5 Free Things You Can Do for Your Health Every Single Day

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Being healthy is more important than ever. These are difficult times and there may be more challenging times ahead of us. In this article, I will share five absolutely free things that you can do daily to take a proactive approach to your health. Here are five free things you can do for your health every day without spending a penny and taking only a little bit of time.

5 free things you can do for your health

We Frugalites like to say, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” When it comes to health, I like to say that “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”

From these five preventative health practices, I hope you will find your own pound of cure, or more!

Use a Breathing Practice

 These are stressful days! There are many current events and local challenges people are facing that are stressful. Our bodies are designed to respond to stress in a way that will help us survive: a perceived threat sends the body into “Flight or Fight” mode. However, when we live much of our time in “Flight or Fight,” there are many long-term health problems that may develop. Examples of these include aches and pains, exhaustion, insomnia, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system [source

You may not be able to remove all of the stressors in your life. In fact, you would probably not enjoy that, as many positive life experiences are also stressful, such as getting married, having children or getting a promotion at work. The key is actually to work with your body’s nervous system. You want to move from the “Flight or Fight” response into calm. 

One highly effective way to accomplish this is through deep breathing. Your boss just criticized your work? Take a few deep breaths to calm your stress response and stimulate your vagus nerve, which plays a major role in helping your body respond to life’s challenges. In order to be most effective, the breaths should be at least five seconds in and five seconds out. [source]

If you try the deep breathing and find it helpful, you may want to learn a more advanced technique, called box breathing. This is a simple, yet very effective way to regulate your breathing when stressed and bring your body back into calm. Apparently, Navy SEALs are trained in this method, which impressed me! [source]

Spend Time in Nature

We are a part of nature, but many people in the world live quite separately from it. You don’t have to hike up a mountain or do anything physically difficult to benefit from time in nature. In fact, just simply sitting and being present to the sounds, sights, and smells is more than enough. In Japanese culture, the concept of “forest bathing” came out of a recognition that simple contact with nature provides significant health benefits. “The results of Japanese studies have shown forest bathing improves sleep quality, mood, ability to focus and stress levels.” [source]

You may live in a rural area where all you need to do is step outside your door to be in nature. Are you taking some time each day to do that? Maybe a short walk or time in the garden? If you live in an urban area, where can you go to spend time in nature? A waterfront park? Some trees on the edge of your neighborhood? Your plants on your balcony? There are many documented benefits to green spaces in cities. Instead of walking home from your bus or subway stop in a rushing mindset after work, could you pause and observe someone’s garden for a moment, or that tree on the corner that you never noticed before? Your body will thank you! 

Chew your Food Thoroughly

OK, I admit this might not be the most glamorous daily practice on the list. However, I am convinced that it is worth considering. We live in a rushed and often mindless culture, where we eat in front of the television, barely tasting our food. If we are not thinking about eating while we are eating, then we are likely to not chew our food thoroughly enough. In fact, not chewing well can lead to a concerning list of health problems: bloating, diarrhea, heartburn, acid reflux, cramps, nausea, headaches, skin problems, malnutrition, indigestion and gas. Notice, too, that there are OTC medicines for many of the “ills” on this list. What if the cause is simply not chewing enough? What an easy fix! [source]

So, we have looked at the negatives of rushed eating, what are the benefits of slower eating with better chewing? 

The reality is that our digestion begins in our mouth: if you eat more slowly, the digestive enzymes in your saliva, such as amylase, have a chance to start doing their work. Research has shown that even in the short time that you chew your food before you swallow it, your enzymes are beginning to digest starches. [source ] Why not give them the time they need? 

Other benefits include getting more nutrients out of the food you eat. Some studies have shown that people who eat more slowly maintain healthier weights. [source ] This makes sense because it takes time for our stomach to be able to send the signal to our brain that it is full. 

So, how slow is slow enough? While the guideline of 32 chews per mouthful is out there, [source] that is actually only considered an average. Some foods may take more (for example, a tough steak!) and some might take less. Overall, you are aiming to remove the texture from the food and to not swallow a lot of unchewed food that will be much harder to digest. Even chewing more than you do now will help. You might even enjoy your food more, too!

