Weekend Wellness Ideas
by Samantha Steitz
Over the past two years, after leading a self-imposed life of stress which resulted in anxiety, depression and weight-loss, I have put a major emphasis on slowing down, taking time for myself, and carving out time for self-reflection and wellness. Health, which sat at the bottom of my to-do list in past years, has become my first priority. The effect this prioritization has had on my own life as well as those around me has been overwhelmingly positive.
Wellness must be approached from a total holistic perspective: sleep, sufficient hydration, eating enough (or mostly) plants, avoiding unnecessary stress and conflict, meditation, and daily movement, are all integral aspects to leading a healthy life and feeling your best.
Here are a few ways to decompress this weekend that I have found particularly useful.
#1: Plan To Do Nothing
Relaxing begins with carving out time. If you schedule various activities and outings on the weekend, you will likely not end up feeling as relaxed as you would like. Therefore, it is best to plan an entire day (if possible) with nothing on the agenda. The more days like this, the better. Time is the most precious gift we can give ourselves.
#2: Nourishing Meals & Beverages
Start your day with warm water, lemon, ginger and honey. Or try our favorite fruit smoothie (add linseed oil, yogurt for an extra health boost). It came as no surprise that our friends in the band Karmic begin their day with a ginger-lemon infusion water to stay grounded while on tour.
A big salad for lunch will keep you energized without bogging you down (and requiring a siesta, which is actually lovely sometimes). One reminder with salads is to make enormous portions. Since salad ingredients are not calorie-dense foods, you can and should eat an entire family-sized salad bowl. Just think about how many vitamins, nutrients, and chlorophyll you're getting. Straight to your cells, helping your body maintain homeostasis and keeping your gut – your second brain – happy.
For dinner, see what's at the market and prepare grounding food. Ideas that come to mind are stir-frys over wild/brown rice or couscous, homemade pesto with brown rice pasta (Trader Joe's is great), or making a creative bowl of various things you love. For ideas, visit www.deliciouslyella.com or purchase „Spoon + Bowl”, a wonderful cookbook.
Over the course of the day, drink tea (green tea has enormous health benefits), a matcha latte, more lemon water, chlorophyll water, or snack on carrots with hummus or beet chips and guacamole! These choices are so delicious and nourishing.
For more on this subject, read Eat to Beat Disease by Dr. William Li. Which discusses the power of your home food choices to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's and more.
#3: Take a Bath, Read a Book, or Cook (Whatever Makes You Happiest!)
I recently listened to a podcast in which one of the speakers, a well-known health Instagram influencer, admitted she had never actually relaxed on her living room couch. Think about that for a moment.
As Ilse Crawford's book title, Frame for Life, suggests, our spaces are merely a FRAME for LIFE. This means we must also LIVE in these spaces and ENJOY our couches, bathtubs, gardens, and pools (if we're so lucky). There is absolutely no point in having a beautiful living room with gorgeous coffee table books that you never open. As Marie Kondo apltly argues, if objects are not used, they die. So enjoy your home, kitchen (if you love to cook), bathtub (if you enjoy baths like I do), and living room sofa. Re-read your favorite book or try a new one like David Copperfield or Vikram Seth's An Equal Music.
Many of us feel happiest when we move our bodies in some way or another. As most of us already know, science now definitively shows that exercise promotes overall health and longevity.
Some of us enjoy rigorous workouts in exercise classes, others a Basics yoga class. My husband, Steve, loves nothing more than a 3.5 hour bike ride up steep hills. While I can't understand feeling happy doing such an activity, he probably cannot understand why my strength training workouts with Melissa Wood Health make me happy. It doesn't matter! The point is, find something you love and try to do it as much as you can.
If none of these options are appealing, do what Clara Schumann and her father did every day and take a long walk. Getting outside translates to absorbing necessary Vitamin D, breathing in fresh air, and creates time to simply be.
Happiness begins with gratitude. Just try writing down or making a mental list of five things you are grateful for. Chances are, you will not be able to stop. Thinking about gratitude creates a psychological snowball effect that will leave you so full and happy you won't believe you could've been in a rotten mood moments ago.
In the most heart-wrenching instances, when tragedy strikes, it will feel very hard to think about gratitude, and at times, not even applicable. When speaking to my Aunt, who lost her partner to a completely random act of senseless violence this past November, I would never dare to say „think about everything you can be grateful for.” I actually don't say anything. In these situations, being heartbroken and putting one foot before the other is the best outcome. Nothing will heal certain wounds.
If we are lucky not to be facing a tragedy and our brains are healthy, much of happiness is a choice. There will always be things to complain about, parts of ourselves we do not like and can obsess over, people who have wronged us, projects that have not panned out, progress that is slower that we projected. But we know deep down that none of this matters.
When we can zoom out and see our lives from afar, or even from the future, it's clear that our output is measured by how kind we are toward others and ourselves. If we begin from a place of gratitude, profound gratitude for our lives, our incredible bodies, our magical planet, the food we are so lucky to have available, the faces we are able to gaze into because they are still here with us – kindness is the only behavior that will make any sense.
Start with gratitude. Carve our time for yourself by not scheduling activities. Nourish yourself with plants and herbs. Sleep sufficiently. Drink lemon water. Get outside for a walk or bike ride. Enjoy your home, your pets and your family.
If you prioritize your own well-being first, everything will fall into place perfectly with those around you. To conclude with an idea that was shared with my Aunt and then conveyed to me: „You don't need to save everyone else, you just need to save yourself.“
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone, and ENJOY YOUR LIFE.