Secrets to Health and Wellness

Natural ways to feel better!

Double Your Laughs

A 1998 study showed that the average toddler laughs 400 times a day, but the average American adult only laughs 15 times a day. That’s a shame because laughter relaxes your muscles, boosts immunity, and may even extend your life. So aim to laugh at least 30 times a day. To help, stash a joke book in your desk drawer.

Tap Away Tension

Lightly tap your scalp with your knuckles for 10 seconds, taking slow, deep breaths as you tap. Silly as it seems, this softens tense muscles in your head and neck and builds your energy, says Elaine Gavalas, an exercise physiologist in New York City and author of The Yoga Minibook for Stress Relief (Simon & Schuster, 2003).

Tote Around Healthy Fuel

Keep small bags of nuts and dried fruit (like cashews and tart cherries or walnuts and dates) in your purse. The healthy fats and fiber in this snack will sustain you longer than a sugary candy bar.

Take a Power Shower

End your morning shower with a 30-second blast of cool water. You may shiver a little, but the temperature change improves blood flow and gives you a burst of energy.

Steep Basil Tea

To relax in minutes, place three washed fresh basil leaves (Ocimum basilicum) in a cup of hot water. Steep for 10 minutes, inhaling the aroma, and then sip the tea slowly. Herbalists know basil is one of nature’s most effective calmatives, yet it’s often overlooked because it’s such a commonly used kitchen spice.

Get a Boost from Bananas

Bananas contain norepinephrine and serotonin, two brain chemicals that support your mood.

Sigh Away Stress

When you’re feeling the stress of everyday life, take a deep breath in through your nose to expand your belly, and then exhale through your mouth with a long, mind-clearing “Ahhhh” sound.

Sample Something New

Taste star fruit or another food you’ve never eaten before. Try a new exercise class. Making little changes wipes away mental cobwebs and gets your energy flowing.

Ax Stress with Your Fingertips

To ease stress, pinch the bottom of one of your earlobes with your thumb and index finger. Maintain the pressure for two minutes, breathing deeply. Repeat on the other ear.

Munch a Brazil Nut

Just one contains your recommended daily allowance of selenium (50 to 100 mcg), a mineral that may prevent depression. (See BellyBytes Nutrients: Selenium)

Perform a Kind Act

Allow another motorist into traffic in front of you or run an errand for an elderly neighbor. Small generosities like these give both the doer and the receiver a little lift.

Just Do Something

Immobility saps your energy, but taking action empowers and recharges you. When you feel haunted by worry, fear, and frustration, don’t think of the best thing to do. Just think of a good thing to do, and then do it.

Eat Fish

Prepare salmon, sardines, or other cold-water fish two or three times a week. They contain omega-3 fats, which keep your moods stable. A 2001 Finnish study found that fish-eaters are less likely to be depressed.

Bean Up Your Next Meal

Studies show that depressed people often lack B vitamins. Beans deliver a significant dose of these vitamins. Try pinto beans with rice, chickpea hummus on pita bread, or a black bean soup.

Keep Good Chocolate On Hand

Treat yourself to about an ounce of high-quality dark chocolate every day. Always sit down and eat it slowly, relishing each mouthful. Note the chocolate’s texture, flavor, and aroma. Think of this luxurious little ritual as a restorative minivacation.

Picture Yourself Powerful

Next time you’re about to tackle an exhausting task, visualize yourself doing it as if you were feeling sharp and supercharged. Make the image detailed; your mind can stimulate your body to feel a certain way.

Iron Out Your Diet

Iron deficiency often triggers fatigue among menstruating women. Fight it by eating iron-rich foods like black beans and pumpkin seeds. To improve absorption, combine them with foods rich in vitamin C, like red bell peppers.

Get Out

Spend some time outdoors every day. You don’t have to go outside for long. Just take 10 minutes to breathe fresh air, check the weather, and listen to the birds. Contact with nature can rejuvenate you.

Listen to Your Gut

If your stomach growls hungrily, pay attention. Eat a snack or meal. The longer you wait to eat, the more likely you are to suffer a blood sugar slump that could wreck your mood and motivation.

Melt Your Muscles

When you’re in a bad mood, your muscles tense. Counter crankiness with a steamy 10-minute shower. As your muscles loosen up, so will your attitude.

Spice Up Your Mood and Food

According to folk wisdom, oregano (Origanum vulgare) relieves heavy-hearted feelings. Give your spirits and tastebuds a pick-me-up by adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of the dried herb to a saucepan of tomato sauce before you toss it with pasta.

Hang Your Head

Rejuvenate with a forward bend, an easy yoga pose. Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Fold forward so your torso pours out of your legs like a waterfall. Let your head and arms hang toward the floor. Take three deep breaths, and then slowly lift your torso to an upright position.

Chow Down at Lunch

To beat mid-afternoon drowsiness, make lunch your main meal, and eat it away from your desk. Choose foods with a variety of bold flavors (like salty, savory miso soup with tangy salmon teriyaki or a spicy bean burrito with salsa). Emphasize vegetables, beans, nuts, chicken, or fish, and go light on simple carbohydrates like white bread or white rice. End with a healthy sweet (like a small piece of dark chocolate or candied ginger). Follow this advice and you’ll be more productive after lunch

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