Here’s a Calendar of Wellness & Health Awareness Days in 2016

Posted by Maria on February 1, 2016 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Aromatherapy, Ayurveda & Elemental Nature, Bath and Body, Books, Magazines, Music, Creating Wellness ebook, Dating, Dear Homespunspa, Energy Healing, Esthetics School, Face, Facials, Fashion, Feet, Fitness, Gift Ideas, Green Living, Hair, Hands and Nails, Home spa, Homespunspa, Homespunspa Wellness Tour, How to throw a home spa pajama party the Homespunspa way book, Humour, Ingredients, Life Coaching, Manicures, Massages, Meditation, Mobile Spa, Newspapers and Newsworthy, Nutrition, Pedicures, Pets, Photo gallery, Pop-Psychology, Recipes, Seasonal, Self-Care, Skin Care, Sleep, Spa Party, Spa Review, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Spirituality, Stress Management and Relaxation, Supernatural Spa on VoiceAmerica, TV Shows & Movies, Travel, Uncategorized, Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, Weight Management, Wellness, Yoga | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Wellness Coach

Here’s a calendar of Wellness and Health Awareness Days, Weeks, and Months for Canadians in 2016. Hopefully, these health promotion days will inspire you to practice self-care throughout the seasons. (For a deeper look at why self-care is so important, please read my blog post “Is Self-Care Selfish?”

On occasion, I’ve also included links to blog posts I’ve written about practicing on-going self-care that tie into these events and to my Homespunspa Mobile Spa and wellness coaching services. I’ve just realized how much writing I’ve been doing over the last few years! :)

As I’m compiling this list, I’m counting my blessings and I’m really grateful for my good health. With these special days and holidays as door openers, there are literally hundreds of ways we can all reach out to the people around us and celebrate life together.

Please visit Health Canada for active links to the websites of the health-related organizations. Also, if any of these organizations resonate strongly with you, consider volunteering, donating money, or participating in their events. As you can see, there are lots of needs to fill in this world, so help where you can (especially if you’re looking for your life’s purpose) to make the world a better place for all of us.

P.S. #1: As you read this list, you might find yourself saying, “There’s a day for that?” more than once. To answer your question, yes, yes, there is. Thank you to all of the creative and caring people out there who have worked so hard to make these dates official on local, national, and international calendars.

P.S. #2: I’d really love it if you’d share these blog posts via social media with your friends, family, co-workers, and clients. Thank you in advance.

P.S. #3: If you know of a special health- and wellness-related day, week, or month that I haven’t mentioned, please leave a comment and let us know about it and I’ll update the list.

P.S. #4: If you have a wellness blog like mine, here’s a editorial calendar with tons of ideas of what you can write about over the course of the year. You’re welcome!

Wellness Oasis12 Months of Wellness and Health Awareness Days

In January, we have…

  • Alzheimer Awareness Month
  • Birthflowers of the Month include: Carnation, Snowdrop
  • Birthstones of the Month include: Emerald, Garnet, Rose Quartz
  • Cervical Cancer Awareness Month
  • Hot Tea Month (Tea Association of Canada) — Please see my blog post, “Less Caffeine is a Sleeper’s Dream.”
  • Human Trafficking Awareness Month
  • National Bath Safety Month (U.S.)
  • National Blood Donor Month
  • National Hobby Month (U.S.)
  • National Oatmeal Month (U.S.) — Please read my blog post, “Orange, Coconut & Cinnamon Cookie Recipe”
  • National Soup Month (U.S.)
  • National Train Your Dog Month (U.S.)
  • Walk Your Pet Month — Please read my blog post, “Highlights from my dog-sitting retreat to White Rock.”
  • New Year’s Day on January 1st — Please read my blog post, “Happy New Rear!”
  • Polar Bear Swim on January 1st
  • World Hypnotism Day on January 4th — Please read my blog post, “What is a Holistic Practioner?”
  • Clean Off Your Desk Day on January 11th
  • Human Trafficking Awareness Day on January 11th
  • National Rubber Ducky Day (U.S.) on January 13th
  • National Dress Up Your Pet Day (U.S.) on January 14th
  • SHE Day (600 Women talk business and leadership in Winnipeg, MB) on January 15th
  • Colour Days!!! Rainbow Day (let these colours inspire you throughout the day) (public Facebook Group) on January 17th
  • Ditch Your New Year’s Resolutions Day on January 17th — Please read my blog post, “Remember Your New Year’s Resolutions?”
  • National Non-Smoking Week from January 17th to January 23rd — Please see my blog post, “Is 2016 Your Year to Quit Smoking?”
  • National Popcorn Day (U.S.) on January 19th
  • Weedless Wednesday on January 20th
  • National Hugging Day on January 21st
  • National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day (U.S.) on January 22nd
  • Change a Pet’s Life Day on January 24th
  • Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day on January 25th
  • Family Literacy Day on January 27th — Please buy my Creating Wellness ebook on Amazon and read my blog post, “Sharing a Tip from my Creating Wellness Ebook on how to Sleep Better.”
  • International Lego Day on January 28th
  • Women’s Right to Vote in Canada 100th Anniversary on January 28th.

