Yes trying to be healthy can be expensive, when you add up supplements, herbs, water filers, appointments it can get very overwhelming, but as the saying goes ;the best things in life are free.' The following 'free wellness' advice tips are ones I give to my patients over and over again. They are simple and practical things that anyone can do, and can easily be incorporated into your daily wellness routine. These top 10 easy changes can make a huge difference to how you feel without costing you too much.
1. Sleep. You cannot expect to feel great and look well if you are either not getting enough sleep, or not having great quality sleep. Lack of sleep has been attributed to increased cortisol levels, high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, and reduced mental processes. Studies show that sleep is one of, if not the most vital thing you can do to improve your health. In Chinese medicine we ask our patients to be asleep before 11pm to allow the body to begin the detox process. If you find that you are struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, I usually suggest to soak your feet in hot water at least 30 minutes before bed. This will bring all the energy and heat from your head down to your feet, and helps you to stop thinking and cools the head down.
2. Meditation or breathing exercises. Spending just a few minutes a day meditating, can make a difference to your health and how you cope with the stressors of everyday life. There are many free apps you can download to heal you calm your mind by either doing meditation, or if you find meditation too difficult to do, just try focusing on different breathing exercises. Stop now and notice how far your breath goes. Do you breathe all the way into your stomach, or does it stop around the chest area?
3. Exercise. There are plenty of ways to get your 30 minutes a day of exercise for free. I personally love walking or cycling in the fresh air, or you can go running, stretching, swimming, or playing a ball sport in the park with friends or kids. Many local communities have free tai chi or yoga in the park. Otherwise if you want to exercise at home, look around for items in the house that you can use, such as a tin of tomatoes to lift.
4. Explore your creative side. Draw, doodle, make shapes with play doh, dance, sing, or write. Be a child again and have fun creating something, and being in the moment. Being creative activates the right side of your brain and helps you channel your inner artist.
5. Laughing. Who doesn't love a good belly laugh? Research shows that laughing releases endorphins into the body, the same way exercise does, which then gives your body a natural high. It's a great excuse to stay home, put your feet up, and watch a comedy show.
6. Socialise. Having a good chat with a friend, debriefing on what is happening in your life, remembering the good times, or just talking about the struggles you are currently experiencing, has been show to be beneficial not just for your mental health, but physical as well. If you don't have any close friends that are available to catch up when you are free, then joining a local group or club may be another option.
7. Nature. Whether its forest bathing, earthing, or tree hugging, studies show that spending time outdoors improves your mental and physical health. In our current busy lives, we spend too much of our day indoors in front of a computer for work, this then contributes to us not getting enough vitamin D. Just 30 minutes a day spent outdoors can make a difference to your overall health and sleep patterns, especially if you expose yourself to natural light first thing in the morning, as it regulates your internal clock.
8. Fluids. How much fluids are you consuming each day? I usually recommend to my patients to drink between 1.5- 2 litres a day, depending on the season, how much physical activity they do which will increase the amount of water they require for the day. Many people find it hard to drink enough water each day, so break it down to smaller increments, rather than drinking a lot at the end of the day. An easy tip is to mark your drink bottle with evenly spaced out increments of time, for example 9am, 11am, 1pm, fill your bottle up at the start of the day, and then drink up to the line where the time currently sits. This helps you drink slowly throughout the day, and makes it easier to reach your goal.
9. Diet. How many different colours of food are you eating every day? You should be aiming to eat 6-8 cups of different coloured foods each day, with at least 3 cups being green leafy vegetables. Also ensure that you eat foods that are in season, as nature knows what foods your body requires throughout different times of the year, for example do not eat watermelon in the middle of winter, as it cools the body down too much. In Chinese medicine we always talk about making sure food is warm and cooked to help the digestion break down your food more easily. Obviously a salad is fine to eat during a hot summer's day. Another way to ensure you are getting maximum nutrients from your foods is to grow it yourself. This will ensure you are eating free, organic, and pesticide free fruit and vegetables. An added bonus is that gardening is a great way to relieve stress and burn calories.
10. Be grateful. Having a gratitude journal allows you each night to write down 3 things that you are grateful for that day. Practicing gratitude daily, refocusing your mind to specifically remember the good things that happened in your day. As you practice this day after day, you will notice that you atomically begin focusing on the positive things rather than the negative stuff.