5 April 2024

5 ancient wellness tips that could improve your life

Woman enjoying a glass of wine

In recent years, the focus on personal wellness has been a growing trend. Indeed, data reported by Statista reveals that the forecasted size of the wellness market could reach as much as $8.47 trillion by 2027. 

While it may seem as though embracing mindfulness and striving to live a healthy life are modern trends, this isn’t the case.

In fact, many philosophers and physicians from ancient civilisations had plenty of tips for improving the lives of their patients.

Believe it or not, many of these ancient wellness tips are still relevant today – continue reading to discover five of these pieces of advice, and how you could apply them to your day-to-day life. 

1. Drink the occasional glass of wine

Not all wellness tips include going for a strenuous run or depriving yourself of a particular ingredient. There’s likely one that you already practise: having a glass of wine from time to time.

The ancient Romans considered wine essential to good health as they thought it helped them digest their meals. In fact, the luscious liquid was so important to the Romans that they called a meal without a glass or two a “dog’s dinner”. 

It seems as though the ancient Romans were on to something, as having a glass of wine each night has been linked to several health benefits.

Indeed, EatingWell reveals that wine’s antioxidant properties could help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which can, in turn, lower your risks of coronary heart disease and stroke. It may even improve your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, ultimately contributing to your heart health. 

Additionally, moderate wine consumption could even have a protective effect against oesophageal and gastric cancers, and it could decrease your risks of renal cancer and thyroid lymphomas. 

Just remember that moderation is key when it comes to wine, and you may end up damaging your health if you consume more than the recommended amount. 

2. Use an exercise ball

Ancient Roman physician and surgeon, Galen of Pergamon, was known for his experimental approaches to the medical practices of antiquity. He was also the chief physician to the emperor, Marcus Aurelius, and later his successors, Commodus and Septimius Severus. 

While many of his tips are now dated, some of his observations are still applicable in this modern age, such as his belief that exercising with a small ball is essential for your health. In fact, he said that doing so is “convenient”, “accessible”, and that it “sharpens the mind”. 

Even though Galen never specified how exactly you should use the small ball to improve your health, many people today use an exercise ball as part of their daily workouts, and for good reason. 

Exercise balls force the body to balance against the ball’s instability, leading to greater muscle activation, improved back and spine health, core stability, and posture. 

You can do many activities with an exercise ball – even simply sitting on one and focusing on your balance can activate your stabiliser muscles and help you connect with your centre of gravity. 

3. Take note of your dreams

Galen of Pergamon also strongly believed in the power of dreams and thought that they could give insight into your overall level of wellness and reveal ailments you may be suffering from. 

Of course, this may sound somewhat unusual, but there may be a layer of truth in Galen’s beliefs. 

In fact, according to research reported by Talkspace, dreams can play an important role in your mental wellbeing. 

The study revealed that dreaming during REM sleep can help you remember the details of important past experiences, such as recalling frightening incidents without the same emotions you felt when they happened. 

This could, in turn, help you process stressful experiences from your past, ultimately boosting your mental health. 

You may want to start keeping a dream journal, where you take note of your dreams each morning before you forget them. Over time, you could start noticing patterns in your dreams and figure out what is weighing down your consciousness. 

4. Visit a hot volcanic spring

In ancient Japanese lore, the mineral-rich waters of hot volcanic springs – called “onsens” in Japan – were regarded as miracle healers. 

Some stories, such as that of Dogo Onsen of Shikosu, even depict hunters trailing wounded animals that led the hunter to the soothing springs.

While it may be trickier to go out and find a local hot spring you can soak in, the warm mineral waters have a number of health benefits. 

Indeed, Healthline reveals that soaking in hot springs can relax your mind and body, reduce stress levels, and help you deal with aches and pains, particularly in the joints.

Additionally, studies have suggested that hot mineral waters can reduce the symptoms of several skin conditions, such as psoriasis and dermatitis. 

It’s essential to remember that you must be safe if you wish to try “hot potting” for yourself. For instance, some waters may be too hot to handle, and some springs may contain microorganisms that lead to waterborne diseases. 

5. Don’t entirely change to a new diet too quickly 

These days, it seems as though many new diets and eating fads take the mainstream, before sinking back into irrelevancy. 

No matter what diet you feel like trying, it’s important that you don’t make the change too quickly, otherwise you could inadvertently affect your health. 

The Greek physician and “father of medicine”, Hippocrates, seemingly understood this concept. Indeed, he explained that treading slowly when making adjustments to your diet was vital. He said that “if someone who is accustomed to eating one meal a day suddenly adds another meal to his schedule, disease can occur”.

While his theory that sudden dietary changes can lead to disease may not be entirely true, it may still be worth letting your body adjust to your new eating habits. Otherwise, you could experience:

  • Headaches
  • Hunger pangs and cravings
  • Abdomen pains
  • Changes in mood and irritability
  • Fatigue.

To ensure that you aren’t rushing into a new diet, it may be wise to keep a food journal of everything you eat. By doing so, you could slowly ease yourself into a new diet and eventually start treating food as fuel to energise the body rather than as a punishment or reward.