Why non-negotiable downtime is the most beneficial habit for your professional growth

running exercise catching breath fitness workout
Keeping your body in shape can help you keep your business in shape.

  • If you want to grow your business, creating space and stillness in your life must be non-negotiable.
  • Developing healthy habits will help you turn downtime into a valuable asset to your career.
  • Create a rest routine, take time to reflect, and follow a fitness schedule to keep your body going.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

You want to change the world, so you work long, tireless hours, your mind never shuts off, and your body never rests. It feels as if your life were burning on both ends of the candlestick, but you can’t seem to let yourself stop.

I used to live that way, too. The idea of taking a break or resting was unimaginable. And the few evenings when I attempted to unwind and enjoy some free time, all I did was feel guilty about stepping away. I’d wind up returning to work later into the night than usual.

Was it healthy? No. Was I more productive? Not necessarily.

Here’s the truth. If you want to actually impart change, drive your mission forward, and grow your business, then creating space and stillness in your life must be non-negotiable. To do so requires a mindset shift away from thinking breaks are bad. To turn downtime into a valuable asset, I started to do the following three actions.

Schedule your downtime

Most people think taking breaks is spontaneous, but the best way to stop is to plan accordingly. When nighttime comes around, your circadian rhythm and body know without consciously thinking that it’s time to sleep. You’re training your body and mind to anticipate shutting down. You can impart this same level of shift within your daily or weekly schedule.

Create a routine for your rest. Whether it’s a block of time in the morning, a day during the week, or a few minutes throughout the day, plan time to take a break and stick to it. Every Wednesday and Sunday, for example, I have blocked off time specifically for relaxation and reflection. This has become a non-negotiable in my life in order to instill the habit within my mind and the cycle within my body to unwind. Taking downtime becomes a habit, similar to that of checking email.

Read more: Breaking these 3 bad habits will increase work productivity, according to a doctor and CEO

Participate in reflection

The thoughts and ideas that flow through your mind are how you raise your value as a leader. So use moments of pause to bolster your brain’s ability to think stronger and faster.

Take space to allow yourself to think. Focus on an aspect of business that you want to improve. Think about where you want to be and whether you are on the fastest path to get there.

In our society, we have become accustomed to constantly being stimulated and entertained. As a result, we must actively block time to find stillness, and allow these moments of perceived boredom to spark inner dreams and allow creativity to flourish. During this time, hold no judgment of the ideas you come up with.

You don’t need to work 12 grueling hours each day. You need one moment of insight.

Take care of your body

Some of the biggest deterrents to actual wealth creation and success are not resources, investors, or a strong supply chain; it’s your personal health. If you are energized, you are more likely to act and be bold when you experience fear or moments of opportunity. If you have taken care of yourself, you can more easily show up to connect with and support your employees, partners, and customers.

You are the leader within your organization. If something happens to you, everything is compromised. You must take care of yourself as if you are going to be around for a while. During your moments of space, create a wellness routine, navigate your fitness schedule, and give your body, mind, and spirit what it needs most. Some days, this looks like hitting the gym really hard, and other days, it consists of meditating, getting a massage, or reading a book.

Health is a resource that you can always provide to yourself.

Creating space for downtime in your life is necessary. After all, the entrepreneur road isn’t an end goal, it is a way of life. If you want to enjoy it for the long term, you must be willing to pause, reflect, and rejuvenate. It might just land you farther forward than those late nights at the office ever could.

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An HR expert explains how companies can avoid ‘wellbeing tokenism’ when supporting employee health

Shot of woman sitting on a swiss ball while working at her computer in an office
Some companies often miss the mark, but health and productivity can coexist.

  • Employees shouldn’t have to choose between health and productivity at their job.
  • Supporting employees professionally in addition to promoting lifestyle changes is important for wellbeing.
  • Instead of marketing gimmicks, offer resources that have been proven to make an difference.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Corporate giant Amazon is taking heat over reports of its WorkingWell initiative, a physical and mental health program intended to improve employee health in the retail giant’s fulfilment centres.

A leaked pamphlet, which Amazon has claimed was created in error and is not being circulated, encourages workers to invest in their own fitness and become “industrial athletes.” One aspect attracting particular attention is a plan for “AmaZen Booths.” Also called Mindful Practice Rooms, these kiosks are intended for employees to take breaks from work, experience periods of calm, and access mental health resources. Amazon deleted a social media post about the booths after being mocked on Twitter.

The details paint an unflattering picture of the company in light of its unprecedented rise in revenues, profits, and stock value during the pandemic. Critics of Amazon say the company’s unparalleled financial success is on the backs of its 1.3 million employees who are subject to precarious employment contracts – issues that came to a head after an unsuccessful campaign among some US-based Amazon workers to gain trade union recognition.

Commentators are also saying that these workers experience higher than average rates of workplace injuries and are treated like “galley slaves.” In such conditions, it is argued, a wellbeing initiative is beside the point.

These programs are gaining in popularity: COVID-19 has raised “wellness” up the agendas of corporations like never before – and not always in a good way. Many companies have introduced exercise classes, fruit, and other sticking-plaster solutions rather than measures that assess risk, focus on prevention, and prioritize “decent work” as a driver of both wellbeing and productivity.

Having been a judge for the Global Healthy Workplace Awards since 2014, I have run a critical eye over many corporate wellness programs. Like other big companies, Amazon faces the challenging balance of promoting employee wellbeing without being accused of tokenism.

In trying to improve worker wellness, companies often miss the mark. Here are some things they should keep in mind:

1. Health and productivity can and must coexist

To imply that there should be a binary choice between health and productivity is facile and misleading. One of the more breathtaking things I heard from a senior executive of a large UK organisation during the pandemic was this:

Frankly, I think that job stress is a more effective driver of productivity for us than wellbeing programs.

Far from being a niche or outdated opinion, this thinking is representative of a significant proportion of business leaders around the world. As it happens, this large organization is also very keen to tell anyone who will listen that “employee health, safety, and wellbeing is their biggest priority” – though when I checked their latest report to shareholders and prospective investors, the words “revenue” and “profits” outnumbered mentions of “safety” by a ratio of 25 to 1.

