Updated: Jan 31, 2020
Here are 10 small things you can start doing right now that will transform your life and bring you vitality!
Reaching our greatest health can be a challenge, but only if we allow it to be! Here are some super powerful tools you can take with you to reach vitality! These are optimal and when applied together you can transform your life!
Gratitude is truly everything in this life. So, begin with falling in love with what you already have and who you already are. Let's take the journey given to us, however difficult it may seem, and be so effin thankful that we are here to experience all of it. This is the journey you chose before birthing in this body, this biological machine that has given you the ability to experience life with the five senses. When we are in a state of gratitude, life simply becomes better because we are choosing so. Life doesn't happen to you, it happens FOR you and you are the mind creating it. So, choose to be thankful for every lesson, every milestone, and every roadblock. It is our job to take responsibility for how we want to tell our story. Do we want to be the victim, who lacks so much, who is in a competition of whose life is the hardest? Or do we want to be the hero, who is always abundant, and who is content with seeing others be happy and abundant, too? The grass isn't greener on the other side when we face life with eyes of gratitude. The grass is, instead, overflowing with beautiful flowers and fruit for us to discover and enjoy all around.
To start, begin each morning with a gratitude journal or just saying out loud three things you are grateful for upon opening your eyes. It can be as simple as being grateful for waking up today and having a bed to sleep on and clothes to wear. You can go into more detail or write a whole list of all the things you are grateful for, the more the better! End each day with words of gratitude as well, describing what in your day you are grateful for, even on the hard, challenging days.
Living with gratitude in your heart will bring you to become more mindful of your everyday life. Mindfulness will help you to see how much you influence your surroundings, how your thoughts create your reality, and how much your body works on autopilot. Mindfulness is simply being aware. Being aware of yourself, the thoughts that come and go inside your head, and aware of who you are behind those thoughts. Adding more mindfulness to your life will help you to better understand why things are the way they are in your day to day.
Mindfulness is also excellent for your physical health as it helps the body to return to a parasympathetic state, or the rest and digest state of the nervous system. It can reduce anxiety and stress on the body and therefore lower risk of degenerative diseases.
I would recommend starting with some meditation exercises. Simply sitting down in a comfortable position with your back and neck straight, close your eyes and pay attention to your breath as it enters the body and becomes a part of you, then leaves your body and is back in the the air around you. You can follow a guided meditation until you are comfortable with doing them on your own.
3. Drink plenty of water
This one is obvious and yet we are all still dehydrated. How can that be? Staying hydrated means drinking enough water, eating enough "water", and also eating healthy fats to stay hydrated on a cellular level! The only thing that will truly hydrate you is water, not a sugary fruit juice (like lemonade), most definitely not soda, and not coffee. Teas can be hydrating, but some are also diuretic. So, it's best to stick to plain water or even sparkling water, because yes, it does hydrate!
Adding cucumber, lemon, or berries to your water will give you a boost in hydration as well or better yet, eating juicy fruits and vegetables will help rehydrate the cells.
4.Exercise and Stretch
Making sure you are getting in some form of movement is incredibly important for the body and the mind. But did you know that stretching and staying limb is also just as important for vitality and longevity? This is why I always say yoga is a complete workout, it provides strengthening, stretching, and breathwork. While you don't have to run to the nearest yoga studio, I would recommend learning a few stretching techniques to help your body become more flexible and limb.
The important thing here is to find a form of exercise that ignites you. Find something that not only makes you feel good after, but on days where you want nothing to do with exercising, you can still motivate yourself enough to do it. Even if that means you need an exercise partner or if available, a coach, to help you get motivated. We live in a time where we are no longer required to use our bodies for daily activities, so we have to make the time and effort to get moving!
A 20 minute walk daily, a lone dance party in your living room, or even jumping up and down for 5-10 minutes daily will have a huge impact on your life, especially if you are used to a sedentary life.
5. Eat wholesome foods
Food is smack in the middle because food is truly the key to vitality. It is the foundation to a healthy life and it truly is medicine. Now, let's for a moment look at food at its fundamental state: it is the fuel for the body, the chemical reactions that happen within you to maintain order in all bodily functions. Therefore, if you are eating from a perspective of palatable pleasures only and ignoring the need for nourishment through nutrients, minerals, fats, and proteins, you are doing your body a disservice.
