1. Have a set bedtime and wake time
The importance of a good night’s sleep cannot be underestimated. Sleep deprivation can lead to everything from cognitive impairment and workplace injury, to stroke and heart attack. Plus, when you don’t get enough sleep you just feel plain lousy.
A good way to ensure that you get enough sleep is to have a fairly strict and regular sleep and wake time.
The truth is, we’re creatures of habit, and our bodies thrive on regularity. When you go to sleep and wake at the same time every day, your body regulates itself so you are more alert when you need to be, and are able to sleep better when you need those crucial shut-eye hours instead of tossing and turning with insomnia.
So for a week or two, go to bed at 10 and wake up at 6 every day, including on the weekend.
By next week you’ll feel a world of a difference.
You know that you smile when you’re happy, but did you know that smiling can actually make you feel better?
Your body is conditioned to associate smiling with feeling good, so if you make a conscious effort to smile more (with your whole face, most importantly your eyes) your day will go a lot smoother and your mood will be elevated by next week.
3. Eat vegetables with every meal
This one’s really straight-forward, and you’ve heard it before. If you’re not eating your vegetables you need to be.
If vegetables are totally outside of your comfort zone when it comes to food you have two options: either stir fry a serving of vegetables and eat it before you eat anything else, or begin incorporating vegetables into things you normally eat.
For example, if you eat pasta sauce or mac and cheese regularly, just throw in a handful of chopped up broccoli, kale, or green-beans, so you barely notice that you’re eating your veggies but still get them in.
When you have all of the nutrients you need you will feel more vibrant in no time.
4. Go for a 5-10 minute walk outside before and/or after every meal
This habit serves multiple functions: you get fresh air, which will help you tune into the season and help your body naturally acclimate to the weather, boosting your immune system throughout the year.
Spending time in nature has also been shown to lift moods, reduce stress, and alleviate depression.
Furthermore, gentle movement will boost your digestion and increase blood flow, making your whole body feel a lot better throughout the day.
5. Get acupuncture
Call me biased if you want, but if you get acupuncture on a regular basis there is a very high likelihood that you will feel better, simple as that.
If you don’t know, acupuncture can effectively help a variety of complaints, everything from musculoskeletal pain, headaches, menstrual issues, digestive disturbance, moodiness, depression, anxiety, cloudy thinking, insomnia, memory loss, and beyond.
If you ask “can acupuncture help ____ condition?” the answer is probably “yes.” Make an appointment today.
6. Take a personalized Chinese herbal formula
Similar to acupuncture, Chinese herbal formulas can help a variety of issues, both chronic and acute.
You can think of formulas as acupuncture that you can take with you between appointments, working on helping your body heal from the inside out.
Sometimes it takes a while to find the right formula, which is why it’s important to find a qualified practitioner to prescribe a formula specific for your unique combination of signs and symptoms.
7. Rinse cold
Unless your immune system is currently fighting something off, your health will benefit from a cold rinse after a hot shower or bath.
This technique works in two ways: the heat brings your blood to the surface and opens your pores, leaving the blood at the periphery of your body.When you rinse cold the blood goes back to your core so your organs function better and you feel calmer as a result.
Rinsing cold has the added effects of closing your pores back up while also boosting your circulation so your immune system is strengthened and better able to prevent pernicious external invaders like germs and viruses from attacking your system.
It should be noted that if you are already sick it is best not to rinse cold, as you want your pores to be open so your body can more easily rid itself of said pernicious influences.
8. Eat more good fat
Too many people are living under the misguided notion that fats are bad and fat-free foods are healthy. The “fat-free=healthy” theory was all the rage for the latter half of the last century, but in recent years studies have shown this notion to be complete bollocks.
In fact, it is not cholesterol consumption that leads to heart disease and elevated blood-pressure levels. The cholesterol that is harmful in the body is actually produced by the liver itself when processed foods are consumed.
Unprocessed, cold-pressed, natural fats like olive oil and avocado oil are actually extremely healthy, and can be consumed in large quantities and lead to increased vitality. Even organic pasture butter, coconut oil, and lard -which are all high in saturated fats- can be consumed by most people in moderate levels on a daily basis without negative health consequences.
Finally, eating more good fats can actually help you lose weight!
This is because fats help you feel full faster and stay full longer so you don’t need to eat as much food to feel satiated.
(The best high-heat cooking oil is avocado oil. At medium/medium-high heat butter, coconut oil, and lard are good options. At medium-low heat olive oil is a good choice, and as a finishing oil pumpkin oil, sesame oil, and olive oil are the best options. You can also eat avocados, nuts, and seeds on a daily basis to boost your fat intake.)
9. Do chores mindfully
Most of us need to do chores from time to time, and the most common reaction to doing chores is that we don’t want to do them. But since they have to happen, you might as well use the time to enhance your life quality.
In addition to the peace of mind and satisfaction that comes from a job well done, when you do your chores mindfully you reap even more benefits.
So next time you have to do the dishes, make your bed, or vacuum the floors, pause before you begin.
Close your eyes, and focus on your breath for a few rounds.
Notice the way your breath feels in your body and how your body feels as a whole.
Notice any smells around you and textures under your feet and hands.
Then open your eyes and notice the light and colors in front of you, and carry this awareness into your activity. Notice the way the suds feel on your hands as you scrub the dish, notice the textures of the blankets as you make your bed, appreciate the difference of the rug that’s been vacuumed vs. the rug that’s still dirty.
When you do your chores mindfully you don’t just feel better afterwards, you enjoy the act of doing them too, and that means you’ll have a few more moments of your life in which you feel good instead of bad.
10. Add herbs
The most flavorful thing you can do today to feel better by next week is to add fresh herbs to your meals.
Herbs like rosemary, sage, parsley, cardamom, turmeric, thyme, and caraway don’t just taste good, they actually help digestion and fight inflammation, so your body functions better and you become healthier as a result.
Look at recipes for inspiration or just start playing with flavors for an easy added boost.