An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment.
A lifestyle of self-care is healthcare, with the focus on well-being.
It is not about fancy quick fixes but back to the basics of what works and workable. Simple easy-to-do, easy-to-maintain routines that make a big difference.
Here are six easy and enjoyable healthy routines we can add to our lifestyle to enhance our well-being.
① DRY SKIN BRUSHING
Your skin is the biggest organ, and part of the body’s natural elimination and detoxification system. When dead skin is not shed, it becomes more dull and leathery. Dry brushing is a great and easy way to exfoliate, to keep skin more radiant. Dry brush, shower, apply all the lovely oils and lotions. Repeat daily.
But adding dry skin brushing to your routine brings benefits that are beyond skin-deep. Essentially it helps the body to detox more effectively and who hasn’t heard about the benefits of detoxing?
Choose a long-handled natural- and firm-bristle brush. Cover your entire body to improve circulation and increase lymphatic function. Because the lymph system flows torwards the heart, be sure to dry brush in the same direction. Nice long sweeping strokes.
Dry skin brush before your morning shower, or even after work to energize. Just be sure the skin is dry. It is after all dry brushing.
See it as a whole-body massage or a meditation. Make your bathroom and bath time your sanctuary. Escape from the hustle and bustle of your busy day (and maybe screaming kids).
Benefits: Stimulates lymphatic system to release toxins; increases blood circulation; relieves stress; boosts organ function; sloughs off dead skin; strengthens immune system; reduces cellulite; just feels good
How To: Start at your feet and work up, using long strokes, brush toward the heart with a firm pressure, and avoid sensitive areas such as your face and genitals or any broken skin. Remember, you are not scrubbing yourself. To start, apply a light touch. Focus on the inner thighs and armpits, where lymph nodes number the most. Your skin should be pink and maybe even tingly; not red with pain. Everyone should have their own brush, and keep it dry.
② OIL PULLING
An Ayurvedic ritual that everyone can do. Not only for oral health, oil pulling is an effective way to pull toxins from your body.
When the oil is mixed with saliva, a thin white liquid is formed. Toxins are first pulled by the oil’s lipids from the saliva and as it continues to pull from the mouth, the liquid becomes thicker.
Choose high quality virgin cold-pressed oils such as sesame, coconut, or olive. Sesame oil is considered the go-to oil. For acute cases of poor oral conditions, repeat two or three times during the day, on an empty stomach.
Benefits: Boosts oral health; pulls toxins; strengthens the teeth, gums, and jaws; helps with bad breath; supports the holistic treatment of TMJ; prevents oral disease; helps balance bacterial flora by removing harmful ones; improves general health conditions; improves metabolism; whitens teeth
How To: Before breakfast, on an empty stomach, take one tablespoon of cold-pressed organic oil and swish it in your mouth, building up to 15-20 minutes. Toss it out in the trash bin (not down the drain). Do not swallow – the oil is toxic now!
③ FOAM ROLLING
The Foam Roller is your 24/7 massage therapist. This self-myofascial release tool belongs in every home, especially now that we are such a sedentary bunch. Once the secret of therapists and professional athletes, this easy-to-do and effective technique is now part of mainstream fitness routine. But you don’t have to be a gym rat to use the foam roller or even be at the gym. The foam roller is easy to stow away, even in a small apartment.
Got stiff muscles? Want to restore elasticity? Get rolling.
Using the foam roller can release trigger points or knots in the muscles that are painful when pressure is applied. A very common place is the iliotibial (IT) band (the ligament running down the outside of the thigh, hip to shin) The first time “rolling” the IT band may involve no actual rolling, but just applying direct pressure. More likely, you will work on the attached primary muscles first.
Be warned: it can be that painful, which is all the reason to get going on rolling.
We are not masochists. We know it works. The good thing? You are in complete control. Apply as much or as little pressure as is uncomfortable (but not painful), by using your arms and legs to lever on and off your body’s weight. Oh, and don’t roll your lower back i.e. anything south of the bottom of the ribcage. Instead, try the Child’s Pose to release your lower back.
Benefits: Releases muscle tightness and trigger points; aids in training recovery; improves athletic performance; removes adhesions (or points of susceptibility) in muscles and connective tissues; increases blood flow to muscles; boosts mobility
How To: Depending on the tightness of the muscle or muscle group, start by leaning on the foam roller, adjusting the bodyweight as required. Try to relax on these areas as much as possible. The discomfort will lessen with release. If the discomfort is still too great, apply direct pressure on a surrounding area and work towards this core. Only roll on muscles, not a joint or bone. And roll SLOWLY. Be sure to support your posture with good levers, such as planting a foot in front or supporting the upper body with your arm. Drink plenty of good clean filtered water.
