Success doesn’t come to you… you go to it.

To increase cleaning and hygiene efforts, it is important to come up with a plan to ensure that your customers feel safe, relaxed, and aware of what you are doing. Fortunately, there are many excellent organizations offering their assistance.
When designing a cleaning and sanitization plan for your fitness studio, here are the steps suggested by maid service Marlborough, MA to take and different tools to use.
Do the studies
It is best to look at the specialists when navigating procedures during COVID-19. Detailed guidance for cleaning and disinfecting companies is provided by the CDC's Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting. In addition, the CDC includes an easy-to-follow Cleaning & Disinfecting Decision Tool to help you know which areas and surfaces need to be cleaned before you confidently open your doors.
Your first step is to read and appreciate the requirements for local government authority and services available for facilities such as yours. For instance, a detailed guide for preparing WI-based fitness facilities (Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19) for reopening was developed by the state of Wisconsin.
Be sure to have a good understanding of what disinfecting products follow the EPA requirements and can be used against COVID-19 by you and your team). The distinctions between washing, sanitizing, disinfecting, and sterilizing would also need to be learned:
Cleaning will kill impurities, germs and dirt (with soap and water). Prior to disinfecting, the CDC suggests washing surfaces.
Sanitization (with suitable products) eliminates bacteria explicitly defined on the packaging of the product.
The method of killing pathogenic microorganisms and eliminating most organisms present on the surface is disinfecting (with suitable products).
The process that removes all types of life (such as viruses, bacteria and fungi) is sterilization (which is usually not needed for your fitness facility or equipment).
Study and understand how the different surfaces inside your facility should be washed. Clean the surfaces prior to disinfecting for hard and non-porous materials such as glass, metal or plastic. You may want to eliminate them entirely for soft and porous materials in your studio (like carpeting, rugs, upholstered chairs, etc.).
Certain practices or offerings may also be banned by government agencies. Do your research to identify which areas of your facility or amenities may be affected, if any. For instance, you can choose or need to close areas such as climbing walls, dining/food areas, babysitting, saunas, pools/jacuzzis, locker rooms/showers, etc.
Build your cleaning schedule
Cleaning and disinfecting would be an important part of your strategy for re-opening and going ahead with your organizational approach. Keep in mind that these will definitely be the new cleaning procedures going forward into our "new standard," not just a short-term reopening solution, as you refine your strategy.
On materials, stock up
Make sure that before you open, you have a sufficient stock of cleaning products on hand. The EPA has a list of disinfectants approved by EPA against COVID-19.
How much are you going to need? Perform a test-run. To decide how much cleaning product you'll need per class/per day, clean your studio and equipment as if your room was occupied. To maintain your cleaning protocols going forward, make sure you have an appropriate inventory.
Train your workers
Your new cleaning/disinfecting procedures would require you, your employees, and/or your custodial staff to be qualified. It is incredibly important for the entire staff to recognize the importance of following these protocols and if they do not, the implications. (Updating the employee handbook with this data is a smart idea as well).
Convey operations to your customers
Any of the group members would be understandably worried about joining companies again. Share the steps you are taking to clean and disinfect your facility before opening.

About this site

Physical fitness is a general state of health and well-being and, more specifically, the ability to perform aspects of sports or occupations. Physical fitness is generally achieved through correct nutrition, moderate-vigorous physical activity, exercise and rest. It is a set of attributes or characteristics seen in people and which relate to the ability to perform a given set of physical activities.

Feed Display

17 April 2021

  • Is Psoriasis Contagious? (Spoiler Alert: It’s Not)

    Psoriasis is a common skin condition that rears its un-fun head with inflammation and thick red, purple, or silver scaly patches.

    Whether you or your pal has psoriasis, you may be wondering whether it can spread from one person to another.

    So, is psoriasis contagious? 

    Nope. Psoriasis is not contagious! It’s actually an autoimmune disorder that’s not caused by contagious bacteria or any type of infection whatsoever.

    Psoriasis has a genetic component — if you have relatives who have psoriasis, you’re more likely to develop it. But just ’cause you have the genes doesn’t mean you’ll get it.

    According to the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations, almost 3 percent of the world pop has psoriasis. Let’s break down how you actually get psoriasis and why you can’t give it to someone else.

    Liliya Rodnikova/Stocksy United

    So, how do you get psoriasis, anyway?

    The exact cause of psoriasis remains unknown. But some experts think it’s caused by overactive T cells — immune cells that fight off harmful viruses and bacteria in your body.

    Basically, the T cells go overboard, attacking healthy skin cells and triggering other immune responses. This causes skin cells to build up, creating inflamed, scaly patches often found on the face, scalp, knees, and elbows.

    It typically takes a couple weeks for new skin cells to form, but if you have psoriasis, it can happen within days.

    If you already have an autoimmune condition, you’re more likely to develop another one, such as psoriasis.

    What about your genes?

    Because of the genetic component of psoriasis, you’re more at risk of developing the condition if your mom or dad has it too. Your risk is even higher if both parents have it.

