Ten Healthy Habits for the Holiday Season and Beyond!
Okay, first of all: get your vaccines! I’m talking about Flu and COVID here folks (preferably an mRNA version like Moderna for more lasting efficacy). Benefits are much greater than risks, and you’ll be doing your neighbors a favor. That being said, it is time to broaden the discussion of what keeps us healthy to include the enduring and adaptable aspects of immunity that apply to every challenge your body will encounter.
How do we achieve a level of baseline health that keeps the body resilient and resistant to disease?
All of life is rather brilliant at protecting itself, at maintaining homeostasis – that inner balance which keeps each body and ecosystem alive and humming. Although we can see it as an expression of consciousness, maintaining homeostasis is not a conscious process in itself. You do not need to think about how your heart is beating in order for it to do so. But, we help or hinder our homeostatic mechanisms with decisions that we make every moment of every day.
Smoking, drinking alcohol, staying up until midnight, eating ice cream and meat for dinner are all incredibly common in the modern American lifestyle, yet all of these behaviors undermine the body’s ability to heal and resist disease. Intuitively, we know such behaviors do not serve us, but when something becomes habitualized, it becomes so normal that you do not even realize it is bad for you anymore. It’s just second nature. Ayurveda calls this pragyah aparadh, or mistaken intellect. A sort of reprogramming of what is “normal” that steers us away from our natural set point.
Adjust habits to align with what your body truly needs, and you will experience better health as a result.
Now without further ado, here are 10 healthy habits from Ayurveda to keep your body resilient and resistant to disease this Holiday Season! Start by picking a few easy ones to work on. Hint: It’s fun!
- Eat good food – Eat organic and vegetarian as much as possible. Avoid packaged food. This is also good for the planet, which of course circles right back to YOU.
- Make lunch the largest meal – avoid heavy foods like cream, meat and cheese at dinner
- Eat to satisfaction, but not total fullness – leave about 1/4-1/3 of your stomach empty to facilitate digestion
- Chew food completely before moving on to the next bite – enjoy every last second of flavor!
- Eat sitting down. Attend to the process of eating. Slow down. Enjoy it. Take at least 15 minutes for small meals and 20-30 for lunch.
- Avoid snacking between meals unless you are genuinely hungry! Then make it something light, like a piece of fruit.
- Sleep for about eight hours per night, consistently. Aim to be asleep somewhere between 9-1030, and wake up around sunrise.
- Meditate. Personally, I practice and prescribe Transcendental Meditation (more on this in future posts), and can attest that even a short investment of time twice a day will make a difference! Here is a simple meditation technique from Deepak Chopra that you can start today.
- Breathe! An automated process that we can influence to enliven the entire body. Try alternate nostril breathing, or simply be still and tune into your breath to promote relaxation.
- Be kind. Generate feelings of love and empathy in your heart. Find the center. Warm it up. Radiate it!
Fun fact: The body responds physiologically to your thoughts and intentions. Emotions do not lead you, you are in the driver’s seat. Breathe through any challenging feelings and hold the intention of compassion, of grace, and you will uncover the calm and penetrating center of your heart.