Looking after YOU through the busy festivities.
As we busy ourselves towards the end of the year and life keeps ramping up, we work harder and push ourselves more to meet every demand. Winter means dark nights that can sap our energy (and enthusiasm) but there is no need to forfeit our physical and mental health through the next month.
So, I’ve put together a few top tips as we head towards the busy period to consider. These naturally focus on the 4 pillars of health- Nutrition, Sleep, Movement and Mind.
Cooking plant based, nutrient-rich, seasonal produce from scratch because its the richest in fibre and ultimately make you feel the best version of yourself. If you are meeting up with friends and eating out, fill half your plate with abundant, colourful food to ensure you are getting enough variation for the microbiome to flourish. Your greens are powerhouses in growing good bacteria, reducing inflammation, balancing pH levels, boosting energy, losing weight and beating the bloat.
If you feel you are craving something salty or sweet after a night out (or not) it can be your body’s way of signalling that it needs something. Salty foods like crisps or carbs could be a sign of dehydration and that electrolytes are out of balance. Electrolytes are chemicals in your blood, urine and sweat that help hydrate the body and regulate muscle and nerve function. Drink water before you reach for that bag or bowl! Sugary or sweet foods - This suggests your blood sugar levels are low. So try to eat foods with a low glymic index like any green vegetables, most fruits, raw carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas. Try chopping up a sweet potato into cubes, season well and add a can of chickpeas with harissa paste and olive oil mixed in the oven for 20 minutes. Delicious, it hits the spot and is so good for you.
Know what your drinking – Try not to mix too much sugar and alcohol. Mixing sugary drinks with alcohol is especially bad because, in addition to the extra calories from the alcohol, the sugar will cause blood sugar fluctuations, which will cause hunger pangs. If you are having more than a few drinks, clear spirits with soda water and fresh lime or lemon is a good option while keeping you hydrated.
Drink lots of water on a night out. Don't be afraid to skip a round having some water. You can always fall back on the 'tomorrow is a big day and I need to be on form' reason.
Sleep deprivation was used as torture for a reason and can disrupt your moods and hormones, causing flare-ups of gut symptoms as well as being grumpy and less motivated. Having seven to nine hours of sleep per night allows your body, mind and gut to rest and repair. Sleep plays a huge part in maintaining our energy levels, keeping our immune systems strong, along with our heart and brain health, and of course our digestion.
If you regularly have too little sleep, it can leave you feeling stressed out over things that wouldn’t normally bother you and stressing out before bed can really ruin the quality of sleep. I always leave my phone downstairs so that if I wake up and reach for it to check the time, I cant and just go back to sleep.
The next six weeks are bound to throw you off your regular routine but instead of thinking you will pick back up on it in January, think of your movement as your 'me time'. It's a moment to yourself to get some headspace while looking after your body.
If you can only squeeze in a 15-20-minute window for any movement during this busy time, pencil it in, and do it. Consistency is key. Diarise it and stay accountable. On the days where you really don't have much time, make sure to schedule in a short few minutes meditation to focus on your body and slow down your breathing.
The reward to our movement is the dopamine release helping us feel as if we have accomplished something. A basic need of ours is to contribute making us feel like we have achieved something. Movement is one way to feel as though you have succeeded at something. Set some time aside to complete something good for yourself to create a sense of personal achievement and activate the reward centre of your brain.
Try to set some time aside daily to express your thankfulness for your loved ones, friends, colleagues, career, health, and any other blessings that spring to mind. Research shows that expressing gratitude helps mood and taking a moment to appreciate what you have in life helps make the rest of the day go more smoothly. This can take a minute or two to reflect on special someone.
I love the metaphor of seeing yourself in an auditorium playing out your life. Look into the audience and see whose is in front row -that’s your inner circle. Who has middle seats, back row, upper circle ect.
Remember helping others is a great way to help ground ourselves and remember whats important. During the festive period there are many many people that need help and that’s what this season is really all about.