24 health tips to make you thrive, not simply survive.
In December I decided to record a video each day giving people a new tip to help not only to survive, but also to thrive through the festive period. I gained so much fantastic feedback that I’ve decided to write a blog listing them, as they are not just relevant to December but can be applied to our lives any time of year.
The long lasting message that I would like to get across is that by making small changes to your daily routine can positively influence your health in a big way. Some of these things are easier to implement than others, but all of them will impact your health.
Here are the messages I gave out in the run up to Christmas
1) Give someone a hug- it releases a hormone in your body called oxytocin. Oxytocin makes you feel good about yourself, slows your heart rate down, and reduces the amount of cortisol (the hormone causing stress) in the bloodstream.
2) Make a smoothie to boost your immune system. A quick way to get nutrients into you is to make a smoothie using fresh ingredients such as fruit and veg, nuts and seeds. By whizzing them up from scratch, ensures you know fully what has gone into them, and that there are no additives or preservatives that will play havoc with your microbiome. The best thing about making it yourself is that you can experiment with ingredients and come up with your own creations.
3) Breaking big tasks into much smaller ones to make them more achievable. Big tasks can feel daunting and un-achievable which often puts you off starting them. By focusing on the solution, not the problem and breaking a large job into smaller, more achievable jobs will give you a more realistic outlook and a more regular sense of accomplishment.
4) Take a walk at lunch and appreciate your surrounds – getting outside in the morning or at lunch time helps boost the vital dose of Vitamin D your body requires to absorb both calcium and phosphate required for healthy bones, teeth and muscles. Being outside with no distractions also allows you to focus on the here and now encouraging ideas and solutions to problems to occur more easily. Walking also is a great way to get the heart rate up and the muscles working. Being outside also helps regulate your circadian rhythm that is essential for helping us fall asleep at an appropriate time every night.
5) Drink more water. Our bodies are made up of approximately 60% water, and even a small reduction in this amount can impact both our physical and mental health. Drinking water is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to influence your health, and recommendations are currently set at consuming about 1.2 litres daily (about 8 glasses), depending on your size, activity level and temperature of your surroundings.
6) Have a relaxing bath. Allowing yourself time to unwind and relax helps reduce stress build up. Baths are great for a simple treat, and are also good at getting your body to sleep quicker and deeper throughout the night.
7) Do something you’ve been putting off. By ‘just doing it’ you will get a huge sense of satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment, which will in turn give you a real boost to your self esteem. The hardest part is to start a daunting task, but positive talking and thinking can help get you over this initial hurdle and on the right track for completion.
8) Give generously. It has been proven that people who are generous in terms of time or money are healthier. By carrying out genuine acts of kindness (for no reward) both parties benefit, the recipient obviously gains, but it has be confirmed that the giver also gains.
9) Charge your phone downstairs to allow for a tech free bedroom. Blue screens can cause a blockage to the release of melatonin, the hormone required for sleep, and thus people find it harder to get to sleep at night. It also causes distractions as that ‘one last check of social media’ sometimes leaves still scrolling, liking and commenting a couple of hours later, meaning that you are not getting optimal amounts of sleep.
10) Do a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout. These are great as they are quick and can be done anywhere. They are a particularly good way to build up the strength of your heart, lungs, and muscles. This is because high intensity exercise stimulates the mitochondria within cells to work harder to covert oxygen and glucose to produce energy (ATP) to fuel your body. The more mitochondria which are active, the stronger and more efficient muscles become, as well as burn more fat to produce energy. The downside to this is that you have to put a lot of effort into HIIT to make it effective! A good way to start is to follow Joe Wickes on You Tube and choose a session that is relevant to you (if you are a beginner don’t start on an advanced session for example).
11) Take time to be present in all you do. So much of our time and energy focuses on ‘what next’, we often forget to be appreciative of how we feel, where we are, what we can sense etc. It is all about ‘noticing’ how you feel both on the inside and outside. By doing new things, it is easier to ‘notice’ as your senses are more heightened, so by changing simple things can help you be more present. Perhaps try a new food, or restaurant, or go a different way to work, or approach a colleague you’ve not spoken to before…. Your options are endless.
12) Take time to notice your breathing. Thankfully for us our breathing is controlled by the autonomic nervous system which means we breathe without having to consciously think about it. But too often we find ourselves shallow breathing. By breathing deeper, you fill your lungs up more with air, which in turn allows more oxygen to enter your body and more carbon dioxide to be released from your body each breathe. This in turn helps make your body more efficient and healthier. There are many apps you can download to help with conscious breathing, but a simple way to breathe deeply is to breathe in for the count of 3, hold it for 4 and breathe out for the count of 5. Repeat this a few times to feel calmer and more in control.
