I think it's probably fair to say we all have habits we're proud of and ones we'd rather like to change in all areas of our lives. I know that I have lots of good habits that contribute positively towards creating the health and vitality that I want now and for the rest of my life, and I also know I have a few that undermine it! It's important to remember that the little things you do every day have a much greater impact than the things you do only occasionally, so if you're wanting to create greater wellbeing for yourself the best place to start is with some small daily habits to nourish you body, mind and soul.
Let me be upfront and say I have no concrete evidence on how these habits actually impact my health, but I enjoy them, I feel like I'm taking care of myself by doing them, and I have noticed positive changes in my wellbeing that I would attribute to them. I would encourage everyone to create their own morning and evening wellness routines and in doing that I would utterly recommend paying as much attention to what feels right to you as to what other people tell you are the 'right things' to do. I'm not sharing my routine with you because I think it is somehow 'ideal' or even suited to everyone, merely to try and help inspire you to think about creating regular practises for yourself that nourish your body, mind and soul.
Gently waking up my body with Tai Chi
Pretty much the first thing I do when I get out of bed each morning is just spend around 5 minutes doing some gentle Tai Chi movements. This helps to ease out any stiff muscles (the joys of getting older!) and ease my body and mind into the day. It helps to create a sense of balance and calm from which to approach the day. I prefer the Tai Chi to a seated meditation as it allows balancing of mind and body together.
Starting the day with warm lemon water
This is one of the very first new habits I created when I started my journey to improve my health around 6 years ago. It's a nice ritual to start the day with as well as having a variety of potential health benefits, from supporting your immune system with the high vitamin C content to aiding in digestion and detoxification. I have certainly noticed a decrease in the number of colds/sinus infections I experience since becoming a morning lemon water devotee.
I know some people have concerns about the effect of lemon water on tooth enamel. My experience has been entirely positive in this regard, although I do have pretty robust teeth. I think as long as you are only drinking this once a day (although it can be very tempting to add lemon to your drinking water all the time I certainly wouldn't recommend that for tooth health!), drinking some plain water straight afterwards, and make sure not to brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes you will probably be fine.
Dry skin brushing
Dry skin brushing is a traditional Ayurvedic treatment said to improve skin tone, stimulate lymphatic drainage, improve circulation and reduce cellulite. All of those things are pretty difficult to measure objectively but to me it is another enjoyable component in my morning routine and I do feel like it has helped reduce the appearance of cellulite around the tops of my legs at least. You need a brush with soft (so they don't scratch and damage your skin) but firm bristles. It is recommended to dry brush in the morning, just before a shower (so the water washes away the dead skin loosened by the brushing).
Evening yin yoga
An evening yin yoga routine is a great way to unwind both physically and mentally from a busy day. It's the perfect way to release muscle aches and pains as well as calm and centre the mind. Most evenings I spend around 45 minutes working through a routine of deep, long held poses, but even if I have been out in the evening and am late home and keen to get to bed as quickly as possible, I try to always spend at least 10-15 minutes doing a few poses.
Bedtime Shakti mat
The Shakti mat is a modern take on the ancient Indian 'bed of nails'. I have to admit it took me a while to be convinced to give it a go, but once I did I never looked back! I still find my mat slightly uncomfortable to get on to, and briefly quite painful to get off of, but surprisingly comfortable and enjoyable when I'm actually on it. I use it on my back every night just before bed, and occasionally for other areas such as my neck, hips and calves when they are feeling tight and uncomfortable. It is great for relieving muscle tension and pain and I have found that my sleep has greatly improved since using it.
How about you? What daily habits or routines do you have to support your health and wellbeing? We'd love for your to share in the comments - you never know who you might help or inspire!