In February, we have…

  • Birthflowers of the Month include: Primrose, Violet
  • Birthstones of the Month include: Amethyst, Bloodstone, Moonstone, Onyx — Please read my blog post, “Cheers to the Chi Machine.”
  • Heart Health Month
  • National Cherry Month (U.S.) — Please read my blog post, “Top off your day with a cherry.”
  • Psychology Month — Please read my blog post, “How to feel a sense of wholeness within.”
  • Eating Disorders Awareness Week from February 1st to February 7th
  • Groundhog Day on February 2nd
  • Winter Walk Day on February 3rd — Please read my blog post, “Walking in a Winter Wonderland.”
  • World Cancer Day on February 4th
  • International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation on February 6th
  • White Cane Week (for the blind and vision-impaired community) from February 7th to February 13th
  • Chinese New Year Day of the Red Monkey Year on February 8th
  • Family Day in BC on February 8th
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Day on February 12th
  • Valentine’s Day on February 14th — Please read my blog post, “Tips for Lips.”
  • International Flirting Week from February 14th to February 20th
  • Family Day in AB, SK, ON on February 15th
  • Westminster Kennel Club Annual Dog Show on February 15th and February 16th — Please read my blog post, “Highlights from my dog-sitting retreat to White Rock.”
  • Colour Days!!! Pink Day (let this colour inspire you throughout the day) (public Facebook Group) on February 17th
  • Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17th
  • Love your Pet Day on February 20th
  • Walking the Dog Day on February 22nd
  • Tennis Day on February 23rd
  • Pink Shirt Day (anti-bullying movement) on February 24th
  • Oscar Sunday on February 28th — Please see my blog post, “SPARTY! So Glamourous!”
  • Floral Design Day on February 28th
  • National Science Day on February 28th
  • Leap Day on February 29th

In March, we have…

In April, we have…

In May, we have…

  • Birthflowers of the Month include: Hawthorne, Lily of the Valley
  • Birthstones of the Month include: Agate, Beryl, Chrysoprase, Emerald, Saffier
  • Celiac Awareness Month — Please read my blog post, “How to get rid of rash under breasts.”
  • Cystic Fibrosis Month
  • Food Allergy Awareness Month — Please see my blog post, “Can’t Have your Dairy and Yogurt Too?”
  • Foot Health Awareness Month — Please read my blog post, “It’s Footbath Friday.”
  • Hepatitis Awareness Month
  • Huntington’s Disease Awareness Month
  • MedicAlert Month
  • Multiple Sclerosis Month
  • National Hemochromatosis Awareness Month (Iron Overload)
  • National Pet Month (U.S.)
  • National Physiotherapy Month
  • National Skin Cancer Awareness Month (U.S.) — Please read my blog post, “Mountains or Molehills?”
  • Speech and Hearing Awareness Month
  • Vision Health Month
  • Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanups from March 1st to July 31st — Please read my blog post, “Clean Up Crew Heads to Gonzales Bay Beach.”
  • Executive Coaching Day on May 1st
  • Lyme Disease Awareness Day on May 1st
  • National Hospice Palliative Care Week from May 1st to May 7th
  • National Pet Week (U.S.) from May 1st to May 7th
  • Olympic Torch Relay for the Rio 2016 Games begins in Brasilia on May 3rd — Please see my blog post, “Olympics Day 1 and Homespunspa Was There!”
  • Walk So Kids Can Talk (event for Kids Help Phone) on May 3rd
  • World Asthma Day on May 3rd
  • World Press Freedom Day on May 3rd — Please read my blog post, “Homespunspa is Featured in Spa Life Magazine.”
  • May the Fourth Be With You Day (National Star Wars Day) on May 4th
  • Melanoma Monday on May 4th — Please read my blog post, “Mountains or Molehills?”
  • National Orange Juice Day on May 4th — Please read my blog post, “Put your feet up — home spa masque recipe for your good ol’ feet.”
  • Cinco de Mayo on May 5th
  • National Day of Prayer (U.S.) on May 5th
  • Save Lives: Clean Your Hands (WHO’s global annual call to action for health workers) on May 5th — Please read my blog post, “Washing Dishes — Good Clean Fun.”
  • World Pulmonary Hypertension Day on May 5th — Please read my blog post, “Do you have Insomnia?”
  • International No Diet Day on May 6th
  • National Tourist Appreciation Day (U.S.) on May 6th
  • Space Day on May 6th
  • HerbDay on May 7th — Please read my blog post, “Sage: A Scent for the Season.”
  • Join Hands Day (dedicated to bringing a union between the older & younger generations) on May 7th — Please read my blog post, “We Love Referrals! :)
  • National Babysitters’ Day (U.S.) on May 7th
  • World Labyrinth Day on May 7th — Please read my blog post, “Find Peace of Mind As You Walk a Labyrinth.”
  • Mental Health Week from May 2nd to May 8th — Please read my blog post, “There’s no crying in baseball.”
  • Mother’s Day on May 8th — Please read my blog post, “Give the Gift of Homespunspa Mobile Spa this Mother’s Day.”
  • White Lotus Day (encouraging meditation) on May 8th
  • World Red Cross Day on May 8th
  • Naturopathic Medicine Week from May 9th to May 15th — Please read my blog post, “I’m going on a Wellness Tour.”
  • National Nursing Week from May 9th to May 16th
  • Sun Awareness Week (U.K.) from May 9th to May 16th — Please read my blog post, “Ask Maria about Aveda.”
  • International Awareness Day for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Fibromyalgia and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity on May 12th
  • International Nursing Day on May 12th
  • International Hummus Day on May 13th
  • Friday the 13th on May 13th, 2016 — Please see my blog post, “Are you a Superstitious Sleeper?”
  • International Migratory Bird Day on May 14th
  • International Coaching Week (ICW) (International Coaching Federation) from May 16th to May 22nd — Please read my blog post, “How to use the Acceptance Factor to Shift Subconscious Beliefs.”
  • Colour Days!!! Turquoise/Teal Day (let this colour inspire you throughout the day) (public Facebook Group) on May 17th
  • International Day Against Homophobia on May 17th
  • World Hypertension Day on May 17th
  • International Museum Day on May 18th
  • World Autoimmune Arthritis Day on May 20th
  • National Learn to Swim Day on May 21st
  • World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on May 21st
  • Paramedic Services Week from May 22nd to May 28th
  • Victoria Day on May 23rd — Please read my blog post, “Victoria is the Fashion Capital of Canada.”
  • Sunscreen Day on May 27th
  • Amnesty International Day on May 28th
  • International Jazz Day on May 28th
  • National Multiple Births Awareness Day on May 28th
  • World No-Tobacco Day on May 31st
  • Bike to Work Week BC from May 30th to June 5th

