Living a natural lifestyle
The word “natural” has recently earned a bad rap. Many companies are now using it as a marketing gimmick to entice customers into buying products that actually contain some very unnatural things.
When I refer to “natural” I mean living a simple, deliberate, functional lifestyle with fewer chemicals.
Living naturally means paying attention to the consumeristic messages around us, and rejecting them if necessary. It means advocating for yourself (and your family) and educating yourself about things companies hope we ignore. It means doing things yourself, even if it might be less convenient.
I’m not suggesting everyone has to become a homesteader or give up commercial products altogether to live naturally. Rather, there are many small things we can do to move in the direction of a more natural lifestyle.
The key is starting small.
Easy does it… one step at a time
The natural revolution began in our house with changes to our diet. It snowballed from there into all areas of our lives.
After a year of making small changes we would talk to friends who were astonished at the enormous difference in our lifestyle, and they would dejectedly remark about how tough a similar lifestyle might be for them. Many of them were overwhelmed at all the small things they would need to consider and change in order to live more naturally. We were quick to remind them that our natural lifestyle evolved over several years.
It definitely didn’t happen all at once!
We get it. Modern society doesn’t exactly make it easy to live a natural lifestyle. In fact, we have so many great conveniences at our disposal that some people consider it downright silly to reject them.
Giving in to an “easy” life of convenience would be less complicated and time-consuming than pushing for natural, chemical-free, healthy options. However, life teaches us that easier isn’t always better.
We always tell people to start with ONE thing.
Choose one small facet of your lifestyle and commit to finding a more natural replacement. Don’t overdo it; move at your own pace and ignore pressure from others who may be mocking your efforts, or worse yet, pressuring you to do too much all at once.
Each small change you make toward a more natural life has to become second nature… habitual. We recommend allowing each new habit to form before introducing another natural change.
This slow approach won’t leave you feeling all topsy-turvy and ready to give up. Instead, you will have 1) time to analyze whether the change has really made a difference for you, 2) energy to dream up your next lifestyle change, and 3) excitement that can be passed on to others who may need some encouragement to start their own natural revolution!
Repeat after me… “Living naturally is a PROCESS, not an event.”
Good. Now keep this in mind and continue reading. :)
Areas of your life to consider
If you’re reading this article, chances are you already have some interest in taking care of yourself in a natural way.
Consider choosing one small thing from the following categories and committing to work it into your life. It may be a more seamless transition than you think.
Feel free to call out a “woot woot” if you spot something you’re already doing!
Our bodies crave whole, fresh, nutrient dense foods. There are so many ways to nourish our bodies with healthier food that don’t take a ton of work. Here are some examples of small steps you can take to build a more natural diet:
- Grow a small garden or even just one container plant.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store (where fresh foods are found) and avoiding the middle when possible (where prepared foods lurk).
- Look at ingredients on food packaging and purchase items containing the fewest ingredients, preferably those you can pronounce.
- Avoid anything made with high fructose corn syrup.
- Purchase organic fruits and vegetables that are on the “Dirty Dozen” list.
- Find a local source for fresh, healthy eggs.
- Swear off fast food restaurants. (It’s really a brow-raiser when people find out you don’t do fast food!)
- Watch the movie “Food, Inc.” (You won’t stand a chance against the KFC drive-thru after watching this movie!)
Germs are everywhere – but – we have been brainwashed with anti-germ scare tactics from multi-national corporations trying to sell products.
“Germs” aren’t necessarily a bad thing, and not everything in our homes needs to be as sterile as a hospital operating room.
We can keep our homes sparkling clean and our families safe from harmful chemicals and accidents while using natural cleaning products.
Consider some of the following ideas:
- Keep a spray bottle of vinegar (disinfecting) and a shaker-top container of baking soda (scouring) in the kitchen for cleaning sinks.
- Try to go without bleach–use hydrogen peroxide or vinegar to disinfect, and use oxygen whiteners, baking soda, cream of tartar, or hydrogen peroxide to whiten things.
- If you don’t wish to make your own, purchase one natural cleaning product from the store and test it out.
- Eliminate chemical dryer sheets and make your own naturally.
- Ditch the blue stuff and make your own glass cleaner with safe ingredients.
A friend of mine once commented that it would be safer to eat some of the chemical-laden products we use than to apply them to our bodies. Our skin is highly absorbent, yet it doesn’t possess the same filtering mechanisms that our internal organs have. Don’t eat your face cream to test this theory.
It can be somewhat challenging to get away from all the lovely packaging and killer claims of beauty product companies, but consider the following:
- Read labels on personal care products and educate yourself about ingredients your products contain.
- Eliminate products with parabens from your personal care routine.
- Treat your mouth to a more gentle, homemade mouthwash.
- Switch to a natural deodorant.
- Find a hair dye without formaldehyde or ammonia.
- Test out a natural, handcrafted soap in the shower.
You won’t hear me say that a natural lifestyle includes a gym membership, intense daily workouts, or personal trainers screaming in your face. These things work for some, but natural fitness can be achieved in many ways:
- Whenever you have time, park a few blocks from your destination and enjoy the scenery as you walk.
- Make a standing date to play your favorite sport with a friend each week.
- Ride your bike whenever possible to run errands, visit a neighbor, or explore your city.
- Join your kids (and try to keep up with them) when they play outdoors.
- Take your dog on more walks. (Your furry friend and your heart will appreciate it!)
- Take time to stretch each day.
This category of natural living seems to fall in place a little better when individuals give attention to the previous categories.
When your body is nourished by real food and gentle products, your house is cleaned with safe ingredients, and you’re paying attention to your need for activity, your body is already getting the best proactive health care available.
Trips to the doctor will be less frequent, fewer medications will be necessary, and you will see that lifestyle changes are really the best health insurance.
Consider a few of these more natural health care alternatives:
- Visit a naturopathic doctor who practices homeopathy to discuss becoming a patient.
- Explore natural options for pain management.
- Find a doctor who recommends lifestyle changes before prescribing medication.
- Reassess prescription medications you take to determine whether all other natural solutions were considered first. (Of course, I’m not suggesting you stop taking any medications without first consulting your health care provider.)
- Begin asking lots of questions while visiting the doctor… inform yourself.
Give it a shot
If you haven’t already set yourself on a path toward more healthful, natural living, it’s time to undertake this serious endeavor. The most important thing to remember is it doesn’t have to happen at an overwhelming pace.
Step by step, begin clearing unnatural things from your life and introducing better alternatives. You will notice that it’s fun, empowering, and a little bit addictive.
Are you feeling motivated to tackle and change one small thing in your life? If so, share with us! Maybe you’re already living a very natural lifestyle. Share your experience below.
- “Ten Synthetic Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid” from Organic Consumers Association
- Cleaning Supplies and Household Chemicals on Lung.org