Top 10 tips for wellness
These tips will help you live well every day!
1. Be sure to get plenty of good sleep every night!
For optimum sleep, it is best to avoid visual or auditory stimulation for at least an hour before bedtime. This means turn off those screens! Try meditating before bed instead of watching TV or using the Internet. This can be as simple as lying in bed on your back and simply allowing your breath to become naturally deeper and longer as you empty your mind of the day’s worries and let go of thoughts of tomorrow. As thoughts arise (and they will!) imagine enveloping them in a helium balloon and sending them drifting lazily away into a clear blue sky. Or imagine your thoughts as drawings in the sand of a beautiful beach. As the waves gently break onto shore, the drawings are washed away!
2. Drink plenty of filtered water every day!
A lot of patients wonder, how much water is enough? It is best to drink to your level of thirst. However, in this humid climate, our thirst receptors sometimes get confused! So try to drink at least four 8-ounce cups of water a day. Room temperature is best. And please ditch the plastic water bottles! Not only are they a bane to our environment, but the plastics have toxic chemicals that can leech into the water and cause terrible health problems – this goes for the BPA free bottles as well. Invest in a good reusable stainless steel or glass water bottle (Earth Origins and Amazon sell glass bottles with rubber sleeves to make them shatter proof). I recommend adding cucumber and lemon slices to your water (lemon doesn’t go well with metal so try this in a glass bottle rather than a stainless steel one). I also recommend investing in a Berkey water filter (available on Amazon), which takes out any potentially harmful chemicals and bacteria while leaving behind the beneficial trace minerals our bodies need. Be aware that distilled water has none of these essential minerals and is best avoided.
3. Eat plenty of fresh organic foods every day!
Food is our first and most important medicine and is the fundamental building block of good health and wellness. Our area is blessed with a vibrant farmers market scene, with plenty of offerings on Wednesday afternoons at the downtown plaza and on Saturday mornings at Haile Plantation’s Village Center and at the Highway Patrol Station on 441. Stock up on all the seasonal offerings of fresh fruits and veggies, as well as humanely raised antibiotic and hormone free chicken, beef, and pork. Pick up a dozen pasture raised eggs while chatting with your friends and neighbors. When shopping at the grocery store, get in the habit of reading labels and be sure to avoid anything with the word “hydrogenated.” Forego the packaged processed foods in favor of simple wholesome ingredients and never eat anything that you can get from a drive thru! Make friends with your slow cooker instead. You can put together a wonderful meal the night before, plug the slow cooker in the next morning, and come home to an amazing, healthy home cooked dinner!
4. Don’t forget to breathe!
Breath is life. All too often, we respond to stress, pain, anxiety, or the unexpected by reflexively holding our breath. This makes the stress, pain, anxiety, or shock worse than it has to be. When we hold our breath, everything tightens up and we signal our body to go into fight/flight/or freeze mode. This significantly compounds whatever difficulty we are facing. By contrast, when we remember to take deep even breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth, we signal our body that all is well and we can relax. A body that is relaxed is better able to handle stress, pain, anxiety, and shock. A great practice is to slowly and deliberately exhale when confronted with any type of difficulty. Breathing consciously is a form of meditation, and meditation has been proven to contribute enormously to wellness. Even a 5 minute practice done every day can provide significant benefits to your health. So if you’ve ever thought about trying meditation, but were unsure of how to start, it really is as simple as breathing!
5. Spend some time outside every day!
Countless studies demonstrate that spending time out of doors decreases stress and anxiety, fights depression, and contributes to an overall sense of wellbeing. Walking barefoot in the grass or in the sand is particularly grounding and centering and can create a sense of connectedness. Gardening, walking in the woods or on the beach, sitting under a favorite tree or lying on the grass watching the clouds float by are all wonderful ways we can tune in to the powerful medicine of mother nature!
6. Use coconut oil for everything!
Definitely cook with it, for starters. Use unrefined organic coconut oil for a coconut flavor or choose the refined variety for no taste or smell. But don’t just keep it in the kitchen! Use coconut oil as a moisturizer for dry skin, as a light protection sunscreen, and even as a substitute for toothpaste! Coconut oil removes toxins from the body and swishing MCT coconut oil (the liquid version) around in your mouth for 5 to 10 minutes every day will not only help you fight tooth decay and gum disease, it can also help clear up stuffy sinuses and clear your skin from the inside out!
7. Take an Epsom salt soak!
Known for its ability to relax sore muscles, Epsom salt is also a great detoxifier. Pour a liberal amount into a tubful of warm water, add some lavender essential oil, and soak away your cares at the end of the day. Much less expensive than traditional bath salts, plus you avoid harsh dyes and fragrances!
8. Give back!
One of the surest ways to increase your own sense of wellness is to help others. Volunteer opportunities abound! You can help a child learn to read, bring meals to elders, clean up trash on the beach or in a park, or just about anything else you can think of. The Humane Society loves volunteers to come play with the kittens and puppies! When we give to others in need, we have an opportunity to see just how fortunate we truly are. And by helping others, we create a sense of community, which helps us to feel well. It’s a win, win, win!
9. Move your body!
Vigorous exercise may be key for some, more gentle movement may benefit others. It doesn’t really matter what you do, just be sure to move your body every day. If you spend your workday sitting behind a desk or driving, it is especially important that you make it a point to engage in some form of daily physical activity, even if it’s just to stand up, stretch, and take a walk around the office. If you do this every hour, your body will thank you! Yoga, Tai Chi, and Qigong are all excellent ways to move your body in ways that will increase circulation and strengthen your sinews and joints. Weight training can be helpful for strengthening bones and, of course, for increasing muscle mass. Just be careful not to over do it! You don’t want to work out to the point of exhaustion, nausea, or feeling faint. Take care not to over exert when doing cardio training. Gentle to moderate exercise is recommended.
10. Be Grateful!
Of all the items on this list, being grateful is most important. We all have so much in our lives to be thankful for and cultivating a sense of gratitude creates abundant feelings of happiness and wellness. No matter how bad things may seem, we can always find something to be grateful for. There are many ways to develop a practice of gratitude. You can begin by making a list, either mentally or on paper. Once you start this process, you will be amazed by just how much you have to grateful for. As you focus your mind on your gratitude list, you may feel your heart opening up. This is powerful medicine. A grateful heart is open to receive all the love and blessings that surround us at all times. And gratitude is contagious! When we move through the world with a grateful heart, we inspire those around us to experience feelings of gratitude as well.