In June, we have…

In July, we have…

  • Birthflowers of the Month include: Delphinium, Larkspur, Water Lily
  • Birthstones of the Month include: Carnelian, Ruby
  • National Blueberry Month (U.S.)
  • Personal Health Month — Please see my blog post, “Stay Cool as a Cucumber this Summer.”
  • Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanups from March 1st to July 31st — Please read my blog post, “Clean Up Crew Heads to Gonzales Bay Beach.”
  • Canada Day on July 1st — Please read my blog post, “My Pick for the #1 Spa Ingredient Native to Canada (2014)”
  • Independence Day (U.S.) on July 4th
  • International Kissing Day on July 6th
  • World Chocolate Day on July 7th
  • World Population Day on July 11th
  • National Nude Day on July 14th
  • Colour Days!!! Blue Day (let this colour inspire you throughout the day) (public Facebook Group) on July 17th
  • Cousins Day on July 24th
  • International Self-Care Day (ISF) on July 24th — Please read my blog post, “Is Self-Care Selfish?”
  • Parents Day on July 24th
  • Aunt and Uncle Day on July 26th
  • World Hepatitis Day on July 28th
  • Color Me Rad 5K Run (Vancouver) on July 30th
  • International Day of Friendship on July 30th — Please see my blog post, “Checklist for a Successful Spa Party.”

In August, we have…

In September, we have…

In October, we have…

In November, we have…

In December, we have…

Throw Your Stress Into The Sea

Posted by Maria on September 5, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Green Living, Meditation, Photo gallery, Pop-Psychology, Self-Care, Sleep, Spirituality, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Wellness | Be the First to Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

small waves

I’ve come up with a genius (if I do say so myself) idea on how to manage stress and I really want to share it with as many people as I can. I call it “stone throwing on the beach” and I highly recommend it to anyone who is feeling down and stressed and needs a pick-me-up.

So yesterday, I was feeling irritable and annoyed and in a moment of frustration, I threw a plastic dish scrubber down the stairs. That felt pretty good so I thought I’d throw a box of SOS pads down the stairs, also. It occurred to me that I should go and play some tennis or something to release more of my pent up negativity but I couldn’t think of anybody who would be available to play with me on short notice.

And then the light bulb above my head switched on and I thought of going to the beach just to throw stones into the ocean. Then I noticed (just from that insight) that my energy shifted and I started feeling better. I knew this was a good idea and I couldn’t wait to try my little experiment.

Lucky for me, I live on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, so there are several beaches around here for me to choose from. I wanted a beach that was more rocky than sandy (for once) so I picked one in Sidney, BC. (If you don’t leave near the ocean, maybe you can go to a lake instead and try to count how many skips your flat stones make across the placid water).

The Stone Throwing Experiment

I arrived in the beach parking lot around 12:50pm. Except for the odd jogger, dog walker, crow and seagull passing by, I basically had the beach all to myself on this really bright and sunny summer afternoon. I went close to the ocean and said I prayer to get myself into a positive frame of mind and then started picking up stones that I thought had a nice shape and size.