    But having the genes doesn’t always equal psoriasis. So, if no one in your family has symptoms, it might appear that you have no family history of the disease.

    What triggers a psoriasis flare-up?

    Both genetic *and* environmental factors can trigger psoriasis. That might explain why psoriasis tends to show up unannounced and then completely ghost you 🙄.

    Some things that might trigger a psoriasis flare-up:

    • an infection
    • tobacco smoking
    • excessive alcohol consumption
    • a skin injury (like a cut or burn)
    • stress
    • certain medications (like blood pressure meds, lithium, and iodides)
    • very dry air (either from outside or in your heated room)
    • cold temps
    • vitamin D deficiency
    • obesity

    Types of psoriasis

    Just like your triggers, your type of psoriasis can be different from those of other people. Here are the types of psoriasis:

    • Plaque. Plaque psoriasis is the most common type, affecting about 80 percent of those with the disease. It can show up anywhere on the body as raised red, purple, or silvery patches with scales.
    • Inverse. Inverse psoriasis impacts about a quarter of people with psoriasis and looks deep red and smooth, not scaly. It affects skin folds, such as the underarms.
    • Guttate. Guttate psoriasis impacts about 8 percent of folks with psoriasis and is characterized by small, round, inflamed spots scattered across the body. 
    • Pustular. Pustular psoriasis affects only about 3 percent of people with the disease and shows up as white, painful, often-inflamed bumps.
    • Erythrodermic. Erythrodermic psoriasis is super rare. It causes extreme redness and shedding of skin layers and can often cover the whole body. It can even be life threatening.

    So, psoriasis can’t be contagious sexually or through kissing?

    Say it louder for the people in the back: Whether it shows up on the scalp, face, hands, feet, or genitals, psoriasis 👏 is 👏 never 👏 contagious 👏. If your boo has psoriasis, don’t sweat it — you can smooch or bang it out without stress.

    But is that rash really psoriasis, though? Psoriasis can often be confused with contagious conditions like these:

    • Dermatophytosis (aka ringworm). The red, circular rash of this contagious fungal infection is sometimes mistaken for psoriasis, especially the inverse type.
    • Secondary syphilis. The highly contagious second stage of syphilis is sometimes mistaken for psoriasis, especially guttate psoriasis. It’s characterized by a scaly, red rash plus swollen lymph nodes and fever.
    • Herpes simplex virus. With its red, itchy sores, psoriasis on the genitals sometimes looks a lot like herpes. Herpes tends to be more blister-like, but always visit a doc to be sure.
    • Varicella zoster virus aka shingles. Shingles, which is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, sometimes looks like psoriasis. Though shingles isn’t transmissible, someone with shingles can give someone else chickenpox, according to the CDC.

    If you think you may have psoriasis or another skin condition, visit a doctor for a complete diagnosis.

    How does a doc diagnose psoriasis?

    If you have any type of skin rash, it’s a good idea to have a dermatologist check it out. During your visit, the doc will inspect your scalp, nails, and skin and ask you a few questions about your symptoms, family history, and lifestyle.

    They might also take a closer look at a small skin sample under a microscope to confirm your diagnosis.

    Can psoriasis spread?

    Even though psoriasis isn’t contagious, it *can* spread on your body if you already have it.

    Stress, skin injuries, illness, and weather are among the most common psoriasis triggers that make the rash spread. Some people also think allergies, certain foods, alcohol, and other environmental factors make psoriasis worse.

    The best way to figure out what worsens and spreads your symptoms is to track them in a journal.

    How to stop psoriasis from spreading

    These psoriasis treatments may help stop the spread:

    • Nosh on nutrient-rich food. In a 2017 survey of more than 1,000 people with psoriasis, about half the participants reported improvements after curbing their intake of alcohol, gluten, and nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants). Trigger foods vary from person to person, so take time to find a nutritious diet that works for you.
    • Kick your cig habit. According to research from 2016, smoking can worsen psoriasis symptoms. If you needed another reason to quit or ease up, this might be it.
    • Protect your precious skin. To help ease psoriasis symptoms, always use sunscreen, take care to avoid cuts and scrapes, and see your doc right away if you do get wounded to avoid aggravating your condition. 
    • Decompress to combat stress. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, stress is a common trigger for psoriasis and can make that un-fun itch even worse. To ease symptoms and feel better, try relaxation strategies like meditation, exercise, or simply taking a warm bath.
    • Get enough shut-eye. Getting enough sleep supports a healthy immune system, which may help curb psoriasis symptoms. The CDC recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
    • Moisturize, moisturize, and — oh yeah — moisturize. No one likes to deal with the cracked, dry, and sometimes even bleeding skin that psoriasis can trigger. Especially in drier months, your skin will need extra hydration to ease symptoms and improve comfort. Look for moisturizers with the National Psoriasis Foundation’s Seal of Recognition to make sure your product selection is legit for your needs.
    • Use psoriasis-approved products. A lot of traditional shampoos, conditioners, and soaps can make psoriasis symptoms worse. Make sure you’re using something dermatologist-approved. And yes, some people have success with tar soap.
    • Try essential oils. The research on this is limited, but it’s possible that peppermint, lavender, or another essential oil could help soothe your symptoms. But essential oils can also cause allergic reactions or make psoriasis worse in some cases. Check with your doc and proceed with caution.
    • Talk with your doc about your meds. Certain medications — like lithium, antimalarial meds, and beta-blockers — are associated with psoriasis flares. Talk with your doctor about your medications to see if there’s a potential link.

