Simple but effective wellbeing tweaks you can start today and enjoy for life
Growing older doesn’t have to mean creaky joints, memory gaps and a middle-age spread. You’ve had your body a while, you know it inside out and, in some ways, you’re just getting into your stride with how you’ll be operating for the rest of your life. What better time to stop and take stock of your life habits than now, when you’re in your prime? We’ve pulled together some of the best, simple upgrades that you can implement today and ride the wave of wellbeing into old age.
Liz Shaw, health and fitness tutor for The Training Room says, “When you feel stressed or out of control, your body is going into ‘fight or flight’ mode on the inside. That means your heart’s racing and you’re palpating, but if you can, focus on your breathing and bring it back under normal control, it can help to manage those feelings.”
Numerous studies have shown that decluttering can be good for your soul. A messy space can make you anxious, prevent you from getting high-quality sleep and make it harder for you to concentrate. So, have a good clear out. You can download a printable six-week home decluttering plan for free from plasticboxshop.co.uk
NICE guidelines recommend getting at least 150 minutes of exercise per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. This can help prevent and manage conditions such as coronary heart disease, type two diabetes, stroke, mental health and musculoskeletal problems. It has a positive effect on mental wellbeing, too! As we navigate these uncertain times, try yoga in your living room, workouts in your garden or squats while making the dinner.
Many of us spend our time either analysing the past or worrying about the future, which is a huge waste of our energy. “It’s human nature to think in this way,” says Liz, “but try plugging yourself into the present moment and your life will feel so much richer, whatever you’re doing.” Try Headspace or Stop, Breathe & Think apps for free meditation and mindfulness exercise
Did you know that having your feet measured is just as important for adults as it is for children? “As we get older, our feet become longer and wider,” says Tony Gavin, CEO and podiatrist for Osgo Healthcare (osgo.co.uk). “Many shoe shops offer a measuring service for adults and you might be surprised by the results.”
According to Lyndsay Hirst, yourpilatesphysio.com, there are lots of variations on the Pilates method, but the method that is best suited to joint health is clinical Pilates (it is modified to be suitable for those over 50 with more emphasis on joint mobility and control). Try it out for yourself at yourpilatesphysio.com
“It may look prettier to round off the corners of your toenails when trimming them,” says Tony, “ but a rounded nail can become ingrown which causes pain and discomfort.”
“Decide every morning, when you are in the shower, how you want your day to be,” suggests Iona Russell, hypnotherapist, life coach and author of Making Waves. “Starting with a positive mindset, telling yourself in the mirror that you’re going to have a good day, will start your morning on the right foot.”
Many of us don’t give our feet a second thought, but they could hold vital clues to our wellbeing. “When washing, drying and moisturising your feet,” says Tony, “take a moment to examine them for any changes. Open sores or discolouration of the nails can be the sign of an underlying health condition.” See your GP with any concerns.
Invest in essential oils and a diffuser for your home and use different oils for different rooms depending on your mood or activity, “this will also help you breathe more mindfully,” adds Liz.
Running is great for keeping your heart and lungs healthy and your body fit, but it’s also great for the mind, too. “If you like to go running,” Liz suggests, “you could consciously think about how your feet are pounding down on the ground and how the wind is going through your hair to connect with the space and elements around you and remain in the present moment.”
According to research published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, loneliness increases your risk of developing dementia by 65 percent, partly because it causes harmful inflammation to the brain. If you’re struggling with selfisolation and need to reach out, call The Samaritans for free on 116 123.
We don’t have to tell you how important it is to drink enough water, it helps regulate our body temperature, flush out toxins and keep us regular. It’s also vital for lubricating joints and protecting the brain. But if you tend to forget, make your drink irresistible with ice, fresh fruit, frozen berries and keep a big jug of it in front of you so you’ll be tempted to sip all day long.
Funny as it sounds, taking in a deep noseful of this fragrant herb could be the solution to keeping your brain young, according to a recent study by Northumbria University. Researchers found that the compound that gives rosemary its distinctive smell aids a chemical which is key to memory. Try diffusing the oil in a room or applying it to your pulse points with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, to gain its many benefits.
“Being amongst trees is scientifically proven to reduce stress levels,” says Liz. “The reason for this is because trees give off certain essential oils (specifically phytoncides) which bring your stress levels down and your immunity levels up.”
This idea takes the gratitude list a step further, but it’s something that could enrich your life and lift your spirits. “ List everything that makes you happy and brings you joy,” suggests Iona. “Then turn the page over, and list all the things you would love to do – but seem unattainable. Each day make sure you are ticking off the first list – and planning something off the second list.
Being surrounded by nature whilst indoors can have a calming effect and lower stress levels. Add natural materials to your home, like shells and driftwood as decorative art or choose natural panels, exposed brick and stone in your home decor. Try foresthomestore.com for inspiration.
Being grateful sounds easy, but how many of us actually practise it on a daily basis? “Each day, make a list (in your head or in a journal) of what you are grateful for,” says Iona, “Then before you go to bed, repeat the exercise. Finish on a positive, and list all the things that have gone well that day. Keep it simple.”
New research from the Université de Montréal in Canada has revealed that being bilingual could help your mind in later life. This is because your brain is able to save power by being more efficient and economical when carrying out tasks, meaning that you’re also less likely to be distracted. Try language app Babbel (babbel.com), which offers 13 different tongues in 15 minute online lessons.
Constantly running through things in our brains can leave us feeling exhausted and stressed. Iona suggests simply putting them down on paper, “But here’s the trick,” she says, “only write three or four things down at a time. Endless long lists add to overwhelm.”
Limit yourself to one or two cups per day and enjoy them mindfully, then have water the rest of the time. “From plumping up your intervertebral discs and reducing fatigue to making your joints work better during exercise, improving your skin, and flushing out toxins, water has a ton of benefits,” says Liz.
A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that those who napped for around an hour after their midday meal had better overall cognition compared to those who didn’t snooze. In fact, the difference was so great it was the equivalent to what a five-year increase in age would be expected to cause. Sweet dreams!
Studies have shown that laughing can lower blood pressure, reduce stress and boost immunity. So, call your most hilarious friend, FaceTime with your family or try out laughter yoga (laughteryoga.co.uk) and get giggling regularly.
Many of us are careful with what goes into our bodies, but not what we put on our faces. Upgrade to organic beauty brands that contain ingredients you recognise from nature (for example, coconut oil, jojoba oil and lavender). Check out our Natural Health Beauty Awards on naturalhealth.com/awards.
The Journal of Molecular Science reported that a natural plant compound found in green tea, called epigallocatechin gallate, could cross the blood-brain barrier and promote the creation of new brain cells (neurogenesis). So, put the kettle on!
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