Can a mini trampoline be more effective than running on the treadmill?
NASA thinks so.
While you bounce on the trampoline, your body and every cell experience and respond to acceleration and deceleration. This has great benefit on the lymphatic system. The lymph depends on physical movement/exercise to function. Rebounding, then, is good for detoxing and the immune system. The increased G-force from jumping, because it increases the weight, is good for the skeletal system and strengthens the muscles.
Unlike running, rebounding is not hard on your joints. Great cardio exercise and fun, too.
Leave the rebounder in a high traffic (but safe) area so you can do a few jumps whenever you walk past it. Got bladder issues? Engage your pelvic floor and core muscles to prevent leakage.
Benefits: Improves immune function; boosts detoxification via the lymphatic system; increases muscle tone; benefits the skeletal system; ups the performance of other exercise or sports; burns off calories; increases energy by helping oxygen circulation; is more protective of joints than running; reduces body fat; energizing; increases breathing capacity;
How To: Start with keeping your feet on the trampoline while the body bounces, before moving onto gentle jumps. Start with five minutes a day (less time for older people) and aim for 15 minutes a day, which can be broken up. Allow the connective tissues to strengthen slowly to prevent prolapsed organs.
⑤ SALT BATHS
Baths are just great, with or without salt. Add the salt and you add a layer of therapy. Be it Epsom salts or Himalayan salts.
Epsom salts are made of magnesium sulfate, both of which are important for body function. Because magnesium is needed in some detoxification pathways, ensuring sufficient magnesium is important for the proper elimination of toxins. Magnesium is also useful in lowering anxiety and stress. It is a muscle relaxant, making an Epsom salt bath a great idea before bedtime.
While Epsom salt baths are generally beneficial, they are not recommended for those with heart, high blood pressure, and diabetic conditions.
Epsom salts are commonly found in drugstores in North America and Australia and are very inexpensive. They seem to be less frequently seen in Singapore, however, than pink Himalayan salt.
Himalayan salt boasts 80+ essential minerals and is a super duper detox. Unlike Epsom salt baths which are supposed to be taken hot, baths with Himalayan salt are taken around body temperature, which may be better tolerated by some people.
Benefits: Is cleansing + energizing; relieves stress; soothes the muscles; Epsom salts restore magnesium and sulfate which is needed for multiple body functions; Epsom salts can help with skin conditions; hydrates the skin;
How To: Shower beforehand to wash up.
Dissolve between 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salt in the bath. Adding 2 cups of Baking Soda to draw out acidic toxins is optional, as is 3 – 4 drops of organic essential oil.
A normal Himalayan salt bath takes about 1 cup versus a strong bath which is about 2 to 4 cups. Choose fine grained salts for baths as they dissolve faster; otherwise allow the chunks to dissolve overnight in a glass jar of water.
Stay in the bath for as long as comfortable. Ash, a freelance herbal alchemist and aromatherapist who blogs over at Homegrown & Healthy helpfully suggests having a bowl of ice water and washcloth closeby or place a cold washcloth on the forehead to mitigate the heat. She recommends 40 minutes but only 20 minutes for first-timers, though a bath shorter or longer will still be effective as a detox bath.
Be sure to climb out of the bathtub slow and steady as dizziness from the heat and detox is not uncommon.
If you do not have a bath, scoop over the body from a bucket of water with salt or enjoy a foot bath
Squatting is the most natural position. Fundamental + primal. And not just on the toilet.
Our love affair with comfort and convenience has led us down the road of tight hips and tight achilles. Many people have completely lost the ability to squat, now seen as the domain of “ah-bengs” and “primitive” cultures. People seem to think it’s more “civilized” to sit in chairs than on the floor but this kind of convenience does not make us stronger or healthier.
Standing and sitting keep the hips and legs at essentially two angles in relation to the body, restricting the range of mobility and increasing tight hips and lower back issues.
Fast Company makes some good points about squatting, even at your desk. They liken squatting to green tea, making you both “calm and alert.” Posture has a direct impact on us.
Join Ido Portal’s Squat 30/30 Challenge. Make squatting your natural resting position again. This means when you get tired from standing, squat.
Benefits: Good for digestion; improves mobility and movement capacity; releases chronic patterns from sitting; helps with tight hips and lower back pressures; is opening on many levels
How To: With a relaxed spine, squat shoulder width apart in a position of relaxation. Experiment with the depth of the squat and how much the feet are turned out. Best is barefoot and keeping the heels on the floor. To help with tight hips, start with short squats and stand up to move around. To help with tight heels, use a support like a rolled-up blanket. Start with short squats, as many times as possible throughout the day.