The health and wellness world can be a dizzying kaleidoscope of information these days. One minute kale is the best thing you can eat, next minute, it’s causing thyroid issues. Butter has recently regained popularity after years of banishment. Keto, high fat, low fat, high protein, low sugar, intermittent fasting, bulletproof coffee, vegan, pescatarian, fodmaps, gluten-free, organic, biodynamic, free-range, paleo, grain free- no wonder we are no longer sure of what to eat for our wellbeing! We seem to have drastically overcomplicated things when really, the best things for our health and wellness are the simple things.
There’s no great need to take out a second mortgage for the latest superfoods, pilates reformer class, or high-speed blender. You don’t actually need to set your alarm for 3 am in an attempt to make it to a CrossFit class, use your jade roller, whip up an egg white omelette and cycle to work, stopping along the way for your turmeric almond milk latte.
Maybe you do do all this (and hey, good on you!) BUT the good news is, you don’t have to lose sleep over squeezing all of these modern health and wellness trends into your life. In fact, trying to keep up with these trends and trying to decipher what to eat for each meal is actually creating more stress in our lives.
Look at the people in the Blue Zones (the parts of the world where people live the longest and experience the best health and longevity). These communities do not live on adaptogenic superfood smoothies and marinated kale. They live very simply and they appreciate the good things in life like nature, time with loved ones and eating local food that has been grown and harvested close to their homes. Nothing fancy. Nothing stressful.
There are a number of very easy routines that you can implement into your life that have a huge impact on your energy, mindset, and overall health. Try focusing on inviting more of these things below into your life and create simple habits that serve you.
Move Your Body
This doesn’t mean subjecting yourself to a gruelling gym session every day of the week. Find a way to move your body that you enjoy. This may mean long beach walks, dancing, cycling to work, taking your dog for a run, hiking with a girlfriend on the weekend, going kayaking, playing with your child at the park or gardening. The way we live now is very different from how we lived even just 50 years ago. With more sedentary lifestyles, the need to be more active and hit the gym has become more important, but incorporating more general movement and activity into your day is a great way to stay fit and mobile. If you are at a desk, take micro-breaks throughout the day, go for a stroll in your lunch break, and take the stairs when you can. The sheer act of moving more is not only beneficial for our physical body, it is so good for our mental and emotional health also. Find what works for you and relish in the simple act of moving your body each day.
Drink More Water
Drinking more water is one of the easiest things that has a profound effect on your wellbeing. Did you know that over half of the population is actually chronically dehydrated?! Scary right? Our body needs water for every single function it performs. Drinking more water throughout the day will help rid your body of toxic build-up, help keep you regular, and will help you to ward off fatigue and stay mentally alert. Hydration is key for regulating appetite and hormones and keeping us balanced. Try switching out sodas or juices for more good old H2O and avoid things like coffee and alcohol that are dehydrating. If you don’t like the taste of water, jazz it up with some cucumber or orange slices or mint leaves. Try and get into the habit of having a big glass first thing upon rising, and have a water bottle with your throughout the day or a glass at your desk that you can continually top up from. Chronic dehydration is at the root of so many health issues, so focusing on hydration in your daily routine is essential to help keep you looking and feeling at the top of your game.
Start a Meditation Practice
Again, meditation is one of the simplest practices you can introduce into your life that will reap the most rewards. The best part is its entirely free and you can do it anywhere, anytime. Meditation doesn’t mean sitting in lotus pose before a fancy alter on a meditation cushion. It may mean closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths on the bus on the way to work. It may mean waking up and sitting up in bed and allowing yourself five minutes of quiet contemplation before the world engulfs you. It may mean taking your lunch break at the park and closing your eyes and listening to the sounds of nature around you. These gentle pauses allow you to escape from the wild mental noise that our mind usually plays with, and to come back to the breath, back into our body and ground down. The array of benefits that come from meditation will amaze you. Just a few minutes a day can change you on a cellular level and help lower stress, improve mood, assist mental clarity, lower blood pressure, regulate hormones and so much more. If you are unsure where to start, there are some wonderful apps such as Insight Timer that can help you on your way.
Gratitude may be a bit of a catchphrase these days, but it is for good reason. Acknowledging the things in your life that you are grateful for has an incredibly powerful ability to help shift your mindset into one of abundance, and suddenly, you will notice changes in the way you see and approach the world. Expressing gratitude has been shown to change your brain chemistry to focus more on the positive things in your life, become more mindful, and be more giving to others. Gratitude is one of the highest vibrations we can hold as human beings, and when we are in this high vibration, we attract positive things into our world. This doesn’t mean less-than-great things won’t happen- we are human and life is full of ups and downs. Yet the way we approach the undulations is what is most important. Practicing gratitude is as simple as thinking of a few things you are grateful for when you wake up, and/or when you go to bed at the end of the day. These don’t need to be monumental things! You may be grateful for the way your dog is curled up beside you, the sunshine outside your window, something you have that day you are looking forward to, the sound of your child playing, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, the way you feel that day- anything, there is no wrong way to be grateful! Give it a try and notice the difference throughout your day.
