Van Life: Tips for Healthy Living in Tiny Spaces - Dr. Axe

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Van Life: Tips for Healthy Living in Tiny Spaces


Van life wellness tips - Dr. Axe

Van life might seem like a strange and fairly outlandish idea, but it’s something I’m doing as you read this. While I gave up a lot of STUFF when we moved into the van, one thing I didn’t give up was my holistic lifestyle.

In this post, you’ll learn my favorite wellness hacks for living in a tiny home on wheels. I can’t wait!

Wellness Hacks for Van Life

1. Grounding shoes or better yet, go barefoot

The effects of grounding (or earthing) blow my mind. I shouldn’t be surprised because God is so creative in His design so, to make an earth that provides medicine isn’t too far fetch.

We — like the earth — have electricity running through us. When our skin comes into contact with the earth, its negative charge connects with our positive charge and the earth’s electrons flood our cells.

When we are in contact with the earth and this electrical transfer occurs, here’s what happens: a switch from sympathetic (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (chill), pain is reduced, sleep quality increases, inflammatory preparedness and the list goes on.


Whatever you do, get your feet onto (unsprayed) earth as often as possible!

2. Organic non-toxic mattress

I’m a broken record when it comes to this one because mattresses contain so many different harmful chemicals. These chemicals are known to cause stress on our endocrine system, which leads to hormonal imbalances and symptoms like PMS, headaches, nausea and the list goes on.

A non-toxic organic mattress was a MUST HAVE in our van build because we live in such a tiny space and that off-gassing is not good for any size space. So, I looked for labels like organic, GOTS certified, GOLS certified, Made Safe and non-toxic. We now have a queen mattress in our 80’ foot home!

3. Blue light blocking glasses (a brand that works!)

The hype behind blue light blocking glasses is real, and it’s for a reason. Even if you don’t fully understand what they are, odds are, you’ve heard about them or even own them. These glasses help to protect our eyes from the effects of artificial blue light emitted from devices and artificial lighting.

The reason this is so important is because — while blue light from the sun is beneficial — blue light from artificial sources like lights, computers and tablets is not. Studies show that it can deplete the levels of melatonin in our bodies and tell our circadian clock it’s noon even when it’s 10 o’clock at night [4]. More on that topic in my new women’s hormones ebook here.  

4. Water filter pitcher or bottles

I’m sure you’ve turned on the water and maybe had the feeling you were in a swimming pool with chlorine. I know I have, especially when I used to run the hot water for dishes.

While I don’t bathe in a tub anymore (van life), I do drink, cook and brush my teeth with water. The quality of our water is actually quite disturbing.

Just one look at a water report in your area like from the EWG, and you’ll see there are many different toxic chemicals in our water well above the “safe” range. Chlorine, fluoride, radioactive waste, animal feces and birth control chemicals to name a few.

Unfortunately, most big box stores or name brand filters aren’t cutting it. Look for one that is third party tested and has a transparent brand backing it.

5. Morning and night routine

While there are few consistent things when your home is on wheels, you can create consistency in your life. For me, this was a must. I was overwhelmed with the constant change because I felt like I couldn’t keep up.

Then I committed to creating a morning and night routine. It changed the game.

Here’s how to create yours (in a tiny home or a big home!):

  • Pick three things you’ll do in the morning
    • Mine: glass of water, walk my dog, yoga/stretch
  • Pick three things you’ll do at night
    • Mine: electronics away after sunset, read/write, tidy up the van
  • Pick an elixir, soother, calmer you’ll do nightly 

Whatever you pick, get a piece of paper and write it down. Hang it somewhere you can see and stick with it!

6. CBD oil

Okay, okay, this one’s mostly for my pup since he has isolation anxiety but us humans can benefit from it, too. It’s truly purposeful for our health.

We have an entire system in our body for it called the endocannabinoid system. Cool huh? This system regulates anxiety and stress and Lord knows we can get a little help there.


When you’re looking for CBD oil, you should look for labels like C.L.E.A.N. certified, organic and regenerative. You also want full transparency from a brand so, ask for their lab analysis.

7. Lots and lots of seafood

Part of my hormone healing protocol to get my fertility back is seafood twice a day. When I’m not shooting photos for wellness brands or traveling around in the van, I am fishing in Alaska on my boat.

That brings me to the point of sourcing. When you are choosing fish, it can get tangled but there are many great guides (such as “fish you should never eat” from Dr. Axe) on how to choose the best. In general, look for wild Alaskan fish and avoid farmed.

Fish is filled with vitamin D, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs are not the devil), protein, fiber and taurine. Many of the essential nutrients found in fish cannot be found in a form as bioavailable anywhere else!

Don’t be afraid of fat and definitely don’t be afraid of PUFAs! Safe Catch and Wild Planet are the two brands I love when I don’t have what I catch myself in Alaska.

Most of what I talk about in this post is covered — in great detail — in my women’s hormones ebook. Come and check it out!

I hope this was helpful for you whether you live in a tiny home, an apartment or a mansion. These practices have created consistency in my life and keep me well even when I’m on the go 24/7. For more van life and wellness tips, be sure to follow me over on Instagram @simplholistic. Can’t wait to see you there!

At 16 years old, Ashlee Rowland was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease. She was sick, overweight, controlled by artificial hormones and in chronic pain. No one seemed to have an answer for her so she went out seeking and attended college for holistic nutrition. She has since helped thousands of women gain energy, balance their hormones and lose weight that’s been hanging on for years.

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