This week we’re talking about mindful wellbeing and the impact this has on your health. We know that embracing a regular practice of mindfulness can reap huge rewards.
In this blog, we have 10 tips we give clients at the BePure clinic to incorporate mindful wellbeing into their life quickly and effectively.
Over the course of the day - or week - our moods can change drastically. Even if we start our day with a nourishing morning routine, eat a delicious whole foods diet, get enough sleep and ensure we get the essential nutrients we need for good health, we are still prone to negative changes in our outlook.
Here we have 10 ways we recommend at the BePure clinic to incorporate mindful wellbeing into your life to improve your health and mood.
1. Not sweating the small stuff
An imbalance of stress is incredibly harmful to our bodies. Stress is unpleasant, even when it is fleeting. A stressful situation — whether something environmental, such as a looming work deadline, or psychological, such as persistent worry about a health condition— can trigger a cascade of stress hormones that produce well-orchestrated physical changes.
We can’t remove all stress from our lives, but where possible let the little things slide. This goes for food, too. If you’re worried or stressed when you’re eating that your food isn’t organic, spray free or grass fed, what nutrients are in your food will not be absorbed as effectively as if you made peace with the process.
Sit down to eat meals, enjoy them with friends, and try not to attribute guilt to a food choice.
2. Appreciation and practicing gratefulness
Sometimes ‘getting healthy’ can seem like an arduous process. Especially if we try to stick to our wellness regime strictly. Learning to stop and appreciate the little things in your life that bring you joy will add greatly to your happiness and health overall.
It doesn’t have to be a lot. Start a gratitude practice where you are thankful for three things daily. It could be a warm cup of peppermint tea on a cold day. It could be a hug from your child. It could literally be that you are thankful you had time to be thankful for something!
Learning to appreciate beauty and happiness in and amongst the mundane is a skill that will serve you greatly. Being healthy isn’t about white-knuckling your way through a diet or exercise plan. It’s about living a life that feels happy and enjoyable to you while giving you the energy you need.
3. Wind down with your legs up the wall
I love taking time out to wind down by putting my legs up the wall. This posture is one of the most nourishing, grounding and calming poses and we recommend it for clients when they’re feeling overwhelmed, tired, or stressed.
Lie on your back with your sit-bones around four fingers away from the wall. From there, extend your legs up the wall, so that the backs of your legs are resting fully against it. If you're struggling with getting your legs straight you can put a blanket or blocks under your hips to elevate them, creating a slight inversion in your lower belly.
Place your hands on your belly and breathe. Doing this pose for just 2-5 minutes activates your parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for your rest and restore response. It returns blood flow back to your central organs helping engage your rest and digest system and is great to do just before bed to promote sleep.
4. Belly breathing
Similar to legs up the wall, belly breathing helps to calm your central nervous system. Next time you're experiencing stress notice what happens to your breath. Usually, we switch to shallow breathing from our chest. This triggers a bodily response that we are under stress or danger, activating our sympathetic nervous system and fight or flight response.
Instead, sit in a comfortable chair or lie on the floor with your hands on your belly. You can even do it sitting at your desk or driving your car. Gently breathe in and out until you notice your hands rising and falling with each breathe. Do ten deep and slow breathes to active your rest and digest nervous system. This is great to do just before eating.
5. Get up, get moving
In our pillar of health on movement, I talked about doing the right type of exercise for you. The purpose of exercise is to balance out your body’s response to psychological or physiological stress.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed or out of sorts, doing more gentle and restorative forms of movement such as walking, swimming yoga or stretching is the most nourishing type of movement for you. I recommend getting outside in nature as you also get the benefits of vitamin D along with attuning to the rhythms of the natural world.
Saying a daily affirmation or mantra is a great way to set an intention for the day ahead. We often recommend it to clients who are prone to overthinking or are in the midst of a challenging situation.
A mantra is a sound, syllable or group of words which, when recited, are regarded as capable of producing spiritual transformation. Actually, an affirmation or mantra is a word common in the eastern world and is itself made up of two words: man meaning "mind," and tra meaning "instrument." So, a mantra is "an instrument of the mind.
What I like most about mantras is that they are intended to be said daily. That is, they work through repetition and habit. They help you establish routine and healthy habits irrespective of food or exercise.
Some good ones to try are “I am capable of anything” or “I trust my body to help me” or “I find peace in this moment.” It can be whatever comes to mind to help you personally.
Meditation is an easy, effective tool for counterbalancing the stresses of modern life, finding inner calm and helping us tackle life with a more positive attitude. It doesn’t have to be a particular meditation practice. Simply sitting down for ten minutes and focusing on your breath is a great place to start.
If you’re completely new to meditating there are great apps like Headspace that can help.
8. Eating consciously and chewing your food
This is a core concept at the heart of mindfulness. Sitting down without distraction from food allows our body to be in the best possible state to digest the nutrients we are eating.
Digestion actually begins before the food enters our mouths, with our eyes and our nose. When we see and smell food we begin the process of cephalic digestion, where our stomach produces the gastric acids necessary for digestion.
We recommend sitting at your table and eating with all your senses. Before you eat look at what’s on your plate and inhale the aromas. When you do begin to eat, chew your food thoroughly to help your system break down the food. This will reduce bloating and gas as you aren’t swallowing air down quickly with each mouthful.
9. Check for nutritional deficiencies
Sometimes we can do all the “right” things but a persistent bad mood or feeling low could actually be something really simple to fix. Deficiencies can deplete our bodies of the nutrients they need for basic enzymatic reactions for things like sleep, digestion and processing hormones within our system. All pretty vital things for managing stress and promoting positive mood.
Nutrient deficiencies can creep up at different times, even if you think not a lot has changed in your day-to-day life. Short periods of work stress, affected sleep, increased exercise or a seasonal illness can all throw your nutrient status out of balance.
You can test for zinc deficiency with our functional taste test. For other common nutrient deficiencies, you can read our recent blog on essential nutrients.
10. Taking time out, just for you
Between social media, work and family commitments it can seem like we are never truly on our own. Solitude is important for processing emotions and truly getting in touch with what is going on for you.
We need to schedule alone time like we would any regular appointment. Many of the suggestions in this list also qualify as alone time such as legs up the wall or meditation. But time where you are uncontactable and thinking about the things - or nothing - that you want is vital.
For me, my morning ride to the clinic is my solitude. It allows me to think without distraction. It’s also a form of meditation in nature and if I haven’t done it for several days I feel a bit “off”.
Next time you’re feeling a bit off colour, try one of the items on this list. Let us know how you get on!