Wellness Strategies for Navigating the Holidays

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The holidays are all about Peace and Joy…until they’re not. If you find your anxiety levels rising as the holidays approach, check out these 25 Ways to Fight Holiday Stress from Health.com. Here, we add a few of our own ideas for coping with four common holiday-stress triggers:

Scenario 1: Gift-Shoppers’ Nightmare. You’re on your fifth loop of a way-overheated department store, searching for that perfect something to give a person you either don’t know very well or who doesn’t need another material possession in their life. Think outside the gift box! Is there an experience you can create? A service you might provide? Some personal talent you can share? Maybe there’s a charity or cause to which you can donate in their name.

Scenario 2: Dinner Disaster. You have a glossy-food-magazine vision of perfection for your holiday feast. Now you’re thirty minutes out from mealtime and things are spinning out of control in the kitchen. Ask. For. Help. Most people would rather contribute and feel useful than stand around sipping cocktails while you struggle. Graciously accepting help creates a wonderful opportunity to connect authentically with your guests and will be far more memorable than your picture-perfect meal.

Scenario 3: Dieters’ Paradox. You’re walking into a lavish party. You’ve read all the articles and tips about how to ‘stick to your diet’ and ‘beat the holiday weight gain.’ But, oh, so much temptation! In floods the guilt, so even if  you do blow it (as you very possibly will), you don’t enjoy it at all. Accept that, no matter how disciplined you are throughout the year, there’s a very good chance you’ll indulge at least once or twice during the holiday season. Give yourself permission to truly enjoy and find solace in NEDA’s Declaration of Independence from a Weight-Obsessed World.

Scenario 4: Cranky Relative Syndrome. You’re staring down 4–6 hours in which you’ll be captive audience to Uncle Frank’s inebriated political rants. Or maybe you’re just the one person in your family with a radically differing lifestyle or viewpoint, and, for one reason or another, you don’t have an option of simply refusing to attend. First, take a moment to appreciate that you have people with whom to celebrate the holidays (many don’t). Then, arrive well prepared with a list of noncontroversial subjects and talking points to which you can redirect conversation. Or bring and encourage plenty of distracting activities such as card, board, and parlor games; a nostalgic singalong; a look through old family photo albums and yearbooks; or maybe just a long walk in nature after the meal.

Before and after the holidays, set aside at least a few hours to indulge in real self-care. That might involve exercise, physical pampering, hiring a professional team to clean your house, or maybe just a perfectly solitary afternoon with a cup of tea and a great book. Happy holidays!

The MaidPro House Cleaning Difference Newark, DE

New Castle County’s premier home cleaners.

At MaidPro Newark, creating clean houses is our priority. We are located in Newark, and deliver personalized, precise services to Bear, Christiana, Claymont, Edgemoor, Elsmere, Greenville, Hockessin, Manor, Marshallton, New Castle, Newark, Newport, Pike Creek, Port Penn, Stanton, Talleyville, Wilmington and Yorklyn. Whether you want shiny floors in Claymont or sparkling bathrooms in Yorklyn, just call us for all your Wilmington area residential cleaning needs.

Professional maid service, with a personal touch.

We know and trust our MaidPro employees on a personal and professional level. Our cleaning PROs undergo thorough background checks prior to employment and are bonded and insured. They also receive extensive maid service training to instill the skills needed to clean to the highest standards—yours! And while we strive to help our employees work to their greatest ability, we also make sure to have fun. Because when you love what you do, it shows in your work.

Good Habits to Start the New Year

How often have you made a big New Year’s resolution (“I will lose 40 lbs; go to the gym every day; quit [bad habit].”) only to fail by January third or fourth? This year, instead of setting one giant goal, try establishing a few easy, good habits to crowd out the bad ones. Just a couple new good habits can accumulate to all the things you really want such as improved health, less stress, and more happiness. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Sleep more, sleep better. Go to bed earlier. Leave electronic devices—phones, tablets—elsewhere. Set your alarm for the time you really intend to rise and stop hitting snooze, which only trades deep sleep for a less restful variety. Also, tune into natural circadian rhythms by exposing yourself to sunlight during the day and keeping your environment dark-ish at night.

