People often assume that holistic wellness practices are all pricey and time consuming, but that’s not the case! Over the last few weeks as I’ve been feeling icky and sick with what is apparently third trimester morning sickness (it’s a thing…), I’ve brought back a lot of the things that I used to do for health and wellness when living in Manhattan had me feeling not so hot. They’ve been helping a lot, and most of them are both easy and free or almost free. Yesterday, I started oil pulling again, and felt so great that I decided to scrap the post that I had scheduled today to write this one. I wanted you guys to start feeling the health benefits that I did ASAP!
For those of you who don’t know, my background is actually in holistic wellness. My husband and I are both certified health coaches and actually met while working at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. So while I’m not a doctor or professional health practitioner of any kind, I have learned a lot about what makes your body feel it’s healthiest with natural techniques.
Here are six easy ways to feel great on a daily basis… They’re all easy to do and cost nearly nothing!
1. Oil Pulling. Yesterday morning I woke up and was about to brush my teeth when I remembered oil pulling. I used to practice this religiously when I lived in the city, but kind of fell off the bandwagon when we moved to Connecticut for some reason. I don’t know why I thought of it when I did, but I took it as a sign and went for it. It’s only been two days, but I am already reminded of why I love this cleansing practice.
What is oil pulling? It’s an ayurvedic practice that where oil is swished or held in your mouth to improve oral health and pull toxins out of your mouth that just brushing can’t do on it’s own. Some of the benefits that people describe are curing hangovers and insomnia, and clearing up skin problems like psoriasis.In my own personal experience, it has helped with headaches, hangovers, nausea, acne, and insomnia but try it for yourself if you don’t believe me!
How do you do it? When you wake up in the morning, before you brush your teeth or do anything else, take a tablespoon of coconut (or sesame) oil and swish it around your mouth for 20 minutes. “Chew” on the oil as it’s melting at the beginning, and when you’re done, spit it out in the sink or toilet, but don’t swallow it. Ayurvedic medicine claims that the oil is full of your toxins after 20 minutes of swishing, so you want to get it out of your body ASAP.
Gross, right? It is pretty gross at first, but after a day or two you get used to it and it starts to feel good. After day one your teeth will feel as clean as they do post-dentist. It’s pretty amazing! I’ve also noticed some of the other health benefits right away. Others, like helping with insomnia and acne, take about a week or so to take effect.
2. 4-7-8 Breathing. Dr. Weil created this breathing technique to improve sleep, but I like to use it throughout the day. It calms me down on stressful days, and the more I practice it, the more helpful it is at bedtime when I want to fall asleep quickly.
What is 4-7-8 breathing? It’s a breathing exercise that can be done anywhere, anytime. I try to practice this twice a day. Once mid-day (I set an alarm on my phone to remind me) and once before bed. It’s great for anxiety and insomnia. It’s also quite helpful if something stressful happens and you need to take a beat in the moment before reacting to something.
How do you do it? Place the tip of your tongue against the skin just behind your top front teeth, and keep it there the entire time. Start by exhaling completely through your mouth, making a “whoosh” sound (yes it’s awkward). Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Then exhale completely through your mouth, making that whoosh sound again to the count of eight. Repeat this three times for a total of four breaths.
The first few breaths will be difficult, and you might feel lightheaded, but trust me that it gets easier and works wonders once you get the technique down.
3. Dry Brushing. You brush your hair and your teeth every day, but have you ever thought about brushing your skin? Probably not… I love dry brushing because it’s so easy to do, takes only 5 minutes a day, feels great while you’re doing it, is super cheap (you literally only need a brush) and it has a ton of health benefits including glowing skin and who doesn’t want glowing skin? It can also help to clear up body acne and has even been said to prevent and reverse cellulite after practicing it regularly.
What is dry brushing? It’s a daily practice that exfoliates your skin by sloughing off dead skin cels with a dry brush. It also supports your lymphatic system by stimulating your lymph flow which then helps your body detoxify itself naturally.
