Ten quick, simple behaviors that will vastly improve your health and vitality.
Do a Morning Body Scan
A quick scan of your body (journaling it is even better) when you wake up every morning is the best way to track your overall sense of health. You should awaken feeling rested, digested, and hydrated. If you don’t (most of us don’t…), you have work to do to improve your health.
The simplest, freest way to improve your health is to drink enough water. Most experts recommend 8 glasses/day, but the best guide is the color of your urine. It should be translucent and light yellow.
Fast 12–14 hours
Healthy bodies fast 12–14 hours a day. This isn’t a fad. It’s a fact of human evolution. As the word “Break-Fast” implies, the human body runs best when we consume food while the sun is shining and refrain from doing so when its not. Our ancestors did not have access to midnight snacks. They allowed the deeper work of cellular detoxification to happen during long stretches where they refrained from eating. No apps necessary. Just try to finish dinner by 8 pm and have your first bite of food after 8 am.
Have a daily bowel movement
The circulatory and excretory systems are miraculous things, gathering hundreds of different harmful and toxic compounds from our cells and removing them from the body (poop is so dangerous to consume). If you are not having a healthy (not too loose or firm), daily bowel movement, your body is not running at optimum capacity. A shift in diet, environment and/or habits that result in a healthy daily bowel movement will improve your life substantially.
Eat mostly whole fruits and veggies
Do you know what the garden of eden was filled with? Fruit! Fruits and veggies are miraculous technologies grown by devices (plants) that know how to turn sunlight into sweetness, fueling our bodies. Getting at least half of your calories from locally grown fruits and veggies is the single best thing you can do for your body and the planet.
Know your addictions
We tend to use the term “addiction” to refer to a compulsive need to imbibe debilitating substances, but current research shows that addiction is a brain-based phenomenon, in which the motivation, memory, control and reward systems of the brain are coopted, causing us to seek out stimuli even at the expense of our health. Most of us are addicted to something; it’s just part of being human. Know yours — alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, opioids, caffeine, sugar, sex, your cell phone — so that you can be mindful about your time and your body.
Humans are social creatures; we need touch. After living starved of human contact for more than a year, we will all need touch-rehabilitation more than ever. Physical touch is the most effective trigger for the release of oxytocin, a hormone that regulates our emotional responses and pro-social behaviors, including trust, empathy, gazing, positive memories, processing of bonding cues, and positive communication. Find a masseuse, become a hugger, get a pet (yes, this seems to work too).
Release energy everyday
When mammals are traumatized, they instinctively shake to release the energy of the trauma. On the other hand, human beings are socialized to “keep our shit together” (pun intended). In so doing, we do damage to our biochemistry and our well-being when we trap strong emotions inside. Maintain health by committing to energetic release everyday. Sing, dance, laugh, cry, orgasm. Find a way to shake it out, like our mammal cousins do.
Even more than monotheism, the most significant revolution in the Bible is the idea that even God needs rest. Rest is not sleep; it is intentionally cultivating a restorative ease, in order to recharge our batteries, and we cannot survive without it. In our stimulation-addicted world, many of us have forgotten how to rest, with dire consequences. Embrace meditation, a daily walk in nature or a traditional religious day-of-rest to cultivate wellness.
The science demonstrating the negative impacts of REM Sleep deprivation is overwhelming. The most effective way to reduce pain tolerance, induce insanity and prevent learning is to deprive a person of REM sleep, and we are just now in a poor-sleep epidemic. Inability to sleep deeply causes weight gain and diminishes attention span. If you’re not sleeping, reduce caffeine intake, limit exposure to blue light once the sun has set, and seek medical intervention if you can’t get things on track. You cannot be healthy if you’re not sleeping deeply.
**All links are to studies published in reputable medical journals providing evidence for the tip.