The power for change is right at your fingertips… literally. Making a decision to focus on your wellbeing doesn’t mean going from a committed couch-lover to entering a marathon, or signing up for a three-week yoga retreat when you are yet to nail the downward facing dog. Rather, the path to wellness starts with you, making small changes to your everyday lifestyle. And the best part? Your toolkit for wellness is all around you.
Movement for everybody
Some people make exercise look effortless, strolling into the office at 8am after an hour’s heavy gym session. We salute those people and aspire to be more like them. For the rest of us, it can feel like a challenge to incorporate movement into your day. Well, it needn’t be.
150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week in bouts of ten minutes or more is the recommended amount.
Make the most of your everyday activities and get creative! Think of movement as an opportunity and not an inconvenience:
Join/start a walking group to walk around the park.
Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator.
Try a new physical activity with friends (yoga, boxing, tai chi, Pilates) instead of catching up for a coffee.
Food for thought
Think of food as something that nourishes your body and soul. Eat regular meals which include the main food groups, while limiting the amount of fat, sugar and salt you eat. The Eatwell Guide recommends:
At least 5 portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables each day
Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates; choosing wholegrain versions where possible
Have some dairy and alternatives; choosing lower fat and lower sugar options
Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)
Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts
Variety in your diet is important and helps you to obtain the various nutrients required by your body. Try creating meals with at least three food groups from the above list. For example, at breakfast, include some fruit with wholegrain cereal and reduced fat milk or yoghurt.
As we age, muscle mass and oestrogen levels can start to decline. Protein is your muscles’ friend and can help minimise the loss, says Swisse Accredited Practicing Dietitian Simone Austin. Simone suggests trying to have a protein source at each meal and snack. For example, eggs, yoghurt or milk with breakfast, lean meat, cheese or canned fish in your sandwich at lunch, and a lean piece of meat, fish or legumes in the evening. For oestrogen, which impacts bone density, Simone suggests including calcium-rich foods and those with vitamin D.
Mind over matter
While it’s easy to get engulfed in the everyday go-go-go lifestyle, taking time to nourish yourself mentally really is a key foundation for overall good health. Think you don’t have time to do this? Here’s three easy ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life:
Ok, so we get that you do this all day, every day. What we actually mean is to breathe consciously and with purpose. Take a minute to sit quietly and focus on your breath. Inhale deeply through your nose and out through your mouth, focusing all your attention on the movement and flow of air. Let go of all your thoughts and be at one with your breath. Do this for a couple of minutes a day to steady and centre yourself.
Set yourself a task every day to notice three things that you’re grateful for. Even better if they’re things that normally get taken for granted, such as having a home to live in, heating to keep you warm, green parkland near your work for lunchtime strolls. Really notice how they improve and enrich your life, and give thanks for them. The point is, we spend so much time aspiring to bigger and better things, that we can often miss the great things we already have.
The emotional and physical benefits of a good night’s sleep are uncontested, however, many of us are not getting enough sleep or sleep that is poor quality. The optimum sleep duration is seven hours a night - you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to put all your mindfulness practices in place for the day ahead.