How to be well
Since I last wrote 2 weeks ago (“The Power of Stepping Away”), we as a nation and as a global community, have significantly increased our efforts to “stay away”. In South Africa we are on day 4 of our lock down today and at least 16 more days lie ahead. Many of us have extreme mixed emotions which may flood through us almost hourly. Grateful for a slower pace. Scared of the future. Grateful for our simple blessings. Worried for ourselves, our families and friends. Grateful for running water, food, a bed to sleep in. Terrified of the financial impact of this – personally, for our businesses, communities, for those less privileged than us. Grateful for the gift of more time with our children who seem to be growing up so fast. And then wanting to tear our hair out and scream in frustration while trying to feed, home school, clean, do our own work and attend to everyone’s very pressing and immediate demands! And there’s nowhere to run! These are not easy times. They demand our full attention and our full presence.
So I thought I’d write a practical guide of what you can do each day to keep yourself as healthy and well as possible – physically, mentally and emotionally. These are very simple and accessible tools and I hope you’ll find them helpful.
- Start each day with a squeeze of lemon in a mug of warm water (or if you have dōTERRA essential oils you can put a drop of your lemon oil in water). Lemon is naturally acidic but when it’s metabolised, it becomes alkaline. Our bodies are more prone to illness and disease when they are in an acidic state. This is exacerbated by eating too much sugar, dairy, red meat, caffeine and carbs so by starting the day with lemon in water (and sipping a water bottle with this all day) it helps to counteract that acidity. Plus, we get a healthy boost of Vitamin C and ani-oxidants.
- And on that note try to eat more alkalizing foods which would be vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, spices like ginger, turmeric, cloves, sea salt and apple cider vinegar.
- Gargle with warm salt water (and add some Apple Cider vinegar to supercharge it). At first sign of a sore throat (or just as a daily practice), dissolve some sea salt in warm water and gargle. It helps to disinfect our throats and to keep us healthy. And if you have dōTERRA essential oils you can make a powerful throat spray and gargle as shown in this Instagram clip by Dom Oliver.
- Keep moving. There are countless studies showing the link between lack of movement and exercise, with depression. Whether we move or not affects our mood and our mental health enormously! And this is for our children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents too. We need to move to stay happy and sane. And mental health is by far one of the biggest risks of this time of social isolation. So we have to encourage each other to move! There are fun initiatives online too. We’re doing #PEwithJoe (YouTube The Body Coach). He’s live every day at 10am for 30 minutes, or you can watch the recording. I do it with our children and my 71 year old dad is also doing it every day. There are amazing yoga offerings (free and paid) online. You just have to google. Some of my favourites are classes by Yoga Experience, and Mindful Yoga with Rhys of Intuitive Ocean. There’s also the wonderful Mzansi Lockdown Challenge where you can walk or run 2km in your home or garden daily and by the end of lockdown you would have walked or run a marathon! The community aspect of these exercises are so important too – one feels connected to something bigger and connected to a community which is powerful medicine too …
- Stay connected. Not necessarily to the news. It’s important to be aware, but checking in on the news just once a day, or once every few days, will be more than effective with that. And not just “staying connected” on social media. It’s nice to be able to pop in and out of our social media feeds, but the real importance is to stay connected to your important relationships and communities. To connect with our families, special friends, those on their own, the elderly. To have proper conversations. To “see” each other where we can. Yesterday our family had a wonderful ZOOM call. My brother is in the UK, and as my mum pointed out, this was the first time our family had been “together” since January 2019. It was very special to be together and able to chat. #TogetherApart. ZOOM is free for calls up to 40 minutes and 100 participants – it’s really worth trying it. Click this link above to get going.