My goal was to release and let go of any and all negative emotional blocks that were weighing me down and keeping me from getting ahead in life and living the life of my dreams. Yeah, I know, pretty heavy stuff.

I consider stone throwing a spiritual, emotional and physical exercise and I figured on a symbolic level, that the mighty ocean could absorb and dissolve my burdens.

Every time I bent down and picked up another rock (there were so many to choose from), I thought about a specific limitation that I wanted to get rid of (like the fear of trying new things, or expressing my true feelings, or losing 5 pounds of extra body fat) and then with my left hand (because I’m left handed), I hurled that stone as far as I could into the sea.

Some of my throws dropped into the ocean with a heavy plunk and some hooked far to the right. One of my throws didn’t even make it into the water and shattered into several pieces on the beach instead. I threw that one with my right hand and realized that the belief that I was thinking about at the time needed a few more rock throws to clear and a little more work.

Some of my throws were just beautiful and I could see the stone spinning like a flying saucer as it arced into the waves. In that case, I said to myself, “That was a good one.”

I had the song, “Walk on the Ocean” by Toad the Wet Sprocket replaying in my mind. I felt all kinds of emotions that I wasn’t expecting as I launched more and more rocks into the sea. There were a few moments of sadness in the mix but they didn’t last. Most of the time, I felt really joyful. I was having fun and I didn’t care who saw me. I’m sure they were wondering, “What is she doing?”

I don’t know how many rocks I ended up throwing into the ocean — maybe 50, maybe 100, I’ll never know because I lost count after 4, but eventually, I looked at my watch and to my surprise it was 1:50pm. I had been stone throwing for an hour! I knew at that point, it was time to go home.

Did my stone throwing experiment work?

Yes, I think so. I felt really good and dare I say, lighter than I had before. I didn’t have the energy to do much else later that day but I didn’t really care. I just relaxed. And that night, I slept like a rock. :)

Today, my arms and shoulders feel a little stiff. Earlier this morning, I had a chat with my personal trainer on Skype and the first thing she said to me was, “You’re looking really good today” (which she has never said to me in that particular tone before as far as I can recall) and she noticed that I had more confidence than usual. I told her about how I went to the beach to throw stones into the ocean and she thought my idea was “brilliant” and she had never heard of anyone doing that before. She said she’ll certainly recommend the idea to her other clients because it’s a physical activity and it lets you get back to nature. She also said, it was exactly what my body needed to do that day and she was glad I listened to it. I genuinely think she saw a positive difference in me and because of her feedback, I do believe this little idea has some therapeutic value. And it’s free so why not try it for yourself. It’s time to let go of your blocks and get on with your life.

Please leave a comment and let me know your experience with throwing stones into the sea. Here’s to letting go.

The Benefits of Restorative Yoga

Posted by Maria on September 3, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Books, Magazines, Music, Guest Bloggers, Meditation, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Stress Management and Relaxation, Travel, Uncategorized, Yoga | Read the First Comment

by Chrys Muszka and Donna Wilding, Guest Bloggers

Due to everyday stresses, high-pressure responsibilities and busy schedules, we spend most our time in the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). It’s within this system that our “fight or flight” response resides, causing anxiety and over stimulation. In the past, when our fight or flight system was responsible for helping us survive a potential tiger attack, the fight or flight response would be released by either fighting or ‘flighting’ (leaving fast) the situation. The actual fight or flight was a release. However nowadays, our modern life has taken away the need to fight or flight and therefore, we’re in a constant state of stress without release. As a result, the ability to relax and sleep become difficult.

This is where yoga comes in. When we practice yoga, we gently move ourself into the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) — the rest and digest mode. In the same way that our body and mind need food as nourishment, they also need rest in order to digest that nourishment. This type of rest is different from sleep, but can be just as rewarding and can come from a good yoga practice. Restorative yoga is particularly suited for this and will allow us to sink into our body, while calming the mind. It’s at this point that we’re graced with a good night’s sleep.

Restorative yoga is a specially gentle style that addresses the difficulty of finding relaxation and sleep. It’s a style that uses many props such as blocks, straps, and pillows to open the body gently, while allowing the mind to rest in a meditative state, promoting us to move into our PNS. By doing so, we slow down the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) and can exist in a calmer state where the ability to sleep is enhanced.

During the first few yoga classes, it’s normal to feel challenged. Moving from a state of high stimulation to stillness can be tough, however, know that things are happening on a deep level. Over time, the more we practice, the more the body and mind learn to calm and appreciate relaxation.

The deep benefits of yoga will not come overnight. Yoga is truly something that needs to be integrated into your life to notice the affects, especially if sleep is challenging. Remember that whatever reason you’ve been called to try yoga, it has been a long time coming. Likewise, it may take awhile for you to make changes. The amount that you put in, will be the amount that you get out.

We’d love to share more with you and teach you how to put yourself expertly to bed. Join us on a retreat in Mexico, November 10-17th, 2012 where each night we’ll offer a restorative class right before bed. Come and feel the difference for yourself.