2. Lifestyle evangelism is no substitute for decent work

The former chief medical officer of UK telecoms giant BT, Dr. Paul Litchfield, famously derided what he called the “fruit and pilates” approach to workplace wellbeing. He argued that no amount of healthy snacks in canteens, “step challenges” or company fun runs can compensate for jobs with impossible deadlines or targets, or the stress of reporting to a manager who is a bully.

One of the founding fathers of modern motivation theory, Frederick Herzberg, once said: “if you want someone to do a good job, give them a good job to do.” Wellness programs that ignore this simple idea are unlikely to have an enduring impact.

3. Context is everything

The AmaZen Booths are no more than a contemporary take on many successful community and workplace mental health programs such as the “Men’s Shed” movement, which originated among working men in Australia in the 1990s. It targeted older men, who can often find being open about mental health very difficult, by offering resources and support which encouraged reflection and “help-seeking”.

Similar booths have been used successfully by some UK employers. Electricity supplier E.ON created a “Head Shed” to encourage employees to find out more about mental wellbeing, for instance.

The real test of Amazon’s version is whether it is part of a genuinely coherent program of initiatives that assess and reduce exposure to risk, and convince employees that the company really is prioritizing their wellbeing over the long term. Having a well-branded initiative on wellbeing is never enough by itself, especially if many employees’ everyday experience of work is that it is intense, strenuous and toxic.

4. Employers: Beware of ‘fool’s gold’

Employers need to be more critical consumers of wellbeing “miracle cures” offered by commercial providers. I have seen too many employers divert resources from unglamorous but evidence-based interventions (like having access to a good occupational health nurse) towards those meant to “showcase” their commitment to health and wellbeing.

Used by themselves, laughter coaches and head massages are really no more than perks, with little or no direct impact on health or productivity. Even very popular initiatives such as Mental Health First Aid have very little strong evidence of any long-term benefit.

Sadly, in the drive for more productivity, the health and wellbeing of employees can be among the first casualties. Reports of Amazon’s WorkingWell program have, so far, not been flattering. Its challenge – like many other corporations – is to sweep aside the cynicism and demonstrate that its efforts will have tangible benefits for all of its employees and are not just PR spin.

Stephen Bevan, head of HR research development, Institute for Employment Studies, Lancaster University

The Conversation
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The COVID pandemic is calling out the hospitality industry on its biggest bluff: wellness

Wellness amenities hotel
It’s no longer enough for wellness amenities to be only skin deep.

  • Wellness has been a buzzword in the hospitality industry for years.
  • The pandemic has created a new focus on safety and cleanliness across the world, especially in hospitality.
  • The change shows that hospitality’s focus on wellness was really just about the illusion of wellness.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

For years, wellness has been the biggest word in hospitality.

Eucalyptus towels upon check-in? That’s a wellness amenity. A personal wellness concierge to lead you on a run in your temporary city? That’s a wellness amenity. Aromatherapy bath salts and Vitamin C-infused shower water? You guessed it – wellness.

It’s grown into more than a marketing hook – it’s a massive industry. A report from the Global Wellness Institute put the value of the wellness economy, which includes but also extends beyond hospitality, at an estimated $4.5 trillion in 2017-2018.

But what the pandemic – and the attempts at recovery – has thrown into sharp relief is that the much-lauded wellness amenities of the pre-COVID era are just not going to cut it anymore. Now that the world is considering the prospect of traveling through a safety-specific lens, it’s clear that what hotels previously got away with billing as wellness was really just about the illusion of wellness.

wellness amenities spa
All the candles in the world won’t qualify as “wellness” in a post-pandemic world.

Out with the old ideas of wellness

Before COVID-19, wellness was a term with many implications.

As Ophelia Yeung and Katherine Johnston, senior research fellows at the Global Wellness Institute, wrote in a 2018 report, “… wellness has become a selling point for all kinds of products and services – from food and vitamins to real estate and vacation packages, and from gym memberships and health care plans to meditation apps and DNA testing kits.”

Hotels and resorts leaned into the word’s many meanings.

Marriott International’s Westin launched a wellness campaign in 2017 that included healthy breakfasts, fitness-gear-lending programs, and paraben-free shower products. Hilton’s wellness program increased the number of workout rooms in hotels, and Hyatt invested in things like blackout shades, warm-colored lighting, and better mattresses to improve its guests’ wellbeing.

Meanwhile, wellness retreats, too, found a vast many ways to interpret the trend. That’s a point Ingo Schweder, Founder of Horwath HTL Health & Wellness, touched on in a 2018 industry report.

Wellness retreats, Schweder wrote, were places you could go seeking the spiritual, or places you could go to indulge in healthy gourmet food. Alternatively, they were places to lose a couple pounds, or get cosmetic treatments.

In short, lots of things were classified as falling within the broad umbrella term, and travelers loved it. Global spend on wellness tourism – think $5,000 weekend wellness summits and resorts with on-site therapists – hit an estimated $639 billion in 2017.

A superficial wellness reckoning

Many countries are now looking to reopen their borders and jumpstart their tourism industries. Travelers are expressing interest in hitting the road again – but they’re also displaying a shift in priorities.

When booking a hotel, the overall no. 2 priority for travelers is enhanced cleaning and hygiene practices, per an American Hotels and Lodging Association (AHLA) report from January. “Enhanced cleaning” ranked as a top-three factor when making a travel booking for 45% of respondents in an October 2020 survey conducted by vacation-rental platform Home to Go. And 54% of people surveyed in February by the crisis-response company Global Rescue indicated they are concerned about health – particularly as relates to the coronavirus – when traveling. Last year, before the coronavirus pandemic, the number of people who said they were concerned about health when traveling was only 35%.

In other words, what people are looking after is their safety. The wellness amenities – the saline pools, the in-room Peloton bikes – that hotels previously invested in to kept travelers feeling fit, relaxed, and taken care of are not the same ones that are going to keep them safe during a pandemic. And it spells a wellness reckoning for the hospitality industry.

