Staying on track with our wellbeing isn't always easy; so here are 5 of my favourite tips to help you to shine, and show up as your best self each day...
In a world of high demands, a lot of stimulus and an addiction to being busy, cutting out sleep can be a great way to feel like we are keeping up with it all. Although, in reality it is literally one of the worst things we can do for ourselves. Did you know that we are the only mammals that will intentionally avoid sleep?! And that a number of diseases are linked to a lack of sleep? Not only that, but it also decreases our ability to cope with stress, and for our bodies to recover from stress.
So it's safe to say that we should all make sleep a priority this year, and this is the number one thing that you can do to help your mind and body.
At a bare minimum, we can all be aiming for 6-8 hours sleep per night, and if getting to sleep is a problem for you, try looking at the NHS's sleep advice, and remember that there are several audio files on the Connect Membership, all aimed to help you to get into a restful state for a good night's sleep, as well as some restorative yoga practices.
Not being hydrated enough leads to poor decision making, lower moods and adversely affects our digestion - and being just 1% dehydrated can impair our cognitive ability and mood. A rule of thumb is that by the time you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated. And in my own experience - perhaps this has happened to you before also - I have found myself having a real "off" day, where I have been grumpy, irritable and generally in a bad place, only to realise that I haven't drunk anywhere near enough water, and that bad day was really a result of just that!
There are apps that you can use to help you to stay on track with your water intake, some people like to leave cups of water around the house so that one is always within arm's reach, and others like to use large water bottles that show a measure of the amount to be drunk in a day.
We all know the many, many benefits of getting out in nature - from calming your nervous system, to increasing our bodies' ability to heal, it is all around good for us. Both green and blue spaces are beneficial to our mood and health, and the best part is that it doesn't actually matter what you are doing when you're there - whether you're immersing yourself in natural cold water, having a cup of tea or simply taking in your surroundings, it is helpful for our brains and bodies to spend that time in a natural environment.
If you can, dedicate 20 minutes every day to being out in nature. If that's not possible, try 10 minutes. If that isn't possible simply sit by an open window taking in some fresh air, and looking outside. It is also very helpful to bring the outdoors in - so here's your nudge treat yourself to a plant or two, and get those natural air polluters working for you!
Research has found that regular aerobic exercise can reduce anxiety, by making the fight or flight system less reactive, because it exposes them to the physiological changes associated with fear (such as increased heartbeat). Regular exposure can lead to a reduction in their anxiety. Furthermore, mindful movement can help to build the mind-body connection which is a great way to reduce stress and improve mood. One study investigated this, where older participants took part in an outdoor mindful walking activity and were asked to pay attention to their breath, steps and emotional and bodily sensations. The researchers found that after this intervention, levels of depression, anxiety and mindfulness all improved.
So whether you are choosing to make some simple mindful movements each day, taking a gentle walk in nature, or demanding more of your body with a sweat-inducing exercise, you can consider movement as part of your wellbeing tool kit.
5. WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU
We all have different needs, interests and passions. So often, we see a new fad arrive and it is hailed as the latest "cure-all", but in reality the simple decision to try something new to help ourselves is empowering and impactful enough to do just that, regardless of what it is.
Take some time to think about the things in your life that help bring you back to yourself; maybe these are things that you used to enjoy doing in the past. Write a list, and rate them from 1-10, of how impactful they are for you. Decide how many of those are necessary for you to have the best chance of a great day every day, whilst noting which ones will be your go-to on a tough day to help elevate your mood.
...and if you struggle to integrate new wellbeing habits into your life, consider joining the Braver Than You Think retreat day on February 5th, in Oxwich Community Hall, to help you find the motivation, energy and inspiration to make beautiful and sustainable changes in your life.