1. Daily Hugs with my loved ones

I always start my day with family hugs and snuggles before getting out of bed. It increases oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine (feel good hormones), helps us all feel connected and relaxed, and puts us in a great mood. It’s one of the most beautiful ways to start your day with love, gratitude, and joy. Plus it has the added benefit of helping us all wake up at the same time. 😉 Those same “feel good” hormones also have been shown to boost our immune system health, put us in “parasympathetic mode” otherwise known as “rest and digest” mode where we function optimally, and make us feel safe and whole in our environment. Most importantly, when I hug my daughter Emma and my husband Matt, I’m cultivating stronger relationships and love through the healing power of touch.

2. Early bird gets the worm

Coffee, and set myself up for success for the day. For others, it may provide the perfect window for exercise, creative writing time, reading, a stress-free commute outside of normal traffic while you listen to your favorite podcast, and more. The opportunities are endless for creating the perfect morning routine when you get up early! Science is also proving what many ancient techniques have known all along like Traditional Chinese Medicine’s Horary Clock or the Ayurvedic body clock- that in going to bed and waking up in alignment with nature (sunrise to sunset), the body, mind, and spirit work optimally. We “go with the flow” as nature intended. This is also known as circadian rhythm, or our natural physiological changes in a 24-hour period. Melatonin is meant to kick in around 9pm and cortisol wakes us up gently early in the morning. Sleeping in can actually have the opposite effect, making us feel “tired and wired” later at night and exhausted in the morning.

Mindful Eating

3. Daily Random acts of kindness and why it’s so fulfilling

I put loving notes in my daughter Emma’s lunchbox and my husband Matt’s briefcase each day. This practice brings me such joy. Other examples could be giving up one’s seat on the bus or train, giving a stranger a compliment, gratitude to a loved one, or holding the door for someone. I’ll sometimes pay for someone’s coffee in front of me and it fills me with glee! Whether I see their face or not or receive a thank you doesn’t matter. It’s deeply satisfying knowing that I’m putting good energy into the world and what a difference that can make. We are all human and in any given moment, any given day, there might be turmoil going on in people’s lives without us knowing. Showing others love, even when you don’t know them, can have a profound effect on the rest of their day (or even in some cases, the rest of their life). We feel less alone and isolated, more connected and supported, and are adding to the universal “bank account” of good. We definitely need that now more than ever with a Pandemic.

4. My antidotes to stress

I love Infrared sauna! I don’t get to go everyday, but definitely go as often as I can. It helps to clear toxins from the inside out and always leaves me feeling lighter. I also love Kundalini yoga and try to go several times a week. I enjoy practicing the mantras and mudras meant to clear and balance the chakras before meditation, and the overall combination of movement, breathing, meditation, and chanting. It creates such spiritual and physical balance. When I can’t get to class, I’ll do simple breathing and grounding exercises at home. These practices are known to produce amazing physical, mental, and spiritual benefits, like balancing the chakras, oxygenating the system, decreasing fear and anxiety, boosting energy and immune health, and producing mood-boosting, feel-good brain chemicals. Even a simple 5-10 minute meditation makes a difference. And I can’t leave out a daily practice I swear by: gratitude. Even just mentally listing things I’m grateful for in a moment of stress can shift my internal conversation! So without fail, this one remains a daily routine no matter how busy life gets.

5. Meal planning

This has remained a non-negotiable in my life for many years, and is what I teach my nutrition clients from the start of our work together. My day is packed back-to-back as a business owner, mom, and wife, so planning nourishing meals is essential! We all know the feeling of “decision fatigue” and have so many micro decisions to make any given day. While planning can seem hard in the beginning, it makes the rest of my week SO much easier and has become so second nature and rewarding. Not having to choose every single meal every single day has saved my brain so much space and energy to put into the work that I do, my creativity, and my relationships. It not only saves me time, but I’m way more conscious of food waste and spending so that I hit my desired food budget without eating meals out on the go. Meal planning is a WIN and I’ve grown to love cooking and treating that time as sacred. Nourishing my body with whole foods I love supports every area of my health and wellbeing.

Nikki Ostrower

Nikki Ostrower is an integrative nutritionist, wellness lifestyle expert, and the founder of NAO Wellness — a company that coaches individuals and teams toward transformative, lasting health. After overcoming a years-long battle with a debilitating eating disorder, Nikki devoted her life to helping others find balance, peace, and empowerment around their health. With her hand-selected team of top wellness experts, NAO offers services spanning Nutrition Counseling, Corporate Wellness, Nationwide Testing on Food Intolerances, Nutrient Insufficiencies, and Genetics, curated resources for the best wellness offerings, and created NAO Wellness Ear Seed Kits so everyone can be their own healer in 5 minutes. Nikki’s expertise has been featured in: Vanity Fair, SHAPE, Well + Good, Forbes, InStyle, and more. Follow Nikki and NAO Wellness on Instagram @NAOWellness.

Younger You by Dr. Kara Fitzgerald
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