Sunday, May 19, 2013

How to be Healthy

In the past year, I've been going through a rough time. I have a lot of really difficult things on my plate that I've been trying to overcome, one of which is an autoimmune disease that is not life threatening, but which causes me a lot of annoyance. Luckily, it's pretty mild now but things like that have to be watched or they can get a lot worse and it's a proven fact that stress and living an unhealthy lifestyle can have dramatically bad effects on your health. I have a lot of stress, to say the least.

A main focus of 2013 for me is healing and getting healthy. That's why I go to yoga so much and I'm definitely seeing results. My last blood work showed that my antibody levels had dropped dramatically, even though I have so much anxiety and stress in my life. My rheumatologist recommends yoga to all of her patients for this reason. It really seems to help.

Since I've been trying to get healthy, I've tried a lot of different things and I'd like to share with you what has worked for me.

Good health to me is creating balance in all areas of your life. 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 of us 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 because you aren't going to get the full benefits of the practice. I agree with her, but I also think we need to engage our minds along with our bodies and spirits.

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. It should be something that you can complete that day, not some long term, big goal. Sometimes my intentions are things like letting things go that bother me and other times they are to clean out the linen closet.

2. Prepare a simple meal. Heating 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 orange seltzer water helps me. I also like making cucumber, lemon, mint water and can drink this more easily than plain water. I get dehydrated all the time. It shows up in my blood work every single time that I'm too dry and when I was pregnant I almost had to be hospitalized once because of it and I wasn't even throwing up when it happened. I was just hot and had no idea. So I'm trying to do better.

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.

6. Exercise. I don't care what you do. Just something. Take a walk. Go to the gym. Do yoga. Jump on the bed. Whatever. Just move. My favorite 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 Aha 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, whatever. Just pick one and do it. Don't let yourself look like hell. 

9. Read something for fun. Reports from work don't count. Read an article, a book, an email from a friend, US Weekly. Whatever makes you happy, read it.

10. Throw something away. We all have too much junk and clutter can suffocate us. Find a little something every day and toss it.

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. We've even got Baby Lawns 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. Anything. It can be as simple as hugging a friend when you greet them.

15.  Give something to someone else. I got this one from Deepak Chopra's book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams . I love that book because it's short, simple and straightforward and at the end of each chapter there are lists like this one explaining how to put his teachings into practice. If you buy one book this year, please let it be this one. Anyway, in the book he talks about generosity and giving and 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 and giving people things from my garden, stuff I made or, 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.

20. 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.               

What are some of your tips to add? I'm always looking for more healthy, healing ideas to improve my life.

9 comments:

ash said...

More laughter. I go out of my way to find things to cause laughter. It seems pretty basic, but some people rarely laugh. I know, because I used to be one of them.

Anonymous said...

Very nice and balanced suggestions.

Melanie said...

I already have a to-do list as long as my arm and you want me to add 20 more items? Geesh..... (LOL)

Lauren Anderson said...

Tell at least three people every day that you love them.

FreeDragon said...

With you on the water thing. I didn't hate water until I became diabetic and it was suggested that I drink it often. I thought that wouldn't be a problem because I drank water a lot, but suddenly I was sick of it. Now I have to remind myself to drink water and I am hesitant to do it.

JoeinVegas said...

Almost up to having a book of your own on that topic.

mcgrim said...

Daydream about something you want. Maybe do this while meditating.

Erica Morgan said...

Don't know why, but my comments never ever show up, but this post was very accurate and very awesome.

alexisedith said...

Love this list - I agree with the laughter as well, it really changes the ambiance around you. And I live in Paris, so the ambiance isn't always what it should be with these crabby Parisians :-)

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