As we begin the new year, many individuals are often focused on what they can do to not only improve their health but how their life can be more fulfilling and peaceful. However, during these tough financial times, everyone is looking for an effective plan of action that won’t break the bank.
Fortunately, there are many self-care strategies you can utilize to experience better health and more inner peace without having to spend any money, regardless of whether you’re facing an active chronic health condition or simply want to optimize your current level of physical, mental, or spiritual health.
No trips to the health care practitioner’s office, nutritional supplements, or expensive spiritual getaways are required. Simply put some of the following practices into action on a daily basis and you will find that you feel better physically and emotionally and experience more tranquility within yourself.
1. Demonstrate Self-Compassion
Self-compassion improves mental health, optimism levels, resilience, life-satisfaction, overall well-being and more. Give yourself lots of kindness, compassion, and understanding on a daily basis. This will naturally spill over into other areas of life and you will find you are kinder, more understanding, and compassionate with others as well.
2. Eat Real Food
Sugar, junk food, refined and processed food, non-organic food, and foods that are in high in starch/carbohydrate, disrupt neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for regulating our feelings of well-being and inner peace as well as our moods, pain level, perception, thoughts and behavior, and impairs the nervous system, the endocrine and detoxification systems, weakens the immune system and can cause deterioration in all systems and organs, all of which result in the degradation of health and spiritual disharmony. Eating a Paleo diet provides you with all the nutrients needed to optimize your health and inner peace.
3. Live Green
One of the basic requirements for the brain and body to function optimally is the absence of toxins. Chemicals that are found in common every day products like cologne, perfume, household cleaning products, pesticides, air fresheners, dryer exhaust, cosmetics, dish soap etc., contain toxins that disrupt neurotransmitters in the brain, the endocrine system, the autonomic nervous system, and cardiovascular system and impair immune function, which can lead to a whole host of psychological and physiological conditions and impede one’s ability to acquire inner peace. You can protect yourself from these risks by adopting a green lifestyle.
4. Be More Mindful
The simple act of being more mindful (conscious and aware of the present moment) in all of your activities is exceptionally powerful for boosting those neurotransmitters in the brain that increase our well-being, self-esteem and inner peace, boost mood, increase coping skills and regulate all facets of our life including appetite, thoughts, and stress and improves immune function.
5. Slow Down
When you are in a hurry or rushing, it triggers an old part of your brain that thinks you are under threat when you rush, and thus it sets off the stress response system and all the negative effects that stress has on the body, mind, and self. Move a little slower in all your activities and you will feel happier, stronger, calmer, and more balanced.
6. Commune with Nature
Communing with nature on a regular basis increases feelings of well-being, decreases pain, relaxes, elevates mood, decreases anxiety, lowers stress, and improves immunity. Studies have found that spending time in nature can be more effective than an antidepressant and can lower cortisol levels by 13.4 percent; that’s how powerful it is for influencing mood and stress levels
7. Breathe Deep
When you breathe fast and shallow, it sets off the stress response system, which triggers a cascade of negative effects on your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. When you breathe deep and slow from the abdomen, it turns on the parasympathetic nervous system, which turns off the stress response system and promotes feelings of well-being, relaxation, and serenity, improves energy, decreases pain, reduces blood pressure, improves sleep, and provides more oxygen for your cells.
8. Meditate Daily (Mindfulness-Based)
The daily use of mindfulness-based meditation has been found to heighten mood, reduce anxiety and stress, improve sleep, relieve or manage pain, boost immune function, lower blood pressure, aid in weight loss, increase inner peace, feelings of well-being, capacity to cope, intuition and creativity, and much more, because of its powerful impact on brain chemistry and the autonomic nervous system. Twenty to thirty minutes is best, but even ten minutes here and there will be beneficial if that is all you can squeeze in.
9. Get More Sleep
Ensuring that we get adequate sleep is crucial in all aspects of our health; the physical, emotional, spiritual, cognitive, and social. It plays a vital role in hormones and neurotransmitters that are important for managing weight, mood, appetite, hormones, stress, body temperature, proper immune function, brain health, problem-solving, decision making, learning, managing stress, energy levels and much more.
10. Smile For No Reason at All
Most people think they need to be happy to smile, but you will actually feel happier if you paste a smile on your face (even a fake one) regardless of how you feel. The brain takes cues from your facial expressions and if it sees that you are smiling, then it will release neurotransmitters that stimulate feelings of happiness, inner peace, relaxation, better brain function, less stress, reduce pain, and even improve immune function.
11. Take More Walks
Of course, most of us know that mild to moderate exercise improves immune function and insulin sensitivity, boosts mood, decreases stress and pain, and promotes feelings of well-being to name only a few benefits. But, it is my opinion, that taking a daily walk is a superior form of exercise because it is just the right pace and intensity for us genetically, connects us with nature, and gives us a little vitamin D from the sunshine simultaneously, thereby tripling the benefits on our health. Add an occasional sprint and it’s perfect.
12. Hum a Tune
Along the same lines of smiling, if the brain hears that you are humming, it assumes you are happy and thus it will release those neurotransmitters that produce feelings of happiness, joy, contentedness, pleasure, and inner peace, and lower heart rate and blood pressure and reduce stress by turning off the sympathetic nervous system.
13. Be Still and Silent
Spending a little time in complete silence with your eyes closed a couple times a day will reduce stress, bring about instant relaxation, and a heightened sense of well-being, and it lowers blood pressure, increases immune function, boosts neurotransmitters in the brain which improve mood and hormone regulation, reduces pain, increases one’s ability to cope with emotional issues and our sense of well-being and inner peace. As soon as you close your eyes, alpha brainwaves are generated, which produce an instant soothing, calming effect on the mind, body, and self and increase feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.
