Good health is something most of us strive for and, if you want to take your health to the next level, it goes deeper than nutrition and exercise. These tips, as simple as they sound, will elevate your health and enhance your overall quality of life. They manage issues like stress and anxiety, illness and depression, energy and recovery, and pain and wellbeing. You can combine some of these health hacks or just implement one at a time!
- Breathing is a critical foundation of health, if you can’t breath you won’t live for very long. Breathing properly will ensure you send oxygen to all the cells in your body and help remove carbon dioxide buildup. This exchange of air will help regulate physiological functions like heart beat and blood pressure, as well as reduce stress and manage anxiety. The best way to achieve this is to practice diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing- specifically The Wim Hof Method. This can be done with zero equipment, all you need is your lungs! You’ll perform a few rounds of belly breathing and retention that will help supply oxygen to your body and brain. If you do this right, then it’s like “getting high on your own supply.” Check out the link to see the full break down on how to perform this breathing exercise properly.
- Sunlight helps regulate our body’s biological clock, which is responsible for regulating sleep and energy. When we’re outside during the day our eyes are constantly absorbing natural light from the sun, telling us that we should be up and working. Bright light before bed will trick the body into thinking that it’s still day time and that we should be awake and functioning. When the body gets tricked then it won’t secrete the hormones necessary to induce a deep, restful sleep. As a rule of thumb; get outside during the day (morning/evening are best), without sunglasses, because they block our eyes from absorbing the natural light (unless you are being blinded by the sun when you’re driving), and minimize exposure to artificial light at night (phone, computer, and tv screens, especially before bed).
- Grounding or “earthing” is when your body connects with the Earth’s natural energy for an easy health boost. Walking or standing outside barefoot (or with socks) allows us to receive a charge of energy that makes us feel better. Connecting with the Earth can mean the difference between feeling good and not so good, having a little energy and a lot of energy, or sleeping well and not so well. Shoes can block our connection with the Earth’s energy, so walking around your home barefoot or standing outside without shoes is something that requires little effort and offers a huge benefit to your health. Try standing barefoot in a soft patch of grass or cool sand!
- Cold Therapy is a healing technique that has been proven to reduce inflammation, speed up recovery, improve your immune response, promote better sleep, and help with focus. It’s as simple as it sounds, just like icing a sprained ankle, except you’re “icing” your entire body. Rather than taking an ice bath, we recommend starting off with a cold shower. Start by taking a regular shower, soap up, wash off. But before you get out, turn the water to the coldest setting. Keep breathing and slowly introduce your body to the cold water. Start with your arms and your legs, then let the water run over your back and shoulders, and finally on your head. Begin gradually and stay under the cold water for around 15 seconds, and slowly increase your time up to a few minutes. Eventually you can turn your cold shower into an “ice bath” by getting into the shower first and then turning the water to cold right away. Most importantly, make sure that you continue to breath while you’re exposing yourself to colder temperatures. You’ll find cold therapy to be very stimulating for your nervous system, like a natural cup of coffee.
- Myofascial Release is like a deep tissue massage that you do yourself and is the best way to manage pain, improve mobility, and help with recovery. It’s like foam rolling but more intense and intentional. For example, the source of lower back pain may be the result of “tight” hip flexors. Rolling out the front and sides of your thighs could provide more relief for your lower back than constantly massaging or stretching the area that’s in pain. Too much stretching causes our muscles to loose their elasticity, leading to poor function in the long run. Instead, the release will hydrate the muscle tissue and help dissolve any fascial adhesions (“knots”) to promote mobility in that area of the body. Here are some videos discussing the best way to perform the releases that have the biggest carry over into mobilizing your muscles and managing your pain. When done properly, MFR can equip the body to respond better to stress. When you roll across a tender spot on your body the tendency is to tense up and stop breathing, so it’s important to breathe until the uncomfortable sensation (physical stress) dissipates. Over time this will train your body to breathe when it encounters stressful situations, rather than shutting down and letting the stress overwhelm you.
Following these tips as part of a healthy lifestyle will improve your physiological function, especially when used in conjunction with correct exercise and proper nutrition. All of these tips can be used on a daily basis to enhance aspects of your health, from mental to physical, whether you have time to workout and eat well or not. The best part is that you don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment so you can implement these health hacks anywhere, anytime. Obviously for the cold therapy you’ll need a shower or some ice and for the myofascial release you’ll need a tool like a lacrosse ball or foam roller. But you don’t need access to a gym or have to be physically fit to practice these healthy habits. If you’re really efficient you can spend your time outside, barefoot, breathing, doing MFR, and then coming inside to take a cold shower 🙂 New morning routine? Do it!