Over the years, I have learned that regularly investing in the health of my mind, body, and spirit is vital. I don’t want to live forever, but I do want to feel good, enjoy life, and thrive as long as I’m on the planet. When I go to my annual doctor’s visit for a check-up and blood draw, I remind her with a smile that I am the healthiest person I know! I am blessed and grateful to be illness-free & require no meds; I’m strong and flexible & feel good the majority of the time; and my lab results are always stellar. There are certain lifestyle elements that are essential to maintaining optimal health, and below, I share the ones that work for me. (These tips have been garnered through the years from my degree work, independent research, and experimentation.)
- Hydration is one of the most vital processes in my body, and I have control over it. When I haven’t adequately hydrated, I become forgetful, I have no energy, I get headaches, and my body temperature goes unregulated. (I can suddenly get way too hot or cold, and stay that way despite my efforts.) After having worked in a lab, I’ve seen first-hand the way blood cells clump together when they aren’t dispersed with enough water. Anthony William, author of Liver Rescue, among many other books, says that this thickening of the blood caused by dehydration results in the heart and liver being forced to work harder. I believe it must force all our organs to struggle. The human body simply cannot function properly without good hydration. (For more on the importance of hydration, check out my article Hydration – No, Really.)
- Spending time outside is one of the most important things I can do for my mental well-being. When I’ve been inside for too long, I can get lethargic and grumpy. Studies show that being outside has loads of beneficial effects. For me, going outside can be like flipping a switch: I instantly feel happier, more grateful, and energetic.
- Working with the microbiome in my gut is one of the best ways to ensure my continued good health. According to Dr. Zach Bush, a triple board certified physician, each of our bodies is an ecosystem through and through colonized by bacteria. The majority of that bacteria resides in our guts, and we have a symbiotic relationship with it. By eating fibrous, non-GMO whole plant foods, avoiding antibiotics whenever possible, consuming fermented food and drinks, and breathing in diverse ecosystems like lakes, waterfalls, mountains, oceans, & deserts, I keep my microbiome healthy and happy, which in turn keeps me healthy & happy.
- Regular exercise, including stretching, strengthening, and cardio, is essential not only for my physical health but also for feeling good about myself. If I go 2 days in a row without it, I feel like a worthless lump! Climbing, hiking, biking and yoga classes are my favorite forms of exercise, but we have a workout room at home for the days we can’t do our preferred activities. Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Brain Maker, asserts that exercise can be just as effective as anti-depressants. I can attest to that! (Of course, you shouldn’t go off anti-depressants without working with your doc.)
- Focusing on the positives in my life helps me stay positive. When less-than-pleasant ideas start to dominate my mindset (like when I get bad news), I step back, refocus, and recall my blessings & belief that everything happens for a reason. According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, New York Times best-selling author, the term emotion can be thought of as energy in motion, and it goes wherever you place your attention. Rather than worrying and dwelling on negatives, I find I am much more productive and cheerful when I am in a state of gratitude, expressing love for my life and the beautiful world around me.
- Being generous opens my heart unlike anything else. This doesn’t mean I go around handing out cash; my generosity involves expressing compliments, sending a card to a far-away friend, sharing home-cooked food, focusing my full attention on one with whom I’m speaking, and giving small gifts. Research shared by UC Berkley’s Greater Good Magazine shows that giving releases feel-good endorphins, activates a part of the brain associated with pleasure, results in a helper’s high, and provides a myriad of long-term health benefits.
- Continuing to travel and learn about health, spirituality, cuisine, the planet, and other animals feeds my soul. It also keeps my brain functioning optimally by forming new synapses. You know the old saying use it or lose it? That applies here.
An important caveat: as soon as I realize I’m feeling off, I assess. What have I eaten? Have I taken in ample water & electrolytes? When did I last exercise? Where have my thoughts been focused? I want to feel good in mind, body, and spirit all of the time. Figuring out the reason I’m not up to par is critical to getting back on track as soon as possible.
To me, feeling good on every level means thriving in a world teeming with love & beauty as opposed to enduring a joyless existence. Staying conscious of the touchstones that support my health are of utmost importance. My hope is that you may benefit from my experience. Regardless of your age, investing in your health and well-being is always one of your very best endeavors.
Blessings for Health,