    Bottom line

    Psoriasis is never contagious. Since it’s an autoimmune disorder and has a genetic component, it can’t spread from one person to the next.

    There’s currently no known cure for psoriasis, but there are steps you can take to manage it. Doctors recommend using psoriasis-friendly skin care products, understanding your triggers, and treating the condition as recommended by your derm.

  • Am I BiSexual? 16 Signs That It Ain’t No Lie, You’re Bi Bi Bi

    If you’re not 10/10 sure where you fall on the sexual spectrum, here are 16 signs that you might be bi. We also have some great resources and coming out tips.

    Definition of bi/bisexual

    Bisexual (aka bi) peeps are romantically or sexually interested in more than one gender. But NGL, that definition is a bit basic. The sexual spectrum is a vast, beautiful, and sometimes confusing thing.

    “Our culture is so oriented to binaries, it can be easy to feel pressured to ‘pick a side’ when it comes to sexual orientation,” says Dove Pressnall, MA, LMFT. “The reality is that, across cultures, human sexual experience and identity fall along a spectrum.”

    Bi folks might be interested in one gender more than the other. Or they like all genders equally. It’s also totally normal for your feelings to change over time.

    We Are/Getty Images

    16 signs to look for if you think you might be bi

    Here are 16 signs that you might be a bi babe.

    1. Gender doesn’t matter to you

    Can a person be attracted to someone regardless of the junk they’re rocking down under? Heck yes! For bi peeps, it’s more about how you feel about a person. Their gender doesn’t always matter as much.

    PSA: This doesn’t mean you’re going to be romantically or sexually interested in everyone.

    2. You think TV or movie characters are hot

    If you’re into Ross and Rachel… or Jim and Pam… etc. you might be attracted to multiple genders. Maybe you even noticed this when you were a kid.

    Obviously, this isn’t a definitive test. But it could help you start an internal chat about what you want, what you really really want.

    3. Conflicting feels

    Bisexuality — or any sexuality — isn’t black-and-white. So bi feelings can be uber confusing, especially if you’ve preferred one gender your whole life.

    These feelings are 100 percent normal. The confusion should get better over time once you explore your feelings and desires a bit more.

    4. It doesn’t have to be 50/50

    Sexuality isn’t one-size-fits-all. Everyone has their own romantic preferences and sex styles. Bi peeps are no different.

    You don’t have to evenly divide your interest between all genders. You can go through periods where you’re more interested in one than another. Or you can prefer one gender romantically and another gender sexually. There’s no exact science here.

    5. You question your dreams

    You can analyze your dreams all day long but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Your dreams don’t have to mean much or anything at all. But if you can’t stop thinking about a bi-tastic dream, there might be a reason.

    6. You dig the label

    Sometimes the label “bi” just fits. If you feel comfortable with this label it’s a good indicator that you’re bi.

    Keep in mind, you DO NOT have to label yourself as bi. You could also relate to labels like bicurious, biromantic, cupiosexual, fluid, queer, omnisexual, pansexual, panromantic, olysexual, or something else. You can also just say “no” to all labels which is totally cool too.

    7. You relate to other bi or queer people

    When a celeb comes out as bi or queer, do you feel a sense of pride? Or maybe there’s a new bi character on your fave show and you think, “IT ME!”

    While this doesn’t mean you’re bi (you could just be stoked someone is coming out as their authentic self) it could be an indicator.

    8. You dig different types of porn

    TBH porn may not count for much. You can find a genre of porn super hot but also might not be into it IRL. But if you’re super drawn to porn actors of any gender it might be a sign you’re down for a bi experience.

    9. You can’t stop thinking about it

    If you’re daydreaming about a beautiful bi love affair on the reg, it might be a sign you’re into any gender.

    10. You like how it feels

    Fantasizing about sex can be the bomb. But until you do the deed for realz, you might not know if you actually like it. Plus, everyone is different. Maybe you just didn’t vibe with the person you hooked up with.

    11. You took a quiz

    Taking an online “AM I BI?” quiz prob isn’t the best way to see if you’re a card-carrying LGBTQA+ member 🏳️‍🌈. But sometimes these quizzes can help you understand how you really feel which is a good thing.

    12. You have a crush or are in luv

    A crush can hit you like a ton of bricks. But it can be even more “WHAT IS HAPPENING?” vibes if you have romantic or sexual feelings for someone of a different gender than you’re used to.

    Even if your crush doesn’t turn out to be “the one” it could still be a sign you’re interested in that gender in general.

