Health + Wellness Guide 2020

Optimal health + wellness

The journey to optimal wellness begins with you. Everything you put in your body – food, drinks, thoughts, music, conversations – has an effect on your health. How you move, how well you sleep and how much stress you accumulate also impact your wellbeing. And you can change all of this.

This holistic guide provides ideas sourced from all over the world, including indigenous wisdom, herbal medicine, the sciences of ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the growing understanding of energy healing.  Each practice and tool includes a resource guide or reference.

Choose one or two practices at a time, and incorporate them into your routine until they stick (research suggests it takes about two months to fully form a new habit). Over time, you'll have your very own self-care toolkit that will keep you in a state of vibrant health! You'll be amazed at how proactively taking health into your own hands can transform your entire life.

*Please note this list is not created by a medical doctor. It is a compilation of ideas and practices, with resources linked where available.

 

Move your body

You don't have to be an Olympic athlete to keep your body moving and reap the incredible immune benefits.  There are many practices you can do at home or around your neighborhood that cost nothing besides time, and will help stimulate blood flow, boost the immune system, and regulate stress.

Walking | Take the dog, the kids, or your self and go for a stroll. Benefits include increased immunity and lower respiratory infections.

Dancing | Turn up your music and move! Dance supports immunity, lowers stress, improves cognitive function, amongst other benefits.

Yoga | There are dozens of varieties to try, from low impact yin to flowing hatha. Benefits include increased immunity and lower stress.

Qi Gong | This ancient practice helps circulate and strengthen your energy. Benefits include improved cardiac health, boosted immunity, better sleep and less stress.

Bodyweight Exercise | Squats, push-ups and burpees, oh my! Benefits include a stronger immune system and lower risk of illness.

 

Eat a balanced diet

You've heard the sayings, "food is medicine," and "you are what you eat." Food is fuel for our body, mind and spirit, and what we consume has a direct effect on our immunity.  While there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet, there are some key principles that can help shift your overall health.

Minimize processed food, meat, sugar, alcohol and smoking | While it may sound restrictive, the benefits are undeniable, and a wealth of info supports this.

Eat real food | These simple food rules from Michael Pollan are a great start to a healthier eating and living.  Find out the truth about the food system.

Stay hydrated | Water is a vital key to our health, from physical and mental performance, to skin and beauty, to digestion + joint health. What kind of water are you drinking?

Transitioning your diet | Go slow, focus on what you're adding, don't expect perfection, keep an open mind, remember you are making a long-term investment.

Cook for yourself | Not only can you choose exactly what you want to eat, you'll likely eat more mindful portions and enjoy the creative/mindful/social time.

Gut health | Your microbiome effects your immunity, digestion, cravings, and even your mood. There are some telltale signs your gut needs assistance, and strategies to help it.

Local, sustainable, organic | Learn to ask questions about where your food comes from, you'll improve your health, support local farmers, and help the environment.

Herbal medicine

 

Herbal medicine has been around as long as humans, and is widely used across the globe. In fact, over 80% of pharmaceuticals take their inspiration from naturally-growing plants.  Before you try medical interventions like shots, vaccines or pills, check your herbal remedies for a low-cost alternative.

Herbs for immunity | Herbs can be taken internally as tea, tinctures, capsules and powders, or externally as salves, lotions and compresses.

Check your local co-op, apothecary or wellness center to talk to someone about which herbs are best for you, or source online.

Tea and Tonics | From classic DIYs like lemon-ginger-honey to fire cider, anything with turmeric to pre-mixed herbal blends, plants are your best immunity-boosting friends!

Adaptogens | These herbs help modulate our response to stress, restore vitality and resiliency, and can relax or energize us, based on our body's needs.

Medicinal Mushrooms | Called the Food of the Gods by ancient Romans, the humble mushroom has been providing casual medical miracles for thousands of years.

 

Hygiene

Whether cleanliness is truly next to godliness remains to be seen, but it is definitely a vital step in preventing the spread of unnecessary germs. Here are a few special tips on keeping your skin healthy, optimal oral hygiene, self-massage and eco-friendly cleaning supplies for your home.

Skin Immunity | Skin is our largest organ, and our first line of defense – we can boost our skin's immunity with the right ingredients and routine (and a few to avoid).

Oral health | Our mouths are an indicator of our overall health, and by adding tongue scraping, oil pulling and salt water rinses, we can keep our mouths super clean.

Self-Massage | Receiving regular massages is amazing for our circulation, immunity and relaxation.  If paying for massages isn't an option, we can easily do it at home.

Eco-friendly Cleaning | Switching to non-toxic products is a great way to keep your home clean without the added chemicals, often found in cleaning products.

 

Nature

Nature is truly medicine for the soul. Even just standing outside in the sun for ten minutes can be deeply healing. Creating the time and space to be in a quiet park, a vast forest or a bubbling brook will bring benefits that your heart, soul and science can all agree upon.

Sunlight | The sun is one of our most powerful healers! It helps increase Vitamin D and T-cells, both vital for immunity, plus elevates mood, improves sleep and much more.

Forest Bathing | A forty-minute walk through the forest is scientifically-proven to reduce stress, improve immunity, and boost our creativity.

Earthing | Switching to non-toxic products is a great way to keep your home clean without the added chemicals, often found in cleaning products.

 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of awareness. It is the simple act of acknowledging what is happening in the present moment, and accepting it for what it is.

There are myriad ways to cultivate mindfulness in your own life, and the science is in agreement: it's incredible for our health and wellbeing.

Getting started | You don't need to meditate for 3 hours a day to be more mindful. People from all backgrounds, with families or without, devoting 5 hrs or 5 mins,
                                are finding incredible benefits from having a meditation practiceHere are simple ways to begin bringing more awareness into each moment.

Breathwork | Deep, diaphragmatic breathing can boost both your physical and mental health.

Going Deeper | If you are called to deepen your mindfulness and meditation practice, and dive into limiting beliefs, energy blocks, and egoic movements, reach out here.

 

Finding joy

It's almost deceptively simple: happy people tend to be healthier people. Take a look at your life ~ are you genuinely joyful throughout your days? Do you have work you love? Relationships that bring true happiness? Do you feel passionate and purposeful? These are vital keys to wellbeing.

Choose joy | They say laughter is the best medicine, and the science agrees.  Make time to do something passionate and purposeful each day, and you'll reap the rewards.

Healthy relationships | Humans are social creatures, and engaging in loving, supportive relationships can improve our immunity in surprising ways.

The power of oxytocin | Holding hands, sharing hugs, and cuddling all boost the stress-relieving hormone, oxytocin. And don't forget the all-powerful orgasm.

 

Rest

Sleep is truly a magical experience. The question is: are you getting enough of it, and is the sleep you're getting deep and sound? Adults generally need between seven to nine hours per night, and if you're not operating at full energy, it's likely you need more quality rest.

Sleep hygiene | For those struggling to fall asleep, it can be helpful to establish a night-time routineSleep habits can help strengthen immunity.

Yoga nidra | This ancient practice helps bring you into a sleep-inducing state of deep relaxation. It improves your sleep and immunity.  Try this guided practice.

Naps | Instead of reaching for that afternoon coffee, take a twenty minute nap. They're proven to increase alertness, creativity and boost your health.

© Megan Katherine 2020
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