Is being healthy expensive?
There are many things to unpack in this question. Yes, it can be expensive. The latest gadgets to count your steps, organic food, high quality supplements, nontoxic home and hygiene products, the list can go on and on.
But let me ask you this – is being unhealthy expensive?
Medical bills, prescriptions, time off of work, specialist doctor visits, medical supplies, insurance co-pays, not to mention the loss of quality of life – this list can also go on and on.
If being unhealthy is expensive, and being healthy is also expensive – I say, pick your expensive.
But what about the basic things that are FREE and can help your health?
Sometimes we just need to get back to basics. Check out how these simple things are foundational for health.
Use Your Breath.
The first act of life, and the last – and for every moment in between – your breath is free and always with you. Although it is involuntary, you also have the ability to control it. You can make it deep, shallow, slow, fast. You can breathe through your nose (nose breathing is amazing for your health) or your mouth, gently or with force. Your breath is not just what keeps you in life – it’s also an incredible tool to improve your health.
The breath is one way your body expels toxins. Your lungs not only take in oxygen, but they are also an excretory organ. They are a key player in ridding your body of what you don’t need. (Check out this article to see how to support your lungs.)Using your breath to dispel inner irritants (physical or emotional) can be a powerful step towards better health. Better use of your breath has also been shown to reduce inflammation, improve brain function and attention, and reduce cortisol (stress) levels.
An amazing breath you can utilize to reduce stress is called the “Physiological Sigh”, explained here by Dr. Andrew Huberman, professor of Neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford University School of Medicine.
Did you know your breath is connected to your emotions, and vice versa? Although we cannot always control our emotions, we can use our breath to help regulate them. When you feel angry, scared, happy, anxious, relaxed, etc your breath has corresponding patterns. The trick is, you can use these breathing patterns to manage your feelings – which are intricately connected to your physical wellbeing. There’s a reason why someone tells you to take a deep breath and count to ten when you’re angry – slowing down your fast breathing pattern can help calm you down. The next time your emotions feel out of control, try focusing on your breath to regain your composure.
See this article for more resources and information on breathing techniques and meditation.
Move Your Body.
The benefits of exercise are widely documented – more strength, greater muscle elasticity, better circulation, more energy, greater detoxification and more. You don’t have to get a bunch of workout gear or even workout clothes – all you need is a pair of shoes (or not). Although there are a ton of free YouTube workout videos available and you can be thrifty with free trials on workout apps, you can also just keep it simple and go for a daily walk. It is amazing what just that amount of movement can do for you! In fact, a 2014 study shows that going for a walk makes you more creative. Plus, it helps move your lymphatic system, which helps detox the body and strengthens your immune system!
Not only can gentle movement help you physical health, but it also has mental and emotional benefits as well. Walking helps reset the tailbone (the seat of the spine) – which can hold many emotions. Exercise has been shown to improve “mental fitness” and your mood. It’s certainly no secret that exercise can release emotions and improve your mental health – so all you have to do is take the first step. I encourage you to do what you can, when you can – but also push yourself a little bit. Make a commitment to yourself to intentionally move your body for a period of time each day – and see what happens!
Get In The Sun.
The Sun is a MUST for good health.
Of course I encourage you to practice safe sun exposure (see this article for more details and how to manage your sun exposure). Getting time in the sun has innumerable health benefits – and not just Vitamin D. From balancing hormones, detoxing the liver, preventing disease (including common cancers), and regulating your sleep to even boosting your mood, sunshine has been found over and over to be a critical component of strong, vibrant health.
One of the best parts? Sunshine is free! Even in extreme temperatures, you can step outside for 30 seconds to briefly get the sun on your skin. According to this study, even just getting natural sunlight through windows can boost health. Sunlight also fortifies your immune system, making your T cells respond faster as needed. Also, not only does movement strengthen your mental health, but doing so outside makes the benefits even stronger! So let go of the long-perpetuated fear of the sun and step out into the sunshine and into health!
In the United States, we have the privilege of clean drinking water easily available to us. Staying hydrated is an undeniable and crucial part of staying in good health. Your body is made up of mostly water, and you need water to keep all systems “go.” Your digestive system, excretory system, circulatory system, cardiovascular health, lymphatic system, immune system, brain function, stress levels, and many other systems in the body are dependent on water.
Drinking more water is a simple step to better health. Many of us are walking around dehydrated without realizing it – so “eating your water” or drinking it can create waves of beautiful change in your body. I encourage you to start tracking your water consumption. A minimum goal would be to drink at least half your body weight in ounces per day (for example, if you weigh 200lbs you would drink 100oz of water). If you feel like you’re drinking plenty of water, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much for you, your body may not be absorbing it well. Here are some tips and tricks to help your body absorb hydration so you can get the most out of your water!
(Just remember to drink out of plastic-free bottles for optimal health.)
Get Good Sleep.
Sometimes easier said than done, right? In today’s world of rewarding overwork and exhaustion, plus our achievement-driven culture, sleep (and health in general) often gets put on the back burner in favor of finishing projects, reaching deadlines, or (if you’re a parent) trying to find a shred of alone time. However, your body needs sleep to perform certain vital processes in the body. Research has found that sleep is critical for your immune system, productivity, development, mood, appearance, and overall general health.
Need to get better sleep? Check out these simple, inexpensive, and effective ways to improve your sleep.
Grow Your Gratitude.
How does being grateful make you healthy? Besides an improvement in your psychological well being, gratitude has also shown physical health benefits. In this 2015 study of heart failure patients, researchers found that intentional gratitude was associated with better sleep, improved mood, less fatigue, and reduced inflammation. A simple way to increase your gratitude is to jot down three things you are grateful for in the morning or evening. A simple pad of paper and pen will do, otherwise there are many free apps for the same purpose (“Presently” is a great one). Why not try it and see what happens?
As Brené Brown says, we are “hardwired for social connection.” Feeling connected to people is not only a major player in mental health, but, research shows, also our physical health. In fact, this study shows that loneliness is a world-wide epidemic (even before 2020), that it has an impact on our health, and thus could be considered a public health crisis. Brigham Young University’s The Loneliness Study thoroughly details the impacts on a lack of social connection on lifespan, physical health, mental health, and emotional wellbeing – and even posits that loneliness is on par with other causes of mortality such as obesity and heart disease. The year of 2020 (and beyond) allowed us to become creative in how we stay connected with each other. Let’s cherish our friendships and be thankful for those who are kindred spirits! A walk with a friend, a phone call, or even a simple card in the mail can increase your feeling of connectedness – and improve your health.
The Simple, Inexpensive Way To Health
These things may be free, but don’t underestimate their power in cultivating optimal health. Even if you are not feeling well and it is a challenge to do these things, take it one moment at a time and celebrate your wins.
You have the tools you need. These simple tools can be oh so powerful in a healing journey. Often we forget the power of going back to the basics. Cheers to better health that won’t hurt your wallet!
Ignite the healer within,
P.S. If you want to dive deeper into how to support your immune system, check out my upcoming online course here and get a free smoothie ebook!