COCOA CAFE BLOG

How To Sneak In A Workout At Your Desk

How To Sneak In A Workout At Your Desk

With our hectic schedules, it's sometimes difficult to squeeze in time for working out. When you're in a pinch for time, you just have to be creative!  Dolvett Quince has some awesome tips on how to sneak in a mini workout while at your desk.

3 Herbals Teas To Help Reduce Stress And Anxiety

3 Herbals Teas To Help Reduce Stress And Anxiety

Herbal teas can be a wonderful alternative to prescription medication to help your body manage stress and anxiety. 

According to Dr. Anju Sood, a Bangalore-based Nutritionist, “Herbal teas are very relaxing for the mind as they contain essential oils that are known to cool down the nerve. 

Below are three of our favorite teas by Yogi, which is our favorite herbal tea brand. If you have time, you can purchase the actual herbs and steep them, but if you're short on time like we are, these options from Yogi will be much more convenient.

1. Kava Stress Relief

According to WebMD "Kava's calming effect may relieve anxiety, restlessness, sleeplessness, and stress-related symptoms such as muscle tension or spasm. Kava may also relieve pain."

Yogi's version of this tea is rich, spicy and slightly sweet. We like the flavor so much that we don't even need a sweetner with it . This is a great tea for morning or night.

2.  Honey Lavender Stress Relief

Lavender is known for it's abilities to reduce nervous exhaustion, headaches caused by stress, and anxiety. It also perfect for reducing indigestion problems.

This aroma alone of Honey Lavender is soothing. The lavender isn't overpowering, It's balanced nicely with the addition of chamomile, lemongrass and other herbs. Like Kava, it's slightly sweet, so you might want to forgo the honey so you can enjoy its full flavor.

3.  Comforting Chamomile

Chamomile has a very soothing effects with mildly sedative properties that help you switch off on a hectic day.

This tea has an herbaceous and earthy flavor that is very mild and smooth. We like to add a little honey with this one, but it's tastes nice without it also.

What are some of your favorite teas that help you relax? Let us know in the comments below!

 

How To Meditate In 3 Easy Steps

How To Meditate In 3 Easy Steps

We always hear about the benefits of meditation, but did you know that mindfulness meditation not only can help to reduce the effects of stress, anxiety and depression, it can actually increase grey matter density in the brain.  What does that mean? It means that meditation can physically change your brain with positive results.

So what is mindfulness meditation? It's a practice used to focus your attention on the present moment, learning to accept your current situation with curiosity, but without judgment. It sounds a lot more difficult than it really is. It's actually fairly simple and once you get the hang of it, it becomes a little more automatic along with the peace that comes with it.

Of course there are lots of different ways in which you can meditate and it's best to experiment with different practices until you find what suits you. The following is a mediation practice that the whole family can be involved with. It is pretty straight forward and can be added to any part of your day.  

Step 1: Choose your space

Find a quiet and comfortable place in your home that you will use for meditation sessions. Make sure the area is free of clutter. 

Step 2: Set the mood

Decide whether you want to sit or lie down. Although sitting is ideal, this may not be possible for some people to do comfortably. If you're sitting, you can sit on a mat on the floor or use a chair. If you're lying down, try to keep your spine straight by laying on your back, if possible.

This part is optional, but we enjoy practicing a little ritual that cues the brain to get into the meditative mode. We light incense and turn on some calming flute music. If you have music streaming services like Itunes, Spotify or Amazon, with a quick search, you can find lots of meditation music.

Step 3. Start Meditating

Start by closing your eyes and begin diaphragmatic breathing, also called belly breathing. We recommend doing about 10 breaths to start. Breathe in through your nose for a slow 4 count and then out for a slow 4 count.  This will induce full body relaxation. If you're having a little trouble getting starting, Deepak Chopra has some helpful guided mediation audio to help you on your way. He's on Itunes and Spotify.

Don't try to clear your mind because that's impossible. Simply focus on your breathing. If you get distracted by thoughts, gently guide your focus back to your breath. That's pretty much it!

If you're new to meditation, start out with 5 minutes at a time until you can build up to the desired amount of time. Remember to be patient with yourself and just enjoy the process and benefit of the practice.

Breakfast Energy Smoothie To Kick The Daylight Savings Blues

Breakfast Energy Smoothie To Kick The Daylight Savings Blues

It's all fun and games until Daylight Savings Time rolls around and you lose an entire hour of precious sleep. For some of us, losing an hour can be difficult to adjust to for the first few days. You may feel a bit tired and sluggish in the morning, causing you to reach for that extra cup of coffee, which could be making you feel even more tired, but don't!  We have a healthier way to get that boost of energy you need, with our smoothie recipe below:

Ingredients:

serving size 2 cups | makes 1-2 servings

1 c. frozen mixed berries

1 frozen ripe banana 

1/2 c. low fat vanilla yogurt (or your favorite flavor)

1/2 c. vanilla almond milk (or your favorite milk or even orange juice)

1 tsp chia seeds (optional)

1 tsp honey (optional)

Instructions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.

2. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

If you want to be fancy, you can garnish it with a sprig of mint and granola. Have a little fun and get creative by adding your favorite fruits and veggies. You can even add some protein powder for an extra nutrient boost!

How To Make A Coconut Oil Deep Conditioner

How To Make A Coconut Oil Deep Conditioner

If you have or have ever had dry hair, you know the struggle is real when it comes to trying to keep it moisturized. That's where coconut oil comes in. It contains fatty acids that can penetrate deep into the hair shaft, infusing moisture back into your hair and leaving it soft and shiny.  It also contains proteins that can strengthen your hair and prevent damage.

Coconut oil is a permanent fixture in our haircare arsenal. We add a little in our shampoo and conditioner bottles, we even put a little into a spritzer bottle of water to make a quick and easy leave in conditioner. Our favorite way to use it, is as a deep conditioner.  After trying our recipe, we're sure it will be one of your favorites too!

 

What you'll need

  • small bowl
  • wooden or plastic stirring utensil
  • plastic bag or shower cap
  • hair dryer (optional)
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil in its solid form
  • 1 tbsp sweet almond oil
  • 3 to 5 drops of your favorite essential oil (we like using lavender, clary sage or chamomile

 

     

    Instructions:

    1. Add coconut oil and sweet almond oil to a bowl and stir until smooth and creamy.
    2. Stir in essential oil.
    3. With your hands, add mixture to hair from roots to tips, making sure your hair is completely coated.
    4. Cover your hair with shower cap and leave on for 15 to 20 minutes. ( For extra penetration, sit under a dryer or use a hand held hair dryer to warm you hair during this time.)
    5. Remove shower cap, wash and style your hair as usual.

    To get the best results, we recommend making this a weekly treatment, along with adopting a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water.

    Have your own deep conditioning recipe?  We wanna try it! Leave the details in the comments below.

    5 Ways To Start Liking Monday

    5 Ways To Start Liking Monday

    If you're anything like most people, your dread of Monday usually starts early Sunday evening. That's when the countdown begins. You start anguishing over the number of hours you have left before you have to hear the blaring sound of your alarm, after you've hit snooze for the third time! Ughhh!

    What if I told you that it doesn't have to be this way? Not only that, you can actually learn to love Mondays, therefore decreasing your stress levels, therefore contributing to your overall health. It's true! I know your hate for Monday runs deep, but just keep reading. I just might make a believer out of you!

    Get your mind right

    Perception is everything. If you tell yourself Mondays suck, then they will. Start training your brain to like Mondays by speaking positive words about it. You can up the ante by using Monday as a day to treat yo'self! Order extra caramel in your latte or take a bath with some of your favorite bath products (hint hint). Basically, flip the mental script by making Monday a day to look forward to.

     

    Don't party too hardy

    I know! What's the weekend if you can't turn up! Turning up isn't the problem, it's knowing when to turn down. Limit your alcohol intake to not more than 3 drinks per day of the weekend. It would really help to lessen the stress on your body if you ate something before drinking and stayed hydrated with water in between drinks. This will help you to not feel so groggy the next morning.

     

    Don't stress

    Going from a couple of days of sleeping in late, to waking up early is rough. Throw in a long commute, pushy bosses and hectic schedules, and you have a stress cocktail. Don't allow yourself to feel anxious or rushed. Before each task, starting with waking in the morning, do a short deep breathing exercise. Belly breathing is one of our favorites! It encourages your sympathetic nervous system to activate, which tells the body to calm down.

     

    Switch it up a bit

    Sometimes we get bored because we end up doing the same mundane things. Do something different on Monday. Eat something new, go for a short walk on your break or take a new route, or listen to a different music playlist. Give your brain something new to focus on to break up the monotony.

     

    Brighten up your environment

    Looking at the same boring desk can be a real eye roller. Put some flowers on your desk. You'll be able to enjoy them for the entire week. If flowers aren't your thing, put a different photo or quote on your desk or screen saver that makes you smile or laugh. Be sure to change it weekly.

    New habits take a while to learn, so be consistent and persistent, and your attitude about Mondays will slowly start to change! Happy Monday!

