Christmas is nearly here! The Christmas parties have already started, and I am sure will start coming thicker and faster the closer we get to the big day!! Have you thought about what you are going to do to make sure you last the course, stay fit and healthy and still have an awesome time!!
I am sure, like me, you are looking at the month ahead with mixed feelings of excitement and shear dread for everything that is coming up. Christmas is a wonderful time of year - full of friends, relatives and parties, none of which happen without a great deal of organising. It is very easy to succumb to the pressure of seeing everyone and doing everything to make sure you make the most out of this special time of year, and in the mellay it’s easy to let yourself fall by the way-side - and by Christmas Day you are less then the best version of who you are!!
There are so many benefits of self care, and a little can go a long way at this time of year. By taking the time to check in with yourself and make sure you’re doing okay, you benefit not only yourself, but those around you. Here are some examples of self care that may work for you this holiday season:
We all have annual traditions and activities we want to be able to squeeze into the season, but some of these can easily fall by the wayside once our calendars begin to fill up.
Beat the busy-ness at its own game by sitting down BEFORE the peak of the season and making a list of every important event and activity. Then lock in a date for each item on the list. These events and activities just became your priority. Now if anything else comes up (and it will), you can plan around your list of essentials.
If there was ever a time to over-indulge, Christmas is it. This is definitely a time of year to be mindful!!
Enjoy the dinners and parties, the odd mince pie and a slice of Christmas Cake (my fave) but in between times, try to keep things light and healthy. When we are not used to eating heavy, rich food, it not only affects our weight but it also affects our energy levels, mood and can cause fatigue.
Don’t spend all of December in a constant state of indigestion. Take care of your body, and it will reward you with plenty of energy.
When things get busy it’s easy to forget to stay on top of your fluid intake. Try and make sure that you are drinking your 2 litres of water a day to keep your energy levels high, keep your digestive system moving and, of course, prevent any possible hangovers!
Don't forget that alcohol is a diuretic - so if you know you are going to be having a few drinks, make sure that you have a large glass of water before you go out. Try and drink one glass of water between each alcoholic drink and have another large glass of water when you get home. You might have to have a wee in the night BUT your head will thank you the next day!!
Have some ME-time
Try not to think of having a few minutes every day for yourself, away from the "party", doing something just for you, as being over indulgent - its not, it’s an essential part of self care.
Find time to do your yoga stretches, take yourself off for a manicure, have a bath in Epsom salts, enjoy a few chapters of your book.
When you have literally had enough - don't push the envelope, remember you can say NO sometimes. Have an early night - skip one outing - be smart, listen to your body, and give yourself the gift of regular quiet time.
Spread the load
If you’re going to be doing a lot of entertaining over the Christmas period and that means a lot of cooking for a big crowd - think about ways you can make things easier for yourself. Try some one pot wonders or cook a few batches of Spag Bol/ Curry/ Stews in advance and freeze. Ask for help, no-one minds bringing a salad or a desert along - make things easy for yourself.
It might be hard to stick with your normal exercise routine at this time of year, but don't let your hard earned fitness go to waste. Get out into the wild and have a lovely long walk or go on a bike ride, do some stretches or check out my Vimeo www.vimeo.com/.user60530331 and find a short workout to crank up your endorphins and increase your energy levels; and of course, stand you in good stead for the inevitable extra calories that might be coming your way!
It might help you to stay o track if you get your workouts in first thing in the morning, as your routine may well get disrupted by your social life!
Remember - your exercise routine should leave your feeling energised NOT depleted!
Now is a great time to slow down on your social media intake in the name of smart self care. There’s enough to fill up your brain at this time of year without the cultural cross section of useless information begging for your attention on your social media apps.
Live in the moment - you miss so much when your head is somewhere else and distracted by social media.
The less time you spend scrolling this Christmas, the happier you’ll be.
At the end of the day, Christmas should be a wonderful time of year.
So don’t get so caught up in the craziness of it all that you leave yourself and your needs as a last priority - make sure that what ever happens you have lots and lots of FUN and see 2018 out happy and healthy!!
