Spring is a fantastic time to take a pause and evaluate what old, unhelpful habits you might have slowly developed over the winter, and get clear on what new, life-giving habits you might want to develop.
Our brains are designed so that we cannot just stop doing something. If we have been in the habit of doing something: drinking wine every night with supper, getting lost in Netflix after a long day, having dessert each evening, then we cannot just decide one day to stop doing it, and expect to be successful. Maybe some people can, those with iron-will and incredible discipline, but I am not one of those people. Plus, anytime I have been successful through these means, I am maybe successful for a few months, if I am lucky, but in those months, I am miserable, and every ounce of my effort is consumed trying not to walk down that habitual path. So eventually, I get tired and worn down and give up, falling back into the comfort of the familiar habit.
What works best is for us to be able to turn to a new habit that directly replaces our old habit. If we have something to distract our brains, and we do this repetitively in the place of doing the “old thing”, eventually we form a new neurological pathway, which becomes our brain’s version of the new habit.
Take a moment to determine what old habits you might want to do away with, and then perhaps peruse the list below to determine if one of these Habits of Health appeals to you and seems it could be a doable new habit for you.
What follows are 10 things that if we all did these things every day, we would feel amazing. Trust me, I know! I am living proof. I want to emphasize that, yes, being healthy takes work. It takes discipline, some sacrifice and effort. That being said, when these practices come from a place of self-love and worthiness, that is to say, when we see these practices as gifts we are offering ourselves as means to achieve good energy, a balanced mood, a healthy body, then they feel much less onerous and much more joyful.
A powerful reframe for me, around terms such as “discipline” and “sacrifice”, as these can often also conjure up feelings of onerousness, is to think of the roots of these words: “discipline” from the Latin for disciple. And to become a disciple unto one’s Self. When we are dedicated to our own health and well-being, we can become our best selves and serve others: our family, friends, workplace and community from a place of fullness. Serving ourselves, serves others. And “sacrifice”, to make sacred. We make our lives sacred as we gift ourselves healthy food, healthy rest, healthy movement, to name a few.
In any case, please read on for these 10 Habits and see what you can commit to incorporating today and every day.
- Optimize your digestive enzymes: sit down when you are eating, chew your food 10-20 bites per mouthful, set down your fork in between. You can also include 1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar in a little water before you eat and be sure to heap 2-4 Tbsp. of fermented foods onto your plate.
- Practice deep breathing. 10-15 mindful breaths 3x/d, a great breath practice is the “box” breath: inhaling for a count of 4, holding for 4, exhaling for 4 and holding for 4 and repeating. This is incredibly effective for balancing the nervous system, optimizing brain chemistry, and downregulating stress hormones.
- Promote regular healthy elimination: add at a minimum of 2 Tbsp of fiber on top of your regular dietary intake daily and add 1-2 capsules of probiotics. I love ground flax seeds, aiming for 2-4 Tbsp. per day, along with 25-50 billion CFUs of good bacteria.
- Dry brush your skin before showers and baths. At the end of your shower or bath do 3 cycles of hot/ cold (warm/ cool) water to end, finishing with cold water.
- Focus on daily detoxification: Start your day with a mug of warm lemon water and drink 2-3 L of water and herbal teas daily.
- Emphasize rhythm in your life: Ensure you are going to bed at the same time every night (ideally between 9:30 and 10 PM) and waking around the same time every morning (ideally between 6 and 7:30 AM); and that your meals and snacks are consumed at roughly the same time each day, on a schedule of every 3.5 to 4 hours, with a minimum 12-hour overnight fast. The body loves rhythm!
- Make a commitment to eliminate sugar, processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, non-organic meat, and non-organic dairy products from your diet. Work to clean out the chemical-based cleaning, cosmetic and lawn care products from your home (dispose of safely – never down the drain, and call poison control if uncertain).
- Take your recommended supplements daily, including your 1 Tbsp (heaping) of greens powder daily (to give you the nutrients found in 8-10 servings of vegetables.) Or commit to 4-6 cups leafy greens, or best yet, do both! Put either into a smoothie for a quick, easy, and nutritious morning meal. Protect and balance the nervous system and adrenal glands – 1 Tbsp of liquid Calcium: Magnesium or straight magnesium and 1 tsp of high-quality liquid fish oil daily.
- Exercise – At least 30 minutes per day – walking, stretching, weight training, swimming…anything goes! Find something you enjoy doing and stick with it.
- Work on your self-worth – surround yourself with positive energy, seek support, read books that enhance your self-belief, let go of beliefs that no longer serve you. #1) practice self compassion and GRATITUDE.
Please don’t get too overwhelmed by this list. Pull one or two things from it to start with and incorporate them, the ones that feel doable and that you feel you could be successful at. Once they become part of your daily habits and you can do them without much extra effort, pick another one or two. This is truly the way we become proficient at living a healthy life.
If you would like to learn more about these habits, please listen to the interview I had with Sherry Lee earlier this winter. My full series can be found at http://www.drzepp.com/in-the-media.html, and you will find the interview to the 10 Habits in the 7th Segment that aired January 25th, on physical health.