Shannon Walter

Essential Oils for Flu Relief

home remedies for the flu

Before we get started, let me just remind you. I am not a medical doctor. If you have the flu, please go see your physician. Influenza complications are no joke.

Winter time increases the likelihood of getting sick. Everyone is stuck indoors. Shopping centers and indoor play-spaces are crowded beyond belief. Germs are spreading like wild fires! Cold and flu season is upon us.

Don't Catch the Flu - Be Prepared

Don't break out the lysol and hand-sanitizer just yet though. There are natural ways to prevent getting sick using essential oils. Carrying a spray bottle of DIY hand-sanitizer is a great starting point. Here are some more oils that work with your immune system to fight of flu germs:

  • Clove Bud fights contagious diseases acting as an antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral.
  • Eucalyptus strengthens the immune system.
  • Lavender is gentle enough for young children to use and still a powerful antibiacterial oil.
  • Lemon oil stimulates the production of white blood cells.
  • Melaleuca (Tea Tree) is the powerhouse of antiseptic and disinfecting oils.
  • Oregano is a powerful antimicrobial.
  • Lemongrass kills bacteria. The scientific term is bacteriocidal.
  • Grapefruit does a good job of disinfecting.
  • Clary Sage is both antiseptic and bacteriocidal.

How to Choose the Right Essential Oil

You might be saying, "That is a long list, and a lot of the oils have the same jobs." You're right. Quite a few of the oils share the same properties. Having more than one oil for a purpose is important. After about a week of steady use, the body builds a tolerance to that particular oil. Rotating the oils prevents a lapse in protection and allows the body to be more reactive.

For children, the safest essential oils for flu prevention are lavender and melalueca. What oil is safe depends greatly on the age of the child. An infant under 3 months old can safely use lavender essential oil but not oregano or lemon. Click here for a list of safe essential oils by age.

Using Essential Oils as Prevention

Aromatherapy is a great way to benefit from essential oils, but when it comes to the flu we'd like a more direct approach. Making a hand-sanitizer spray is the easiest way to get the defensive benefits where it counts. 

Flu Symptom Relief Using Essential Oils

No flu prevention has a 100% track record. The flu vaccine is usually only 10% effective. Yikes! That's not encouraging. However all is not lost. If you have a few of these oils hanging around the house, relief is just around the corner.
  • Eucalyptus is rich in the menthol. If you've ever used store bought vapor rub you know what menthol is. It will help alleviate muscle aches and chest coughs.
  • Melaleuca (Tea Tree) breaks up deep bronchial congestion and soothes sore throats.
  • Lemon is an anti-inflammatory oil for sore swollen throats. 
  • Lavender is a good all-around oil. Respiratory ailments such as sinus congestion, coughs, and lung congestion are relieved with the use of lavender.
  • Lemongrass helps to break a fever. It is also good for stomach upset and headaches.
  • Peppermint fights both fevers and fatigue.
  • Clove Bud alleviates indegestion, cough, headaches, and muscle fatigue.
  • Sandalwood is an expectorant. It help to remove excess phlem from the body.
  • Basil soothes indigestion and nausea.
  • Thyme breaks through sinus congestion. 
  • Ginger is well known for its anti-nausea effects.

Tips on Using Essential Oils to Relieve Flu Symptoms

Having the flu is awful. You're tired, achy, feverish, and often very nauseous. The easiest way to get relief from your symptoms is with aromatherapy. Adding a few drops of ginger and lavender oil to your diffuser help to quiet a queasy stomach so that you can sleep it off. 

A fever is the body's way of fighting of the infection. The body raises the temperature in an effort to stop the invader from breeding and spreading. However, a fever that rises to high is dangerous. Fill a spray bottle with cool water and several drops of peppermint oil. Give the bottle a good shake and spray the back of your neck and along your spine as best as you can.

