Simple Tips to a Healthier and Happier You

Here are a few simple tips to help you reach a healthier happier level in your everyday life.

Utilize your Breath
– Pause and take three deep breaths, anytime, anywhere. You will immediately feel a little more calm, present, and grounded.
– Give yourself at least one full minute of slow breathing whenever you feel a challenge coming, triggered or emotionally hurt. While you help your nervous system calm down through breathing, you can then choose to respond if you wish to, rather than react as if you had to.
– Gift yourself time before making any big decisions, and initiate that time with breath. No bad decisions are made by waiting for an extra breath or a few. Initiate that wait time with slow calm breathing and you will soon know when the time is right to act and what is the best decision to make.
– There are multiple styles of breathing techniques out there serving various purposes. If you want to learn more about this, start to research various Yogic breathing techniques in the category of Pranayama, which have been used for many centuries in ancient India by Yogis and householders alike. I will be sharing a post soon with some of the main styles that can be used by everyone in everyday life.

Be with Nature
– Immerse yourself in nature whenever you can. I call this ‘Nature Bathing’ and it has been one of the best self-induced therapies I have discovered. This is a common practice in Japan called ‘Shinrin-Yoku’ or ‘Forest Bathing’. If you live somewhere in the countryside, that’s great. Look no further than those trees, that mountain, the jungle, the river, or whatever natural element you’re surrounded by. If you live in the city, you can look for a park or just a patch of trees. Get yourself close to the natural elements. Lay on Earth. Put your feet in that river. Feel the grass and those leaves with your bare feet and hands. Hug a tree. Yes, hug a tree and release your forehead to the tree trunk. Close the eyes and listen to the sound of Nature soothing your soul. There is a reason why they’ve created Nature sound therapy machines. They can be deeply calming and healing.
– If you can’t access a park, a forest, or trees, you can have this communion with Nature through house plants. Be with them, breathe into their leaves. They love the carbon dioxide you will release and they will love you back as they purify the air you breathe.

Optimize Sleep
– Create a simple wind-down routine to start at least an hour before the time you’d like to be asleep. Mine includes lowering all the lights to minimum or using candle lights, changing music to soft instrumental and acoustic tunes, shutting off any screen, computer and phone, drinking a small cup or warm chamomile tea, and some evenings it also includes journaling. While I lay down I also apply Lavender essential oil on my chest so I can smell it as I fall asleep. I will soon share a blog post entirely dedicated to essential oils and how to utilize them to optimize your health and well-being. Stay tuned!
– Try to keep your phone outside the bedroom. I have acquired a simple alarm clock so I no longer keep my phone in the bedroom. However, if you have to keep yours there, set night-time hours in the privacy settings so both sound and screen brightness lower after a specific time in the evening and come back up in the morning. Overall, avoid any screen time, TV, computer, tablet, at least one hour before bedtime. Give your brain time to decompress before falling asleep.
– If you journal – even if you don’t usually – it helps to write down any thoughts from the day and any thought for the next day, any to-do lists etc. so you don’t think of them as you’re falling asleep.
– Drink some warm sleep-time tea helps to calm the nervous system preparing for rest. Avoid taking in much liquids in order to avoid waking up at night to use the bathroom. Keep a glass of water by the bed for the morning but only take small sips if you feel thirsty.
– Take a quick hot shower to relax the muscles. Utilize calming essential oils under the hot water to help keep open breathing pathways while you sleep.
– Keep the bedroom temperature moderate, not too warm nor cold. Air out the bedroom before sleep and if you use essential oils, spray some lavender or rose water on the pillow and sheets.
– If there are sounds or light coming from outside even with closed windows and curtains or shades, utilize earplugs and eye mask. Another option is also to use white noise machines.

This blog post was inspired by a recent Facebook live I did with my friend Sheila Janan, AKA Health Tip Girl. You can watch the video here. Let me know on Instagram if you find these tips helpful and if you have any other tips to share that have helped you become a healthier happier version of you.

With love and gratitude,

~ Erinda

The Heart of an Elephant

~ This story was first published on World Nomads. ~

“This is a story about my experience with the natural beauty of Thailand, Thai culture and people. But mainly this is a story about a beautiful creature named LD, a baby elephant I met while traveling in Thailand. She was just 32 days old when I met her, but held lifetimes of love and joy in her heart.

It was the end of November and I had been in Thailand for just under a week. Among other experiences, the week had been filled with a very long overseas flight, loud traffic in the streets of Bangkok, sketchy hostel stays and awkward attempts to properly request vegan meals from street food vendors. I had been reading about all the beautiful temples and breathtaking natural sites in northern Thailand for weeks and weeks prior to my trip. I had been looking at the all gorgeous beach photos shared all over the internet lusting to be there. I had even attempted to learn a few phrases in Thai, but the locals would just stare at me with a half smirk and what I first thought to be full on judgement while I’d end up finishing my statements in English. It had only been a few days, but I had experienced so much! And I was tired, so tired. I had not slept a full 8 hours length since I left home, that place that seemed so distant on the other side of the world…

I had made flexible plans to head up north from Bangkok, eventually making my way up to Chiang Mai. I had read so much about this place, supposedly being the hip spot in northern Thailand. And once I got there I found that it was, sort of… After an overnight train ride I made it there bright and early, with no set plans of where I was going to stay. Upon arrival I felt overwhelmed and a little lost among all other backpackers, mostly from northern Europe. Secretly I wanted to blend in and pretend I was local, but I sure did not. Deep down, all I wanted was to learn the culture, to better understand it and experience it.

After wandering the streets of Chiang Mai for 2 days, I decided it was time to make it up to the hill tribes, the place where the true locals were. And the place where the elephants were… After a lot of research I found a place that really cares about the elephants, and the native people there. My visit was a frozen day in time that I will never forget. I got to spend all day with the sweetest group of elephants caring for them, bathing them and feeding them. Words cannot describe how much love and happiness those creatures emit.

That was one day I will never forget. That was one day that when I felt most at home, away from home! ”

This place that I visited is called Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai Thailand. Eco-travel and animal rights is a topic of high importance to me so I always research places that offer encounters with wildlife to assure their ethical practices. From my research and personal experience I found that EJS does just that. Even though this post was in no way sponsored, solicited, or even asked for by the organization, I felt inspired to share it with the world to help other travelers and animal lovers in their research as well.

One of the most common issues that is encountered in Thailand and other countries with, what we may consider, exotic animals is the tourist entertainment offers for animal riding or circus type animal performance. These types of performances have a great negative impact on the health, well-being and longevity of the animals, hence they are highly non-advisable even though some places try to convince tourists otherwise. This is a topic of great controversy so I highly recommend doing your own research from various sources before making decisions and bookings. I was fully satisfied with my experience at this place, hence I decided to share this post. If it perked your interest you are welcome to learn more on their website.

I hope you enjoyed this sharing, and above all I hope that you explore our beautiful planet with a light foot and an open heart! The elephant story as well the rest of my experience traveling around Thailand and southeast Asia will be continued on other future posts…

With gratitude,

~ Erinda