We’d also like to invite you to download a complimentary copy of our ebook, Spirited-Health-Tips-Sleep-Better-Naturally.

With love for a good night’s sleep, Chrys Muszka and Donna Wilding.

Both based in Toronto, Canada. Chrys Muszka and Donna Wilding have 20 years of yoga experience, combined. Sharing many teachers along their individuals paths, they’ve trained in Anusara, Hatha, Ashtanga and Restorative Yoga. They are two individuals who strive to share their experience of yoga and holistic healing to their students, empowering each one to lead a more mindful, and authentic lifestyle. You can find them online at and

Ask An Herbalist About Your Insomnia

Posted by Maria on August 30, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Guest Bloggers, Ingredients, Massages, Nutrition, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Wellness, Yoga | Be the First to Comment

by Marguerite Wright, Guest Blogger

People are asking their herbalist for that special remedy to help them get a good night’s sleep, but getting rid of insomnia may not be as simple as taking an herbal supplement. With natural healing, the goal is to get to the root cause of the issue and deal with that, rather than covering up the symptoms with medications.

More and more people are seeking remedies for sleep disorders because they are suffering from insomnia or they are struggling to remain asleep throughout the night. Unfortunately sleep disorders lead to more health issues such as a suppressed immune system, stressed nerves, over active or under active glands and drained energy reserves.

It’s so important to get the proper amount of sleep in REM (rapid eye movement) — also known as dream sleep — every night. This is how the body rejuvenates itself and does the repair and maintenance it needs. The needed hours of sleep varies from person to person, some needing only 5 or 6 hours while others needing 8 to 10 hours.

Tips for better sleep

  • Establish a bedtime routine: In these stressful times we live in, we have to work harder to de-stress ourselves and do things to improve our rest. It’s important that we form a routine where we have a regular sleep pattern, retiring to bed at the same time each night.
  • Sleep in a dark room because Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the pineal gland when it is dark. It directly influences the brain to induce sleep and is further broken down into the neurotransmitter, serotonin, which helps both sleep and mood. This shows why sleeping with the television on can disturb your sleep because it is a light source.
  • Depression, anxiety, and worrying are linked to insomnia. Try to clear your mind before bed. Write down your thoughts to ease your mind. Meditation and deep breathing will help you to release all your anxiety and stress.
  • Use diet and exercise in your favor. Don’t eat a heavy meal right before retiring, the undigested food can interrupt your rest and is hard on your health. Drink a soothing tea that will help you relax before bedtime. Smoking cigarettes only stimulates the body and can cause sleep problems. Avoid caffeine intake, especially before bedtime and don’t take stimulating herbal supplements. Some medications can disturb your sleep also. Beware of over-the-counter medications that contain caffeine or caffeine-related substances.
  • Find ways to relax and unwind. A good way to unwind is to take a walk and/or do some stretching. Yoga is a great way to unwind also. Including exercise in your daily schedule will help you rest better — just keep the heavier exercising for earlier in the day.

Suggestions from your herbalist for a good night’s rest

  • Make an appointment with your herbalist: Health issues that cause insomnia can vary from person to person, this is why it’s important to meet with your herbalist to review your personal issues, list of medications and daily routine. Take the free health analysis offered at
  • Eat nutritious food because it’s important to nourish the nervous system. Anxiety, tension, depression even high blood pressure can be linked to lack of vitamins needed for the nervous system. Nutrients such as Vitamin C, B-Complex, Calcium and Magnesium will help. Many of my clients love Nutri-calm, which is an antistress vitamin. Other supplements like Kava Kava, adaptogens like Siberian ginseng, and Licorice are good.
  • Detoxify your liver and colon. The liver is the organ of emotion and depression can lead to insomnia. Detox the liver with supplements such as Liver Cleanse, Dandelion, and Enviro-Detox. Ask your herbalist about a full detox program like the 90 Day colon cleanse.
  • Get a massage. A good massage from a professional massage therapist can help a person de-stress and get better rest.

Article written by Marguerite Wright, Certified Herbalist and Massage Therapist located in the Chicago area. Marguerite Wright is the owner of Mother Knows Best Herbal Solutions, a company she put together to assist people who want to learn more about natural solutions to health. She uses herbal supplements, homeopathic, aromatherapy, cleansing, massage and more. If you want more information on insomnia, depression, anxiety attacks or other health issues, contact your herbalist, Marguerite Wright. For every disease or disorder there is a natural alternative. All the supplements mentioned in this article are available at

Preparing Your Body & Mind For A Better Night’s Sleep

Posted by Maria on August 28, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Aromatherapy, Ayurveda & Elemental Nature, Guest Bloggers, Ingredients, Meditation, Nutrition, Self-Care, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized, Yoga | Be the First to Comment

by Geraldine O’Keefe, Guest Blogger

Like the 71 million Americans who suffer from various sleep issues like insomnia, hot flashes, nervousness, and anxiety, I have found myself wide awake in the middle of the night on many occasions.

