August 07, 2023

5 Wellness Rituals This Functional Medicine Doctor Does Daily

photo of Allie Baker

Written By

Allie Baker

photo of Julia Afridi, DO

Medically Reviewed By

Julia Afridi, DO

Lifeforce Physician

photo of Mary Stratos, PA-C, IFMCP

Medically Reviewed By

Mary Stratos, PA-C, IFMCP

Lifeforce Physician Assistant

5 Wellness Rituals This Functional Medicine Doctor Does Daily

As a Lifeforce Physician, board certified in Family and Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Julia Afridi, DO, makes it her mission to help others live their healthiest lives. But in order to support her patients’ wellness goals, she first must prioritize her own.

Between consulting with patients — both virtually and in person — and caring for her 19-month-old son, Dr. Afridi sets aside time for a few essential wellness practices. “I make sure my wellness is prioritized because I know what a difference it makes in how I feel and how much I can handle in my life,” she says. 

So, what does the doctor order for her own health? Dr. Afridi shares the five non-negotiable practices in her daily routine. She stresses that while these rituals work for her, you should choose what works for you and go at your own pace.

“I didn’t start out doing everything I do now, and I don’t expect everybody to take on everything all at once,” she says. “Just find one thing and stick to it, and you can build from there. It’s more about consistency with something than trying to do everything.”

Dr. Julia Afridi's Wellness Hacks

5 Doctor-Backed Wellness Habits 

1. Tongue Scraping

Dr. Afridi’s morning routine: rise, shine, and scrape. First thing when she wakes up, she uses a tongue scraper, an arched metal device that scrapes the top of your tongue to remove bacteria and dead cells. 

“It’s an Ayurvedic concept,” she explains. “Overnight, there is a buildup of residual toxins on your tongue since the last time you brushed your teeth. When you scrape, you are clearing that instead of swallowing it.” 

Research found that tongue scraping twice a day for seven days reduced bacteria in the mouth that causes dental decay and bad breath. Another study showed that tongue scraping impacts the oral microbiome, which can support blood flow and help reduce blood pressure. 

2. Meditation 

Dr. Afridi has been meditating for more than 20 years. She began with guided meditations. Over time, she developed her own practice — and even a dedicated space. “Every morning, I sit at a specific spot in my home. It has statues and photos of spiritual things that feel uplifting to me. This space sets the tone for my experience,” she says. 

Whether she has five minutes or 45 minutes to spare, Dr. Afridi focuses on her breath, connects to herself, and drops into a relaxing headspace. “As I got more and more comfortable with meditation, it became my happy place,” she says. 

Dr. Afridi notes the clinically-backed benefits of meditation. “It can improve anxiety and depression, memory, focus, and blood pressure,” she says. 

“For me personally, meditation is an essential way to deal with the mental, physical, and emotional stressors of life,” Dr. Afridi says. “It helps me be more resilient, settled in my mind, and productive throughout the day. It’s a grounding place for me.” 

Read more about its perks in our article: How Meditation Can Extend Your Healthspan — and 5 Ways To Get Started.

3. Tibetan Rite Exercises

Dr. Afridi uses ancient practices to fit a workout into her busy modern life. She does five daily exercises called The Tibetan Rites, which are a form of Tibetan yoga brought to light by a book called The Eye of Revelation

These bodyweight moves — which include leg raises, dynamic camel stretch, and downward to upward dog — can improve strength and balance. (Read more about the sequence and see the exercises here.) 

Dr. Afridi does 21 reps of each move, completing the entire routine in less than 10 minutes. “I’ve been doing these exercises since my 20s. They are a great way to stay fit when I don’t have a lot of time to go to the gym. They keep the core really strong.” 

Dr. Afridi Connecting with Nature

4. Connecting to Nature 

“In the evenings, I like to get outside — even if it’s just for five or 10 minutes,” Dr. Afridi says. After work, she often takes a neighborhood walk or goes for a swim with her son. 

“Being in nature is calming and rejuvenating,” she says. “In Japan, there is a practice called forest bathing, which is like drinking in nature the way you would sink into a bath.” Research shows that forest bathing — the practice of simply being in nature without distractions and opening your senses — can help improve mood, immune response, and even cardiovascular function.

Dr. Afridi adds, “Being around plants that are releasing oxygen can refresh you, and simply looking at nature can settle the nervous system and activate calming hormones like gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) to help you relax.” 

5. Blue Light Blocking Before Bed 

It’s not just you — even doctors are prone to scrolling on their phones before bed. In fact, a National Sleep Foundation poll found that 90% of Americans do this. 

To mitigate the harmful effects of blue light from devices, Dr. Afridi uses the ‘Night Shift’ setting on her phone, which reduces the amount of blue light it emits. (On iPhones, you can find this feature under ‘Display & Brightness’ in Settings.) 

“The way blue light inputs from your eyes to your brain can upset your sleeping patterns and make it harder to go to sleep,” Dr. Afridi explains. “The phone setting reduces its impact.” 

For more tips on how to get the best rest, read our article: Why Your Sleep Suffers With Age — And What to Do About It.

These practices help Dr. Afridi show up as her best self — for her patients, her family, and herself. “I’ve been on the other side of health when I didn’t feel well, so I know from that perspective that maintaining these habits is well worth it,” she says.  

Looking for support to build your own wellness routine? As a Lifeforce Member, you’ll have an entire team on your side. You’ll consult with a Lifeforce Physician like Dr. Afridi to create a personalized plan, and receive motivation and accountability from a certified health coach. Learn more about the Lifeforce Membership here

This article was medically reviewed by: 

  • Julia Afridi, DO, ABIHM Board Certified in Family and Osteopathic Medicine

  • Mary Stratos, PA-C, Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner

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