13) Focus on the positives by journaling. Thankfully we can train our brain to be positive, as it has been documented that 60% of our thoughts have been negative (we do need negative thoughts as safety mechanisms from time to time). By taking time each day to focus on things that are good helps us re-frame the way we look at life. Each night before sleep I write down 3 things that I am thankful for, one thing I have achieved, one thing I am proud of and one thing it could improve. If nothing else, it gives you time to reflect on what positive has come from your day, which is essential for good mental health.
14) Put on nice clothes and accessorize to feel good about yourself. The saying “ what you think, you feel, what you feel, you project” is so true. If you think you look nice as you’ve made an effort, you will feel more confident. This in turn will be portrayed in your body language and your actions, and noticed by people around you.
15) Pick up a book you’ve been meaning to read for a while and indulge in the escapism. Reading is great for allowing yourself time to unwind. One of the best times to read is just before sleep, as it switches your brain off from all the other thoughts of your day. A real treat is when you get time to read during the day, it’s all about being kind to yourself and doing the things you like to do.
16) Bulk cook a meal from scratch and freeze the remainders. Quite often it doesn’t make too much difference if you are cooking a bolognaise for 2 or for 10… a couple more onions to chop and cans of tomatoes to open, but the process is exactly the same. Therefore, to make sure you’ve got healthy meals ready for those day’s you are too busy to cook, bulk cook meals when you do cook and freeze the remainders. One hint here is to dish up your food away from the table, as this will reduce the temptation for seconds!
17) Have a festive coffee morning with friends or colleagues. This is important to make sure you have daily face-to-face connections with others, which is so important for reducing loneliness and poor mental health. It doesn’t have to be a festive coffee morning, just a get together with other people to discuss work, life and anything else!
18) Do some yoga to re-ground yourself. Yoga is excellent for developing your flexibility, strength and breathing, and is a perfect way to take time out from the hectic every day life. Even a 10-minute yoga session can leave you feeling stronger both physically and mentally. I highly recommend yoga with Adrienne on You Tube where there are 100’s of different sessions you can choose from.
19) Walk somewhere you were going to drive to. Walking, as already mentioned, is great for both your physical and mental health. We have become too reliant on the car to get around, but if you plan your day accordingly, it may be possible to walk to places you had previously driven. This in turn is better for your health and the environment.
20) Enrol in a new club/fitness class. This will give you accountability that you are going to set yourself a challenge and stick to it. Classes that you pay up front are great as it gives you that extra incentive to attend. Even more beneficial would be to join with a friend, so if you don’t turn up, you are not just letting yourself down, but your friend too…. Surely that’s motivation to make a plan and stick to it!
21) Mindfully eat. Mindful eating is simply thinking more about what you are putting in your mouth. What does it taste like? How does it feel? How does it smell? Where has it come from? Does the taste change once you’ve chewed it lots? These are all questions you can ask yourself whilst you are eating to help you be thankful for the food. All too often we grab food on the go, or rush to eat, but taking your time to eat hugely aids your digestive system, allowing more nutrients to be extracted for energy, preventing illness, and hormone production.
22) Push your comfort zone. Recently I read if you push your comfort zone every day your level of comfort increases hugely. This doesn’t mean you’ve to jump out of a plane, or walk up Everest every day. Pushing yourself could simply be picking up the phone to talk to someone you’ve not spoken to in a long time, standing up in front of a group of people and talking, or maybe running a little bit faster or further. If you do this, you will find definitely find things easier next time round.
23) Keep learning; life is a journey. I have loved learning more and more about health of late, so much so I have decided to qualify as a health coach. It is easier to learn about things that interest you, but the more diverse learning you can do via reading ,talking, listening to podcasts etc. will make you a more interesting and exciting person to be around.
24) Reflect on what Christmas means to you and be thankful for your successes in 2019. Reflection is essential for progression. It is key to recognising how far you’ve come, and what you could do differently to make situations work more favourably next time. Reflection is important in both work and life situations, and helps shape our decisions for the future.
So there we have it, 24 days of health tips. I hope you’ve gained something from reading this, and if you would like to know more, please book me in to deliver a whole-body health workshop in your place of work. Visit www.doctor-me.co.uk for more details.