Live Consciously

The Ultimate Guide to Self-Care Via the 8 Pillars of a Nutritious Life

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As we’ve said before, placing nutritious foods on your plate is only one step in living your most Nutritious Life. That’s why we believe in the 8 pillars created by Nutritious Life founder and our resident guru Keri Glassman, which are: Eat Empowered, Sleep Deep, Drink Up, Nurture Yourself, Live Consciously, Sweat Often, Love More and Stress Less. (You can read up on what they all mean and how incredibly integrated they are here.)

And since we’re all about stepping up our game, we decided to dig into the latest health science, trends and consumer preferences to see how they relate to our 8 pillars and, in turn, you and your most nutritious life.

RELATED: The 8 Pillars of a Nutritious Life: If You Want to Lose Weight and Be Healthier and Happier, Nutrition Is Just the Beginning

Read on for the latest innovations for 2022 as we offer you the ultimate guide to self care and a truly nutritious life.

The Ultimate Guide to Self-Care and a Nutritious Life

Eat Empowered

After examining patterns in consumer preferences and learning about upcoming innovative items to hit the shelves, Whole Foods Market released their first Top 10 Anticipated Food Trends for 2022. A small but powerhouse food is currently being added to numerous products, such as crackers, creamy cheeses and ice creams—the mighty sunflower seed. It’s not surprising since this seed (which comes from the yellow, daisy-looking plant) is packed with nutrients, including vitamin E, selenium, copper, zinc, iron, folate and other B vitamins, along with offering protein, fiber and anti-inflammatory unsaturated fats. Sunflower seeds hold numerous health benefits, where one study from Harvard School of Public Health found an association between seeds (including sunflower) and a lower risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as a “significant reduction” in blood pressure and cholesterol.

Toss them into smoothies and salads, grab some for a snack and keep an eye out for some new sunflower-based foods. Needless to say, we’re nuts about seeds!

Sleep Deep

Sleep is an essential function for both physical and emotional health. While it revolves around this delicate balance of figuring out how much your body needs, how to doze off faster and how to stay in Snoozeville until the sun comes up, researchers from the European Society of Cardiology may have uncovered the best time to hit the sheets. With the help of a digital wrist device, study authors followed the sleep habits of more than 88,000 adults for one week (who had filled out questionnaires about their lifestyle, health, etc.). Nearly six years later, during the follow-up portion of the trial, the investigators found that 3.6% of the participants had been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, ranging from heart attack, heart failure to stroke. After taking a number of factors into account (such as sex, age, smoking status and whether someone labeled themselves as either an early bird or night owl), the researchers concluded that those who went to bed between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. had the least incidences of heart issues while those who put their head on a pillow at midnight or later had the highest occurrences. So if you’re a sleep procrastinator, now is the time to put an end to it!

Drink Up

Another item—well, technically flower—that stood out in the Whole Foods Market top 10 list is hibiscus. A blend of hot pink and ruby red in color, these tart petals are being transformed into more than tea in the new year. Think unsweetened, flavored water and Italian soda. (This tropical plant will also be popping up in foods, such as yogurt and fruit spreads.) Whether you try one of these new beverages or go the traditional tea route, hibiscus contains free radical-fighting antioxidants and is most known for helping to reduce blood pressure. According to a small study published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, two cups of hibiscus tea per day showed to be an effective form of natural medicine for adults living with stage 1 hypertension (a systolic pressure ranging from 130 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic pressure ranging from 80 to 89 mm Hg, as defined by the Mayo Clinic).

Nurture Yourself

WGSN, a leading consumer global trend forecaster, has predicted that “waterless washing” beauty and hygiene products will take the spotlight in 2022. Everything from showerless shampoo and conditioner to dry face masks, these items (sometimes referred to as zero-waste beauty) are made without H2O. According to a report by Forbes, these products are usually more concentrated and made instead with either butters, oils or waxes and oil-soluble actives. Plus—and this correlates blends with our “Live Consciously” pillar— saving water reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, water-free items tend to weigh less and require simpler packing, which equates to reducing their total carbon footprint. So as a result, both you and Mother Nature will be glowing.

Live Consciously

Yes, while many of us may be dealing with a serious case of Zoom fatigue (we’re coming up on almost two years of this platform becoming our new normal!), researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have recently concluded that virtual conferences can offer personal, professional and environmental perks. For starters, online events are keeping us at a (very) safe distance from each other during the latest phase of this pandemic. Videoconferencing has also provided more opportunities for women—a.k.a. moms—to take a seat at the table. In fact, data shows that female participation at virtual conferences increased by 253% compared to in-person conferences. And thanks to fewer trips via planes, trains and automobiles, study authors calculated that one person’s attendance at a virtual conference in 2019 had the same carbon footprint as 7,000 online attendees! Even though we’re looking forward to being more social again, it would be wise to keep video-based meetings in our future.

Sweat Often

It’s not news that lacing up and doing your favorite workout can lead to a whole slew of physical and mental benefits, including smaller waistline, increased muscle tone, more energy, better sleep, better concentration, longer lifespan and improved mood. Now, but a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Gothenburg and published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that moderate and strenuous exercising can actually “significantly” reduce symptoms of chronic anxiety disorder. Considered one of the largest studies to date in this area, more than 280 volunteers (who were 70% female) living with anxiety syndrome were instructed to take part in group workout sessions (one-hour classes, both cardio and strength training, three times a week) over the course of 12 weeks. The majority of adults reportedly went from daily levels of moderate to high anxiety to low anxiety at the end of the trial. So, if worrisome thoughts start to control your day this year, do your body and mind a favor by sweating it out any way you like.

Love More

All you need is love—and if you’re an old-school romantic looking for a partner, 2022 could be your year! Data collected by Match.com (which surveyed of 5,000 singles between the ages 18 and 98) and analyzed by the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, indicates that some pandemic-inspired dating trends are likely to continue into the foreseeable future. The big takeaway: Casual sex is out and commitment is in! Over the last two years, the desire to walk down the aisle has gone from 58% to 76%. Random hookups have become less appealing while a deeper connection with a significant other has become more attractive. “The so-called bad boys and bad girls are out; emotional maturity is in,” says senior research fellow Helen Fisher in a press release.

Stress Less

Add “grab phone” as part of your 2022 wellness plan. Stress isn’t something we can magically make disappear, but if you’re finding yourself wiped out from attempting to deal with work, finances, kids, relationships and news updates, you may want to consider taking advantage of  “digital interventions” this year. While teletherapy involves a private, face-to-face online session, digital interventions involve the user opening an app, software program or website in order to read, watch, listen to and interact with structured lessons monitored by mental health professionals. (You may even be given some homework!)

Researchers from the American Psychological Association conducted a meta-analysis of 83 studies testing digital applications for treating depression. The studies dated as far back as 1990 and involved more than 15,000 participants (of which nearly 70% were women). They compared digital interventions to either an inactive control group (those on a waitlist or receiving no treatment) or an active comparison (those receiving face-to-face psychotherapy) and found that digital interventions were better than no intervention but not as effective as face-to-face. Bottom line: While in-person therapy remains the gold standard, the good news is that digital interventions can and do work, offering a promising alternative to address the growing mental health challenges spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Self-Care Your Way

As we begin a new year in an ongoing global pandemic, it’s more important than ever to take a whole-person approach to wellness and health. Our best advice is to take stock of what aspect of your own well-being needs support right now, and then find the information and tools to reinforce the 8 pillars of your life. Let these findings we shared be your starting point.

(Image: Shutterstock)

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