Health does not have to be complex or difficult to manage.It can be simple, doable, effective—it can even be fun. And if we pop the right health tools into our daily lives, they can move us closer to where we want to go instead of bogging us down or overwhelming us into doing nothing.Health can be quick ‘n’ dirty.
I’ve defined wellness before as a feeling of confidence and vitality knowing that you are using a set of strategies to move you towards health, which is a state of wholeness, balance and resilience. Having health does not imply that we aren’t going to get knocked down; but it does mean we can quickly get back up again and start moving forward in a healthy state without much collateral damage.
We want to have strategies that are quick ‘n’ dirty to make that happen.The process of learning these wellness tools and implementing them into our daily routines cannot be too much of a challenge, and yet they have to be powerful enough to make a difference. As a physician and health coach, I’ve spent my entire career hunting such strategies down. I’ve collected them in a book called “Integrative Wellness Rules: A Simple Guide to Healthy Living.”
All of us are trying to figure out what to do get healthier, back in balance or finding ways to improve on where we are. The challenge is that there is so much information to process, more often than not we get overwhelmed or don’t know where to start.Simple is so much better than complex.
Let me give you my top three quick ‘n’ dirty health tips:
- Learn Breathing Techniques. You want to be able to use your breath to manage stress in the moment. It’s one thing to practice yoga in a classroom when the world around you isn’t going crazy; it’s quite another to rescue yourself from a panic attack. Learning how to breathe fully, deeply and more rhythmically even—using your diaphragm to regulate breaths and optimize lung capacity—can make this happen.
Start by doing this simple exercise: Exhale first. You want to breathe out first, and at the last part of the exhale, squeeze your abdominal muscles inward so that you point your belly button towards your back. Breathing should be in three parts: on the Exhale, your neck and chest go down, then your belly goes in; on the Inhale, your belly first goes out, then your chest rises, and your neck goes up. Try this for 10 cycles twice daily. Your breathing should look like an Italian Chianti bottle: out first then up, up, up, on the inhale; then down, down, down and squeeze in. Do this for a count of four-in-and-four-out to get into the rhythm.
- Go for a Walk. Walking is simple to do, it takes very little equipment and can be done anywhere—the shopping mall, an airport terminal, around the block or just getting on the treadmill. According to the Harvard Alumni study, walking just 15 minutes five days a week was shown to significantly lower rates of all-cause mortality—dying of anything—in over 17,000 men. Get your gym shoes on and get more exercise.
- Eat a Good Breakfast. Something quick and easy that lowers inflammation, satisfies hunger, and balances blood sugar. One of my favorites is also Dr. Oz’s: Greek yogurt with mixed berries—blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries—add a tablespoon of ground flax seed with a cup of green tea (I love matcha).