Whether you’re in the peak condition or struggling to get out of bed, all of us could use a little health boost in our life. The modern world can be a stressful place and the effect that those nasty little hormones have on our body, while useful in some ways, can have an incredibly negative impact on our health.
There are so many persistent chronic diseases, which can range from mild annoyances to being completely disabling. Doctors can’t seem to find a cure, but it’s becoming more and more evident that we can reduce, if not cure, these symptoms by investing in a few health-promoting practices.
These five habits will transform your life if you can successfully implement them on a regular basis. But even if you just take the occasional five or ten minutes to try them out, you will feel at least some benefit.
I initially did yoga purely as a fitness exercise when I was a dancer, so once I started my journey back to health (still in progress…) it soon became one of the key elements of my recovery. Taken from ancient Hindu wisdom, the four paths to yoga each represent a different channel to ‘enlightenment.’
As far as I understand – and I don’t claim to be an expert – it goes like this:
The most conventional modern yoga comes largely from the Raja Yoga channel, which is now known as Ashtanga, but many contemporary practices have their roots there. The other elements include Bhakti Yoga, which is passionate worship via ritual, meditation, and prayer, to whichever deity you chose, a.k.a faith in the universe a.k.a loving life. The other two factors are Karma, which most will be familiar with, and knowledge, which is undeniably healing.
Now, whether you want to get into the nitty gritty of yoga, or would just like a nice way to chill out and sooth some of your aches and pains, it is undeniable that embracing yogi-life by any amount has incredible benefits for you mental, physical and spiritual health.
Sarah Beth Yoga is my favorite channel on YouTube to use for my practice, so if you’re just getting started, I recommend checking it out for a place to begin. With a range of difficulties, there are videos you can do while lying in bed, all the way up to tutorials for arm balances and handstands.
On a similar train, meditation is by far one of the most powerful tools for both healing and promoting general good health. I’ve got to the point where, on rare occasions, I can actually completely meditate away a bad bladder spasm or fibro or IBS flare up.
There are endless ways to get into meditation and a wise friend once told me that everyone’s journey is personal and it isn’t really beneficial to discuss it intimately. However, I will give you a basic run down.
Meditation is, in essence, combatting your stress response and bringing you to a place of complete relaxation. There are also many arguments about its spiritual benefits and its place as a method of prayer, but that’s another conversation for another day.
For now, just consider your aim as to clear the mind and focus on resting. However, if you’re one of the many of us who can’t instantly quiet their thoughts, there are many great programs to help support your journey. I started by using Headspace, and now employ the techniques I learned, with relaxing music, whenever I need to silence those intrusive thoughts.
3. Home Cooked Meals
If you’ve read my article on WWOOFing in Australia, then you’ll know how highly I regard a natural and fresh diet as one of the most healing and invigorating medications on our planet. There is endless research on the effects of our highly processed meal habits and the negative repercussions on our health.
I’m not claiming you should become a raw vegan right now, because change is difficult and, in reality, there are as many dangers to these extreme diets as there are to eating junk food. However, simple trying to incorporate more home cooked recipes into your diet can significantly benefit your physical and mental health.
If you have a busy schedule, then consider preparing some quick meals that you can heat up during the week. Similarly, if you’re not well enough to handle the cooking yourself, then invite your loved ones over, make it a social event, and share the workload!
Aim for fresh veg, lots of herbs and spices and lean meats, if any at all. I’ll try and post some of my easiest and cheapest recipes over the next few weeks to give you some inspiration!
Too much time connected to technology is bad. Too long staring at screens is bad. Social media has the nasty habit of making you feel like everyone else in the world has an exciting life except you. We know these things, yet we continue to spend hours scrolling through menial posts and stalking the ‘successful ones’ of our generation.
I’m definitely not saying that it’s time to quit technology altogether. It’s an integral part of our lives and has created incredible opportunities all over the globe. However, dedicating a few hours each day to switching everything off and connecting with ‘the real world’ is an excellent way to reduce stress and improve health.
If you want to go hardcore, grounding is a fantastic concept that involves spending intimate time in nature. But if you’re not quite ready for that, going for a walk, reading a book, meditating, or simply resting your strained mind, are all equally beneficial.
Our brains aren’t wired to be constantly connected and engaged with a million different posts and trains of thought. Give your mind a break; it will thank you for it.
5. Raising Your Heart Rate
Human beings were no built to sit and lie around all day. Unfortunately, due to modern society and its subsequent brand of diseases, this is how most of us spend out time. Our bodies were designed for moving – running across savannahs and trekking through jungles – and they function best when we try and replicate these things.
Obviously, if you’re hauled up with a plethora of chronic health problems or stuck in an office all day, getting the time and/or energy to do exercise can be tricky. Clearly, we can’t all become marathon runners in one day – or at all, if your joints are anything like mine. What we can do is try and elevate our heart rates at least a little bit, on a regular basis.
There are endless studies about the amount of active time you should have daily, but the one I try to go by is 20 minutes across the course of a day (not including days when I’m so sick I can’t handle standing up). I remember hearing that statistic once, but I don’t have a source to back if up, so be sure to do your own research if you’d prefer!
Raising your heart rate is simple; it just requires you to be active instead of resting. Go for a walk in the evening or try cycling if you struggle with impact exercise – this discovery saved my body irreversibly. If you’re really struggling, there’s always the option of doing some yin yoga, for a super gentle movement that you can do in bed.
Now, I know all of this sounds well and good on paper, but the reality is that these practices can be difficult to embody. A lot of our comforts lie in things that aren’t necessarily good for us, and there’s no shame in getting a takeout meal or failing to muster up the motivation to do exercise.
The point of this article is to advocate considering these methods, implementing them occasionally and seeing how they work for you. No person’s journey to health is the same, but if you can find relief in any one of these practices then it’s definitely worth pursuing it further.
Let me know if you have any other habits that have drastically improved your wellness and let’s work together to make the world a healthier place 😀