when you know better, do better
Simple Steps Toward Living a More Natural, Eco-Friendly Lifestyle
You’re probably familiar with the phrase “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.” It’s a favorite of mine from Maya Angelou. Words of wisdom that can surely apply to so many facets of everyday life. One thing I am trying to do better, now that I know better, is to consciously implement a more natural-based lifestyle for myself, and my family.
You may be asking, what is natural living? Everyone seems to have a different definition
however the common theme combines good environmental stewardship, reducing the toxic load, and seeking natural alternatives to conventional, well, nearly everything. Foods, drinks, clothing, personal care products, medication, the list is literally endless.
For me personally, it started with taking my health care into my own hands.
Growing up, I wasn’t sick a lot, but when I was, like most people, I went to see a doctor and was prescribed medication. At home, if I had a headache, I took a pill. It was convenient, and it worked. That’s just what we did. Now fast forward a couple decades. I was diagnosed with skin cancer. (Undoubtedly a result of summer days by the pool, and tanning with baby oil in my younger years. Looking back, I had a great tan. But was it worth it? Not so much. Definitely one of those “If I only knew then what I know now” moments. But that’s another topic, for another day.)
Back to my diagnosis. My dermatologist told me I had a smorgasbord of different skin cancer cells on my arms and legs at the surface, and underneath. He suggested an aggressive treatment plan that consisted of a topical cream, dubbed “chemo cream”. Chemotherapy attacks cancer from the inside of the body. As its name implies, the chemo cream was designed to attack the cancer topically. And boy did it ever! Over the course of several months, the cancer literally oozed out of my body. My doctor said I had received virtually years of treatment in that six-month period. And it felt like it! But it was over, my skin was clear, and I was grateful.
Two years later, a few suspicious spots appeared on my legs, along with a couple on my arms. I was referred to a different doctor for a procedure to have them removed. Because of the amount and location of the spots, the doctor didn’t feel the procedure was the best course of action, and prescribed a slightly different chemo cream. A newer cream designed to only attack the cancer cells, not healthy skin. That sounded good. It worked the first time and I didn’t think much of doing it again. Until I did do it again. After just two applications the cream inflamed my arms and legs so badly I had second degree burns over half my body! Clearly I had a horrible reaction, but why? Doctor stated I must have a peanut allergy because that was the only differing ingredient. I’ve never been allergic to peanuts, nor did I believe that was the cause. I believed it was the other ingredients. Aha! Finally, my lightbulb moment!
The very compound that was only supposed to destroy cancer cells was in fact destroying my healthy skin. Doctor wanted to prescribe yet another cream to fix the burns. I said “No thanks, doc. I got this.” I was not interested in putting yet another chemical on my body to combat the first chemical. And that was the beginning of my shift toward truly noting what I was putting in my body, and taking my health into my own hands, consciously choosing a more natural lifestyle. It didn’t happen overnight, and it was baby steps, but at least those baby steps were in the right direction.
Now hopefully, you don’t have to go through such an experience to have your lightbulb moment. While shifting to a more natural lifestyle could be made really complicated, and perhaps a little overwhelming, it really doesn’t have to be. There are very simple steps you can take to adjust your path that are not overwhelming to your routine, or your wallet. In fact, some changes may even save money, enhance your routine, and will most likely significantly improve your health.
Here are a few simple ways to begin a shift to living a more natural lifestyle:
Morning Journal and Reflection – Journaling can be a powerful benefit to your life, as it invites you to begin each day on a positive note. Follow a simple gratitude practice like writing down three things you are grateful for, and you’ll notice you start each day a lot happier. It also trains you to actively seek (and remember) moments, people and experiences throughout your day for which you can be grateful. Over time you will become a more happy, positive, content person. It also helps you to become more mindful of the present, and giving your attention to those around you.
Daily Walk, Yoga or Exercise – Our bodies are not meant to stay in one place. It is important to get moving and stay moving each day. Breathe in that fresh, morning air with a short walk to connect with nature before starting your day. Perhaps yoga is your thing. Or maybe biking around the park. Any form of exercise that stretches and strengthens your body is a great habit to develop into your daily life. Remember, a body in motion stays in motion. Keep moving for a healthy life!
Use Handcrafted, Natural Products – Using quality, natural products are better for the environment and better for you. Small businesses where products are handcrafted leave a very tiny carbon footprint, and can more easily implement eco-friendly measures on a smaller scale. The products are made with plant-based and natural ingredients, and do not contain harsh chemicals which significantly reduces waste and toxins going down the drain, and left on your skin. It’s a win-win when products are suitable for skin, internal health and the environment!
Drink Plenty of Water – Drinking enough water every day is paramount for your goo
d health. Water helps keep you hydrated, maintains normal body temperature, protects your spinal cord and sensitive tissues, and helps your body eliminate waste through urination, perspiration and bowel movements. Be mindful that your body needs more water when you are in hot climates, more physically active, running a fever, or experiencing diarrhea or vomiting. Helpful Hint: Opt for water when you are eating out. You’ll reduce calories and save money!
Natural Remedies and Proactive Healthcare – When it comes to your daily well-being, focus on preventing illness with natural foods and remedies. Herbs, essential oils, natural supplements and real food are your best line of defense against illness. Of course there are times you may feel under the weather. In those times, allow your body to rest. And choose natural remedies like vitamin c and ginger, stay hydrated with water, clear broth and juice, and gargle with warm saltwater and turmeric. You may find your body responds much better and bounces back stronger than if you relied on synthetic, over-the-counter products. Something to think about: If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, it’s time to try something new.
Research indicates it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to create a habit. That’s a pretty big spread. I have found that following the 21/90 rule is a good start. Commit to a personal goal and make a conscious and consistent effort to achieve it for 21 days. After three weeks your actions should have formed a habit, and continue on for another 90 days to strengthen the behavior.
Living a more natural life is a connection – or perhaps a reconnection – to the beautiful, natural things our planet has to offer that are most beneficial to our health and inner peace. A good rule of thumb for natural living is essentially this: whatever things are most simple, wholesome, essential, basic, good and real – do them. Savor them. Enjoy them!
And if you are already on the journey, what are some habits that help you live a more natural everyday life? Let’s share and learn together!