From the calorie-counting to the macros, the expensive yoga pants to the juicing – and not to mention the shaming – staying healthy can often seem like a big hassle. And the stress of it all may well be reversing any good that daily turmeric shot or sun salutation may be doing. But maybe the path to true health is actually simpler than you thought. So this post is all about priority health!
Here are a few simple readjustments you can make for a big and yet hassle-free positive impact on your health!
Mission: Priority Health – Starts here!
Intuitive eating is an approach to health and food refreshingly far removed from diets, meal plans, discipline or willpower. Instead, it’s about listening to your body’s natural cues like hunger, satisfaction, and the very real need behind your seemingly self-destructive cravings. It’s about learning to trust your body around food again.
Maybe your craving for sugar comes from your brain’s very real need for glucose – so reach for some high-sugar fruit (or something more decadent if you fancy)! Just as your craving for chocolate could be due to low magnesium levels, or if it’s crisps you’re pining for then your body may actually be begging you for some salt. On the other hand, your cravings could simply come from a place of boredom, loneliness or even dehydration. Ditch the fads and learn to truly recognise what your body is asking for and when it is hungry or full, if it needs sugars, certain vitamins or minerals, or even just water – and finally be able to give it what it needs. Your body is on your side, after all!
It’s always beneficial to both your physical and mental health to think positive. If you keep a regular gratitude journal, then you will be no stranger to identifying and noting down the positive aspects of your life. What is it that makes you feel happy, appreciated, or proud? It could be a one-off achievement, experience or compliment. Or it could be a long-term blessing, a hobby, a person, or a talent you possess that you perhaps need to appreciate more.
Either way, it comes with many health and wellbeing benefits to actively point out what generates positive vibes in your life. And the act of physically writing them down forces you to pay them the attention that they deserve, shifting your focus and encouraging within you a deeper sense of gratitude and joy. So whether it’s as you wake up, throughout the day, or before you go to bed, incorporate recognition of your blessings into your daily routine and reap the health benefits of the practice.
Meditation can be so much more than forcing yourself to silently sit still. Now that the Buddhism-derived practice has become more mainstream, for many it is less of a spiritual exercise and more of a way to find calmness, reconnect with yourself and your senses, and to encourage your breathing to slow down, and your mind to pause and reboot. Practising meditation reduces the stress hormone, cortisol, which can actually have a transformative effect on your overall health.
There are now many apps, Youtube videos and other technologies out there now – if guided meditation is your thing. Or, if you prefer to break away from technology to truly feel relaxed and grounded, then adding other elements such as exercise, nature or bathing to your practice may be the answer to your chatty mind struggles. You won’t know what works for you until you try them all!
It’s no revelation that spending time in nature is absolutely transformative for both mental and physical wellbeing. So much so, that doctors in Scotland are now prescribing nature to patients due to its proven health benefits. Similarly, the Guardian reported that the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku – literally, “forest bath” – which is now gaining popularity worldwide, ‘…has the power to counter illnesses including cancer, strokes, gastric ulcers, depression, anxiety and stress, he says. It boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure and aids sleep.’
Indeed, taking some time out in nature to temporarily swap pavements and traffic for rolling hills and trees is like a reset for the psyche. We too come from nature after all, and are not built to be indoors or stare at a screen for the majority of the day. Some quiet time out of the city – even just for half an hour or so – can be just the tonic you need to separate yourself from the artificial world of expectations, notifications, and deadlines, quieten your chatty mind, and get some much-needed perspective.
Never underestimate the unassuming power of decent sleep on your health and wellbeing!
An occasional night without sleep makes you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it won’t harm your health. However, the NHS warns that after several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. ‘Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You’ll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day.’
If it continues, lack of sleep can affect your overall health and make you prone to serious medical conditions, from appetite and weight fluctuations, to hormone imbalances, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and a weakened immune system.
Finally: we always focus on our “goal body” or some distant perception of alleged “#LifeGoals” – but it’s only when we love and accept where we’re at right now that we make real progress. Haven’t you noticed that the moment you stop fretting over something – be it your weight, your skin, or your social or love life – that’s when you notice a real positive change?
For many things in life, obsessing over how you could do better, or dwelling on how bad the cards you’ve been dealt may be, only exacerbate the issue. So try to just let it go, give yourself a break from the self-criticism, and commit to loving yourself no matter what. Take care of yourself by following the simple steps mentioned above but with your overall wellbeing as the main goal – and the rest will surely come.
Staying healthy can be simple, really!
Never feel like this promise of health and wellbeing is out of your reach. True health and happiness costs nothing and is as simple as eating, sleeping, and breathing. It doesn’t require any influencer-endorsed herbal tea, gym equipment or face cream.
Focus on tending to the core elements of your physical and emotional wellbeing and the rest will follow!
What’s your health and wellbeing secret? Let us know in the comments!