If I am not talking / thinking about yoga or pilates the chance is something else regarding health and wellbeing is on my mind – so I thought with this blog we could dive into that.
We are always being told to put time aside for self care – be that from marketing, advertising or from our friends and family. Self care is really just a way of saying look after yourself and prioritise / protect your health. Whilst movement plays a huge part in your health, it isn’t all about running 10k or lifting super heavy weights. I wanted to use this blog as a chance to shine some light on the other ways you can prioritise and protect your health.
Before we dive in I am not claiming to be the expert, I am just passionate.
1. Routine and sleep
I came to appreciate this one when I was working abroad and living in hotels – I think there are two things that really helped get into a good routine and ultimately sleep super well. One being that my meals were obviously prepared for me which means you eat at pretty similar time each day and two, I was waking with the sun (I appreciate in the UK that’s not totally ‘naturally’ possible all year round).
My tips for fixing your routine at home and trying to maximise the quality of your sleep are:
- Sleep with the curtains open and let the sunlight wake you up – alternatively you can now buy alarms that light the room so you naturally wake.
- Go to bed early enough to bank a good amount of sleep. You need min 6.5 hours for your body to manage and regulate your blood sugar levels…ever wondered why you crave naff foods when you are tired or you didn’t sleep for long enough?
- Don’t eat too close to the time you go to sleep, giving yourself chance to digest and try to eat your meals at a similar time each day.
- Move – I know we aren’t diving into movement today but I honestly think being physically active is the key to letting your body tap into deep rest at night.
2. I protect my time
Find what works for you – I am a morning person, but I understand not everyone is. Find your time (the time you are most productive with your work / you are at your most creative / you enjoy training) and protect it.
Carve those hours out for yourself – maybe you have to avoid TV in the evenings to prioritise getting things done, or you have to set an alarm and wake a few hours earlier to fit yourself in.
I also think for your mental health and stress levels its important to have down time. I personally savour the evenings for this – but you have to spend some time away from emails, notifications and alerts. We live in a constantly on world and our bodies need to turn off every now and then.
You wouldn’t run a car 24/7, so don’t do it to yourself.
3. Nutrition and supplements
Knowing what to eat and drink isn’t hard. But the will power to be consistent is what causes people to trip up. I think one of the most important factors is that you enjoying eating – the preparation, leisurely eating not just grabbing food on the go and also not leaving a meal feeling bloated, sluggish or too full. There is a very fine line between paying attention to what you eat, choosing the right foods and being too obsessive. I am definitely not qualified to dive into that.
Other things I have to say on food – your meals don’t have to be all green juices and salad leaves. Simply make sure your plate is colourful and made up of a variety of whole foods and food groups (fats, carbohydrates and protein). You can do this with a meat diet or a veggie diet.
Wether you are buying meat, fish or veg – I think it is important to try and buy as fresh as you can, and as high quality as you can. Unfortunately there’s a lot of rubbish in mass produced foods (hormones and preservatives etc).
Another thing I was taught by someone I really looked up to in the world of nutrition was to try and avoid drinking too much around your meals – he explained that when we are hungry we produce enzymes in apprehension of taking on food. Then if we drink a big full glass of water right before our meal we wash a lot of those away – hindering our digestion. He said he encourages clients to be conscious of this both 30 mins before and 30 mins after a meal. It certainly helps me with digestion (but that is a pretty small study size!).
Supplements are something I have dipped in and out of, and until recently I had actually stopped all together – bar a vitamin D spray. At the start of this year I came across an independent herbalist and I ordered tailored supplements from her – I have to say I’ve feel great on them. I think its always key to remember supplements are just an addition but I don’t think its a bad idea to bank the nutrients that are harder to get in our day to day. I hear a lot of doctors / practitioners talk about cycling supplements so that your body isn’t dependent on them – something to consider.
4. Human Connection
Maybe one I feel most strongly about, and I think we only have to look at the affect of the isolation of this last year to see how important it is to be around our friends and family. For me I have to spend time with people who make me laugh, who I can have meaningful conversation with, who inspire me, who encourage and support me. And I want to be that for others too. Quality not quantity here we can probably all agree!
I am sure there science in the brain waves of connection, but that’s beyond my scope.
Just this morning I taught a couple yoga – now I usually work with them on their own, but today all three of us were together. Even without conversation between them there was such an energy in the room – just from the presence of 3 bodies. It was so uplifting and energising. It is something I notice on our retreats and even via our zooms! I don’t think I am imagining it, being with other humans lifts you up (if they’re good ones!).
5. Boost your circulation
I know we aren’t chatting movement right now but this is a hugeeee benefit to exercising.
Other ways you can boost your circulation include:
- Massage – I know massages aren’t for everyone and I myself do let them slide when I get busy, but I know I feel great when I am regularly making time for treatments. As well as boosting your circulation and fixing any niggles / injuries it just gives me great headspace. I like to think it is quite a strong way of saying ‘I am doing this for me and my body, I deserve a massage, I want to look after myself’.
- Cold showers – I started doing this probably about 2 years ago, it is a love hate relationship. The biggest benefit is a boost to your circulation and for me it also lifts my mood, wakes me up and energises me for the day. Plus if you start the day with a cold shower it can’t get much worse right.. A lot of people are getting into outdoor swimming and cold water dips – this gives you the benefits in a slightly more accessible convenient way.
- Body brushing – this is quite a therapeutic one, maybe in the shower and combined with exfoliating. Great for not only boosting circulation but getting rid of dead skin cells too!
They are my 5. Nothing ground breaking, just little habits I think make me a healthier and with that happier.
‘Health is wealth‘ and I just feel very privileged that it is something I get to share and chat about with you, so thanks for getting this far!