REJUVENATE: 10 Simple Ways to Vibrant Health
Many of these surefire tips can be combined together at the same time (such as exercise, deep breathing, gratitude, and visualization) — and they all work together to bring more health and healing, joy and happiness, success and prosperity, and a rich, soul-satisfying balance back into your life.
1. REVITALIZE & REFRESH. Feeling bogged down? Make sure to build breaks into your day - from sunrise to bedtime - to reset and refresh. Just as your computer can freeze up or be sluggish when you're running too many programs, your mind and spirit can get worn out from too much mental multitasking and engagement with technology. It's ok to unplug now and then, or at least press the "reset" button!
Before you turn on your smartphone, be sure to welcome the "blank slate" of the morning with time set aside for nourishing mind and body. The first 40 minutes of the day establishes the tone. Set that alarm 10 minutes early to allow for some mindful reflection. The quiet of the morning makes it the best time for getting organized for the day, reflecting on goals, and planning "to dos" accordingly. It may sound prosaic, but make sure to make your bed! Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, found that making the bed each morning boosts happiness.
It may seem hard to take a "reset" break midday, but doing so greatly supports mental health. Scarfing down your lunch in front of the computer doesn't count! Plan a 10-minute break between meetings for a quick walk around the block or meditating or journaling at your desk. Connect with your inner spirit and do a self check-in to see if you're staying on track with the goals and ideals you reflected on in the early morning.
Similarly, build in time at the close of the day for connecting with self and taking stock of the day's events. Instead of falling asleep mindlessly in front of the television, make the hour before bedtime a "sacred hour" in which you unplug from technology, journal, meditate, or take a soothing bath to calm the mind and promote healthy sleep. Adding in protected times like these to revitalize and refresh will make a marked difference in your overall wellbeing.
2. EXERCISE FOR VITALITY. To maintain weight and fitness, physical activity must be a top priority. Everyone is different when it comes to the time of day that's best to exercise. The experts agree that the best time for you is simply when you can commit to it most consistently.
Morning exercisers (like me!) tend to be the most consistent in their exercise habits because the distractions of the day don't interfere with following through. When you get your workout over in the morning, you eliminate the possibility of flaking out on your cardio after a long day at work. Early exercise helps you "earn" your breakfast and gets your endorphins flowing first thing. Whether it’s a morning yoga session, a walk around the neighborhood, a quick trip to the gym, or some sit-ups and pushups at home, exercising before work gives you a boost of energy for the day. That pile of paperwork at your desk will be a breeze after 300 ab reps! If that sounds too ambitious, even a quick 15-minute set of pushups or stretching can help you feel invigorated for the day ahead.
Those who aren't bright eyed and bushy tailed at the thought of a 5 am jog, don't despair. A run, brisk walk, or quick gym trip on your lunch break is a great way to sneak in some midday cardio. Exercising after work can also be a healthy opportunity to blow off steam after the day's frustrations and burn off the cortisol in your system triggered by daily stresses. Just make sure not to exercise too close to bed. Exercise raises your heart rate and body temperature, which can interfere with restful sleep. No matter what time of day you choose, exercise is a bedrock of vibrant health.
3. JOIN THE BREAKFAST CLUB. Mom wasn't wrong - breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day! The word “breakfast” literally means breaking the fast from the night before. Your body needs to be refueled for the tasks ahead of it. Studies reveal that those people who eat a healthy breakfast make better food choices throughout the day and have a better handle on controlling their weight.
Rushing out the door with only a cup of coffee to fuel you will set you up for low blood sugar that may cause you to give in to unhealthy cravings or eat more calories to compensate during the rest of the day. In fact, research shows that skipping breakfast is more likely to result in weight gain than weight loss for that very reason. Consuming some protein at breakfast time gives you more staying power than sugars and starches, so consider skipping that donut and opt instead for an egg white omelet or smoothie with added protein. Whole grains instead of refined ones will also help power you through until lunch; oatmeal or high-fiber cereal are good choices.
And remember what I said in the first point — the first 40 minutes of the day sets the tone. Including a healthy breakfast in those first 40 minutes not only puts your metabolism in a prime state but also establishes a theme of healthy nourishment that can be continued throughout the day. Whether you enjoy breakfast while reading the morning news, chatting with your kids or spouse, or alongside your dog or cat, the meal is a chance to connect before heading out into the world. If you’re always in a rush in the mornings, prepare your breakfast the night before. Even a quick smoothie guzzled in the car is better than no breakfast at all!
