Make one change a week to boost your physical and mental wellbeing over the next 6 weeks
At times like this, it’s easy to feel helpless because there are so many things we can’t control. But, as I often say to clients, rather than dwelling on the things we can’t change and can’t control, we should let these go and identify what we can change instead. At a time like this, I think focusing on the things we can do for our overall wellbeing is a good place to start.
All the changes below are simple, realistic and hopefully completely achievable, even in isolation. I suggest starting with one change and then when that becomes imbedded as habits, introduce another change. Most people are shocked to discover how much of a difference small changes like these can actually make to their health.
Note: I first wrote this before the coronavirus lockdown and supermarket shortages so I apologize in advance if the food-related swaps below are not available, but HOPEFULLY the stockpiling madness is over and you’ll be able to get most of these bits in the supermarkets now or in the near future. But as Government advice states please only shop when necessary. Don’t make a special trip for any of the bits mentioned below.
- Change the first thing you do in the morning – what is the first thing you do every morning – is it something mindful and energising or something stressful and negative? Try replacing your first-morning action with something positive and helpful. For me, this is always a 10-20 minutes following a guided meditation in bed or journalling. For you it might be some light stretching or reading a book. Start your day right with something which is nourishing just for you before you face the reality of the day.
- Supercharge your breakfast by replacing oats for quinoa flakes in your porridge – this can really help to keep your energy and blood sugars balanced throughout the day. Quinoa is technically a seed so higher in protein than oats and will keep you feeling fuller for longer, start by switching in 50% quinoa flakes (and add some seeds like chia and pumpkin for an extra boost) you should avoid reaching for the biscuit tin mid-morning.
- Mix up your exercise routine – movement is essential for our wellbeing and this situation has already forced a lot of people to change the exercise they do. I know I can no longer go swimming (sadly don’t have a house with a pool – yet!) so I’m trying running again, doing online yoga and thinking about trying some more online workouts. There are so many options out there on Youtube and social media so just have a bit of a search and embrace the opportunity to mix things up a bit. Most of the videos can be followed at home with minimal equipment but if that feels like too much right now why not simply commit to walking around your house – up and down stairs or even just standing and pacing around the room where you are working every time you’re on a call. It will definitely help towards those 10,000 steps a day.
- Switch out your toast for a lentil cake – if you follow me on Instagram you’ve probably already heard me going on about Kallo lentil cakes so sorry for repeating myself but – hands up – I am a little obsessed. Technically yes they’re still a processed food which we don’t want to have too much of, but I think they’re a better option than most bread and processed snacks on the market and here’s why: they’re low in sugar and salt; contain only natural ingredients; are naturally higher protein and gluten-free. The higher protein content will help keep your blood sugar more balanced than bread – did you know a slice of white bread will spike your blood sugar as quickly as a Snickers bar? (one of my favourite facts!) So a useful store cupboard staple to keep on hand I think. They work well for any meal or snack topped with nut butter and slices of banana, mashed avocado, hummus etc.
- Swap your afternoon cuppa for a herbal tea – caffeine has a half-life of 6 hours – which means if you have a cup of tea (or coffee) at 4 pm half of that caffeine will still be in your system at 10 pm when you’re trying to wind down and get ready to sleep. Decaf is an option – but I always suggest choosing organic naturally processed decaf which means the caffeine is removed with water rather than harsh chemicals. But even better would be to try a herbal tea. There are so many options out there but my favourite afternoon tea of choice if rooibos with a splash of milk. It’s hydrating and won’t spike your cortisol (your stress hormone) like caffeine will so it will keep you feeling calm and in control all afternoon.
- Swap your scroll time for some soul time – we are all guilty of spending too much time mindlessly scrolling on our phones and now more than ever over-consuming news and information can actually be really negative for our mental health. Whether it’s the news or seeing other people “coping better than you are” on social media. Try switching off your phone for one hour (or less if this feels like too much to start with) once or twice a week and focusing that time on something which makes your soul sing. It might be reading, writing, drawing, sewing, dancing… whatever makes you smile and feel your best.