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Health & Wellness

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The Importance of Sleep

Losing sleep changes your body and mind. Without some good ole R&R, our bodies struggle. Learn how to get a good night's rest and the importance of sleep! - Ali in Bloom

By 8:30 pm, I’m tired. By 9:30 pm, I’m normally in bed. 10 pm? Sleeping. If I stay up past 11 pm, I’m sure to be cranky. Some would say it’s a blessing and others would say it’s a curse that I feel like I absolutely have to go to bed so early.

Me? I’m grateful for my body’s reminder that after a long, full day, it’s time for me to allow my mind and body to rest.

No matter how young or how old you are, sleep is important. Some of the biggest offenders of ignoring the importance of sleep seem to be teenagers and early twenty-somethings (*cough* college students). Late night activities and early morning deadlines can add up to short nights of sleep. With back-to-school season starting in full swing, it’s time to talk about the importance of sleep… even for college students.

4 Reasons You Should Make New Year’s Resolutions

4 Reasons You Should Make New Year's Resolutions - Ali in Bloom

Some people make yearly goals. Some make monthly goals. Some people make weekly goals. Honestly, I’m a fan of all three. New year’s resolutions seem to get the worst rep of all, though. Why? Because most of the time people think a new year magically means a new you. It doesn’t! Just like any goal, new year’s resolutions require hard work and dedication.

With that being said, I’m a huge proponent for making goals in general, so if you’d rather start your yearly goals in March or July or even October, go for it! Here’s why I love setting goals and why I think new year’s resolutions are a great idea:

4 Reasons to Make New Year’s Resolutions

1. You’ll have clarity

Seriously, the number one reason I recommend setting goals (any time of the year) is the amount of insight and clarity creating goals gives you into yourself, your desires and your life. In order to even start making meaningful and purposeful resolutions, you have to decide what you want and what is important to you. You learn so much about yourself by reflecting on your past year and learning what you loved about it and what you want to get better at or achieve in the year to come.

2. You’ll live intentionally

Knowing what you want will allow you to live intentionally. You’ll know what decisions and actions align with the best version of you and what opportunities you better pass up in order to maintain and achieve what is important to you. But beware… never become so close minded and tunnel visioned that you miss out on possible opportunities you never knew you wanted. Sometimes goals and visions change. That’s okay!

3. You’ll never “be bored”

When you find yourself sitting on your couch on a lazy Saturday afternoon, wondering what you are going to do with your day, you’ll never be able to say you have nothing to do. Having goals means there are actions you can be taking at any time to complete those goals. You just have to be motivated to work on them! Use your free time to work toward your resolutions. You’ll feel happier and more productive.

4. You’ll grow

Working toward something, no matter what it is, will lead to growth and self-discovery. Every goal is a journey. Whether you meet your goals or not (but I hope you do!), you’ll learn and grow along the way. From gaining insight into yourself and life during the reflection and creation period of your goals to giving yourself a pep talk when you don’t feel inspired or energized to keep working to when you finally reach your goal, you will learn something and gain self confidence and prosper. If you don’t reach your goal, you’ll still learn from it. I promise! Even if you simply learn that that goal wasn’t as important to you as you originally thought.

Health Goals

Health goals are one of the most common types of goals set each year. I want to share my thoughts on weight loss goals that I posted in January 2016 at the start of the year because I still feel it’s an important message.

Often times people resolve to lose weight, exercise or eat healthy in the new year. I mean, can you prove me wrong? I’d be willing to say it’s one of the most common resolutions made on January 1st… if not the most. Unfortunately, often times they fail. In 2014, I tried to put an end to those kinds of resolutions all together. I pledged to not only love my body but respect my body, my mind and myself instead of making a new year’s resolution to lose weight that would only dwindle away and result in lost hope. The problem with a lot of New Year’s resolutions is that people don’t realize that a completed resolution often requires a lifestyle change – not a month of determination.