    Delicious Recipe For Turmeric Tea or Golden Milk

    Delicious Recipe For Turmeric Tea or Golden Milk

    What the heck is turmeric anyways? Turmeric is the golden colored version of its cousin ginger—which is, more or less, a root. It's native to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, where it is found in much of the cuisine there. 

    This ancient spice, celebrated for centuries as both food and medicine, has resurfaced within the health and nutrition communities thanks to curcumin, the healing substance which supplies its vibrant color.  

    Curcumin is known to have many health benefits. Studies have shown it to be effective in reducing inflammation in chronic pain, increase brain function, help prevent certain cancers, treating depression, and the list goes on!

    How does it taste? It's earthy, slightly bitter, with a peppery bite. It's that delicious flavor found in most curry powders that we love so much! In our home, we don't cook much with this yummy root, but we do create a delicious tea that gives us all the same benefits.

    Below is one of our fave recipes for "Golden Milk" aka Turmeric Tea. If you have a turmeric tea recipe you'd like to share with us, please leave it below in the comments!

    Ingredients:

    serving size 1/2 cup | makes 4 servings

    2 c. coconut milk (you can use your favorite kind of milk or even water)

    1 tsp. organic turmeric powder

    1/4 tsp. organic ginger powder (you can use a small chunk of raw peeled ginger)

    pinch of black pepper (this helps our bodies to better absorb the curcumin)

    pinch of cinnamon

    1 tbsp. of honey (you can use more or less of your favorite sweetner)

    Instructions:

    1. Combine and mix with a spoon all ingredients (except the milk) in a serving tea pot.

    2. Warm your chosen milk in a separate tea pot or saucepan.

    3. Slowly add milk to the ingredients in the serving teapot, stir and enjoy!

    Note: If you want to be fancy, you can add a dash of cinnamon for garnish. Also, if you don't have a serving teapot, you can use a large cup or any container that will hold 2 cups of warm liquid. Also, this stuff will stain everything! We're talking countertops, kitchen tools, bowls, cups—everything, so be careful! 

    As with any new food or spice, you should first contact your doctor to see if it's okay for you to consume it. People with certain health conditions, taking certain medications or are pregnant should get clearance before giving this a try.

    Real Ways You Can Treat Stretch Marks

    Real Ways You Can Treat Stretch Marks

    Statistics say that 75 to 90% of pregnant women develop stretch marks, 70% of adolescent females develop them, and 40% of adolescent males also develop stretch marks. So yeah, it appears as though a majority of the world is covered in these loving striations! 

    If you're saying to yourself, "Yeah, that's great and all, but I hate my stretchies and they need to go!" We totally understand!  Although surgery and laser treatment are the only known ways to completely remove stretch marks, there are ways that you can make them less noticeable, and we are going to share some of those things with you below:

    Exfoliate regularly

    This encourages the skin to regenerate by stimulating new collagen and elastin to create a more normal appearance of the skin. Improvement can takes months, so it's important to be patient and religious about your regimen. Sugar is a well known gentle exfoliator and sweet almond oil helps to gently dislodge debris from deep within skin pores and follicles.

    Get your vitamins

    In particular, Vitamin A is known for its ability to help the skin to appear more smooth and youthful.  You can use topicals that contain the vitamin or you can get them through diet. Bestproduct.com has a list of stretch mark products that received top reviews. You can double down on getting your vitamin A by adding it to your diet, with foods like carrots, sweet potatoes and kale, which are great sources.

    Moisturize & protect

    It's important to keep the skin moisturized. Certain oils and butters have long been touted for their ability to help reduce the appearance of scars. Amongst those are coconut oil and cocoa butter.

    Coconut oil is able to penetrate your skin on a deeper level than your average product because of its low molecular weight and the way it bonds with proteins. Cocoa butter contains compounds called cocoa mass polyphenols, which some studies have found can help diminish signs of aging, plus soothe sensitive skin to boot!

    Drink water

    We know you've heard this 50 million times already, but there's real science behind it!  A well hydrated body will also help to increase the elasticity of your skin. Regular water intake will help your body to flush toxins out of your system that can retard skin regeneration. As it turns out, drinking your water and minding your business really is beneficial!

    We would like to say that there's nothing wrong with having stretch marks. There are more of us that have stretchies than those who don't. Whether you have them or not, it's important to learn to lovingly embrace your body, "flaws" and all, and not allow society to dictate what it means to be beautiful. You're not beautiful because someone says you are, you're beautiful because you exist!

    3 DIY Recipes For Mood Boosting Aromatherapy Spritzers

    3 DIY Recipes For Mood Boosting Aromatherapy Spritzers

    Little is known about the history of aromatherapy. The Egyptians were the first to develop distillation machines to extract oils from certain plants, however, infusing aromatic oils to boost the mood was said to first originate in China.