To be sure, it’s not only the hospitality sector that’s up against this challenge. High-end real estate, too, has been known to bill amenities like tranquility gardens and outdoor yoga decks as wellness amenities; it, too, will have to answer to whether or not a rooftop sauna still constitutes a “wellness amenity” in the post-COVID era.

That’s also not to say that maintaining an active lifestyle – like one that makes use of a hotel’s gym or an apartment complex’s tennis courts – isn’t a part of staying healthy. It could even be argued that prior to a health crisis as extreme as the COVID pandemic, offering spaces in which travelers and residents could step away from their screens and focus on taking care of their bodies and minds was wellness-promoting enough.

But it’s clear the COVID pandemic has permanently changed the ways people and businesses approach personal safety and health.

The hospitality sector’s wellness reckoning stands to be particularly severe because of the hit it took during the pandemic. In the US alone, nearly four million jobs were lost in hospitality and leisure between February 2020 and March 2021. A January report from the AHLA predicts it’ll take until 2024 for the travel industry to rebound to 2019 levels.

empty hotel pandemic hospitality
2020 was a devastating year for hotels.

Welcome to a new definition of wellness in hospitality

As evidenced by the new campaigns that started rolling out as early as April of last year, many leading hospitality chains are pivoting to deliver on the new wave of wellness requirements of the post-COVID world.

In April 2020, Marriott – the world’s biggest hotel chain – launched its Global Cleanliness Council with a focus on examining cleanliness standards; more recently, it announced it would be providing COVID-19 tests to business travelers. In July, Hilton launched Hilton Clean Stay, a program focused specifically on hotel cleanliness and disinfection. And Intercontinental Hotels Group partnered with Cleveland Clinic to launch IHG Clean Promise with a focus on hygiene and safety practices.

Tellingly, these campaigns offer a far stricter, antiseptic interpretation of “wellness.” What remains to be seen now is whether they are convincing enough to entice travelers back in, and whether or not they prove sufficient in actually keeping those travelers safe – and well.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best women’s multivitamins in 2021, backed by medical experts

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Taking a multivitamin has always been common practice in my household – I grew up taking (and still do) every morning, but I never really stopped to think about why. After researching how some offer 100% of the US Daily Value (DV) for essential nutrients like iodine, vitamin D, and calcium, I realized multivitamins aren’t just a mundane part of my morning routine; they actually offer a sort of safety net to certain individuals, ensuring they meet recommended nutrient intakes.

Multivitamins are a bit of a hot topic. That’s because, while there are certain categories of people who can benefit from taking one every day, there is also a massive group of people who don’t necessarily need one. A 2020 study in BMJ Open found that people who take a multivitamin don’t have lower rates of illness or disease compared to those who don’t. However, people who take one daily said they feel healthier on a regular basis and, even if it’s a placebo effect, that counts for something toward wellbeing and adhering to healthier habits

Also, that study didn’t measure actual nutrient levels, so we can’t say the multivitamin had no real benefit. What’s more, the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2020-25 say about three out of four people don’t eat enough dairy, fruits, or vegetables. 

Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, RD, Nutrition and Food Safety Professor at North Dakota State University, told Insider multivitamins can be the “nutrition insurance” if you’re not following an adequate diet. She advises aiming for a healthful diet first, as food contains a “complex array of nutrients and phytochemicals (‘plant chemicals’) that help fight disease.”

That said, there are certain groups of Americans who do need to have their vitamin and mineral levels supplemented.

What is the best multivitamin for women?

Supplement Safety Graphic_Health & Wellness

Once you know you need a multivitamin, you have to breach the next big hurdle: picking the right one. It seems like this should be an easy task, but multivitamins (like all supplements) are not regulated by the FDA, which means there’s no governing body confirming (1) what’s included on the label is in the supplement or (2) if it’s actually safe. What’s more, with how important it is to understand your body’s needs and how highly personal multivitamins are, it’s difficult to recommend just one that works for everyone. 

We talked to a nutritional psychiatrist, a pharmacist, and a registered dietitian to help narrow down what’s available and hone in on the top multivitamins for women at different stages of their lives. At the end of this guide, we go into more detail about who needs a multivitamin and how to choose the right one

Here are the best women’s multivitamins of 2021:

Best women’s multivitamin overall

Best women's multivitamins Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women 4x3

The Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women is an all-in-one choice packed with the essential daily nutrients, probiotics, and enzymes to aid with digestion.

Pros: Vegetarian, gluten-free, contains probiotics, optimal for women during reproductive years, no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners

Cons: Pills are large, must take four daily

The thing that makes Garden of Life’s women’s multivitamin rise above other brands is that it’s void of synthetic materials and contains the ingredients they claim — which you may think is a given, but a recent analysis by Consumer Labs found that 44% of multivitamins it tested didn’t actually contain the amounts of nutrients the label claimed. 

Not only is the formula certified organic by the USDA, but Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code for Women covers all the basics: The capsule is gluten-free and the formula includes folate, calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, D3, E, and B-Complex, and the raw formula also reinforces breast health.

A vegetarian vitamin, Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women is made without binders or fillers and contains probiotics and enzymes to help with digestion. Vitamin Code for Women met all purity standards set forth by Labdoor and was given a B score. 

The two drawbacks of this multivitamin are that each pill is quite large, about the size of a mini binder clip, and you have to take four daily. So those who have trouble swallowing big pills should probably opt for another supplement.

Best for active women

Best women's multivitamins Optimum Nutrition Opti Women 4x3

Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women offers a tailored distribution of nutrients designed for a more active lifestyle.

Pros: Provides immune support, includes 23 essential nutrients and 17 specialty minerals

Cons: Not for people under 18 years of age

Regular physical activity can affect your vitamin and mineral levels — which in turn can affect your athletic performance.

