1. Breathe deep. Try it right now. Just inhale completely until you are full of breath. Pause. Now exhale all the way until you are empty of breath. Do that two more times. It is really simple, but challenging nonetheless, as our thoughts often interrupt the process of conscious breathing. Deep breathing calms your nervous system, reduces stress, and catapults you into a state of relaxation. Take at least three deep conscious breaths every day, and experience a sense of calm.
2. Be conscious of what you eat and drink, and why you are choosing it. A little awareness goes a long way. Just be aware of what you put in your body every time you consume something and ask yourself, "Is this going to feed my body with nutrients?" If your answer is "no," and you eat it anyway, then ask yourself why you choose to feed your body with anything less than the best.
3. Drink Water. I promise you that you will feel better on the days that you drink water (at least 8 glasses) than on the days that you don't. You will be more awake, more aware, less hungry, and more energized when you are hydrated. Try it!
4. Move Your Body. Whether it is walking, going to the gym, or practicing yoga, make time to move your body in a conscious way at least three times per week. Move your body with the intention of health instead of vanity.
5. Meditate. Take at least five minutes per day to STOP what you are doing, and sit down on a chair, against a wall, or on a cushion to clear your mind. You do not need to be by the ocean or somewhere pretty to find calm. You can meditate anywhere. Set a timer if you need and just allow your mind be clear. Five minutes is hardly any time at all, and we have all wasted more time doing something less meaningful. Meditation will clear your mind, help you put things in perspective, decrease perceived stress, and improve focus.
7. Practice yoga and stretch. As we age we lose elasticity in our muscles. One of the best things we can do for our physical body is stretch. At least once per week practice yoga or stretch at a local studio or gym, or download online yoga classes at yogadownload.com (20 minute classes are free).
8. Read. Stimulate your mind as much as you can by taking time away from television or work to read a book. Reading can help you escape from your regular thought patterns and inspire you. Challenge yourself to read a book or magazine at least 2 times per week.
9. Pray. Connect with something bigger than yourself each day with gratitude, service and intention. This can take under a minute, or more if you feel devoted.
10. Give and receive touch. Whether it is a hug, a massage, or a pat on the back, allow yourself to give and receive touch every day. If your budget allows, schedule a massage every 1-3 months.
11. Think happy thoughts. You might not fly from thinking happy thoughts, but you will eliminate the stress that negativity can cause. You do not have to be unrealistic in your thinking, but become aware of negative thoughts and words you might be accustomed to. This can help you change your perspective, reduce stress, and connect to the joy in your own life.
12. Actually practice everything on this list. While you may have read or seen all the above ways to be healthy before, and even know them to be true, are you actually practicing them? Knowing and doing are two different things. Let go of any excuses or limiting beliefs around health like lack of time or money. I invite you to put forth the effort that it takes to add all of the above components to your day or week to create health and vitality in your life.
Feel free to add to this list or share your experience and challenges in the comments box below.
- By Jackie Casal Mahrou