Here are some tips that have worked for me and may help you get a better peaceful and sound night’s sleep.

Try incorporating these tips in to your bedtime routine:

  • Pamper yourself and power down at least 30 minutes before bed. When your core temperature rises then falls (as it naturally does at night), it signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. Help the process by taking a relaxing soak before bed and add some pure, organic lavender essential oil and/or some Himalayan salts to your bathwater.
  • Drink Escape to Sleep tonic, preferably on an empty stomach. It can help your body feel what it’s like to sleep naturally and soundly.
  • Try not to eat past 7 p.m. and avoid caffeine.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable. If you wake up and you are achy and sore, consider a new pillow and/or mattress.
  • Lower the room temperature at night. Optimal range is 60-68 F.
  • Sleep in a pitch-dark room. It will help you get back to your natural rhythm.
  • Incorporate Lucid Dreaming: The object of lucid dreaming is to become conscious of being in the dream state.  Keep a dream journal; write down what you remember.

Learn Yoga Techniques such as Pranayama (breath control), Yoga Nidra, and Meditation:

These calming techniques can help assure that you get the 8 hours of sleep to function at your best.

  • Try Pranayama which is the art of restraining and controlling the breath.
  • Also try Yoga Nidra, aka yogic sleep. Yoga Nidra is a highly powerful ancient meditation that originated in the Tantras. It’s a scientific way to eliminate the root causes of all negativities.
  • And Practice Meditation. Meditation will train your mind to induce consciousness.

Our minds can be like a ship at sea without a sail.  Practicing yoga nidra, and/or pranayama can help you observe and control your mind which will help to bring you into a deep, restorative and healing sleep. If you realize your thoughts are stressing about something in the future or in the past, gently bring them back into the moment. BE HERE NOW and don’t let those racing, “monkey mind” thoughts keep you awake at night. I always remember a monk that said, “when you eat, eat; when you walk, walk; when you talk, talk, and of course, when you sleep, sleep.

Be kind to yourself, yoga takes practice. Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind and a regular practice can help assure your restorative sleep.

There are seven levels of consciousness. Most people are operating in the first three: waking, sleeping and dreaming. As you begin to become more conscious of your thoughts in the three states, you will begin to understand and enjoy life more.  Sweet dreams, may they all come true.

Sleep Well, Live Longer!

Geraldine is an herbalist, lifetime yogi, and vegetarian who has had experience with insomnia. She decided to create an herbal sleep-aid and ultimately, her dream product, Escape to Sleep™, was born.

You can find Geraldine online @:

Use Lavender To Make Your Bedroom More Sleep-Friendly

Posted by Maria on August 24, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Aromatherapy, Green Living, Ingredients, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Stress Management and Relaxation, Uncategorized | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Many of my neighbours grow lavender and I often see vibrant purple and green bushes of lavender teaming with bumble bees and butterflies this time of year.

Lavender is the ultimate Homespunspa ingredient because it’s so versatile and can be used in thousands of different ways for thousands of purposes. But have you ever thought to use it as inspiration to make your bedroom more sleep- friendly?

Lavender has been recommended for centuries as a sleep aid and if people like the aroma, than using lavender in all of its forms — from the dried plant, to the essential oil, to the colour — is a quick, easy and natural solution to help with occasional insomnia.

If you associate lavender with sleep, then try decorating your bedroom with a lavender theme by:

  • hanging sketches and photographs of lavender growing in a garden;
  • keeping dried lavender in vases on your window sills;
  • stuffing sleep pillows and sachets with lavender;
  • keeping a bottle of lavender essential oil on the night table and if you’re having trouble falling asleep, put a dab of lavender under your nose. You will feel more relaxed almost instantly and will be able to get some shut eye sooner rather than later.
  • sleeping on a bed made and covered with lavender-coloured bed linens, comforters, and throw blankets;
  • wearing lavender pajamas, bathrobes and slippers;
  • misting your room with a light spray of lavender flower water will help set a relaxing tone for the evening;
  • painting or wallpapering bedroom walls in a soft lavender palette.

Together, these small visual and aromatic cues will help remind you that this is a sleep-friendly bedroom and may in fact improve your quality of sleep. Please leave a comment and let us know if this suggestion works for you.

Turn off those Blue Lights at Night

Posted by Maria on August 22, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Green Living, Pop-Psychology, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Uncategorized, Wellness | 2 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Did you know that blue lights (like the lights from your tv, computer, cell phone and even your alarm clock/radio) dim your chances of getting a good night’s sleep? As it turns out, blue lights tamper with our circadian rhythms and therefore our melatonin levels and therefore our sleep cycles.

Circadian Rhythms

The circadian rhythm is an innate daily fluctuation of physiological and behavioural functions, (including sleeping and waking), that is generally tied to the 24-hour day/night cycle. Our rhythms are regulated by external cues (also known as “Zeitgebers”) such as sunlight and night sky, temperatures, what we eat (including medicines), when we eat, and our social interactions with others.

