Do you wake up vibrant and happy or tired and frustrated? Do you control stress or does it control you? Are you giving your body the fuel it needs or robbing it of essential nutrients?
No matter how you answered these questions, there’s one thing we could all use a little more of, and that’s self-care. Use this list as a guide only and see what changes you can make to improve your environment, diet, lifestyle and outlook on life.
Believe it or not, our bodies are really great communicators. Our bodies warn us when we’re getting sick, send us queues (yawn!) when it’s time to rest and, in the form of aches and pains, can tell us loud and clear when we’ve had enough to eat. Listen to the messages your body is sending, get to know which foods make you sluggish and tired and which fill you up with energy and stick with that. Author of Eating for Beauty, David Wolfe said ‘We are the best nutritionists. I feel very strongly that the best doctor in the world, the best nutritionist in the world, is you. You actually have everything inside you, all the equipment necessary to feel if something is right for you or not.”
The book Don't Sweat the Small Stuff…and it's all Small Stuff by Richard Carlson is a terrific read for those who find themselves turning small problems into big ones. The best advice I’ve ever been given is that when you’re having a bad day and people aren’t treating you well, just think, none of us will be around in 100 years so that thought that you have right now is just that, a thought. Think about that the next time you start fixating on what you know deep down is not that important.
Whether you’re at work, in your car or talking to a friend, try to really focus on being in the moment. If you’re at work, write down the list of things you need to do for that day first thing in the morning, and then focus on completing each task one at a time. When you have too much on your plate, you tend to feel overwhelmed and you give your anxiety too much power. This is why we procrastinate because we don’t know how to prioritise our time and energy and we lose sight of the big picture.
The best part about exercise is that it’s so varied. There’s no one way is the right way. Try a little bit of everything – some yoga in the AM, a reflective walk at night, a swim in the ocean on the weekends. Try to aim for 20 minutes of exercise per day – yes, the standard rule is 30 – but sometimes this seems like a lot for people to fit in every day. Convincing yourself that you can squeeze in 20 minutes will be a lot easier than trying to plan for a half or one full hour workout. Just think about it: doing 20 minutes of exercise is a lot better than doing nothing.
Music is good for the soul. In fact, it was proven back in 2011. Music can comfort us, give us hope, inspiration and keep us motivated.
“A review of 30 previous trials involving 1,891 participants found that both formal music therapy and informally listening to music appeared to help reduce anxiety and pain, and improved quality of life for people with cancer.”*
Associate professor in the Department of Creative Arts Therapies at Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, Joke Bradt went one step further and said: “It’s cheaper than medicine. It’s good for the body.”
Basically, the five people we spend the most time with can really influence us. Who are the five people in your life? Make sure the people in your boat are positive and supportive. If you surround yourself with people who often mock, criticise and complain, you’ll end up over on their sinking ship. If you’re stuck with a colleague who is all these things, try to distance yourself. Don’t respond to their ‘woe is me’ attitude because they will start dragging you down too. It’s best to end the conversation quickly and find someone at the company that feels the same way you do – positive.
When you eat nutrient-poor food, your body doesn’t get all it needs to stay healthy. It instinctively knows this and craves more and more food in order to get what it needs. When you give in to these cravings and continue to eat calorie-rich, nutritionally poor foods, you gain weight. The more excess weight you carry, the more capacity you have for storing things like pesticides and other synthetic chemicals in your body. Just think the more chemicals that are in your body, the greater the risk of your health declining.
How often have you said to yourself ‘Diet starts tomorrow!’ First of all, no diet can ever bring you happiness so I’d suggest you give up on that idea. Diets are designed to fail that’s why there’s a new diet book on the shelf every day. Instead, learn to be kind to yourself. If you eat some chocolate, don’t beat yourself up. Slow down, enjoy the taste and be mindful of the fact that you’re now eating some chocolate. Start incorporating things like meditation or affirmations into your daily routine to remind yourself to slow down, be positive and present. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you and read something uplifting.
Ensure you’re getting between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Cut down on the caffeine, clear the clutter around you and keep that TV (and all technology) outside the bedroom.
Visualise what you want and get it! That’s the theory behind a Vision Board (otherwise known as a Dream Board). Collect images and quotes that inspire you and display them in a central place so you are forced to see it all the time.
Belinda Crestani is a magazine editor, health advocate and founder of Youthful Habits. For more tips on living a balanced life, visit www.youthfulhabits.com
*Source: Cochrane Library
By Nina Weston