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Navitas Organics Blog

Getting More from Giving More: The “Happiness Effect” and Living Life Positive

It seems that despite a conscious awareness about the need for work-life balance, life just gets busier all the time. Finding enjoyment with work is challenging when resources are scarce and the “to do” list seems endless. While the ultimate goal in life is to do what you love and love what you do, it’s often not that realistic even under the best of circumstances. Fortunately, many employers are searching for ways to make work life more fulfilling due to mounting evidence that employee engagement is a critical component of an organization’s success. This is particularly relevant to building loyalty and fostering creativity within the team. After all, when employees are getting their social and emotional needs met, it brings them closer to the ideal goal of finding joy in the work they do. Now more than ever before, companies are making time to support important causes they care about through volunteerism and community service, which boosts employee satisfaction at the same time. Through corporate social responsibility programs, doing good for others can be an important contributor to the well-being of employees and the organization as a whole.

Today, 79% of Employees Prefer to Work for Companies That are Socially Responsible
A lot has been written about the mental and physical health benefits that come with volunteering, making corporate responsibility programs very attractive to future employees. This is especially true if the causes that are supported reinforce the values and beliefs held by the company. Mental health benefits range from reduced levels of depression and social connectedness to fostering a sense of purpose. But, physical health benefits are also available to those who volunteer their time in service of others. One study in particular reported that volunteering is associated with decreased risk for high blood pressure, a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and the leading cause of early mortality in both men and women. This may have to do with physical labor associated with the volunteer activity or the effect of stress reduction that results from altruistic behavior, but other studies have shown similar results. Some have even demonstrated a relationship to reduced obesity, increased cognitive function and increased levels of dopamine, “the pleasure-seeking” neurotransmitter, in the brain. Most surprising of all is that research with highly engaged working populations shows that volunteering can help employees create better work-life balance, despite being busy in addition to positively influencing health.

The “Happiness Effect” May be the Reason
The “happiness effect” describes that “feel-good” experience from dopamine being released in the brain and this may be the most compelling reason to incorporate volunteerism as a corporate objective. Doing good deeds in the community for no other reason than to help others has the effect of spreading positive energy to everyone around – not just those helping or being helped. This can be thought of the same way as practicing self-care – eating health-promoting, nutrient-dense foods or the feeling after a rigorous workout. The energy that comes from doing good for yourself and for those around you can be infectious, inspiring others to do the same. Community service and volunteerism work in a similar capacity, helping to generate renewed energy and enthusiasm around shared goals within an organization.

Spreading Positivity is Good for Your Health
Navitas Organics is doing our part by sharing the meaning behind our "Live Life Positive" campaign and our commitment to corporate social responsibility is a large part of that story. Just like “the happiness effect,” we believe that making a positive impact in the world creates a ripple effect in all aspects of life. Through innovation of organic superfoods and snacks that have minimal environmental burden, giving back to people in need and supporting the causes we believe in, we aim to help make individuals and communities healthier and more resilient. Through a strong commitment to volunteerism, we hope our employees will benefit from the “happiness effect” and hopefully find additional meaning in the work they do. After all, no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. 

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Topics: wellness, education, happiness, science, Live Life Positive, positive vibes, mental health, community service, social responsibility

6 Science-Backed Ways to Boost Your Happiness

Posted by Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef on Aug 23, 2018 8:27:34 AM

At first look, happiness may seem like a subjective quality: who's to say that your amazing new pair of shoes doesn't actually make the world seem a little bit brighter? But, while we may all have our individual joyful quirks, some things have been biologically proven to enhance mood.

1. Meditate
The meditation-happiness relationship has been long documented, but more recently, it's become science-backed as well. One such study offered 60 employees a seven-week meditation course consisting of 15-20 minutes of mediation a day. In comparison to the non-meditating employees, results showed the meditators experienced an increase in positive emotions that included a clearer purpose in life, a feeling of social support and even a decrease in physical pain from illness symptoms. For such a simple practice that can be done anywhere – free of charge – it's no wonder mediation is quickly rising in popularity in modern society.

