Excellent ways to prepare a chemical-free shampoo.

I came across this post on my friend, Shalini Baisiwala’s blog in September. The home-made hair cleanser had been a part of my haircare routine for years together before I discovered the more glamorous–and easy to use alternative–store-bought shampoos!

On reading her post, I remembered how my mother has been diligently following the old ritual of preparing the hair-wash using shikakai ( Acacia Concinna) and Reetha (Soapnuts) and has had beautiful, problem-free hair for all these years.

I decided to turn a leaf and bid goodbye to the chemical-containing shampoos and welcome the home-made shampoos that packed a lot more in them than harmful chemicals.

So, last month, I finally disposed of my shampoo and hair-conditioner bottles and prepared my own shampoo after more than 2 decades.

Suffice to say, I am glad I made the switch, for, in just a couple of washes, I noticed a marked change in the quality of my hair.

The recipe I am going to share is slightly different from Shalini’s, for I use just the shikakai and soapnuts–the way my mother does.

You can try both these recipes and pick the one that you like. But, either way, I can vouch for the fact–as well as Shalini–that you will only benefit from this change. It is after all a hair cleanser that isn’t prepared in a chemistry lab!

RECIPE

RECIPE:

THE CHEMICAL-FREE SHAMPOO:

Chemical-free shampoo

INGREDIENTS:

TO MAKE A LITRE OF SHAMPOO

Dried Shikakai – 5 to 6

Soapnuts (Reetha) – 1

METHOD:

In a cup of water soak the shikakai and reetha overnight in a bowl.

Next morning, place the bowl in a pressure cooker and cook for 2 whistles, or for 15 minutes.

Once cooked, allow it to cool.

Then, mash it all very well with the hand.Soapnuts give a lot of lather, which is why I have used just one

.Once you have mashed it thoroughly, use either a strainer to filter the pulp.Collect the pulp in a bowl and add some more water to the mashed shikakai and soapnut.Mash it all again and add this to the bowl. Keep adding water (a bowl at a time) to the cooked shikakai+soapnut and mash it as many times as you can.The above quantity of shikakai and soapnut will give you a liter of shampoo.Chemical-free shampooStore it all in a plastic bottle and refrigerate it.

HOW TO USE:

Every time you want to wash your hair, take some of the shikakai shampoo in a vessel and heat it.

You may add the juice of half a lemon to it if you think your hair is too oily.

Once you heat it, add a little cold water to dilute it.

Wet your hair. Cup your palm and take in some of the shampoo, pour it on your scalp and rub gently.

You will have to do this twice or thrice so that the scalp and the hair get cleaned thoroughly.

Wash off with cold water to clean the hair.

Towel-dry your hair gently.

And, once the hair is almost dry, apply just 2 to 3 drops of coconut oil before detangling and combing your hair.

READ Hair oil for itchy scalp and hair fall.

 

TIPS:

Scrub, but very gently, when you wash your hair.

Use your fingers to rinse the hair.

Detangle the hair when it dries. Wet hair tends to break.

Be gentle when detangling, too.

Apply just a couple of drops of coconut oil before detangling, after the hair has dried completely.

Then, comb your hair well and tie it in a bun for a while. Leave it loose after sometime, (if you like leaving your hair loose) and see how silky it feels!

BENEFITS OF USING THE CHEMICAL-FREE SHAMPOO:

SHIKAKAI:

Shikakai is a natural cleanser that cleans the hair and the scalp gently. The lack of any chemicals in it ensures your hair does not get robbed of its natural oils.

It softens the hair, gives it a shine and removes any traces of residue from the scalp.

Shikakai does not dry the hair. It gives you smooth and silky hair that’s easy to detangle, too.It also fights dandruff and hair fall.

REETHA (Soapnuts):

Reetha acts like a soap that cleans the hair, removes excess oil and grime from the scalp and hair and gives you silky hair.

Because it gives a lot of lather, I use just one soapnut in my shampoo preparation as I have slightly dry hair. You may use more than one soapnut if you have excessively oily hair but stick to one if you have dry to normal hair.

Reetha also improves the quality of the hair and helps in hair growth.

