Day Fifteen

Eat well

Would you put petrol in a diesel car?

The food we eat has an overreaching effect on our health and well-being, whether we are conscious of it or not.  Becoming more aware of your diet will help you to make necessary adjustments to meet the needs of your body – and it will do an enormous amount to maintain and improve your health.

Theory

There are 11 systems in the body which all need certain nutrients to function optimally.

Any lack of nutrients leads to a body that is not running efficiently.  There are molecules we get from food that our bodies can not make so it is vital to ensure we have balanced varied diet.

We live in a world where there is not only an abundance of poor nutrient dense food but highly palatable and potentially addictive foods such as the mix of sugar and fat, which makes it harder than just will power to stop.  They wreak havoc with our gut flora and immune system which has a huge knock on effect to health.  They can cause huge cravings to eat more of the food.  People feel like they have no control and defeated.  But it is much more complex than just will power. This is why eating a balanced diet is so important to get everything back in line and lead to more optimal health.

Balanced nutrition will lead to a body working at best including less fatigue, optimal weight, reduced cravings, increased energy, better sleep, more motivation, reduced inflammation, reduced risk of chronic diseases as well as much more.

Ideas

Nutrition – In these times of uncertainty and with everything that is happening it is more important than ever to ensure we eat food that will support our bodies as optimally as possible.  Here are some top tips to ensure that you are giving your body an epic boost:-

  1. Pack in a rainbow of colours with your vegetables and fruit each day. The more colour the better.  Each colour has molecules called phytonutrients which have different positive effects on your health.  They are all antioxidants which basically means they prevent damage to cells and are anti-inflammatory.  Why don’t you create a colour chart and get you and/or your family to think of as many different fruit and veg of each colour. Then tick off each one throughout the week.  Aim for more and more each week!!!
  2. Stay hydrated!! – I know this seems like such an obvious one but so many of us don’t drink enough water. This doesn’t include tea and coffee but does include herbal teas and both still and sparkling water.  Water is vital to feeling epic and just 1% dehydration can lead to fatigue and feeling below par.  It is such a simple yet effective tool to have in your tool box to feeling awesome!!
  3. Try and get in lots of natural anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory foods – These foods will really boost your immune system and help your body feel awesome. Foods such as garlic, ginger, turmeric, sage, coconut oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice with warm water and honey (locally sourced and raw if possible) are all epic foods for the immune system
  4. Good Fats – It is so important to have good fats in your diet. These are fats like Omega 3s which are really high in oily fish (there is a great acronym called SMASH to help you remember oil fish, Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Salmon and Herrings). Vegan options are flax and chia seeds as well as hemp seeds.  Avocados and coconut oil are another epic fat for you.  Fat also keeps you fuller for longer which will lead to less snacking and it has less of an effect on blood sugar levels which is an epic thing for the body.
  5. Be mindful of sugar!!! – I think this is another topic that people hear a lot but are unsure of what happens in the body. Basically too much sugar not only wreaks havoc with the blood sugar balance which has a huge knock on effect to lots of systems in the body as well as weight gain, it can also deplete the body’s nutrient balance, which triggers a cascade of inflammation and metabolic disruption.  I would recommend to not have refined sugar more than once or twice a week if possible and have sweetness from natural sugars such as fruit.
  6. Eat whole foods as much as possible – Basically I always go off the understanding that anything with an ingredient list longer than 5 items has had processing. So get excited about cooking from scratch and experiment with recipes. It doesn’t have to mean hours of slaving in the kitchen at all.  Very nutritious meals can take a matter of minutes cooked from scratch.
  7. Planning is key – the more time you put into your planning the more time you are putting into succeeding. I know if I don’t plan and just rely on will power I will end up gorging on food that does not support my body optimally and I will feel rubbish from it. So take some time once or twice a week to ensure that you know what your eating for you and your family.  It will save time, money and your health in the long run.

