24 tips for Advent 2016. What will you try today?
It’s time for fun and family but for many of us it can also be a stressful time juggling work, family and the extra pressure that Christmas can bring.
I thought I would do a little advent calendar of tips I use every day when seeing my patients.Something for you to think about and used in your days leading up to and throughout the holiday period.Try it for one day and see how you feel. These tips and tricks are there to help you rebalance your life and help you feel better. Dip in and out as you feel you need a boost.
To start – let’s take the analogy of making a cake (thank you Andrea Morrison!)
You have to get the right balance of the ingredients to get the cake you want – too much of one ingredient will create a different consistency in the cake. In life we are looking at balancing nutrition, stress management, movement, sleep and the biggest factor of all – our nutrition. So here are my tips:
Stress Management Tips
1. Notice what are your thoughts saying to day? I should be doing this, I should be doing that!
What about changing it to I want to do this today and I want to do that. A slight difference in thought makes all the difference.
2 “Time to relax is when you don’t have time for it!“ Sydney J Harris .
Taking time out from your day to do something nice for yourself, read a magazine, listen to a piece of music that you love or do a breathing exercise (see below). Taking the times means you will be re-energised to get through the day.
3. Gratitude Journaling.
Writing 3 things you are grateful for each morning before you start your daily routine. It gives you a real boost and set’s you up for a productive day.
4. Deep breathing techiniques are great for relaxation. There are number breathing techniques out there. Try the following:
- Sit or lie down comfortably, with your feet flat on the floor.
- Put one hand on your upper chest, and the other on your abdomen, just under your ribcage. Feel yourself breathing and become aware of how deeply or shallowly you are breathing
- Take a deep breath, feeling your abdomen rise as you breathe. Your upper hand should move very little, while your abdomen lifts your other hand. Imagine a feeling of warmth as the breath moves from your mouth, down your throat, into your lungs, and your diaphragm expands.
- Hold the breath for a count of four.
- Exhale slowly through your nose for a count of four.
- Inhale slowly to a count of four, feeling the warmth of your breath and your abdomen rising. Try to keep your chest relatively still. Hold the breath for four, then exhale slowly, and repeat
5. What about mindful movement a great physical way to relax when you are feeling anxious:
- Relax your shoulders and tuck your chin slightly.
- Breathe in and out, and then inhale as you bring your arms out to the side, raising them slowly up over your head as you inhale.
- Exhale as you let your arms lower, and then bring your hands in to rest on your abdomen.
- Repeat, raising and lowering your arms, at least five times
6. Have you ever tried a mindful meditation . Headspace is a great app to look at .10 mins a day to help you to feel calmer
7. Have you had your phyto nutrients (food from plants) today?
Plants contain thousands of compounds that communicate with the cells in the body and change how it functions. They can help regulate blood sugar and lower LDL cholesterol. Challenge is to eat 6 different colours of plant foods each day.
8. Dietary fibre is critical for proper health and digestion. Have you tried flax seeds?
Ground Flax seed is one of the richest sources of omega 3. and an excellent source of fiber. Ligands in flax seed are antioxidant and provide physto estrogen and help prevention of the CVD and insulin resistance.
9. Eat good fats! Have you ever tried coconut oil in your cooking or avocado oil?
Balancing dietary fat is a first line approach to minimising inflammation in the body. Other foods with good fat are fish, leafy greens nuts and seeds.
10. Which protein should you eat and why organic? Clean protein is lower in toxins and higher in omega 3 fatty acids. The turkey you might be having for Christmas dinner is great lean meat and it contains B6, Selenium, Phosphors which helps you keep your red blood cells healthy and reduced tiredness and fatigue. Also contains amino acid tryptophan which produces serotonin and is essential for the immune system. Bring on the Turkey!
11. Hydration helps rid the body of toxins, builds resilience to stress, enhances metabolism and promotes satiety. Let’s start with having 6-8 glasses of water a day. Try putting an alarm on you phone hourly and drink a glass each hour. See how you feel. Great for your skin too!
12. Avocado: what can you do with this? It is a source of good fibre, healthy monounsaturated fat and potassium. A great anti inflammatory food. What can you do with It? Crushed avocado on gluten free crackers with some chilli flakes on top, salt and pepper.
13. Handful of nut and seeds today cashew and almonds has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic disease and at least 1 to 2 servings a day. What do your almonds look like? Mine have pure cacao powder sprinkled on top. Heat some honey in a pan with vanilla essence, until honey is runny. Put in a cup of almonds. Put 2 tabs of cocoa and ½ tsp of salt in a plastic bag. Put the amends in the bag and shake. It’s done.
14. Hard to do but worth it – reduce your simple sugars. Stop all processed sugars and sweeteners. What about a lower sugar fruit like a blue berry, strawberry, kiwi, or a green apple?
15. Eat more red/blue coloured fruit and vegetables as they all contain anti-inflammatory nutrients , blueberries, red cabbage, onion, red bell peppers, red grapes and cherries are all good sources.
16. Have you tried a protein shake for breakfast? This will stoke your metabolic fire
Basic smoothie recipe:
Berries – 1 serving
Fat – 2 servings( full fat coconut milk, avocado)
Nuts and Seeds – 2 servings ( almonds, cashew etc)
Liquid – 1 serving of dairy alternative (nut or seed milk)
Protein – 1-2 scoops of a clean pea protein
Extras to make up the smoothie e.g. kiwi, strawberries leafy greens etc.
To be done with support from a health practitioner and your ability. It’s not supposed to be a prescription but something to try:
17. Get up and get walking, at least 20 min a day. It gets you out into the open air and away from the computer. Reduces BP and makes you feel better in yourself
18.Have you ever tried a HiTT exercise? Not advisable for all people but high intensity can help when managing blood sugars. 30 sec doing as many start jumps or burpee exercises in 30 and then have 60 sec off. Try that 4 times a day. ( take care with it !)
19. Low intensity exercise such as yoga three times a week can be helpful if you are feeling tired.
20. Movement in your day helps with you mental health and can be stress relieving – try taking the stairs instead of the escalator in shopping centres.
21. Making sure you make time for sleep. Having a regular sleep and wake up time will help. Plan to sleep for 8 1/2 hours a day.
22. Take a hot salt/soda aromatherapy bath—raising your body temperature before sleep helps induce sleep. A hot bath also relaxes muscles and reduces tension. Add 1-2 cups Epson salts (magnesium sulfate absorbed through the skin is very relaxing), to 1 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate which is alkalizing to a stressed out acidic body) and 10 drops lavender oil (helps lower cortisol levels.
23. Consider taking Magnesium to help with sleep – it is a well known cure for insomnia.
24. Get a lovely note book and try writing all the thoughts before you go to bed and this often helps the mind settle. Set your intention for sleep and for the next day.
I will be putting up tips throughout December on my Twitter @indra_barathan and my Facebook so make sure you like the Facebook page and follow me on Twitter so you don’t miss out! Look out for my January blog at the end of December.