Editor’s Note: Andrew Weil, M.D. is a world-renowned leader, best-selling author, and...
We’re just one month into 2013, and you may still be riding the wave of inspiration that comes with fresh starts and new beginnings. It’s also possible that you are feeling a dip in your motivation if the changes you are seeking are taking longer than you expected or you’ve bumped into unforeseen obstacles. If you have set an intention to improve your health this year, here are three simple yet powerful steps to restore your energy and inspiration.
Getting enough quality sleep is vital for mind-body wellbeing. Research shows that sleep deprivation can lead to muscle loss, fat gain, and significant risk for diabetes and heart disease. If you are one of the millions of people who get fewer than six hours of sleep per night, honor both your body and your busy schedule by carving out between seven and nine hours in which to get a solid night’s sleep (even if it’s during the daytime due to shift work). You will notice immediate positive changes, including a feeling of balance, revitalized energy, and a sharper memory.
Wind down Shut off your electronics and prepare to relax. Soaking in a candlelit bath or listening to soothing music can help you ease into your sleep space. Create a ritual by doing the same relaxing activity at the same time each night to help your body know it’s time to wind down.
Create comfort Increase your odds of falling (and staying) asleep by creating a space that is cool, dark, and quiet. Window shades, earplugs, or a white-noise machine can make your environment conducive to restful and rejuvenating sleep.
Clear your mind If your head is spinning with tomorrow’s activities, take a few minutes to write a to-do list or keep a journal by your bed to jot down thoughts that you can revisit in the morning.
Centuries of wisdom, and modern research, have shown that a yoga and meditation practice is a powerful way to relieve and manage stress. There’s no need to wait to find the perfect class – you can start reaping the benefits of yoga practice, breathing techniques (pranayama), and mindfulness in your own home (or car, or office) in only a few minutes a day.
Breathe Try this simple breathing exercise to create an instant spa moment. Sit comfortably, but tall. Slowly breathe in through your nose for a count of two. Hold the breath for one count and then exhale though your mouth for a count of four. Repeat five or ten times for a quick tension tamer, or keep it going five or ten minutes, quieting your mind for deeper meditation.
Stretch Calm your brain and give your legs and hips a good stretch with this simple forward bend. Stand with your feet nearly together and your hands on your hips. With a long torso, bend forward from your hips as you exhale and bring your torso as close to your thighs as is comfortable. Place your fingertips or palms on the floor and let your head hang. Stay in the pose up to a minute then place your hands on your hips and rise back to standing as you inhale. You can also modify this forward fold and do it from a seated position. Both standing and seated forward folds can relieve stress and insomnia.
Nothing can make you feel fabulous more quickly than switching out processed and packaged foods for real, whole foods that come from the earth. An easy visual cue that you’re on the right path is to make sure that veggies and fruits fill at least half your plate. Eating with intention is a wonderful way to celebrate life, inspire your taste buds, and honor your own body type. Learn more about eating for your body type here.
Pitch the packages Limiting or eliminating processed packaged foods like cookies, crackers, sugary breakfast cereals, and snack foods from your diet is a straight route to reducing your intake of fat, sodium, excess calories, and toxic compounds. Not only will you restore your body’s natural defenses against a host of diseases, the elimination of high-calorie, artificial foods can help you easily lose weight and may even alleviate symptoms of depression.
Go green (and red, and orange, and blue) Color your plate with an abundance of deeply hued produce. All those rich colors come from powerful antioxidants that deliver restorative benefits as they protect you from cellular damage. Think blueberries, beets, spinach, red peppers, grapefruit, tomatoes, and pomegranates. Find your favorites and fill your plate. Your body and brain will thank you with abundant health.
Are you feeling stressed out and anxious? Do you have trouble getting a good night's sleep? Are you struggling with pain, a chronic condition, or a difficult diagnosis?
If physical and emotional roadblocks are preventing you from fully enjoying your life, it's time to experience Perfect Health.