These are simple key points that you can apply to your life without too much struggle.  The main thing is to KEEP IT SIMPLE!!! Nourish your body with food that it is designed to breakdown and you will feel the benefits of it, including more energy, optimal weight, better sleep, balanced mood as well as so much positive effects inside that you can’t see and maybe can’t feel with all the body systems working synergistically.

Becci

Written by Becci Gowers dipCNM, mBANT, studying MSc in Personalised Nutrition – Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist.  Founder and Director of IgniteYou CIC

www.igniteyou.org.uk

becci@igniteyou.org.uk

 

Day Ten

LISTEN

Yesterday morning, I stepped outside and listened. I listened to the birds singing their morning chorus, I listened to the slow droning of the machinery in the field across from me, I listened to my footsteps as I slowly walked to the bottom of the garden. The crunch underfoot, the high-pitched intonations, the bass of the drone. A moment of presence.

Theory

The present moment is all we have, yet stress and to do lists and the mindless chatter in our brains takes our attention away from the present and into the past or future. If we don’t direct our attention it will go into autopilot, thinking, worrying and planning. Mindfulness helps us to cultivate awareness of the present moment, offering a rest from these autopilot traits and into a calmer state.

If we practice mindful listening on a regular basis, we will eventually find that it’s something we do naturally. This is because our brain continues to be malleable throughout our entire life, meaning that when we start something new and practice it, we can strengthen new neural connections in the brain.  This is called neuroplasticity! What’s exciting about neuroplasticity is it shows us that we can create healthy habits purely through practicing them!

Something as simple as mindful listening is a great place to start and can also be fun to do with your family.

Practice for grown-ups

‘Several times a day, stop and just listen. Open your hearing 360 degrees, as if your ears were giant radar dishes. Listen to the obvious sounds and the subtle sounds- in your body, in the room, in the building and outside. Listen as if you had just landed from a foreign planet and didn’t know what was making these sounds. See if you can hear all sounds as music being played just for you.’ (Bays 2011)

Practice for children

This activity is a great one to do outside. Get your child to make a fist with both of their hands, leaving their thumb open, get them to place their thumbs on either side of their head, to create two antlers. Get them to close their eyes and count as many different sounds as they can, raising one finger for every sound until their antlers are full. Recap on the sounds they heard in a minute.

Inspiration

Mindful by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for —
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world —
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant —
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these —
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

“Mindful” by Mary Oliver from Why I Wake Early. © Beacon Press, 2005.

Books

Mindfulness on the Go by Jan Chozen Bays

The Art of Mindful Birdwatching by Claire Thompson

Mindful thoughts for Walkers by Adam Ford

Day Five

HELP

I’m the queen of analogies, being a very visual person, it’s always been a way that my brain makes sense of a situation. When it comes to asking for help here’s the analogy.

Let’s say you broke your leg; you wouldn’t hobble around for weeks, climb up and down the stairs, drive to the supermarket, go about your daily business, because your leg would be broken. Instead you’d call an ambulance, your partner, your mum and ask for help.

Theory

The problem with mental health is it isn’t as visually obvious as physical health, and because of this, the seriousness of the problem somehow feels less important. We are much less likely to ask for help when we’re feeling mentally low, but there’s really no difference. Dragging your broken leg around as if nothing’s happened, won’t help it to heal.

I work in a rehab centre for people with addiction and there’s a big sign on the door saying, ‘ASK FOR HELP’. We think we can work it out for ourselves, we think we know what’s best; we think it’s a weakness to say ‘I can’t cope’ when actually, it’s a strength.

The stigma around mental health is slowly changing, there are support groups and networks and charities and so much information online. In this current climate it is important that we voice our concerns, that we speak our truth and source help from our friends, family, community and professionals.

I am not a councillor or psychotherapist but I have suffered with anxiety, OCD and panic attacks in the past. I know how it feels to be mentally unwell, and I really couldn’t have got out of that place without asking for help.

Help

NHS Website – a good place to start

Mind – loads of resources and ideas –  Including the following which i’ve copied from their website.

