There’s definitely a physical aspect to gardening—all of the squatting, lifting and carrying involved in yardwork torches lots of calories. But that’s not why gardening expert Tara Nolan loves it. “It’s very meditative,” explains Nolan, author of Gardening Your Front Yard: Projects and Ideas for Big and Small Spaces. “Weeding typically sounds like such a bane-of-your existence type of activity, but there’s something really soothing about putting on your gardening gloves, pulling away and getting lost in your thoughts.” Studies show that getting out in the garden has a myriad of health benefits, from increasing quality of life to reducing anxiety.
Growing your own food can not only save money but is also mentally and physically satisfying, says Nolan. “There’s a really great feeling that comes from doing it yourself and connecting to the earth.” Plus, you can enjoy lots of delicious dishes made with seasonal veggies, like salads with freshly picked lettuce, tomatoes, onions and herbs. Whatever Nolan doesn’t grow, she picks up at a local farmers’ market. (Here’s how to grow veggies and herbs indoors.)
Turn your nighttime cleansing ritual into a mini spa experience. Fill your tub with essential oils or muscle-soothing, magnesium-rich Epsom salts. Spend some time winding down by reading a book, meditating or playing a podcast while you soak. Research has found that taking a warm bath one to two hours before bed can significantly improve your quality of sleep and help you fall asleep faster.
There’s no better escape than getting lost in a juicy book. Head to your local public library, if it’s open, or download a book if they offer that. Studies suggest that people who read books have longer lives than non-readers. Keeping your brain active also helps you fend off cognitive decline as you age. Join a book club — it’s great motivation to keep up this healthy habit and meet new people. (Here are the books to read to call yourself a book lover.)
There’s nothing like watching the world tum to give you perspective and calm. Grab a coffee (or a cocktail if it’s evening) and bask in the special moment. Watching a sunset can also help reset your body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, says Dr. Cardona.
Going for a walk or taking some deep breaths of fresh air at your local park or hiking trail stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, says Dr. Cardona. Spending time in the great outdoors helps reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stress, according to a number of studies. These long-term effects on well-being are more reason than ever to leave your office at 1 unch and find some green space.
Staying hydrated is key to good health, but sometimes it can seem a bit, well, boring. Thankfully, there is no shortage of ideas to keep your relationship with water fresh. Store a pitcher in the fridge at all times and jazz it up with slices of cucumber, watermelon, orange, lemon or lime. You might even want to add a few drops of a foodgrade essential oil, too. Better yet, cut up fresh fruits and herbs and let the fam be their own H20 mixologists by picking and choosing their own add-ins. (Here are a few more flavoured water recipes.)
Yeah, it’s one more thing to add to your list, but washing up before bed keeps your skin healthy. If you let the day’s accumulation of pollution, grease and oil bake in overnight, you’re denying your skin a clean slate on which to work its restoring and renewing magic. Here are some of the best gentle face cleansers.
Spending time in and around water can be a boon to our health, providing an affordable antidote to stress, says Wallace J. Nichols, author of Blue Mind. “Chronic stress and anxiety can cause or intensify a range of physical and mental afflictions, including depression, ulcers, colitis and heart disease,” he writes. “Being on, in and near water can be one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce stress and anxiety.”
Plants clean the air for a lot less money than fancy plug-in purifiers. Every plant serves a purpose, but we like bamboo palms, which remove formaldehyde and benzene impurities while keeping the air moist. Here are the best plants for removing air pollution from your home.
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Thanks to Blue Cross Blue Sheild of Michigan for compiling and sharing the information in this post... continue