What are your first thoughts that come to mind when you read that Monday, July 12th is National Simplicity Day? Did you think about going through your closet, your bookshelves, or clearing off your kitchen counter? Maybe you thought about what it would be like to say “no” to events and gatherings or extra tasks. The point is, we usually do not have a shortage of areas in our life that could use a little simplifying. And National Simplicity Day provides extra motivation to address those initial thoughts and the “extra” in our lives. So, let’s check out some tips from a health and wellness perspective, some of which may surprise you.
The image may look familiar, yet, not. It is a play on the well-known “food plate.” The Institute for Integrative Nutrition has modified the food plate we all know and love to include more of the other things that “feed” or fuel us throughout our days, giving us a simple visual to focus on when completing an inventory of our lives. You could also look at it this way… Remember what first came to mind when you started reading this newsletter? Cleaning out your closet, saying no, etc.? Use this expanded “food plate” to decide what is serving you and the goals you have for your life, and what is not. Let’s walk through it.
Of course, we had to start here. Water does not carry any of the “extra” that can weigh us down (i.e. artificial sweeteners, dyes, or flavors). Instead, it is hydrating, nourishing, and refreshing. Invest in a water bottle and take advantage of the clean and free water we have access to all day long. Light and simple.
“FOOD” FOOD – Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, Protein, and Fats/Oils
The options are endless – from different types of food to the various ways to prepare, cook, serve, and even eat your food. It is no wonder your mind might be spinning just THINKING about putting a healthy meal together. How can we keep what goes on our plate simple?
- Eat whole foods. The fewer the ingredients, the simpler and healthier they are. It becomes easier to flavor them as YOU desire, prepare them for the time YOU have allotted, etc.
- Keep the prep and serving simple. Foods don’t always have to be cooked; raw (especially this time of year), can be delicious. And while this may sound different, not all the food on your plate must sound as if it “goes together.” For example, if you want green beans with your family’s Taco Tuesday, go for it. Over-complicating the menu can make the process less enjoyable, the food not as tasty, AND even decrease the likelihood you will continue with a healthy menu simply because it was too complicated.
- Simply start with fruits and veggies! As a society, we have been conditioned to think protein (or more specifically, meat) first, when a greater volume of fruits and veggies serve our overall health and well-being more!
PRIMARY FOOD – Relationships, Career, Physical Activity, and Spirituality (IIN)
Our number one tip to fuel your progress and productivity in relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality is to UNPLUG!!! This may sound counterintuitive for a couple of those categories, but consider these points…
- While staying connected online has kept many people in our lives, what is the quality of those relationships?! Last year was proof enough that while we have more ways than ever to “stay in touch,” building solid, healthy relationships requires more than a text, a swipe, or a picture. What are simple ways you can reconnect with the most important people in your life? Visit where you first met, watch the movie that made you both laugh so hard you cried together, try something you have both always wanted to try, etc.
- Regardless of whether your work involves technology, unplugging can still benefit your mental and physical productivity. For instance, take a walk in the middle of the workday to expand your horizons…literally. Studies show that separating yourself from your workspace for even 10 minutes can help you think more clearly, more quickly, as well as produce more effectively. Take a walk. Call a friend. Even grab a quick power nap. We do not have to work work work work to get our work done!
- There are hundreds of ways to increase our physical activity. The problem is, THINKING about the hundreds of ways can make it seem daunting and even decrease the likelihood of us staying physically active. Yet, if we unplug, we will undoubtedly have more time to simply move! Go clean out the closet that causes you anxiety because the clothes you have don’t fit or are stained or you have too many. Go take your time at the grocery store to see what really looks, sounds, and even smells good to you! Walk around the block with the intention of literally smelling the roses. And if you’re ready to break a sweat, find a FUN fitness class! Simply move more.
- In general, spirituality includes a sense of connection – a connection to something bigger than us, the world around us, and the people in it. There’s that word again…connection. Unplugging creates an opportunity to connect. And the more connection we can create, the more grounded, the more convicted in our decisions, and the more fulfilled with the simple life we will feel.
National Simplicity Day honors transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, encouraging us to take a step back (unplug) and look for ways to simplify our lives…an opportunity to declutter and even eliminate any unnecessary burdens that weigh us down. Remember, we all have specific nourishment needs (food, rest, movement, friendships, satisfaction of a job well done, etc.). Anything beyond that, may be “extra” for you. Take this opportunity to figure out what fuels you…and what is just too much of the “extra.”