The beginning of the year doesn’t have to bring a long list of have-tos; your plans for self-improvement can be want-tos. Think about the things that will make you feel more relaxed both in the long and short-term—such as hydrating, getting a massage, and incorporating a regular, relaxing stretching routine. Even for those who are super busy and not so sure we can successfully weave wellness into our routines without sacrificing all the important things on our todo lists, we’re confident that incorporating these seven simple wellness tips will make you chill out a little.
1. Drink More Water
The key here is to drink water even when you’re not thirsty; we never want to get to the point where our body is telling us it needs hydration. Give your body the water it needs before it’s forced to ask. Another (somewhat intimate) sign of your hydration levels is to check your urine. If you pee pale or almost clear, you’re good. A bit yellow? Keep chugging from that reusable water bottle. Water helps a multitude of functions within the body, but many people feel it most with improved digestion. It also supports healthy skin and a natural glow.
2. Book a massage
Yes, a massage can be relaxing and seem like frivolous self-indulgence, but an intentional massage can also benefit your body after you (begrudgingly) leave the massage table. Lymph-specific massages help sluggish lymphatic systems. The feather-light touch is perfect for those who experience occasional or chronic swelling in the extremities, ankles, or limbs. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a true deep-tissue massage can work wonders for serious athletes who push their bodies to the limit. We won’t sugarcoat it; this type of massage is far from relaxing, and at times even uncomfortable, but it can ultimately reduce pain and even prevent injury over time. Of course, if you want to book a Swedish therapeutic massage just for fun, we fully support that!
3. Buy a foam roller (and use it)
It’s unrealistic to get a deep tissue massage after every strenuous workout, which is where the foam roller comes in handy. Practicing self-myofascial release (foam-rolling) reduces muscle tension and soreness, increases joint range of motion and blood flow, and improves exercise-related recovery overall. Essentially, foam-rolling is the new stretching—it’s a non-negotiable and will vastly improve the way you feel in your body. Bonus: it’s also really handy when you need to crack your lower back and can’t quite get to it. Ah, release!
4. Sleep (not later … now!)
You’ve heard it a million times, but the concept of “beauty sleep” isn’t an old wives’ tale. Getting enough sleep truly impacts the way you feel and look for the (way) better. This advice gets shelled out in virtually every self-improvement article, so we’ll stop here. We’re just saying, if you’re reading this late at night and you’ve got less than eight hours until your alarm goes off, bookmark this page, turn off your computer or your phone, and go to sleep!
5. Remove the foods that aren’t serving you
As a cruelty-free and compassionate company, we advocate for a plant-based diet. Fortunately, an animal-free diet is also the best for your body. Animal-based foods such as meat and dairy are highly inflammatory and can also cause major bloat, acne, and eczema. If you’re already plant-based but don’t feel one-hundred percent, consider what you’re eating. Perhaps you’re gluten-sensitive, or maybe it’s cruciferous vegetables that make your stomach balloon the next day. Keep a food journal to pinpoint the foods that don’t make you feel phenomenal, then cut those foods out of your diet.
6. Explore new cuisines
Make a resolution to be more adventurous in the kitchen—particularly if you’re cutting some foods out. If your tummy troubles are (sadly) caused by plant-based pizza, maybe Japanese food will be your new favorite cuisine. Never tried seaweed salad? It’s delicious, and coincidentally chock-full of nutrients to make you radiate health from the inside out. If you’re forlorn about being sensitive to gluten, pick up a spaghetti squash the next time you go food shopping; it pairs well with all of your favorite pasta sauces and even tastes amazing with a simple sprinkle of nutritional yeast. The key to overall health is variety, so pry yourself away from your routine and incorporate a few new dishes to mix things up.
7. Know if you’re low, and supplement if necessary
No diet is perfect—even a plant-based one—and at times we might find ourselves on the low end of a few essential nutrients. Vitamin D, for example, is a very common deficiency during the wintertime. Iron and B12 are also common deficiencies in the US (not just for vegans, but the general population). These nutrients support a number of bodily functions including your energy level. If you’re feeling tired or lethargic, you might not need another cup of coffee; you might need a healthy dose of iron or B12. A simple blood test can determine if you’re low in these nutrients or not. To up your iron intake, incorporate beets, dark leafy greens (yes, Popeye was on to something with his massive consumption of spinach), and beans. To maximize iron absorption, eat these foods with vitamin C (aka a few slices of an orange or broccoli). As for B12, a basic supplement is recommended. B12 doesn’t exist in the quantities we need in plant-based foods (no matter how much nutritional yeast you consume). Mykind Organics makes a vegan vitamin B12 spray that tastes like raspberries—you’ll look forward to taking this supplement! Once your nutrient levels are in check, you might even adopt a new resolution to give up your daily latte habit. Who needs quite so much caffeine when you’ve got your health?
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Tanya Flink is a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.