Physically-active women, especially those who do aerobic exercises like running and biking, are more likely to be iron deficient, according to researchers at Cornell University. What’s more, a 2017 study from the National Institutes of Health found that some women (in general, not just athletes) are deficient in folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, three vital pathways used during exercise. If your B vitamins and folate levels, in particular, aren’t up to par, it can impair your athletic performance and increase fatigue, risk of injury, and ability to concentrate, the study adds. Your doctor can test your levels, and if he or she confirms yours are low, you would be well-served to opt for a multivitamin designed for an active lifestyle.

The Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women multivitamin is formulated to help women with an avid fitness routine score enough nutrients to keep their active bodies healthy and strong. It’s curated with 100% DV of B vitamins, folate, and iron. In addition, the multivitamin provides 17 other specialized minerals, one being calcium phosphate which aids in vitamin D absorption to keep muscles healthy

Though Consumer Labs has not reviewed this specific multivitamin, when they surveyed more than 9,700 respondents on “overall customer satisfaction” in February 2020, Optimum Nutrition was named a top-rated vitamin and supplement brand. The Opti-Women formula did receive a C grade from Labdoor, namely because the amount of vitamins in the tested formula differed from the label. However, the biggest discrepancies (vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and zinc slightly lower than the label; vitamin D and B-complex slightly higher) aren’t at harmful levels, Véronique Taché, MD, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UC Davis Health, confirmed during medical review. Plus, the formula met all purity standards.

Best on a budget

Best women's multivitamins Nature Made Multi for Her 4x3

Nature Made Multi for Her gives a boost of calcium, folic acid, iron, and vitamin D for less than $30.

Pros: Great value, 23 nutrients, contains the daily recommended amount of iron and calcium, great folic acid count for prenatal or pregnant women, more vitamins per bottle; only need to take one tablet daily

Cons: Some may find pills to be large and may be hard to swallow for some

Vitamins can be expensive. If you’re looking to cut the cost without eliminating the essential nutrients, Nature Made Multi for Her comes at a great value: 300 capsules for less than $30.

The multivitamin contains all the major nutrients vital to women’s health (23 total), including the daily recommended amounts of iron, calcium, and D3. It also contains more than 100% of the Daily Value (DV) of folic acid, a key nutrient for those who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. C. Michael White, PharmD, department head of University of Connecticut’s pharmacy practice and dietary supplement researcher, told Insider adequate levels of folate help to reduce the risk of having neural tube defects as babies are growing. 

While this multivitamin is catered toward females, it still contains sufficient vitamin levels essential for both men and women. Uma Naidoo, MD, director of Nutritional & Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital told Insider the 13 essential vitamins, including A, B, C, and D, play an important role in the body and are essential for healthy vision, skin, and bones for both men and women.

This multivitamin met all Labdoor’s purity standards, but inconsistencies in the formula earned it a C grade overall. The biggest formula-to-label discrepancies include slightly less vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as slightly more vitamin B-6, folic acid, and vitamin D3, but still within safe ingesting levels, Dr. Taché confirmed. Though this is its worst offense, nutritional value and safety outweigh this satisfactory rank, making it a top pick still.

Best vegan

Best women's multivitamins Ritual Essential for Women 4x3

Ritual Essential for Women is vegan, gluten, and major-allergen-free, focusing on brain health, bone health, blood-building, and antioxidant support.

Pros: Vegan, subscription model with free shipping for easy refills, free of gluten and major allergens, no artificial colorants or synthetic fillers, good for brain and bone health, infused with mint for freshness 

Cons: Not found in stores

Because people who follow a vegan diet don’t eat animal products, they are usually deficient in key nutrients abundantly found in meat, dairy, and seafood. A 2016 study in the Journal of Osteopathic Association found vegans are often deficient in vitamin B12, iron, calcium, vitamin D, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Ritual Essential for Women is completely vegan and outlines a visible supply chain of ingredients so you know what you’re intaking. Ritual’s brand mission is to “bring foundational health into focus,” and its supplements are designed to boost brain and bone health, promote red blood cell formation, and provide antioxidant support with vitamin E

Ritual’s vitamins are vegan, gluten-free, and allergen-free. Ritual also operates on a unique direct-to-door subscription model, automatically sending a fresh bottle to you each month so you’ll never run out.

Vegan multivitamins tend to include plant-based ingredients, like calcium. While some calcium supplements are oyster-shell based, Ritual uses vegan-certified ingredients, like vitamin D, to rid worries of consuming a multivitamin using shellfish in the manufacturing process.

If you aren’t vegan but like the convenience of a multivitamin that will be automatically refilled and delivered, you can certainly take Ritual’s vegan multivitamin, but you should opt for their water-soluble option if you don’t have a specific deficiency. Dr. Naidoo told Insider that if you take a fat-soluble vitamin and are already getting sufficient amounts of those nutrients from your diet, your body will store the excess in your liver and fatty tissue which can accumulate to toxic levels. With a water-soluble vitamin, though, the excess is just excreted through urine. Ritual features both options to help fill gaps in your diet and support nutrient levels.

Though Ritual was not yet tested by Consumer Labs, it’s USP-verified, confirming that it contains what it lists on the label, contains safe nutrient levels, is void of harmful substances like heavy metals and pesticides, and can be broken down and released into the body as intended.

Best for women over 40

Best women's multivitamins Garden of Life women's multi 40 plus 4x3

Garden of Life myKind Organic Women’s 40+ Multi is specially formulated to address the changing nutritional needs of women as they age, with 16 nutrients at levels greater than 100% DV.

Pros:  Certified USDA organic, vegan, gluten-free, contains 16 nutrients over the 100% Daily Value (DV)

Cons: Pills are large

Though not a hard-and-fast number, when females hit 40, their body and hormones typically begin to change as they are maturing past childbearing years into perimenopause and menopause. Because of this, Dr. Naidoo says you may need less folate and iron, and more: 

  • Calcium: This helps to prevent and slow bone loss
  • Vitamin D: This is essential for bone and skin health
  • Vitamin B12: This is key for brain health
  • More water: This is important as kidneys tend to become less efficient in detoxifying the body

The Garden of Life myKind Organic Women’s 40+ Multi is our top pick due to its precise amount of nutrients of concern for middle-aged women. And, it’s the only brand on the market that is dual-certified as both USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, meeting purity standards and void of genetic engineering in the manufacturing process. Though pricier than other options, the vitamin is optimal for middle-aged women and provides an extra boost to a balanced diet.

