Human beings have bodies and those bodies have all kinds of needs. Some of the growth I’ve experienced since being diagnosed with bipolar and later, PTSD, came from emotional or spiritual change. Other changes have been practical. That’s where this series come in. I’m not here today to tell you how to heal your psyche; the poetry and songs I write are an expression of that. This little post is about the little tangible things in my life that have made a difference.

I’m going to share with you several companies and products that have helped me in my health journey. If I believed in Amazon I would create an Amazon list and become an affiliate so that I could make a commission off sales of these products. As it is, I take major issue with Amazon’s model and only purchase one of these items that way. I do have an affiliate code in the links below for Smidge and Free Reign Farm which you are welcome to use. Smidge was born out of the chronic illness of its founders and has supported my gut-brain connection for many years. Free Reign Farm is a small business based here in Tennessee and I have no qualms whatsoever about supporting their beautiful work.

So, here are six changes I’ve made that improved my mental and physical health.

1. Morning/Night Routine: Life requires sleep and I learned that I need a ritual for winding down and waking up to be my best self.

For nighttime I end all screens an hour before I want to be asleep. I am reading the 90-Day Reading Challenge by Mary DeMuth (because her trauma became a beacon for the world) coupled with the Message translation (because the words are clear). I do a yoga routine I learned at (because she’s wise and kind) and usually listen to music by Sleeping At Last (because he breathes peace) and Mon Rovia (because he’s honest and calming).

Mornings are harder because I always have a medication hangover. So I wake up gently, setting an alarm thirty minutes before I need to be out of bed and hitting the snooze button. I keep breakfast very simple by alternating oatmeal and banana with yogurt, granola and berries. Then I do a brief five-minute devotional called Gratitudes and Beautitudes from the Keeping Company. It’s a short reading from the sermon on the mount paired with a prayer and room to reflect on three things you’re grateful for (because gratitude rewires your brain!)

 2. Skincare: I use Gardener’s Hands Kukui nut soap, along with facial mist, serum, and moisturizer from Free Reign Farm (because radiant skin starts with love). The goat’s milk soap is made on the farm and they partner with another Tennessee brand called Little Seed Farm to do the others. They are much more pure, potent and afffordable than similar skincare products on the market. Side notes, their candles and full line of soaps are made with real essential oils and smell divine.

 3. Deodorant: I’m a proponent of natural ingredients because the skin is our largest organ and deserves TLC. However, I also don’t want to be smelly. Lume was developed by a gynecologist and does a decent job of cutting the BO (because all natural deodorant doesn’t). Plus, you can buy it at Target! I like the Clean Tangerine deodorant stick, use-anywhere body cream and bodywash.

4. Hair: When I hit puberty, my hair transformed from thin and straight to thick, wavy and curly. My poor mother and I did not know what to do with it, hence the enviable roller brushes on bangs and ends, or as I like to remember it, triangle head. My hair has since gone through multiple hormonal changes that have mystified my beloved stylist, Ms Pam at We Cut Hair (specializing in multicultural cuts with all the warmth you could ask for). These days, I wear it long and curly with the help of Shea Moisture Coconut and Hibiscus Shampoo, Conditioner, and Frizz-Free Curl Mousse (because a brave single mother in Sierra Leone lived her dream over a hundred years ago). Fair trade, fair price, which you can also buy at Target! I especially love the anti-frizz in Chattanooga humidity because it’s a light foam that doesn’t weigh you down too much. Pro Tip for the curlies: My thick hair dries out if I wash it every day, so I go 3-5 days between washes and only brush out the more moist hairs close to my face.

5. Oral Care: Boka (because there’s a better way to whiten and clean) and Dr Tung’s (because I hated dental floss until this came along). Similar to Lume, Boka is a happy medium between natural and scientific, and they just released whitening strips and paste that I’m excited to try once my tube runs out. (This is the one thing I purchase on Amazon). Dr Tung’s was recommended to me by a holistic dentist because I had bleeding gums. It’s dental floss for people like me who hate the waxy, painful way dental floss often feels. The expanding floss is gentle on my narrow mouth while effectively removing what’s stuck between. I’ve tried other brands but none of them have the feel and efficacy of Dr Tung’s. Worth every penny!! I buy mine at Whole Foods (yes, just one step removed from Amazon. As Tish Harrison Warren observes in Liturgy of the Ordinary, “Teeth. So needy.” Not her most profound quote but it stuck with me. Get it? Hah! :))

6. Tummy: My hands down favorite probiotic is Smidge (because bloating and rashes decrease and my mood improves). Like the floss, I’ve tried other brands and it just didn’t make a difference. Smidge is not cheap but I think about the benefits and knowing what I do about the immune system’s center in the gut, it’s worth it. There have been times when I’ve taken it just once a day to cut down on cost but I’ve gone back to twice a day on the Optimal Probiotic because it helps so much. 

And there you have it! Six little things that make for big change. If you’re going to try something new I recommend just changing one thing at a time so you can really feel it out and notice how your body responds. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this series as much as I enjoyed writing it! Let me know if it helps!