5 BABY STEPS
Toward A Healthier Life
You’re probably familiar with the phrase, “Your body is a temple.” The saying itself is trite, but its significance and import are still clear: Listen to your body and treat it well if you want to live a happier, healthy life. But have you ever wondered how to do that exactly? Learning to read and listen to your body takes time and patience, and no one really teaches you how.
Thankfully, a big part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a practice is learning to respect and read your body so you can counter negativity and bad habits to promote positive energy, both in your own life and in the lives of others. However, getting to the point where you can recognize negative thought patterns and general signs of unhealthiness takes time and patience.
To help you get started being a happier, more mindful you, we’ve included five baby steps you can take to lead a healthier life.
1. Incorporate Healing Foods into Your Diet
TCM holds that there are two classes of “healing foods” that naturally help your body grow stronger and healthier. The first are typical foods that you include in your diet, such as broccoli, celery, carrots, apples, pineapples, and pears. The second group refers to special herbs, also known as adaptogens, that bolster the body’s immune system to help you cope with physical and mental stress. Start eating these foods on a regular basis and to build a stronger immune system.
Actionable tip: Break up with fast food (if you haven’t already) and avoid ingesting chemicals where possible. Fast food is loaded with chemicals, which cause the body to age prematurely and may even hinder fertility in women.
2. Move Your Body Regularly
An important aspect of TCM is the flow of qi — or energy. When we move, we’re helping qi flow; when we stagnate, so does the qi, which causes an imbalance. Since our bodies are designed to move regularly, it’s important to do so throughout your day. If you have an office job, this is especially important! Forcing your body to move, be it a small walk or a 45-minute HIIT workout, will get your qi circulating again.
Actionable tip: Break up your workday by allowing yourself to take a quick five minute stroll three times a day. This will get your mind off of work and help your blood circulate.
3. Learn to Express Gratitude
Rather than complaining or focusing on your failures and frustrations, learn to seek out the positive aspects of your day. It’s easy to let your surroundings and circumstances dictate and control your feelings, but learning to stay positive will keep you in a better mood, improve your overall outlook on life, and even help you sleep better at night.
Actionable tip: A great way to stay positive is to keep a gratitude journal. Log what you’re thankful for everyday and don’t dwell on anything negative. This is your positive space!
4. Drink Water More Often
Sounds simple, right? However, a lot of people are dehydrated. The fact is, water is key to maintaining the body’s systems. It keeps your skin looking healthy and literally contributes to every bodily function from your digestive system to your brain. So, how much water should you consume daily? To stay healthy, health authorities claim you should drink up to eight 8-ounce glasses a day, also known as the “8×8” rule. However this includes fluids in food and if you want to hydrate, sip from your water bottle as gulping water triggers you to pee it out immediately.
Actionable tip: In TCM, water temperature is also something you should consider. Ice cold water is not ideal, since it requires your body’s energy to heat up and digest. Instead, opt for hot or room temperature water and skip the ice.
5. Regulate Your Sleep with a TCM Body Clock
Do you wake up frequently when you sleep? If you do, then there’s an imbalance in the midst. To figure out what the source of the imbalance is, you need to check out an organ clock or “body clock.” A Chinese body clock shows you at what time of day the flow of qi is strongest within your meridians and organs. It breaks up a 24-hour cycle into two hour segments, and each segment correlates to a specific organ. So, if you’re waking up between 11 and 3 a.m., then the imbalance lies in your liver and gallbladder.
Actionable tip: A good practice is to try to fall asleep before 11 p.m. This is when the qi flows through the liver, which is one of the most vital organs in the body. To ensure it heals properly, it’s best to sleep during this time.
These steps are a great way to start incorporating positive habits into your everyday life. Remember: These are small steps and you will stumble, but staying consistent is more important!
Do you have additional tips or feedback? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!