I’ve shared my story before: loving myself and obtaining a body I was proud of took time and was a hard journey. If you’re hoping to change your body in 2016, understand that it wasn’t until I changed my mentality that I changed my body. And now, with a new healthy lifestyle, I feel good, strong and healthy every day. Instead of hating your body and wanting to change it, learn first to love your body in any way, shape or form because the more you love your body, the more you’ll want to take care of it and treat it well – nourish it.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to get healthier. It’s great, in fact! My one hope if you are aiming for better health in 2017 is that your desire really does come from a place of positivity and self-compassion. Love yourself! I truly believe that is absolutely vital. Then you will want to fuel your body and mind, and it will make your resolution that much easier.

My Goal-Setting Tips

1. Make them obtainable, concrete and measurable to be able to hold yourself accountable and make your way toward achieving your dreams.

2. Break big goals into actionable steps to help you feel accomplished and on-track as you’re working toward your final goal.

3. Write down your goals; revisit your notes frequently to stay focused.

Do you make new year’s resolutions? What are your goals for 2017? Best of luck!! Go get ’em. Hoping everyone had the happiest of holiday seasons. Until next time…

The Computer & Eye Health

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Rohto. All opinions and text are my own.

Just because you sit in front of a computer all day doesn't mean you have to suffer the pain because of it. Learn how to prevent computer eye strain even while going to school or working a 9-5.

Whether you’re writing a school paper or working 9-5 at a desk, we spend a lot of time in front of computers. As a blogger and someone that works a full-time office job, I am so guilty. Eye health has always been important, but now as we spend so much time in front of screens, it’s even more important to take care of our eyes.

Constantly looking at a screen- whether it be the computer, a cell phone or the TV- can cause what is known as computer eye strain (also called digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome). Symptoms include everything from headache to blurred vision and dry eyes.

Technology is a blessing in so many ways, but with it, we really need to take extra measures to protect our vision. You can avoid computer eye strain be factoring in these five tips:

Eye Drops

Every day isn’t perfect. We can help protect our eyes by controlling our lighting, taking breaks and more, but sometimes we can’t control the lighting; Sometimes we can’t get away from our desks because the work is piled high. To help your eyes even while sitting in front of a screen, you can always revert to eye drops. Rohto has a number of different eye drop options to choose from- Itch Relief, Multi-Symptom Relief, Dry Eye Relief, Redness Relief and Maximum Redness Relief- to help with any unwanted eye-related symptom.


The Maximum Redness Relief, for example, soothes eye strain, refreshes and lubricates and relieves redness of the eye. Don’t overlook that Rohto eye drops are also cooling, so if your eyes start to feel cool and tingly, that’s completely normal and means they’re working!

Since you can use these eye drops up to four times daily, you’ll be able to work comfortably even with a long day in front of the computer. You can pick them up at Walmart, Walgreens, Kroger, CVS and more.

Lighting

Maybe this seems obvious, but again, like eye strain in general, it’s just one of those things we don’t always think about. Having the proper amount of lighting will greatly reduce the amount of strain put on your eyes. You can have too much lighting or too little lighting. Avoid both sitting in the dark and sitting under harsh fluorescent lighting or bright light streaming in through a window. And while you’re checking the lighting around you, adjust your computer brightness to match the lighting. They should be the same level of brightness.

Blinking

It sounds silly to say, “make sure you’re blinking,” right? But sometimes we just get into the zone of our work and we can stare at the screen just a little bit too long. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll still blink! But blinking help keeps the front of your eyes moist and clean, so it never hurts to blink more than necessary. Especially as a contact wearer, I find myself blinking a lot.

Frequent Breaks

Taking frequent breaks from your computer is healthy for your eyes and also improves your concentration and productivity. Ideally, your break would include a walk or a little bit of sunshine, but even just taking a look away from your computer screen to talk to your cubicle-mate would be better than nothing. This will still give your eyes a break from focusing and staring into the blue light of your device.

