As an entrepreneur.. student.. human.. living and breathing in this crazy world, I’ve learned a few non-negotiables that TRULY help my mental and emotional health stay on-track when things get tough.
I know that when these aspects of my life are moving fluidly, all other aspects of my health can function optimally: physically, spiritually, socially and environmentally.
It really is the simple things: have I eaten properly today? Did I get a good quality rest? Do I feel loved, validated, supported? Have a moved my body? Gotten outside? Drank enough water? Or consumed too much caffeine? The simply day-to-day habits and tasks are what make the biggest difference overall. It is not the “big things” in life (so much).. it is when we practice the small things, compounded daily, that we start to see a BIG difference.
Here are my top 10 tips for optimal health with ways to support your mental & emotional healthy optimally during times of uncertainty or stress
1. EAT QUALITY FOODS
For my body to function optimally this meant eating what was in season and local to me. This was a subtle, but HUGE shift for simple and easy nourishment for my body. Our bodies are very good at adapting to our environment and living in-tune with nature. Some people notice this as the seasons change; their mood shifts, their skin complexion may change, their body temperature will fluctuate.. This also helps to bring mindfulness and awareness back to the body. What foods may be helping, for hindering? For myself personally, I focus on local, seasonal free-range & whole ingredients while avoiding refined sugars, conventional dairy, hydrogenated oils, most gluten foods, highly processed foods, most canned products and drive-thrus. My body does not function optimally on a strictly vegan or vegetarian diet so I incorporate a variety of quality meats/seafood, vegetables, some fruit and some whole grains or sprouted legumes into my diet with minimal local dairy.
2. DRINK QUALITY FLUIDS
For my body to function optimally this meant drinking fresh, quality water (either filtered or from a safe well/fresh stream- I’m extremely sensitive to chlorine and bottled water), homemade or store bought fermented beverages (although I actually avoid Kombucha as it usually has caffeine and high sugar content), LOTS of herbal tea and the odd at-home juice or smoothie with minimal ingredients that follow proper food combining suggestions (too many ingredients in 1 drink tend to hurt my stomach). I was never a big coffee person (luckily) but noticed a massive increase in anxiety when I started to increase my consumption. Generally I now try to avoid caffeine, pop/carbonated bevy’s (luckily I’ve never enjoyed pop), sugary drinks like commercial juices and limit alcohol to 1-2 per day or less.
3. GRATITUDE & GRIEF LISTS, SELF-CARE & JOURNALING
As a child I was big into writing and never realized how therapeutic it could be. I would write stories, lists, have pen-pals all around the world and as life progressed, this simple hobby stayed lingering behind until I could finally see the power it held. Getting back into this has allowed me to “unload” a lot of what I carried – especially things that weren’t mine to carry! Journaling has been a therapeutic way for me to express freely what I feel/think and helps me process my day-to-day experiences, dreams, gratitude, grief, stressors or “to-dos”, relationships, struggles, joys and more. The biggest shift I noticed with my mental health is when I started actively practicing and participating in daily gratitude lists (visually, verbally or physically written). Try using some journal prompts, self-care check-in or these worksheets to help yourself work through grief, gratitude, self-care and more..
As I grow and develop I notice the needs of my body slowly changing. I once felt the need to “go-go-go” and “push-push-push” but now I don’t feel that pressure so much anymore. Some days I need high-intensity movement, others days I need slow, relaxing, therapeutic movements. Nonetheless, I know I need movement every day. (if you don’t use it, you literally lose it!) Movement will help with a variety of health functions but will specifically help with a quality nights rest & repair. This generally looks like yoga, stretching, somatics breath practices, laying on the floor or yin done on a daily basis with a variety of outdoor/indoor physical activity sprinkled throughout my weeks such as surfing, gym/weight training, swimming, hiking, biking, backpacking, kayaking..
5. GROUNDING, EARTHING & GETTING OUTSIDE
This. One. Is. Huge. And the one thing that is free and attainable for everyone <3 Breathing the fresh air, touching the earth with our bare skin and leaving the house to get in touch with the physical world does wonders for our health and soul; and is quickest way for myself, personally, to get grounded & reset the nervous system. Try getting outside for 20 – 30min a day, with NO cell phone or electronics if possible!! Even in 10 – 15min increments (10min in the morning, 10min in the afternoon, 10min at night) by doing yoga/physical activities outside (barefoot or by touching the earth in some way), gardening, foraging, simply standing in your yard, going for a walk or walking the dog, running or walking on beach logs with a dog or child, taking your lunch break outside with a coworker, meeting somewhere outdoors for a visit instead of indoors, anything that will get you outside and in touch with nature! See more info on Grounding/Earthing HERE!
6. MINDFULNESS, MEDITATION & MUSIC
As my Oma says: “Meditation is being in the moment with positivity instead of negativity.” Even washing the dishes can be therapeutic and a “meditation” for some people. When we look at it this way, meditation can be anything – and anywhere. We do not need to practice it “on our mats” although, practicing it this way can help strengthen the “mindfulness muscle” for when we are off our mats and in the present moment. Choosing a mindfulness practice I find is personal and dependant on that individual person, in that individual moment. Some days I sit in silence and meditate. Other days I put music on and paint or go into the forest and forage. There is no “right or wrong” here. Find what works for you. Music, guided meditations, Tibetan bowls, listening to different instrumental sounds, gardening, breathing, sitting, listening/ somatics and spending time in nature are all great ways to practice mindfulness.