    13. You take it personally when someone disses #BiLife

    Bi folks have to deal with A LOT of smack from all sides of the sexuality spectrum. Plenty of people assume that bi people are extremely sexually charged and that is why the whole “gender doesn’t matter” thing exists. There’s also the stigma of “you’re not gay enough” or “you’re not straight enough.”

    If you’re bi you might take these unfair stigmas personally or feel hurt or attacked by them:

    • “It’s just a phase.”
    • “You’re just greedy.”
    • “You must be slutty.”
    • “You’re down for threesomes.”

    And the biggie: “Bisexuality isn’t real.”

    Well, let’s end the debate right now:

    Bisexuality 👏 is 👏 real 👏. You do you.

    14. You can picture a long-term relationship with any gender

    A good way to tell if you’re bi is to visualize a long-term partnership with someone from any gender. You might feel more comfortable with one gender than another. Or, it all sounds great.

    FYI: Bisexuality doesn’t vanish when you’re with a new person. When a bi person is in a gay or straight relationship, they’re still bi.

    15. The bi flag is a source of pride

    When pink, purple, and blue are combined it’s a glorious thing 💖💜💙. (Yet there’s still no bi flag emoji UGH!)

    When you start to accept and love your bi-mazing self, it’s pretty clear that you know who you are. And you should be proud!

    16. It just feels right

    At the end of the day, the most important thing is doing what makes you happy. If a bi lifestyle is what works for you, then go for it!

    Questions to ask yourself to determine if you’re bi

    If you’re questioning your bisexuality, here are some things you can ask yourself:

    • Am I attracted to two or more genders?
    • Is thinking about bi experiences fun or exciting?
    • Does the thought of being bi make me feel good?
    • Can I see myself being with any gender in the long-term?
    • Does gender matter to me in terms of a romantic or sexual partner?
    • Do I self-identify with other bi ppl (celebs, characters, or people I know)?

    How common is bisexuality?

    In 2013, the Pew Research Center asked 1,197 LGBT adults which orientation they most identified with. They found that 40 percent of participants identified as bi. Meanwhile, 36 percent identified as gay men, 19 percent identified as lesbians, and 5 percent identified as trans.

    Granted, this is just one study. But it does shed a light on how many bi folks are out there!

    “While some people will certainly strongly identify as either gay or straight, far more people fall somewhere in the middle,” says Pressnall.

    How to talk about it

    Coming out is a super personal event. You don’t have to tell everyone (or anyone!) you know that you’re bi. But if you do want to come out, here are some tips to make it easier.

    Come up with a plan. There’s really no right or wrong way to come out. It’s all about what you think is best. You might want to tell people face-to-face, in a letter, or via text.

    Ease into it. You might want to tell a few trusted folks first. This might be easier than telling everyone all at once.

    Figure out what you want to say. You can totes just go with the, “hey I’m bi, bye” text. But a lot of bi folks want to fully explain their feelings and emotions when they come out. Again, it’s about what feels right for you.

    Decide if you want to give them a heads up. If you go with the in-person route, you can send them a text first. Here’s an example:

    “Hey. I have something very important to tell you. But I would prefer to do it face-to-face or on the phone. Please let me know when you have a moment to talk. And don’t worry… it’s great news!”

    Be prepared for their reaction. In a perfect world, your friends and family will all be super supportive and happy for you. But this doesn’t always happen. Just know that you’re valid, wanted, and loved no matter what anyone says.

    Where to find support

    Not everyone has a bisexual sherpa in their life. But you can find solace in other bi peeps on platforms like Reddit, Instagram, or YouTube.

    Talk to a mental health care provider if your sexuality — or life in general — is making you feel stressed or sad. A queer-inclusive therapist might be best since they may have a deeper understanding of what you’re going through.

    You can also look for local support groups or try a therapy app.

    And remember… you’re far from alone ❤️.

    Finding support

    The only person who gets to decide you’re bi is YOU! Don’t let anyone else tell you how you should feel about your sexuality. But if you are bi… CONGRATS, WOO!

    Keep in mind, you don’t have to tell anyone if you don’t want to. Just remember that you’re perfect exactly as you are.

    Reach out to a mental health specialist if you feel sad or confused about your sexuality. You can also find TONS of amazing, supportive bi communities online or in your local area.

    You can check out the Bisexual Research Center to look for local support groups and connect with other bi peeps. There’s also lots of fab LGBTQA+ resources on GLAAD’s website.

    P.S. There’s a thriving bisexual community on Reddit.

  • Pickled Probs: Am I Allergic to Vinegar?

    Vinegar is a fermented condiment that packs a flavorful punch. But some peeps say it can cause some not-so-rad reactions.

    But can you actually be allergic to vinegar?

    A bad reaction to vinegar is a symptom of a food intolerance or sensitivity. It’s not an allergy. A legit allergy will trigger an immune system response.

    Here are the deets on vinegar intolerances.