Get a Daily Dose of Nature
Don’t underestimate the power of getting outside. We are designed to live in the natural world, and these days, we can be entirely removed from nature for the majority of our day. We sleep cocooned in houses, we work in buildings and office blocks, we travel via car or other means of transport, and even many of our leisure hours are spent indoors. Getting out amidst the fresh air, getting our feet connected to the earth, and really relishing in the beauty and healing properties of nature is one of the most natural and beneficial things we can do as humans. Spending time in nature can instantly restore your energy and lower stress levels. Make time each day to get outside- take your dog for a walk, take your children to the park, go for a cycle, plant something in your garden, walk to or from work, head to the beach and watch the sunset or get up a little early and watch the sunrise. Nature has a tremendous ability to heal and soothe us. There are always slices of natural paradise, even in urban sprawl- find your own and treasure it.
Remember to Breathe
This one may make you laugh at first! Why do we need to remember to breathe? Isn’t that something we do automatically? Well, yes and no. Yes, we do breathe automatically, yet the breathing that we tend to do as adults isn’t the beneficial, healing breathing that we do as a child. As adults, we tend to breathe only in our upper chest, not in our belly. Belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, improves our respiratory function, stimulates our relaxation response which helps to lower blood pressure and stress levels, and can even relieve chronic pain in the body. While getting into the habit of this style of breathing all the time takes practice, you can try doing this style of breathing at certain times throughout the day. Simply close your eyes and take a few deep, full breaths, allowing your belly to expand and contract with the inhale and exhale. Try doing this at your desk, sitting in traffic, whilst cooking dinner or watching Netflix! Getting back in touch with our natural state of breathing is nourishing and even just three deep breaths have the power to instantly create a sense of calm in body and mind.
Now here is a fun and easy way to improve your health! We all know how good we feel after a real big whole-body laugh. Laughter has the ability to lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, improve cardiac health, boost your immune system, and trigger the release of endorphins which reduce pain and stress in the body and make the happy high continue for a longer duration. If you’re not yet sold on all the amazing mental and emotional benefits, laughter also tones our abdominal muscles- you can try laughing your way to a six-pack! Laughter can go a long way in increasing your overall sense of well-being. Doctors have even found that people who have a positive and jovial outlook on life tend to fight disease better than people who tend to be more negative. So smile at strangers throughout your day, give yourself permission to laugh more, enjoy more comedies and spend time with people who make you laugh. Life’s too short to be serious.
Eat Real Food
When it comes to food, let’s continue with the theme of simplicity and ease. As stated earlier, you don’t need to spend a fortune on fancy superfoods nor get stressed out trying to keep up with this week’s new diet craze. Try to focus on eating real food- what does that mean exactly? Think of fresh food, food that doesn’t come from a box or that’s made in a factory. Focus on filling your plate with more plants. Stick to good quality fats such as avocado, raw nuts and seeds, coconut and olives. Prioritise high-quality protein and if that means meat or seafood, know where your meat is coming from. Support local farmers and businesses when you can to ensure quality and support environmentally sustainable practices. Ditch the things that you know aren’t supporting your health- sugar, processed foods and anything with preservatives and artificial additives. While this may seem like a big list, the core principle is very simple- get back to basics and enjoy real food.
Don’t Forget to Chew!
On the subject of food, you may be surprised to know just how beneficial chewing your food properly can be! We have become a society that eats on the go. We eat at our computers or while we are driving. Rarely do we sit down with our meal without distractions, without phones or looking at the clock, and enjoy our food properly. Such food practices lead to serious digestive issues and consistent overeating because the body is not getting any nutrition from poorly-chewed food. The failure to properly chew food can also lead to bloating and digestive discomfort. Therefore, taking time to chew each mouthful helps you to absorb more nutrients and energy from your food, helps you to maintain a healthy weight, and also improves digestion. Digestion starts in the mouth, and by chewing solids into liquid and allowing food to properly be exposed to your saliva, the body has a much easier time assimilating and digesting. Start getting into new routines where you sit down to eat, take time for each meal, chew slowly and consciously and appreciate each mouthful! Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, so it makes sense to linger and enjoy each moment.
Spend More Time With People You Love
Now here is an easy way to improve your wellbeing! The people that you spend the most time with in your life have a great impact on who you are as a person also. Spending time with people that drain your energy impacts your health negatively. Dedicate more time to the people who light you up, who support you, who understand you and that you connect with deeply. Spending time with friends and family has the power to lower stress, improve cardiovascular health, improve psychological wellbeing and can even boost your longevity. Looking at people in the world’s Blue Zones, family and community play a huge role in longevity. People in Blue Zones put family first. They are more likely to keep ageing relatives nearby or in the house. They also commit to a spouse or life partner and they commit to spending quality time with their children. Being part of a family or part of a community or tribe is one of the defining characteristics of good health in these communities. Don’t make your social calendar something that creates more stress in your life! Spend time with people that you love- it’s as easy as that.
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We invite you to experience our award-winning Bali yoga retreat. If it’s time to fill up your cup and reconnect with yourself on a deeper level, we’d love to help you rejuvenate, unwind, reawaken and experience the very best of Bali. Dive into transformational yoga and meditation classes, exhilarating surf lessons in the warm waters of Bali, fun fitness classes and restorative healing sessions. How much or little you do is all up to you.