The start of a new year means the opportunity for your best self is on the table (thanks, Oprah). But getting yourself back on the wagon is easier said than done, amiright? So we tapped wellness expert Neka Pasquale, founder of Urban Remedy, for easy ways to feel lighter, happier, and healthier in 2018. Read on, and let the detoxing of the mind, body and soul begin.
1. Make your gratitude list.
The first thing to do each morning is write down or meditate on everything for which you’re grateful. I like to do this first thing when I wake up while still lying in bed. It can be your children, your dog, a great job, friends that make you laugh—anything that makes you smile and feel happy. Louise Hay says it best that “an affirmation opens the door. It’s a beginning point on the path to change. In essence, you’re saying to your subconscious mind: “I am taking responsibility. I am aware that there is something I can do to change.” When I talk about doing affirmations, I mean consciously choosing words that will either help eliminate something from your life or help create something new in your life.
2. Clean things up.
Be courageous and try eating for health. Incorporating delicious health-promoting plant-based foods can be a fun way to feel and look better. Try a new vegan restaurant or plant-based recipe for you and your loved ones. A few examples that super accessible, taste good and promote feelings of well-being.
In addition to cacao’s many health benefits, (anti-inflammatory properties, flavanols that support circulatory health and cognitive function). It’s also known for its “feel
good” properties. As much as munching on a chocolate bar promotes the “feel good” sentiments, studies have shown that cacao’s benefits are only available in its raw form, and the addition of dairy may inhibit or block the absorption of the antioxidants. This means that you’re best off consuming cacao in the form of raw cacao powder, or dried nibs, and in recipes featuring other nourishing healing foods.
Black Sesame Seeds
In Traditional Chinese medicine sesame seeds help to calm anxiety and relax the nervous system. In TCM depression is commonly related to deficient kidney energy. Black sesame seeds strengthen the kidney energy. They are also rich in zinc which has been shown to help fight depression. Sprinkle on salads or add to trail mix.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids like salmon, tuna, flax seeds and walnuts are rich in mood boosters which affect brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. Salmon also contains vitamin B12, which can help the production of serotonin. A Japanese study concluded that eating fish more than twice a week has a protective effect against suicide and depression.
I am a big believer in eating foods in their natural state. Raw cacao powder added to smoothies or a nut milk for a healthy version of chocolate milk work wonderfully. Raw walnuts, black sesame & flax seeds can be sprinkled on salads for some extra crunch. Fresh grilled salmon pairs perfectly with vegetables most cuisines.
Foods that stimulate inflammation in the body are not good for overall mental health and feeling your best. Foods like caffeine, sugar, white flour, alcohol and high glycemic foods (cookies, cereal, bread, popcorn). Sugar will initially give you a surge of energy, but that inevitable crash always follows. This crash is called hypoglycemia, and it’s your body’s way of telling you that your blood sugar levels are peaking and dropping dramatically. If this is your constant routine, exhaustion will ensue. Break the cycle by eating a balanced diet that includes fat, protein and fiber, to ensure you have a constant and even flow of energy throughout the day.
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3. Get moving.
In Traditional Chinese medicine one of the root causes of many diseases is stagnation. Movement is crucial for a healthy mind, body and spirit. Exercise increases oxygen to your brain and organs so you feel refreshed and revitalized. It naturally reduces stress and creates a stronger connection with your body. Figure out what you enjoy doing, it doesn’t matter if it’s walking, running, yoga, Pilates, or biking as long as you are out of the chair and moving. Exercise increases endorphins (your happy hormones) a perfect natural antidepressant!
4. Get your sleep.
Make sure you get a minimum of 8 hours nightly. Lack of sleep weakens the immune system. Getting in bed before 10 pm will help keep your adrenals healthy.
5. Express your emotions.
Pent-up anger or holding in emotions is one of the root causes of imbalance in Chinese medicine. Remember most anxiety is repressed emotions so let it out. Writing or talking it out are great outlets.
6. Get 30 mins of sun exposure daily.
Or, in the winter months, supplement with Vitamin D3. It supports a healthy immune system and studies have shown that taking Vitamin D can cut your chances of getting the flu by 50%.
7. Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily.
This will flush toxins, period. Room temp or warm filtered water is best. Structured water is supposed to be beneficial to your skin, muscles, and mood.
8. Live in accordance with nature.
In the colder months eat more warming foods (ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, warm teas, soups, raspberries, pineapple). Get more rest and focus on what you want to create in the warmer months when the seeds of change are ready to grow. Conversely in the warmer months eat more cooling foods like watermelon, cucumber, salads, apples, lemons, and romaine. The spring is a perfect time to do a liver cleanse and get active putting all your new ideas in motion.
9. Reduce stress levels.
Massage, acupuncture, meditation, yoga, hiking, walking and reading. whatever it is that helps you stay centered and revitalizes you. Think positive thoughts and try and catch the fearful ones and stop them in their tracks.