things you love.

One extremely important way to combat stress and anxiety is to talk to someone. Whether that be connecting with friends, family or a therapist.

Surrounding yourself with people who lift you up in difficult times is critical. We urge you to connect with others around you in times of need, because human connection and communication is important.

While this is not a comprehensive list of stress relieving tips, these are some of the most adopted techniques. As always, we recommend trying different things out and seeing what best fits your personal needs!

5 Ways Meditation Affects Your Body

Meditation is becoming more and more popular as stress levels get higher and higher. You try to juggle way too many things between work and your personal life that you feel like a train running at full speed. The stress of that can really take a toll on your body. One of the easiest ways to combat the effects of stress on the body is one you might not expect, meditation! Although meditation seems like an exercise just for your brain, there are 5 ways meditation affects your body.

You know that physical exercise positively affects your brain, but did you know that mediation has the same affect but on your body? In fact, meditation can be just as important for your body as exercise. Physical activity is a great way to relieve stress but it can only do so much. Stress leads to sleep problems, headaches, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, and even weight gain to name a few. Between work and your personal life it can be exhausting. The good news is that meditation will help you fight stress and it’s never been easier to start thanks to apps and the Internet.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is estimated to be over 5,000 years old and is still practiced by Buddhist monks. These monks view meditation as a mental exercise resulting in a calm and luminous mind. They pursue meditation to gain liberation, awakening, and Nirvana. Nowadays meditation is practiced by people around the world for various reasons. It is defined as a mental exercise in which you engage in contemplation or reflection. Meditation is a skill that takes practice and time. It will be difficult to sit with your mind at first but you will discover a sense of calm and clarity over time.

Meditation is a mental exercise and is known for it’s positive affects on the brain. It improves your focus and attention and even your ability to work in stressful situations. It has been proven that long-term meditators are able to process and make decisions faster. Meditation results in heightened emotional intelligence and mental strength. It positively affects your memory and ability to learn, in addition to better self-awareness and compassion. Mindfulness practices can decrease depression, reduce anxiety, and manage Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). There are so many reasons why you should practice meditation when it comes to your brain, but in what ways does it affect your body?

5 Ways Meditation Affects the Body

Strengthens Your Immune System

Meditation reduces your stress levels which means your body doesn’t have to work as hard to protect itself from said stress. This means that your body can spend more time focusing on fighting illnesses and infections. A study from Harvard Medical School proved that those who practice meditation develop higher immunity as a result of improved mitochondrial energy production, consumption, and resiliency. Eating superfoods and meditating will be your first line of defense against cold season.

Reduces Risk of Heart Diseases

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the world. If you are at risk for heart disease, the good news is that meditation can significantly reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and even death over time. Just three months of practicing meditation can reduce your blood pressure. Meditation relaxes your body and lowers stress so much that it opens up your blood vessels, increasing blood flow and circulation. Pair meditation with heart healthy foods and your heart will definitely thank you.

Improves Women’s Health

Meditation is proven to be effective at treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Studies have shown that PMS symptoms were reduced by a whopping 58% (which means fewer cramps). Also the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and mood swings were reduced with regular meditation. Pregnant women who practice meditation are more likely to deliver a baby full-term with lowered stress and anxiety.

Reduces Inflammation in the Body

Meditation affects your body on a genetic and cellular level. Studies have proven that meditation reduces pro-inflammatory genes – which means that your body can physically recover faster from stress. It also prevents cellular inflammation. Meditation is even more effective than nutritional education, exercise, and music therapy at preventing arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

May Make You Live Longer

By reducing overall day-to-day stress, meditation may slow down how our cells age. Through an increased positive state of mind and hormonal factors you may be able to live longer. This is in addition to the effect meditation has on reducing the risk of heart disease and premature death. Meditation also reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s.

Every year more and more studies come back with positive ways meditation affects the body. With nationwide stress levels at a historical highs, we all might need some meditation in our lives. No matter what your sources of stress are, meditation will benefit you in more than one way.

How Can I Practice Meditation?