- Really enjoying our simple pleasures. Now more than ever it’s important to relish the things we do have, and to express our gratitude for them. No matter what our situation is, there is always something to be grateful for. Expressing gratitude is enormously powerful for boosting the immune system, uplifting mood, decreasing depression, helping with sleep and so much more. In fact, keeping a gratitude journal for 3 weeks has been shown to boost happiness levels by up to 25%. That’s astounding. Anti-depressants don’t have the same results. It’s worth doing – I’m posting mine online on FB and Instagram daily and I’d love to hear yours. Or write them in a journal. Or say them out loud with your family. It makes me really appreciate my morning coffee, the smell of a rose in our garden, a cuddle with our children, that I have running water, the list is endless. There is a wonderful quote by Jack Gilbert (thank you @Elizabeth Gilbert for this quote) “We must risk delight. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of the world.”And the world does feel like a ruthless furnace at the moment. But we must still risk delight. It does not ease others’ pain and hardship if we are all miserable. We can still be concerned and express care and love without being burnt up in the furnace. It’s ok to feel joy and delight. It doesn’t mean we don’t care. In fact, it’s essential for our wellbeing. If you want to know more about this please read my blog “What’s so exciting about Nitric Oxide”
- And on that note music, dance breaks and laughter are all so important at boosting the immune system, building feelings of connection, generating nitric oxide and uplifting mood. So watching funny movies, listening to wonderful music and having a dance around the kitchen are all potent medicine too! Watch and listen to this and notice how you feel afterwards …
- Wim Hof breathing – this is one of my favourite breathwork techniques. It’s been shown to alkalise the body (see point 1) and to boost the immune system quite profoundly (and we all need that) by increasing production of white blood cells and B-lymphocytes. It also increases our breath holding ability and lung capacity, which are very important in times like this, especially if you already struggle with respiratory issues and asthma (and please share it with people in your family who do). It’s simple and free and anyone can do it. You can download the app or follow along on this link. It’s also good for flooding the body with nitric oxide and uplifting mood. So there are benefits all round. And it’s a very mindful practice. I often recommend this to people who say that they can’t meditate. Or they want to help their husband or son with their stress but they won’t consider meditation. It’s also great for people wanting to get the edge in their sport – it’s practiced by a lot of elite athletes. Good for times like this when it’s not easy to train but you still want to improve athletic performance. Look up more about Wim Hof and his work here.
- Ground yourself daily – some sort or mindfulness, meditation or breathwork practice. All these practices are vital to keeping us calm and sane at this time. They help us get off this hamster wheel in our minds that spins around at 100 km/hour! Breathwork Africa and Mindfulness Africa both have wonderful offerings at this time, as does the Institute for Mindfulness in South Africa. I did a short video with Marj Murray of Breathwork Africa recently explaining Breathwork and some wonderful tools for families and children (and adults too). It can be viewed here. I will also be hosting some Mindfulness sessions online. The next one is tomorrow morning – Tuesday 31 March at 7am for half an hour. You can join it by following this ZOOM link (when you click on the link it will take you through the process of downloading ZOOM quickly and easily. It should be a simple process). There is no charge, but I can only take up to 100 participants. No need to book but please let me know if you couldn’t get on and I’ll make another plan for next time. I will notify people about future calls on my FB and Instagram (click on the links below) but there will be a call every Tuesday morning at 7am for the foreseeable future. Again here is the ZOOM link: https://zoom.us/j/3853652907
- Connect with nature. If you’re able to, walk outside and take a few deep breaths. Look at the sky as if you’ve never really noticed it before. The colours, the patterns, the light. Go out every night and look at the moon. See how it is different every night. It’s a waxing moon now, going from our dark new moon last week to our full moon on the 8th April, so notice the difference in the light it casts on the earth. Watching the moon has been shown to help balance our hormones and menstrual cycle too – if you’ve ever seen the effect of the moon on the tides, you cannot deny that the moon must have a profound effect on our own bodies which are 70% water too. If you have a garden, walk in it slowly, taking in shapes and colours of leaves, flowers, insects, butterflies, bees. Our connection with nature is very healing and calming. In fact the British Medical Association reports on doctors giving “green prescriptions” – encouraging time in nature to promote health and wellbeing and especially mental health in this article . We may not be able to go for long walks but we can still connect with nature every day even just by looking at the sky and the moon.
Phew! It’s a lot! But it’s also very simple and accessible. So perhaps just concentrate on adding just one or two practices each day, and in a few days you’ll be feeling a lot better. This is going to be a long journey for us all and we need to look after ourselves and pace ourselves.
And if you’d like to know more about the dōTERRA essential oils that I use for supporting myself and our family’s health, I’ll be hosting regular classes online. They are the most potent tools I have found to help boost immunity, deal with illness, help the body to heal, cope with anxiety and so much more. I’d love to share them with you.
The next classes are on Tuesday evening 31 March at 7.30pm and on Saturday 4 April at 4pm. The ZOOM link for both is https://zoom.us/j/3853652907
I look forward to “seeing you” online soon.
Photo credit: Olivia Barnes
The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or other health program.