LEMON JUICE:

Lemon, with its anti-fungal properties, keeps the scalp healthy.

It unclogs the hair follicles and keeps dandruff at bay. It is dandruff that increases our hair problems.

So, if the scalp is clear of dandruff, you can rest assured your hair will be in good health! You may add the juice of a whole lemon to the one-liter shampoo.

The shampoo will last you for more than 3 washes, depending on the length of your hair.

Sometimes, you might feel your hair a little bit oily even after the hair wash. But, don’t worry, it will take you some time to understand how much shampoo you will need to wash off all the excess oil.

The only downside while using this shampoo is that it stings the eyes and can be rather annoying sometimes.

But, believe me, the burning goes off in a couple of minutes, so if the shikakai water enters the eyes, wash off the eyes with cold water a few times. Rub the eyes very very gently and wash again. The burning will stop soon.

And, no, the eyes don’t turn red, nor does the burning stay for hours after you have washed your eyes.

I hope you benefit from this home-made hair cleanser. The fewer chemicals we use, the better it will be for our hair and scalp.

*You will find both – the shikakai and the soapnuts – on Amazon, or your local grocery store (in India).

Do try it out and share with me your experience.

 

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Flax seeds for eye health.

With age and the wear and tear of the eye muscles, our eye health undergoes rapid deterioration. We usually don’t give it much consideration but experience the strain and the discomfort later on in life.

Making dietary and lifestyle changes are two ways we can save our eyes from further degeneration and eye problems.

Including foods rich in Vitamin A and essential fatty acids and spending less time staring at our phones and computers will definitely go a long way in safeguarding our eyes.

Read Yoga for your eyes

FOOD FOR BETTER EYE-HEALTH:

Including foods rich in Vitamin A won’t ensure a reduction in the power of our spectacles, but it will…

  • help improve eye health,
  • look after the surface of the eyes,
  • improve night vision,
  • and, lessen the risk of vision loss due to muscular degeneration that comes with ageing.

Omega 3 fatty acids also help keep the eyes healthy.

  • They reduce the instances of dry eyes,
  • Reduce the inflammation associated with dry eyes
  • and reduce muscular degeneration.

Essential fatty acids (EFA) are required for the proper functioning of our organs. And, as our body cannot produce these, we need to obtain these from dietary sources.

Omega 3 fatty acids are one such type of fatty acids that ensure good eye health.

These are found in high quantities in seafood, nuts, and seeds.

Seeds are a great way for vegetarians to incorporate Omega 3 fats in their daily diet.

  • Chia seeds are a native of Mexico.
  • Flax seeds have been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years. But, because depending upon locally-grown food makes sense, let’s focus on flax seeds.

Flaxseeds for dry eyes

Flax seeds are rich in:

Omega 3 fatty acids

Proteins

Fiber

Magnesium

Manganese.

These are not just beneficial for the eyes, but for our overall health.

HOW TO INCLUDE FLAXSEED IN YOUR DAILY DIET:

Roasted flax seeds can be eaten just like that or added to breakfast cereals or salads to increase their nutritional value.

Roasted and ground flax seeds are easier to digest and can be had first thing in the morning with a mugful of warm water.

The powder can also be added to yogurt and salads.

RECIPE:

Dry roast flax seeds in a thick-bottomed pan.

Flaxseeds for dry eyes

Once cool, grind them finely in your grinder.

Flaxseeds for dry eyes

Store the powder in an air-tight jar.

Have a teaspoon of this powder in the morning on an empty stomach.

Flaxseeds for dry eyes

*As the powder sticks to the teeth, gums and the palete, drink warm water soon after eating the flax seeds powder. It will help clean your mouth.

REMEDY FOR DRY EYES:

A simple remedy for dry eyes consists of using artificial tears, or lubricant eye drops.

These are available over the counter at your chemist’s. But, you may also enquire about it at your ophthalmologist’s.

Just a couple of drops after you finish your work on your computer or phones will reduce the irritation or the burning sensation your eyes suffer due to the dryness.

Try and do away with your contact lens, too, if you suffer from dry eyes. The discomfort you suffer while wearing your lens will further aggravate the problem.