Some community and charity sector organisations may offer free or low-cost talking therapies. For example:

Other things

Fern Cottons Happy Place podcast– interviews with people who have suffered from poor mental health and their journey to feeling better.

Day Four

ROUTINE

Self-care is the practice of being gentle with yourself, however it’s not about being idle and this is where routine comes in.

Theory

When you were a child your parents or caregiver would have created a routine for you. You would have had a morning routine, which may have included teeth brushing and breakfast, then you would have stopped for lunch and maybe had some time outdoors to let off steam. The day would have finished with dinner, a bath, a bedtime story and tuck into bed. This routine helped you to feel safe; and because of our need as humans to stay alive, this safety became paramount to your wellbeing and emotional and physical growth.

As we grow older and we take on roles and responsibilities, our routines become so integral to our lives, they are what make us who we are. Yet in a time of uncertainty this pattern that we’ve become so accustomed to, may change. This, to many can feel unsettling, because it inevitably makes us feel like we are in danger.

However, if we are mindful, we can shift and create our routine to not only help to support our mental well-being, but also help us to grow in the direction we want to go. The phrase ‘I just don’t have the time’ is so common, yet I believe we all have the time, we just need to be willing to reinvent our routines in order to make the time.

Going back to the drawing board is a good place to start. Treat yourself like a child, give yourself everything you need to physically and emotionally grow. Reinvent your routine to feel resilient and thrive.

Ideas

  • Find a morning practice that suits you, for some that may be yoga or meditation, for others it may be journaling or free writing. Something that centres you and declutters your mind before you start work.
  • Avoid looking at your device before breakfast, give yourself time to wake up.
  • If you’re working from home, take regular breaks, give yourself a clear lunch break where you’re not responding to emails or staring into a screen.
  • Get some fresh air, take yourself for a walk, pick some flowers, take in the colours of spring.
  • Make time for your interests and hobbies that may have fallen by the wayside. If you’ve always wanted to make soap, do it. If you’re enthralled by history, read about it. If you want to know the names of birds or bugs or trees, what’s stopping you? Give yourself time to learn, like you’d give a child the opportunity if they showed an interest.
  • Create a bedtime routine, switch off your device an hour before you go to bed, read a book or listen to a story, write a gratitude list, start a breathing practice. Give yourself the time to unwind; the time for your hyperactive thoughts from the day to disperse.
  • Do all the above guilt free, this is the time to be kind to yourself.

Resources

The 5am Club by Robin Sharma – A story that encourages you to get up early, create positive habits and utilise your time to improve your life

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle – A life changing book, and if you can’t be bothered to read it you can listen to Oprah Winfrey interviewing Tolle about each individual chapter on her podcast Super Soul Conversations.

Yoga with Adriene– Free yoga classes for all abilities led by a lovely kooky lady and her dog.

Day Three

knit-869221_1920 (1)

One of my good friends said to me yesterday ‘What an earth do we do with all this time?’ ‘You need a project!’ I said.

Creating something new is immensely satisfying and very good for you.

Theory

Activities like knitting, writing, painting and drawing help you to reach Flow State. Flow State is the feeling you get when you become so engrossed in an activity that it begins to feel effortless. One of the main traits of Flow State is losing all awareness of time; you may have sat down at 5pm and the next time you look at your watch it’s 8pm. Where has the time gone? You’ve been in Flow!

Flow State was recognised and named by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in 1975. He discovered that this highly focused state appears when your skills perfectly match the demands of the task, when you have a clear goal and a reward in mind and there’s immediate feedback. Csikszentmihalyi states that entering Flow can help you reach a sense of inner clarity, as when you’re engaged in Flow your mind is fixed on the challenge in hand instead of unnecessary ruminations. Not only does Flow State help you to find a moments peace (or 3 hours) it can also bring great satisfaction and a sense of achievement.

So, taking up a new hobby can really help to ease and focus your mind!