Make your bed every morning. Studies show this actually leads to more restful sleep. It also makes your bed healthier by keeping out dust and allergens, and sets a tone of productivity and accomplishment for the rest of the day.

Prep for your morning the night before. Figure out what you are going to wear. Wash, iron, and lay out clothes. Pack lunch. Anything that makes your mornings less harried and rushed will minimize the time you spend in high-adrenaline, stress mode during each day.

Do now. When you see something that needs doing—a light bulb or battery that needs changing, a picture that needs hanging—do it right then instead of adding to a list that hangs over your head like a black cloud.

Eat the rainbow. Phytonutrients give fruits and veggies their brilliant colors. Eating the rainbow—red, yellow, orange, green, purple, blue—is an easy way to ensure you get a full range of vital nutrients into your body every day.

Move a little each hour. Walk. Stretch. Squat. Shake. Jiggle. Dance. Jump rope. Exercise with hand weights. Do anything that gets your circulatory and lymphatic systems moving.

Find one tiny way to save each day. Clip coupons, skip fancy coffees, borrow vs. buying books, and so forth. Take the money you save and actually put it into an account or take advantage of programs that automatically transfer ‘loose change’ on transactions into savings or investment accounts. At year-end, you can spend it all on a luxury you really want.

Contrary to what you might have read, it often takes much longer than 21 days to establish a new habit. Research shows, however, that—even if you mess up periodically—perseverance will get you there in the end. You just need to start somewhere and keep going!

Happy New Year!

Pet-friendly Plants To Keep Your Home Healthy

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Typical homes are chock-full of items that can be responsible—either by virtue of chemical composition or the way in which they are manufactured—for releasing harmful chemicals into the air. But fear not! Houseplants can be cultivated to filter many of those chemicals right out of the air you breath and look great doing it.

We went through a NASA Clean Air Study and crosschecked all of the houseplants with the ASPCA to provide you with a list of all of the pet-friendly ones. Enjoy the greenery and fresher air in your home!
FLOWERING PLANTS

  • Dendrobium Orchids (Dendrobium spp.) With over 1,000 varieties, these flowering beauties filter airborne xylene and toluene particles. Light, temp, and watering requirements vary by type, so careful research for specific varieties is a must.
  • Moth Orchids (Phalaenopsis spp.) Also proven to filter xylene and toluene, moth orchids can bloom for up to eight weeks and will flower repeatedly with attentiveness and care.
  • Turf Lily (Liriope spicata) Often used outdoors as a landscaping plant, turf lily works well inside to filter formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and ammonia. While it does not require direct sun, it does need abundant watering and relatively humid air.
  • Gerber Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) Revered for oversized, vibrantly colored blooms, Gerber daisies filter benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. For spring through fall, Gerbers want lots of direct morning sun and regular watering plus fertilizer. In winter, less frequent watering and indirect sun are preferred.
  • Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum) One of the easiest houseplants to grow, spiders also filter formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. Spider plants thrive in well-drained soil and bright, indirect light. Mature spider plants will produce spiderettes, which you can easily propagate into even more air-filtering plants.

PALMS AND OTHER LEAFY PLANTS

  • Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii) For indoor use, look for pygmy date palm, but don’t be fooled by the name; mature plants can reach over six feet tall! Date palms prefer full sun and dry-ish, peat-based soil with lots of drainage. Filters: formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene.
  • Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens) Inside, areca palm grows to 6-7 feet and filters formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene. Areca prefers warm temps and moist, well-drained soil.
  • Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii) Filters formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene and will grow in low light conditions. Offer adequate drainage, high-quality potting soil, and filtered water at room temperature.
  • Broadleaf Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa) Filters formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, and ammonia, but grows tall and wide, so reserve for large indoor spaces. There are many species, each with different cultivation requirements so research carefully.
  • Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata ’Bostoniensis’) These lacy green houseplants filter formaldehyde, xylene, and toluene, but are rather finicky about their environment. They want cool temps, high humidity, indirect light, and soil kept consistently damp.

