Updated: May 26, 2020
Every day is a new opportunity to make better choices, and the more often you make them - the more you program your mind to crave their integration into your lifestyle. And although I'm going to spend this entire blog telling you how you can fill your day with activities, I have noticed a mounting pressure to fill all that empty space with content, activities, and learning. But the Italians have a saying called "The Art Of Doing Nothing" which is an art form that is largely frowned upon in the west. We call it lazy, and wasteful because time is money after all. But the value of the creativity that could spring from a mind that isn't entertained, or challenged, or scrolling through instagram is unquantifiable, especially in terms of the impact it could have on our world. We are all going through a lot, and not knowing what the future holds can lead to the most existential questions of our lives. You may find yourself asking questions you would never otherwise have posed - especially not in the rush and bustle of a busy modern life...which leads me to my first "wellness activity":
1. Start Meditating 10 Minutes a Day (or more if you already have a practice)
Meditating is a relatively new practice in my life and something that has had a profound impact on my general wellness and stress levels. You can meditate for as few as 10 minutes a day and still reap many mental and health benefits. So what are the benefits of meditation? Proponents claim hundreds of health benefits, both physical and emotional. Though mental and physical health are intrinsically connected; as we can see by the immense effect mental stress can have on our physical bodies - I will try to stick to the established and scientifically verified benefits. Here is what we know daily meditation will do for you.
improves immune system
improves cardiovascular health
If you have never meditated before and don’t know where to start, I wrote a blog focusing on the health benefits of daily meditation and how you can start meditating as well. The past months have been very stressful for everyone on a global scale and meditation is a free and accessible way to mitigate some of the stress that comes along with the loss that almost everyone has encountered due to COVID-19. Staying at home for weeks on end not knowing when life, if ever, will go back to normal is an unprecedented situation for most of us. In other words, Namaste at home... and meditate.
2. Make a Superfood Smoothie
Let’s get real - staying at home can easily lead to living out your dreams of eating ice cream all day and watching Love is Blind on Netflix…in the same outfit you were wearing a month ago when you decided to hunker down at home. Your plans of waking up and doing an hour of yoga and then reading a self-help book may not have exactly panned out but instead of getting caught up in a downward spiral of self-loathing and guilt, start your morning with one positive step in the right direction by drinking a superfood smoothie. Here is a smoothie recipe that I love:
Best Green Smoothie Ever
Combine in blender – ideally vitaminix or heavy duty blender
1/2 frozen banana
2 cups fresh kale or spinach
1/3 cup frozen pineapple
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
2-3 cups almond milk
1 tablespoon flax seeds or flax meal
A few sprigs of mint
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Bonus Superfood Ingredients: 1 teaspoon of Spirulina, Chlorella, Maca Root Powder, Reishi Mushroom Powder, Ashwagandha Root Powder or Chlorophyll Concentrate
THIS IS THE BASE and then can add more frozen organic fruit if you like
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup frozen Mango
How you start you day often determines your choices for the rest of it - so start with small goals like eating something healthy for breakfast and be proud of that accomplishment even if that’s the only healthy thing you do all day. Baby steps.
3. Take a Hot Bath with Epson Salt and Essential Oils
It's bath time! When was the last time you enjoyed a hot bath with candles and some zen music to wind down? Doesn’t that sound amazing? So get the water running! Taking a hot bath is a very simple way to pamper yourself. So many of us don’t take the time for self-care and now that we are being forced to stay at home, there is no excuse to not make the time to give your mind and body some extra love. Here are some ingredients you can add to your tub if you want to create the perfect at home Spa Experience:
2 cups of Epson Salt - Wonderful at easing muscle soreness and relieving tension, and also a good source of magnesium plus makes skin soft and smooth.
Green Tea - Maybe not the most obvious choice but try adding a few bags of organic green tea to your bath! Most of us know the incredible anti-oxident powers of green tea leaves so why not add them to your tub to revive your skin? Green tea is a perfect choice for toning your skin while other options like chamomile are a great before-bed relaxer.