Ideas

  • Pick up that dusty guitar and learn to play a new song – Ultimate Guitar Tabs is a good place to start.
  • Write a poem, write a song, write a short story, or simply do some free writing.
  • Extend your creativity out to the house, make tired furniture look pretty, revamp a shelf, make your houseplants jumpers.
  • Try out a new recipe, get creative in the kitchen.
  • Upcycle an old jacket, mend the holes in your favourite jumper, embroider over the dried paint on your jeans.
  • Take up a new hobby, something that feels challenging but achievable. This could be weaving, making jewelry, crochet, leatherwork, spoon carving, gardening, sewing, origami, wood work, model making, singing, calligraphy and the list goes on….

Apps for creating

Thisissand – An incredibly addictive app that you can download onto your phone or computer, which lets you create pictures using virtual sand! It’s hard to explain, picture below!

Pinterest– A well of art projects and ideas, which you can pin to a virtual board

Coffitivity – If you can’t create without background noise this is the app for you! Coffitivity recreates the ambient sounds of a cafe to boost your creativity and help you work better.

Free knitting + crochet patterns

Katie Jones knit– Fun, bright, funky festival crochet projects, some are free some are not but all money goes to Katie, and I’m all for supporting the independent creators!

Ravelry– you have to sign up but it’s free and there’s loads of free patterns to choose from

Youtube – I have taught myself to knit using youtube, and if I can do it so can you! I’ve just finished my first jumper, it’s just a shame I can’t leave the house to show it off!!

For more ideas of activities that help you reach Flow State click here

See you tomorrow,

Katie

x

fb

http://www.thisissand.com

Day Two

CONNECT

Social distancing may mean staying away from close friends and family, but it doesn’t mean we can’t connect in other ways. In fact, I think I’ve spoken to more close friends and family on the phone in the last few days than I would do in a whole week.

It’s an act of self-care to reach out and say ‘I’m scared’ or ‘I’m not coping well’ or ‘how long do I need to soak these pulses for?’!! Us humans need each other, and there are so many ways that we can prevent feeling lonely even when we’re alone.

Theory

The phrase ‘safety in numbers’ holds many truths. We are inherently social creatures; our ancestors would have quickly learnt that living closely together was crucial to their survival. That’s because when we’re living in a large group, we are better able to source food and water, be protected from predators, tend to the sick and protect our young from danger. It makes sense to stick together.

So, it can feel hugely counter intuitive to distance yourself from your tribe. However, we are very fortunate to have technology on our side. So, I encourage you to think creatively about connecting with your loved ones, any form of connection is going to make you feel listened to, loved and included, which are crucial to your well-being.

Ideas

  • Organise a weekly Skype date with a friend. Me and one of my friends have decided to meet over Skype every Tuesday for lunch. Just having this in my now unpredictable diary feels like a real lifeline.
  • Move your groups and meetups online. This week my choir decided to meet on Zoom, a video conferencing platform which lets you call multiple people at the same time. With a lot of trial and error we decided the best way of singing ‘together’ was to have one person lead a song and the rest of us switch off our microphones and sing along in our separate parts. Even though this didn’t give the fullest effect of singing in a group, it felt good to sing in harmony with the lead and lovely to see a whole bunch of singing faces!
  • Write some letters. I don’t know about you, but I love receiving a letter! It’s such a treat to recognise someone’s handwriting and to have something physical from your loved one to stick on your fridge! Writing a letter will naturally encourage you to make time to sit down and check in with how you’re feeling. Sending it to someone in your life that might not have access to technology means they’ll also benefit.
  • Speak to someone you love. Hearing a familiar voice is so comforting, so pick up the phone and call someone you love.
  • Cook with a friend. I have a friend who’s not the most confident cook, In the past I’ve promised to write down recipes but never got around to it. So to stay connected I’ve told her to contact me when she gets stuck and I’ll do an over the phone ready steady cook with her.

If you have any ideas or are organising any online event, please get in touch and i’ll add it to the list!