How to Be Your Healthiest Self, Now and Always
With the whole entire world affected by sickness, or the looming threat of potential sickness, many of us are preoccupied with wellness, more than ever. From creating vibrant, nutritious meals with whatever’s in the pantry to performing endless at-home workouts (push-up nomination challenge, anyone?) to developing daily meditation rituals, we’re getting resourceful at finding ways to prevail in the midst of an incomprehensibly tough reality.
Then, of course, there’s the flipside: Alcohol delivery services are booming, as many have found the pleasures, and subsequent hangovers, of virtual happy hours, Zoom parties and wild vacation-levels of day-drinking. When time ceases to have much consequence, it doesn’t even matter if it’s only five o’clock somewhere. (Side note: Whatever you do, don’t Google “drinking and coronavirus." You’ll find an unsettling amount of articles answering the question: Can you get coronavirus from drinking Corona beer?) But time does matter because time is what comprises your life, and yes, your life matters.
There’s nothing wrong with having a glass of wine or your favorite cocktail, shaken at home, to unwind, especially now, when unwinding is no small feat. But do we want to get through this whole ordeal in a bleary haze? Not to mention the fact that drinking lowers your immune system, and inspires many of us to surrender to junk food. No, we’re better than that! While an enduring Oscar Wilde phrase comes to mind: “Everything in moderation, including moderation,” there’s one thing we all want and deserve in abundance, and that’s our health. So with all this in mind, whether yours is clear from a vinyasa-flow session or a little foggy from last night’s to-go margarita pitchers from the Mexican restaurant down the street, let’s look at a few ways to discover your healthiest self, ever:
Drink water. Drink more water than you’ve ever imagined drinking.
Staying hydrated: how novel! We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here. You probably already know your body is made up of about 60% water, and that consuming water-rich foods (like vegetables and leafy greens) can help with calorie control, and your muscles love water because it makes them function more fluidly, and it helps your kidneys work better, and perhaps most enticing of all, it’s great for your skin. With dehydration comes dryness, then wrinkles, and while your Resurfacing Compound does more than its part to imbue and lock in moisture, the more water you drink, the happier your skin.
Drink two full glasses of room-temperature water when you first wake up, to rev up your body and let it know a new day has commenced. Then keep the water flowing throughout the day; experts say aim for 64 ounces per day. Bonus points if you squeeze some lemon in there: Alkalizing, packed with soluble fiber and high in vitamin C, lemons are known to aid in flushing out toxins and cleansing the liver. Speaking of which, if you decide to indulge in drinks later and you’re savvy enough to alternate with lots of water (six to eight ounces for every drink), you stand a fighting chance against a hangover.
Break out the bioflavonoids.
You know they’re vitamins, but what exactly are bioflavonoids, you ask? To be technical, they are a group of “polyphenolic” plant-derived compounds. To be a little less technical, they are powerful antioxidants. In the same way antioxidants (like retinol and vitamins C and E found in the Resurfacing Compound) do wonders for the beauty of your skin because they fight free-radical damage, antioxidants are highly beneficial for your body. Not only do they help prevent or at least slow aging, cancer, diabetes, allergic asthma and a myriad other diseases, the antioxidants found in bioflavonoids are good for your heart (as in, less risk of heart attack) and beneficial to your nervous system (think more blood flow to the brain and nerve-cell protection to ward off Alzheimer’s). Research has also found bioflavonoids might even reduce wrinkles, reverse the appearance of age spots, fade broken capillaries and prevent spider veins.
You can find them in a plethora of foods, including almonds, broccoli, red and yellow onions, sweet potatoes and most fruits (especially oranges, lemons, limes and cherries) and in pill form. Besides, it almost goes without saying you should make fruits, vegetables and vitamin supplements part of your daily routine, no matter what’s going on.
Find your inner Sleeping Beauty.
It’s really not fair: While some of us can zonk out the moment our head hits the pillow, others need a satin eye mask, earplugs, blackout curtains and a tranquilizer dart to succumb to sweet slumber. Sleep can be an elusive, mercurial thing and the truth is, most of us aren’t getting enough of it (7-8 hours is still the magic number), and even more of us don’t during times of high stress (um, hi).
Some proven reasons we all ought to make sleep a top priority? Glowing skin! Cheating yourself can translate to a diminished skin barrier, meaning a lackluster complexion more likely to show signs of wrinkles and fine lines. Mental health! Depression and sleep deprivation often go hand-in-hand, and we don’t want to get chummy with either one of them. Sharper memory! Not just short-term but long-term memory is affected by sleep, or lack thereof. Weight regulation! It’s not just in your head: Sleep deprivation makes us physically crave higher-calorie, less nutritional foods. Better immune system! Just one night of tossing and turning can lower your body’s ability to ward off infection, and sleep-deficient people are three times more likely to come down with a cold, flu or yes, even worse.
So from investing in a weighted blanket to unplugging long before bedtime to practicing deep breathing every evening to learning how to meditate to finding other ways to relax, make getting ample (natural) sleep a priority and your whole life will thank you.
And don’t forget to:
Take a stand.
The popularity of standing desks has risen significantly in recent years, and for good reason: Standing majorly minimizes your risk of multiple diseases, depression and muscle and joint problems. Oh, and it burns about 50 more calories per hour than sitting down. Studies show if you’re still used to sitting while you work, you should start off by making yourself stand up for an extra two hours a day and make your way up to four.
Stretch 2-3-4...and beyond.
Don’t just stand there. Move! Whether you’re speed-walking around the block, pounding a treadmill or jumping around to a HIIT home workout, even just 30 minutes of moderate cardio a day is enough to make a difference when it comes to weight control, a longer lifespan and general well-being.
Find the light.
While working from home might be making you feel crazy, being confined to your own space does have its perks. For one, no harsh, glaring fluorescent lights. Or at least the option to turn them off in favor of seeking out natural light. Sitting under those artificial lights elevates stress levels and contributes to migraines and seasonal affective disorder. And with natural light, comes vitamin D (an essential mineral for all of us) and happier, calmer moods.