2. Exercise Regularly 
Have you ever experienced a “running high” or felt particularly elated after completing a difficult session of as many reps as possible (AMRAP) – even while exhausted? You're not alone! The human body was meant to move, and we're actually designed with psychological support to increase biological motivation for activity. Exercise releases all the most prominent mood-related neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine (and epinephrine). This healthy good-mood ride was likely a way to encourage physical activity from an evolutionary standpoint, but today it can be used the other way around, too: getting a little sweat on to promote a better headspace.

3. Eat Some Chocolate
If you've ever made the claim that eating chocolate makes you happy, it turns out you're scientifically right! Many studies have been published that show chocolate's effect on mood, which is due to its unique phytochemical composition, including components like theobromine and flavanols. Chocolate even contains a special compound called anandamide, often called “the bliss molecule.” The result is that chocolate (and in particular, Cacao), stimulates endorphins and provides precursor nutrition for mood-boosting neurotransmitters. 

4. Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep and depression go hand-in-hand, but the opposite is also true. Of course, you feel better from a great night of zzz's, but your brain actually functions on an entirely new happy level, too. And it's not just duration, it's regularity as well. One 2017 study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that “week-long irregular sleep schedules are significantly associated with lower self-reported morning and evening happiness, healthiness, and calmness during the week even after controlling for weekly average sleep duration,” said lead author Akane Sano, PhD. So, set a bedtime – and stick to it – to naturally broaden your smile.

5. Give to Others
The saying “it's better to give than to receive” is true on many levels, but can include a direct correlation to personal, lasting happiness. Studies have shown that “giving” stimulates the same parts of the brain activated by food and sex, indicating that generosity is a hard-wired component of our brain. Helping others is a short-cut way to not only be of service, but to help yourself in the process as well.

6. Enjoy Your Furry (or Non-Furry) Friends 
Why does just looking at a picture of a puppy bring a smile to your face – even on a difficult day? Animals can help improve mental health so dramatically, there's even a medical term for this kind of animal assistance: pet therapy. In one study, as reported by TIME, “a stressed-out group of adults were told to pet a rabbit, a turtle or their toy forms. The toys had no effect. But stroking a living creature, whether hard-shelled or furry, relieved anxiety. It worked for people regardless of whether they initially said they liked animals.” Similar studies even found that having pet crickets helped reduce depression! When it comes to balanced mental health, nature wins again.

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Topics: wellness, education, workout, happiness, science, Live Life Positive, positive vibes, mental health

Happy Hormones: Little Changes with Big Impact on Hormone Health

Posted by Elizabeth O’Carroll on May 30, 2018 2:23:02 AM

As young women, we’re typically not presented with sufficient information that empowers us to proactively care for our bodies and support hormone balance as we flow from our first period to monthly cycles and through the various stages of our life. Most of us don’t learn much about hormones at all until something like PCOS, infertility, endometriosis or PMDD sends us running to our doctor. But, why wait until something is amiss to support our hormone health? Hormones affect everything from mood and digestion to skin and sleep, so we might as well do what we can daily to create greater balance. From puberty to menopause and at every stage in between, we can make little changes that can have a big impact on our hormone health – and that can mean the difference between surviving and thriving as a woman.

 

Here are a few things that have made a big difference in my life and the lives of my clients that I recommend:

Empower Yourself with Knowledge
Alisa Vitti’s WomanCode and Dr. Sara Gottfried’s The Hormone Cure are two quick reads full of validating eye openers, helpful distillations of the science behind our hormonal cycles, and most importantly, tools to help us better navigate them with holistic approaches. You don’t know what you don’t now, and unfortunately the women’s health knowledge gap is a huge impediment to achieving and maintaining optimal wellbeing. Pick up one of these books and bridge that gap!

Manage Your Blood Sugar
Little known fact: unstable and/or high blood sugar is the number one factor affecting your hormone balance. Because the standard American diet is loaded with added refined sugars and processed foods that wreak havoc on blood sugar, this is a factor that likely affects more women than not. The easiest way to balance your blood sugar without having to overthink it is to eliminate processed sugar and processed foods from your diet. Easier said than done, though right? Here’s a baby step in the right direction if that’s biting off more than you can chew. Balance your carbohydrate intake (fruit, starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, grains like rice or any sweets) with the protein + fiber + fat trifecta. Together, these foods will minimize the spike in blood sugar, provide valuable nutrients AND keep you full longer so you’re less likely to reach for empty carbs an hour later!

