My understanding of health and wellness has changed considerably from my first day of medical school, through my years of residency and during my time working as a hospitalist. There is a difference between the standard sick care that traditional western medicine teaches both patients and providers and rejuvenation and vitality practices that I have been learning and incorporating into my life. Although standard western medical care is a great option for healing after symptoms arise, incorporating rejuvenation and vitality practices into our daily lives is a great tool that can help to limit and combat sickness and to improve the overall quality of our lives. Understanding that prevention is the best medicine seems intuitive enough but breaking down prevention into a daily routine is what can take some time and discipline to implement – whether it’s the food you eat, the daily interactions you have with those in your life, the media that you take in, exercise habits or how you sleep at night – all of these are deeply impactful to our health and quality of life.
Just a few simple changes to your daily routine can help set you up for success. For starters, by establishing a healthy morning routine you will significantly improve your overall well-being and set the stage for optimal living. A morning routine will help your body wake up, your metabolism kick-in and create structure for the day. Consistency is important for long term success, but don’t be hard on yourself if you fall out of your routine or need to loosen it because of travel – although having a simple morning routine that can be practiced anywhere will make it easier to stay consistent and provide additional benefits to combat the stresses associated with travel, such as reduce jetlag and home sickness.
When approaching vitality, starting slowly is the best way to reach long term success. Here are five simple practices that are helping me on my journey to optimal living:
Instead of turning on the news or grabbing your smart phone, start your morning by writing down at least five things you’re grateful for. This uplifting practice has many benefits. Studies show that practicing gratitude leads a better quality of life and focusing your mind on the positive will give you the support you need for a better day. Every good day starts with the day before.
Drink 1-2 cups of water on an empty stomach upon wakening (with a squeeze of fresh lemon) – this routine has been practiced for centuries by various cultures around the world. It will wake up your gut, hydrate your body after 8-10 hours of sleep, detoxify your body, and boost your metabolism. It is a good habit to keep water close to your bed so when you wake up in the mornings it is readily available.
Scrape your tongue . This is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that removes the first layer of white film that collects on your tongue while you sleep. It also helps eliminate bad odor and even decreases bacterial count in the oral cavity that can accumulate when sleeping.
Incorporate some form of morning movement – moving your body after a restful night will open muscle and align your joints. I alternate between yoga, walking and weighted workouts – this morning routine can be as short as 15 minutes – but I usually prefer 30-50 minutes of movement to start the day.
Getting quality and balanced rest is essential for a healthy life. Try balancing your sleep cycle by going to sleep at the same time every night and waking at the same time every morning. Practicing this when you travel will also help fight off jet lag.