Keeping your body, mind and spirit healthy in our fast-paced modern lives can sometimes feel like a daunting task. But taking care of your mental and physical wellbeing doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 8 simple life hacks that can easily be incorporated into your daily life.
Minute mindfulness stops
Yes, we all know that we should be meditating daily. We’re aware of the calming benefits on our nervous system when we finally get a bit of time out from our relentless monkey minds. But the reality of committing to a daily seated meditation practise is far from achievable for most.
The good news is that even a short minutes intervention of committed mindfulness can help towards rewiring our runaway minds. And the mindful minute is a meditation life hack which can be performed absolutely anywhere, anytime that you feel your mind is racing away from you.
All you need to do is stop, set a timer on your phone, take a couple of deep breaths, and then observe. Try running through each of your 5 senses and notice how they are responding to that particular environment or situation. Or if you prefer simply focus on the coming and going of your breath.
With practice, you can begin to introduce more and more of these mini mindful interventions into your day without the need for a timer. The key is to commit 100% for that short period of time to just being.
Walk to the shops
It’s so automatic for us to jump in the car for almost everything, whether we need to or not, especially after a long day at work. However, a 30 minute round trip walking to the shops after work as opposed to driving, will help you to shake off the stresses of the day, revitalising you with a burst of fresh air and in the longer months boosting your levels of vitamin D. It’s also a great way to compile your thoughts from the day and let go of any issues that you may be harbouring, freeing you up to relax and be present with your evening. Walking is also one of the kindest forms of exercise for our body, making one of the best fitness hacks going.
Drink a morning glass of Polish kefir
Looking after your gut health doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. Kefir is one of the most richly populated natural probiotics that we can readily buy. Probiotics help to repopulate your gut with good bacteria essential for maintaining homeostasis in our bodies and minds.
This live-cultured yoghurt drink is very palatable, making it easy to get a daily glass into your routine. Try drinking a glass with your breakfast or as a mid-morning or afternoon snack. And to help with the budget, stay away from all the overbranded overpriced health food varieties and hit up the Polish aisle in the supermarket, where you’ll find a bottle treble the size and half the price.
For some ideas of how to turn your daily dose of kefir into a tasty probiotic smoothie check out or Kefir Superfood Smoothie recipe.
Phone a friend
Are you really that busy that you can’t find 20 minutes to call that friend who’s been in your thoughts for some time now? The act of allowing yourself that time to step out of your life and inquire about someone else’s removes you from the bubble of your busy life and your ego self and reminds you that there are other stories playing out all around you.
How good do you feel when someone unexpectedly touches base or reaches out to you to ask you how you are? Especially if you’ve been going through a difficult time. In a world where we’re more virtually connected than ever, the levels of isolation and loneliness have never been higher, as our tangible communities disintegrate around us. Yes a message to tell someone you’re thinking of them is a nice gesture, but there’s no replacement for the sound of a loved one’s voice or laughter and the feeling of love and support that comes with that.
Make half of your plate fruit or veg
Kito, Paleo, FODMAP, Vegan…there’s so many different diets and ways of eating out there that it can be hard to work out what on earth we should be putting into our mouths! But one basic rule of thumb will never let you down, and that is to: make half of whatever plate or bowl you’re eating fruit or veg.
It’s common sense really! If you cram your plate with fruits and vegetables then you’ll have no problem in achieving and even surpassing your 5 a day recommendation. This easy dietary life hack involves eating as many colours as possible with your fresh food, making sure you’re covering all the bases on your vitamin intake without even having to think about it. And if you fill yourself up on nutritious veggies, then you’ll have less belly space to want to put less nutrient-dense food like refined sugars and carbohydrates into it.
For a few delicious ideas for dishes brimming with your 5 a day check out our Meals that heal posts.
Have a salt bath
Having an Epsom salt bath is one of the most accessible modes of recovery for tired and overworked muscles. Whether it’s from hard training, manual labour, or stress manifesting as muscle aches and pains, a good soak with Magnesium salts will help wash your aches and pains away.
Epsom salts contain sulphate; which is said to help flush toxins and absorb nutrients, and magnesium, which is touted to improve muscle and nerve function and reduce inflammation, as well as regulating the symptoms of anxiety.
For those of you that are a bit more hyperactive and find baths boring, try putting on a podcast to listen to whilst in for your soak. Use this time as a distraction-free zone by putting your phone on aeroplane mode if you’re using it as your listening device.
Practices deep breathing in traffic jams
Instead of getting yourself in an emotional, as well as a physical jam, when stuck in traffic, why not take it as an opportunity to fit some deep breathing practice into your day that you might have otherwise neglected. This will help to calm your nervous system, signalling it to resist the fight or flight response (SNS) that it’s about to fly off into, favouring instead a switch to the rest and digest branch of our autonomic nervous system (PNS). It will also give your deepest core muscle the diaphragm, a nice workout, massaging your viscera along the way.
Your breath practice could consist of simply following the descent of your diaphragm towards your lower abdomen on your inhale, and then observing how it rises back up like an open umbrella to support your lungs as you exhale. Or maybe you’d like to try breathing to counts such as with square breathing or 4-7-8 breath, both of which are good for reducing stress levels.
Borrow a dog to walk
As much as we might crave the company of a four-legged friend around the house and love the idea of getting out in nature with a dog, the practicality of full-time dog ownership is for many people unfeasible due to work and life commitments.
If you don’t have a friend or family member to join on dog walks or to help out with the offer of weekly dog walks, then there are a few other options. For example, you could volunteer to assist an elderly neighbour, join a scheme like the app Borrow my doggy, or join a Facebook group for helping in your community.
Not only will you release all the feel-good hormones associated with hanging out in the fresh air with a cute furry friend, but by helping others you’ll also be helping yourself, as compassion and kindness towards others boomerang those good vibes right back to you.
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