    The actual term "aromatherapy" first originated in 1937 when French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse invented the word after using lavender oil in a burn incident. This spurred his curiosity about the healing power of essential oils. 

    Today, we are just learning what our ancient counterparts already knew. Essential oils have various healing properties. In clinical trials, essential oils have been proven to elevate mood. According to Dr. Axe, "Our basic emotions and hormonal balance are in response to the most basic smells. This makes scents very powerful in our day-to-day lives because they’re a direct pathway to memory and emotion — which is why they can fight depression and anxiety."

    Below are a few of our favorite mood boosting recipes that help us to maintain our calm:

    What you'll need

    • 4 oz spray bottle
    • 1/2 cup distilled water
    • 3 tsp. of vodka or witch hazel (This will help to disperse the oils and prolong the fragrance.)
    • 20 to 30 drops of your favorite essential oil 

    Instructions:

    1. Add water and vodka (or witch hazel) to the spray bottle, then add oils.
    2. Shake well to blend
    3. Allow it to sit for 24 hours so the oils can blend 

    Calm & Relax

    Lavender – 8 drops

    Mandarin – 4 drops

    Roman Chamomile – 4 drops

    Ylang Ylang – 4 drops

    Balance & Renew

    Lavender - 15 drops 

    Bergamont - 5 drops 

    Clary Sage - 3 drops 

    Frankincense - 2 drops 

    Uplift & Boost

    Sweet Orange - 20 drops

    Ylang Ylang - 10 drops

    Peppermint - 2 drops

    You can use these blends on your body (avoid the face and eyes) or as a room spray. We like to spritz them in our hair, on pillows and throw rugs. If you're using them solely as a room spritz (not on the body) you can increase the drops to 50 to 60 for your total recipe.

    Enjoy experimenting with these spritzers and make your own signature scents. Please come back and share some of your faves with us!

     

    Please note that people with some health conditions and pregnant women should avoid some essential oils, also, some oils are dangerous to pets. Please do your research and educate yourself on the usage of essential oils.

    5 Health Reason To Take A Bath

    5 Health Reason To Take A Bath

    For centuries, taking baths has been linked to human health. The Roman's love for baths led them to create incredible bathing complexes, while African priests had special bathing ceremonies to assist Kings in their journey to the afterlife. Nowadays, baths are largely prescribed for relaxation and indulging in a bit of "me time". But, how can taking a bath be a health benefit?

    First, we'd like to say that taking baths in water that is too warm can be damaging to your skin and even cause stress on the heart. The ideal bath temp for your skin shouldn't stray above lukewarm, says Sejal Shah, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. There's no absolute for how hot your bath should be, but doctors advise to keep the water below 110 degrees. If your skin is turning red, it's probably too hot.

    With all that being said, on to the benefits!

    Can Help To Ease Muscle Pain

    Warm baths can provide relief for your aching muscles. The warm water increases the temperature of your aching muscles, which blocks pain receptors. This is wonderful for those who suffer from chronic pain and other muscular issues.

    If you're athletic and just finished an extensive workout, you might opt for a cold bath. Cold water constricts blood vessels and drains the lactic acid in muscles that tends to build up with intense exercise.

    Improves Your Mood

    Who isn't in a better mood after a long relaxing bath? Duh! But you'll be interested to know that there is real scientific evidence of it. Dr John Harcup, chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee for the British Spa Foundation, thinks that being horizontal also has a huge effect on psychological wellbeing. "Not only are you in a more relaxing position, there is also all the water around you - I think that gives us connotations of being in the womb, and it is very comforting." That's a prescription we'll gladly take!

    Help Relieve Skin Conditions

    Taking luke warm soaks with the addition of milk, oats, sea or epsom salt, certain oils and many other skin soothers, is known to help with conditions like psoriasis and eczema. These gentle exfoliators help to moisturize and soothe itchy skin, while maintaining the skin's natural barrier function.

    Steam Is A Cold Buster

    How many times has your mom told you take a warm shower or bath when you're feeling congested? Turns out mom was right! Surprise! It helps to clear out nasal passages and airways while reducing inflammation. Steam also helps to relax the muscles in your diaphragm, loosening the air passageways, allowing space to cough up phlegm from chest congestion.

    Get A Good Night Of Sleep

    Ever wonder why you feel so sleepy after a nice warm bath? It's all about the hormones!

    At night our bodies naturally experience a dip in temperature. That dip in temperature signals our body to start producing melatonin, which is our sleep hormone. After taking a warm bath, your body cools off relatively quickly, tricking your body into thinking that the temperature drop has taken place and it's time to go off to la la land!