Living a positive, healthier lifestyle is a personal journey and it can look different for each one of us. I define healthy living as engaging in routines, behaviours and relationships that bring harmony to our physical, mental and emotional self.
It is indeed a journey of self-discovery and learning about ourselves in the process. We must always be aware of our current state and try to make positive changes that help us feel more empowered and efficient, both physically and mentally. Here are 5 aspects to consider that can bring more positive energy to life.
Food is fuel for our body and what and how we eat can greatly impact our overall wellbeing. Eating “healthy” looks different for us all because our bodies are different. Following the Ayurvedic principles of getting to know your body, you can simply do this by understanding how the foods you eat make you feel. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a food diary where you note your body’s reaction to the foods you eat and with time you can see a pattern. Once you identify the foods that suit your body and digestion, you can become a pro at meal prepping. This means on one specific day of the week you can prepare your meals for the whole week ahead. You can store them in glass jars, some might require freezing. Meal prepping will save you time everyday and keep you on track with your eating habits.
The way we eat is also very important. In the yoga philosophy, food should be taken with full awareness and patience. This means no distractions, but paying full attention to the food. This also helps us create a connection with the food and keeps us focused on the eating. Another important aspect is patience, so chewing each bite well (it is often said 21 times). This breaks down the food well enough so that it is easier for our internal organs to digest the food better and quicker.
It is no secret that exercise keeps us in balance and comes with so many benefits for our wellbeing. Find which type of exercise you enjoy the most and schedule it in your week, at least 3 times a week. Whether it is walking, running, an intense weight lifting session at the gym or Pilates (there are others of course), just stick with that. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself, just enjoy it. To get you motivated, invest in some good quality athletic wear and if you are an extrinsic motivation person, find a workout buddy and mix exercise and social together. Remember also that we should exercise not to be thinner or more toned, but to feel good in our body and clear the mind, which definitely helps when experiencing stress.
Journaling is a great habit to incorporate for everybody. Writing down your thoughts, feelings, ideas etc can help to release them from your mind, therefore minimise over thinking. The great aspect about it is that journaling is very personal, so it is something between you and yourself only. Keeping things inside over the years can affect our emotional and mental health which also affect our physical body over time, so let your thoughts go by releasing them in your journal, clear your mind and connect to yourself. You might even find some great ideas come out on paper and extra inspiration.
Meditation is a practice of bringing stillness to the mind by intense concentration. This can be on an object externally such as a candle, an image, the moon (anything) or internally such as the breath. There are many different kinds of concentration techniques to helps us reach a meditative state such as guided meditation, sound meditation, walking meditation etc. But what is for sure certain is that meditation can have a great effect on our cognitive processes and overall wellbeing. Take time everyday to practice stillness for at least 5 minutes. Set a reminder on your phone if you need to, but commit to this everyday. You can just close your eyes, and focus on the rhythm of your breath. Connect with the breath and listen to the sound of it (take your attention inwards). Or if the other techniques mentioned above suit you better, practice that. Just ensure everyday, you take some time to be still and silent, away from any distractions. This can help energise and refresh your mind and also the body. Although in the beginning, you may find this a little challenging, with time and consistency to the practice of meditation, you will learn to embrace the stillness and silence and understand how powerful these are.
Our sleep affects everything: our mood, mental and physical state which both require rest. Having a healthy sleeping plan is super important. In yoga philosophy, it is said that one must not sleep too much or too little, but enough to recharge and refresh the mind and body. Although there are some mentions of how many hours per night is considered a healthy amount for sleep, I think that it is different for us all. For example, some people can function very well at 6 hours per night and if they sleep more, this can make them feel even more tired and lazy. For others, they require 8 hours of sleep per night and if they sleep less, their productivity levels and overall functioning for the day is affected. So find out what your body needs and follow that. One thing is certain though and this is to try and get to bed before 11pm, preferably around 10pm. I will do a post soon on habits to incorporate in your night routine for a restful and peaceful sleep.
The above 4 habits can be small changes with a big impact, although there are so many others we can do to bring us into balance. Start step by step, be gentle with yourself and look after yourself.