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Balance and Reconnect: Four Basics to Improve with this Week

Nicholas Noble | September 26, 2019

Noticed anything yet, a couple new habits maybe? In case you’ve missed out, we’re now halfway into our ‘Better You’ 30-day challenge. Each week we’re offering a handful of easily accessible or cost-free lifestyle hacks, which given the chance may just revolutionize that daily hustle! 

The challenge is simple, give a couple of these practices a trial-run, figure out what’s effective to implement without upheaving your whole day, and come out of this month feeling grounded with a few new habits at your side. This week, we’ll focus on homeostasis, both cognitively and physiologically. Basics make the balance! See you on the other side. 

Two Weeks to go — You in? 

They say the difference between wellness and illness is connection; connection to others, animals, nature, and oneself. What’s more, is the health of these connections depends on how we counter the daily stressors which constantly tug at us. Healthy habits and key connections have become misshapen, where no matter your case, we all have to be proactive in how we recharge. 

When we stop ignoring the bear necessities of our cognitive and physical health, we simply feel better. 

The most obvious places to start?

1) SLEEP (Brain Cleansing)  — Leave dust to settle too long, and soon you’ll have a stain. Similarly, normal byproducts of our metabolism rely on a healthy amount of sleep to be excreted from the body, this is especially true for the brain. Without adequate sleep, toxic cellular debris slowly compromises our physical immunity, and eats away at healthy brain connectivity. While some brag about how little they get, the research is definitive; those with healthy sleep habits have less incidence of flu and the common-cold, and markedly reduced risks for common diseases, including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegeneration.[1] 

When we get good sleep, we reap a host of health benefits. You’ll be sure to feel the mood-boost, besides, sleep is free and requires virtually no effort. You’ve got everything to gain, so call it a night early a couple times this week!

2) Time in Nature  — As a widely renowned and seemingly simple therapeutic activity, you may not know how extensive the physiological benefits can be. The Japanese call it ‘Forest Bathing,’ where time spent outside has been linked to decreased brooding and negative emotions, and even improved post-surgery healing responses. 

Nature’s improvements against our stress levels can actually be quantified. As little as 30-minutes in nature can reduce cortisol levels, pulse-rate, and blood pressure, while helping regulate a balance between our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.[2]

Unfortunately, more people each year spend more of each day indoors, shy to the environment’s impressive stress-reducing capabilities. Is eco-therapy the missing link to a more optimized version of yourself? Get outside and tune-in!

3) Finding Purpose  — Laugh, forgive, be grateful. It’s in human nature to rely on one another for a sense of place and purpose. Our relationships may not always be perfect, but it’s by experiencing life at the sides of others that we find real connection. Contemporary lifestyles don’t always emphasize this though, many are disconnected and enveloped in their own work-life or digital happenings.    

So, while chasing happiness isn’t a biohack, chasing purpose through friendship and family absolutely is. Research indicates human connection as a most fundamental and potent health promoter, where those with less screen time and instead more one-on-one have lower odds for all cause mortality, including heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and suicide. [3]

If people aren’t your thing, there’s good evidence to suggest pet-ownership can stave off similar diseases and improve long-term health. Dogs especially are renowned to reduce visits to the doctor, and improve our sense of social support and purpose. [4]

4) Ditch Coffee  — In terms of connecting with ourselves, each other, our pets, and even nature, there’s good reason to think twice about your choice of caffeine:

  1. The caffeine levels of coffee increase catecholamines involved in hormonal stress response. This elicits cortisol and increases insulin, leading to inflammation, making you feel lousy and more easily agitated.
  2. Habituation to high levels of caffeine decreases insulin sensitivity, making it difficult for your cells to respond appropriately to blood sugar. High blood sugar levels lead to arterial deterioration and increased risk of mortality related to cardiovascular disease.
  3. The acidity of coffee is associated with digestive discomfort, indigestion, heartburn, GERD, and dysbiosis (imbalance in your gut flora).

The bottom line

We can’t ignore our basic needs and expect to achieve or maintain optimal health. Our wellbeing has an inherent reliance on community, time in nature, and adequate restorative sleep. The more we strive to rejuvenate each day, minimize our digital life, and get outside with one another, the more our longevity will thank us.  

We also suggest putting the top back on those morning coffee beans. The wired energy elicited by coffee makes us irritable towards one another, more reactive, and interferes with our circadian rhythm (sleep cycle). If you need a daily energizer that won’t make you crash which is nutritious, probiotic, and host to some of nature’s finest antioxidants, try matcha.

Plus, since this week’s theme is to re-connect, unlike coffee with a history of uprising and social dissent, matcha originated as a form of communal bonding. It’s a perfect fuel as you recharge through these practices. 

Ready. Set. GO. What’s your fuel this week?