If you have a history of killing off houseplants, this additional advice might help you to mend your ways in pursuit of the best possible indoor air quality!

Fall Chores to Ensure a Bright, Healthy, and Safe Home for Winter

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There are certain big household chores that need to be done only once a year, and fall is the perfect time. Here is a quick checklist of things you can do to ensure a bright, safe, and healthy home now that temperatures are beginning to drop and winter lies just around the corner.

Wash your windows inside and out. Now that windows will be closed more often than open, you’ll want them to allow in maximum light and to keep views crystal clear. While you are at it, remove and wash all screens and thoroughly vacuum outer sills.

Replace batteries in all smoke detectors (even hardwired devices use batteries for backup). Also, test all carbon monoxide detectors and check original paperwork so you know exactly when your CO1 devices are due to reach end of life. Typically this occurs every 10 years or so and will be indicated by some type of signal, but better to be safe than sorry.

Disconnect and thoroughly clean your clothes dryer vent. Unplug and move the machine, so you can clean both behind and underneath as well. Consider removing the back panel to clear lint trapped inside the machine. Trapped lint is a big fire hazard and also reduces the drying efficiency of your machine.

Unscrew, clean, and disinfect all airflow vents, and replace HVAC filters as needed. With less fresh air circulating throughout your home, you’ll feel good knowing your vents are free of added dust, dander, and pathogens.

Remove and clean all permanent lighting fixtures so your lights can burn more brightly. For the same reason, consider taking the time – or hiring a professional – to give your walls a good scrubbing down. Clean walls reflect light better, which is definitely what you want as the days grow shorter and darker.

Clean and inspect all fireplaces, chimneys, and flues. This is one task for which you definitely want to hire a professional who is trained to look for cracks and other damage that can pose winter home safety hazards.

The One-Piece Home Wellness Workout

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By Dan Mahoney, MaidPro Health and Wellness Coach

Do you ever struggle to carry groceries in from your car, haul laundry up or down stairs, carry recyclables to the curb, or lift heavy dishes into cabinets? Strength training not only makes you stronger and more toned, it can also boost your metabolism (muscles constantly burn calories), protect you from common muscle strains and injuries, guard against bone deterioration and osteoporosis, and simply help you to move more easily and happily through your daily household routines.

Perhaps you don’t have time to commit to gym membership or space to host unsightly strength-training equipment in your home. The great news is you can get it all done with a single, small pair of Russian Kettlebells.

Kettlebells were used originally for weighing crops in Russia. Farmers noticed they could use them to become stronger. Their practices eventually made it into shows and performances and have been adopted by fitness trainers worldwide. Five big advantages of Kettlebells:

  • Easily transported.
  • Require little space to use.
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Can be used for all basic strength training movements, including loaded carries, squats, hinges, upper body pushes and pulls.

Here are three tips for getting started with Kettlebells:

Buy authentic and don’t skimp on the weight. Authentic Kettlebells look like cannon balls with handles attached and are made of cast iron (not plastic or cloth bags filled with sand). Depending on baseline strength and experience with weight training, men should start between 16-24kg and women between 12-20kg.

Get proper instruction. Any exercise regimen can be dangerous if done incorrectly and it is very easy to miss important nuances of body positioning and proper alignment when watching videos or reading written instructions online. You might watch a few YouTube videos to see what you are getting in for, but seek out a Certified Russian Kettlebells Instructor for proper training before starting on your own.

Once you are properly trained, Begin with this great Kettlebells workout right in your home: 20 swings, 2 Turkish Get Ups, 20 Swings, 5 Push Ups, 20 Swings, 10 Goblet Squats, 20 Swings, 10 Bent Over Row, 20 Swings, 50-Yard Suitcase Carry.

Happy lifting!