14. Practice Gratitude
Being grateful for the little things in your life can not only help you keep things in perspective and improve your outlook on life, but it promotes a better mood, enhances the immune system, decreases stress, and increases feelings of well-being. It can make even the most challenging of days seem brighter and lighter.
15. Have a Good Laugh
Laughter turns off the stress response system and releases endorphins, our natural pain-killing neurotransmitters, and thus decreases pain, reduces stress, improves mood, increases relaxation, and promotes feelings of inner peace and harmony. It also improves immune function by increasing antibodies that fight off disease, lowers blood pressure, and improves cognitive function.
16. Make Love
Yes, it’s true, your sexuality has an intimate relationship with your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. People who have sex regularly have been found to not only have a longer lifespan, but enjoy less stress, more happiness, stronger immune systems, better circulation, sleep better, less depression, higher self-esteem and feelings of well-being and inner harmony, and are more physically fit. If you are not currently in a relationship, then a little self-pleasure can produce many of the same benefits.
17. Unplug from Technology Now and Then
Brain scans reveal that incessant stimulation that is created by social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) is as harmful to the brain and as addictive as cocaine and methamphetamine. Furthermore, this stimulation provoked by technology is a type of stress that sets of the stress-response system. Unplug completely now and then and maintain balance in your use of technology.
18. Get More Sunshine
Contrary to popular belief, the sun is not your enemy. It is only harmful in excess. You need regular exposure to sunshine for neurotransmitter function that regulates mood, thought, behavior, appetite, feelings of well-being, etc., and for the production of Vitamin D, which is crucial in immune function, the cardiovascular system, sleep, energy level, bone and joint health, and much more. Not only that, the lack of sunshine and the use of sunscreen can cause cancer.
19. Dance a Little Dance
Doesn’t need to be anything fancy or formal and you don’t need to go to the dance club. Just put on some of your favorite music and dance around the room. Dancing stimulates those neurotransmitters that increase happiness, joy, pleasure, inner peace, self-esteem, and feelings of well-being and decreases pain, tension, and stress, enhances the immune system, strengthens bones and muscles, promotes a better outlook on life, strengthens your lungs, and it’s a great form of exercise as well to help keep you fit and trim.
20. Exercise Your Brain
Just like the body, the brain needs exercise. The use it or lose it phenomenon applies here and remember the brain is the commander of the ship and controls how every other organ and system will perform. Give your brain lots of stimulating activities to keep it healthy, happy, and functioning at optimal levels and you’ll feel better physically, emotionally and spiritually. Read, do puzzles, trivia, write, learn something new, interact with others, engage in intellectual conversation, visit new places, and solve problems.
21. Sing Out Loud
Singing boosts your immune system, reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, improves the outlook on life and decreases depression and anxiety because it turns off the sympathetic nervous system and stimulates our happy neurochemicals in the brain and it’s good for the heart and lungs. Singing has even been used to help stroke victims rewire their brain. So put on one of your favorite songs and sing loud and proud, regardless of how you sound. Doesn’t matter if you can carry a tune or not. You do not need to sound like the Rolling Stones, Elton John, or Melissa Etheridge to reap the benefits.
22. Stay Hydrated
The human body consists of approximately seventy percent water and water is essential for pretty much every function in the body, including carrying nutrients and oxygen to the bones, muscles, organs, and cells, regulating body temperature, converting food into energy, removing toxins, healthy brain function, purifying the blood, and peristalsis to name only a few. By keeping hydrated with adequate water intake, you will help your body and mind run more optimally, and of course, your water should be purified and free of chlorine and other contaminants.
23. Have Fun
Well, as you might have guessed by now, just like everything else on this page, when you have fun it increases neurotransmitters that improve your mood, increase feelings of joy, pleasure, well-being, self-esteem, outlook on life, immune function, and reduces stress. If you have fun with someone else, then you also increase intimacy and strengthen your emotional bonds. Play games, be silly, and let your inner child flourish.
24. Spend Time with a Dog
Quality time with a dog can decrease stress and anxiety, lower your blood pressure and heart rate, improve mood, promote a more positive and optimistic outlook on life, combat loneliness and may even improve immune function. Dogs have such a powerful effect on our mental, physical, and spiritual health that they are now commonly used as therapy for many different types of mental and physical health disorders.
25. Hug Someone
Besides the obvious deepening of emotional connection to others, a simple hug can have a powerful effect on our physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Hugging decreases anxiety, depression, loneliness, pain, and stress. It increases parasympathetic nervous system activity, strengthens the immune system, boosts self-esteem, relaxes muscles, releases tension and heightens feelings of well-being. One caveat, it needs to be a firm hug, not a half-assed one.
Although many of these tips may seem too simple, do not underestimate their potential. Each and every one of them can have a profound impact on your mental and physical health and the amount of serenity and inner peace you experience in your day-to-day life. The more you utilize, the better, because the benefits will build upon themselves. If you put all of them into practice on a weekly basis, then you have a continuous power surge of cost-free health enhancing techniques now and for years to come.
Need More Help
If you need more help, Cynthia can help you with your goals to have better health and more inner peace in the new year, with her holistic coaching. Contact me today to get started on clarifying your objectives, creating your plan of action, personalizing your diet, identifying underlying contributors to your symptoms or conditions, and more.