In our society, it’s easy to be swept up in the natural rhythm of things. Wake up, drink your paleo smoothie, work, sleep, repeat. And that’s fine – but it’s not ideal.
In order to truly live life to the fullest, we need to do more. That doesn’t mean you need to drop what you’re doing and go hike Kilimanjaro. It just means that maybe it’s time to rethink your daily routine. Chances are, it could use a bit of a facelift.
There are countless things you could be doing to improve your life. But let’s be honest – we like to keep it simple. Check these two items off your to-do list every day, and you’ll be looking at a happier, healthier you in no time.
1. Practice self-love
The more women I meet, the more I realize that we don’t do this enough. Collectively, women still aren’t taking enough time to love themselves – and that’s a devastating problem. Sure, we’re making strides. For one, we live in a time that embraces female empowerment. We’re taught, from a young age, to uplift other women rather than bring them down. This is a beautiful movement that I’m proud to be a part of, but I’m noticing more and more that it has the tendency to negatively impact our ability to summon confidence and worth from within, and that’s something we need to change.
Collectively, women still aren’t taking enough time to love themselves.
A couple years ago, it became “trendy” to offer praise to another woman. Suddenly, complimenting your bank lady’s hair wasn’t awkward – it was the thing to do! Only now am I starting to see a similar movement toward self-love. Lately, the internet is abundant with articles on the important of self-care and blogs on how to love yourself. And it’s about time! Making self-love a regular part of your routine is essential to living a full, happy life. We spend so much time doting on others and being demeaned (in the workplace, at home and even on the streets) that our energy levels are often running on empty. Because this constant depletion of energy is a primary contributor to illness – not to mention it sucks to be worn-out all the time – it’s extremely important to dial up the self-love.
So what can you do? Eat wholesome meals that nourish your body. Get a solid eight hours sleep every single night. Exercise on a regular basis not because you’re fat, but because working out releases endorphins which make you feel good, and you deserve to feel good. Last but not least, repeat self-affirming mantras such as “you are worthy” and “you are beautiful”. It might sound lame but it’s actually scientifically proven to increase wellbeing, so don’t knock it until you try it.
2. Live consciously
Be mindful. Stay present. Connect with the moment. There are a million ways to say this, but it’s a lot easier said than done. In fact, living consciously takes a great deal of effort, and most people aren’t willing to put in the legwork. Our minds have been trained to dwell on the past and worry about the future and, without putting mental effort into it, this is where our awareness will continue to drift. It’s up to you to reroute that movement.
Our minds have been trained to dwell on the past and worry about the future and, without putting mental effort into it, this is where our awareness will continue to drift.
Adopting the practice of mindfulness into your life is a daunting task, so let’s break it down. If you truly want to live more consciously, your first goal is to learn what it means to breathe. Sure, we all know how to takes inhales and exhales, but very few of us actually know how to do it properly. In yoga, breath work – otherwise known as Pranayama – is considered a very important aspect of overall practice. Most instructors are trained to guide you through the proper mechanics of breathing, which includes a subtle deepening that has dramatic affects. Without this training, the majority of people regularly engage in “chest breathing”. In other words, the oxygen they take in only reaches their lungs. Belly breathing or “diaphragmatic breathing”, on the other hand, is one of the keys to optimal wellness. Once you’ve mastered it, you’re looking at a great deal of health benefits.
- Reduces negative stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol
- Helps reduce cravings for processed carbohydrates (junk food)
- Improves quality of sleep by improving stage 1 and stage 4 sleep cycles
- Lengthens the lifespan of cells by helping the body release toxins
- Slows the aging process by increasing the secretion of human growth hormone
- Optimizes the immune system by strengthening T-cell formation and improving lymphocyte production
- Improves your mood by elevating the “feel good” hormone, serotonin, and other positive endorphins
- Improves mental focus and concentration by increasing blood flow to the Pre-Frontal Cortex of the brain
I encourage you to check out this article, which explains the difference between chest and belly breath in a bit more depth: http://www.inpursuitofyoga.com/blog/2015/3/11/chest-breath-vs-belly-breath
So what’s next? If you’ve mastered the art of breathing and are looking for more ways to live consciously, here’s a tip – stop looking. This isn’t meant to be task-oriented. Just the opposite, in fact! The intention of this guideline is to encourage you to stop making plans and let go of that feeling of work that so often accompanies every moment. If you simply must know where to go from here, try meditating. It’s tough at first but I promise you it gets better. Short of that, living consciously simply entails that you start paying closer attention to where you are right now. Stop to smell the roses. Grab life by the horns. Enjoy the little things.
Do all of this, and your life will get better.