Flourish in February
Having looked up ‘flourish’ in the dictionary it states that it is to grow or develop in healthy or vigorous ways. There are so many ways we can grow or develop. The most important element of flourishing is that it’s got to want to come from within. If someone is telling you to improve, you will soon loose the motivation to help flourish, but if you have the drive and determination to flourish you will find it a lot easier to take action, and keep doing so.
Self-care should be seen as a priority as it gives you time to reflect on where you are currently at, and where you want to be. If you are healthy, then you will be able to help others, but if you are unhealthy, tired, poorly and feeling down, the chances are you won’t have the time and inclination to help others. Therefore self-care shouldn’t be seen as a selfish way to spend your time, but as an essential priority each day.
By taking time to realise what it is you are eating will help you flourish. The old saying ‘you are what you eat’ really is true. Food is the way our body fuels itself, and to be aware of how you are optimally energising your body is important. Food is responsible for providing you with energy, for boosting your immune system, and also for making hormones and chemicals that help many processes within our bodies work well. The aim is to eat a diverse range of food, in order to help our microbes within our digestive system thrive and work to their best capability.
To do this it is important to be organised, work out what you want to eat and have some key ingredients to hand in the cupboard or freezer (I freeze all sorts from coriander to lemon slices!). Food in its whole form is best, for example food that you can recognise as what it is instead of having been modified already. Make sure you shop for the food that’s on your shopping list for this week’s food, and don’t be tempted to buy a lot of ‘junk’ foods that are on special offer that you know aren’t going to help you flourish. They are ok every now and again, but try to live by the 80:20 rule where you are eating healthily the majority of the time, and make treats just that, treats, and therefore only eaten/drunk occasionally. If you eliminate all the treats from you life it would be very restrictive and boring, everything in moderation is one of my mantras.
Sleep should be a priority for you to flourish, as it is so vital for so many processes to be operating within our bodies. We all know how it feels when we are deprived of sleep; both our bodies and minds don’t work as effectively as they could when we are well slept. Throughout life we all find it hard to sleep at times, but by having good ‘sleep hygiene’ helps us get to sleep quicker and keeps us asleep for longer too.
I recommend you have a regular sleep/wake routine as our bodies work on rhythms and like regularity. By keeping to a similar routine helps synchronise our bodies to work effectively (and sorry this does mean even at weekends). Having a cool, dark, quiet bedroom is key to a good nights sleep. I recommend you get rid of electrical devices that omit light, put up black out lining to your curtains if necessary, and make it clutter free. Bedrooms are not a place for work, so make sure you aren’t taking your laptop or emails to bed with you. Even better, charge your devices downstairs and you will get a real sense of freedom going to bed. Be brave and try it… I have done this recently and it has made me feel a lot ‘lighter’ going upstairs to bed. Try not to drink caffeinated drinks too late in the day, this alters the release of the hormone melatonin which is responsible for helping you get to sleep, try drinking herbal teas or water in the evening instead. Last but not least, try to relax your mind and body before bed, maybe have a bath, read a book, listen to some calming music, or maybe jot down what has gone well for you that day in a journal.
Taking time to just ‘be’ is vital for helping you to flourish. We can all go through life at a top speed and just move from one thing to the next, to the next without stopping. Taking time out to slow down, to think about how you are feeling and reflecting on what is going well, and what could be improved is essential for making a better you. Some people may like to sit and think, others get outside and walk, for some it may be linked to a regular activity such as sitting on a bus for instance. But, however you do it, relax your mind, take some deep breaths, and make sure you are in a distraction free place (without phones) and this way you will start to see the positives in your life. If you can take 5 minutes every day to stop, focus on yourself and reflect you will become a much more productive, positive person. You will become someone who is able to motivated to the tasks that create the biggest impact in your lives and those close to you.
Moving your body is essential for flourishing. It doesn’t matter how you move, but it is important to get the heart rate up to benefit both the body and mind. We are the first generation to have to consciously think about how we get movement into our daily lives as we are lifestyles promote a much more sedentary lives than our ancestors were subject to. Whether you get off the bus a stop or two early and walk the rest of the way, whether you make a pact with a friend to join a spinning session twice a week, or simply set a time each day to do a few minutes of yoga any movement will benefit you. The aim is to do 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week, this sounds like a lot, but when broken down this is 30 minutes for 5 days a week, which on these 5 days could simply amount to 3 lots of 10 minutes. The choice is yours, get it all the movement out of the system in one go, or break it down into smaller chunks- your body will be happy either way.
Being healthy isn’t the easy option but next month we will look at how it is possible to get motivated in March, and stick to these motivations. If you care about yourself, you will be more motivated to look after the amazing machine of a body you’ve been blessed with, and give it the optimum conditions for it to flourish…. Remember though, its work in progress and if you can implement some of the small changes suggested above this will hopefully help you achieve this. For more information please visit my website www.doctor-me.co.uk and subscribe to my mailing list to get more hints and tips sent your way to help you continue to flourish!