August is Wellness Month, and more specifically, Wednesday, August 15th is National Relaxation Day!
And yes, in the perfect world there should be some relaxation built into every day, but too many of us let self-care take a back seat in our busy lives.
If you already practice wellness, then maybe you don’t need a reminder. I try really hard to remember to incorporate wellness into each and every day- but my feeling is that there’s always something new to learn and discover. Just recently, I attended two fabulous media events in New York City where I got an opportunity to see exciting new products and services geared to make us all healthier. It was fun, informative and upbeat, a nice break from my job as a writer, which can sometimes be intense and oftentimes mentally exhausting.
In honor of Wellness Month here are 15 ways to support your relaxation and wellness. Some include product recommendations and others are things you can easily incorporate into each and every day.
Leave a comment with your favorite tip, and you may win one of these featured products! And make sure to tune into my blog at HealthyWomen.org next week for 15-16 more wellness ideas so you can have enough for a full month.
- Drink more water. Water lubricates joints (especially important as we age!) and transports nutrients for energy and health. Some people (guilty as charged) don’t drink enough water because, well, it’s a bit ho-hum. These water infusion drops from Pure Inventions will change all that. They have zero calories, sugar or artificial sweeteners. Flavor your hot, cold or sparkling water with flavors like coconut and blueberry and white tea and add some sprigs of mint of other herbs for a really yummy and special drink. Cheers! Also available through Amazon.
- Nourish your skin. Your skin – your body’s largest organ – takes a lot of abuse, especially in the summer when the heat and humidity can make it wilt. I stopped and smelled the roses and recently tried out two new products from Lancome, their Rose Sugar Scrub and the Rose Jelly Mask, which both made my tired, weathered skin feel like it was blooming again. The rose-scented scrub is super-gentle and the fragrant overnight-mask is wonderfully hydrating and luxurious.
- Get outside and exercise. Yes, it’s been pretty hot, but consider swapping the air conditioned gym for an outdoor workout instead. You’ll reap the benefits of a psychological boost that an indoor environment can’t compete with. There’s been lots of research that points to the benefits of exercising in “green spaces” and why it is therapeutic.
- Streamline your snacks. Eating between meals is okay and won’t pack on extra pounds – if you do it right. That means swapping out those ready-made smoothies and granola bars for things like air-popped popcorn, celery or carrot sticks, and making your own smoothies using fresh or frozen fruit or veggies and plain yogurt or milk. Another easy way to have your snacks and eat them too: Never eat directly out of the bag or box. Take out a sensible portion, put it in a bowl (a pretty, decorative one makes snacking even more special), then put the rest away. Out of sight…out of mind. These Froozeball snacks, filled with fruit and nuts, are amazing and come in six delicious flavors including salted maple and dark forest.
- Toss the pantyhose. I love wearing dresses and skirts with bare legs in the summer (who wants to wear pantyhose when it’s so hot?) but this so-called midlife has gifted me with various spots and spider veins that I’d rather cover up. And since my legs never tan (nor would I even try) I’m so glad I found a way to cheat on the sun. Vita Liberata makes a genius product called Body Blur, which manages to erase all those pesky imperfections in one fell swoop. Smooth it on, and you’re good to go, flawless legs and all.
- Practice deep breathing. Stress has a way of hurting your health – and interfering with your breathing. You may not mean to do it, but when you’re stressed you hold our breath or take much more shallow breaths. And then? Your whole body tenses up, creating muscle tension and maybe even pain. There are so many ways to breathe, and the 4-4-8 technique is just one of the many: 1. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, bringing the breath into your abdomen. 2. Hold your breath for a count of four. 3. Breathe out through your mouth with a whooshing sound for a count of eight. Ahhhhh.
- Cut back on sugar. Can you guess how many teaspoons of sugar the average American consumes each day? 22 teaspoons. (Unbelievable, right?) It’s not just from the sugar you put in your coffee, but from sources of hidden sugar like salad dressings, alcohol (a glass of Rose has 7 grams!) , juice and pasta sauces. Excess sugar consumption is linked to diabetes and heart disease, and can make you feel tired and grumpy. The number to aim for is six teaspoons per day, says the American Heart Association. You can still get your sugar fix but do it smarter: add blueberries to your yogurt or cereal, swap soda and ice teas for plain water (see item #1), use spices like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice in place of sugar, roast veggies like parsnips, carrots and tomatoes (which turn sweet when roasted).
