Hydration, Digestion, Stress, Self-Love and Rest.

Words *Italicized can be hovered over to see the meaning.

Health comes in all different shapes and sizes, and I’m not just talking about our bodies. It comes with dancers, bodybuilders, moms — who know what’s best, personal trainers, vegans, athletes, social media “influencers”, grandparents who have been doing things for years, nutritionists, “alternative” healers, celebrities and more. What can become quite scary is that every single one of these groups has their own do’s and don’ts when it comes to health. Along with all of that information being given to us, we also have the usual “weight-loss tactics” in diet crazes or supplements. Now if that’s not enough being thrown at us in this ‘health’ environment, we also have the anxieties of social media, magazines making fun of celebrities that basically look exactly like us, or celebrities pushing their own weight loss products that they may not actually partake in, but get paid millions to post about. So after all of this pressure and information on what’s best for our health being shoved in our face, what the heck are we supposed to believe?!

So before we go back and forth on who is right and who is wrong. 
Let’s focus on something else. 
Let’s focus on the basics. 
Let’s focus on things that deeply help our health, our bodies, our minds and our souls and don’t include food

1. Hydration (drinking water)

Water is life, literally. Did you know that the human body can go 40+ days with no food, but without water, we would die of dehydration within 3–10 days? Every cell in our body needs and functions with water because our bodies are made up of ~60% water and our blood ~90%. We NEED water to survive. So, what would drinking water more regularly do? To be a little specific here, drinking more water will:
– aid in digestion 
– help your body absorb nutrients and also help transport these nutrients through your body
– lubricates our joints
– helps with circulation
– prevents kidney damage  
– delivers oxygen throughout the body
– helps the creation of saliva, and
– will help maintain healthy body temperature. 

All of these things will also help your energy levels, your focus, your hair, your nails and your skin. When we drink water, we are able to release toxins
A toxin is any substance that your body can’t use in a purposeful way or that requires energy to be removed out through our urine (pee). So, going to the bathroom multiple times a day is crucial to our body’s overall health.

Sugary Drinks
While we are on the topic of water, I wanted to touch on that moment during the day when you are so thirsty that the only thing you can think of having is Coke or some sort of sweet cold drink. That feeling is due to *dehydration.
When you keep your body hydrated (by drinking lots of water) you help it use up its storage to further give you energy. We crave the sugary drinks because our body isn’t able to process the glycogen which means we are craving sugar for energy. This can also lead to people believing they are hungry when in actual fact they could also just be thirsty.

How much water do I drink?
The amount of water you drink daily varies immensely on what your lifestyle is like. Therefore, every-bodies (see what I did there :P) water intake is completely different. The most important thing you should be doing is carrying a water bottle around with you and really focus on drinking it. If you aren’t a fan of water, try adding herbs like mint or orange/lemon peels.

2. Digestion

As someone who could have been the poster child for constipation growing up, digestion is a huge focus in my life. A more important aspect of my digestion is how I have been able to see the significant difference in my health if I’m not on track. Everything you put into your body, your body digests, but the more important thing is learning and understanding what your body digests easily and what your body struggles to break down. Although I said I wouldn’t talk about food in these, I want to help you understand that it’s your body you need to figure out. Trust me; it’s really not rocket science, although it feels like that sometimes.

Healthy digestion means your body is processing foods at a normal rate which allows for your digestive tract to absorb the nutrients it needs, allows for better energy levels throughout the day and aids in the growth and repair of cells (your body being able to grow and repair cells is incredibly important). When our digestion isn’t working so great, it can cause constipation, bloating, indigestion, abrupt weight changes, sleep disturbances or fatigue, skin irritations, food intolerances or even *Autoimmune conditions . It should be noted just how important it is for our bodies to be digesting properly.

You can also think about it this way. We have three meals a day and they generally will differ in size and in lengths of digestion. However, if you are only going to the bathroom once every few days, that’s nine meals (plus any snacks in between) that is sitting in your body waiting to get out. That food ‘sitting in your body’ continues to rot, your body isn’t able to release toxins, which causes lack of energy and other major discomforts that come from constipation.
 
A good way you can determine what works and doesn’t work for you is by eliminating certain food groups from your food choices and seeing what effect they have after a certain amount of time. *Food Intolerances and sensitivities are very common to many people, and experimenting on yourself can be the best way to understand what works and doesn’t. If you would like to read more on how to start a food elimination process and what food groups to eliminate, check out this article here https://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-diet

3. Stress

When we think of stress we think about it being a mental issue, but in hindsight, these mental reactions have huge effects on our bodies. You may not believe it, but as well as the usual outcomes of stress like depression, anxiety and personality disorders, you can also get *Cardiovascular Diseases such as heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms and stroke. That’s not including obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer disease and gastrointestinal problems that can also be caused by stress. Author of Take the stress out of your life, Jay Winner, says that “Stress isn’t just in your head. It’s a built-in physiologic response to a threat. When you’re stressed, your body responds. Your blood vessels constrict. Your blood pressure and pulse rise. You breathe faster. Your bloodstream is flooded with hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.” Over time, these stress-related reactions our bodies go through can lead to one or more of the illnesses listed above.