How do you do it? Stand in your shower/tub fully naked and take a natural (not synthetic!) brush to dry skin. Start at your feet and move the brush in long sweeps towards your heart… all brushstrokes throughout the process should be toward your heart. Once you’ve moved up your entire body including arms, torso, back, butt, etc, hop in the shower to remove any extra dry skin. Make sure to moisturize after you dry off. That’s it! Try it every day for a week or two and see what happens. At the very least, I guarantee that your skin will be softer and clearer.
Read more about dry brushing here.
4. Sun Salutations.
Although they’re getting harder for me these days, sun salutations have always been one of my favorite ways to get more energized throughout the day. It’s hard to do these anywhere but at home or the gym, so I always recommend getting up and completing a few flows first thing in the morning. You can even do it while you’re oil pulling. Double whammy!
What is a sun salutation? If you’ve ever been to a Vinyasa yoga class, you’ve done a sun salutation. It’s basically a series of yoga poses that flow into each other, usually as a warm up to your yoga practice, but obviously it can also be done alone as well.
How do you do it? Watch this video for a step by step guide.
5. Essential Oils. This is the only thing on the list that isn’t free or nearly free. Essential oils can get pricey, but if you only really need a few and they last for a long time. I stick with DoTerra oils pretty much exclusively because they’re super high quality and I can smell the difference compared to other brands. I have no affiliation with them and they’re not paying me to recommend products, I just really love them!
What oils do you need? You don’t need to have a whole array of oils, just the ones that work for your ailments or needs. I like to have lemon, peppermint, and lavender stocked up at all times. This starter kit, which includes all three, will save you some money. During allergy season, this Breathe blend is a lifesaver. I also have it in a roll on for on the go usage. The last oil that I always recommend is On Guard which I use daily in the winter for immunity. I prefer the roll on for this as well and just bring it everywhere. It’s also great for travel!
How do you use them? I use my oils in two main ways. 1. I diffuse them using this diffuser (this one is also great and a little cheaper) that Anel bought me for Christmas. He bought it originally because I was so nauseous in my first trimester, and he thought it might help… Turns out, it did! If I have a headache, I diffuse peppermint oil for an hour or so and it goes away. If I’m tired, I’ll blend lemon and peppermint or just stick to lemon. At night before bed, I surround myself with the scent of lavender. If you use high quality oils, they will make a huge difference. I know it sounds like witch doctor talk, but I’m a total convert. 2. As mentioned above, I’ll use roll on oils for when I’m on the move. I dab a bit of oil on my wrists and neck and I’ll be good to go for a few hours.
6. Detox Bath. One thing that I miss most about pre-pregnancy life is my hot baths (you can’t take them when you’re pregnant!). I would sit in a steaming hot tub a few nights a week with Epsom salts and essential oils and feel so relaxed afterwards. They feel especially amazing to relax your muscles after tough workouts.
How do you do it? Draw a bath with water as hot as you can stand it. Pour in 2-3 cups of Epsom salts to draw out toxins and relieve tired muscles. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil (I like lavendar for bath time personally). Relax in the tub for 15-20 minutes. You should be sweating pretty hard by the end. Keep water nearby and sip on it during your bath to stay hydrated. When you’re done, be sure to moisturize your entire body! Once a week, add a face mask at the same time.
7. Hot Lemon Water. You’ve probably seen me talk about drinking hot lemon water in the mornings before, but I’ll say it again because I think the benefits are so worth it.
Why is it good for you? While lemons are acidic, they actually help alkalize your system. Drinking it can balance your internal pH and activate liver, flushing away toxins. Another great benefit is that drinking it daily aids in weight loss.
Read about more reasons to drink warm lemon water here.
How do you do it? Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to hot water in a mug. Sip it in the morning after oil pulling and before breakfast.
What did I miss? Do you have any favorite daily wellness rituals?