I believe that wellness means honoring and taking care of my body and cultivating joy wherever I go. Living a healthy, full life is as much about what fills my body as what fills my heart and mind. Around the time when my son turned one, I realized that if I wanted to savor this season of my life in all its richness and challenge, I have to pace myself and take good care of my body. Some of the simplest practices have made such a difference on my health and perspective.
Here are 10 of my favorite wellness habits that take five minutes or less:
- Hot water + half a lemon first thing in the morning. Starting my day with hot water, lemon, and a tiny splash of raw apple cider vinegar (you can totally skip this and just do lemon water if you prefer) hydrates me, and it’s great for our immune system and gut health.
- Do something simple that you’ve been avoiding. Do you ever have that one little thing that you keep putting off even though you know it’d only take a couple of minutes? I’d been meaning to put new batteries in one of our garage door openers, and somehow it took me over a week to actually get around to doing it. I love the freedom of not having that little to-do hanging over my head (albeit this is a very short-lived freedom as a parent!).
- Buy flowers next time you’re at the grocery store. I love getting fresh eucalyptus from Trader Joe’s – it’s only $2.99. The smell of eucalyptus or flowers on the table brings me joy.
- Breathe. Yoga has taught me to pay attention to my breathing and enjoy deep breaths. I like to imagine my breath rising up to the top of my head and expanding down to fill the deepest part of my belly. When I feel stressed or anxious, a few deep breaths do wonders to help me see a situation more clearly and respond with love.
- Take a vitamin D supplement. It takes about one second to take a vitamin D supplement and it helps so much during our long, dark Minnesota winters. We live too far north to get vitamin D naturally from the sun during October through April, so lots of Minnesotans are deficient during these months. Optimal vitamin D levels help alleviate SAD (seasonal affective disorder) as well as help strengthen our bones and immune systems.
- Light a candle. I’ve gotten into the habit of dimming the dining room lights and lighting a candle at dinnertime—and not because dinner is fancy, but because it makes me feel more peaceful (why is the hour before dinner always insanity?). Dim lights also help our bodies recognize that nighttime is coming.
- Look your child in the eyes and enjoy him. I am with my son most of the day and it’s so easy for me to be passively aware of him and watching him while being preoccupied somewhere else. I don’t expect myself to be completely engaged with him all the time, but I do try to take moments to really see him and enjoy him. Those moments when I’m present and able to savor the everyday beauty of life–like the way his cheek melts onto my collar bone when he wants to cuddle–light up my heart.
- Put on your favorite song and move. When my son is getting fussy or I’m feeling frustrated, I turn on music (music that I like, not kid music). Music tends to make my one-year old forget why he was upset and I use it as an excuse to move—sit-ups, push-ups, stretching, or dancing. It’s good for our moods and our bodies.
- Make a smoothie. It takes about 20 seconds to get the blender out and plug it in. Then toss in what sounds good and will nourish you. My favorite combination is spinach (or any soft, leafy green vegetable), a frozen banana, frozen berries, peanut/almond/sunflower butter, and cold water. Then I add in whatever else I feel like that day: maca powder, matcha green tea powder, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, whole milk yogurt, kefir, turmeric, avocado, mint leaves, etc. It’s a delicious way to get lots of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and healthy fats without even cooking.
- Write. I believe everyone is creative and everyone has a story to tell. Take five minutes to write. It could be the beginning of a personal story you hope to share someday, or it could be the funny things your preschooler tells you. Over time, the practice of writing teaches you how to listen, observe, and find your voice amidst the noise.
What simple wellness tips help you live with joy?