Garden of Life’s formulation is made exclusively from whole foods, which may lower rates of heart disease, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes.

Though this multivitamin has not yet been tested by Consumer Labs or Labdoor, myKind is one of Consumer Labs’ approved brands based on product quality, appropriateness of dosage, formulation, and value. 

Who should consider a multivitamin

Generally, people who are pregnant, underweight, elderly, who don’t get enough sun exposure, or who have a chronic medical condition [like heart disease, certain cancers, and individuals who had bypass surgery] should consider taking a multivitamin, Uma Naidoo, MD, director of Nutritional & Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital told Insider. Those who follow a stricter diet, too, like vegans and vegetarians, should take special caution; low intake of B vitamins, as well as iron and possibly zinc, will likely lead to a deficiency.

If you know or you’re wondering whether you fall into the category of nutritional deficiency, it’s important to get your levels checked by your doctor. Though others may not need one, Dr. Naidoo advised reviewing your daily nutrition with your doctor to see if you need a multivitamin as well.

A daily multivitamin may holistically bring benefits, but Garden-Robinson notes there can be risks with oversupplementation. She and Dr. Naidoo said excess calcium may increase the risk for urinary stone formation in some people, while oversupplementation of vitamin A may promote birth defects and liver damage. An abundance of vitamin C can cause cramps, diarrhea, and nausea. That said, be sure to check out the DV for guidance on how much of each nutrient you daily need.

What to look for & other FAQs

If you’re wondering what to look for in a multivitamin and how to shop for one, check out our very detailed multivitamin FAQ page.

Check out our other vitamin guides

Best women's multivitamins - slide image 4x3
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The 5 best blood pressure monitors of 2021 with easy-to-use digital displays and accurate at-home readings

  • If you have high blood pressure, a home blood pressure monitor can track trends in your hypertension. 
  • Studies show taking a daily blood pressure reading helps you to control your hypertension over time.
  • Our top pick, Omron Platinum Blood Pressure Monitor, can save 100 accurate readings for two people to be shared with your doc. 
  • This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Velimir Petkov, DPM, a podiatrist and board-certified wound specialist physician, practicing at Premier Podiatry.

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High blood pressure is very common, but it is also very serious – it’s known as the “silent killer” because it can be dangerous, even deadly if left untreated. If you go to the doctor and they reveal you have high blood pressure (hypertension), taking regular readings on your own at home gives you a better picture of whether your health is improving or getting worse – and, especially, if you’re nearing dangerous levels that may cause a heart attack. 

What’s more with fewer in-person doctor visits these days and more autonomy over owning your health, an at-home blood pressure monitor is a smart device to invest in if you have high blood pressure. By recording your blood pressure levels several times a day for several months, you can provide our doctors with a larger set of data for examining chronic health issues or determining our current level of physical fitness. In fact, studies show being aware of your blood pressure on a daily basis can help you learn to control it and even lower it over time. 

At-home blood pressure monitor devices are affordable, easy to use, and incredibly helpful for people with hypertension.

At the end of this guide, we’ve included insight into whether wrist- or arm-based blood pressure monitors are better, as well as the overall accuracy of at-home monitors. Here, the five most accurate, affordable, and generally helpful blood pressure monitors available for home use.

Here are the best blood pressure monitors:

Best blood pressure monitor overall

Omron Platinum Blood Pressure

The Omron Platinum has an easy-to-read digital screen, support for multiple users, and the ability to track how your blood pressure changes over time.

Pros: Fast and easy to use, wireless cuff, rechargeable battery, multi-user support, saved historical data, irregular heartbeat alerts

Cons: Smartphone app not user friendly

Thanks to its ease-of-use and numerous features, the Omron Platinum tops our list as the best at-home blood pressure monitor on the market. The device has a cuff that is designed to fit most people and it can wirelessly share its readings with the base unit. It doesn’t have any cables or pumps that can get tangled or in the way while measuring your blood pressure. You can easily strap the monitor onto a person while they are in a chair or even in bed for quick and easy checks. 

The Omron Platinum has the ability to support two users and keep track of the results for each person individually, which is great for a household focused on getting healthier. The device can save 100 blood pressure readings per user in its memory and that information can easily be shared with doctors.

Thanks to the Platinum’s built-in Bluetooth, the base unit can be paired with a smartphone as well. You can add even more users and results and save them in Omron’s free app for iOS and Android. The app isn’t as user-friendly as it could be, but it is usable once you get the hang of it.

One of the more unique features of this particular monitor is its ability to compare current blood pressure results with those stored in the memory and issue an alert if something is amiss. The device can tell if the systolic or diastolic measurements are abnormal, which is especially helpful in the morning when there is a higher risk for heart attack or stroke. By raising the users’ awareness of their condition, it gives them time to see medical assistance for what could be a potentially life-threatening problem. 

Well-built and easy-to-use, the Omron Platinum‘s dual backlit screens are bright and easy to read from any angle. This dual-screen approach allows the device to display the user’s current blood pressure readings on one side, and show historical data on the second screen. This can be extremely helpful for giving patients a better understanding of how their blood pressure varies from day to day and how stress, anxiety, and other factors can influence it. 

Best digital arm monitor

Beurer Bluetooth Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor

The Beurer BM47 is easy to use thanks to its digital screen, adjustable cuff, and ability to track four patients’ blood pressure over time.

Pros: Accurate, simple, multi-user support for up to four people, large LED screen

Cons: Only saves historical data for seven days

Inexpensive, easy to use, and feature-packed, the Beurer BM47 upper arm blood pressure monitor will suit the needs of most people. The compact device includes a soft, adjustable cuff designed to fit small and large arms. The monitor supports up to four users.