Computer Glasses

Computer glasses are a serious game changer. I got my own pair last year, and I keep them at work, so I have them all the time. Don’t believe how important eye health is and how detrimental our computer screens can be? My office is buying computer glasses for our employees!

If you don’t know what computer glasses are, it’s pretty simple. Computer glasses have lenses with a special coating that reflects and absorbs the blue light that comes from your electronics and is harmful to your eyes. Blocking these harsh lights can relieve eye strain, itchiness, irritation and headaches caused by looking at your electronic screens for long periods of time.

To make them even more convenient, you can normally find computer glasses as reading glasses, prescription glasses or just plain computer glasses. I opted for regular computer glasses because I’m an avid contact wearer, and since I’m near-sighted, I don’t need glasses to look at my computer screen late at night even after I’ve taken out my contacts.

Have you noticed that tech companies are becoming more aware of digital eye strain? That’s why the iPhone now has auto-brightness and night shift (which turns your screen red instead of blue, eliminating blue light). I cannot express enough how amazing it is to see these kinds of shifts from large corporations, but it’s still our responsibility to ultimately protect our eye health. Not to mention, protecting your eyes will be all around more comfortable and enjoyable. No one likes dry eyes.

Have you ever used Rohto Eye Drops or tried out the eye-friendly iOS features? Have you suffered from computer eye strain?

Period Talk: What Matters to U

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WhatMattersToU #CollectiveBias

Tips to make your period easier - Healthy recipe that'll feel like indulging while actually combating PMS symptoms, DIY fruity facial mask for clear, glowing skin that will leave you feeling beautiful.

Period talk. It makes some people uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable thinking about me making any of you uncomfortable. But you know, why should it? That time of the month is something I frequently talk openly and honestly about with all of my girl friends. So there is no shame here; you guys are my friends too! And U by Kotex®’s What Matters to U campaign has inspired me to open up and be honest with you guys about what matters to me when I’m on my period. The two keywords that matter to me are indulge and pamper.

Indulge

I get a sweet tooth like no other during that time of the month. I have read article on article about how to curb your sweet tooth and avoid cravings while on your period, but I’ve found little to no success with the tips and tricks I read. So I’ve adapted the same mottos I use the other 23 days of the month: control your portions and find a healthy substitute. For example, when I’m craving cookies, I eat two cookies- not the whole box. When I’m craving a brownie, instead of whipping up a box of brownies, I make homemade black bean brownies. When I’m craving a rich, creamy milkshake, I make a healthy chunky monkey smoothie. There are so many different chunky monkey smoothie recipes online, but I’ve made up my own that I use every month (even when I’m not on my period):

Healthy Chunky Monkey Smoothie Recipe

1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt

1 heaping Tbsp Peanut Butter

1 heaping Tbsp Cocoa Powder

1 Banana

Ice

I make this recipe as compared to a regular chocolate smoothie because so many of the ingredients in this one combat the negative aspects of being on your period. Greek yogurt is high in calcium, which has been proven to help reduce symptoms of PMS. Peanut Butter is high in magnesium; magnesium will help boost your mood and prevent bloating. Bananas are high in potassium, which will also prevent bloating and help with cramps. Needless to say, indulging in this healthy chunky monkey smoothie will curb your sweet tooth and help elevate any unwanted symptoms of PMS.

Pamper

While I allow myself to indulge without feeling guilty once a month, I also make time to pamper myself. Feeling bloated and having cramps can really put a damper on feeling good about yourself, so in an attempt to reverse the symptoms that come along with having your period, I like to do things such as getting a pedicure, taking a bubble bath and putting on a face mask. I’m a huge proponent of DIY facial masks. They’re fun to make, all-natural and way cheaper than some store-bought masks. When I’m making an at-home mask, I tend to gravitate toward fruity masks. They smell yummy and feel fresh. Surprisingly, they also have amazing benefits for your skin.

