Seek inspiration outside of your culture and adopt these wide world health habits into your daily routine.
The world offers a wellspring of healthy, wise traditions – with every culture offering something exquisite unique, and lovely. While it would take more space than we have to list them all, we’ve selected some of our favorites from an assortment of countries, regions, and continents that you can easily weave into your own life and incorporate into your own beauty and health rituals.
Our 10 Favorite World Health Habits to Maximize Your Well-Being
AfricaThe land of veldts, giraffes, and drums has much to offer, but we’ve chosen something especially accessible: products made from shea butter – one of the most moisturizing products nature has to offer. Derived from Africa’s native Karite Nut tree, this fatty oil is collected in small, rural African villages, largely by women who depend on this work for their income. For 100% organic, African shea butter products, try Molivera Organics Raw African Organic Grade A Ivory Shea Butter for Natural Skin Care. Or, Plant Origin’s USDA Organic, African, Pure Raw Shea Butter, Handmade & Fairtrade.
AustraliaIf you think we’re going to recommend wrestling crocodiles as some kitschy workout routine, don’t worry – Australia has better things to share. Among the Aboriginal peoples of this vast country, dreams are believed to be portals connecting the physical, human world and the sacred world of spirit. Do you wonder about the meaning of your own dreams? Keeping a dream journal in which you record them the moment you wake up may help you tap into your own subconscious wisdom. Some psychologists have even suggested that examining your dreams may offer important insight into challenges you face, unresolved and unrecognized emotions, and even goals for the future. There are a number of books on the subject that can help you interpret symbols and recognize patterns. Read Victoria Price’s Dreams: Interpreting Your Dreams and How to Dream Your Desires – Lucid Dreaming, Visions, and Dream Interpretation.
CanadaSorry – we aren’t going to tell you to cuddle a moose. Instead, we suggest you do as the Canadians do, and go outside. Regardless of the fact that the Canada’s northern climate lends itself to long bouts of icy weather, the hardy Canadians enjoy being outdoors year-round, embracing the frozen months enthusiastically with skiing, skating, hockey, snowshoeing, sledding, ice fishing, and all things snowy. Warmer weather is spent biking all over Canada’s lush and picturesque landscape. Perhaps this intimate awareness of the natural environment and the interplay of all life is one of the reasons that Canadians are such a peaceful population. Visit British Columbia’s Kootenay Rockies, home of ‘The Powder Highway‘ for some of the best skiing of your life!
FranceThe French are renowned for their thin, healthy appearance, and it’s well-known that they consume their fair share of wine. Grapes contain powerful compounds known as polyphenols, which have a positive effect on the health of the body’s vascular system. These nutrients are retained when grapes are transformed into wine. Red wine, in particular, contains potent antioxidants including veratrole and catechin that have been shown to reduce blood clotting and the risk of heart attack. Drink wine in moderation, and choose wines produced organically. If you’d rather have your polyphenols delivered topically, try a red wine facial to fight free radicals and improve the elasticity of your skin.
GermanyThe work surrounding energetic and vibrational medicine conducted by German surgeon, bacteriologist, and pathologist Edward Bach eventually led to the development of a system of medicine involving the subtle healing power of botanicals. His remedies, Bach Flower Essences, are widely available and may be used topically or taken orally to treat a variety of emotional imbalances ranging from grief and sadness to fear and anger. Managing life when a crisis comes to call is always going to require all the tools in our arsenal. This is one to add to your kit.
Greece and CreteBack in the 1960s, researchers became intrigued by the good health and longevity of people living on the island of Crete. When analysis revealed that this population was living longer, healthier lives than even the Japanese, studies began in earnest. It eventually became clear that while regular exercise was significant, diet was a vital factor. Lower incidences of heart disease extended to populations living in countries surrounding the Mediterranean, who were all consuming diets comprised of locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables, olive oil, low or moderate consumption of dairy products, wine in moderation, and more fish than poultry or red meat. Today, the aptly named Mediterranean Diet is built around these staples. Treat yourself to one of the many excellent cookbooks featuring Mediterranean dishes, and see just how easy it is to channel your own moment in the sun.
India very best thing to ever become a worldwide obsession is the ancient Indian practice of yoga. While a strong spiritual component is an important part of many yoga traditions, you can reap a multitude of rewards by simply learning to breathe properly and by correctly (and regularly) practicing specific asanas. While a class can go a long way to teaching proper form, there are a number of excellent yoga class apps and websites available from reputable teachers such as Kathryn Budig, Dice Lida Klein, and Chelsey Korus. Try Yoga Glo to find classes that work for your level, time frame, and interests of study.
ItalyItalian food wouldn’t be the same without olive oil, revered and featured in nearly every native dish from delicate dips and sauces to fresh-baked bread and pastas. Numerous studies support the health benefits of olive oil. When consumed as part of a healthy diet, olive oil may lower levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, in the blood – thereby reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Some research has also suggested that olive oil may affect the distribution of body fat, leading to decreased stores of fat around the stomach. When choosing olive oil, opt for those designated as ‘extra virgin’ and ‘cold-pressed’, which results from the very first pressing of the fruit. Avoid olive oil designated as ‘extra light’, which has been subjected to considerable processing. Olive oil may also be applied topically as a moisturizer after bathing, while skin is still damp.
JapanIn Japan, the tea ceremony is an honored ritual, involving choreographed sequences, special accessories, and a very specific environment. All of which help to create an ideal setting for contemplation. Invest in a selection of green, white, and black teas, a special teapot and cup, and a beautiful tray, bearing in mind that traditional ceremonies include elements of varying colors, textures, and designs. Then, create a surrounding that includes gentle music, an organic candle, and a comfortable place to sit. As the water boils and the tea leaves steep, take time out for yourself to be still, or to offer thankfulness for the simple beauties and pleasures to be found in your own life.
MexicoHere in the workaholic culture of the U.S., one of the best world health habits of taking a break in the middle of the workday is not looked upon favorably. In Mexico and many other parts of the world, however, taking a siesta in the afternoon to regroup and re-energize is seen as a worthwhile time-out. Often, those who work at home and could feasibly take a daily siesta often have trouble setting limits on the time they spend working. Just sitting outside for a bit, meditation, or taking a 10 to 15-minute walk outdoors can clear your mind, refresh you, and help you to stay focused and productive once you return to your desk.
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