We had this for dinner earlier this week, it was quick, simple and delicious and full of wonderful nutrients for the brain.
Salmon is loaded with Omega 3's which help to strengthen the synapses in your brain related to memory, and tomatoes are an easy source of brain protecting carotenoids. Served with a delicious portion of steamed broccoli which is packed with antioxidants, including vitamin C and beta-carotene, and essential to keep your brain in good health.
4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 small garlic clove, smashed
1/2 a lemon, thinly sliced
3 fresh thyme sprigs
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Step 1 Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Step 2 Place the salmon in an oven proof skillet, then season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In a bowl, stir together the tomatoes, garlic, lemon slices, thyme sprigs, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over and around the salmon. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through and the tomatoes are slightly wilted, 12 to 15 minutes.
Do you know the importance of having a good posture and how your posture can affect you not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Do you watch your posture when sitting, standing, or working out? The concept of a "perfect" posture is questionable, and our postures will change throughout our years, but being aware of our posture and trying to achieve an alignment that reduces stress on our body is ideal.
Over time, bad posture can put tremendous stress on the body leading to back and neck pain, headaches, and muscle imbalances which alter lower limb alignment causing pain and injury. When you slouch or keep your back in an awkward position, your entire body suffers. Poor posture impacts every system in the body, including lung, brain, and digestive function, and it can have a dramatic affect on your confidence and self-image. Standing up straight can prevent a myriad of problems, reduce your risk of injury, help improve your balance and make you stronger.
Posture is the position in which you hold your body while standing, sitting, or lying down. Good posture is the optimal alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity. When you concentrate on standing tall, you reduce the strain on your joints and allow your muscles to work optimally to support you. Every body is different!
Your posture can be affected by so may things: the job you do, how active you are, your mood and your confidence.
Just take a second - wherever you are and become aware of your body position. Now put yourself into a slumped position and feel how that affects you mentally and physically. While you are there, try and tighten your tummy muscles and see how hard it is. Now sit up tall, and feel the difference that makes... how just sitting up tall has a positive affect on your whole attitude, and how those abdominal muscles are automatically engaged to support your back.
It’s never too late to correct your posture. Our bodies serve us so well, so as a show of gratitude take a few minutes regularly throughout the day to think about your posture, and take the strain out of your day!!
Use a mirror to identify your postural type and look at what you need to do to improve your posture.
Use can also use a wall to help you find correct alignment.
Put little stickers (red dots) around the house to remind you to check your posture regularly through the day or remember to do it every time you read a text message or boil the kettle.
For those of you who have hit that forty-plus stage of life you will be familiar with the talk about bone health and hot flushes but have you found yourself in a room forgetting what you went in there to do, or unable to remember even a single thing without writing it down. I am afraid that the hormone roller coaster does contribute to the mental fuzziness you are feeling. However you are not alone cognitive decline and dementia is on the rise and a look at the stats makes gloomy reading, but the good news is there is allot you can do to help slow that rate of decline down and even improve your brain function. The current UK and global stats for dementia and cognitive decline are frighteningly high, 850,000 people are estimated to be living with dementia in the UK and 1 in 3 people born in the UK this year will develop dementia in their life time. I am sure you will surprised to learn that the dementias are now the leading cause of death in the UK. However this is not isolated to UK and The World Health Organisation estimate that the global number of deaths due to dementia will increase by 40% from 2015 to 2030.
So the big question is - what has happened in the way that we live, what we are eating, and our environment to cause this global trend of increase in dementia. Africa has the lowest incidence of dementia, followed by Asia, Europe and then America, and so it would appear the more developed the country and the further we are from our original human habitat and nutrition and the more exposed we are to environmental pollutants and processed foods, the worse the situation.
Can lifestyle and nutritional interventions slow down cognitive decline? The good news is that I think the answer is unequivocally YES - there are definitely things that you can do regarding your lifestyle and your nutrition that will support cognitive health.
The key elements that support brain health are:
Check out The MIND diet www.healthline.com/nutrition/5-studies-on-the-mediterranean-diet and make sure that your gut health is in tip top condition too.