    Claudia Totir/ Getty Images

    What causes a vinegar intolerance in the first place?

    With a true allergy, your body will produce immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These are meant to protect you from an allergen, but can also cause severe symptoms.

    Vinegar can cause some symptoms that are similar to a real allergic reaction (e.g., swelling of your tongue, throat, or lips). But it won’t be caused by an antigen-specific immune response.

    Generally, peeps aren’t intolerant to vinegar as a whole. You might just have a sensitivity to one or more of its ingredients. These include:

    What’s the difference between allergies and intolerances?

    The difference between allergies and food sensitivities comes down to your immune system and digestive system, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

    When you’re intolerant to food, your body can’t digest it properly. But when you’re allergic to food, your immune system sees it as a threat and reacts.

    Here’s a deep dive into what might behind your vinegar sensitivity.

    Salicylate sensitivity

    Salicylate is a type of salicylic acid that’s found naturally in foods. Synthetic versions can also be found in medications and skin care products. Salicylate levels in vinegar vary from brand-to-brand.

    Your chances of having a salicylate sensitivity are higher if you have:

    Histamine intolerance

    Histamine is a naturally occurring compound that helps your immune system respond to potential threats. Vinegar can contain high amounts of histamine and can even make your body produce more of it.

    Histamine intolerance still isn’t 10/10 understood. But a research review showed there are some factors that might play a part. This includes:

    • IBD
    • genetics
    • medications
    • enzyme deficiencies

    P.S. A small study found that unbalanced levels of gut bacteria could contribute to histamine intolerance as well.

    Sulfite sensitivity

    Sulfites are common food preservatives. They’re added to tons of foods to bump up their shelf life. Fermented foods and bevvies can also contain natural sulfite levels.

    Sulfites are common in:

    Generally, small intakes of sulfite won’t lead to any issues. But consuming concentrated amounts could cause a reaction.

    BTW, about 70 percent of folks with sulfite sensitivity also have asthma, according to the Gastrointestinal Society.

    Acetic acid intolerance

    According to Public Health England, a typical vinegar is about 4% to 18% acetic acid. This is a byproduct created during the fermentation process.

    Acetic acid intolerance isn’t very common. But you might experience it if you down beaucoup vinegar in one sitting.

    Reactions to acetic acid can also occur when you drink alcohol or are exposed to certain cleaning products that contain it.

    Can you be intolerant to balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar?

    Yup. Balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar are both fermented products. That means they could trigger a reaction like vinegar.

    What are the symptoms of vinegar intolerance?

    Vinegar reactions can totes vary from person-to-person. It all depends on what specific compound(s) you don’t tolerate well.

    Here’s a breakdown of what symptoms could be linked to each ingredient.

    Salicylate sensitivityHistamine intoleranceSulfite sensitivityAcetic acid intolerance
    asthmabloatingasthmaasthma
    diarrheadiarrheadiarrheastuffy nose
    hivesconstipationnauseahives
    nasal polypsstomach discomfortstomach pain
    stuffy noseheadachehives
    swollen mouth, tongue, or lipscongestionitchy skin
    rapid heard rateshortness of breath
    dizzinesstight breathing
    itchy skinwheezing
    sneezing

    How do you treat a vinegar intolerance?

    Alas, there’s currently no cure for vinegar intolerances. But they can be managed!

    The first step is making sure vinegar is behind your symptoms. Your doctor or an allergist will work with you to analyze your symptoms. You can also do a DIY food intolerance test at home (but these might not be as reliable).

    Keep in mind, vinegar contains a lot of different compounds. Pinpointing which one(s) you’re sensitive to can be tricky.

    Sometimes limiting your vinegar intake can reduce your risk of a flare-up. But you may have to cut it out of your diet altogether.

    There’s also a chance you’ll need to ditch other foods that contain sulfites, salicylates, histamine, or acetic acid.

    How to remove vinegar from your diet

    Kicking vinegar to the curb may sound easy. But it’s in many foods you wouldn’t suspect. Here are the fermented facts.

    Avoid these foods with vinegar

    Vinegar pops up in a ton of foods and drinks. Common culprits include:

    Sub these foods for vinegar

    You don’t have to say goodbye to vinegar’s forceful flavor. Some great substitutes are:

    Your doctor or a registered dietician can help you come up with more subs that work with your specific sensitivities.

    PSA: A simple switcheroo won’t always stave off your symptoms. Popular condiments like soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce contain some of the same compounds as vinegar. Always check the product label before chowing down.

    The takeaway

    Vinegar can trigger symptoms similar to an allergic reaction. This includes a swollen tongue, asthma, stomach probs, or itchy skin. Folks with asthma or gastrointestinal conditions might be at a higher risk of developing an allergic reaction.

    Your doc or an allergist can help analyze if vinegar might be to blame. If you are sensitive to it, there’s a chance you can still enjoy it in small doses. But you may have to ditch it from your diet for good.

