7 Easy Steps to Wellbeing in 2021
As 2021 unfolds, it feels more important than ever to encourage optimum wellbeing by prioritising a healthy diet and lifestyle. Here are a few simple tips that can easily be incorporated into your daily routine:
1. Keep Well Hydrated
Low fluid intake can lead to a drop in PH levels, which increases acidity in the body, diminishes cell function and affects overall wellbeing. Stay well hydrated by taking in approximately 2 litres of fluid throughout the day. For an added boost, you can drink water stored overnight in a copper container, steep ginger in a flask of boiled water or enjoy Tulsi and Turmeric teas (from fresh ingredients if possible), all of which have been used as health boosting tonics for generations.
2. Maintain Good Gut Health
A lot is written about gut health and it can feel like quite a project to keep up with it all, but here are a few key pointers to improve your digestion:
Eat your main meal at midday and don't eat after 7pm.
Chew your food well, eating in a relaxed environment.
Balance your blood sugars by eating adequate protein with each meal (25% protein per main meal and 50% protein in every snack).
Fill your plate with a good range of vegetables.
Avoid gut irritants like wheat, sugar, alcohol, refined grains etc.
Probiotic supplements can be expensive, especially when taken regularly. Good home-spun alternatives are yoghurt, sourdough bread, bananas, oats, flaxseeds, pickled vegetables and a drink made from a capful of organic Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with water (and maybe honey to taste).
Ensure adequate rest. Sleep allows the body to recalibrate and repair, so receive your 7 – 8 hours daily, and ideally get a few good hours in before midnight to tone the liver. Sleep is absolutely critical to good health. If sleep doesn’t come easily, you could try some of the following:
Lie with your legs up the wall for a few minutes to settle the nervous system.
Take a few rounds of deeper breath with emphasis on the exhale in order to raise CO2 levels and induce relaxation.
Engage in Naming Meditation if the mind is overly active. This involves noticing what you are thinking about, putting a simple label on your thoughts (ie, past, future, planning, work, people etc) and then bringing your attention to the body or breath. Do this repeatedly until your thoughts slow down and sleep comes.
Drink Valerian tea (or take a valerian and hops supplement) before bed.
4. Take Immune Supports
Vitamins such C, D, Zinc, A, E, B’s, plus minerals such as Selenium and Iron all contribute to our immune health, hence being deficient in any of these will impact your immune system and its function. It is best to take them as close to food as possible but sometimes this isn’t possible, so supplements are a good substitute. Use fresh garlic, ginger, turmeric, spices, cinnamon in your cooking and eat the colour of the rainbow – lots of fruit and vegetables, every day. The Ayurvedic preparation Chawanaprash is an efficient way to boost nutrient intake, its main ingredient being amla fruit, which is high in vitamin C and which has been used as an antioxidant and superfood for many years in India. Chawanaprash also contains a lot of minerals (including iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium and zinc) and is put together using a unique formula of over 25 herbs and spices.
5. Fresh Air and Exercise
It is vital to keep the body moving in lots of different ways continually throughout the day, and if you can do this outdoors, even better. Indoor air often has a suboptimal balance of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, especially in enclosed rooms with poor ventilation. While having indoor plants can help, absolutely nothing beats stepping outside for fresh air. Fresh air generally has higher levels of oxygen (not to mention lower levels of pollution) than indoor air. Exposure to more oxygen causes the blood vessels in your lungs to dilate, which improves cleansing and tissue repair within them, and helps them exchange gases more easily. You clean up your lungs and help your body get rid of things it doesn’t need, all in one go.
Allowing your body to accommodate for changes in temperature is also health-giving, as according to this study, when your immune system adapts to cold environments, its ability to fight off infection gets stronger.
A quick internet search into the benefits of meditation throws up 171,000 results in 0.48 seconds …! Science has proven over and over that meditation is a good thing: it reduces stress, controls anxiety, promotes emotional balance, enhances self awareness, lengthens our attention span, improves memory, enhances sleep and helps with pain and addictive behaviour. There are many different types of meditation to try. I have personally practiced Transcendental Meditation daily for over 20 years, so favour that approach, but the simple technique of sitting quietly with attention on the breath can be an effective place to start.
7. Put Your Attention on Positive Things
It is generally understood that happy people are healthy people. Having suffered from depression all my adult life, I know that happiness is not something that can be forced or coerced, but it can be encouraged, particularly by putting attention on positive things. So less news bulletins and more comedy programmes! Be around upbeat, problem solving, optimistic people. Choose to see beauty even where there is ugliness (for the two always come together and we do have a choice). Be open to the possibility that seemingly negative scenarios may also have positive flips sides. Be playful. Have fun. Turn seriousness down a notch and embrace lightness, because, to quote the words of 1940s man of letters Henry S Haskins, “The darkness around us might light up somewhat if we would first practice using the light we have in the place we are.”
Photo credit: Penny Jane Fuller