Stimulus & challenge
It appears that we have the ability to create new neurons in response to new situations or challenges for all of our lives SO you can teach an old dog new tricks!!
Rest & calm
Sleep is vital in the prevention of dementia www.sciencenews.org/article/sleep-brain-alzheimers-plaques-protein.
Lowering your toxic load
Consciously avoid exposure to environmental toxins (skincare, eat organic).
Movement & exercise
Increase blood flow and therefore oxygenation of the brain.
Love, community, connection, faith and purpose all enhance oxytocin production which helps improve brain function.
To find out more about how to live longer and better check out www.bluezones.com
BRAIN BOOSTING SMOOTHIE
½ cup blueberries
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
½ cup water
Place all the ingredients in a blender and whizz together until delicious and smooth!
AVACADO - This green powerhouse is packed with monosaturated fats or “good” fats, helping to keep blood sugar levels steady and your skin glowing. It contains both vitamin K and folate, preventing blood clots in the brain (protecting against stroke) as well as help improving cognitive function, especially both memory and concentration. They are also rich in vitamin B and vitamin C, which aren’t stored in your body and need to be replenished daily. Plus, they have the highest protein and lowest sugar content of any fruit. Adding them to your smoothie also makes it smooth and creamy!
BLUEBERRIES - Blueberries are extremely high in antioxidants, and are packed with vitamin C and vitamin K and fiber. Because of their high levels of gallic acid, blueberries are especially good at protecting our brains from degeneration and stress.
WALNUTS - It turns out that eating walnuts can keep you from going nuts, a few walnuts a day can improve your cognitive health. Their high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals also improve mental alertness. The vitamin E in the nuts can also help ward off Alzheimer’s.
THE BENEFITS OF GRATITUDE - START THE NEW YEAR APPRECIATING ALL THAT YOU HAVE AND REAP THE BENEFITS BOTH MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY.
As we begin 2018 I thought it would be a good time to really take some time to consider where we are and what we are doing and notice all the things in our lives that we have to be grateful for.
When we focus on what we have to be grateful for, our lives feel more abundant and we are reminded that life isn’t as difficult as we often feel it is.
When you practice gratitude, you get to enjoy the benefits of reliving the positivity in your mind, and you spread gratitude to those around you through your actions. I am sure you know that glow you feel from receiving a genuine compliment or how good it is to get a little card to say “thank you”.
In fact, gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools that we all have access to every day. Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it certainly doesn’t take much time, but the benefits are enormous. Research reveals gratitude can help you build relationships; improve your health and wellness through positive thinking and being proactive; improve your mental health by reducing toxic emotions such as envy resentment, frustration and regret.
Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Simply take a few moments to focus on all that you have – rather than complain about all the things you think you deserve. I think living here in Kenya it is so much more poignant – we are surrounded by extreme poverty and yet often I see more gratitude from the children on the side of the road than I do from our own, who have almost everything they could desire.
Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life.
A simple way to begin: Start a gratitude journal.
What the heck is a Gratitude Journal, don’t panic its nothing complicated!! It is a precious notebook that you may write in on a daily to weekly basis about all the things you have to be grateful for. Somedays that may be harder than others – but look for the good where you may have forgotten to notice it. Have you started to take that amazing view for granted or forgotten how nice it was when your husband brought you a cup of tea in bed. If you think about it, often it is the simple things that give us the most pleasure, but we become immune to with all the dreaming about what we want or need that we don’t have.
Your little book may help you to put your life in perspective. Instead of focusing solely on what tomorrow will bring, it can help keep you in the moment. Keep you grateful and happy for your life as it is. Help you to live in the present, which is a difficult thing to do in this day and age.
Happy people appreciate the present, unhappy people live forever unsatisfied as they always focus on what they have not achieved or obtained.
How to start?
Find a gorgeous notebook, or make it your own with drawings, pictures or decorations. Take 5 minutes before bed once a week or daily to write down three things that you are grateful for in your life. You’ll be surprised how much you are already blessed with and ADDED BONUS it may even help you sleep better – allowing your head to hit the pillow with all the positive thoughts from your day at the forefront of your mind.
So, LIVE, LOVE LAUGH: life’s too short not to!