Feeling and Sharing Gratitude

The field of neuroscience has identified enormous health benefits to feeling gratitude, including better sleep and improved blood pressure and heart functioning. [source]

In my own experience, I feel that gratitude can help build resiliency. During a difficult time, I now challenge myself to feel grateful for what I have. I think this helps me be more resilient and face my difficulties more effectively. 

In a busy lifestyle and our “to do list” culture, it is easy to be focused on achieving goals and take less time to celebrate what we do have, especially our relationships. One small practice would be to try and tell one person each day that you appreciate them. One day it might be your spouse, another day, it might be a hardworking barista at your local coffee shop. 

 If you are interested in exploring the health benefits of gratitude, check out this Frugalite article on keeping a gratitude journal

Cultivating Self-Compassion

What’s it like in your head? We all have an inner voice that talks to us throughout our day. Did you drop your toast? Oops! What would your inner voice have to say about that? It’s no fun to be nagged by a noisy inner critic all day…in fact, that’s sure to raise a person’s stress level. By learning some skills to respond more compassionately to your inner critic, you can be more compassionate with yourself, too. In this YouTube video, Dr. Les Aria, a renowned pain psychologist, teaches these skills.

Another aspect of self-compassion is where you put your time. How do you schedule yourself in a day? Do you offer yourself some time each day for something that replenishes you or that you enjoy? Or do you only take time off when you get sick? Even though you may be parenting young children, you can’t do that on an empty tank. Considering how you schedule yourself can be a way of making your own health a priority. Then, you’ll have more energy for the people that you love.

And if you’re going through hard times, take a look at this article about taking it a little easier on yourself.

Do you practice any of these free things you can do for your health?

Healthy is as healthy does.

Maintaining health is more important than ever. Could you see yourself trying any of the five free health tips offered here? Do you already practice any of these free things you can do for your health? Do you have one you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.

5 Free Things You Can Do for Your Health Every Single Day
Colette

Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. (www.halfacrehomestead.ca) Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in February 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!

6 thoughts on “5 Free Things You Can Do for Your Health Every Single Day”

  1. What a great list! Another free thing, that some people forget is free: exercise! Whether it’s a walk (like, out in nature, as you say above) or it’s some jogging in place, jumping jacks, counter push ups, real push ups, squats, lunges, or whatever. Free, good for you, and another stress buster.

    1. Hi Redbranch, Absolutely! I totally agree! In fact, every morning, I do some free exercise, stretching and qi gong like movements as I make my breakfast. I have discovered that a certain combination of these loosens up my back and makes for a much better day. As well, I have a dollar store skipping rope that I use to challenge myself aerobically. I get lots of muscle work on the farm, of course! However, i’m looking forward to improving my aerobic fitness this winter. I even bought “new” runners at the local thrift shop to prepare. Wish me luck!!!

  2. Totally agree! The things on this list are great, and the many forms of exercise are also wonderful stress busters. Bicycling, yoga, tai chi, a very lengthy list ways ways we can manage the stress. And best of all: they’re free!

    1. Hi Jayne, Yes, absolutely! Exercise is a key to good health, I believe. I get so much of my “workout” these days from milking 250 cows, but i always add in more. I did tai chi regularly a number of years ago. I loved it! Our leader was a deeply inspiring gentleman who persevered in tai chi despite a significant physical disability. I admired him greatly and it just made the group practice all the more meaningful.

  3. A change of venue is always good. While you may *not* be able to get outside per se, getting away from where you spend most of your time can be beneficial.
    Deep breaths serve many purposes – allows one to think before speaking.
    I am of the opinion that sleep is and should be on the top of the list when it comes to ones health/success in life. I call bullsh*t whenever I read a (usually grossly overpaid) “successful” person brag that he (he, usually he) only “needs” four hours of sleep a night. No doubt easier to be an a*hole to line your own pocket and the “shareholders” by telling hard working people they are out of a job when you’re sleep deprived.
    Inner voices are the devil on one should, angel on the other – at times both need to be ignored.

    1. Hi Selena, I do so agree about sleep. I find that it is quite undervalued in North American culture. I have always needed more sleep than average….at least 8 or 9 hours to feel good. I would never cut this, as I just feel terrible without it. I have also come across stories of all these sleep-deprived “successful” people: to me, it just shows what a limited definition of success this culture generally offers. For me, money isn’t that high on the list; values, love and people are: not things that will turn record profits for shareholders, but valuable to me. Thanks for your comments on the article. Much appreciated!

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