February is self love month and there are so many facets of what that means, but one of them is undoubtedly protecting your health. One big way to do that is to try your best to lead a ‘non-toxic lifestyle’. I’m not one of those people who is going to tell you chemicals are evil and to be avoided at all costs. It drives me crazy when I hear people say that because not all chemicals are dangerous. Water is a chemical, after all.
But we are definitely living in a time where we’re exposed to so many potentially dangerous chemicals on a daily basis. Over the last half a century, there’s been a huge uptick of chemical production in the U.S. Unfortunately, there’s some exposure that’s unavoidable, but that just means we should be taking control of our harmful chemical exposure in whatever ways we can. I put together a list of several things you can try in each area to reduce your exposure and lead as close to a non-toxic life as possible.
You can go very in depth when it comes to the home, but here are a few basic things you can do to clean up your environment.
Reduce artificial fragrance. I adore candles as much as (possibly more than) the next person, but you have to be careful because the majority of candles are made with paraffin wax which releases known carcinogens when burned. Additionally, the artificial scents release even more toxins into the air. Make the switch to soy, beeswax, or coconut wax candles made with essential oils and wicks made from hemp, natural cotton, or wood. Some safe brands are Red Flower, Life+Cycle, SpaRitual, Mrs. Meyers, and Burt’s Bees. If you don’t need the flickering light of a candle, you can also just use an essential oil diffuser for home fragrance instead.
Use safe cleaning products. This is the big one. There are endless amounts of statistics about how harmful toxic cleaning products are to our health. The easiest switch you can make today is to stop using cheap, toxic brands and switch to cleaner products. I suggest using EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning to find information on brands. Typically, the natural products that are easily found in stores (Mrs. Meyer’s, Method) fall in the middle. They’re not perfect, but they’re certainly better than things like Ajax and Clorox. Some of the top of the line brands you should check out are Seventh Generation and Attitude.
Use DIY methods. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on high end, non-toxic cleaning products because there are plenty of DIYs out there. The big two that I recommend are cleaning with a solution made from vinegar, water, and essential oils as an all purpose cleaner and using wool dryer balls with essential oils instead of dryer sheets.
Switch from plastic to glass. Even BPA free plastic can leak chemicals into food that’s being stored in it and that’s particularly true if you’re warming up food in plastic containers. A super easy swap is to use glass containers like Pyrex for food storage. It’s also so much better for the environment.
Open your windows. Not only does it feel good, but opening the windows can improve your indoor air quality by releasing built up air pollutants and dust. Indoor plants will also help purify your air!
Reference the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen. If you’re ever wondering, “Do I have to splurge and buy this organic?”, here you go. These lists tell us which produce items are most likely to be tested positive for high amounts of pesticides and which have the lowest amounts. Obviously buying organic all the time is ideal, but at least buy organic when it comes to the Dirty Dozen which contains things like strawberries, spinach, apples, grapes, and more.
Shop the perimeter of the store. Avoiding highly processed food is an easy way to reduce your intake of food toxins. Try to do the bulk of your shopping on the perimeter of the store, preferably in the produce section.
Adopt a plant based diet. Avoid meat and dairy altogether or at least, be very aware of where your meats aWear re coming from. Meat should ideally be high quality, grass fed, and organic.
Make it easy by shopping smart. Finding non-toxic brands by scanning labels at the store for poor ingredients can be really confusing and time consuming. You can bypass all the research by simply shopping from trustworthy sources that do the work for you such as Credo, Follain, CAP Beauty, and Dermstore. Some particular brands I like are RMS, W3LL People, January Labs, Juice Beauty, Indie Lee, and Kjaer Weis.
Be aware of basic ingredients to avoid. These include sodium lauryl sulfate, triclosan, parabens, and phthalates. To make it easy, check out the EWG Cosmetics Database to see which products contain which potentially harmful ingredients and make the decisions best suited to your needs and concerns.
Wear less makeup. This is obviously a personal choice, but it’s certainly easier to avoid toxins in makeup by wearing less of it. Once you’re on the right skincare regimen for you, your skin will likely not even “need” makeup to look healthy and glowing. Over time, I’ve pared my makeup routine down to the basics of RMS concealer, a lip product, and sometimes mascara.
mind, body, soul //
Remove toxic people from your life. We’re not just talking about things that are toxic to the body, but things that are toxic to the mind and the soul as well. The state of your mind, after all, is a crucial part of your overall health so if you’re super stressed out, it likely won’t reflect well in your body. Relationships are complicated and there’s always highs, lows, conflicts, and so on but if someone is truly toxic in your life, do what you can to distance yourself for your own wellbeing.
Meditate. To manage the inevitable stress of daily life, get into a good meditation routine. I know it’s hard to get into at first, you’re not alone. It took me forever to finally get to a point where I like doing it and sometimes I’m still impatient about it. My advice is to start small, even if it’s just three to five minutes a day. I promise once you get into it, you’ll see the benefits.
Journal. Another way of combating stress and toxicity of the mind is to get all of your thoughts out in a journal. You can do it however you want whether it’s just a free flowing brain dump on the page or using complex charts to help sort out your thoughts. I definitely do a combination of both!
Go to therapy. A top notch way of getting all of your thoughts and emotions on the table in a healthy environment is to see a mental health counselor. It seems like the stigma of counseling is waning these days, which is great, but I still feel the need to say that going doesn’t make you weird/crazy/a failure or anything like that. It means you’re proactively taking your health into your own hands by consulting a professional who can help you make improvements to your life because that’s what successful people do.
Exercise. I’m not even talking about the physical benefits of exercise! When you find the right workout for you, doing it regularly becomes like a form of therapy that helps you to clear your mind and find peace and gratitude.