I quit using my contact lens when I started feeling the lens slipping off the surface of my eyes.

I use the artificial tear drops after laptop use and at bedtime.

Artificial tear drops for dry eyes

Wash your eyes with cold water each time you finish your screen-related work. And, when you are working, remember to blink often as that will help keep the eyes moist.

Make sure the screen of your computer is at or below eye level and at an arm’s distance from your eyes.

Finally, remember the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look away from your screens at a distance of 20 feet for 20 seconds.

Look after your eyes. This is the only pair you have!

Love,

SHILPA.

 

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Flax seeds for your eyes

Why I am on a blogging break.

SOMETIMES, A BREAK FROM YOUR ROUTINE IS THE VERY THING YOU NEED!

It’s been some weeks since I have been rather infrequent on my blog. For two years, I published two posts a week, come rain or sunshine. Except for last year, when hubby took ill in the month of May, I was at Metanoia, each day, every day.

Having worked on renovating my old blog, deciding on a niche and developing Metanoia as my “workplace”, I had to take it seriously! I needed the traffic, the visitors, and the followers to see the numbers increasing. In short, I was desperate to be UP THERE, as far as my blog was concerned.

I planned the topics months in advance with images, points, hashtags, etc. But, last month, something happened. I somehow couldn’t plan a single topic after September. The three pages for October, November and December lay bare in my planner, much to my consternation.

With no ideas for any new topics to write about, and with my mind as blank as an unruled paper, I found myself struggling. It was not as much a case of Writer’s Block as it was a burnout from having worked non-stop under immense pressure to perform and stay in the race.

All that I had learned about how a blogger needs to work, plan for the future, stay abreast of all the latest technical developments of pro-blogging got to me and I crumbled under the pressure.

My mental health took a beating, and even as I type these words, I feel ashamed about how I wasn’t practicing what I preached – about making mental health a priority over everything else!

It was the herd mentality that was making me desperate to go where everyone else was going in a mad rush to make things work. Monetizing the blog, working on SEO, getting the tech-side updated and whatnot. And while doing so, I suddenly realized that the reason I had started blogging was left far behind!

I failed to understand that my life was so different from the others, and yet here I was, hell-bent on trying to create a map for my personal journey based on others’ experiences!

And, so, last month, I decided to take a break.

I was too exhausted to come up with any blog post ideas or share my posts. In fact, I was not even looking forward to it all!

I decided to take a backseat and take a good look at what I was doing and whether I was benefitting from it all.

And, you know, I discovered I was NOT benefitting in any way, least of all emotionally. And, if I wasn’t feeling happy doing it, then why the hell was I even doing it?

Thankfully, for me, with October began the ink drawing festival of Inktober and I decided to focus on my art. And, with writing assignments and Inktober, thinking about blogging was too much to take!

I gave a break to my posting strategy on Instagram, Twitter as well as Pinterest and thought to myself, “To hell with it!”.

My readers would visit me even if I did not post anything, and they did! Not as regularly as they usually do, but Metanoia does have visitors every day, and I am fine even if they are just a handful.

All the mad rush had taken away the joy of writing, sharing information, and blogging, and had left me completely drained, blindly following the strategies of others, whose journey so differed from mine.

It was during these days that I also realized how such breaks are so necessary if you wish to stay sane in today’s mad world. For, if you keep running, there will come a day when you will hate it all–the mad race everyone is in, and also yourself, for being so obsessed with “making it”.

Frankly, no one’s keeping tabs as to who makes it and who doesn’t, so why worry?

Why not follow our methods and work as per our rules, our capabilities, and in line with our circumstances?

The competition today is crazy and each one out there wants to make a name for themselves.

Every second person is a blogger!

I discovered recently that around 2.9 million blog posts are published on WordPress every single day!

We are in competition with that many posts; and, if you keep pushing yourself in a bid to outdo those 2.9 million posts, can you imagine your condition at the end of, say, a month?

Well, do the math and think about it.

So, take that break if you feel you have had enough of it all.

Take a break if you are out of ideas to keep your blog going.

