As I opened the window the other day, I was hit by a gust of cold air. The nights are drawing slowly in and it gets quite chilly in the evenings in the place I am at present. The feeling was not unpleasant and even though it was 6am and still dark, the cooler air woke me immediately. It may sound like a rather bizarre event to be writing about but it is a small cog in a bigger wheel that forms part of a daily routine I have established for myself. A routine that focuses on better health, self-care and meeting my own needs.
This has focussed on various aspects of my daily life that I consider maintainence of individuality and conscious detachment from codependency. If you practice daily new aspects of your life, they become a habit. It will be different for everyone but here is my list:
Daily Routine: Establishing a consistent daily routine and waking up at the same time each day offers a multitude of benefits for overall well-being. This practice enhances sleep quality by regulating the body’s internal clock, leading to better rest. It also boosts productivity through effective time management, reduces stress by providing predictability and stability, and enhances focus and concentration by minimizing distractions. Improved physical health, better mental well-being, and the promotion of healthy habits are additional advantages. Having a routine allows for dedicated self-care time, strengthens relationships, and aids in achieving long-term goals. It even supports better sleep hygiene and energy levels, making it a simple yet powerful tool for a more balanced and fulfilling life.
We should also be aware of light. Light at sunrise and sunset, often referred to as the golden hour, offers a unique and health-enhancing experience. This natural light helps regulate our internal circadian rhythms, promoting better sleep quality and synchronization of our biological clock. It positively affects our mood, reducing stress and depression by triggering the release of serotonin. The gentle, indirect light is easier on the eyes and can contribute to reduced eye strain and discomfort. Sunrise and sunset light also support the production of essential vitamin D and have been used in phototherapy for conditions like seasonal affective disorder. Beyond its physiological benefits, experiencing these moments fosters mindfulness, relaxation, and a deep connection to nature, enriching our overall well-being.
Sleep: Sleep is a fundamental biological necessity that plays a critical role in maintaining our overall health and well-being. It is during sleep that our bodies undergo essential processes like tissue repair, immune system strengthening, and memory consolidation. Adequate sleep is also crucial for mental health, as it helps regulate mood and emotional stability. Furthermore, a consistent sleep schedule can enhance cognitive functions such as problem-solving, creativity, and decision-making. Inadequate or poor-quality sleep, on the other hand, can lead to a range of health issues, including increased risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, as well as impaired cognitive performance and heightened susceptibility to mood disorders. Given the significance of sleep, it is imperative to adopt healthy sleep habits to ensure a restful and restorative night’s sleep.
To maintain healthy sleep patterns, one should establish a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same times each day, even on weekends. Creating a comfortable sleep environment, characterized by a cool, dark, and quiet room, can also promote better sleep. Reducing exposure to screens, especially blue light-emitting devices like smartphones and computers, before bedtime is essential, as the blue light can disrupt the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Additionally, engaging in relaxing activities such as reading, gentle stretching, or taking a warm bath before bedtime can help signal to the body that it’s time to wind down. Lastly, paying attention to diet and avoiding large meals, caffeine (I drink only tea), and alcohol ( I am teetotal ) close to bedtime can contribute to better sleep quality.
Breathing: Nasal breathing, as opposed to breathing through the mouth, offers a host of advantages for both physical and physiological well-being. Firstly, it acts as a natural filter, trapping particles and pathogens from the air, thus promoting better respiratory health and reducing the risk of respiratory infections. Nasal breathing also humidifies and warms the inhaled air, ensuring it’s at the ideal moisture and temperature level, which prevents dryness and irritation in the airways. Moreover, breathing through the nose activates the diaphragm and engages the lower lungs more effectively, leading to improved oxygen exchange and enhanced lung function. It also promotes the production of nitric oxide, which helps dilate blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and improve overall cardiovascular health. In essence, nasal breathing provides a holistic approach to better breathing, contributing to improved respiratory health, enhanced oxygenation, and overall bodily vitality.
Nasal breathing while walking is a simple yet effective technique that can enhance both your walking experience and overall well-being. To practice this, focus on inhaling and exhaling through your nose rather than your mouth as you take each step. Nasal breathing in motion helps to regulate your breathing pattern, making it more rhythmic and steady. This promotes relaxation and reduces the risk of hyperventilation, which can occur when breathing rapidly through the mouth. Furthermore, breathing through the nose while walking optimizes oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide elimination, allowing you to sustain your energy levels for longer durations. It also encourages diaphragmatic breathing, which engages the full capacity of your lungs, improving oxygenation and overall respiratory efficiency. By incorporating nasal breathing into your walking routine, you can experience a greater sense of calm, improved endurance, and a deeper connection with your surroundings, making your walks more enjoyable and beneficial for your health.
Walking regularly: Walking frequently is a simple yet immensely beneficial practice that contributes to overall well-being. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll through the park, a brisk walk during lunch break, or a daily routine to run errands, walking offers a myriad of advantages. It not only promotes physical fitness by engaging muscles, improving cardiovascular health, and aiding in weight management, but it also has profound mental and emotional benefits. Frequent walks provide an opportunity to clear one’s mind, reduce stress, and enhance mood, often fostering creativity and introspection. Additionally, they foster a deeper connection with the surrounding environment, allowing individuals to appreciate the beauty of nature and urban landscapes alike. You can also meditate.
Meditating while walking, often referred to as walking meditation, combines the physical activity of walking with the mindfulness and mental focus of meditation. It’s a practice that offers a unique way to cultivate presence and inner peace. When one meditates while walking, the emphasis shifts from covering distance or achieving fitness goals to being fully present in each step and breath. This practice is rooted in various spiritual and mindfulness traditions, including Buddhism and Taoism. Walking meditation typically involves finding a quiet, serene place to walk, such as a garden, forest, or even a peaceful indoor space. As you begin walking slowly and deliberately, you become attuned to the sensations and movements associated with each step. Pay attention to the feeling of your feet lifting off the ground, moving through the air, and making contact with the earth. Focus on your breath, synchronizing it with your steps. This mindfulness of walking can be complemented by the repetition of a calming phrase or mantra.
This offers several advantages. Firstly, it’s an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety, as the act of walking combined with focused breathing promotes relaxation. Secondly, it enhances body awareness and balance, helping individuals connect with their physical selves. Additionally, walking meditation encourages a deep sense of presence and can be a valuable tool for those seeking clarity of thought, creative inspiration, or emotional stability. Furthermore, this practice can be adapted to different lifestyles and schedules. It can be as short as a few minutes or extend to longer, contemplative walks. Many find it particularly beneficial during hectic days when traditional seated meditation might be challenging to incorporate.
Incorporating meditative walking into your routine can create a sense of grounding and mindfulness in your daily life. It’s a practice that reminds us that even in the midst of a fast-paced world, we can find moments of stillness and inner peace simply by taking one mindful step at a time.
Healthy eating: Healthy eating and intermittent fasting offer a range of substantial health benefits. A balanced diet rich in nutrients from whole foods supports weight management, digestion, energy levels, immune function, and mental well-being. Nutrient-dense foods provide the necessary vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, while also promoting healthy skin and strong cellular function. Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, aids in weight loss, improves insulin sensitivity, encourages cellular repair, and enhances heart and brain health. These practices can be particularly powerful when combined, as they promote efficient fat burning, balanced blood sugar levels, and long-term health benefits, reducing the risk of chronic diseases and supporting overall well-being. However, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before embarking on any new dietary or fasting regimen to ensure it’s suitable for individual needs and health conditions.