30+ Ways to Nourish Yourself (that have nothing to do with food)
I’ve developed a real crush on the word “nourish” over the years. Could be that whole “Jewish mother” thing but it feels deeper than that. Yes, there is something about cooking and feeding people that fills me with joy. It's become a part of my inner and outer identity that I cherish. I use the healthiest ingredients and the food I cook is nutritious, delicious and full of love. But nourishment can be about more than just the food we eat. Living a healthy lifestyle involves nourishing all your parts: body, mind and spirit.
I believe it’s important to find things that feel nourishing even if they have little or nothing at all to do with food.
The more nourished we feel the less likely it is that we’ll wander off in search of a quick distraction in the form of food we’re often not even hungry for in the first place.
With that in mind, I put together a list of about 30 ways you can nourish yourself that are not at all about food. If you have any additional things to add, please chime in and comment below!
- Get quiet - even for 2 minutes. Silence relieves stress and tension. This study found that two minutes of silence can be more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music, based on changes in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.
- Go outside. Even for a little bit. Even if it's just standing outside your door in the rain for a moment. Reconnecting with nature can help lift depression, improve energy, and boost overall well-being and mental health. One of the most nourishing things I do for myself is walk around Green Lake at least a couple of times every week. I've probably walked that lake over a thousand times and it feeds my soul every time.
- Have a laugh. One good thing about the avalanche of information available to us with the click of a mouse is that we can find funny stuff fast. Whether it’s funny animal videos, old SNL skits or Ali Wong on Netflix, laughter really can be the best medicine and very nourishing.
- Be here now! Have you heard of The Beauty Way prayer? It’s a traditional Navajo prayer that I learned from my teacher, Dr. Martha Beck and it’s a walking meditation that brings you into the present moment by having you notice something beautiful in every direction. I’ve since seen several versions of it around the internet but this is the one that I learned: “Beauty before me, beauty behind me, beauty to the right of me, beauty to the left of me, beauty above me, beauty below me, beauty within me.” As you chant this (silently is fine) look to each direction and find some beauty in that place.
- Turn on your parasympathetic nervous system. This is the opposite of your sympathetic nervous system which is where stress (aka fight/flight/freeze) manifests. Your parasympathetic is the home of rest & digest and it’s all about nourishment. Here are a few things that will do it:
Place your hand firmly on your heart and take a deep breath. Try it! It’s kinda awesome.
Do some Yin or Restorative yoga. This is basically “chill out” yoga where you only do a handful of poses (mostly reclining or laying down) and you hold each one for 5 minutes or more. My favorite one is called Viparita Karani or Legs-Up-The-Wall pose.
Meditate. If you think you are “bad” at meditation, congratulations: you are totally normal. We all have “monkey mind.” That’s why it’s called a meditation “practice.”
Touch from another human also activates the parasympathetic: sex, massage, even holding hands can do it.
- Breathe deeply. It’s free and you’ll feel the benefits immediately. My all time favorite coaching tool for my clients (and for myself) is to pause and take 3 deep breaths. It’s nourishing for the body, mind, spirit triad.
- Take a sauna - and do a cold plunge afterwards! The cold part may feel like “uh uh” at first (there's a reason that it's called a "plunge") but I promise you, the feeling afterwards is incredibly nourishing. It’s great for your lymphatic system and it’s very relaxing. If you can’t get to a sauna, try turning on the cold water for 30 seconds at the end of your shower every day. It does the same thing!
- Volunteer. Helping others is a sure way to do some good in the world and find some deeper meaning at the same time. There is no shortage of groups and agencies that could use your help these days. Check out Volunteer Match which is a national database that matches volunteers with a huge variety of places that need help.
- Give yourself permission to zone out on Netflix or whatever for a few hours. By “give yourself permission” I mean let yourself do it and enjoy it with no guilt, no judgement and no “shoulding” involved.
- Watch your language! Words like always, never, have to, need to, disaster, and impossible, are weighty and can take away your power which is very depleting. Try using words like choose to or get to instead and reframe so called “disasters” into opportunities for change or forks in the road.
- Reach out and touch someone - even virtually. Connecting with other humans is what it's all about. Ideally you can meet up with friends or family in real life but even a phone call can feel incredibly nourishing. How many friends do you have in places near or far that you haven't called in a while because it would take at least 20 minutes to catch up and you're always just a little too busy running from A to B? Stop reading right now and go make that call. This will still be here when you get done. :)
- Take a few minutes to stretch when you wake up while breathing deeply. Think of it as starting your day by climbing back into your body.