Taming the Nausea & Vomiting

With the stomach flu comes the dynamic duo, nausea and vomiting.  Fortunately, or rather unfortunately, we stumbled upon a pre-made essential oil spray that kicks nausea's hind-end. I looked at it, examined the ingredients, and said maybe later. A few days later and I was miserable. Maverick stopped into the health food store and grabbed it. Skeptical but hopeful describes my thoughts just before my first spray. Shake and spray 3 times in mouth. After that the nausea disappeared like magic. Needless to say it Not Now Nauseaworks.

flu natural remedies

If you're suffering from the flu right now, I'm so sorry and hope you feel better soon. Lots of rest and fluids. Stay healthy.
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Shannon Walter

Self-Care Saturday | Life of Integrity

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Shannon Walter

Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts For Him

Is it already Valentine's Day? Yikes! Last I knew it was New Years. Forgetfulness aside, finding a gift for the man in your life gets to be quite a challenge. Every year Hallmark and grocery store card aisles are packed full with frilly pink cards and stuffed animals. Things that women enjoy. What about men? Women like chocolates, flowers, an elegant dinner, etc. Not to say men don't like flowers and a good meal- just that there are usually other things a bit higher on their wish list.
valentine's day presents for men

Gifts Men Enjoy

Men think differently than women. Shocking, I know. They enjoy things that are practical. Surfers frequent surf shops, hunters spend time at Cabela's, and flyboys hang out at the airport. Give them a gift they'll actually use.


exotic jerky treats

Men tend to lean towards the carnivorous side. They love steak, hamburgers, BBQ, and jerky. A fun way to give the gift of meat is with an exotic jerky package. They contain jerky meat that you won't find in the grocery store.

Sporting Event Tickets

Sport tickets are to guys what tickets to a concert are for women. Find a local sporting event. One of our local teams is the Grand Rapids Griffins Hockey. Even if you're not much of a sports fan, buying tickets for him and a buddy is a big deal. (He needs guy time too.)

Magazine Subscriptions

Men's magazines

Everyone loves a good magazine. Buying a subscription spreads the joy throughout the year. Some of the ones on Maverick's wishlist include: The American Frontiersman, Field & Stream, and Pioneer. There's a magazine for every niche. 

Gift Cards

When in doubt, gift cards are a great option. Dick Sporting Goods, Cabela's, his favorite eatery, and any other place he likes to browse. Yes, there are Visa gift cards that are usable basically everywhere, but what is the fun in that? Giving him a card to his favorite shopping spot shows that you actually put thought into your gift.

Valentine's Day Isn't About the Gift

In the end, no matter what you did or didn't give them that special someone will be so happy you thought of them. Giving comes from the heart not from the store.
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Shannon Walter

Silent Grief | Child Loss Book Review

We're getting a little personal today. Discussing a topic that is deemed taboo by modern society. Grief, specifically the grief of child loss, is all to often dismissed and misunderstood. On January 6th of 2018, Maverick and I were stricken with the grief of early child loss. After what seemed like weeks of unrelenting hyperemesis gravidarum, our precious baby was lost to miscarriage at 11 weeks. To say we were devastated would be an understatement.

Healing in Written Words

Fast forward a few weeks and readjusting to daily life is a struggle. Everything is a reminder of our loss. I didn't want to talk, so I decided to read. While searching through ebooks on my kindle, I came across Silent Grief: Miscarriage-Child Loss: Finding Your Way Through the Darkness by Clara Hinton. In this nonfiction book, Clara Hinton discusses the most intimate thoughts and emotions that surround the grief of child loss.

Heart Questions During Sorrow

From the sting of hearing the words "I'm sorry" to the heart cries wondering where all your friends have gone, Clara gently leads the reader through each unique stage of grief and despair. Suffering losses of her own and holding the hands of dear friends during their times of need has given Clara Hinton much experience with the grief of miscarriage and child loss.

Not only does sorrow over a lost child affect the family unit, friendships are strained as well. Clara explains that friends still care; they just don't always understand.

The Bible Has A Lot to Say About Grief

Scripture references are one of my favorite aspects of this book. I love that Mrs. Hinton quotes Bible passages such as Psalm 77:9-10 and John 8:32. They are full of truths and hopes. In times of darkness and despair, the LORD is ever near.

Final Thoughts

Losing a child is a horrendous tragedy. The shock and grief are so strong that many fail to find their way through to life again. Simply getting "over" child loss is not possible, but getting "through" the depths of despair is possible. In Silent Grief: Miscarriage-Child Loss: Finding Your Way Through the Darkness, you'll discover that you aren't alone in feeling the way you do. Wondering if this really happened and why doesn't anyone care are questions your heart will ask. I know mine does.

