It’s easy to become overwhelmed by and obsessed with food — what you’re eating, what you’re not eating, what you’d rather be eating — and to start labeling foods as “good” and “bad,” healthy and not healthy, inflammatory and anti-inflammatory.
While we believe what you do and do not put in your body is extremely important to your well-being, we also believe that it’s only part of what keeps you healthy.
Changing your lifestyle and nutrition habits can be difficult, and cravings can rear their ugly heads when you are sad, stressed or bored. Instead of filling the void with food, here are some non-food-related ways you can nourish your mind and body.
1. Write. Whether it’s an email to a friend, a journal entry, a blog post, fiction or nonfiction, writing offers amazing therapeutic benefits. Writing can help you process complicated feelings and emotions, give your body and mind an opportunity to release negativity, keep your mind sharp, increase communication skills, help you understand yourself better, be more sympathetic and empathetic, occupy idle hands and connect with the world around you. You don’t have to be good at it or show anyone what you’re writing. The act of writing itself is nourishing all on its own.
2. Read. There is no doubt about the benefits of reading to body and mind, but did you know that reading has therapeutic benefits akin to talk therapy? It’s called bibliotherapy, and it’s one of the three therapies used in SELF ReClaimed. For the greatest benefit, choose reading material that brings joy and expands the mind.
3. Take a walk. Besides all of the physical benefits of walking, taking a walk gives your body and mind time to relax, reflect, break out of routine, see something new, be alone or spend time with a partner, commune with nature and step away from screens. If it’s cold, bundle up and enjoy the brisk winter air. If you’re someplace warm, try walking barefoot to soak up some of the Earth’s healing energy.
4. Do a jigsaw puzzle. While jigsaw puzzles offer actual cognitive benefits, they’re also a great way to unwind, spend time with family, move away from screens, and engage the brain while simultaneously giving it a break. If you don’t like jigsaw puzzles, try logic puzzles, sudoku, crosswords, Rubik’s Cube, etc.
5. Play with a child. A lot can be learned from children. They’re unapologetic about who they are, they find wonder in the simplest of things, they love fully, and they judge little. Taking a break from your busy day to play with cars, color, build with Lego, dress up or make believe can lift your spirits and remind me you of the small beautiful things in your life.
6. Visit an elderly person. With years of life experience comes great wisdom. Visiting an elderly person can give you insight into what’s most important and teach you how to be more grateful. Ask questions, get to know them, and really listen to all they have to share. It’s possible you will be the bright spot in their day, as well.
7. Go for a drive. Turn on your favorite tunes, podcast or audiobook and drive somewhere or nowhere. The active, forward motion of driving can provide motivation, boost ambition and lead you to new places. It’s also a great time to think and dream and sing. Just be sure to drive safely and maintain awareness of those around you.
8. Call a friend. There are many ways to communicate with one another, but sometimes there’s just nothing better than physically talking to someone. Even if you haven’t seen or heard from them in a while, a phone call lets someone know you’re thinking of them. It takes little effort to build real connections that nourish your body and mind.
9. Take yourself to dinner and a movie. It might sound crazy to go to dinner and a movie by yourself, but it can be quite empowering and nourishing. If you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed, give this one a try. You may be surprised by the result.
10. Create something. Art has been scientifically proven to improve one’s well-being. You don’t have to be artistic to benefit from tapping into your creativity. Whether it’s sewing, knitting, painting, sculpting, photography, filmmaking, dancing, drawing or even doodling on a napkin, creation is part of who you are as a human being.
11. Cry. Did you know that crying is a literal hormone release? Sometimes all you need is a good cry to help release pent-up anger, stress or negativity. Put on a sad movie, read an emotional book or become nostalgic. Crying is a sign of strength, not weakness.
12. Laugh. Laughter doesn’t cure all illnesses, but it certainly helps! Watch a funny movie or TV show, hang out with your giggliest friend or, if all else fails, watch some cat videos or compilations of people slipping on ice. Your body and mind will be nourished, guaranteed.