For the latest in our occasional series looking at how beauty industry figures stay balanced and healthy, we turn to Lisa Bronner, author of the blog, Going Green with a Bronner Mom (lisabronner.com).
Lisa is the granddaughter of Dr. Emanuel Bronner, who founded the eponymous brand of natural soaps in North America. Lisa has taken on the mantle of the family firm, which now extends to organic body care – including their new toothpastes – and food products.
We met Lisa recently when she visited London and were enthralled by her passionate advocacy for everything to do with green living and being. Here she shares with us her seven ‘secrets’ for wellbeing:
1. Get enough sleep. I was once a proud believer in the fallacy that I was too busy to sleep: sleep was for people who have nothing better to do. During that time I hit a productivity wall daily at 2 p.m., was on the equivalent of a drip feed of coffee, battled bronchitis every year, and put on pounds that stubbornly refused to budge. I finally recognized that the connection between long-term sleep deprivation and the issues I was facing. Now I understand that the average eight hours I spend sleeping every night (sometimes 10 if I’m fighting off an illness) benefit me far more than, say, extra time tweaking a presentation, cleaning the house or – worst of all – worrying.
2. Exercise, in the fresh air if possible. Just as with sleep, instead of claiming I’m too busy to exercise, I now know I’m too busy not to. Exercise is a boon for body and mind. It bestows more energy, productivity and brain function. Most of my workday is mental, so consciously adding a physical component is essential. Being outside and focusing on the far horizon provides relief from the screen that’s sits 18 inches in front of me most of the time. It helps my mental perspective to get my head out of the detail and see the bigger picture. Usually, exercise is walking with my dog, but sometimes it’s dancing with my daughter. The key word here is ’with’ – I’m a social exerciser.
3. Laugh! If I could write everyone a prescription for laughter, I would. It reduces stress and eases muscle tension (which makes your face look smoother and younger) as well as lowering blood pressure – to name a few benefits. A smile is a great beautifier: smiling faces appear younger and more attractive. Plus laughter bonds us together. We remember the people with whom we’ve laughed. Think of a time you laughed uncontrollably – I bet you can remember where you were and who you were with. As my kids grow up, I want to bond with them deeply, ahead of any crisis; how better to do that than to laugh with them?
4. Eat real, whole, beautiful food. I love to eat and I love to cook. Well-prepared food is a thing of beauty. Beautiful food comes straight from the greatest art palette of all: nature. Think heirloom vegetables such as Bright Lights chard, dragon-tongue beans, Romanesco broccoli? My body immediately recognizes foods close to nature and puts them to good use. I hold in mind author Michael Pollan’s maxim, ‘Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.’ This means little processing, little packaging, fresh items from a Farmers Market. Mmmmm – is it lunchtime yet?
5. Drink plenty of water. There’s no getting around this one. Clean water is the only beverage a body truly needs. I drink a glass before any meal or other drink. It is easy to misinterpret thirst as hunger, and end up eating when the body really wants a drink – or to respond to thirst with a non-water beverage. My body is quick to send me signals when it hasn’t hadenough water. My hair looks flat, my skin breaks out, I have headaches and become generally jumpy.
6. Remember your skin is a living organ. Skin is not just some inanimate object that needs a little dusting. It is a living, breathing thing that dislieks being weighed down with a whole lot of junk. Just as our food should be digestible by our bodies, our beauty regimen should be ‘digestible’ by our skin [which, after all, is our gut on the outside. This means using as few ingredients as necessary to clean, nourish and enhance natural beauty. My personal care regimen is simplified by having one head-to-toe cleanser: Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Pure Castile Liquid Soap in energising Citrus. I also give my skin time to breathe, by removing make-up as early as possible in the evening with Dr. Bronner’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, leaving it bare and moisturised.
7. Practise a spiritual perspective. None of us is just a physical being. We cannot be whole and healthy if we neglect the intangible spiritual aspects of our selves. Contemplating things greater than myself puts everything in its proper place. It also fuels my ability to focus, prioritise and have patience and compassion. Most of this revolves around gratitude – remembering the ever present blessings in my life that so many people in this world are tragically denied: a home, regular meals, good health, mental acuity, freedom of expression, relative safety, people who love me. I am thankful even for the challenges – for the work I have to do and for my full (and overly full…) days. All of this gives me hope, courage and initiative to tackle a new day and a new challenge, or maybe even an old one.