Light (and the absence of light) has always played a significant role in our daily lives and it affects our activities, hormone levels and sleep cycles. As humans, we have intuitively sought shelter and a safe place to sleep at night and we use the illumination and safety of daylight for hunting, gathering and travelling.

Blue Light

For millions of years, blue light (like the light from mid-morning sky) has meant daylight and time for us to be busy and productive. When we sense blue light, the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, is limited, and we stay alert and awake.

We have also evolved over millions of years to have the deepest, most restful sleep in a very dark environment that does not expose us to any light (especially blue and green wavelengths) while we are sleeping. The absence of blue light cues the melatonin and we get sleepy.

Have you ever watched tv in a room that doesn’t have any other lights on? Everything becomes blue. Manmade blue lights, like those eminating from your tv or computer screen, mimic broad daylight and also disrupt our sleep patterns and sleep hormones. If we are getting ready to go to bed at night but continue to “work” under artificial lighting, the blue lights will send mixed messages to the brain and the brain won’t know whether to 1)relax and go to bed or 2) suppress melatonin, stay up and be alert. This may be a good time to rethink having a tv in your bedroom or checking your Twitter and Facebook one last time before midnight.

Curiously, reddish light (like from a candle or fireplace) doesn’t effect melatonin production, so it’s fine to use in the evening hours or as a nightlight in the middle of the night.

Here are some tips of how to turn off the blue lights at night and sleep better:

  • Seek yellow light and avoid blue light after dark;
  • Minimize or eliminate the use of electronics that emit blue light after dark;
  • Trade your blue/green digital alarm/clock radio to one with red lights;
  • Pay attention to the time you start feeling sleepy and honour it — Don’t let that second wind kick in;
  • Go to bed earlier;
  • Take a bath by candlelight and see how much better you sleep. (The bath and the candlelight will work synergystically and I don’t recommend taking your iPhone with you on this occasion :) ).
  • Keep your bedroom as dark as pitch when you are sleeping.
  • Try falling asleep with a pair of eyeshades to block out more light.
  • Spend at least an hour a day in direct sunlight.
  • Try to decrease the light in your bedroom gradually in the hours before you hit the hay;
  • Try to time your wake up with light;
  • Spend less time watching tv or playing/working on the computer in the evening, especially within an hour of your bed time.
  • Use a reddish light as a nightlight if you need to go to the washroom in the middle of the night.

I hope this helps with your insomnia. Please leave a comment and let us know if this was new information to you or if you knew about blue light and insomnia already.

When was the last time you changed your sheets?

Posted by Maria on August 20, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Humour, Self-Care, Skin Care, Sleep, Uncategorized, Wellness | Be the First to Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Here’s another tip on beating insomnia: wash and change the sheets on your bed, particularly if you had a fitful sleep the night before.

How often should people change their bedding and when was the last time you changed your sheets?

Housekeeping experts suggest changing your sheets once a week or once every two weeks. If doing laundry isn’t your strong suit, try sticking to a monthly schedule (whether you need to wash the sheets or not :) ).

What do sheets have to do with insomnia?

Clean bed sheets make sleeping easier. Sheets need to be changed often and regularly because our bodies naturally shed skin cells and secrete oils and sweat while we are asleep. These fluids get trapped in our pajamas and bed sheets and can cause bacteria to grow. This will contribute to an uncomfortable night’s sleep.

For those who have allergies to dust mites, it’s important to change bed sheets every couple of days because skin cells are food for dust mites and washing sheets keeps them to a minimum.

And if you eat or drink while in bed, you’re adding these ingredients to the mix. (Does anyone remember the quote, “I wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers? :) ) But crumbs may make you feel itchy and can also attract insects and ants.

Of course, always wash your sheets right away after night sweats, illness, incontinence, food spillage, etc.

How to properly wash bed sheets

Wash your sheets in hot water (120-140 degrees F or 49-60 degrees C) and then dry them promptly. You don’t want the wet sheets to sit around damp in the washer for a few hours before you send them to the dryer or pin them up on the clothes line. Also, use laundry soap that is 1) compatible with your type of washing machine and 2) free of colours and fragrance (especially if you have sensitive skin or allergies). Some people like to iron their sheets and I never understood that until I bought some sheets that are way too wrinkly for my liking, so now I get it.

There’s something really inviting about a bed with crisp and clean sheets, particularly in the hot summer months. And if you’re suffering from insomnia, try to break the cycle and start off the night with a clean slate by making your bed with fresh linens. Once your head hits the pillow and the sheets cover your shoulders, I guarantee you’ll feel better and the agony from the night before will vanish into the night sky.

Let me know if you like this sleep tip in the comments. Thanks.

Less Caffeine is a Sleeper’s Dream

Posted by Maria on August 19, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Ingredients, Nutrition, Sleep, Uncategorized, Wellness | 5 Comments to Read

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

I like to start my day with one or two cups of coffee. It’s not that I can’t function without my morning coffee; I just like the taste.

