Inspired by Dr. John Sarno's book, The MindBody Prescription, I wanted to take a moment to talk more about what it really means to be healthy and how that coincides with having a happy, energetic life. If you missed the Facebook LIVE video, I've got you covered...
What does being healthy mean to you? Health is not merely the absence of disease, it goes so much deeper than that. Your quality of life, your physical/mental/emotional wellbeing, your community and the humans you spend the most time with. It's layers of factors, not just one simple definition. So are you doing what you can do to live the best, most energetic and colour life you can? Here are my top (and most simple) tips that you can start doing today.
1. Eat Well
Food = nourishment. I always love that saying, "you are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy or fake." I think so many of us don't really THINK about what we're eating, we just do. Not only can conscious eating improve your overall health and wellbeing but it can also improve your connectivity with your community and the earth. Not to get too deep and philosophical here but food consumption is a very strong act of involvement with your community and a reflection of your relationship with yourself. Eating local, sustainable and healthful food always wins.
We have more serotonin receptors in our gut than we do in our brain. I'm sure many of us have experienced "stomach headaches" or "butterflies in our stomach" or had digestive issues in relation to emotions. It's a no-brainer that if the gut is our first exposure to food, and that food sustains and nourishes us, that consuming whole, nutrient dense, real foods can be helpful for many aspects of our health.
As a general rule, if it comes in a box or a bag and you can't pronounce and ingredient on the label, you probably shouldn't be eating it. If you need some added motivation to stick to this rule, check out the World Health Organization's list of carcinogens - you'd be surprised what's on this list.
2. Exercise Regularly
Exercise is a great way to boost endorphins in our brains and improve our overall wellbeing. A standard recommendation is 150 minutes of activity weekly, meaning 30 minutes, 5 days per week. This can be anything from walking to lifting weights to doing yoga - something that's going to get your heart pumping and your body moving.
I'm obviously bias to mind-body practices like yoga because it has been such a major catalyst for change in my own life. If you're not into yoga, that's ok - you can still implement a mindful aspect into any activity. Exercise should be more than just moving your body - it should be a time to learn more about yourself and engage in mind-body practices, where you're bringing awareness into your body's sensations and emotions that may come along with it. I can't think of a better way to improve your own awareness than holding chair pose for an extended period of time!
My favourite way to get this done: schedule exercise into your weekly schedule first, then work everything else around it. Trust me - everything else that needs to get done in your week, will. YOU come first, otherwise how on earth do you expect to give 100% in everything you do? Remember that.
3. Engage with Humans
Did you know that social isolation increases the risk for psychosis? I don't know if you've experienced this yourself, but I really do find that the longer I spend alone with myself (which can be SO therapeutic when done in moderation) that I feel flat, or disconnected from the world. Not to mention too that as we age and new life demands pop it, it becomes more difficult to get together with friends. I think it's a wonderful idea to make non-negotiable time to meet up with friends in the week. Be that even just for an hour after work, it's still meaningful. Just like exercise, schedule social time in first and then arrange all the other demands of your life around it.
Engaging with your community is also incredibly important - there's something so valuable in feeling like you're a part of a greater whole. Whether that's supporting local businesses, signing up for team sports or clubs or joining an organization that you believe in, there's always something you can do to become a part of your community.
4. Sacred Sleep
Whoever said "sleep when your dead" was clearly delusional, in my own humble opinion. Sleep is vital for regeneration and revitalization and if you're not doing these things, how can you possibly have a positive quality of life? In our brains, the glymphatic system is a specialized lymph system in our brains that is only active when we sleep. It helps to remove the gunk and toxic byproducts that build up during the day to help reduce any potential for inflammation in the brain. A lack of sleep can lead to brain fog, irritability, poor coordination and an increased risk of anxious or depressive tendencies. All of these things can very well be related to a lack of brain revitalization and increasing neuroinflammation.
Make sleep sacred. Meaning uninterrupted quality down time 1-2 hours before bed and a consistent bed time. Aim for 8 hours if you can! Oh and just in case you didn't think it was possible,
It's the little, daily parts of your life that can make the most lasting impact and change on your quality of life and your overall health. Being "healthy" or living a life of meaning doesn't have to get complicated. Start the basics and rest will come.