Take a break if you feel you are losing your peace of mind because, without that peace of mind, buddy, whatever you write won’t even be worth it! You need to be true to yourself, right?

(Here, at Metanoia, I write about mental health and the need to care for it, no matter what. But, I realized I wasn’t following my own suggestions! Doesn’t that make me such a big hypocrite?).

Taking a break won’t harm anything, believe me. It won’t matter if people don’t visit your blog, or if your traffic goes down. But, it will definitely matter if YOU suffer, YOUR mental health suffers.

Remember the reason you began blogging? For the joy of sharing your thoughts, for the happiness it brought you.

If your blog is not your primary source of income, take a break from it all and come back refreshed. That break could very well serve as an eye-opener for you!

 

Sometimes, when we take a break, we may find that solutions then present themselves!

 

I have realized that what works for others won’t work for me as my situation is completely different.

That, I need to focus on what gives me joy, which will benefit me in the long run. And, hence I have decided to follow my heart.

Because MY peace matters most.

 

Love,

SHILPA…

 

P.S.

Dear reader,

I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for visiting Metanoia. This blog wouldn’t have flourished so beautifully in just a couple of years had it not been for you! So, thank you, and love you!

I will begin writing when I am ready for it.

Lots of love,

SHILPA…

 

 

 

 

How to stay mentally healthy.

 

There is no health without mental health.

10th October is celebrated as World Mental Health Day. it’s an attempt at creating awareness about the importance of mental health, the need to stay mentally healthy and how one can achieve it.

We give a lot of importance to physical health. We invest in fitness centers and equipment to work on our bodies. We pay attention to our diet and follow the rules of hygiene to ensure we stay healthy in every way we can.

However, hardly do we pay attention to our mental health, our mental hygiene. Seldom do we consider paying close attention to the health of our mind that is paramount for a healthy and happy life.

RELATED Importance of Mental Health

Sharing today, 10 simple tips for mental hygiene. Follow these tips to achieve optimum health–both mental as well as physical–and watch your peace return!

 

HOW TO STAY MENTALLY HEALTHY:

INVEST IN YOUR MENTAL HEALTH:

The way you visit your family doctor for your annual health tests, do visit a psychiatrist to get a  mental health check.

How to stay mentally healthy

There is really no shame in visiting a mental health expert. it’s not just those who suffer from mental illnesses who need to visit a shrink! You can, and should, too, if you don’t feel good in your mind, for the mind is the most powerful part of the human body.

FOLLOW AN EXERCISE REGIMEN:

There’s an avalanche of information coming our way from every corner that insists on the importance of staying physically active and fit. Joining a gymnasium, enrolling in Yoga classes or following some or the other fitness technique to stay healthy is what everybody talks about. And, yet, there are so many among us who fail to get off our couch and get moving!

How to stay mentally healthy

Any physical activity, be it yoga, walking, jogging or exercising, helps release chemicals in our body known as endorphins that stimulate a positive feeling within us. These ‘feel good’ chemicals make us happy. And, it is this happy feeling that keeps us mentally healthy.

It helps us deal with the difficult moments that show themselves during the span of a day and we find it easier to make decisions or face those tough moments with a calmer mindset.

Imagine how much it would help if you make exercising an important part of every day? It’s what has helped me face my anxiety and take better control of my thoughts.

SHARE YOUR FEELINGS:

We often keep our stress and anxiety bottled up inside us, worrying about how others might view us and our thought processes. All this pent up stress takes its toll on our mind and our body, our relationships, and our work, resulting in a gradual disintegration of our being.

How to stay mentally healthy

Leave aside the fear of what people might think if you shared your feelings with them. If there are issues that bother you on an everyday basis, share them with your close friends or relatives. It will help take the load off your chest and you might also find solutions to some of those problems.

Maintain a diary or work on Morning Pages–a wonderful exercise that helps you in writing whatever comes to your mind, objectively. And, if all else fails, visit a therapist who will be better able to help you deal with your fears, your anxieties or your stress.

Remember, chronic stress ruins not just your mind but also your body. So, if you are experiencing stress in any area of your life, address those issues. It’s what will keep you in better health than just visiting a gym every day!