4. USE YOUR MIND AND THOUGHTS WISELY and 5. VISUALIZE YOUR DAY AHEAD. It was Albert Einstein who once said: “Your imagination is a preview of your life’s coming attractions.” I love that! Visualizing success and using our mind for positive thoughts and positive outcomes can help prepare us for the real thing, and decades of research back up Einstein's insightful sentiment. Athletes who visualize shooting baskets or hitting a hole-in-one significantly boost their performance in real-life competition. Visualization can actually improve motor skills. Tiger Woods has successfully used it to win golf championships! If visualization can make that much of an impact on human performance, imagine what it can do for you in your everyday life.
Research has shown that visualizing outcomes through mental practice can enhance motivation, increase confidence, and prime you for success. Worried about that afternoon presentation? Visualize yourself successfully completing your talk, and you may be pleasantly surprised by how much easier it is to stand up in front of your audience when the time arrives. Visualization can also come in the form of positive affirmations, such as "I am competent" or "I am strong." Affirming oneself positively is a way of imagining you as your best self!
For me, the morning is the perfect time to spend some quiet time visualizing. After I meditate each morning, I then take a moment to visualize my day ahead of me, focusing on the successes I will have. It helps the day go much more smoothly. Even just a minute of visualization and positive thinking can help improve mood and outlook.
6. EAT MORE FRUITS & VEGGIES. With so many food choices competing for our attention - from the low-carb craze to the juice fad to the Paleo diet - it's understandable that many health-minded individuals are bewildered about which way is really best to eat. I tend to agree with bestselling author Michael Pollan's food philosophy, which can be boiled down to three simple phrases: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
By "food," Pollan means whole food that naturally occurs in nature, not processed and packaged creations on supermarket shelves that masquerade as food. Those items were not what nature intended for our bodies. While I am a vegan, cold water fish (like salmon) and whole grains can be consumed in moderation, but the best bet for low-calorie, nutrient-dense, health-promoting food is fruits and vegetables.
Produce is the most important health care your money can buy. Vibrant health starts in the kitchen by choosing the most delicious foods that also help to heal the body. Colorful, fresh produce is chockfull of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which neutralize the free radicals that lead to cell damage, disease states, and premature aging. Fruit and vegetable consumption correlates with reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The fiber in these foods helps your digestive tract keep humming along the way it was designed too. Eating your fruits and veggies has the added bonus of beautifying skin, boosting metabolism, and elevating mood. So, when it comes to figuring out the best way to eat, "mostly plants" is a pretty safe bet!
7. NURTURE OVERALL WELL-BEING WITH AMPLE SLEEP. There is nothing more restorative for the body that getting “good” sleep every night. Shakespeare once wrote that sleep "knits up the raveled sleeve of care." That's a poetic way of saying that sleep repairs and restores the mental and physical damage wrought throughout our stressful days.
Science has confirmed Shakespeare's lyrical sentiment over and over. The benefits of abundant rest are seemingly endless. Studies show that adequate sleep improves memory, promotes longevity, reduces inflammation, spurs creativity, improves performance on physical and mental tasks, and increases safety when getting behind the wheel. Our waistlines greatly benefit from plentiful sleep, too. Studies have shown that too little sleep makes you hungry, especially for calorie-dense foods (it's harder to pass up that cupcake or order of fries), and primes your body to hold on to all the calories you eat. Dieters who get more sleep lose more fat than their sleep-deprived counterparts, who tend to lose muscle mass. Cheating sleep also boosts your insulin levels, which increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Lack of sleep can be as damaging for our emotions as for our physical well-being. Getting too little sleep undermines your body’s ability to deal with stress. During sleep, the body eliminates extra amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. Those who get less-than-adequate rest are also more at risk for depression.
Study after study concludes that 7-8 hours of sleep each night is the ideal amount to promote physical and psychological health. To ensure a good night's rest, try to stick to a sleep schedule, create a bedtime ritual that might include a warm bath with lavender (the herb helps promote sleep), and arrange your room so that it is cool, dark, and quiet. You'll wake refreshed and ready to tackle the day's challenges (and maybe even ready to write some poetry of your own!).
