We all do it. Think about all those things we could be doing to boost our health and wellbeing. Ideas of going to the gym three or four times a week, clean eating, yoga and taking time out for ourselves are often just that - ideas. Something to start tomorrow. And yet tomorrow never seems to come. What's worse is if you are one of those people who stress about not stressing as much, it can be hard to know how to go about making a positive change.
Well here are my Ten Top Tips of simple ways to boost your overall health and improve your wellbeing that you can easily build in to your every day life.
1. DRINK WATER
Water is the best drink to help you stay hydrated. It has no calories or sugar so is a perfect choice to help ensure you maintain a healthy weight and teeth.
The benefits of water include:
Flushing out toxins
Increasing energy / reduce fatigue
Boosting immune system
Improving skin complexion
Helping with regular bowel movements
Preventing leg cramps and strains
In the UK we are encouraged to drink around 1.2litres a day ( around 6-8 tall glasses). If you're not keen on the taste why not add a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange?
You'd be surprised how few of us know how to breathe well. With stress so prevalen in today's society, the majority of breaths we take are short and shallow which just reach our chests. Ideally all breaths would reach our bellies - by improving our breathing we can lower stress levels, aid heart health and improve digestion.
My tips for easy breathing exercises which can be done anytime, anywhere:
Take a long deep breath in through your nose, if possible counting to 5 in your head as you breathe in. You may not reach 5 at the beginning but with more practise you will.
Ensure the breath is filling your belly as you breathe in - you should feel / see it expanding.
Don't hold your breath when you reach the maximum but gently and slowly breathe out through your mouth.
Repeat for 5 minutes.
Sleep is vital to allow our minds to process information, store memories and for our bodies to repair themselves. We need sleep to benefit our heart, weight and quality of life. It can help curb inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, arthritis, premature ageing and diabetes.
Getting a good night's sleep can also boost creativity and stamina. If your sleep is disturbed or you don't get enough hours sleep, you are more likely to be less alert and and more forgetful. You may be less likely to participate in everyday activities or to do any exercise. Sleep is so important to help us manage stress, reducing irritability and anxiety.
To help you get a good night sleep follow these tips:
Switch off screens a few hours before bed
Don't let any worries fester in your mind - write them down before you go to sleep
Try to get the same number of hours sleep every night
Limit caffeine and alcohol after 4pm and don't eat a large meal close to bedtime
Exercise in the morning not in the afternoon or evening
Check your mattress and pillow are supportive and comfortable
If you struggle to switch off try a meditation or mindfulness app such as Headspace
Put a few drops of aromatherapy oils such as lavendar or camomile on your pillow to help induce sleep or try a ready made blend such as This Works: Sleep spray.
4. GO GREEN
Eating lots of green vegetables can benefit your health in many ways due to the different nurtients they contain. Green veg such as spinach and kale contains carotenoids that are vital for eye health helping prevent problems such as cataracts. Having a diet full of leafy greens can also help boost bone strength due to being rich in calcium therefore improving density and health.
As green veg is high in fibre they also help improve your metabolism and therefore digestion, as well as being rich in folic acid which can help improve ovulation and prevent birth defects. Lastly green vegetables can help boost energy, heighten immunity and improve brain function.
5. THINK POSITIVELY
Optimism and pessimism can affect your day to day levels of stress which can in turn impact on your health and wellbeing. Thinking positively does not mean that you are burying your head in the sand, but that you typically approach a negative situation in a positive and productive way. By thinking positively you can improve psychological and physical wellbeing, coping skills, cardiovascular health, feelings of distress and anxiety.
Don't despair if you're typically the "glass half empty" kind of person....you can learn techniques of how to think more positively:
Think about areas in your life that you consider to be negative and identify ways you could change them. Start with something small so that you can achieve it more easily.
Throughout the day keep a note of your thoughts and ensure that if they are negative you do your best to put a positive angle on them
Banish negative people from your life who drag you down if you can. Or if people around you start to act negatively try and remove yourself from the situation.
Exercise can improve your endorphins and help you to feel more positive.
Practise talking positively out loud. You could even try some affirmations.
6. LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Learning throughout your life can build your self-esteem and confidence as well as enhance social interaction and relationships. Engaging in new activities and broadening your mind can even help to lift you out of depression and curb feelings of stress or anxiety. Even just doing something out of the norm can change thought patterns and boost wellbeing.
Learning something new can be daunting so it's important to set yourself some manageable goals. Achieving these goals can give you a sense of accomplishment and enhance your well-being. You can start small and build as you go along.
Here are some tips for learning something new:
Read a new book
Do a crossword puzzle
Research a fact that you have always wanted to learn about
Join a class e.g. yoga, pilates, spinning, zumba
Learn a new skill e.g. cooking, mindfulness
If you are one of those people who can't live without their mobile phone/laptop/computer/tablet* (*delete as appropriate) then chances are you are spending a large majority of your time checking for social media updates, emails or what's app conversations. Sometimes we can rely so heavily on gadgets to connect with the world that we are missing out on real-world connections with our families and friends around us.