- Care for your cuticles. When cuticles are dry and jagged, they’re tempting to pick, chew or cut. And with that, you’re risking infection or irritation. Your cuticles are there for a reason – they provide a barrier and protect your nail matrix. Rather than cut them, you should gently push them back with a wooden orange stick. To keep them healthy, give them The Cure, an ultra nourishing cuticle repair cream from nail guru Deborah Lippman.
- Treat yourself or someone you love to a spa treatment. You can’t compete with a spa for the ultimate in self-care and relaxation. Need I say more? Oh – one thing. Here’s a promotion that’ll save you 18% on $250 or more.
- Give yourself a massage. A massage not only feels heavenly, it’s a powerful friend of your health and well-being. If you can’t get to a spa or it’s too costly, you can still indulge with one of Wahl’s products, which allow you to take matters into your own hands. Their deep-knead massage wrap is the perfect way to get a spa-like heated, shiatsu-like massage on your neck, shoulder, back, legs or calves, complete with heat to soothe your sore muscles and six massage nodes to soothe your desire for a massage with varying pressure. Guaranteed you and your massage wrap will be friends for life.
- Slow down. It always feels like there’s not enough time to get everything done, doesn’t it? But when you spend your days in a feverish rush, you miss out on special subtleties and nuances that speed by and elude your notice. (I realized that the other day, when I decided to take a simple stroll- not a power walk – through my neighborhood. Never before had I really seen the gorgeous trees, flowers and architecture that I soaked in along the way.) Slow walking is actually a way of actively meditating. And yes, you can meditate without really trying. Before you go to sleep, you could try and indulge in a warm bath with essential oils and bath salts to relieve your tensed muscles. You could also opt to use fragrant soy wax melts to induce a relaxing environment to induce a good night’s sleep. You could look online for stores such as Little Miss Twiggie Twinkles and others, to get your hands on these wax melts.
- Be kind to your eyes. Too many people neglect the health of their eyes, and each year about 50,000 Americans go blind – mostly from treatable or preventable eye diseases like macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. Make sure to get annual eye exams, eat a well-balanced diet, if you smoke, quit; also wear sunglasses and use safety eyewear or protective goggles where necessary. If you work at a computer, look 20 feet away away from your screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes and take a 15-minute break at least every two hours. Thin Optics makes some stylishly light and genius ways to enjoy wearing reading glasses. Their new Frontpage Collection is especially awesome!
- Stretch. Beginning your day with a good stretch is like sipping a good cup of coffee (if you’re not a coffee-drinker, then I’m sure you have your own special way to begin your day). Aside from preserving mobility and independence as you age, stretching helps keep your muscles flexible and strong and protects your joints and muscles from injury. Stretching may seem overwhelming and time consuming, but the most important areas for mobility are in your lower extremities (your calves, hamstrings, hip flexors in the pelvis and quadriceps in the front of the thigh), say experts at Harvard Medical School.
- Read food labels. It’s an easy – and effective – way to check in with yourself and your nutrition and stay accountable to your health. Sometimes those “hidden” details can be shocking, like how much sugar is in a slice of bread and how much salt is in some cereals. Decode food labels with these five tips or read this helpful book by dietician and nutrition expert Bonnie Taub-Dix, Read It Before You Eat It.
- Pamper your lips. Your forehead, eyes and neck are not the only things prone to wrinkles and fine lines – your lips – which have thinner skin surrounding them and have no oil glands – are fair game, too. And with the passage of time, tips lose volume, making them even more vulnerable. Resist the urge to lick your lips or breathe through your mouth which can dry them out even more. Make sure to always protect your lips with a lubricating lip cream or balm, especially when you’re outside. Plain old petroleum jelly makes a good lip moisturizer, or you can try one of the zillion of other products out there. This five-minute lip gel from Patchology will quickly and effortlessly moisturize and soften your pout with ingredients like collagen and hyaluronic acid. (Their patches are available for eyes and faces, too!)
I hope you find your special way toward wellness and relaxation today, and every day. Thanks for reading – and don’t forget to comment if you’d like to win one of these special products.
Disclosure: I’m an Amazon Affiliate which means I get a teeny tiny percentage of sales from some of these featured products…but that’s not why I’m recommending these products. I truly do think they’re special.