Here’s some shocking news: your daily habits affect your health. Wait, you already knew that, didn’t you? Then why do so many of us live as if that is not the case? Our lifestyle choices – the way we choose to eat, whether or not we choose to exercise, the methods in which we handle stress – are currently the biggest contributing factors to our society’s health. Isn’t that remarkable?
We’ve learned to wash our hands. We’ve learned how to properly handle food. We’ve learned to cover our mouth when we sneeze and to keep far away from open sewage systems (yikes). Yet somehow, as a culture, we haven’t managed to take our wellness to the next level – a level in which we nourish, appreciate, and care for our bodies in expanded and creative ways.
It wasn’t until I had my first child that I began to analyze these responsibilities. Here I was, in charge of another living person, knowing that my lifestyle choices would greatly impact her as well. Would the laundry detergent I cause her to be more prone to eczema? Would the food she consumed affect her immune system? Would training her to get a good night’s sleep affect her body in deeper ways than I could understand?
Over the last ten years, we’ve built our life around the pursuit of better food. Our homesteading journey, in no secret, began as a means to acquire the best food possible. Pasture fed meats (we raise pigs, lambs, beef, and a variety of poultry), raw grass-fed dairy, eggs from the hens, cultured homegrown vegetables and fruits, raw honey from the bees, and as much fresh as we can possibly shove in. This is the diet that allows my family to thrive. Yours may look different and that’s okay! What makes you feel good? What foods allow your body to thrive? Cut the garbage and go for the good stuff. Nutritional supplements can be a great way to patch areas of our diet that need additional support.
Am I reminding you of our 9th grade health teacher? Sorry. But I’m not sorry. I won’t pretend like I’m a gym-rat here because truth be told, I quite dislike the gym. I also dislike lifting weights, doing squats, or anything that resembles orchestrated exercise. Rather, I choose to fill my exercise quota by walking barefoot around the farm and soaking up loads of fresh sunshine while slaving away in the gardens – shoveling manure, harvesting crops, digging trenches, hauling out weeds, moving stones and wheelbarrowing all manner of veggies back down to the house. When the weather permits, I also often run through the orchards that surround the farm, using it as a time to breathe deep and blow off steam. Again, this will look different for each of us but the important thing is that we do it. What form of exercise makes you feel full of life?
Rest & Stress Management
It almost seems too basic to mention, but here we are, a population plagued by stress. My great tip would be to find what brings you rest. For me, this involves working in the gardens, clipping bouquets of fresh flowers for the house, enjoying some quiet time in the greenhouse, taking a walk around the property, or spending some time in prayer or reading. Essential oils, deep breathing, and stretching can also be great ways to reduce stress in the middle of the day. A solid night of sleep is also essential (young mothers, don’t fret, your time will come!). I “put myself to sleep” by taking an Epsom salt bath, rubbing my feet with relaxing essential oils, doing a castor oil pack, and settling into a clean, warm bed. Sleeping in a completely dark room is very helpful for a deep sleep. Sleep deficiency is linked to major failures of all of our major body systems – so treat it like your greatest gift.
Reducing Toxic Load
“Toxic load” has become quite the buzz-word, but it shouldn’t have, because it’s always been around. This simply refers to the amount of toxic stress our bodies are experiencing at any given moment. Reducing household toxins by making homemade cleaning supplies, eliminating toxic skincare and haircare products, choosing essential oil diffusers instead of synthetically scented candles, switching to “green” laundry detergent, or enjoying organic fabrics are great ways to instantly reduce your toxic load. Focus on a clean diet, clean products, and supporting your body’s natural detoxing systems through regular cleanses. There are always basic ways to reduce your toxic load – find joy in the transformation!
Practice Informed Self-Care
Beyond basic lifestyle choices is a realm of informed self-care, where we are given the opportunity to be informed about our body and how our daily habits affect it’s functioning. Daily habits such as taking beneficial supplements, utilizing essential oils and herbs, or enjoying Epsom salt baths, castor oil packs, or oil pulling are all great ways to positively affect your health through informed self-care.
Practice Proactive Medical Care
Our own lifestyle choices pose the greatest risk factor for chronic illnesses. This is great news because we have the opportunity to be proactive in our medical care! We can build a thriving foundation of health with the focuses listed above and then enter into a relationship with a trusted medical professional. Joy comes in knowing that we are not reacting to our health, but rather, being proactive in building it.