  • Kick-Start Your Spring Cleaning with a Room-by-Room Guide to Decluttering
    Illustration by Wenzdai Figueroa

    If decluttering sounds daunting or even downright scary, you’re not alone. It takes some serious energy to organize your physical belongings and most of us are already spread pretty thin. But that overflowing closet and cluttered countertop might be affecting you more than you know: A 2009 study showed people with cluttered homes actually had higher levels of cortisol, aka the stress hormone.

    But don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all at once! Achievable goals are the name of the game. So, an easy way to get started (aka to avoid becoming overwhelmed) is to take it one space at a time. That’s why we created this room-by-room guide to paring down.

    Arrange the “no” items into piles

    As you go through this debate cluttering process, you’ll notice there will be various categories of things. We recommend making these distinct piles:

    • Garbage. These items are worn, broken, or expired and can safely be tossed in the trash or recycling.
    • Repurposed. Items like these are still of use to you in other ways (like, old towels that can be made into rags).
    • Donations. These items are in good enough shape to be given away.

    Buckle up, it’s time to tackle the kitchen

    Weathered food containers

    Once your plasticware has gotten stained or cracked, it’s time to get rid of it. In fact, now might be the time to upgrade to glass containers for leftovers.

    Old takeout menus

    Look for takeout menus for restaurants that are no longer open and toss those. If your stash includes places you no longer frequent, those can go, too. Most of the menus can be recycled, so you can look the menu up online instead.

    Cookbooks

    When is the last time you cracked open that vegan cookbook? (You’re not even a vegan anymore, anyway, right?) If there’s a recipe you can’t live without, snap a photo of the instructions and save it. You can find other recipes online.

    Expired condiments, dry foods and pantry items

    Comb through your pantry and check expiration dates on everything from canned food to spices and oils. If there are items you haven’t used in a long time, like that celery salt or sesame oil, don’t let them take up unnecessary space. Look in the fridge for empty and expired condiments. Move items to the front that need to be used so you don’t forget about them.

    Scratched pots and pans

    Once pans start becoming scratched, that material can end up in your food. Go through the pans and get rid of any with significant damage.

    Utensils and gadgets

    You know that pineapple corer you never use? Don’t let it clog your drawers. Same goes for the unused slow cooker, hand-mixer, or whatever seemed useful but collects dust now.

    What to tidy up in the bedroom

    Empty the closet

    To really commit to good closet cleaning, you have to take everything out to truly see what’s inside. Maybe there’s a shirt you forgot about or a shirt you want to forget about. Removing what you don’t need from clothes to shoes and more will make the items you do wear regularly more accessible. This’ll make it easier to get dressed every day.

    Any clothes that don’t fit

    It’s time for a fashion show. Don’t just guess, try on clothes to confirm the fit. If the clothes aren’t in good condition, you can cut them up and use them as rags.

    Clothes you know you’ll never wear

    You know that pantsuit you bought on a whim and have literally never worn outside your bedroom? It’s time to make peace with that questionable decision, and say goodbye.

    Socks with no mates

    Your laundry is done and all put away, but some socks have no matches. It’s inevitable. You can reuse those socks as rags, too or even DIY a craft out of them. Whatever you do, get them out of your sock drawer.

    Stretched underwear

    Take all your underwear out of the drawer and keep only what you wear. Toss the pair that lost its elastic stretch or that pair with the period stain.

    Go by category and make keep and donate piles. If you haven’t worn it in more than a year, it’s probably time to let it go.

    • shoes
    • pants
    • dresses
    • skirts
    • shirts
    • t-shirts
    • workout clothes
    • jackets
    • dress clothes

    Holey sheets

    Remember that time your toe was caught in that hole in your sheet? Find that sheet and either cut it up for rags or drop it off at a pet shelter. The same goes for worn sheets, blankets, and pillowcases.

    Bedside table

    Clear out this space and leave the essentials. You’ll sleep better and feel less stressed if you wake to a clean surface.

    Under the bed

    If you use this area for storage, open every bin and box. Chances are if it’s under the bed, you’ll find something you don’t often use or forgot about. Worse case, you’re likely to find a sock gone astray or a herd of dust bunnies.

    Give the bathroom a clean sweep

    Old medications

    Whether it’s an over-the-counter medicine (OTC) or a prescription, check your medicine cabinet for expiration dates. Be sure to properly dispose of all medications per these guidelines from the FDA.

    Faded towels

    There comes a time when bath towels and washcloths becomes faded and tatty. If there are some hiding in your cupboard in this condition, let them go. They’ll make great rags, or you can donate them to an animal shelter.

    Old makeup and personal care products

    Be aware of how long makeup and personal care products last because they have expiration dates. Using them past those dates can increase your chance of developing skin conditions.

    Excess personal care products

    On the flip side, if you have an overstock of shampoo or hand soap (we know how couponing can be), maybe it’s time to donate it to someone who can use it immediately. Shelters, a nearby church or maybe someone in your neighborhood group would probably be happy to take it.

