Updated: Oct 3, 2018
Do you feel under the weather, overwhelmed, lacking energy or have lost your 'oomph'? Would you like to feel better straightaway? Then look no further, this is the blog you have been looking for.
7 simple steps to a better, happier you.
1. SLEEP BETTER
We all love it when we get enough and feel awful when we don’t. Sleep is so fundamental to wellness and good health that lack of it, or poor quality will take a serious toll on your health. Recent data from the NHS shows that those who sleep for less than 6 hours a night have a 13% higher mortality risk than those who get at least 7 hours. Those who sleep less than 7 hours a night are 30% more likely to be obese.
Scary statistics aside, why is good quality sleep so vital? We have seen that lack of sleep can make us fatter but it can also make us biologically older and more at risk of chronic disease such as diabetes and heart disease.
Poor sleep can also affect our mood, making us feel cranky, anxious or even leading to depression.
Good sleep really boosts our immune system, helping to keep us safe from infection and illness. While we sleep the body builds and repairs itself by making new cells, muscles and all other body tissues.
Sleeping also allows for memories to be formed and also ideas! While we sleep we can’t be stressed, who doesn’t want less of that!
So, how do we get better at sleep? This is not something that can be answered simply as we are all different with jobs and lifestyles meaning that what works for me may not work for you. However, there are some basic tips to try straight away.
· Create the best sleep environment by having a comfortable bed and a room that’s not too warm or cold.
· Don’t go to bed too full or hungry.
· Have your last dose of caffeine, if you are sensitive to it, by lunchtime, and that includes chocolate.
· Don’t have a mobile, electronic device or a TV in the bedroom and dis-engage from social media at least an hour before bed. The blue light emitted from these devices makes our brains think it is still daytime so we don’t produce melatonin, the hormone that is produced at night to lull us to sleep.
This is just a very basic introduction but if you are struggling on a nightly basis why not book a wellness consultation with me for a personalised programme?
2. SMILE AT STRANGERS
The simple act of smiling can trick the brain into happiness, boosting health and reducing stress. Science has also shown that the mere act of smiling can improve immunity and possibly even prolong life. Our ‘feelgood’ hormone, Dopamine, is released when we smile so too is our mood hormone Serotonin, which, when low, can lead to anxiety and depression. Smiling is an international language, it is easy to pass on. So, go on, flex those facial muscles, and smile your way to feeling better.
3. MOVE YOUR BODY
We were born to move yet modern living with all our technology, domestic appliances and cars means that we are now becoming more and more sedentary. Research has shown that this increase in sedentary living, especially television viewing is representing a major threat to global health. However, moving does not mean a punishing gym routine mindlessly pounding a treadmill or sweating buckets in a spinning class. We should aim to make moving our body part of our daily routine. Moving makes everything better; our metabolism, sleep, immunity, stress response and it can even reduce inflammation in the body. Find something fun to do, embrace your inner child and do 10 minutes of skipping, take your phone calls standing up, get outdoors and walk during your lunch break, it doesn’t matter what it is, JUST MOVE!
4. EAT REAL FOOD
Our lives have become so busy that many of us never seem to have enough time to plan, shop and prepare ‘real home cooking’ that is delicious and nutritious, and often cheaper than the convenience options. Food packaging labels too are a minefield making it really challenging to decipher them and make informed decisions about what we put into our bodies. Processed foods are just that, processed in a factory, and by the time they make it to your dinner plate are loaded with salt and sugar and deplete of nutrients, doing you no favours at all. Food is information. Eating the right foods is like a set of instructions for our DNA, encoding for good health. Making poor food choices will send the wrong message and code for disease.
If the thought of menu planning scares you, or you are in the ‘can’t cook won’t cook’ category or simply need fresh inspiration then why not book a session with me to get you on the way to eating real, nourishing food?
5. SAY GOODBYE TO REFINED SUGAR
The NHS suggest that adults get no more than 30g of free sugar a day, about 7 sugar cubes and children under 10 years 19-24g that’s 5-6 sugar cubes. Now I don’t know about you, but for me, someone who doesn’t like numbers ,the thought of trying to calculate that every day is a step too far. However, the one thing you can do today to get you started would be to cut down or preferably out, refined sugar. Not as easy as you might think…for example, our favourite brand of tomato ketchup has 3.4g sugar per tablespoon, or 1 sugar cube! A popular energy drink that promises to give you wings has 39g of sugar, that’s the equivalent of 10 sugar cubes!! The only thing that this will give you is an energy crash and a fast track to chronic disease.
So an easy starting point would be to avoid processed foods and drinks with sugar content over 4g of sugar per serving and refer to tip number 4 above and eat more real food.
6. BE GRATEFUL
Practicing gratitude everyday is a simple and effective way to make us and the ones we love feel better. Appreciate everything, especially the small things. For example, notice the beauty in nature everyday. This can be as simple as admiring the colour, shape or smell of a flower. Or not complaining about the rain, it keeps our countryside fertile and beautiful, plus makes puddles for the little ones to jump in. Be thankful that you wake up each day, have food on your plate, someone to love and a roof over your head. Learning to appreciate the ‘small’ things will enable us to see the bigger picture, improve our physical and mental health, enhance empathy and reduce aggression and make us happier and nicer people.
7. BE KIND
Kindness is a core value of mine. The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness”. How great would our world be if we all practiced this religion? But we can, by doing random acts of kindness. A simple compliment to yourself, telling yourself how great you are, or to a colleague or friend how much you like their hair, outfit whatever. Smile at the homeless guy or buy him a hot drink, offer to help an elderly person with their shopping bags. It won’t take much but you will feel better and you may just make their day a little bit better too.
Written from the heart by Patricia Alexander-Bird, Registered Nutritional Therapist BSc, Dip NT, mBANT