October 25, 2013

21 Ways to Get Healthier & Happier (Right Now).

You aren’t just a body; we are all made up of a body, a mind, and a spirit and to be truly healthy, all three parts have to be well and in balance.

Therefore, getting healthy requires action in all three areas and not just a concentration on the physical. My yoga teacher once said, if you aren’t willing to engage the spiritual aspects of yoga, then you may as well just go to an aerobics class at the gym—you aren’t going to get the full benefits of the practice.

I agree with her.

I came up with a list of activities to do each day in order to create balance in my life and to live my healthiest, fullest life. Now look, most of the time, life gets in the way and I can’t do everything every single day. The goal is not to stress yourself out trying to fit all these in, but just to be aware of them and to try to do as many as possible in as relaxed and joyful a way as you can.

If this list stresses you out, you’re doing it wrong.

How to be Healthy

Each day try to:

1. Set a simple intention or goal for your day, exactly as you do at the beginning of each yoga practice.

The intention should be something that you can complete that day, not some long term, big goal. Sometimes my intention is to let things go that bother me and other times it’s clean out the linen closet.

2. Prepare a simple meal.

Heating up hot pockets doesn’t count. I mean something like make a salad, chop up some fruit.

3. Eat real food, mostly plants.

(like Michael Pollan says)

4. Drink water.

I hate this one. Everyone says it. I freaking hate drinking water. I don’t know why. I find that drinking plain, unsweetened, orange seltzer water helps me. I also like making cucumber, lemon, mint water and can drink this more easily than plain water, plus it’ll make you feel like you’re at a fancy spa instead of just in your kitchen.

5. Spend time outside.

Walking from your house to the car and your car to your work doesn’t count. I mean actually be outside for a little while, as long as you can. I find the more time I spend outside each day the happier I am. Nature recharges us and if you spend a great deal of time in front of a screen, you need even more time under the sky out in the open air.

6. Exercise.

I don’t care what you do. Just do something. Take a walk. Go to the gym. Do yoga. Jump on the bed. Whatever. Just move. A yoga teacher told us one day that the body was designed as the spirit’s vehicle in the physical world. In other words, the body is made to move our spirits around on earth. The body wants to move because that is its purpose and when we don’t move it, it gets sick because it’s not being used properly. This was a huge ah-ha! moment for me. Her words really resonated.

7. Stretch a lot in addition to your exercise.

Stretch whenever you can. It’s good for your joints and you feel good. Notice how much your dogs and cats stretch themselves. They know!

8. Pay attention to your personal grooming.

Do something to make yourself look better each day. Fix that chipped nail polish, condition your hair, stick a Biore on your nose, pluck your eyebrows, whiten your teeth, get a haircut, anything. Just pick one and do it. Don’t let yourself look like a mess. When you look better, you feel better. When you honor your body and take care of it, it responds with good health.

9. Read something for fun.

Reports from work don’t count. Read an article, a book, an email from a friend, US Weekly and of course, elephant journal. Whatever makes you happy, read it and don’t judge yourself, thinking you should be reading something more productive, more literary or more highbrow.

10. Throw something away.

We all have too much junk and clutter can suffocate us. Find a little something every day and toss it out. Clutter blocks our energy.

11. Straighten up.

No one can function in a mess. When things are tidy we can relax and we are happier in our surroundings. I’m not saying become a cleaning maniac. Once a day I breeze through the house and put stuff away. Sometimes it only takes five minutes. Other times longer. It always makes me feel better.

12. Have tea.

Or coffee. Or whatever hot drink you prefer. I do this in the morning and in the evening. I even got my three year old enjoying a cup of chamomile before bed now. Teas are healthy and taking the time to stop, relax and take a tea break (or coffee too) is calming, comforting and yummy.

13. Do something sexual.

We are sexual beings and our sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t care what you do. That’s your business and yes, I know, this one is pretty hard to accomplish every single day, but hey, as often as possible. How about that?

14. Be affectionate with another person.

It can be as simple as hugging a friend when you greet them. Humans need loving-contact with others.

15. Give something to someone else.

I got this one from Deepak Chopra’s book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. In the book, Chopra talks about generosity and giving; he says every time you meet someone or go see someone or encounter someone else, you should give them something, even if it’s just a compliment. I love this idea. He says he gives people flowers. I’ve been trying this out lately, giving people things from my garden or stuff I’ve made; if I don’t have anything on hand, I do what he says and give lots of compliments. So far, this has been a lot of fun for me and makes me feel great. Please try it.

16. Spend time with people you love.

Now I get that this isn’t always possible in person, but you can always call a loved one or reach out to them on Facebook. You can write them a letter. Anything that makes you feel connected to and engaged in some way with people you love, do it. Every. Single. Day.

17. Do something creative.

I have always believed that when God said he created humans in his image that he meant that we, too, are creators. Everyone is creative in some capacity. It is our nature, so go out and create. Anything! Make something, come up with new ideas, change something. It’s all creative, whether you’re building a subway system or making a sticker book.

18. Meditate.

Even if all the time you have left is a couple minutes as you’re falling asleep, you will still receive the benefits. I should note here that I equate meditation and prayer. Same thing. Different word. Meditate every day. Pray every day.

19. Give thanks.

You can do this as you pray/meditate or you can make it a separate act, but mindfully be thankful. Some days I swear to you I feel like my life sucks so badly that all I can think of to be thankful for is my daughter and her good health and the fact that I am alive at all and that my cat is still alive too. One day I gave thanks for the paint color in my dining room because I really love it. Who cares? You can be thankful for any and everything. Gratitude leads to happiness and happiness leads to good health.

20. Laugh!

Life is hilarious and funny things happen to us every day. When we can laugh at ourselves, our fears and our aggravations, we can overcome universes of negativity. Make it a point to seek out the comedy in life. Find something you can laugh at every day and share the laughter. I know it’s a cliché, but laughter truly is the best medicine.

21. Be responsible for your mental and physical health.

Give yourself a little scan each day and see if anything feels off or needs extra work. Make sure you always take your medicine and keep your doctor’s appointments and get tests done that need to be done. Don’t neglect this and if you feel anxious or sad or weird in any way do not hesitate to make an appointment with a mental health practitioner of some kind. There is no shame in it and you will be a better person for getting whatever help you need. Likewise, if something hurts or doesn’t feel right physically just go get it checked out even if it’s nothing. The peace of mind will be worth it.

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Ed: Sara Crolick

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