9 Tips to Beat Summer’s Heat!

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Melting in summer’s sultry heat? Here are a few tips for surviving the dog days of summer:

Perform heat-generating activities – such as exercise, cleaning, laundry, running the dishwasher, and cooking – early in the morning when temps are at their lowest daily ebb. Prolong morning’s cooler temps by pulling window shades, closing curtains, and otherwise minimizing lighting inside the home.

Eat light and skip the alcoholic bevvies. Aside from being dehydrating, fatty foods and alcoholic beverages force your liver and other detoxifying organs to work overtime. The added energy expenditure generates heat that your body must address in order to maintain its normal temp.

Hydrate. Adequate hydration enables your body’s natural cooling mechanisms to work at top efficiency on hot days. It’s also key for replacing fluids and electrolytes lost when you perspire.

Run cold tap water or ice cubes on the insides of your wrists, the sides of your neck, your temples, and other ‘pulse points’ where blood vessels run close to the surface. This rapidly cools your blood, which transports a feeling of cool to other parts of your body.

Wear natural fabrics. Keep garments loose and make sure your head and feet can breathe. In the same way you keep your head and feet warm to preserve body heat in winter, uncovering your extremities has the opposite effect when summer temps are soaring.

Avoid heavy lotions and creams, which can clog pores and contribute to heat rash. Fragrances can also be especially cloying on hot, humid days, so either forego altogether or keep applications extremely light.

If you don’t have A/C (or prefer not to use it), place a big bowl of ice in front of a fan as an inexpensive, more environmentally friendly alternative. A misting bottle full of ice water – spritzed a few feet in front of a fan – can provide welcome refreshment too.

Take a quick, cool shower or bath right before going to bed. This will enable you to sleep more comfortably and leave you better rested and prepared to cope with the energy-sapping heat.

De-clutter and keep your home tidy! Air circulates most freely in neat, open spaces. Clean, tidy rooms virtually always feel cooler than dirty, messy ones! If living in humid climes, take a few extra moments to dry out sinks, tubs, showers, and so forth after using both to combat the feeling of humidity in your home as well as the added risk of growing molds and mildews.

Healthy Habits for Busy People

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Plenty of super-busy people find time to exercise, eat right, and otherwise take good care of their health. It’s all a matter of mindset, good habits, and effective processes. Here we share six common habits of busy – yet super healthy – people:

Make lists. Busy doesn’t necessarily translate into productive. In fact, many people are busy because they are inefficient with their time. You can reduce stress and worry if you know what tasks you need to accomplish. When making lists, though, pay attention to your own rhythms. For example, if you tend to have high physical energy in early morning, strong mental acuity and attention around midday, and low energy/focus in late afternoon, your list might go: exercise, heavy thinking tasks, light-thinking tasks and errands. With your list in the right order, you can step through it easily, crossing each item off, and moving on to the next.

Don’t even think about buying it! If it’s in the house, you will eat or drink it eventually. If it is not there, you won’t have a choice! Clean out your pantry and just stop buying the items you know you cannot resist.

Prepare ahead for the week. Nothing leads to slip-ups more than being unprepared. Take 1-2 hours on weekends to prepare healthy foods. As soon as you come home from the grocery store, make a habit of cleaning, cutting, and storing fruits and veggies so you can both see and access them easily. If there are clear containers of colorful, fresh, ready-to-eat healthy snacks at eye level when you open the fridge you will be much more likely to choose them.

Find a support group. On a day you are feeling low or weak, someone else in your group will be strong and can help you to stay motivated through low points (and vice versa). Be sure to choose people who are generous in celebrating others’ successes.

Take time for yourself. Find ways to be alone and clear your mind. Take a walk at lunch, spend time writing in a journal to rid yourself of negative self-talk, read a book, take a bath, or indulge in catnap. The only criterion is that the time, no matter how short, needs to be all about you.

Don’t let little failures derail you. The worst thing you can do is to feel guilty every time you make a mistake. Try to figure out what circumstance or thought precipitated the transgression, learn your lesson, and then hop back on track. Health is a marathon not a sprint.