Whether you’re looking to gain a better sense of calm and clarity or benefit from the health benefits of meditation, we have good news. Practicing meditation has never been easier. There’s a wide selection of apps you can download on your phone or tablet that walk you through basic meditation. There are also guided meditation videos you can find on online. Whether you have 3 minutes or an hour, there’s a meditation exercise for that.


With just one quick search in your app store for “meditation” and you will find numerous apps with guided meditations and breathing exercises. These include apps such as The Mindfulness App, Headspace, Calm, and buddhify to name a few. Everyone’s mindfulness journey is different so it’s recommended that you download a few to see which one will work best for you. Some of these apps may require subscriptions or in-app purchases.


If you’re looking for a free option, YouTube has a crazy amount of guided meditations and music to meditate to. All you need is an internet connection and you can find hours of different kinds of meditations.

Online Guided Meditation Teacher

There are clinical psychologists that offer free samples of online guided meditations. These psychologists may offer guided meditations available to download onto your phone or computer to listen to.


Check out the numerous podcasts that have guided meditations for any topic from breathing exercising to whole body relaxation. They also deal with topics such as grief or self-improvement and even affirmations.

Meditation Centers

A quick search online can direct you to local meditation centers that offer instructors and a group atmosphere. This may also include restorative yoga classes which focus on calming poses.

These 5 ways meditation affects your body are just a few of the reasons why you should make it a part of your daily routine. Learning how to meditate will take time. Yet no matter how you choose to practice meditation, it will be a skill for life and your body will thank you.

12 Tips For A Stress-Free Semester

We’re officially in August, which means the new school year is right around the corner!

It’s typically hard to get out of the summer lifestyle and back into the groove of the school year, especially if your summer season included long days, lots of sun, and a ton of fun and relaxation. Yet the turn of any season is a cool time to switch into a new (school) year and look forward to what’s ahead. It’s possible to have a great, productive start of the semester, while also carving out time for intentional activities and habits that’ll help reduce anxiety throughout the entire fall.

Let’s dive into 12 tips you can activate today to keep your stress at bay and start your new school year off right.

How to Add Ease Into A New School Year

Write a schedule.

A new semester at school usually means a ton of new activities, classes, events, and parties to attend. It might be hard to say “no” to it all, but it’s important! Start your semester off on the right foot by planning out a weekly schedule that carves in class, events, and enough you-time. You can create your own personal calendar in a spreadsheet, draw one up in a notebook, or download an app to keep you accountable to everything in your schedule. Just remember to not overload yourself! Reviewing your schedule at the beginning of each week will help you know if you’re taking on too much.

Unplug — or go on airplane mode.

Put your phone down! When you’re in class, having your phone out will just distract you (and make your professor angry). If you’re not knee-deep in work at the library, try to focus on other things for stimulus besides Instagram — grab a coffee with friends, go for a walk around campus, and keep your phone tucked away in your purse when out for dinner and drinks. While it’s easier said than done, no semester back at school will be more rewarding — socially and intellectually — because of extra time spent on Facebook. You’ll be surprised how even a few hours unplugged will ease your mind and make you a better student and friend. If you don’t feel comfortable keeping your phone at home, airplane mode is always a great compromise.

Get outside.

Speaking of a walk around campus, it’s important to get ample amounts of Vitamin D, which is proven to boost energy. If you live off campus, consider walking or biking to class versus driving or taking public transportation. Spend awkward breaks between class or activities outside, and utilize your weekends to go for a run on a local trail or have a picnic with friends on or near campus. (Just use sunscreen, please.) Consider doing normal indoor-activities outside, too. Eat dinner outside, even if that means setting up your own picnic on the campus green. If you can, enjoy your morning coffee outdoors, or even study or work on homework in an outdoor setting versus in your dorm room.


We know, we know — after all the textbooks and various required readings a semester holds, it might be hard to find the motivation to read for pleasure. Still, getting lost in a good novel is a great way to unwind and unplug (bonus points if you grab a real book versus reading on a Kindle or other electronic device!) Form a book club with classmates, read the newspaper every morning before work, or challenge yourself to read a certain amount of material every month — one book a month, anyone?! Bonus points for reading outside, too, as a way to get some sun and reading in all at once.

Try on a new exercise regime.