Coconut Oil - I still haven't thought of a scenario where coconut oil doesn't come in handy. I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being the cure for cancer at this point. You can literally use it in a million ways including adding it to your bath! It is the perfect ingredient for softer skin and has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic and anti-fungal properties. Mix a tablespoon of coconut oil into running water et voila!
4. Read an Educational Book and/or Listen to Inspiring Podcasts
Reading is a great way to not only learn something new, but also helps get you mind off of all of the bad news we are constantly being bombarded with these days. If you can’t physically go out into the world, transport yourself to anywhere in the universe through literature. There are also loads of free podcasts available on pretty much any topic you can think of if you want to listen to something while taking that hot bath, organizing your apartment, knitting cooking etc. Any book/podcast recommendations? Comment below!
5. Do a Cleanse (try a 3 day juice fast)
Have you ever tried a cleanse? Often the excuse to not start a cleanse is, “I’m too busy” “I can’t do it while I’m at work” or “I don’t have time to prepare the ingredients”. Perhaps not only have quarantine times been an opporutnity for the planet to do a cleanse, but they are also an opportunity for us to do a cleanse as well. There are so many different types of cleanses out there - so pick one that sounds doable to you and do some research on it. I think that generally speaking, a raw fruit and veggie juice cleanse is safe for almost everyone and only requires you to have a blender (and a juicer is a plus but not necessary). Try to use 80% greens like lettuce, spinach, celery, cucumbers and kale and 20% fruits like apples, oranges, mango etc. Frozen fruits and veggies are a good option if you don’t have easy access to fresh fruit. You can spruce up your smoothies and juices with raw tumeric and ginger which are great for your immune system and general health as well.
6. Organize and Clean Your Evironment
Being in a cluttered, hectic environment makes it much more difficult to have healthy and clean habits. If you feel like you need to reset - take some time to organize your home, and create a calm and comfortable atomosphere. That doesn't mean you need to coffee rage, color code your undies and iron your socks, but perhaps it's a good time for a Spring cleaning - go through your closet and ask yourself "could this dress make someone else wearing it happier than me?" It's actually really freeing, and the fuzzy do-gooder feelings that come with it are gratis (once donation sites open up again anyway). Transform your living space into an environment where you actually want to spend your day. Even if you are a clean person, redesigning your space, and moving things around has a tremendously refreshing effect on the energy or as some would say the "Feng-shui" in the room. Not to get holier than thou on you, but as I don't have much scientific evidence to back this up, I'm pulling from an Egyptian-Greek wisdom texts from the 2nd century or earlier, which said "as within - so without." Which you and I both know means "redecorate your home - attain enlightenment" Just kidding, but I think they would agree that decluttering your environment gives you a fighting chance at decluttering your mind.
7. Try an Online Yoga or Fitness Class
We live in a digital world! There are endless opportunities online as far as yoga and fitness classes go. You can find free classes on Youtube as well as an incredible variety of more specific types of yoga and fitness classes on websites like Gaia and Alove Moves or Yoga International . It doesn't require more than 30min to an hour of your time, a yoga mat and a spare corner of your room to do most classes. Try laying down your mat and leaving it out, like a lonely sandwich on a plate, it will eventually lure you to it.
I really hope that some of my suggestions will inspire you to create healthy habits while staying safe at home! Remember to take it one step at a time, look around, and see everything and everyone in a fresh new light. I oscillate between frustration at the current limitations set upon us, and gratitude for the novelty it brings to our lives. Humans are incredible creatures, and perhaps our greatest gift is our ability to adapt. In a way, we are forced to evolve, to be creative, and to readjust to a new reality. The media likes to focus on the negative consequences of what is happening, but where there is shadow, there must also be light. So what is that light? Just as coal turns to diamond when subjected to pressure, humanity has no way of knowing how this will influence us all for the better.
Anyway, enough of all that - if you come up with some more great at-home wellness activities that I missed - please share them in the comment section below!
Until next time,
Dr. Alexes Hazen