1) Protect Your Back
Whether you’re an avid gardener who is frequently carrying mulch, weeding, or planting, or you’re a camping enthusiast who is setting up camp, collecting firewood, and hiking on the weekends, protecting your back is essential. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t remind you of this fact!
One of our biggest recommendations for protecting your back, is to use your legs when lifting, not your back! This concept can be applied to a wide range of activities you may partake in this summer. The proper way to lift heavy objects is to use your legs, keep your abs tight, and your back straight. This will help you avoid throwing out your back!
After a day outside, it’s always a good idea to do some basic stretches as well to help relieve any back pain or tension you may have acquired. Here are a few beneficial stretches for your back:
- Lay flat on your back. With hands behind knees, gently bring both knees to your chest and hold. You can also gently rock side to side.
- Twist. Lay flat on your back. Pull one knee into chest. Place opposite hand on the side of your knee. Cross knee over the opposite side of your body for a spinal twist. Other arm lays out to the side and look in the opposite direction of your twist.
- Hamstring Stretch. From a standing position, bend down towards the ground from your waist. Keep a micro bend in the knees. Aim for reaching your arms towards the ground, but do not strain yourself to do so. Only go to your limit.
- Cat-Cow Stretch. Start with your hands and knees on the floor in a tabletop position with a neutral spine. First, exhale and round your spine up towards the ceiling pulling your belly in (like a cat stretching). On the inhale, arch your back and let your belly drop to the floor, while gazing upwards (cow pose). Continue moving from cat to cow until you feel stretched enough.
2) Natural Bug Spray
There are many aspects of summer we greatly enjoy, but one thing that’s not at the top list of our is BUGS and their itchy bites they so generously like to give. Mosquitoes, ants, ticks…these pesky bugs can be quite the pain when trying to enjoy the outdoors. For many, the solution is to grab that bottle of name brand bug spray to fend off those nasty buggers. However, many sprays are often filled with harsh ingredients like DEET.
DEET is actually a pesticide. Products with DEET are all labeled advising users to do the following: wash it off immediately when returning indoors, avoid using it under clothing, avoid over application, do not spray indoors, and do not apply to wounds or irritated skin. Those are a lot of warnings for something marketed as your best defense again insects. Personally, we would rather not spray ourselves with pesticide. Now, we’re not saying you should discontinue your use of bug spray entirely, but rather we recommend you at least look into some of the more natural products and give them a try. There are plenty of options available these days.
Most natural food stores usually carry organic and DEET free bug sprays. If you’re feeling extra motivated, you can even make your own! We tested out our own bug spray last summer and it worked pretty well. You just typically have to apply it more frequently. Check out the recipe below.
Natural Mosquito Repellant:
16 oz spray bottle
15 drops lavender oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3-4 tbsp vanilla extract
Add lavender oil, lemon juice, and vanilla extract to spray bottle. Fill the rest of the 16 oz bottle with water. Shake bottle to combine. Mixture is ready for use!
**Since there is fresh lemon juice in the mixture, keep in the refrigerator when you can. This will need to be replaced more frequently because of the fresh ingredients, but it smells great and is not sticky!
3) Check Your Sunscreen Labels
Unfortunately, these days we not only need to read our food labels extensively, but we also need to be checking the labels on our body products. Harmful ingredients can be found in an alarmingly high number of products, including name-brand sunscreens.
With skin cancer on the rise, it’s important to be safe with your skin, especially in the summertime. If you’re going to be in the sun for long periods of time, you definitely need to have some protection on your skin. However, you can still protect your skin from burning without using products that contain harsh ingredients. There are many options of natural sunscreens available today.
Let us explain why we would go the natural route and avoid many of the major sunscreen brands. First of all, there are two types of ingredients in sunscreens, mineral and chemical filters. Sunscreens with chemical filters typically include ingredients such as oxybenzone, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. Oxybenzone is the most common ingredient found in many sunscreens and one you want to avoid. It can penetrate the skin, disrupt hormones, and cause skin allergies. You typically want to look for mineral sunscreens which include zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These are much safer and do not penetrate the skin like oxybenzone.
To find quality natural sunscreens, the Environmental Working Group provides lists each year of natural sunscreen products for adults and children along with price ranges and ranks for their safety/effectiveness. It’s a good place to start when looking for a new sunscreen. Also, many natural food stores will carry these kinds of products, so they’re readily available and easy to find!
Take these tips into consideration while enjoying your favorite summer activities! As always, we want to help you stay healthy and happy!