So you’ve begun the new year bursting with good intentions to eat healthier, move more and meditate daily. In your enthusiasm, however, it’s tempting to go overboard, trying to go from midnight-snacking coach potato to a gym-loving, juice fasting fit girl/guy in a few weeks time.
Unfortunately, drastic lifestyle changes usually don’t result into lasting results. It’s much easier and more realistic to take small, doable steps towards your goals. So have a look at these 101 simple things you can do today to boost your health and happiness!
This post is an excerpt from my upcoming e-book “How to Create Your Own Action Plan for Recovery“. If you want to stay updated on the release of the book, sign up for weekly newsletters from The Health Sessions here.
All day long, your senses are bombarded with information – sights, sounds, smells. Your brain is constantly busy selecting and interpreting these stimuli, storing what’s important into your long – term memory.
Turning your attention inwards instead of to the world around you has several benefits for your health.
Brain studies suggest that observing what’s happening inside of you – your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations – taps into a different part of your brain than watching the outside world does. Instead of solely relying upon the frontal lobes of the neocortex, focusing on your feelings also activates evolutionary older parts of your brain that are associated with emotional reactions and the integration of physical experiences. It’s that bypass of the thinking and judging parts of your brain that makes mindfulness such an effective method to find your calm when you can’t seem to stop your racing thoughts.
Learning to tune into your body also allows you to pick up signals of stress, pain and exertion before these symptoms become (too) serious.
A mindful body scan is a powerful way to get in touch with your body and really notice what you’re sensing, without judging or trying to change what’s happening within. At first glance, a body scan might seem like you’re just lying down doing nothing. But it involves a little more than that. Because while your body is resting, your mind goes on a guided tour from your toes to your head, pausing at each part and paying attention to what you’re feeling.
Thoughts pop up in our heads all day long, uninvitedly.
It happens so automatically that we rarely take the time to wonder if what we’re thinking is actually true. Instead, we take our thoughts at face value and instantly respond with feelings and actions. But when your inner critic or negative Nancy is taking over your mind, it’s time to take back control and change your thought patterns.
Because thoughts are powerful. They influence your mood, your decisions and even your neurobiology. Every time you have a thought (“Oh god, everybody is staring at me!“), your brain releases neurotransmitters and hormones that prepare your body and mind to respond to the (imaginary) situation – by blushing, stumbling, running off or making a self-deprecating joke.
That’s why automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) take a toll on your mental health: they trigger a cascade of biochemical reactions and emotions that adversely affect how you feel and behave.
Do you ever fantasize about running off to an exotic destination for a yoga retreat to kickstart your health? Or pampering yourself with a relaxing day at the spa, to let go of all your stress and worries?
Unfortunately, you might not always have the time, money or mobility for a much needed wellness treatment. But that doesn’t mean that indulging self-care activities are off the table. Just set aside an evening, a full day or even a weekend to have a luxurious spa day at home!
How? By recreating the essential ingredients of the spa experience in your own home:
Peace and Tranquility. A day at the spa offers an escape from our hectic world. The serene surroundings and lack of digital distractions help you take your mind off your never-ending to do list. With a little preparation you can recreate those calming settings in your own home.
Relaxation. We all need to a take break every now and then – and warm baths, massages and yoga are very enjoyable ways to let go off tension and rest up. Fortunately, that kind of relaxation isn’t limited to the spa.
Health Boost. Many people hope to boost their health and transform their body during a luxurious wellness retreat. But there’s not necessarily a need to go on a juice ‘detox’ holiday when you can whip up delicious smoothie bowls and salads in your own kitchen.
Pampering yourself. How good does it feel to treat yourself to a facial, mani, pedi or bubble bath after a tough week? Ok, you have to put in a little more effort than just lying back, but that shouldn’t stop you from pampering yourself with DIY beauty treatments to refresh and recharge.
You can adapt these principles to fit any budget, energy level and home situation. Have a look at these 8 ideas to have an indulging spa day at home.
“God, I’m such a loser for blowing that presentation. What must my colleagues think of me?”
“It’s not fair! Why did he do that to me?”
We’ve all been there. In your mind, you keep going over that argument with your friend or the stupid mistake you made, thinking about what you should have done differently.
You try to make sense of the confusing or upsetting situation by meticulously thinking it through. And normally, that kind of reflection can give you new insights, help you learn and improve, so it won’t happen a second time. But when rehashing the negative experience takes over your thoughts, like a broken record that plays the same lyrics again and again, it becomes a serious risk for your health and happiness.