Ten Naturopathic Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle
1. Positive thinking. Start the day with positive thoughts or by forging a smile as soon as you open your eyes. Our thoughts affect our emotions by releasing both stress producing neurotransmitters like cortisol and adrenaline and positive ones like dopamine and serotonin.
2. Contrast showering. Shower with one minute of water as hot as you can handle followed by 30 seconds of water as cold as you can handle. Repeat this three times. It’s the difference in temperature that has the therapeutic benefit. Contrast showers increase circulation, help remove toxins, stimulate lymphatic circulation which improves your immune system, and wakes you up!
3. The Body Rub. Doing the Body Rub only takes five minutes either before or after your shower, but separate from it; nevertheless, its impact on health is huge. Using an unbleached or a white organic cotton/linen/flax washcloth dipped in hot water, rub your skin gently, always working towards the heart, except at the upper outer quadrant of the breast, from where we work towards the underarms. Continue from your fingertips up to your heart area, and from your toes up towards the heart again. Give extra attention to the collarbones, underarms, heart, soles, back of the knees, and the inguinal canal (at the bikini line) where there are concentrated lymph channels. The benefit of this practice is its ability to remove dead skin, to allow for better gas exchange, to increase venous return to the heart which helps varicose veins, to increase lymph circulation, to stimulate the immune system, and most importantly, to release toxins through pores.
4. Good Food. Start your day with a glass of room temperature water with the juice of half a lemon. Lemon, a great source of Vitamin C, is a natural antimicrobial, so it cleans and disinfects the inside of your body. Additionally, it stimulates the production of bile, which is an important part of detoxification.
Eat breakfast every morning. If time is limited, try a protein smoothie, nuts and seeds, or organic protein bars. Try to keep healthy snacks in your briefcase, bag or purse, glove compartment, or desk drawer, so when things get hectic you can still eat well. Eating frequently, but intelligently, stimulates your metabolism.
There is no perfect diet and you need to discover what works best for you. Remember, you are what you eat. Everything you ingest is broken down to make up the cells of your body. Food can be your best medicine or your greatest poison: you decide. Diet is also about cultural expectations, financial constraints, emotional well-being, and social activities, so refining it is a gradual and life-long experiment. Consider seeking help from your Naturopathic Doctor to find the eating plan that works best for you.
5. Move. Sedentary lifestyles often begin at work, so try to get up every hour throughout the day, even if it’s only for 30 seconds, as this will help prevent blood and lymph from stagnating. If possible, try walking, stretching, jogging on the spot, yoga, or Tai Chi. While you’re at it, try deep breathing through the nose. Make one of those movement breaks intense enough to bring on a good sweat for at least 15 minutes. This doesn’t need to be “exercise.” Chasing toddlers, moving furniture, cleaning windows… it all counts.
6. Castor Oil Packs. While reading, napping, or watching TV, use castor oil packs to detoxify. Obtain a nine by nine inch piece of flannel, soak the flannel in castor oil, and apply it over the liver area, which is the upper right quadrant of the abdomen. Cover the flannel with a plastic bag and place a hot water bottle on top of that. Leave it on for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours. This procedure promotes detoxification, which increases energy, balances hormones, and improves digestion.
7. Health Journal. Every day, briefly write down entries under the following headings:
Diet. Be aware of the food and drinks you choose each day by keeping a diet diary. Tracking can help you objectively observe the effect your food choices have on you.
Symptoms. Headache, fatigue, constipation, etc.
Emotions. Irritable, weepy, happy, etc.
Dreams. Writing down your dreams improves your memory and gives you insight into your subconscious mind. You may want to write them down first thing in the morning when they are still fresh in your mind.
Weather. You may find your symptoms improve or get worse when it rains or that you feel better in the sun. This is significant information and can give insight into your condition.
Keeping a health journal teaches you to become more aware of yourself and helps you identify patterns and changes in your well being. Realize that the more information you have about your health, the more accurate a diagnosis you will get, so bring this health journal to your medical appointments. Keep one for your children until they are old enough to do so themselves.
8. Prepare your bedroom for sleep. Good sleep is as important to your health as what you eat. Discard the clutter around your bed—if necessary, hide it. Use your bed only for sleeping and intimacy—no screens (tablets, smart phones, T.V. etc) in bed. If you use your bedroom as an office or for studying, separate that part of the room from the sleeping area. Use dividers, sheets, or open shelves to separate the space.
Sleep in complete darkness. Studies have shown that women who sleep in completely dark rooms have better hormone balance. Darkness increases the release of melatonin to promote better sleep and more alert wake cycles. This means no artificial light through the window (only moonlight is OK), no night lights, and no alarm clock shining into your eyes.
9. Alternate nostril breathing. Once in bed, try this to help you sleep. Hold the right nostril closed and take a deep breath lasting four seconds through the left nostril; hold for seven seconds, or as long as you can without straining; through the right nostril, exhale for eight seconds. Take in a breath through the right nostril for a count of four, hold it for seven seconds, and release it through the left for eight seconds. Repeat 10 times.
This will encourage nasal breathing, which is important for respiratory health. Through this breathing exercise, you can increase the secretion of melatonin, which protects against cancer, reduces anxiety, promotes hormone balance, and regulates the day and night cycle.
10. End your day with gratitude! Take time to find one thing in your day to be thankful for. This is a great time to congratulate yourself on incorporating these new techniques into your routine.