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Topics: education, goals, information, natural, blog, cacao, food, foods, health, healthy, hormones, Maca, superfoods, tips

How to Recommit to Your Health Goals

Posted by Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef on May 24, 2018 1:56:43 AM

If this year has you struggling to follow your healthy resolutions, you're not alone. According to a widely cited statistic, only about 8 percent of New Year’s resolutions succeed with most of us not even lasting through February!

But a lack of immediate success doesn't indicate a future of failure. So, if you're ready to step up and try again, here's our best advice on how to re-establish your daily food, fitness and self-care habits.

Try Smaller Commitments
Part of the reason so many goals fail is a lack of realistic clarity in their objective. The amount of people that can immediately go from “zero to sixty” (i.e. transforming from an unhealthy lifestyle to one filled with new, hyper-aggressive rules like consuming only five grams of sugar a day, going to the gym seven days a week and meditating 60 minutes every morning) is extremely slim. Instead, try breaking your commitments down into bite-sized components. Rather than creating strict rules you “must” follow all year, whittle the objectives down to month-long resolutions that tackle one challenge at a time. Your first month can look like “a superfood smoothie a day,” or setting an earlier bedtime you can stick to in order to get a full eight hours of sleep each night. Tackling these micro-challenges is not only a much more fun approach, but it allows you to focus on and truly master new healthy practices, many of which will likely stick long after their daily quota period is over.

Create New Habits
Denial is a powerful deterrent to lasting change: we want what we can't have. To break unhealthy habits, psychological research shows we need to replace the habit with a new association. If you're trying to forgo alcohol, for example, it's enormously helpful to have an alternate plan for the time of day you'd normally pour yourself a drink. This new habit can look similar to the old habit (making yourself a special kombucha mocktail instead) or can become an entirely new association, like taking a walk around the neighborhood with your dog. Know exactly how you're going to replace your old habit before cutting it out and you'll be much more likely to stick with your goal.

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Topics: education, goals, information, natural, blog, food, foods, health, healthy, superfoods, tips

How to Create a Natural Beauty Routine

Posted by Julie Morris, Navitas Organics Executive Chef on May 20, 2018 4:50:00 AM

Whether you spend an hour on your beauty process each day or take a five-minute shower and call it good, the components of your routine should be considered carefully. According to a 2017 survey, the average woman uses 16 items every day. And men aren't out of the picture either: between shampoo, shaving cream, moisturizer, deodorant and hair gel, you can imagine just how quickly these items add up.

Speaking of adding up, let's talk about ingredients. It's not that using a large array of products is in itself an abominable act, it's that the ingredients found within each jar or canister can sometimes be alarmingly hazardous. And while these questionable ingredients may be found in small quantities, their collective use in several products, in conjunction with the cocktail of other potentially unsafe ingredients the average person comes in contact with throughout the day, is an understandable cause of concern. Considering we absorb about 60 percent of the chemicals we are exposed to in cosmetics through the skin, and some reports say it only takes 26 seconds for these chemicals to enter the blood stream, this is a component of everyday toxicity we should look to aggressively minimize. If you're wondering about the safety of the products you currently use, an excellent resource is the Environmental Working Group's extensive Skin Deep database, where you can search the safety of more than 70,000 products.

But natural beauty – taking care of your glow healthfully – doesn’t have to be so complex. So, before you get corralled into buying another expensive anti-aging serum that's full of worrisome components, try to clean up your routine with a few of these fully natural, fully health-giving and fully effective tricks instead.

Oils are Amazing Moisturizers
While the lotion business would have you believe that skin moisturizing is a complex science, humans have been using pure oils for thousands of years to effectively soften and remedy chafed, dry skin. There is a surprising amount of varieties that work extremely well: coconut oil is one of the most versatile (and yes, you can use the same variety that you use in cooking). Or, for a spa-like experience, gently melt a little Cacao Butter over low heat and massage the warm, chocolate-scented oil into your tired skin – heaven! As a face oil, olive oil, sea buckthorn oil and almond oil are just a few of the exceptional varieties that work well. And believe it or not, at the end of the day, these oils also make phenomenal makeup removers, too!

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Topics: education, information, natural, beauty, blog, food, foods, health, healthy, routine, superfoods

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