I’m not the person who became interested in wellness, nutrition, and healthy habits because I loved food, enjoyed cooking or had good self-care practices. My interest in healthier living developed out of necessity during moments of my life when I was struggling. My biggest health challenge was when I was a 20-year-old student in a very competitive biomedical research program and I was under a lot of pressure. I didn’t know how to cope with stress in healthy ways.
I was not well, filled with extremely negative inner self-talk, anxiety and I didn’t treat my body with kindness. My only choice to move forward was to look for the right support to make my health and well-being a priority. Since then, learning how to take care of myself (body and mind) has become an important part of my life.
The journey towards healthier living is not linear and it takes commitment, determination and energy to change old habits and ingrained patterns of behavior. However, once we make the effort to successfully add one healthier habit into our daily life, it is possible to add much more. The small steps add up in the long run.
We are all unique and different from one another so we have to acknowledge that there is not one approach that works for everyone. It is crucial to learn to identify the impact that your current lifestyle and diet have on your daily life. How are you feeling today? How is your digestion? Are you craving exercise or time to rest? How do you cope with stress? You’re the only person who can answer these questions.
Here are 6 simple habits that are good starting points for your wellness exploration:
1. Improve your sleeping routines
Are you sleeping enough? Start paying attention to your sleep. Is there anything that you can change to make it more peaceful?
Practical Tip: When you go to sleep tonight, take a moment to notice your breathing and to think about your favorite moment of the day. Similarly, in the morning, take a moment to notice your body before getting out of bed. Remind yourself that a new day is a new opportunity to start over. Think of one thing that you’re looking forward to in the day ahead.
2. Drink more water
Build the habit of drinking a glass of water before you eat or drink something else early in the morning. Your body will appreciate it.
Practical Tip: When you wake up in the morning, notice if you feel some dryness in your mouth. Start paying attention if you feel thirsty throughout the day. Stay hydrated.
3. Learn to listen to your body
When it comes to food, most of us know which foods make your body feel good and which ones make us feel bloated, tired or uncomfortable. Many times we continue to eat them out of habit. Take this opportunity to get out of automatic pilot and begin your own food experiment.
Practical Tip: At your next meal, take a pause before you start eating. Notice the food choices you have on your plate. Are they nourishing? Think of how this meal will make you feel. Can you take a moment to notice your posture and enjoy a few bites? Give your body an opportunity to start digesting the food properly by chewing it carefully. Observe your energy levels after eating, be conscious of your daily digestion and whether you have any cravings. These can give you important information on how your current diet is supporting your busy life.
4. Eat more green vegetables.
One of the easiest ways to upgrade your diet is to get into the habit of adding green vegetables to your daily meals. Explore new foods or new ways of preparing them. This can become an exciting part of your food experiment.
Practical Tip: Learn what vegetables are currently in season and build the habit of visiting the local producers at the open markets. For most of us, buying our food over the weekend can guarantee that we have it ready and accessible during the week. The habit of seeing a green vegetable on your plate on a regular basis will make you feel good. Examples: broccoli, arugula, endives, lettuce, spinach, celery, Swiss chard, green beans, green peas, zucchini, mâche.
5. Daily self-care
We can all bring more awareness into the ways we care for our bodies and minds on a daily basis. We can learn to be a little gentler with ourselves when we make mistakes, make time to move and exercise regularly, and to rest and restore when we’re feeling fatigued.
Practical Tip: Determine what self-care means to you. Write a list and have it handy. Add small self-care practices to your daily life. I am a big believer of 3-minute practices. A 3-minute meditation can be an excellent addition to your daily life!
In my life, practicing meditation regularly has helped me to gain distance from my thoughts, to calm my busy mind, to take a pause and to learn to live in the present moment more often.
6. Learn to let go of perfect
Life is very busy. Some weeks flow easier than others. Travelling, deadlines, unexpected events happen all the time. For many of us, this has an immediate effect on our daily eating and self-care patterns. Be extremely gentle with yourself and use your next meal or the beginning of the next day to start over.
Practical Tip: When you feel that you fell off the wagon while building a new habit, know that you can re-start again and again. Learn to reach out for support when you need it.
If you’re ready to get started, you can start practicing with the chart below. It will only take you a few minutes per day. Note your insights and ideas.
The more we learn to pay attention to our body’s signals and messages, the better choices we’re able to make for our well-being. Adding wellness to your daily life is always an option available to you.