One of the BM47‘s best features is its simplicity. Once the cuff is securely in place, all you need to do is tap a single button to activate the device. Within a matter of seconds, the cuff will constrict and measure systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The readings are then displayed on the large LED screen along with the patient’s heart rate. A series of colored lights along the edge of the unit serves as an indicator of a patient’s current danger level, making it easy to tell at a glance if their blood pressure is too high. 

The BM47 is lauded for its accuracy and it has the ability to save up to 30 blood pressure measurements for four unique users in its onboard memory. When checking an individual’s current blood pressure, the device can then compare the results to the readings that have been taken over the previous seven days. This can be useful for tracking short-term variances, but if you want to compare data for a period longer than a week, you’ll need to save the data manually. 

Because the BM47 tracks a user’s pulse, it also has the ability to identify unusual heart rhythms. This is yet another safety feature that could give users a warning if the device detects arrhythmia.

Best bare-bones monitor

Paramed Professional Blood Pressure

The Paramed Professional Manual Blood Pressure Cuff is a traditional monitor that uses a cuff and a small air pump to measure blood pressure on an analog gauge.

Pros: Traditional analog design may appeal to some, easy to use, affordable price, accurate readings, comes with a case

Cons: Analog dial not as easy to read as a digital screen, no alerts or digital monitoring system

Some would describe the Paramed Professional Manual Blood Pressure Cuff as an old-school method for monitoring your blood pressure, but we prefer to think of it as a tried-and-true approach instead. This monitor resembles the ones that were used by doctors for decades before high-tech, digital devices came along. The traditional method continues to work well, particularly for those who just want as simple a monitor as possible. 

Technically defined as a sphygmomanometer, this monitor features a traditional cuff that wraps around the upper arm. The user then squeezes a small air pump that causes the cuff to inflate and constrict. As the pressure is released through an air valve it will equalize at approximately the same level of the current systolic pressure in the body. It then provides the blood pressure reading, which is indicated by a needle pointing to a number on an analog gauge rather than a digital screen. 

This model is a no-frills, simple, and very accurate way to monitor your blood pressure. That said, all of its components are very durable and made of high-quality materials which makes it feel like a premium product, even though it has an affordable price tag. The sphygmomanometer even comes with a handy case for storage and transport, making it easy to take with you when traveling. 

Obviously, this low-tech monitor lacks a lot of features that you’ll find in other models. It doesn’t keep track of your blood pressure results for instance, nor is it capable of providing any kind of alerts if a patient’s blood pressure is too low or too high. Instead, it is a simple, proven method for keeping track of this important indicator of your health, and for many people, that’s all it needs to be. 

Best wrist monitor

Paramed Blood Pressure Automatic

If you’re looking for a wrist blood pressure monitor, the Paramed Automatic is a good choice because it is easy to operate and more accurate than most wrist-based monitors.

Pros: Small, lightweight, easy to carry, accurate for a wrist monitor, large LCD screen, can store up to 90 results

Cons: Screen can be hard to read in some lighting conditions, only single-user support

Compact and lightweight, the Paramed Automatic Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor is a good alternative to the more traditional upper arm cuff models. This FDA-approved device wraps around the user’s wrist and is activated with the touch of a single button. You can see results for the systolic and diastolic numbers and the patient’s current heart rate within 30 seconds.

The main appeal of this monitor is how small and simple it is: Its onboard memory can store the results of 90 blood pressure readings, which can help you better understand trends in your levels. It can only hold one person’s profile, but it’s compact enough to be carried with you anywhere, making it a great choice for folks always on the go who have trouble with bulkier arm models.

With its surprisingly large display, this wrist-worn blood pressure monitor presents information in a clear, easy-to-understand fashion. The monochrome screen works well in most circumstances but can get a little washed out in direct sunlight. It can be hard to read while outdoors, but it functions just fine under most other circumstances.

As already mentioned, wrist blood pressure monitors can be a bit more finicky and lack the level of accuracy found in the bulkier upper-arm models. That said, this particular unit is quite accurate and dependable, making it easy to recommend. 

Best budget monitor

Hyology Blood Pressure Machine

Hyology’s digital arm monitor is an affordable option that is still accurate and feature-packed.

Pros: Inexpensive, easy to use, supports two users, stores 90 readings per user, can be powered by batteries or wall outlet

Cons: Slower than some other models

There are a number of inexpensive blood pressure monitors to choose from, many of which will perform adequately when it comes to monitoring your health. But few models offer the same level of value that you’ll find in the Hyology Arm Blood Pressure Monitor, a device that packs in a lot of features for an easy-to-swallow price.

It has a large, bright LCD screen that displays both systolic or diastolic readings, along with heart rate. It offers a simple one-button operation, supports two users, and can store 90 readings for each individual. It can even detect an irregular heartbeat and alert the user if something seems amiss. 

Unlike the other models we recommend, this device can operate with either standard AAA batteries or charge up with a USB-C cable and power adapter. 

This model isn’t the fastest blood pressure monitor around, and it takes about one minute for it to collect data for its readings, but it’s a good deal at this price. Hyology created an affordable monitor that gives anyone the ability to add an accurate and handy blood pressure monitor to their home. 

Wrist vs. arm blood pressure monitors

When shopping for a blood pressure monitor of your own, you’re likely to come across two distinct types: those that wrap around the upper arm and those that go around the wrist. Generally speaking, the monitors that take their readings from the upper arm tend to be more accurate and consistent. That’s not to say that wrist monitors can’t be reliable too; they are just a bit more finicky to use. 

Arm monitors fall into two distinct categories: aneroid or digital. An aneroid model features a more traditional design with a cuff that wraps around the upper arm and is inflated by squeezing on a bulb. The blood pressure is then read from a mechanical gauge. These types of monitors are slower and can be less accurate, but they are also more affordable. 

Alternatively, a digital monitor inflates the cuff either with a bulb or automatically from the device depending on the individual model. The results are displayed on an easy-to-read screen. Digital monitors are simple and straightforward to use. That simplicity comes at a price, though, as digital models are usually more expensive than their aneroid counterparts. 