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Shannon Walter

KETO Diet Explained

With the festive season fast approaching, many are starting diets to make room for holiday weight gain and post feast regret. The temptations of a delicious homemade pecan pie chased with a warm cup of tea are hard to refuse, so it's time to embark on a journey that changes the way we see food. The keto diet is promises delicious food and many health benefits, but what is a ketogenic diet?

What is a Keto diet?

The Keto diet has been around since the 1920's when it was introduced to prevent seizures in epileptic patients. It's main goal is to remove the body's dependency on glucose as the main energy and utilize fats instead.

The Ketogenic diet encourages high amounts of healthy fats, such as olive oil, and limits the intake of carbohydrates. As a general rule, the maximum amount of daily carb intake is anywhere between 20g and 100g. Most stick to the 20-25g range when first starting out. That seems like a big range, but taking a quick look at the carbs in a single serving of oatmeal will leave you wondering how you'll survive. The answer is in the fats. 

Fats supply nearly 75% of the caloric intake in a keto diet for good reason. Once the body uses up the glycemic stores, it begins producing ketones. These ketones transform fat into a super-charged power supply system. This gives the body more energy without the up and down roller coaster of blood sugar levels.

Is a Ketogenic Diet safe?

Yes, a keto diet is safe for most people. The biggest misconception surrounding low carb diets is the idea that our bodies' cannot survive without tons of carbs. When carbohydrate levels plummet, the body produces ketones to use fat energy in its place.

Most dieters use some kind of test strips to determine how far into ketosis they've ventured. A low level of ketones is perfect for burning fat and keeping one healthy.

*Nursing/Pregnant mothers require a higher base level of carbohydrates, so, any new diet change needs to be discussed with your doctor.*

Tips to make the Keto lifestyle easier.

Changing the way you eat is always challenging. Going from a low-fat diet high in carbohydrates to a high-fat and low carb diet is daunting. Here are some tips to make eating a ketogenic diet easier:
  • Keep a food journal. The easiest way to make sure you're eating the correct amounts of macronutrients is to use a log. The best app I've found is KetoDiet. There is a free version as well as a paid one. We use the paid version to plan our meals in advanced and love it.
  • Fat bombs and bulletproof coffee/tea are going to be your new best friends. Starting the day with a hot cup of coffee/ tea loaded with healthy fats is the perfect start to the day. 
  • Fiberwise and other supplements help keep you feeling full between meals. Fiber isn't a necessary nutrient during a keto diet. Most of your fiber comes from all the different veggies eaten throughout the day, but some days that isn't enough. The feeling of constant hunger is enough to drive a person mad. Supplementing with low-carb shakes help keep hunger at bay. Here are some of our favorites.
  • Fathead dough is AMAZING!! Fathead dough is the most versatile low carb bread substitute out there. It can be used to make pizza crust, hot pockets, calzones, elephant ears, cinnamon rolls, bagels, and the list just keep on going. This one is my go-to recipe for fathead dough.

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Shannon Walter

Back to School: Backpack Safety

Raising Backpack Safety Awareness.
Back to school time is here. With it comes back to school supplies and shopping. Among the supplies for many students is a backpack. Backpacks are useful tools for carrying books and materials to and from school. Choosing a properly fitting backpack and filling it properly will save a lot of back aches.

Nearly every student in the United States carries a back pack to school on a regular basis. That comes to more than 79 million students, according to the 2007 American Community Survey. About 55 percent of that 79 million carry a bag that is too heavy. In one study, eight out of ten middle school aged children found relief by wearing and packing their backpacks correctly.

Properly loading a backpack is an essential part of decreasing back injuries. The fully loaded weight of a pack must not weigh more than ten percent of the wearers weight. Therefore, a student that weighs 100 pounds soaking wet should carry a backpack weighing ten pounds of less. In an effort to lighten the load, be sure to check the bag regularly for unnecessary items. Only carry the necessities. When putting books into the bag, it is important to place the heaviest items close to the students back. Having the bulk of the weight closer to their back will avoid extra strain. Sometimes, there is not enough room to fit all the books and supplies in the backpack. In these instances it's best to just carry what does not fit in hand instead of cramming it in the bag.

