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Brush up on brain foods (and impress your friends with your culinary skills) by reading the "Alzheimer's Prevention Cookbook." (Photograph by Shannon Switzer)

Tricks for Staying Healthy at Home

It’s easy to be healthy when you’re on a wellness-centered road trip, but am I going to be able to keep it up when I get home?

As I mentioned at the start of my journey — with 16 weeks to plan a wedding, get married, move across country, and prepare to be a Master’s student in coastal management at Duke after an eight-year hiatus from school — my life is about to get very busy. So, in the midst of all the chaos, I want to make sure I have strategies at the ready for getting back to a centered, healthy place.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve been putting some of the advice I got along the way into practice, and feel more focused and invigorated than ever (it’s also nice to sleep in my own bed!).

Here’s how I’m keeping it healthy at home, and how you can, too:

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New arrows in my wellness quiver: pulsating facial brush, Seranagen, and phytonutrient multivitamins. (Photograph by Shannon Switzer)

Listen to your body. “Dr. Brad” advised me to stop and take a deep breath when I start feeling frantic and overwhelmed. It sounds simplistic, but it works — especially when I envision exhaling my mind’s clutter along with the CO2. As for getting a good night’s sleep, Brad suggested taking a natural supplement (he recommended Serenagen) to quiet my mind and implementing a “No Blue Screen” rule before bedtime to let my body unwind. After trying the combo many times now, I can say that it does the trick without any groggy side effects.

Take care of your face. I used to wash my face with hand soap before my Road to Wellness road trip, but never realized just how damaging it could be. Each esthetician I met told me that hand soap’s relatively basic pH strips my face of all its natural oils, drying out my skin and tricking it into producing excess oil to compensate. Every one of them prescribed the same facial regimen trifecta: a face wash with the proper pH, a toner, and a hydrater. They also recommended using a pulsing brush (like the Clarisonic) to clean my face, and including Vitamin C in my daily routine to keep my skin plump and revitalized. Since putting these new learnings into practice at home, I’ve definitely noticed a difference.

Feed your brain. Beau MacMillan, the executive chef at elements, the fine-dining restaurant at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, introduced me to a whole new take on “brain food.” He recently teamed up with neurologist and dementia specialist Dr. Marwan Sabbagh to create The Alzheimer’s Prevention Cookbook, a collection of recipes that have been shown to improve mental acuity and prevent debilitating mental diseases. Chef Beau uses many of the same ingredients at his restaurant, and says they’re just as easy to add to meals at home. I’ve been challenging myself to eat at least three of these brain foods — like cinnamon, pomegranates, and leafy greens — every day.

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Repeat after me: Treating yourself to a facial or a day at the spa isn’t silly. (Photograph by Shannon Switzer)

Stretching is a lifestyle. After a few thousand miles on the road, I began to swear by certain stretches to keep my body feeling good. Since sitting in a car isn’t much better for you than sitting in front of a computer, I’ve kept them up at home. I start with the simple side bend to stretch out my obliques, twisting side to side to loosen up my spinal cord, and touching my toes to isolate my hamstrings (the trick is to avoid rounding your back). To finish off, I do my favorite cobra pose, which safely stretches my abs, chest, and shoulder muscles at the same time, then shift to the downward dog position to stretch my calves. This mini muscle-wake-up session hits all the main muscle groups in about ten minutes.

It’s okay to treat yourself once in a while. Not only is it okay; it’s necessary. I have no problem splurging on a nice dinner occasionally, but I used to view anything that resembled pampering as over-indulgent nonsense. Now I know better. In addition to being restorative and energizing, a quality massage or facial offers a chance to hit the pause button on life and avoid getting stuck in a 9-to-5 rut.

While my experience on the the Road to Wellness confirmed that there is no magic bullet when it comes to lasting health, it also taught me that there are little things we can do every day that can make a big impact. So what’s the downside, right? Especially during the lulls between life’s big adventures.

How do you stay healthy and balanced in your everyday life? Share your advice with the Intelligent Travel community by leaving a comment!