We’re really anxious!

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How do I know? Because Google-searches for the word “anxiety” has more than doubled. You may need therapy to deal with your issues – but in the meantime, sniff fresh, crushed sage – or a cotton ball with a couple drops of sage essential oil. Researchers at Simmons College in Boston found the smell of sage cuts anxiety for up to 4 hours. That’s because its compounds boost production of brain chemicals that help regulate our mood.

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It’s flip-flop season…

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…which means yours are probably pretty gross by now. So here are some cleaning tips:

First: Seal them overnight in a bag of coffee grounds or dryer sheets, or for 24 hours in a plastic bag in the freezer. That’ll help remove odors, according to the Bright Nest blog.

Or put a couple of drops of cedarwood or sandalwood essential oil on the insole of each flip-flop. It’ll leave a fresh scent without irritating your feet.

And you can sprinkle rubber flip-flops with baking soda, and after an hour, rinse with water and vinegar. That’s the “classic de-stinking” technique.

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Improve thinking and focus by placing a plant on your desk.

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We’ve said before that having a plant on your desk can improve your thinking and focus. That’s because being within eyeshot of something from nature triggers the release of positive brain chemicals that make you feel refreshed and recharged. Well, there’s even more to it than that. By afternoon, indoor air pollution is at its peak. And according to Johns Hopkins University researchers, those chemicals increase brain inflammation – which produce feelings of anxiety. But if you have a plant on your desk, it’ll absorb the pollutants and pump out oxygen, which can leave you feeling calmer. And one of the best plants you can get is a spider plant. It thrives indoors – is hard to kill – and within 24 hours, it’ll soak up 87% of airborne pollutants in the immediate area. And not just carbon dioxide. It’ll eliminate dangerous volatile organic compounds – like benzene, ozone, and formaldehyde – that are emitted by plastic, fabric, computer printers, and cleaning solvents.

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So you fell asleep in the sun…

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…or played Frisbee and forgot to apply sunscreen… and now you’re a lobster. Here’s the first thing to do after you get a sunburn, according to dermatologist Joshua Zeichner from Mount Sinai Hospital: Grab cold SKIM or NON-FAT milk from the fridge, saturate a washcloth, wring it out, and apply it to your sunburn. That soothes because the milk coats your skin – instead of evaporating like water would – which helps repair the damaged outer layer. Milk protein also calms the skin and reduces inflammation, and skim or non-fat milk has more protein than whole milk. Out of milk? You can also use a cold compress of green tea to reduce inflammation.

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Here’s how to relax, fast!

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Feeling tense? Here’s how to relax, fast: Take a two-minute “stress break” every hour to get your blood flowing… say, by standing up and swinging your arms, or taking a brisk walk. Researchers at Loyola University in Baltimore found that physical activity helps calm the brain’s anxiety center and eases stress, which can quickly lower blood pressure by about 4 points.

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Plums are in season right now…

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…and they may hold the key to weight loss. Researchers in the British Medical Journal found that people who ate the most flavonoids gained the least amount of weight over the course of a study. And, ounce for ounce, plums have more flavonoids than other fruits! Those are the disease-fighting, anti-inflammatory antioxidants found in plant pigments – which give produce its color. And plums, in particular, have a lot of anthocyanins – a plant pigment that burns fat. So, to lose weight, eat plenty of plums while they’re in season.

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Are your allergies acting up?

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Do you have allergies? They could be the reason you’re gaining weight! If you’re taking an antihistamine to stop itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose, you’re blocking the neurotransmitter histamine AND a receptor that suppresses your appetite. So try eliminating allergy symptoms with a nasal allergy spray. Nasal meds work faster than pills and shut down allergy symptoms for 80% of people within hours. Plus, they don’t enter your bloodstream, so they don’t cause side effects like some pills.

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Do you get stressed and frustrated while waiting on hold on the phone?

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That can make your jaw tight or even cause you to grind your teeth, and trigger pain. So, try this exercise from physical therapists at Chicago’s Spine and Sports Rehabilitation Center: Put the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, slightly behind your front teeth. Then, slowly open and close your mouth 10 times. That’s actually a move doctors recommend to patients with TMJ to reduce tension in the jaw.

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We all have a de-germing, sanitizing device in our homes:

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The microwave. That’s according to microbiologist Dr. Kelly Reynolds. She says the heat a microwave generates can kill germs. So try it on these things:

Your kitchen hand towel. Dr. Reynolds says get it completely wet. Wring it out as best you can. Then zap it in the microwave on high for 2 minutes.

You can also sanitize your toothbrush.

Place it in a cup of water, bristles down, and heat on high for 5 minutes. Just keep an eye out to make sure it doesn’t melt.

Lastly, you can use your microwave to clean a wooden cutting board. Soak it completely in water for a few minutes. Then put it in the microwave for 4 minutes on high.

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How to lower blood pressure quickly.

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Here’s a quick way to lower your blood pressure and protect your heart: Eat red onions every day! Researchers from the University of Maryland Medical Center zeroed in on a flavonoid in red onions called quercetin… and found that it relaxes the arteries leading to your heart, and flushes out artery-clogging “badLDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Bottom line: Just adding a third of a cup of red onions to your daily diet – whether they’re raw, roasted, or sautéed – can help cut your risk of heart disease in HALF.

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