3 lifestyle habits for wellbeing

Breaking out of a downward spiral takes conscious decision making and discipline. Yet, once you target the right spot it becomes surprisingly easy.

Our nervous system undergoes a lot of stress on a daily basis in today’s society; social media, instant responding to messages on our phones, advertising through various channels, noise in the city and sharing space with many people can be overstimulating for the senses and leave us exhausted and stressed. The nervous system influences just everything: the digestion, the function of our organs, the production of hormones, our sleep cycles. If we give our nervous system opportunities to rest, the quality of our life will automatically improve on all levels.


Doing nothing is easier said than done. Relaxation is an art that has to be learned. Yoga offers a variety of techniques to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the so called relaxation response in the body-mind. Breathing techniques (Pranayama), postures (Asana) like inversion and guided relaxations such as Yoga Nidra are incredibly powerful.

In a society where business is worshipped, we need to consciously reprogram our thinking. Allow yourself to rest. If your nervous system is already overstimulated, it is hard at first to rest. Most people exhaust their nervous system to the point they fall asleep, often in front of the tv or computer. The rest you get in this way is far from quality sleep. Quality rest needs a bit of practice; once we stop being busy, the mind will still be all over the place for a while. This takes patience and perseverance – do not give up on your relaxation! On the contrary: the busier the monkey mind, the more you need silent time. Doing sweet nothing. Giving the mind a break from the constant stimulation and sensory inputs of our time and age.

The mind absorbs endless impressions through all sensory channels during the day. Once you sit still, it is as if you reverse the direction of your vacuum cleaner; instead of absorbing impressions, it all of a sudden starts blowing dirt out in all directions. It helps if you expect this from your relaxation time. It’s part of it. The mind purifies itself and clears impressions out. Emotions want to be acknowledged. This takes practice. Be assured that the mind will become more quiet after a while. You can learn to clear impressions out and let them go. A spacious feeling of calm will be the reward. You will feel much lighter. Your sleep will improve and you will be able to enjoy new experiences in life.

Sounds good? So how do you start?

  1. Allow yourself to rest. If you feel resistance or discomfort when even thinking about resting, it is a sign that there is some negative programming – like being accused of being lazy – around that topic. Brainstorm what makes you think that you should be busy all the time. Explore your inner resistance. And then let that go. “I allow myself to rest.” – write that sentence down 10 times. Write it. Believe it.
  2. Make rest a daily habit. Start small; set yourself a timer everyday for 10 minutes. Sit or lay down for 10 minutes. It will take discipline for about two to three weeks, then it turns into a healthy habit.
  3. Most importantly don’t judge what happens during these 10 minutes of relaxation! If you judge your mind for being busy or your emotions for being not so positive, you undermine the whole purpose of rest. Allow what ever comes up to be there. Breathe and let it go.
  4. Journal about it. Note down questions. Focus on your process. Notice changes. And again: don’t judge.
  5. You can incorporate music in your time of rest. However I suggest to have some silence during this time, too. Make it a nourishing ritual. Maybe light an incense or a candle every time you rest or give yourself a face massage first. Involve the senses.

A practical tool that I recommend is a daily Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is a guided relaxation that involves all of the above. It can be easier to practice these skills under the guidance of a teacher. You can book a class online with me or use my online recordings. Please give yourself time to rest. It will influence your overall wellbeing and mental and physical health enormously.


The second biggest thing to influence your wellbeing positively is cleaning up your diet. No, I’m not talking about going on a fashion diet or going hungry. Not at all. These practices are not sustainable. I am talking about making some simple changes with a big impact. The gut is our second brain. The gut is connected to our mind and influences our emotional state. If the bad gut bacteria take over, we suffer from inflammation, obesity, flatulence and feeling sluggish, unmotivated, pessimistic and often depressed. Daily sugar highs make us spike unnaturally and then leave us craving more sugar or feeling depleted. Caffeine is the socially most accepted addiction. Caffeine speeds up your digestion and causes stress in the body. The withdrawal symptoms of caffeine are usually cruel – try to go a day without your coffee routine.