    Do a deep dive in the living room

    Useless cords

    There are always more cords than you know what to do with, for some reason or another. If you have cords that aren’t plugged into anything and just taking up space, dump them. Old cords, chargers and electronics can be donated or recycled, but don’t just throw them in the trash. Following these guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    Books you’ve read

    This may be a controversial one, but hear us out. Unless you plan to re-read a book often (and even then, you can use the library), there’s no need to keep it around. If it’s signed or holds significant value to you, then by all means, keep it.

    Anything with bad vibes

    We all have something lying around that has bad memories tied to it. Maybe it’s a gift from a friend who wronged you or the outfit you wore for your grandma’s funeral. If it doesn’t bring you joy, channel Marie Kondo and get it out.

    Old magazines

    They’re just taking up space. If there are stories or images you love, tear those pages out or see if you can find and save them online.

    Furniture and accessories

    There are a couple of ways to reconsider your furniture. Is there too much? If furniture is blocking entry or access points, windows or bookshelves, you want to remove or reshuffle those pieces. If there are damaged pieces, or chairs or tables that go unused, you can free up space and create more flow by removing them. If you aren’t sure what should go, play around with the space by removing one piece at a time to see how your space is most comfortable and functional.

    Clean up the dining room

    Fancy dishware

    Just hear us out on this. If you have fancy dishes that you never use, consider donating them. At this point, they’re just decor and collecting dust. Even if they were passed down or they’re a wedding gift, if they’re not serving a purpose, they’re just taking up space.

    Nearly done candles

    If those candles you pull out for fancy dinners are starting to get to the end, melt them down completely in a double boiler and put the wax in an ice cube tray. Now you have wax melts for a wax warmer. This works for any spent candles lying around.

    Tackle the home office

    Pens that don’t work

    How annoying is it to try a pen with dried ink? Spend a moment going through all the pens in your office to test them out.

    Papers more than 5 years old

    This will vary based on what your papers are, but most papers don’t need to be kept for too long. Keep official documents that you might need forever (keep any tax documents that are from the last 3 years) but receipts, old bank statements, and old mail can head to the shredder. If you don’t have one, you can use a shredding service.

    If you’re unsure whether you should toss a document, take a photo of it as record and email it to yourself.

    Old calendars

    Even if your calendar has pictures in it or you really like it, once the year has passed, it’s time to let it go. And maybe, if you’re still using a print calendar, it’s time to switch to a digital version.

    Old gadgets

    Yes, your flip phone from 2005 is a relic at this point, but it’s also useless. Old laptops, iPads, the list goes on and on. Take all these old gadgets somewhere to recycle properly.

    Old awards

    Your diploma can stay on the wall if you feel strongly about it, but that “Most Improved Athlete” award from ninth grade can probably go.

    Craft and wrapping supplies

    If you’re a crafter (or maybe you used to be) comb through your supplies and toss dried out paints, empty tubes of glitter or dried out pens. If you have crumpled up wrapping paper, throw it out.

    Get to the garage

    Anything rusty

    If it’s rusty, it probably isn’t doing you any good. Whether it’s an old bike, some old tools, or whatever else. If your rusty tools are also antiques, consider taking them to a collector — it’s a win, win for both of you.

    Paint, cleaners, and other household waste

    If you have any of the above items that are candidates to go, make sure they are disposed of properly. The EPA outlines how to recycle these items safely.

    Instruction manuals

    There’s probably a cupboard in your garage with instruction manuals dating back years. If there are manuals for appliances you no longer have, you know what to do. And even for manuals you still want to keep around, check online to see if you can find a virtual copy to save instead.

    Old sports equipment

    Sports balls that are beyond repair, cleats for a sport you don’t play anymore, and everything in between can either be donated or thrown away if they’re not serving any purpose.

    Decluttering checklist

    illustration by Wenzdai Figueroa
  • Will You Accept This Rose of Jericho?

    A rose by any other name would… have more health benefits? Say hello to rose of Jericho, also known as:

    • Anastatica hierochuntica
    • hand of Fatima
    • Maryam’s flower
    • resurrection fern or resurrection plant

    That last one comes from the plant’s sneaky ability to unfold and perk up after looking dead for days. This magical little herb has been used across cultures and religions to treat health ailments and induce labor.

    Rose of Jericho, what’re you good for?

    Rose of Jericho is a flowering herb that symbolizes life and resurrection in many cultures. Traditional medicine practitioners also claim it can help with:

    Toddrogers84/Getty Images

    The health perks of rose of Jericho

    Like many other plants, rose of Jericho *is* full of healthy plant compounds:

    That’s all great, but containing healthy compounds isn’t the same as providing truly healing benefits. Still, fans use it for three primary health purposes.

    1. Anti-aging, baby. Plants contain antioxidants. And antioxidants = anti-aging, right? Not so fast. Jericho roses contain antioxidants, but there’s no actual evidence that slapping it on your face will soften fine lines.
    2. Disease-fighting powers. All those anti-inflammatory, anticancer plant compounds above? They’re great at helping with problems like painful arthritis, general inflammation, unhealthy blood sugar levels, and more. Some folks sip rose of Jericho tea to fight disease.
    3. More uterine blood flow. For years, rose of Jericho tonics have been used to speed up the flow, which is thought to soothe cramps and speed up childbirth.