Sometimes in the afternoon before I workout, I’ll have a cup of green tea (because apparently it helps you burn 19% more fat) though my personal trainer suggested drinking white tea instead because it would probably help the same way without the caffeine.

Occasionally, I like to drink a can of diet cola or have a piece of chocolate. But that’s as far as I go with my caffeine intake. I don’t buy energy drinks and wouldn’t know which brand to choose if I wanted one.

Caffeine and other stimulates can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. Drinking caffeinated beverages can make it more difficult to fall asleep and reduce the quality of sleep. If you drink a caffeinated drink at night, you’ll likely wake up more often and will have limited deep sleep and REM sleep. All in all, less caffeine is a sleeper’s dream.

Cut down on your caffeine if you can

If you suspect that caffeine is keeping you up at night and is contributing to your insomnia, try drinking fewer caffeinated beverages in your day. But cutting down on caffeine can be easier said than done. If you go cold turkey, you may experience severe withdrawal headaches. It’s best to reduce your caffeine intake gradually. If you are having trouble sleeping at night:

  • Avoid energy drinks;
  • Try to limit yourself to 3 or 4 cups of tea a day;
  • Try to limit yourself to 2 cups of coffee a day (and drink them earlier in the day rather than later);
  • Try decaffeinated tea or coffee to see if you like the taste;
  • If you’re relying on coffee to give you energy, try drinking a glass of water first because your fatigue may be related to dehydration instead;
  • Replace one of your daily teas or coffees or colas or energy drinks with something like herbal teas, orange juice, or smoothies;
  • Instead of drinking caffeinated beverages, go for a snack like a banana, or a few pieces of dried fruit or a granola bar.

A note on energy drinks

Saying to avoid energy drinks may sound harsh, but they are loaded with caffeine and sugar. Energy drinks are popular (especially among young people who feel they need to stay up late to study in school) because they are formulated to boost mental and physical energy. (Coffee, tea and soft drinks are not considered energy drinks even though they contain caffeine).

Energy drinks are generally made with ingredients like carbonated water, acai, ginseng, gingko biloba as well as vitamin B and other herbs. They also often contain guarana and yerba mate which are hidden sources of caffeine. Ultimately, energy drinks contain more than 3 times the amount of caffeine than a can of cola and are served in larger cans which also increases their potency.

Although drinking energy drinks can improve mental alertness, excessive consuption can cause agitation, anxiety, irritability, nausea, nervousness, abnormal heart rhythms, increased urination, sleeplessness and insomnia, especially if two or more cans are consumed in a day.

So, if you’re at a loss of why you have insomnia, look at your daily caffeine intake. You just might be able to improve the quality of your sleep with this one change. As always, write a comment and let us know your progress.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Posted by Maria on August 17, 2012 under 31 Blog Posts in 31 Days, Sleep, Spa and Sleep Dictionary, Uncategorized | Read the First Comment

by Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner

Do you know the magic number of hours you need to sleep in a 24-hour period to function at your optimum? Just as we all don’t have the same colour of eyes, the amount of sleep each person needs varies across the spectrum.

Some people are short sleepers and they only require less than 6 hours of sleep a night while others are considered long sleepers and they need to sleep 9 hours or more at a stretch. A good night’s sleep can range from less than 3 hours for some and more than 10 hours for others. Knowing how much sleep you need personally will help gauge how well you’re doing in the sleep department and if you need to make any adjustments to your sleep schedule and lifestyle.

Eight hours of sleep a night is usually assumed to be the best amount of sleep for most, however, most people get around 7 to 7 and a half hours of sleep a night and function fairly well.

Average Sleep Needs by Age

  • Newborns (0 to 2 months): 12 to 18 hours a day
  • Infants (2 months to 1 year): 14 to 15 hours a day
  • Toddlers (1 year to 3 years): 12 to 14 hours a day
  • Pre-schoolers (3 years to 5 years): 11 to 13 hours a day
  • Children (5 years to 12 years): 10 to 11 hours a day
  • Preteens and Teenagers (9 years to 19 years): 8.5 to 10 hours a day
  • Adults (18 years or older): 7.5 to 9 hours a day

Once we reach adulthood, the amount of sleep we need will remain fairly constant for the rest of our lives. Although you may have slept longer one night than another night, the number of hours of sleep will average out over a week or a month, give or take a half hour. Sleep needs may change, however, depending on circumstances and people may need more sleep in times of stress, depression, grief, and increased mental effort and some women may need to sleep more during premenstrual times.

The best way to figure out how much sleep you need is to check in with yourself several times a day to see how you feel. If you’re not sleeping enough and are sleep deprived, you may have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, you may feel lethargic in the afternoon, you may feel the need to take a nap, or you fall asleep within 5 minutes of your head hitting the pillow at night.

If you’re catching enough zzz’s, (not too much or not too little) you will feel energetic all day long from the moment you wake up (without an alarm clock), through the morning, afternoon and evening until your regular bedtime.

Take note of how much sleep you are getting and how you are feeling and then stick with what works best. Hopefully, this series will help you reach your magic number of sleep hours soon.

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