In the midst of an uncertain global health situation, prioritizing wellness is more important than ever — not only for keeping us physically healthy, but also mentally and emotionally nourished. After all, disrupted daily routines and concerns that weigh heavy on our minds can leave us feeling drained and, paradoxically, less motivated to keep up with healthy habits (and possibly even more prone to falling ill).

Restore and maintain a sense of balance with these six steps, rooted in some of our favorite wellness practices here on the shores of Malibu. While each one can be powerful in its own right, together, they work together to paint a holistic picture of health in your life — mind, body, and soul. 

Start by prioritizing sleep.

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Contrary to what our busy lifestyles may suggest, sleep is one of the most important foundations of health. Getting enough sleep can boost your immunity, improve your mental wellbeing, reduce stress, prevent chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, and even stabilize your appetite (in fact, studies have shown that people who sleep more than 7 hours a night gain less weight than those who sleep less than 7 hours).

Easier said than done? If you aren’t able to retreat to Malibu Beach Inn to be lulled to sleep by the sounds of the waves, we love these tips from The Sleep Doctor Michael Breus, PhD. In addition to classic tips such as avoiding caffeine after 2pm, he also recommends finding your ideal bedtime and sticking to a sleep schedule, resetting your “body clock” each morning with 15 minutes of natural sunlight (we’re lucky to have an abundance of that here in Malibu), and cutting off alcohol within three hours of bedtime. And for nights when you still can’t drift off to dreamland, he demonstrates the helpful “4, 7, 8 breathing technique” on Facebook.

Take steps to manage stress.

Going hand-in-hand with getting enough sleep, managing stress is a cornerstone of overall health (especially considering the harmful effects of stress on the body, including a weakened immune system, body aches and headaches, and poor digestion).

Of course, we know that these days, many of us are experiencing elevated stress levels as a result of the current health situation — which makes these proven techniques for managing stress more important than ever.

While the best ways to manage stress vary from person to person, some expert-backed methods to try include meditation, guided imagery (in which you visualize yourself in a calming place, such as the sands of Carbon Beach), deep breathing, taking a walk outdoors, doing yoga, practicing gratitude, and taking part in creative or soothing endeavors (like writing, painting, or gardening).

Load up on vitamins, the natural way.

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While there are many beneficial supplements out there to help fill in nutrition gaps, first and foremost, many experts recommend meeting your body’s nutrition needs through real food. Namely, fruits and veggies — in fact, research from the CDC suggests that only 1 in 10 adults get enough of the good stuff.

Here in Malibu, juices and smoothies are a popular way to begin the day with a hefty dose of vitamins and minerals (and fiber, if you go the blended route) from fruits and veggies. While we’re lucky to have establishments like SunLife Organics, for those who aren’t in the area, there are plenty of at-home juicing and smoothie recipes to try. We love celebrity health guru Kimberly Snyder’s classic Glowing Green Smoothie, or this vibrant, antioxidant-loaded Lemon Ginger Beet Juice recipe from Inspired Taste.

Try aromatherapy with essential oils.

Aromatherapy is having a moment, and with good reason. This age-old practice utilizing essential oils is thought to help manage pain and soothe sore joints and muscles, reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing, treat headaches, improve sleep, enhance focus, and more.

An easy way to begin using essential oils is to opt for a diffuser, which can add a soothing element to your entire space (Vitruvi’s minimalist-chic stone diffusers are a popular choice), or add a few drops to the bathtub for a double dose of relaxation. You can also add it to body your lotion, create a spritz of essential oils and water, or try dry evaporation by adding a few drops to a cotton ball and placing it near you.

As for the oils you choose, different oils offer different benefits — there’s energizing and focus-promoting peppermint, calming lavender, invigorating lemon, and more. Try Revive’s Basics Kit, which includes an Immunity Boost blend.

Stay active at home or outside.

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While many of our favorite fitness studios are closed for the time being, technology offers us plenty of opportunities to stay active at home. Clear some space in your living room to try at-home fitness platforms and apps such as Obé Fitness, Nike Training Club, and Daily Burn (their Emmy-nominated live shows with star trainer and dietitian Nora Minno are a can’t-miss).

If it’s advisable where you live, you can also get active outside by walking, running, biking, or hiking (a favorite pastime here in Malibu). In addition to the benefits of exercise itself, the simple act of spending time outdoors has been linked to lower stress, blood pressure, and heart rate, as well as improved mental health.

Connect with friends over the phone or letters.

Social distancing has certainly taken a toll on the way we connect with others — and while video conferencing has eased this transition, there’s been increasing awareness that even when they’re for fun, too many of these calls can be surprisingly draining because of how we process information over video. Take a screen break by opting for a good old-fashioned phone call with a close friend — beyond the usual benefits of friendship, studies have reported that feeling supported by connecting with friends can lead to lower blood pressure, lower inflammation, and stronger immune systems.

Another way to connect with loved ones from a distance is to pick up a letter-writing practice. Considering the benefits of writing letters — better mood, lower stress, and an improved sense of wellbeing — we may never be too old to become a pen pal.