LOOK AFTER YOUR DIET:

You are what you eat. If you eat junk, then that’s how your body will turn out to be. And, if you stick to a healthy diet that consists of all the food groups–proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats–you are sure to have a healthier body.

How to stay mentally healthy

What we eat also affects how we feel. A healthy dose of all the necessary nutrients in your daily diet will ensure your mind feels healthy and happy. It’s what will encourage you to take better care of yourself and make you aware of how you ought to do it.

KEEP YOUR ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION UNDER CONTROL:

Drinking socially and responsibly is necessary.

How to stay mentally healthy

Alcohol enters the bloodstream and affects our thinking, our cognition, our intellectual functioning. It may leave us feeling euphoric for the time being, but once its effects dissipate, it only leaves us feeling much more miserable than when we started.

Limit your alcohol consumption and when you do drink, make sure you eat before you drink as well as while you drink. Exercise self-control and make sure you are well aware of your actions.

INDULGE IN A HOBBY:

Hobbies are the best stress busters. They not only keep your mind occupied with something that gives you happiness and a sense of satisfaction but also keep you physically active.

How to stay mentally healthy

Be it gardening, art, music, baking, singing, dancing, cooking, pottery…the list of these stress-busters is endless!

RELATED Pursue a hobby for better health

Make time for your hobby. Even if it’s for an hour every day, set aside the time when you can be engrossed in your favorite activity and watch your stress vanish!

REDUCE THE CLUTTER – MENTAL AS WELL AS PHYSICAL:

Words that people uttered, words that hurt you in the past are words that haunt us for years together and poison our mind, our heart. Why do you need this poison when you can just let go of this mental clutter and live peacefully?

So, just forgive and forget. Or, at least let it be a lesson that you will remember all your life and stay away from such toxic people.

How to stay mentally healthy

Let go of the physical clutter in your life, too. Holding on to stuff that brings only momentary pleasure, hoarding stuff that takes up a lot of your stamina is really not needed for a happy life.

Minimize. Purge on a regular basis. Let go of stuff, people and thoughts that weigh you down. Surround yourself with people who make you happy, with thoughts that spark joy. Rejoice with the happy memories of past moments instead of stuff that only clutters your surroundings.

Let go of the emotional and physical clutter in your life. Follow the rules of MINIMALISM.

PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SLEEP:

Sleep plays a large role in our wellbeing. But, today’s fast-paced life has left us with a hundred distractions that take away from our ‘sleep time’ and affect our overall health.

How to stay mentally healthy

We need a minimum of 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Follow a routine where you switch off your gadgets an hour before bed-time so that your brain knows its time to rest. The blue light that emanates from your gadgets keeps the brain active and alert, disturbing your sleep.

So, just switch off. You are definitely not going to miss out on something if you turn off your smartphones for the day. But, if you don’t switch off, then you are surely going to miss out on your precious sleep. It’s up to you what matters to you more–the world out there or your health.

LIVE IN THE MOMENT:

I can’t emphasize enough how much living in the present helps keep stress at bay.

RELATED Care and management for Anxiety Disorder

It’s what I have been practicing ever since I discovered I suffer from GAD. We, humans, have the tendency to either live in the past or jump into the future. Seldom do we stay in the present. It’s the present moment that’s your life.

How to stay mentally healthy

Whatever has happened in the past is now a part of history that can’t be undone. Whatever’s not happened yet is all a part of the unknown future, so why bother about it? We don’t even know for sure if what we think is what will indeed happen, do we?

Living in the moment will help keep your stress, fears, anxiety, and panic at bay and help you do your best to live life to its fullest. The choice is, again, yours–whether you want to keep revisiting the past or visiting the future, or whether you want to live in the here and the now and enjoy the moment.

ACCEPT LIFE WITH OPEN ARMS AND A BIG SMILE:

It’s my mom’s advice – to accept life as it is. To tell ourselves that life is good – way better than what we could have expected. And, to never, ever, compare our life with that of the others, for all that glitters is not gold, and we know not the battles people fight behind closed doors!