It seems that stress is something we can all pinpoint in ourselves, but we struggle to really examine and find a way to overcome it. So, what can you do to de-stress your life?
I believe that first and foremost you have to make a change. This could mean taking a step back from your life and seeing what aspects of it are causing the most stress and seeking a resolution to these stresses, or, taking a step back and looking at whether the things you are stressing over are worth your energy and time. We either have things in our life that stress us out or things in our life that we feel we should be stressed about but don’t really need to be. Analyzing ourselves is the first way to change ourselves. Don’t be afraid to dig deep and really look at what is going on, it could save your health.

Self-Love

Self-love was quite the up and coming topic of 2018 and is still very important to many of us this year. While self-love for you can mean more time to yourself, pursuing things that make you happy, loving your body more or having baths with face masks while sipping wine. For others, it can be a lot more in depth and a lot harder to reach.

Let me start off by asking you this one question.
How do you speak to yourself?

For the next few weeks, start to focus on the words you say to yourself and how you say it. Are you using negative words? Do you use a negative tone? Self-love can mean a lot of things, but I feel it is incredibly important to understand that the way we talk to ourselves is the most crucial aspect of self-love that we need to get on top of, work on and do right.

Our inner voice can be our biggest strength if we allow it to be, but for most us, it’s our worst enemy. Even the concept of changing the way we speak to ourselves may seem silly or for some even unimaginable, but it is 100% doable and you can start right now. There are different ways you can approach this. I have read that some people think about speaking to their younger self or you can think about the way you would speak to others and understand that you, yourself, deserve that same sensitivity. For me, becoming more present was the key to me overcoming the negativity. Your thoughts are in control of your emotions and mood and I believe that being present allows for us to gain control over which thoughts we listen to and which thoughts we can, over time, get rid of.

Sometimes our feelings can become so overwhelming that if we aren’t seeking help from outside sources, we have to learn how to take care of ourselves from the inside.

This is a learning process and something we need to work on daily. Be conscious of the way you speak to yourself and the reactions you have to your emotions. You are entitled to feel whatever you need to feel in life. Don’t feel ashamed about it. Understand it, sympathize with it and try to resolve it in the most positive way you can.

5. Rest

I truly believe that if you are reading this, out of all the (already important) topics in this write-up, this could be the most important to you. When did it become okay to stretch ourselves so thin? To work and grind and suffer for whatever in our life we are doing, then not take the time to rest and feel guilty if we need it. It is such a scary cycle to be in and can be the most self-sabotaging cycle out there.

Repeat after me:
I AM ALLOWED TO REST.
I AM ALLOWED TO FEEL EXHAUSTED MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY.
I AM ALLOWED TO TAKE PERSONAL TIME OUTSIDE OF MY GOALS, WANTS OR NEEDS TO REST MY MIND AND MY BODY.

Rest is so important and is something we haven’t been taught to feel is needed in our society. Why? I don’t really know… maybe it’s because we are made to feel guilty if we do. We are judged by others who are probably struggling as much as we are, but like to hide behind the façade of their ‘strength’. Every single person on this planet has a breaking point. Allowing you to stop yourself before this breaking point occurs is crucial for your mental and physical health.

It is important to understand that rest is not just for your physical state, but your mental state too, which can result in a great solution to stress and anxiety issues. Listed above are all of the negative effects of stress but if you are able to take some time to rest you have the potential to lower your blood pressure, improve your cardiovascular and immune system and of course lower your stress and anxiety levels.

Rest can be whatever you want it to be. It can be hanging out with your pets, laying in the sun, watching a movie, painting or whatever else you can think of that makes you calm and happy. Just make sure that you take the time to step outside of your busy lifestyle and enjoy the moment. Enjoy the world that you walk on and the place you are in. Life is short, spending it busy all of the time will only cause negative mental and physical effects to yourself and potentially the people around you.

Conclusion

When it comes to health, food is a huge aspect; however, we need to become much more aware of the things that have critical effects on our health as well. Hydration, Digestion, Stress, Self-Love and Rest are 5 great points to focus on to help your health overall. A happy mind will create a happy body and if your body is on the right track, your mind will be too. Don’t overstress about these points. Become conscious of them and allow yourself to bring them into your daily lifestyle. The power is always in our hands, we just have to have the courage to change.

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