- Journal (the verb, not the noun). Some people are daily journalers, some are fair weather journalers and others find the whole thing terribly uncomfortable. That’s probably because it’s a little like looking in a mirror longer that you’re used to doing. Think of it as a way to work through the noise and reconnect to your essential self. To make it more fun, bust out the colored markers. You’re never too old to color.
- Speaking of mirrors, another soul-nourishing activity is to actually spend a full 60 seconds every day looking at yourself in the mirror. Look into your eyes and focus on the connection with yourself. Keep doing this until it gets easier (which it will). Try saying “I love you,” "I trust you," or “I got your back” and notice how that feels.
- Go for a dip. While swimming may not be for everyone it can be pretty nourishing for many of us. It’s a way to feel weightless and free. Great for the body, mind and spirit!
- Declutter! Organize a closet or the “junk” drawer. Keep it small so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming but still feels like purging stuff you longer need. Energetically it’s very nourishing to make space.
- Find the music in you. You can listen, sing along or play along. “Music soothes the savage beast” and fills your cup so to speak.
- Shake your booty - or just take a stroll. Movement can be one of the most nourishing things for your body. Get some exercise - and do it out of love for your body, not as a punishment.
- Get a houseplant. Better yet, get two! Houseplants are great for your health as they remove toxins from the air, absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Rumor has it that they can also improve concentration and productivity, reduce stress levels and boost your mood — which makes them perfect for not just your home but your work space, too.
- Light some candles. There’s a reason that candles are often a big part of religious and spiritual ceremonies (and birthdays!). They are soothing and calming and quite restorative.
- Put the kettle on. Just that phrase alone feels comforting and therefore nourishing. You can’t guzzle a hot mug of tea. It needs to be sipped slowly, making it an invitation to sit down, relax and hit the pause button for a little bit.
- Go higher up. Maybe it’s god, maybe its the Universe, but whatever you call it, it’s nourishing to your soul to connect with a power greater than yourself. I was once told by a psychic that my angels were always hovering nearby, just waiting to help me out, if I would only talk to them. I have found this to be pretty accurate although the answers to my prayers don’t always look the day I think they should…
- Check out The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. You don’t have to be an artist to reconnect with your inner creative self. This book was first published over 25 years ago but it’s so popular that it’s been re-released and has several newer versions, including “It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond.”
- Get crafty. Go to a craft store like JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels and see what calls out to you. Try something completely new that you haven’t done in a while or choose something tried and true. Losing yourself in some crafting can be very nourishing. Some suggestions include origami, macrame, crochet and beading but go on Pinterest and I’m sure you’ll find all kinds of ideas!
- Treat yourself to an old fashioned print magazine - without the excuse of getting on a plane. We read most everything on a screen these days and spending some time with an actual magazine (or book of course) can be incredibly nourishing.
- Try making a vision board. It’s a little bit “woo woo” I know, but it’s a tangible way to regularly see and be reminded of the things that you want to manifest for yourself. I can’t explain how exactly the magic works but I can attest to the fact that when I make vision boards the things I put there almost always come to fruition somehow. You can use a piece of poster board or do it in your journal, but either way it’s a fun exercise in creating a visual “Yes, please” to the Universe. As you flip through old magazines, start pulling pictures of the things that resonate with you. It could be an object, a place, a mood or general vibe. Don't stop and ask why, just cut it out. When you're all done go through what you've pulled and choose the ones that speak to you the most. Using a glue stick, make a little collage of the things you have chosen. When you're done, put it somewhere you'll be sure to see on a regular basis. That's part of the magic!
- Or write a thank-you note to the Universe in the form of a gratitude list. As you focus on what you’re grateful for and what works for you you’ll begin to attract more of it into your life.
- Another nourishing activity is to go on an unplanned adventure. I got this idea from Tosha Silver’s book, “Outrageous Openness: Letting the Divine Take the Lead.” Set off on a walk or a drive with no particular destination in mind and see where your intuition takes you. Get on the ferry, get on a bus or hit the highway and let your inner GPS lead the way. Keep your phone in your pocket or bag in case of emergency but resist the urge to let it tell you where you want to go or what you want to do. It’s a great opportunity to remember how to trust your inner self!
- Go on a retreat - whether it’s for a day, a week or a weekend, treat yourself to some time with yourself. Go away somewhere or stay home and call it a staycation if you like, but use the time to really connect with yourself.
- Invest in a program or coach that will help you release any struggle and achieve what you want. You’re worth it!