Now you don't have to become obsessive and start counting macros and micros, all you have to do is go back to basics. Eat foods at their purest, unadulterated states like raw or slightly cooked fruits and veggies. Eat food that came from the ground and not from a factory. Make this your staple, and indulge in the processed foods on occasion. Notice, I did not go into any diet, saying one is better than the other. This is because what one person chooses as their lifestyle diet may work well for them, but for another it makes them sick. Listen to your body as you eat and drop the foods that don't make you feel good.
Crowd out your plate little by little with more whole foods. Incorporate more and more fruits and vegetables on every next dish. Eventually filling your plate completely with it to the point where you no longer want the other stuff.
A great trick I use with clients is this nutraceutical blend that helps their body on a cellular level by feeding it nutrients straight from the source. This juice blend of 30+ fruits and veggies will be absorbed into the bloodstream within 3-5 minutes, therefore nourishing them right away! This is a great starter for anyone who isn't yet comfortable with eating too many fruits and vegetables daily. While it is in no way a substitute for their daily intake of fruits and veggies, I have noticed with myself and others (who are taking these daily) that you actually begin to crave healthier foods! My kids actually ask for veggies as a snack!
6. Eat your probiotics and prebiotics
While you are adding more wholesome foods to your plate, try adding in some fermented food as well. Food that has been fermented will have good bacteria that help the gut flora. Your gut is where most of the stuff happens, your immune system is held there, many hormones are released there, and the gut-brain axis connects your gut health to your brain health. So, you want to make sure you are taking good care of all the little microbes living there. The bacteria in your gut thrive off of food that is high in fiber, so make sure to eat high fiber fruits and veggies before or together with your fermented foods.
Here are some of examples high fiber foods:
Dried figs and dates
Here are some examples of Fermented foods:
Yogurt and some yogurt alternatives
Traditional sourdough breads
Adding these to your diet will help create a healthy and diverse microbiome. This is a very immerging and flourishing topic lately in the health community. Many new studies are out on how important our microbiome is to our overall health! Make sure to take care of the microscopic world inside you!
7. Surround yourself with people who support and love you
Relationships are a huge aspect of our overall health. It may not be the first thing you think of when you think about getting healthy, but our relationships have a great impact on our emotional, mental, and even physical states.
First, make sure to realize how people make you feel when you are around them. But be honest with yourself here, is it them who makes you feel a certain way because they are in a place in their lives where they aren't adding meaning to your life? Or are you holding onto something and not creating space to heal the relationship? Is it worth healing? Are they someone you want to remain in your life and are choosing everyday to have with you, or are they someone you can let go of? Whichever the case may be, do it. Either make the effort to heal the relationship, or let it go. Whether it is your co-worker, friend, or family member.
Once you have chosen to surround yourself with people who are adding value to your life and challenging you to be better and supporting you along the way, make sure to be there for them, too. Relationships are a beautiful connection between two souls and when you help each other grow they truly become magical.
You will notice how your mental health seems to improve almost immediately after being with someone who truly cares about you. The right chemicals are being released that help the body ease inflammation and prevent chronic disease!
8. Let it go
Life is not that serious. Stop adding meaning, we are meaning making machines (Landmark Forum anyone?). But that has gotten us nowhere. Let that shit go. Seriously. Just let it go. Pretend it is a file in your biological computer and simply visualize you can throw it away in your mind's trash can and empty the trash can.
Holding on to things will cause physical tightness. It will literally create illness inside of us because it is energy that is stagnant and can't move and be transformed. It all begins with the story you tell yourself about the situation. Our beliefs have far bigger influence in our body that ever before understood, and scientists are backing this up with quantum physics as well as studies with placebos. Our story is what keeps us from being able to move and transform our energy towards healing and health.
The practice of letting go must begin, though, with awareness. Become aware of your triggers and the story you have been telling yourself. Become aware of where in your body you are holding these feelings and tension. Become aware of how your thoughts are creating the tensions and tightness in your body.