Fruit Face Mask For Oily Skin

Tips to make your period easier - Healthy recipe that'll feel like indulging while actually combating PMS symptoms, DIY fruity facial mask for clear, glowing skin that will leave you feeling beautiful.

1/4 Peeled, Seeded Papaya

4 Strawberries

4 Tbsp Honey

1/2 Cup Ground Oats

Fresh Squeezed Lemon (I don’t measure, but don’t use too much; you’ll dry out your skin and cause sensitivity)

Start by preparing your papaya. Then throw the ingredients (except for the oats) into a blender. Blend that mixture until smooth, add the oats and blend briefly. You’ll still want your oats to be in pieces to add texture.

HINT: be careful with the amounts you are tossing into the blender and be aware of the consistency as you are blending. Depending on how ripe your fruit is/the natural size of your fruit, amounts may vary slightly. You don’t want a mask that is too runny because you used a lot of really ripe fruit that is juicy. If your mask does turn out too runny to be a mask, you have two options. One, you could add more ground oats to soak up the excess liquid. Two, you could turn it into an exfoliating scrub; you’ll still get the benefits of the fruit and honey while you lather it on and the ground oats will act as an exfoliator.

I like this recipe that I adapted from Crunchy Betty’s Papaya Fruit Smoothie Facial Mask because just like with the smoothie, these ingredients have great benefits. Papaya removes dead skin cells. Strawberries shrink pores and promote cell growth. Honey is antibacterial, full of antioxidants and moisturizing; it can  help unclog pores, slow aging and treat acne. Lemon juice removes excess oils and reduces pimples. Trying a DIY fruit facial mask will have you feeling pampered and glowing instead of tired and oily.

Tips to make your period easier - Healthy recipe that'll feel like indulging while actually combating PMS symptoms, DIY fruity facial mask for clear, glowing skin that will leave you feeling beautiful.

Now, because Kotex understands what matters to us during that time of the month, the company has created a super fun, creative SNIPP ad to help us through our periods- whether we need a craving cured, a cozy night in or a fun night out. When you buy two U by Kotex® products from Walmart between now and September 30, 2016, all you have to do is take a picture of your receipt, Text UbyKotex to 811811, upload a photo of your receipt and then visit UbyKotexrewards.com to register to redeem your customized reward. A few examples of what you can get are eBooks, magazines, restaurant gift cards, a Walmart gift card and more!

 Tips to make your period easier - Healthy recipe that'll feel like indulging while actually combating PMS symptoms, DIY fruity facial mask for clear, glowing skin that will leave you feeling beautiful.

During my trip to Walmart, I picked up U by Kotex® Cleanwear® Ultra Thin Pads and U by Kotex® Barely There Liners. Both products came in the Style N’ Store packaging, which is proving to be a lifesaver. I’ll be the first to admit that the cabinets underneath my bathroom sink can become super cluttered and messy if I don’t frequently reorganize and straighten up because I just have so much stuff stored under there. The Style N’ Store pack comes in a convenient drawer that you can easily slide in and out to pack away and reopen again. Now, I don’t have to worry about fussing with that half of the cabinet because it never gets messy. All of my feminine products are tightly packed away in these cute little drawers. Don’t  like the patterns I picked up? You have four to choose from!

Tips to make your period easier - Healthy recipe that'll feel like indulging while actually combating PMS symptoms, DIY fruity facial mask for clear, glowing skin that will leave you feeling beautiful.

Make sure to go to the U by Kotex® website to check out all of the fun reward options and visit your local Walmart to start picking up your products! Connect with my on social media using the hashtag #WhatMatterstoU and let me know what Matter to U.

Also, I want to know: How do you pamper and indulge? What are your favorite tips to make your period easier? Have you ever tried a fruit facial mask? A chunky monkey smoothie? Let me know in the comments below!