The gut influences our mind, our thoughts and our mental state of wellbeing way more than we acknowledge! If we find simple yet powerful ways to create a healthy gut flora, our wellbeing is supported in multiple ways.

I suggest the following steps to start with:

  1. Cut out refined sugar from your diet! This has been a game changer for me. Sugar makes our energy level spike and then fall rapidly. This influences our mood heavily and creates craving for sugar. Remind yourself that sugar is not good for you. Sugar feed the bad gut bacteria. Sugar is addictive. Have a healthy alternative ready during the first 3 weeks, for example dried apple rings (no added sugar, read the ingredients) or banana or dates or raisins and nuts. It’s ok to snack and to give your body some energy – make a healthy choice. Observe your mood swings during the first week. I promise it will become so much easier in week two and take almost no effort in week 3. If you want to sweeten something, use coconut sugar instead or black strap molasses (contains iron). Dark chocolate has little sugar and is much more healthy than other chocolate. Do some research around sugar addiction if you like.
  2. There is no such thing as meat. Meat and all the different names for meat are all parts of dead animals. Make the connection, and appreciate eating meat or chicken or fish, or quit it altogether. There are high levels of antibiotics and hormones in farmed animals, and meat is heavy on the digestive system. Reduce your meat consumption for a month and see how you feel! There is a list of health benefits here.
  3. Reduce your dairy consumption, or cut it out altogether. Go for nut milk and coconut yoghurt instead. There is no such thing as being lactose intolerant – you are just not a baby cow! Don’t wonder if your body has trouble digesting dairy. Dairy is from another animal and actually not intended for the human body. The commercial dairy industry today causes immense suffering for the animals. The marketing to make us believe that milk is healthy and that the cows are happy is simply that: marketing. Make-believe. There is an excellent documentary called “Milked” and you can find more information here on the topic. Give it a go – reduce dairy for a month and see how you feel!
  4. Eat more simply: steamed greens, salads, smoothies, fruit. Cook more at home and reduce processed foods. It’s good for the environment (less plastic and packaging) and great for your health. You give the body a chance to detox and you will feed the good gut bacteria! There might be some detox symptoms like headaches in the first two weeks, however this will pass and leave you feeling much lighter. Very important; fermented foods such as coconut yoghurt, miso paste, Kombucha, sourkraut, kimchi, tofu support a healthy gut.


The good news here is that it doesn’t matter what kind of movement you do or how much. Just to take the pressure off to start with. It is not about developing a time consuming, irrealistic fitness programme that won’t survive week three of the new year’s resolution! It is all about bringing some movement back into everyday life. Choose a type of movement that you enjoy! Choose something that requires minimal effort or discipline. 20 minutes per day of gentle yoga will make such a difference, believe me! Going for a 15 minutes walk in the morning or evening. Movement is the third point on the wellbeing list because rest is more important. Once you rested well and caught up on sleep, the need for movement comes automatically. Don’t feel bad if movement drops away on some days. Just keep reminding yourself that movement is powerful and keeps the body healthy. It gets Prana, life energy, flowing. With non-spiritual jargon: it gets your heart pumping, blood circulating, oxygen distributed. Simple. 20 minutes per day will make a big difference, especially in combination with rest and conscious diet choices!

And last but not least: stick to it! The body is grateful for healthy choices and it will take a while for changes to become visible. Very likely you will loose weight, the body shape might change, your energy levels will increase and your overall vitality and wellbeing will be higher. Give it time! Stick to the healthy habits and know that they will pay off. Don’t fall into the trap of expectations or certain outcomes – let the body regulate itself. Remember how many years of unhealthy habits need to be compensated for! Be gentle to yourself in thoughts and in actions.

Hari om!

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