Next, we must accept that this is what it is and we are not in control of what has already happened. Instead, we are in control of how we choose to view it and feel towards it. Accepting that life is what it is and we are the writers of our story is a powerful tool we can use to re-write that story in love and light. Release yourself of the tensions you hold and allow that energy to be transformed into acceptance and unconditional love.
9. Rest Rest Rest
OK, we may not want to admit it, but sleep is crucial for overall health and vitality! You wouldn't expect your phone to work after the battery died. You know that to get it to work again you need to plug it in. So, why is it we think we can run effectively on no sleep? Worse yet, we are a society that brags about running on no sleep. Our bodies use our sleep as a reset. It is in sleep that we can remove the toxins, heal on a cellular level, and restore mental (hormonal) order. Our bodies require a certain amount of time, too. And what one body needs may not be what another requires. I know I need around 7 1/2 hours of sleep for me to feel well and refreshed the next day. However, a friend of mine says she needs much more (at least 9 hours) to feel good. A lot affects this such as: what you ate, when you ate, how much you ingested mentally, for women we also need to consider where we are in our monthly cycles, and so much more. Understanding your body's needs is key.
As you can see, all of these steps to vitality bring us back to listening to our individual requirements and connecting to ourselves. Some of us may need naps, while others won't benefit as much from a nap and can even affect their sleep at night. This is for sure though: we are not "night owls". We have created that term to fit our new needs in today's society. If we were truly "night owls" we would be nocturnal creatures and yet, we are not. It is programmed in our DNA to follow our circadian rhythm. Ours is one which rises with the sun, we release cortisol slowly in the morning and with the help of natural sunlight we awaken and our body knows exactly what to release in order to keep us going until sundown. At sundown, we naturally begin releasing melatonin which will calm us down and eventually put us in restful sleep.
The problem arises, though, when we are bombarded with environmental distractions like late night food, artificial (blue) light emitting from our TVs, phones, and computers (even our bright lights in the home). This tricks the brain into believing it is still daylight and therefore doesn't trigger it to release melatonin and its precursors.
Make sure you are allowing your body to get the adequate rest it requires to feel good throughout the day. At night avoid eating past 8pm and dim the lights around you to get your body ready for sleep. Lower volumes and keep the screen time limited (or purchase blue light blocking glasses to wear at night). It is also excellent to watch the sunset as this is how our ancestors prepared for the night. And just as watching the sunset helps the circadian rhythm, so does the sunrise. To recalibrate your circadian rhythm, I would recommend watching the sunrise to stimulate the brain in the morning. Give the body at least 20 minutes before drinking your coffee so that it can naturally start producing cortisol and wake you up.
If you do well with a nap, or were not able to sleep well the previous night, a quick nap of even 5 minutes can be beneficial to the body. Napping for 1-2 hours has healing abilities, however it can also affect your night's sleep, so make sure you do it before dinnertime.
Plug yourself in every night and allow yourself to charge up. Rest is just as productive as any other task you do to keep you in a state of vitality!
10. Go back to nature
Lastly, connect with who you truly are: nature. We have become so disconnected with our deepest roots and our planet as a society. This has been detrimental to our health, that is, to say the least!
The more we move away from our natural habitat and ways, the sicker we become. There was a cultural shift away from nature that began around 1950's, but prior to that we instinctively knew that nature is where healing happens. Let's get back to that!
Take your work, play, and meals outdoors. You don't have to go hiking every weekend if you aren't the adventurous type, but just a 20 minute walk outside can drastically change your overall health for the better. All our senses benefit from being outside. The fresh air we breath, the energies from the ground and plants, and the Vitamin D from the sun are just the beginning. Getting out hands in the dirt is great for the gut (as we spoke about the microbiome on number 6), planting our bare feet in the ground will connect the earth's electromagnetic field with our own, and connecting with animals and other humans (who are nature too) heals our mental state--all body, soul, and mind.
For real vitality, get out every day! Or allow the air in by opening the windows and bringing in some plants and/or animals in your home. Use herbal remedies and alternative practices involving nature's bountiful medicines to help you heal, too. As long as you are reconnecting with the natural world around you, you will feel your healthiest!
Use these tools to get you started on a life you love! Take care of yourself with the love you would give to your child. You deserve it!