10/24/2013 11:23 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Peace Through Lifestyle Choices

While blessed with a hugely-creative heritage (Ernest Hemingway is certainly a legacy to admire), good physical health and a gorgeous environment (Ketchum, Idaho) to grow up in, I still had a lifelong battle with depression. It wasn't until I realized that my past life of extremes, e.g., extreme diets, over-exercising and following teachers, gurus, and guides did I truly understand that part of the journey towards a life of peace came through the lifestyle choices I began to make that were moderate mindful and slower than before. Between finding a food regimen that suited me alone, exercise that supports my overall well-being, learning to play, brain wave optimization (an extraordinary technology that helps the brain to find harmony and balance) and take silence daily, one of the more important things I do in my life for inner peace is to start my day mindfully.

Being in tune with the rhythms of nature and that which supports sustainability seems to be a daunting task. We live in a fast-paced world, and while it's amazing, it is counter intuitive to slowing down and becoming mindful of one's lifestyle choices. The fact that we are surrounded by high speed everything -- living, eating, driving and breathing and of course technology -- is taking its toll on our sense of inner peace. Perhaps we can't change our entire life, but we can certainly make small steps towards healthy choices that in fact will make us happier.

I create a healthy world for myself by shifting the way I begin my day. I think of mornings as a time of new beginnings: I like to wake up and get out of bed slowly, allowing the pooling of my blood overnight to get unstuck by stretching my body and brain by squeezing my limbs and face, bringing energy to my still sleepy frame. After a good stretch, I make an intention to have the best day ever, one where I feel balanced, awake and joyous no matter what the circumstances of the day bring me. I then take some deep breaths, two to four deep inhales and exhales, and then I sit in stillness for a minute or two, while I think of how grateful I am for all the good things and great people I have in my life. (Even if I am going through a challenging time, there are always circumstances and people to love and be grateful for.) If this is your intention for the beginning of the day, you might be blown away at how that manifests in your day by influencing you to make healthier choices. Why? Because you feel differently, better, more grounded and calmer.

When I get out of bed, I look outside, take in the morning sounds, the cool autumn air and watch the sun as it makes it's way over the hills behind my home.

After taking in a little nature, I embark on my morning ritual. I make my jasmine pearl green tea. I use a pretty teapot or a large mason jar, pour a dozen or more pearls into the bottom and add sweet leaf stevia. I boil the water, and then when I pour the hot liquid over the pearls and I bask in the scent of jasmine as it fills the kitchen. It gives me a sense of calm.

Morning rituals such as this -- or grinding organic free trade coffee beans in a grinder and smelling the roasted beans as you make you morning coffee is lovely -- are mindfulness practices. When one does simple everyday tasks with slowness and awareness it becomes an act of mindful meditation.

Practices such as these set you up to be calmer and more balanced during the craziness of our lives. I truly believe that how you wake up informs how you walk into your day. So taking time for ritual and for stillness can make you more aware. Then when you go to have breakfast, instead of grabbing a muffin or Danish at a coffee shop, you might decide you want to eat fresh berries or a piece of seasonal fruit with raw nuts and some organic Greek yogurt and raw honey at home (because you got up 15 minutes earlier to give yourself time in the morning). Or you may learn to make a green smoothie that is full of nutrients and tastes amazing because it is made with real food: greens (fiber and vitamins), coconut water (electrolytes), dates (for thyroid), avocado (good fat), cinnamon (for blood sugar), turmeric (for inflammation), raw honey (for enzymes) and walnuts (for essential fatty acids) because you have taken the time for YOU to create something for yourself it will reflect in your well being.

So if you want to shift your life towards a life of less stress and more balance, change how you get up in the morning and change your breakfast. The results may astonish you. Change the way you start your day and you will inform how you make choices the rest of your day and see how effortless healthy living can be.

Green smoothie

Small bottle of raw coconut water 6 to 8 ounces

½ avocado

2 dates

Handful of raw kale

Tsp. of cinnamon

Tsp. of turmeric

1 Tbsp raw unheated untreated local honey (add more or less for your own sweet taste test)

3 walnuts

Optional: 1 Tbsp greens powder: combination of mixed grasses and spirulina in powder form (ask your local health store for a good brand)

In November Mariel Hemingway's documentary "Running From Crazy" will be released theatrically throughout the country. The documentary is a journey of self discovery and understanding of mental health, wellness, suicide and the effects that our choices have in life. It will then show on the OWN network in April of 2014.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the Cancer Schmancer Movement. CSM, founded by Fran Drescher, is embarking on a major prevention program through healthy lifestyle. In this series, five well-known celebrities will discuss their journey and struggles with various health issues and how a preventative lifestyle factors in as a solution. To see all the posts in the series, click here. To learn more about the Cancer Schmancer Movement, click here.

Subscribe to the Lifestyle email.
Life hacks and juicy stories to get you through the week.