 

Dan Mahoney, MaidPro Health & Wellness Chief

6 Things Trained PROs Know About Cleaning (that others may not)

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There is a very big difference between a house that looks and smells clean and a house that really is clean. Here are some things trained cleaning PROs know that can help bridge the gap:

Chemistry matters. There is a great deal of advanced science that goes into designing safe, effective cleaning solutions — ones that actually dissolve and bond with dirts and oils, suspend bonded particles in water, and lift them away from surfaces — all without leaving toxic chemical residues. Using poorly designed solutions, nonabsorbent cloths and mops, and/or improper techniques can equate to simply swishing dirt and chemicals around on surfaces rather than removing them.

Water matters too! A cleaning solution that works well in one home, may work less well in another. That’s because varying degrees of minerals in local water supplies (hard vs. soft water) can interfere with solution efficacy.

An effective formula for cleaning (based on the famous Dr. Sinner’s circle) is: chemicals + temperature + time + agitation. Add more of one and you can use less of another. For example, using an effective cleaning solution can enable you to spend less time or to expend less energy in scrubbing.

There is a huge mathematical difference between sanitizing and disinfecting. Sanitizing kills 99.9% of germs — a 1,000-fold reduction in human exposure while disinfecting kills 99.999% — a 100,000-fold reduction. Most homes don’t require true disinfecting (that’s for hospitals), but it’s good to know how to interpret highly regulated marketing lingo especially when someone in your family catches a nasty bug or flu. ‘Antibacterial’ is a very different and weaker claim than ‘kills viruses that cause common colds and flu’.

Disinfecting takes time. You might notice a PRO cleaner spraying bathroom or kitchen surfaces and then walking away to perform other tasks. They know it takes up to 10-15 minutes for (wet) disinfecting solutions to kill germs. This is why all those convenient ‘disinfecting’ wipes rarely live up to their kill claims, since most people wipe too much counter per wipe and don’t leave enough wet disinfectant on the surface for long enough to kill germs properly.

Dirt falls. The mark of a true cleaning PRO is that they start high, dusting ceiling fans, light fixtures, shelves, etc and work gradually downward, finishing a room by vacuuming or washing the floor. They also start far away from a home’s entry point and work gradually back toward the door to prevent re-depositing dust and dirt on freshly cleaned surfaces. Finally, PROs segregate their tools to avoid cross contamination — between bathrooms and kitchens, for example.

Throwing a BIG summer bash? Take these tips from the experts!

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With graduation, summer cookout, and pool-party season upon us, we asked a few people well accustomed to entertaining dozens of guests at a time to reveal their best secrets for pulling off big summer bashes with aplomb.

Plan a menu that can be prepared at least 90% ahead of time and eaten with fingers or just a single utensil. Unless you have table seating for all guests, nothing you serve should require cutting with a knife. Make comprehensive ingredient and shopping lists by store and give yourself at least a full day to gather and prepare (even if it means taking a day off from work).

Have a rain/thunder/lightning contingency plan. If your party space won’t handle a crowd (even a temporary one), consider scheduling a rain date with your invite.

If you expect your party to last for several hours, pay close attention to food safety. Serve spoilable foods in flights and replenish as needed, or use large pans or chafing dishes to make ice beds for serving bowls.

Offer games – volleyball, horseshoes, badminton, croquet, wiffle ball, cornhole, spike ball, cards, etc. These serve the dual purpose of keeping kids occupied in positive ways and providing entertainment or engagement opportunities for shyer, less sociable, or elderly guests.

Place plenty of clearly labeled receptacles around for recyclables, trash, compost, etc. This will save you big time on party cleanup.

Have supplies on hand to label serving dishes if people will be arriving with food in hand. Otherwise, you may end up with a collection dishes requiring detective work to return to the right people. If you don’t want lots of leftovers, have a supply of take-home containers handy and encourage guests to load up as they leave. Other supplies to have for guests: sunscreen for anyone who forgets to bring their own and bug repellant if your party will still be going after dusk.

Take notes. If your summer bash is a hit, it could become an annual event. Write down how much food, utensils, ice, etc. was actually consumed so you can refine your calculations for next time.