Every day, I am inundated with healthy lifestyle, food and wellness related articles singing the praises of X ‘super enlightening positive vibe inducing moon tonic’, Y ‘anti aging all youth prevailing never get or let a wrinkle show but still be natural facial oils’, and Z ‘must try greener dietary change so you can achieve a leaner and natural sun glowing hue’ (and help the environment- which I do of course care about). To be honest, I am definitely ‘in' it when it comes to these things.
I mean, I believe in (and experience through my lifestyle choices) the power of plants whole heartedly, specifically as it relates to nutrition, how i chose to spend free time (outdoors, ideally), etc. I believe in the ancient science of herbalism and the powerful nature of adaptogens and other healing plant based potions. I also am about to turn 30 and yes, I am human, so I have already developed some wrinkles, so I am on board with the idea that taking care of your skin matters (aka limit your sun time, always wear mineral based sunscreen, wash your make up off/establish a routine that makes you feel good/use your fancy and often times bank account draining facial oils).
I get it. I really do, because I do subscribe to certain of these things. Sometimes though, when I find myself getting caught in the throws of the #ontrend wellness practices, and am faced with the challenge of ‘keeping up with the jones’s’ (the jones’s mostly being well known health+wellness advocates and bloggers who live and lead different lives than me) I find myself asking ‘is this really necessary to be healthy- -and particularly to find more balance, joy and equanimity as we move through our daily life?” I take a step back, and remember that what I set out to do as a yoga teacher, Holistic Health Coach and just in general as a human who is interested in helping to lessen suffering, and increase transparency about what it means to be human, is to reach as many people as possible and let them know that even a few small, sustainable changes are within their reach. Simple. Basic. Sustainable.
So, in an effort to simplify all of the information that we are inundated with (those of us that seek it out anyways), here is a list of a few basic things I believe each of us can do each day to check ourselves and work towards experiencing greater joy, peace, calm- whatever it is that you are seeking by subscribing to wellness practices.
1. Develop a routine that is authentic to you. I am not going to say a ‘before bed’, or an ‘early morning’ routine (even though I do believe in the power of both of those to keep me sleeping well, dreaming easy and waking with a sense of clear headedness, and optimism. Anyway, whatever time of day works for you- whether that is your lunch break, or after you put your kids to bed, or even your 3pm walk to stretch your legs and grab an afternoon beverage, I suggest you stick to it. And in addition to whatever that time looks like for you- take 10 deep, intentional breaths. Feel your feet on the ground, feel your head on your shoulders. Feel the beating of your heart. Let the thoughts come up and be gone-flow through. Take a purposeful few moments to land back into yourself. It is the best way to reground yourself, to slow down your day, and I think it’s a great way to develop a gratitude practice for this incredibly fast paced thing that we call life.
2. Move your body. Work your heart. Calm it down. Sweat. Cool. You have an amazing ability to build your temple into a true sanctuary if you just make some time each day about honoring it. Truly, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can enjoy a green smoothie in the morning, and your wine in the evening. The most important thing is to do what works for you to find balance- and to be mindful of the choices you make. It’s part of coming home to yourself. It’s part of building a strong mental foundation. It’s about letting yourself be broken down, and then watching yourself rebuild. The trending word- wellness- is not about all or nothing, but rather finding a modicum of things that work for you to make you feel collectively like ‘i got dis!’. Great ways to move your body: yoga, pilates, walk, bike, run, fitness classes, dance classes, etc.
3. Fuel Up. What we put in is what we get out. We are- to a certain extent what we eat (And we are also so much more). It’s as simple as that. While I believe both of these principles, it isn’t so much so that I don’t enjoy my food because it feels like a chore, or that I abide by a restrictive diet in any way. In fact, I love food- for its taste, for it’s powerful healing and medicinal qualities, and also because it’s a beautiful way to connect with the earth and with culture, history , and those in your community. I will say nothing in this post about the specifics of what i eat/ why i eat this way, but I encourage you to eat. real. food the majority of the time. I also encourage you cook more of your food at home, and to care about where your food comes from.
4. Cultivate a gratitude practice. We all have tough days. We all experience pain. We all experience suffering. These things are part of the human condition. It’s easy when we are in the thick of the chaos to shift from seeing all that is there to all that isn’t. Cultivating a gratitude practice i think is the single most important piece of navigating our everyday lives and keeping our perspective ‘in check’. Plus, gratitude is like a seed that when watered daily, will blossom into this all encompassing outlook- so that you don’t even have to turn to it because your life becomes an expression of it. Great ways to cultivate a gratitude practice include: thanking someone out loud, writing a list everyday, writing yourself a note and sticking it to your mirror, dash board or computer- meditating on it, devoting your spiritual practice/prayer to it. Think of 5 things after reading this article and write them down. Return to them throughout your day, your week, etc. Recall the light, because it is always, always there, and a daily practice helps return us to it (since it isn’t our natural human condition).