7. WATER & BUBBLE BATHS
Okay so this is a personal one but it holds value for SO many others as well!! This practice I was never aware of until my early adulthood; although as a child I always considered my “safe spot” the bubble bath. Understanding later in life that I resided strong as a highly sensitive person or ’empath’, it made sense to me that I chose to have a bubble bath pretty much every night! Water is a very therapeutic way to cleanse the body energetically and, if you were raised near the ocean like I was, you probably notice your body craving the sea when you’re not near it, too!! Bubble baths, showers (hot/cold therapy), swimming, being near the ocean/ lake/ river/ etc., crying, drinking water, standing in the rain/waterfall, surfing or just being near/in water has extremely healing and therapeutic properties to the body. (remember, the majority of our body is made up of WATER!!) Learn more tips on staying hydrated HERE or on how to recover from energy work HERE
#FunFact rushing water, trees swaying in the wind, rivers, waterfalls or anything of similar natural form will release negative ions into the atmosphere which will help to reduce free radical damage in the body – especially with oxidative stress!! Just another reason to get into nature 🙂
8. SETTING SCHEDULES & HEALTHY ROUTINES
Whether I like to admit it or not, this reeeeally helps me to stay on track! Maybe it’s the Virgo in me but creating healthy habits, routines and practical schedules for the coming days/weeks removes a lot of the anxiety, stress, disorganization and overwhelm from my day-to-day tasks. Make YOU a priority. Make proper hygiene, taking your supplements/medications, eating quality foods, getting quality rest and drinking quality fluids a priority. These are your “easy” or “simple” self-care practices. Even setting a simple “to-do” list the night before (ex: warm lemon water when I wake up, meditate, journal, outfit pre-planned, note: don’t forget lunch!) so that when I wake up, I have one less thing to do or think about! What are your healthy habits or routine that help you stay organized, focused and prioritized for the day?
9. CREATING & CHOOSING HEALTHY, SAFE ENVIRONMENTS
If you do not enjoy or feel safe in: your work environment, your home environment or with the people you work with/see on a daily basis… then you will not be happy and your mental/emotional health will suffer which will in turn damage your physical health and cause a strain on the relationships around you. If you are noticing the same feelings day after day, something needs to change! Especially if your work environment has had to pivot, adapt or change lately; creating a home environment that makes you feel excited to be there and work there can make a big difference!. Audit your life by reviewing who and what you surround yourself with daily- what are you holding onto that may be holding you back? Or likewise, what are you feeding yourself mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually, physically and environmentally that is either helping or hindering your health.
10. MENTAL & CREATIVE STIMULATION
This could probably get lumped in with a lot of the above topics but I felt it deserved its own bullet point. Yes, we get A LOT of mental stimulation- but how much of it is healthy, intellectual and/or creative? We need to start treating our mind like any other muscle in the body; it can be strengthened and improved with small daily practices, just like anything else! Simple tasks such as: reading, writing, watching or listening to educational content, practicing or teaching puzzles, tests or cognitive stimulation, meditating, taking a course, discussing topics in a group environment, etc. For myself, I love reading, writing and learning so I generally like to practice a variety of these daily.
Likewise, the reason creativity feels sooo good; is because it is essential for our mental and optimal health! Playing, listening or practicing music, journaling or creative writing, sports, arts or crafts and essentially anything that inspires, encourages, promotes or cultivates creative expression is natural, healthy and ESSENTIAL for a healthy, happy body. Unfortunately, freedom of expression and healthy creativity is actually minimized and not prioritized as much in certain cultures these days. Generally, we take passions and we end up monetizing and marketing them to limit the natural flow of creativity. If we can find that beautiful balance between passion, dharma, inspiration, creativity & free expression and blend it with community, connection, value, meaning & purpose, we can all be authentically ourselves while adding value to the world and helping others.
For myself personally, I generally find I do best when I start and end my day with simple breathing practices, meditation/mindfulness/journaling and movement- usually in the form of a walk, yoga or weight training. Throughout the day, I LOVE to listen to music- all day! While carrying mindfulness practices with me throughout the day and using grounding practices as necessary.
If you are struggling mentally, emotionally, physically.. please reach out! There are lots of ways I can help:
- Work with me 1-1 here either Nutritionally, Mindfully/Yoga/Mentoring or if you need help in the kitchen I offer help in that area as well!
- I also have a new and improved Rest & Digest Mindfulness Series coming out on Teachable! It will be 5 classes, each one including nutrition talk, breath practice, yoga sequence and sensory meditation. Add your name to the pre-list HERE.
- Listed in here are the Grief & Gratitude Lists as well as the Self-Care Worksheets – find all of those here.
- Make sure you’re apart of the SWELL Health Facebook Group for all of the fun free resources
- If you need immediate assistance, please check out the Resources page found here.
Sending you all lots of love and light! Please email with any questions.
Heidi MacAulay, R.H.N.
“Eat more plants. Do more yoga. Read more books.”
Learn more about me, my credentials or how to work with me here!