How to stay mentally healthy

So, don’t worry, be happy!

 

Remember, mental health comes first. You need to be healthy in mind to be healthy in body.

 

 

How to stay mentally healthy

 

 

 

Amazing homemade tonic for itchy scalp.

Do you experience intense itching in your scalp even after a hair wash? Oiling the hair gives no relief from the itching and the hair fall keeps worsening, right?

I suffered from this issue for so long, it was really testing my patience. Neither did applying warm oil seem to help nor did changing the shampoo.

Having reached a dead-end, I decided to try something I read on one of my visits to Pinterest. An oil that gave relief from an itchy scalp and arrested hair fall, too.

I made a slight change by using refined coconut oil instead of virgin coconut oil because I did not find the latter at my grocer’s.

Recommended reading: 3 fabulous benefits of Coconut Oil

Sharing the recipe for this wonder oil with you all today.

Hair oil for itchy scalp and hair fall.

HAIR TONIC FOR ITCHY SCALP AND HAIR FALL:

INGREDIENTS:

Refined Coconut Oil: 1 bowl. You can also use Virgin Coconut OIl.

Curry leaves: a fistful – washed and dried.

Fenugreek Seeds: 1 teaspoon

Hair oil for itchy scalp and hair fall.

METHOD:

In a pan, take the oil and place it on the gas.

Allow it to heat a little before adding the fenugreek seeds.

Once the seeds change color, add the curry leaves.

Keep stirring the oil for 3 – 4 minutes.

Hair oil for itchy scalp and hair fall

Once the oil changes its color to brown, switch off the gas.

Allow the oil to cool before storing it in an air-tight glass jar.

APPLICATION:

Apply the oil a couple of hours before your hair wash.

I massage my hair with this oil on the day before hair wash, the reason being that once I oil and comb my hair, I can tie it up and leave the oil to soak into my scalp. It also helps me sleep well!

Do not use too much oil to massage the hair.

One or two teaspoons depending on the length of your hair should suffice.

Warm the oil if you wish to and massage with your fingers using gentle, circular movements.

Gently comb the hair to detangle the knots and tie up your hair in a bun or a plait.

After 2 to 3 hours, shampoo your hair.

Using this oil at least twice a week will definitely show some improvement in your scalp condition.

The itching reduces in 2 applications, itself!

 

Hair oil for itchy scalp and hair fall

BENEFITS OF COCONUT OIL:

Coconut oil is a natural conditioner that keeps your hair soft, tangle-free and easy to manage.

It is a natural moisturizer that keeps dry hair soft and silky.

It naturally adds a shine to the hair and drives the dullness away.

It prevents the hair from breaking.

After the hair wash, take just a couple of drops of plain coconut oil and apply it to slightly damp hair so that it doesn’t break while combing.

BENEFITS OF CURRY LEAVES:

Curry leaves help restore scalp health. They strengthen the roots of the hair, clear the hair follicles that tend to get clogged due to the chemicals present in the hair products and ensure hair growth.

The high protein content of curry leaves reduces hair loss and fights dandruff.

BENEFITS OF FENUGREEK SEEDS:

Fenugreek seeds reduce hair fall thanks to their high nutrient content.

These, too, strengthen the roots of the hair which results in faster hair growth.

Fenugreek seeds fight dandruff and scalp itchiness which are the root cause of hair fall. The antibacterial qualities of fenugreek seeds help fight the irritation that occurs due to dandruff.

Fenugreek seeds turn the hair softer, smoother and easy to comb. Adding a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds powder to henna softens the hair and gives it a well-nourished feel.

Switching to this hair oil with its natural ingredients is sure to give you positive results as opposed to using chemicals to fight your hair problems.

 

CONCLUSION

However much readymade products may promise to solve our hair issues, the bottom line is that these are loaded with all kinds of chemicals that are harmful to the hair and the skin in the long run.

The kinds of products we have today were not available to the past generations and yet they had better, stronger, longer and healthier hair compared to ours!

Making the change from branded hair care products to natural ingredients used by our mothers and grandmothers makes a lot of sense.

 

 

 

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Hair tonic for itchy scalp

 

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