Studies have also indicated that spending so much time online can impact our sleep and even our mental health. For some, being contactable 24/7 means our work/life balance is affected, adding stress and pressure to respond out of hours.
To improve your wellbeing, try spending a few hours each day without your devices - switch off your mobile phone or better yet, leave it at home. Try remembering what life was like before we had so many gadgets to keep in contact and just live in the now. You never know, you may actually like it.
8. FRESH AIR
Fresh air really does have so many health benefits, however, as adults we are typically less likely to spend time outside reaping the benefits compared to when we were children. In fact, we really should "wake up and smell the roses" as they along with lavendar and the smell of pine trees can actually reduce stress and induce relaxation. Other flowers such as jasmine can help improve sleep and enhance mood.
Taking a deep breath of fresh air or oxygen in our lungs can affect levels of serotonin around the body resulting in happiness and relaxation. Our immune system is also enhanced by fresh air - being in polluted cities or cooped up in an office all day can increase the likelihood of catching germs and can lower our immune system.
Being inside all day can mean we are more likely to suffer fatigue. Energy is improved with fresh oxygen. Richard Ryan, Professor of Psychology at Rochester University, feels that ‘nature is fuel for the soul’: "Often, when we feel depleted, we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature,” he says.
Our digestive system can also benefit from fresh air. By eating lunch at your desk the way so many people do these days, blood and therefore essential nutrients are diverted away from the digestive system to support the brain to help concentration.
So have a think about ways you can incorporate fresh air into your daily routine. You could also make the most of your weekends and plan some walks in the local parks or take a trip to the country.
9. MOVE MORE
Being active is essential for a healthy body and healthy mind. It's important to build in some daily activity to help keep you physically fit and reduce the likelihood of you developing heart diseas, Type 2 diabetes or some cancers. Keeping active also helps you to sleep better and can reduce the chance of you having depression, anxiety or stress.
Additionally it helps your bones stay healthy, improves circulation and helps you maintain a healthy weight. The recommended daily amount of activity for an adult (19-64) is 150 mins moderate OR 75 mins high intensity aerobic activity PLUS strength exercises 2+ days a week for major muscles.
It can be easier than you think to get moving more - here are some tips to try:
Pick something you enjoy whether that be going swimming, playing tennis, going for a run, rollerblading, yoga, pilates, kickboxing, netball, volleyball, skipping rope or football.
Choose a time each week and stick to it. You are more likely to keep at something which is on the same day and at the same time on a regular basis.
Walk your child to school instead of driving them.
Be more active with your kids - play active games with them in the park or take them swimming.
Exercise during your lunch break. This could even be as simple as a brisk walk.
Get off the tube/bus/train a stop or two early and walk the rest to work
Mow the lawn - pushing a heavy lawnmower can be hard work!
Take the stairs rather than the lift.
Sit less - get up and walk around or do some stretches.
Try the "Couch to 5k" running plan for beginners.
Reflexology is a non-intrusive, complementary health therapy which helps the body to restore its natural balance and is excellent for promoting and maintaining good health. Any imbalances in the body systems can be identified on the feet and worked on using specific massage techniques, in order that the physical, hormonal or emotional blockages can be released.
Reflexology helps to boost circulation, eliminate toxins, improve the central nervous system and enhance the immune system. Treatments can not only help with specific symptoms but having regular treatments can ensure that the body continues to sustain optiminum health.
Reflexology can help reduce pain. In fact, a study by the University of Portsmouth found that it was as effective as taking painkillers. Reflexology can also reduce stress both physiologically and emotionally by bringing the body back into balance. Seeing as long term stress can result in ill health such as digestive problems, headaches, migraines, heart problems etc, reflexology is an excellent way to help keep stress levels down.
Poor sleep is a common issue for many people in the UK today with one in three suffering insomnia. Reflexology can help to reset your circadian rhythm and aids the body to fall into a deep state of relaxation often resulting in a better night's sleep.
Circulation is boosted during and after a reflexology session, helping our immune system to improve. Our circulatory system transports blood, nutrients, oxygen and waste around the body. By ensuring blood flows properly we can make sure all the cells receive the correct nutrients to maintain good health as well as removing waste adequately. The liver and kidneys are stimulated during reflexology ensuring the increased blood flow can help to dispel toxins from the body.
Best of all, reflexology feels good! Typically, following a treatment, the receiver will feel more relaxed, less stressed and tension will be reduced. As reflexology is a holistic therapy, each session treats the whole person. It not only helps to rebalance our body but promotes an overall feeling of wellbeing - what can be better than that?
About Abi Brazil: Abi is a Clinical Reflexologist and holds a Level 5 Mastership in Reflexology - the highest level for a professional Reflexology stand-alone qualification in the UK today. She has specialist training in Pregnancy, Fertility, Palliative Care and Hot Stone Reflexology. Abi is the owner of Reflexology Room London and works from clinics in Whetstone N20 and Crouch End N8, London, as well as offering home visits in surrounding areas. To get in touch, about any questions you may have, or to book an appointment, call 07971523672 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.