Backpacks come with two straps for a reason. Using only one strap will cause the student to lean. This leaning curves the spine causing discomfort and pain. Use both straps to put an even load on each shoulder. Look for a bag that has padded straps. Straps with added padding allow for better blood circulation and prevent numbness and tingling in the arms. If the backpack comes with a waist belt, use it. A waist belt distributes the weight more evenly across the back. Be sure to check the length of the pack. The bottom of the bag should sit in the curve of the lumbar spine. Another way of making sure that the fit is right is to measure the distance between bottom of the bag to the student's waist line. The distance between them should not exceed four inches.

Backpacks are a common item on a student's back to school list. They come in a myriad of styles and sizes, but finding the right fit to protect the student's spine is important. In order to avoid backpack related injuries it is best to pick a bag that fits snug to the back and ends at the lumbar spine.
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Shannon Walter

Stretching & Meditation | 30 Day Challenge

30 Days of Stretch-itation
And Why it’s NOT Yoga
Maverick and I just finished our last phase of P90x, and I was ready for something different. I love the weight training and working up a good sweat- don’t get me wrong, but my body was screaming for a change. I was constantly stiff and sore; I would wake up and barely be able to walk and it was beginning to affect my mood. I’m not even 30! What’s going on??
In comes the idea of yoga- well not exactly. You see yoga is actually a sacred practice originating in India. I was designed to help an individual in spiritual enlightenment in Hindu as well as well as some other religions.
The word “yoga” literally means to form a union. Here lies the issue. As a Christian, I believe firmly in Christ alone and can not form a union, or yoga, with any of these.
However, the Bible does speak clearly about meditation, big thanks to my pastor for opening my eyes on this matter. Take Psalm 1 verse 2 which states, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Can’t get much clearer than that! Want to hear the sermon that changed my perspective?
So what to do? I need to release the tension built up in my body, as well as set aside a specific time to meditate. Thus enters stretchitation- stretching and meditation.
I’m trying to be very careful not to offend, so that I can “as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Romans 12:18. That is why I want to make it very clear that what I am doing is NOT yoga.
If it’s not yoga, than what is it? It is a group of stretches put into a sequence that will aid in the release of tension, and it’s a time that I’ve designated to meditate on scripture and quiet my mind for the day ahead.
Now that I’ve made my long-winded introduction, here is my 30 results. I settled on 30 days because one week wasn’t long enough. I decided to journal how it was going at day 1, 10, 20 and 30.

Day 1

I forgot how inflexible I am. Ha! There’s lots of room for improvement. I downloaded a few apps to try out and decided to start with track yoga since they have a program designed for beginners. Day 1 went great, I even did an extra session in the afternoon!

Day 10

Yoga-Day 10.png

I started a program from yesterday and did the second session today. It was super challenging! Look at this ^ if you’d asked me to hold a pose like these 10 days ago- I would have laughed, but look at how far I’ve come! My body doesn’t feel as stiff when I get out of bed now. As meditating goes- I’m getting better at focusing my mind toward God and the scriptures He lays on my heart.

Day 20

Woohoo! Made it to day 20! I’ve been picking more difficult sequences this past week, and boy am I sore! I know I’m not in tip-top condition, but I’m thoroughly surprised by how strong I feel. Look I can balance on my hands! I’ve tried this before with P90x Yoga but couldn’t quite get it. Meditating has been a struggle- kids have that effect sometimes- but I’m fighting through. Side note: I don't have a yoga strap, so I substituted for what I had- this is a little strap that came with our resistance bands. It's designed to be put in the door jam and used to mimic pull-ups, but it worked for my purposes. 😜

Day 30

I made it to Day 30! Today I took a step back and did a very light stretch. Maintaining my meditative mind and heart has become easier- even when Little MIss is trying to sit on my head. My shoulders are starting to loosen up, which is wonderful, because my right shoulder is very inflexible. Just scratching my back with my right hand is painful, but with time and patience it will continue to loosen.

In conclusion…

I plan to continue my stretchitations because I feel so good afterwards. Giving myself time each morning to quiet my mind and meditate has made a HUGE impact! My temper is not as short, my stress eating has diminished, and I am more productive. Physically, I feel great. By adding some Pilates and strengthening poses into the mix, I’ve gotten quite the workout! My muscles feel more toned and VERY limber, and wow are my triceps stronger!

Have you tried stretching and meditation yet?

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