According to psychologists, there is a subconscious inner child living inside each of us. If this inner child is nourished, loved, and supported, it can support growth, holistic healing, and lasting health transformations. Sometimes this inner child becomes stubborn, which can manifest in health plateaus or challenges. Our metaphorical inner children, including their stubborn side, can teach us a lot about how to cut through external influences to find unfiltered joy and vitality. Here’s how you can channel your inner child, and move past stubborn challenges, to rediscover pure and vibrant health:
1. Give Your Inner Child Love
It is important to nurture yourself as you take on your health transformations. Just like with a stubborn child, you will flourish with love and support, and problems will arise if you neglect your needs or speak harshly to yourself. Psychologists point to the benefits of self-love and self-compassion for improved success in achieving all kinds of goals.
2. Let Emotions Run through You
Children are masters of expressing their emotions. Whether it be anger or happiness putting their foot down and screaming that they don’t want to grow up, they express what they feel and then move on through the day. As adults, we tend to hold these feelings close, as it is viewed as unprofessional to display strong emotions. The problem is that unexpressed emotions can get trapped in your body and lead to tension and even disease. Get in touch with your inner child and find a way to express your emotions to keep energy flowing through you in a healthy way.
3. Change the Narrative
Sometimes your inner child might become stubborn, putting their foot down and refusing to move forward. Just as with small children, you might just need to change the narrative to change behavior. In terms of health, this can be achieved by telling yourself you don’t need three meals a day. Research demonstrates that fasting turns on the body’s natural defenses against diseases and aging, including the process of autophagy, which recycles old and damaged proteins.
4. Tune into Your Natural Hunger Signals
Getting in touch with your child-like natural hunger signals is one of the best ways to develop a healthy relationship with food. Try to strip away any story about how your body should look, and simply drink more unsweetened beverages to reduce hunger and eat moderate amounts of wholesome, nourishing food when you do feel hungry.
5. Turn to the Element of Surprise
If you tune into your inner child and they are misbehaving, you might need to add an element of surprise to wake up your body’s natural defenses against aging. Treatments such as saunas, and cold therapy or cryotherapy, put momentary stress on your system to boost cellular repair systems, a process called “hormesis.” Regular sauna bathing decreases the chances of a heart attack and cold therapy is known to elicit anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits.
6. Drink Water Constantly
Children spend the majority of their day constantly sipping liquids out of their bottles or sippy cups. Your body is made up of approximately 60% water, and every system in your body functions better when you stay hydrated. Keep your own adult-sized sippy cup (large water bottle) on hand and sip on it throughout the day. We usually recommend that people drink their body weight in ounces of water each day to achieve optimal health.
“Practicing regular meditation, breathwork, and exercise can help you keep your day-to-day stress levels as low as your inner child needs them to be.”
7. Find a Sense of Amazement in Daily Life
Have you ever noticed how children are amazed by the world? They are curious and excited about almost everything they experience. According to researchers, experiencing awe in your life can both make you happier and improve physical health. Get in touch with your amazed inner child by simply looking around and noticing things that you might not have seen before, maybe a uniquely colored bird, the way the light hits a corner in your house, or a sense of appreciation as the sun rises in the morning. Awe can be found in even the smallest of details.
8. Sleep as Much as You Can
Children regularly get double digits in hours of sleep each night. Adults don’t necessarily need that much, but sleep deprivation is a real and pervasive health concern. Sleep is incredibly important for overall health. Genes that control the pace of aging, such as the SIRT1 gene, also control our daily sleep-wake “circadian” rhythms. This may be why aging is accompanied by a disruption of daily sleep-wake cycles and a lack of sleep increases susceptibility to diseases. A lack of sleep, for example, is tied to a dysregulation of metabolism and a hormone imbalance, while a single night of poor sleep leads to an increase in beta-amyloid, a protein in the brain associated with impaired brain function and Alzheimer’s disease.
9. Eat the Rainbow
Okay, so children aren’t necessarily adventurous eaters, but they do love to get colorful and creative. When plants experience adversity, such as a lack of light or water or nutrients, they make colorful molecules that turn on plant survival programs. Examples include resveratrol in red wine and EGCG in matcha green tea. When we ingest these molecules, they turn on our own body’s defenses against adversity, possibly because the molecules serve as a signal that our food supply could soon run out. Because these molecules often have color, get creative and make your meals as colorful as possible with deep green, red, orange, and purple foods.
10. Manage Stress Levels
In most circumstances, children lead relatively stress-free lives. While some amounts of stress can be beneficial to adults in terms of productivity, chronic stress causes the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol, which can cause a slew of mental and physical health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and anxiety. Practicing regular meditation, breathwork, and exercise can help you keep your day-to-day stress levels as low as your inner child needs them to be.
11. Keep Moving
Kids are constantly on the go; they spend most of their days running around the house or playground, barely stopping until bedtime. While it would be virtually impossible to mimic this behavior as an adult, incorporating movement into your day is essential for slowing the aging clock. Extensive research shows that aerobic activity of moderate intensity of at least 150 minutes per week provides the greatest longevity.
12. Avoid Alcohol and Cigarettes
Children obviously don’t drink or smoke, and it is honestly best for your health if you don’t either. Alcohol and especially tobacco accelerate the aging clock and can lead to a long list of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and lung disease. Though drinking some alcohol, like red wine, in moderation may provide some small benefit, limiting these substances as much as possible will keep you looking and feeling your best.