Good Morning, Sunshine!
MY MIND AND EMOTIONS
When we think about de-toxifying our lives, it might not be immediately apparent that we need to attend to our minds and our emotions. But these things are important!
In particular, our lives are awash with stress. We are all of us busy, we all have competing commitments, and we all feel overwhelmed at times. This can lead to the kind of negative thoughts and emotions that will add every bit as much to our toxic bucket as other aspects of our lives.
It’s impossible to avoid stress entirely (and indeed, a small amount of stress can be good for us), but we want to avoid the kind of crippling stress that will make us sick.
By undertaking the following practices, many of which are rituals in and of themselves, we can make a profound difference to how we live our lives and how we experience them.
- Meditate. Meditation delivers enormous benefits for our mind, body and soul. It has been scientifically proven not only to make us calmer and happier, but to slow down the effects of aging, make us smarter, and bolster our immune systems.1
- Breathe. Breathing is something we do a lot (we take over 672 million breaths in an average lifetime) but we’re no good at it. We sit at our desks, stressed from all the work we have to do, and we take small sips of air. In fact, most of us only use one third of our natural lung capacity, which means that we aren’t drinking in the amount of oxygen we need and we’re not ridding ourselves of sufficient carbon dioxide. This adds to our toxic build-up and it’s making us sick! We need to learn to breathe properly (from our abdomen rather than our chest) and we need to put time aside in our day to breathe consciously and well. As an example, our daily beauty ritual provides a perfect opportunity for this. It’s a moment in our day when we can slow down and enjoy the ripple-like benefits that mindful, meditative breathing can have on our health and sense of wellbeing.
- Exercise. We all know this one. Exercise is great for our mind and our emotions, as well as our physical health. If we exercise, we look better, feel better, and handle stress better. The trick, of course, is settling on an exercise plan and sticking to it! If you haven’t tried it, we suggest yoga as an ideal, regenerative exercise practice.
- Sleep well. This is a bit like exercise. We all know that a good night’s sleep is important, but we sometimes neglect it. If you have trouble sleeping, or your sleep habits are poor, then make an effort to prepare for sleep properly. What this means will vary for all of us, but a simple beauty routine (as described above), followed by cleaning up any mess, brushing our teeth, and maybe even a few light stretches, can help us go to bed happy and sleep well. And remember to keep your bedroom nice and dark, and electronics free, if you can.
- Be social. Research indicates that a strong social network – and a group of friends, in particular– is important for our mental and physical health.2 Try to make time for friends. They can help ease a burden and they make us happy.
- Laughter really is the best medicine. The health benefits of a good laugh are many. Laughter has been shown to boost the immune system, protect the heart, relieve stress, promote relaxation, positively shape our relationship with others, increase our resilience, and help us manage pain.3
- Be grateful. It helps to count our blessings. When we take time out to be grateful for what we have, negative emotions are washed away and we feel more content.
- Be mindful. Pay attention to the beauty that is in your life and in the world around. Simply by being mindful and staying in the moment we can better appreciate the wonders of life and relieve the symptoms of stress and negative thoughts.
- Be forgiving. To forgive is divine. Research has shown that the ability to forgive ourselves and others (rather than nurse our frustration and anger) is important to our levels of happiness and wellbeing.4
- Treat yourself. We’re often so busy worrying about, or caring for, others, that we sometimes forget to nourish ourselves. Ideally, we should always find time in our day to reward ourselves in some small way. Go on, you’re worth it!
- Forget about perfection. The desire to be perfect stops a lot of us and in fact causes stress. We become so worried about doing something absolutely right that we end up doing nothing at all. Be prepared to forgive yourself if something doesn’t go exactly as you want it to. Better still, be proud of yourself for having given it a go.
- Get out in the sun! The sun is not our enemy. Indeed, research increasingly suggests that sunlight, especially when taken in moderate doses (and at the right time of the day), brings with it benefits that far outweigh its potential harm. In particular, it provides us with the ‘sunshine vitamin’, Vitamin D, which not only helps slow down cellular aging, builds strong bones, prevents infections, eases muscle and joint pain, and boosts the immune system, but also wards off stress and protects against the development of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and the possibility of depression.5 When you can, get out in the late morning sunshine for 10–15 minutes. You’ll feel better for it!
Being present – the most important ritual of all.
We only get one chance at life, one opportunity to truly live it. And to make the most of that one, glorious chance? We need to be present.
If we lose ourselves in our past and all those mistakes we’ve made (forget them, they don’t define us), or if we spend too much time thinking about what might happen at a vague, unspecified date in the future, then we miss out on all the joy that can come from relishing this very special, present moment.
Take a second. What can you hear? What can you smell and touch and feel? What do you see? Likely, you’ll discover nothing profound, but you’ll certainly open yourself to a world that too often passes us by.
It’s the little things we miss, as we rush through our lives, and we’re the poorer for it. Because our world is amazing. It’s complex and beautiful and unique and it deserves to be savored, at least once in a while.
In the end, that’s what rituals are all about. They’re about bringing us into the ‘now’, about setting intentions and helping us to elevate our experience. They help to make our lives better and that’s why we should welcome them into our homes, bring them to our dining tables and our bathrooms, establish them in the things we do and say, and make them part of the way we interact with our world and the people we meet. Be present. Enjoy.
Here’s to a life free of toxins, full of rituals and love.
Here’s to our health and our happiness.
2Stephanie Pappas; ‘7 Ways Friendships Are Great For Your Health’; Live Science; http://www.livescience.com/53315-howfriendships-are-good-for-your-health.html
3‘Laughter is the Best Medicine; HelpGuide.org; http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/laughter-is-the-bestmedicine.htm
4‘Forgiveness: Your Health Depends Upon It’; John Hopkins Medicine; http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_connections/forgiveness-your-healthdepends-on-it
5‘Vitamin D and Health’; Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; https://www.hsph.harvard.