As the year ends and we take stock of things like health and finances, it’s a good time to consider ways to support our health without spending a lot of money. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of ten of my favorite low-cost holistic health tips.
1. Take walks. Study after study shows that people who walk more live longer and reap all sorts of other health benefits, too. Walking not only helps control weight, it helps control chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. The cost of walking? Only a little wear and tear on your shoes. Walk instead of driving on short trips and you’ll save money on gas, too.
2. Meditate for a minute or more a day. It costs nothing but a little time to sit and focus on the breath, but the rewards are great. Studies have found improvements in blood pressure, memory, cognitive function, and more from regular meditation. Even one minute a day is enough to bring some improvement.
3. Tap your meridians. Meridian tapping – the general term applied to therapeutic systems of tapping various points on the body’s acupuncture meridians – is a versatile method that requires no special equipment and only a little knowledge. The most well-known tapping system is EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique; you can get free information about it at various websites. Used first to treat phobias and emotional issues, meridian tapping can also support physical health.
4. Write in a journal. How you do this writing can make a difference to your health. Research by James Pennebaker and others has shown that expressive writing – recording both the events of a trauma and the feelings it evoked – can help improve immune function, blood pressure, and other physiological measures of health. Another health-boosting way to write: keep a gratitude journal by writing down 3 to 5 things a day for which you feel thankful.
5. Do some basic detox. Start by detoxing inside your home: throw out body care and cleaning products that contain synthetic petrochemicals or fragrances. Then reduce the products you buy to just a few natural, fragrance-free items, and you’ll save money as you reduce your exposure to toxics. Here's a low-cost detox method that pampers your body: soak in a hot bath containing ½ - 1 cup of Epsom salts plus ½ - 1 cup of baking soda. The alkaline nature of this soak can help to pull out or neutralize acidity in the body.
6. Visualize good health. As the saying goes, “Your body believes everything it hears,” and that includes your mental chatter. Replacing worry with mental images of good health costs nothing, and there is much anecdotal evidence, at least, of its effectiveness. My favorite little instruction book on visualizing good health is Cell Level Healing by Joyce Whiteley Hawkes, PhD.
7. Drink water, not soda. The amount we spend on carbonated drinks each year is astronomical – how else can Coke, Pepsi, and others afford their huge ad and promo campaigns? And that doesn’t factor in the medical and dental costs that result from drinking soda. Water costs a lot less, even if you pay a metered water price and invest in a water filter (which I recommend). Plus it’s smart to keep your body hydrated for a number of reasons. Don’t buy bottled water, though, if you can avoid it.
8. Grow your own food, or at least some of it. One of the simplest ways to do this is to sprout seeds. All you need for this is a jar, some organic sprouting seeds, and water. You can also easily grow herbs or greens in a pot even if you live in an apartment, and there’s nothing better than fresh greens that you pick yourself and eat right away. If you have a yard and are lucky enough to live in a no-frost region, you can grow food outdoors year-round. We get snow, so we grow greens in a greenhouse in winter.
9. Eat it raw, or at least some of it. Eating food raw preserves nutrients and enzymes that contribute to better digestion and better overall health. Not cooking also saves energy and money, as well as time. One guideline I like is to eat at least half of your food raw at each meal.
10. Buy the rest of it fresh, local, and/or organic instead of processed, salted and/or sweetened. It’s a simple equation: the more processed a food is, the worse it generally is for you, and the more fresh and organic, the better it generally is. Fresh organic foods might look more expensive and processed foods cheap, but factor in the life-cycle and longer-term health costs of those processed foods and organic comes out looking much better. You can often get good prices on organics at farmers’ markets, too.
That’s my list. May it help you have a happy and healthy New Year!