8. ADJUST YOUR ATTITUDE TO INCLUDE PLENTY OF GRATITUDE. There is tremendous healing power in focusing on the positive aspects of one's life and being grateful for all of the good things one has, even during times of loss and stress. As my grandmother used to say to me: Attitude is your mind’s paintbrush; it can color anything. So color your life positive.
It's common sense that focusing on all of your gifts and blessings rather than harping on everything that is wrong or unsatisfying can allow you to maintain an optimistic perspective. But the idea that gratitude helps buoy us during stressful times is also supported by research. Those who catalog the positive things in their lives on a regular basis are healthier, happier, more motivated, less stressed, and more well rested. They have more positive and fulfilling relationships with others.
We shouldn't leave the task of counting our blessings only for Thanksgiving. Each and every day, take a moment to be grateful for all you have in life. Write a thank you note, express your gratitude for a loved one, or offer prayers of thankfulness during meditation. What you think about consistently brings more of the same into your life. So focusing on the positive, even during difficult times, is also part of the path to transforming your life.
9. TAKE TIME TO MEDITATE & BREATHE DEEPLY. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a Buddhist monk to know how to meditate. This simple, cost-free practice has been scientifically proven to heal the body, boost immunity, reverse aging, and lift your mood from negative to positive.
There is no one single way to meditate. The essence of meditation is mindfulness, in other words, being in the present moment. You could be meditating while walking or driving - it's all about your state of mind. Don't focus on mistakes of the past or to-do lists of the future. Simply nudge yourself to experience the present by noticing your breath or nature around you. You can incorporate guided meditation, music, or mantras, or you can simply sit and close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Inhale and exhale slowly and deeply, focusing on the sound and rhythm of your breathing. Breathing deeply is one of the best and quickest ways to reduce stress, burn more calories, increase your creativity, release fear, bolster confidence, and supercharge energy.
Mindful meditation gets you "out of your head" and into your body. It calms the mind and body, allowing you to maintain emotional balance. It lowers blood pressure, soothes the gut, and makes the body less reactive to stress hormones. Meditation is a triple whammy: a salve for the mind, body, and spirit!
10. ENJOY DAILY LAUGHTER & TICKLE YOUR FUNNY BONE. Worried about something? Maybe you’re stressed out about your relationship with a loved one, the monthly bills that are stacking up, or the poor grades your son or daughter is suddenly bringing home from school. Whatever it is, one way to mollify this stress is to make sure your life is filled with laughter.
According to researchers, laughter releases endorphins into the body that act as natural stress busters. A good belly laugh also gives your heart muscles a good workout, improves circulation, stimulates alertness hormones, fills your lungs with oxygen-rich air, cleans your respiratory passages, helps relieve pain, and counteracts fear, anger, and depression, all of which are linked to illness and stress.
Here are some tips on how to tickle your funny bone. Watch a silly movie or TV comedy that you enjoy. Plan an evening at a local comedy club. Find humorous books and articles that interest you. Spend time with friends and family members who genuinely make you laugh. And don't forget to laugh at yourself once in awhile when you make a mistake or do something unexpected - it is a humbling experience and one that reminds you not to take life too seriously. Life is meant to be enjoyed!
So, yes, here is my recipe of 9 simple, surefire tips for invigorating body, mind and spirit, and when applied with discipline and enthusiasm, what zest they will give to your day and to your life! Maybe you can incorporate one or two at a time and then build up until you have in place the full repertoire. Your energy will abound, your life will be enriched and you will be a blessing to yourself and to your loved ones and, indeed, to all with whom you come into contact during the course of the day. When the opportunity arises, share them with family and friends. When they see your changed outlook, your energy premium and your new quality of life, they will want to share them anyway, and you may find that you establish new bonding with loved ones as, together, you pursue this enhanced lifestyle. Yes, why not ask them to team up with you so that jointly you can enrich the quality of your daily lives. Know that I’ll be joining in with you and together we’ll make our lives the best they can be. You have everything to live for so I invite you to make the resolution to start today. New experiences of health and well-being await you. Life is a celebration so let’s celebrate and shine brightly together!
From my heart to your heart, I am extending to you this virtual flower to help give you encouragement and strengthen your hope, faith, and confidence.