You can throw out every personal care product that has an ingredient you can’t pronounce, you can reboot your entire kitchen, you can even start a daily meditation practice…all in an effort to achieve wellness. All worthy undertakings to be sure, but some of us may want to (may need to) start with baby steps on the path to wellness. Even if you are ready to throw out every granule of sugar in your house and never look back, learning a few modest tweaks that could provide big returns can’t hurt. Here are six easy-peasy (yet impactful) lifestyle hacks I learned during last month’s W.E.L.L. Summit that even a wellness white belt can commit to successfully.
Switch to an aluminum-free deodorant. Beginning your personal wellness journey can be daunting. Where, exactly, do you start? A good—and easy—place to start is swapping out some of the chemical-laden products in our life for cleaner alternatives. During the Healthy Beauty Panel at the W.E.L.L. Summit, all the speakers (including Green Beauty Team Founder Kristen Arnett, Thoughtfully Magazine E.I.C. Brandie Gilliam, Follian Founder Tara Foley and Silent Spring Research Scientist Kathryn Rodgers) agreed that switching to an aluminum-free deodorant is a wonderful wellness first step. This simple swap will significantly decrease your exposure to this dangerous heavy metal. If you’re worried that switching to a more natural deodorant will leave you smelling a little too natural, fear not. In the past year alone, dozens of aluminum-free deodorants have hit the market. I like the consistency and effectiveness of Soapwalla’s Deodorant Cream, but if you’d like to stick to a stick deodorant, our friends at Ursa Major just created one.
Avoid fragrance. By now we’ve all heard of the perils of parabens, and I can only imagine what something called Methylchloroisothiazolinone could be doing to my body. But one seemingly innocuous ingredient, fragrance, may be more harmful that we realize. Why? Fragrance is often a blanket term that covers a laundry list of potentially harmful chemicals. This is where a company can hide all the “trade secrets” that it is not required to disclose. Avoiding products that have synthetic fragrance listed as an ingredient is an easy-to-remember way to make safer product choices.
You—yes YOU—can create an all-natural DIY home cleaner! Even those home cleaners touted as “natural” can still contain several harmful chemicals. I was therefore excited to learn about truly non-toxic home cleaning options at the breakout session led by Devin Donaldson, Founder of The Optimist Co. Excited or not, I am the least DIY type person you will ever meet, so when Devin said we’d all be making our own home cleaning scrub, I was ready to sneak out for an extra-long bathroom break. At the hotel bar. I convinced myself to stay, though, and I’m here to tell you—creating this cleanser was the simplest process that yielded an incredibly effective scrub! Ready? All you need is a small mason jar, pure Castile soap, baking soda and 1-2 essential oils of your choice. I chose Lemon and Eucalyptus for their disinfecting and deodorizing properties. In the mason jar, mix the soap and baking soda together into a pudding-like consistency/thickness. Then add a few drops of each oil and mix some more. THAT’S IT. DONE. I’ve used this scrub on my porcelain tub and stainless steel sink with great results. And *bonus* it smells amazing!
Real soap has curves. Before the W.E.L.L. Summit, superfatting was what I called a trip to Ample Hills Creamery. Then I learned about the art of soapmaking from Meow Meow Tweet Founder, Tara Pelletier. Among many other things, she told us to always look for soap that’s superfatted, as it is easier on the skin—especially in winter. Huh? Superfatting is the process of adding extra fats (oils or butters) when creating soap, so there is more fat in the mixture than the lye can react with during the chemical reaction (called saponification, fyi). This extra oil in superfatted soap is left on the skin, temporarily replacing skin’s natural film that can be stripped during cleansing. Because of this, superfatted soap is more moisturizing and nourishing. Who knew?! Tara told us to ask if a soap is superfatted before we purchase it.
Another reason to eat local. The W.E.L.L. Summit welcome dinner was otherworldly. It was a start to finish (space, decor, table settings, cocktails and, of course, food) creation of full service sustainable event design and caterers, Chive Events. As we enjoyed the exquisite food, the founders of Chive spoke to us about sustainability (they are a 100% zero waste operation!) and eating local, a very buzzy phrase in food these days. I’ve always understood eating local to mean eating food that was grown close by, not flown or trucked in from far and wide. This means the food is fresher, more delicious and that less fuel is used in its transportation. While this is true, there’s another benefit of eating local: As local food grows, it experiences the same seasonal changes and environmental effects that you experience, so it will be naturally fortified to thrive in your specific environment. It is, therefore, inherently more nourishing and nutritious. So eat local. It does the planet—and your body—good.
“No” is a complete sentence. True wellness is more than just choosing the best food to eat or safest products to use. True wellness begins between our ears! How we relate to and treat ourselves is paramount to an overall feeling of being well. Mama Glow herself, Latham Thomas, gave the keynote address at the W.E.L.L. Summit welcome dinner, and she addressed this somewhat elusive aspect of wellness. Her talk was phenomenal—just one sound byte after another. Of all the brilliant tidbits she said, one really stuck with me: “‘No’ is a complete sentence”. It’s a phrase I’d heard before, seen posted on Instagram, probably retweeted at some point. But in that sacred space created at the W.E.L.L. Summit, I internalized this declaration on a deeper level that night.
As a mom and entrepreneur, I am so crazy busy all the time. That should make me less likely to say yes to every request brought my way. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true. I get so wrapped up in the Superwoman myth that I feel like I SHOULD BE ABLE to do EVERYTHING, so I often say yes to everything. The side writing project. Cooking and baking for the holiday feast at school. ALL THE BIRTHDAY PARTIES. It all adds up, and the sum is an exhausted Claire who’s short on patience and long on under-eye bags. When I do say no, I feel so guilty, I give a whole litany of reasons why I must decline. But saying no to something you just don’t have the time to do does not need to be accompanied by a reason, justification or apology. A no is a no and that’s all you need to say. Though you may initially feel a twinge of guilt—I still do—you’ll ultimately feel calmer, less stressed, more focused…and a lot more well.