Today we’re exploring the 7 pillars of good health. This information is perfect for those of you who are just starting out on your health journeys, but for anyone else, I think we can all use a good refresher of the basics of leading a healthy lifestyle.
I have so many pleasant memories of when I first started out on my health “journey” a little over a decade ago. Like the first time I discovered flax seeds, the joy of entering a health food store for the first time, and the many hours spent on my yoga mat just taking in the newness of meditation and deep breathing.
This post is for those of you who are just starting out on your health journeys (or for anyone who wants a good refresher!) We’re exploring the 7 pillars of good health.
You can also watch my video on this subject here.
Our bodies are made up of around 60% water. It’s kinda crazy when you think about it. That’s a lot of water!
Being properly hydrated helps our bodies better distribute nutrients, supports our digestive function (and can help combat constipation), and promotes energy and healthy skin.
If possible, aim to use a filter for your water. We use a Brita pitcher that we keep in our fridge. Santevia and Berkey filters are other good options.
Pro tip: keep a reusable water bottle or glass of water near you through the day. When developing new habits, having things in sight makes it much easier.
If you haven’t yet read my post on my 10 Beginner Guidelines to Healthy Eating, I encourage you to check it out for my go-to tips.
But what I do want to emphasize here is to not overcomplicate nutrition. What I mean is to just focus on eating real, fresh food, limit processed food, and cook from scratch as much as possible. This will ensure you’re getting optimal nutrition by knowing exactly what ingredients you’re consuming and in what ways.
When you’re at the grocery store, focus on adding as much colour to your cart as you can. This indicates a variety of fresh plants that are loaded with phytonutrients and fibres that support the health of our gut and whole body.
Get inspired: When I think back to when I began my health journey over 10 years ago, the book that comes to my mind is Mariel Hemingway’s Healthy Living from the Inside Out. Get inspired with different kinds of books/cookbooks to help you out along the way.
Did you know that we spend around 1/3 of our lives sleeping? I know. Crazy. And while it’s easy for us to overlook the importance of sleep — maybe we have young kids or we’re having issues sleeping — it really is essential to overall health.
Sleep is when our cells and tissues have a chance to regenerate; our immune system is supported, and our energy levels, cognition, and memory is boosted for the next day. Sleep is a bit of a ‘cleansing’ experience for our brain as our mental cache is cleared out.
Some ways to promote good sleep are to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day (this supports our circadian rhythm and strengthens our sleep routine), sleep in a cool, dark room, and try diffusing lavender to promote a sense of calm.
For more tips on how to get a good night’s sleep, read more here.
Our bodies are designed to move. We thrive off of movement in all kinds of paces and positions. Not only does it make us feel good mentally (thank you to endorphins) but it helps to improve circulation, can combat stress, promote restful sleep, and support bone and heart health.
Don’t feel like you need to work out for an hour every day of the week. Remember to listen to your body (much like with the foods we eat) to avoid over-exerting ourselves. This can create unnecessary physical stress and can feel discouraging when we push ourselves too hard (because, let’s be real, if you’re anything like me, I hate intense workouts that feel mindless and forced).
Instead, start slow, and even better — find an activity that you enjoy. Here are some of my favourite ways to move my body daily:
- going on a brisk walk
- ballet (I do this once per week!)
- turning on some music and dancing at home
5. Personal Care Products
What we inhale and absorb through our skin each day can add to our toxic load, giving our liver and other detoxification organs an extra burden.
Products like lotions, soaps, cleansers, makeup and cleaning products are all things that can add to this ‘toxic load’ if they contain a plethora of potentially harmful ingredients such as parabens, pthalates, and artificial fragrance.
Don’t feel like you need to toss every product out, just make small swaps over time starting with what you use (or lather on your body) most frequently, such as lotion, foundation, or aluminum-based antiperspirant.
6. Mental Health
Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. The two are intricately connected and we can’t have one without the other.
It’s important for us to manage our stress levels and consider things like our mindset and internal dialogue. Our thoughts impact our emotions, and our emotions impact our actions.
Support your mental health by prioritizing self-care, taking time out for yourself, setting boundaries (this means learning how to say ‘no’ sometimes), spending time doing activities you enjoy, or opening up to a trusted friend or therapist about what’s on your mind.
7. Relationships & Community
Have you ever heard the saying, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”?
Of course we can be influenced by more than just 5 people, but, the people we spent the most of our time with absolutely can and does shape us: our thoughts, beliefs, and choices can all be influenced by who we surround ourselves with.
Prioritize the people in your life who lift you up. Reach out to those who make you feel good and supported. And when necessary, let go of friendships or relationships that may be unhealthy for you.
I know first-hand that forming new friendships (and just generally nurturing relationships) as an adult is not always easy. But doing our best to put in that effort and being mindful of the people we surround ourselves with can have a bigger impact on your life (and health) than you may realize.