Are at-home blood pressure monitors accurate?

Good-quality at-home blood pressure monitors are accurate, but it’s important to do the research to find the best option for your needs. No matter which type of blood pressure device you choose, it is a good idea to check its accuracy before relying on it too closely. 

You can check its accuracy by bringing the monitor along with you on a visit to your doctor’s office and comparing the numbers between your monitor and the one that is used by the healthcare professionals. Slight variances in accuracy are normal, but if the numbers vary dramatically, you should return the one you purchased for a different model. 

When deciding which specific blood pressure monitor is right for you, you’ll want to be sure that the cuff fits properly before purchasing. Most devices have a fairly universal fit, but some arm cuffs can be too large or too small. If the cuff is too loose or too tight, the blood pressure readings may not be accurate, invalidating any tests. It helps to try a few of the monitors out ahead of time to ensure that they’ll work for you and to get a sense of the other features they offer as well. 

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See inside Larry Ellison’s Hawaiian island wellness retreat, a $1,200-per-night luxury spa where guests track their health data and learn how to live longer lives

Sensei Lanai Hawaii
Sensei Retreats in Lanai, Hawaii.

  • Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison owns an ultra-luxury wellness retreat in Lanai, Hawaii.
  • Called Sensei Retreat, the spa uses data to track and improve guests’ nutrition, sleep, and fitness.
  • The spa partnered with fitness-tracking firm Whoop to offer a new $1,185-per-night wellness program.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

On the island of Lanai, Hawaii, nine miles off the coast of Maui, sits an ultra-luxe retreat, the brainchild of Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison. 

Known as Sensei Retreat, it’s a wellness spa driven by data located at Four Seasons resort Sensei Lanai. This month, Sensei unveiled a new partnership with fitness-tracking company Whoop to help track health metrics and work with guests to keep tabs on their long-term wellness. 

Sensei CEO Kevin Kelly said in a statement about the program that the goal of Sensei is to help people “live longer, healthier lives” by improving sleep, movement, and nutrition. Sensei is guided by health science, data, and research, the company says. 

While Ellison previously lived in the Bay Area, the resort is now in his backyard: Ellison revealed late last year that he had moved to Lanai amid the coronavirus pandemic. He plans to use “the power of Zoom to work” from the island, he wrote in an email to Oracle employees, who had been asking about Ellison’s plans in the wake of Oracle moving its headquarters to Austin, Texas

Lanai, which is home to about 3,200 residents, is the smallest inhabited island in Hawaii and is home to serene beaches, rugged terrain, high-end resorts, and Ellison’s sustainability ambitions, which he’s executing through a development company called Pulama Lanai. 

Take a look inside Ellison’s eco-friendly, data-powered resort. 

In 2012, Ellison bought 98% of the island of Lanai for an estimated $300 million.

Lanai Hawaii
Lanai, Hawaii.

Since then, he’s worked to make Lanai a tourist destination, including purchasing budget airline Island Air to ferry passengers from Oahu to Lanai. (He has since sold a controlling interest in the airline). 

Ellison is also hoping to turn Lanai into a wellness utopia. He launched Sensei, which has two main projects: a hydroponic farm powered by Tesla solar panels, and the luxury spa. Sensei’s goal is to use data to help people lead healthier and longer lives.

Sensei built two 20,000-square-foot hydroponic greenhouses, known as Sensei Farms. The greenhouses are powered by 1,600 Tesla solar panels (Ellison sits on Tesla’s board) and the heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers grown at Sensei Farms are used at Sensei Retreat’s in-house Nobu restaurant.

Tesla solar panels Puerto Rico
Tesla solar panels in Puerto Rico.

Source: Forbes

The resort is located in the central part of the island, known as Lanai City. Guests who visit Sensei Retreat are offered a customizable experience: They set physical and mental goals for their stay and the spa tracks their sleep, nutrition, and blood flow.

Sensei Lanai Hawaii

Source: Forbes

The new partnership with Whoop, called the Optimal Wellbeing Program, is a data-driven program that allows guests to track their metrics using a customized, Sensei version of Whoop’s fitness bands.

Sensei Lanai Hawaii

Source: Sensei

Before guests arrive, they’ll go through an orientation and build an itinerary for their stay. The rate includes sessions with a specialist known as a Sensei Guide, who will help guests set wellness goals.

Sensei Lanai Hawaii

Source: Sensei

Once they arrive, guests will experience a “thermal body mapping” experience or 120-minute massage, a blood biomarker test, and private sessions to help improve movement, nutrition, and mindfulness.

Sensei Lanai Hawaii

Source: Sensei

There are also free yoga and meditation classes as part of the program, and guests will get a $500 credit that can be used for various activities, including spa treatments or the Lanai Adventure Park, an Ellison-owned ropes and zipline park located on a former golf course.

Sensei Lanai Hawaii

Source: Sensei, Lanai Adventure Park

The program, which mandates a minimum stay of five nights, costs between $1,185 and $1,715 per night.

Sensei Lanai Hawaii

Source: Sensei

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I was a type-A mom trying to ‘have it all,’ and I suffered a breakdown. Here are my 5 tips to help any working mom prioritize self-care on a daily basis.

working mom
Prioritizing alone time is key for working moms to de-stress.

  • Jessica Milicevic is the owner of Maven Media, a strategic branding and marketing agency in North Carolina.
  • She wrote a list of ways working moms can practice self-care without sacrificing too much time or money.
  • Disconnecting, enjoying quiet time, and practicing self-compassion are easy ways moms can prioritize their wellness.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The term self-care has become one of those buzzwords so overused by bloggers, marketers, and influencers that it almost has no authentic meaning left. Everyone from major brands to the mommy bloggers encourage us to use self-care, usually by partaking in one of their products that promises to bring us calm, peace, and mindfulness. Rarely do we get true serenity from a candle or a cookie, but the idea that we need to practice self-care still pushes us to do whatever we can to attain it. 

