"Help Yourself Before Helping Others"
To this day, this simple piece of wisdom stands as some of the best advise I have ever received. As hard as I work to help others, build a profitable social enterprise, and spend time with friends and family, I also focus time every day to care for me, holistically. Here are some things that I do daily to improve my well-being and health:
- Improve mindfulness
- Take care of body
- Balance and nurture spirit
For tips and advice, I trust the amazing nonprofit, Mind Fitness Training Institute on what to do, and how to do it. For a full write-up, check out this great article from Men's Journal. Here are my personal favorite daily activities:
- REDUCE TENSION, RELIEVE STRESS | Sit straight in a chair and find tension in your jaw, neck, and back. Close your eyes, apply pressure / massage each spot for 30 seconds, and breathe deeply, envisioning all tension flowing out of your body. Once you have hit your tension areas, focus your attention on any source of ambient noise, then alternate your attention to your contact point with the chair. Keep alternating your attention back and forth between noise and contact point very slowly on every deep breath. Everybody can afford to do this for 5 minutes.
- INDUCE SLEEP | In bed, lay on your back and begin deep belly breathing. Wiggle and flex your toes. Focus on the sensations in your feet. Pause and continue to observe any feeling in your feet. Continue this pattern of flexing and resting sequentially throughout your body: ankles, knees, hips, fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, jaw, and eye sockets. 5 to 10 minutes of this and you'll be asleep in no time.
But as it turns out, the simplest way to care for your "temple" is also the hardest. Don't worry, everybody struggles to balance working out and eating healthy food. But keep working at it, reading about it, and talking about, and you'll develop healthy habits after all.
Note: Before starting, first find a "health partner" or use technology to help you out. Here are my tips for a healthy body:
- EAT SMART | I don't believe in diets or nutritional regimes. My eating is inspired by Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and loosely follows 3 rules:
- Eat real food. Food that you recognize an can pronounce. I use the "great grandmother test" - if your great grandmother wouldn't recognize it, don't eat it. And if the ingredient list is over 5, be very wary. High fructose corn syrup is not food. Neither is soy powder. Here are Pollan's top 8 tips.
- Eat less of it. No matter the food type, eat less of it. Period.
- Eat mostly vegetables. Preferably plants, double-preferably leafy green vegetables. The more bitter, the higher in antioxidants. Cooking in butter or oil negates all benefits. If you must have a protein with your meal, keep it as a side portion. Make sure to have a diverse, colorful diet of fresh produce.
- EXERCISE REGULARLY AND HAPPILY | No matter how good I feel after I exercise, its always hard to motivate myself to do it again the next day, and I know you're the same way. I'm the opposite of obsessive-compulsive, so I do better not sticking to a regime. Instead, I mix it up to take care of all body parts, and I have fun in the process. Here is where I focus my workouts:
- My Heart and Lungs. Regular cardiovascular exercise is the single most important workout thing you can do. 30 minute a day, at least 5 times a week. And when I'm not working out, I try to maintain healthy breathing techniques.
- My Muscles. I do something to strengthen my muscles at least once a week. Amount of weight doesn't matter, but getting them a little sore does.
- My Alignment. From improving posture while sitting at the computer to doing yoga to keep myself loose and balanced, this is essential for me to feel healthy.
Either way, explore new ways to get in touch with your spirituality. Regardless of your approach, I assure you that a few main tactics will help you develop it:
- Get in touch with nature by spending time in nature
- Help others, and treat them the way you would like to be treated
- Smile and laugh with good company
- Exert yourself physically, and overcome challenges
No matter the rules you set forth to create a healthier you, remember the golden rule to overrule them all: Rule #1 is to Break the Rules Once in a While