A great way to shake things up at the start of the school year is to get out of your normal workout routine. If you typically go for runs, why not try swimming at your school’s recreation center? If gyms are your jam, see if you can incorporate more bodyweight and strength training outside at a local park or on campus. See what clubs or extracurricular activities your school offers, too. Changing up your fitness routine and coming up with a goal for yourself keeps your body and mind fresh, and you might discover an athletic hidden talent you never knew existed! Just make sure to carve in ample rest days to give your body and mind proper time to recover.

Eat well (and don’t skip breakfast!)

Freshman 15 is real — and it’s often because students are not getting enough sleep and then are making less-than-ideal food choices at the campus cafeteria. Every student meal plan looks different, but if you’re relying on a cafeteria, try to look for fresh options filled with good, in-season produce. Avoid fried foods or things you might suspect came from the microwave. If you’re lucky enough to have access to your own kitchen, fill your fridge with amazing produce that’s grown locally and in season. Your body will thank you for consuming pesticide-free food and supporting your local farmers and economy. Win-win! Plus, food that’s in season is noticeably tastier and will make your body feel great. Most importantly, don’t skip breakfast. It’s easy to cram for an exam in the morning versus taking the time to eat a healthful meal, but a quick bowl of oats with fresh berries, or a vegetable egg omelet, will provide the right brain and body power you need to feel your best.

Drink tea.

Coffee gets all the credit when it comes to feeling awake. While a healthy amount of caffeine is never a bad thing, don’t forget about the amazing stress-relieving qualities a cup of tea can provide. Studies show that tea helps calm nerves, ease anxiety, and relieve stress— and luckily there are so many different kinds and flavors to suit any picky palate. For non-caffeinated options that are great to sip before bed, try peppermint, chamomile, or lemon. If you want a boost of energy in the morning, try a cup of green tea over a milky latte — green tea still has a lot of caffeine, but you won’t get “the shakes” a coffee sometimes causes. You’ll save some calories, too!

Get good sleep.

We get it: Between class, clubs, and clubbing (no judgment) sometimes getting sleep is the last thing on our minds. Still, we can’t stress how important sleep is for our mental and physical bodies. In order to truly rejuvenate and keep stress levels down, it’s critical to get those 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Try to get to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning, even if you don’t have an early class on certain days of the week. This will get your body wired to a routine, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up the next morning. Make sure you invest in a good fan if it’s hot in your dorm, get a comfortable mattress, and consider other things to help you sleep better, like blackout curtains or a white-noise machine.

Limit sugar.

Ice cream, beer, the cafeteria waffle machine — it’s easy to consume a lot of sugar throughout the semester. Yet too much sugar can wreak havoc on your body, making you feel bloated, sluggish, and slow. Pay attention to small ways you can cut back on sugar; this could be eliminating it from your coffee, choosing to add cinnamon and berries to your yogurt versus using honey, or enjoying a vodka with club soda over a vodka tonic. Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to sugar intake. We promise you’ll feel a difference.

Don’t overdo it on booze.

It’s hard to stay away from alcohol during the school year. We’re not here to tell you to cut booze entirely, but watch out for how much you’re drinking. Most doctors recommend that men drink at maximum two drinks a day, and one for women. It’s okay to have a cheat evening every now and then, but you can also get creative with fun mocktails and other delicious drinks that have less or no alcohol at all.

Start journaling.

Journaling is an amazing way to process emotions, let go of stress, and have a creative outlet for thoughts and ideas. If you’ve never tried journaling before, the start of the semester is a great time to get into a new habit. Even if it’s only a few minutes before bed or as soon as you get up, free-writing in a personal and safe space can help relieve anxiety and clear your mind.

Forget a favorite “spot”

Find a place outside your dorm room (or house) that is “yours.” Perhaps that’s a nook in your favorite coffee shop, a bench nestled in the woods near campus, or a building in the middle of the city. Use it as your place to go to when you need to take a few deeps breaths, want to journal, or call your best friend from home. No matter what you do, use it as your safe space that is for you and you only.

Hopefully one (or all) of these tips have inspired you to fit in a little stress-free goodness into the beginning of the new school year. Remember to focus on what makes your body and mind feel good, while staying on top of your studies and social activities.