Healthy things that are easy and do not cost a lot.
(Commonly referred to as my favorite healthy things.)
Part Three of a three-part series in which I, in all my inexperience and unqualified-ness, suggest how you can integrate healthy habits into your lifestyle.
Part III: Mind/Body Healthy Things
Like everyone else, I fall victim to the blue light just before bed. Of course, this means I end up not sleeping well. So lately I’ve taken up the practice of putting the phone away and picking up a book instead, like this one that my friend Sara Wood designed the cover for. Focusing on the fictional (or nonfictional) story at hand helps put to rest all the other problems of my world rather than magnifying them, as zombie-staring at my phone while scrolling through Facebook or Instagram tends to do. The more relaxed my mind is, the better I sleep. The better I sleep, the more rested I feel. And the more rested I feel, the more energized I am to conquer the goddamn world! Conquering the world meaning I get to work on time.
Nevertheless, if you just can't give up Facebook or Instagram before bed (no judgment here, I talk a good talk), there is something that can help keep your brain from going into hyperdrive. A friend of mine showed me these cool glasses from EyeBuyDirect that come with a filter to block out the blue light that radiates off our screens. Don't normally wear glasses? No problem. There's no need for a prescription: I ordered a pair of these to wear at work, and they have helped tremendously.
There have been a lot of studies floating around suggesting that a dedicated practice of meditation daily can help rebuild brain matter, and rather quickly. For someone with chronic major depression and generalized anxiety such as myself, this is a big deal. Unchecked, those mental illnesses can actually shrink gray matter, due to the rumination of negative thoughts that do not allow the formation of fresh neural pathways (more about that here). However, increasing “mindfulness,” the new-agiest word ever, helps reintroduce balance that centers the mind, equipping it to better combat stress and the impulse of indulging negative thoughts that lead down spiraling rabbit holes. Meditation gets a bad rap as a difficult practice, but the fact is that taking a mere ten minutes of your day to check in with yourself—and I mean sitting still and quiet, and really checking in—provides tremendous benefits and shouldn’t scare anyone away. Still unsure? Check out Headspace: you can try a free starter course to help serve as your guide.
I know you want everyone to shut up about exercise and how good it is for you, but it’s the truth. Working out sucks, but it makes you feel better. Don’t have time? Dude, I hear you. Life is for real and time is not plenty. An hour-long yoga or fitness class is really two, because you have to get there, make sure you get a spot, go through the class, and then deal with the clusterfuck of leaving. Sometimes that’s not in the cards. But while I know a lot of people are of the mentality of all in or nothing, let me assure you that a little something is better than nothing. And you will feel better for it. If you’re pressed for time, or can’t deal with working out for an hour, or just straight up do not want to deal with people, guess what: you can do all of it from home. Did you now that you can find a buttload of great fitness videos on YouTube for free? I have a few particular favorites that PopSugar offers. One is a thirty minute yoga video that gets my blood pumping yet doesn’t royally interfere with my schedule, and the other is a twenty minute body-sculpting workout that actually made me want to throw up, so I'm going to go ahead and say it was challenging because I have a delicate ego. Go do it! You’ll be glad you did.