    The deets: How to use rose of Jericho at home

    Here’s how to give rose of Jericho a whirl, as a natural remedy, or on your skin.

    Rose of Jericho comes in many forms:

    • botanical oil for the skin
    • herbal tea (dried flowers from the rose of Jericho plant)
    • oral capsules

    Rose of Jericho is an uncommon ingredient, and only anecdotal evidence suggests using it in these forms.

    Pro tip: It’s important to note that many products that claim to contain rose of Jericho actually contain false rose of Jericho (Selaginella lepidophylla). For the real version, look for Anastatica hierochuntica or A. hierochuntica on the label.

    When your space needs a pick-me-up… 

    TBH, the most common use for rose of Jericho is pretty basic: decoration. In some cultures and religions, it’s used to rid your space of negative energy. Think of its presence as smoke-free “smudging.”

    Some common beliefs about rose of Jericho:

    When you want the health perks 

    When used medicinally, rose of Jericho is prepared as a tea or tonic.

    There aren’t many pre-made resurrection plant teas on the market, so most peeps make their own by steeping tiny bundles of dried rose of Jericho.

    Prep rose of Jericho tonic just like most herbal teas.

    1. Boil water.
    2. Plop a dried flower or tea strainer of 1 tablespoon dried leaves into the water.
    3. Steep for about 5 minutes.

    If you’re concerned about an allergic reaction or adverse side effects, start with a smaller amount.

    The tea on herbal teas

    Like many herbal teas, there just isn’t much research on the perks and side effects of rose of Jericho tea. So proceed with caution.

    Experts warn pregnant people against drinking rose of Jericho tea because it may overstimulate the uterus and lead to low blood sugar levels in pregnant people, which could lead to dangerous complications.

    When your skin needs a glow-up

    Want to smooth your wrinkles with a rose of Jericho mask? That’s easier said than done.

    Not many skin companies have latched on to rose of Jericho as an anti-aging agent, and there’s no evidence-backed recipe for a DIY application. So if you want to give it a whirl, start small and proceed with caution.

    Heads up: Some products labeled as rose of Jericho use a similar but different plant. Authentic products will contain Anastatica hierochuntica or A. hierochuntica.

    Counterfeit rose of Jericho is labeled as Selaginella lepidophylla.

    Is this stuff safe?

    Anecdotally, rose of Jericho seems safe when applied to unbroken skin. You should be fine as long as you’re not rubbing it into open wounds. 

    Ingesting rose of Jericho is another story. Talk with your doc before sipping it for:

    If you’re on prescription meds, talk to your doctor before experimenting with any herbal remedies. There’s not enough research to identify all possible interactions, and you don’t want to cancel out the effects of your ‘scripts.

    Interested in consuming rose of Jericho? Run it past your doctor first. If you’re pregnant, avoid it altogether.

    Tried rose of Jericho to induce labor? Read this!

    If you already drank a cuppa to trigger childbirth, call your doctor. Tell them about the tea (and any other herbal remedies) because it could interfere with the meds they’ll give you during labor.

    Did I hear something about religious significance?

    For years, rose of Jericho has symbolized resurrection for folks who practice religions like Christianity, Santeria, and Hoodoo. Sometimes its oils are even added to holy water.

    Here’s why: When the resurrection fern doesn’t get enough water, this little flowering herb dries and closes up so that it looks like a tumbleweed. There are rumors that it can survive in anything from a desert to a drawer for years. But when the plant is watered again, it reopens and revives within hours.

    Despite the obvious resurrection symbolism, there’s no evidence that the plant can heal or bring anyone back from the dead.

    Where to find and buy rose of Jericho

    You can find dried rose of Jericho plants online or at your local health food or herb store. Some individual Etsy or eBay sellers also offer dried rose of Jericho.

    Just be wary of any sellers who claim their plants cure medical conditions.

    Plant care 101

    It’s called a resurrection plant, but that doesn’t mean you *can’t* kill it! Rose of Jericho thrives in a dry environment, so avoid overwatering (hello, root rot).

    Some tips from plant parents around the interwebz:

    • Place your rose of Jericho on top of a bowl of wet soil or gravel. No actual planting required!
    • Give it plenty of sunlight.
    • Let it dry out once in a while (yep, really).

    tl;dr

    Rose of Jericho is also known as the resurrection plant because it can bloom after being completely dried up and brittle. Because of this neat feature, some people relate its presence to:

    Traditional medicine practitioners claim that rose of Jericho can treat diabetes, arthritis, cramps, and other inflammatory conditions. It’s also used to induce labor, though medical experts do *not* recommend this for safety reasons.

    There’s not much evidence to support all the health claims about rose of Jericho. To be safe, talk to your doctor if you’re interested in sipping it for general wellness. Avoid it altogether if you’re pregnant.