Self-care in its most basic form are things you do to take care of yourself. As working moms, we’ve become conditioned to do everything for others, so the idea that we should do something for ourselves can seem entirely selfish and foreign. But the practice of self-care for working moms is easier said than done. Besides, what is self-care anyway, if not a way to escape? 

Time and finances are often factors in any working mom’s decision to take time for herself

When we think of recharging using the self-care method, we often talk ourselves out of it because we don’t have the time or the money to take a spa day, or any other luxury image that’s become synonymous with self-care. And because the meaning of the term has become so trite, we often dismiss the practice entirely. 

In an effort to redefine self-care for the working mom, I’ve created a list of ways that we can all practice true love for ourselves, without sacrificing major amounts of time or money. These practices can be incorporated into your everyday life so you can easily take the time to reset your mind, body, and soul, and refill that empty cup.

1. Breathe 

I know I’m not inspiring a ton of confidence by starting with something so simple, but stay with me. 

There was a time in my life when a maternal mental breakdown sent me to the hospital for a week. In the midst of the chaotic moment, I began to have a panic attack as I contemplated what was really happening to me. 

The thing that saved me from completely melting down was breathing. In yoga, I’d learned to block out the rest of the world and simply count my breaths as I inhaled and exhaled, and when it mattered the most, I was able to use that practice to calm my entire body. 

In the middle of an intense day at work, when your coworkers are being difficult and the boss is being stubborn, or when your kids are all yelling and your partner is wanting your attention, simply take a moment to stop. 

Choose a place where you can be alone (when I’m home, that often means hiding in my closet) and sit down. Put a timer on your phone for five minutes. Close your eyes and breathe in to the count of six, and out to the count of six. Count out loud if you need to, to give yourself a noise to focus on. 

Give yourself permission to push all other thoughts away (after all, it’s just for five minutes) and just listen to your breathing. Notice the rise and fall of your chest and focus on keeping your breath consistent. If you practice this often enough, the breathing will automatically kick in when you feel tense and stressed, like it did for me. 

Read more: I’m a mom influencer who earns up to $12,000 a month through paid sponsorships. Here’s how I grew my income and following while caring for my son.

2. Connect

This may be specific to extroverts like myself, but I’ve found that having a conversation helps me take a break from my stress and indulge in some informal talk therapy. 

Some of the best connections I’ve made have started online in a Facebook group for working moms. Instead of just using the platform to just vent (which is totally OK to do!) try using it to connect with other moms. I’ve asked for advice, or shared an interesting article, or even shared a photo of my kids and invited others to share as well. 

The great thing about being a member of a group for working moms is that they get what you’re going through. Everything you’re struggling with or take joy in, they likely do too. Connecting with other women in this way can help us make friends, which is definitely a part of taking care of ourselves.

3. Disconnect

Most days after taking care of my four kids and running my own business, I need time to disconnect. Instead of watching TV or scrolling through social media, I’ve established a form of self-care that truly helps me reset: silence. I sit on my couch and I don’t talk to anyone, and ask that my husband not talk to me, for one hour. 

Every working mom deserves time to reset your mind and rest your brain before bed. Make an arrangement with your partner and kids to take one hour to not talk to anyone and then choose an activity that brings you joy. 

Try to pick an activity that doesn’t overstimulate your brain, like listening to a podcast or reading a book, and give yourself permission to push everything else aside and enjoy it. If you can, hop in the bath and allow yourself to just melt away for an hour.

4. Sleep

I can see many of you rolling your eyes at this suggestion. How is sleep self-care if it’s also a part of simple human existence? But ask yourself: What quality of sleep are you getting? 

After eight hours at the office and four hours of homework, dinner, and bedtime routines, working moms often find themselves sprawled out on the couch, mindlessly watching TV or scrolling through social media before we drag ourselves into bed. We get to bed only to run through the mental load we carry, keeping us even later and often leaving us to fall asleep in an anxious manner. 

Try instead to give yourself the gift of true rest. Research shows that getting adequate sleep can help you have the energy to manage anxiety, and can increase the positive consolidation of thoughts and memories while we sleep that allows us to be in a sharper, better mood when we’re awake. 

Make a commitment to yourself that you will be in bed, sans screen, by 10 or 11 p.m. each night. If true self-care comes from taking care of ourselves, getting adequate sleep should be high on the priority list.

Read more: A CEO swears by carving out 2 ‘focus days’ a week where he doesn’t attend meetings. Here’s how he works them into his routine.

5. Permission and forgiveness 

As working moms, we carry so much on our minds and hearts. From our colleagues to our kids, we want everyone in our lives to feel taken care of and happy. Along with the need to make everyone else happy, is ultimately the feeling of guilt when we are unable to achieve this impossible task. 

Mommy guilt is a burden we all carry, but how it manifests in our lives is different for everyone. For me, I allowed the guilt to dictate my happiness. I never gave myself permission to be imperfect, or to allow others in my life to feel unsatisfied or disappointed, and my mental health began to deteriorate. 

In order to tackle any of the self-care items listed above, you need to allow yourself the time and space to do so. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself and be happy and healthy.

When you’re planning your day, you have the option to choose to do something for yourself. While doing things for your friends and family is generous and kind, you must also be kind and generous with yourself. 

This can be as simple as choosing to take a shower instead of cooking an extra time-consuming meal for your kids or partner. Give yourself permission to take 30 minutes to be alone, do something you need to do, and just be.

This often requires us to also forgive ourselves for whatever we feel like we’re failing at (which we are often not doing, but again, mommy guilt) and know that we’re doing the best we can. Forgive yourself for whatever negative thoughts you have and give yourself permission to be a human being with needs and the ability to be imperfect. 

Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated or intricate. It can be as simple as doing things to maintain your emotional and mental health so you feel balanced in your everyday life. While treating yourself is definitely needed, true self-care is something we must do regularly to be able to give 100% to our family, friends, and coworkers. It’s a cliche but it’s also true: You can’t give from an empty cup. So fill yours up, and know it’s in the service of not just others, but also in the service of yourself. 

 

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