It’s National Spa Week, reminding us that we need to take time out to care for ourselves. We often spend so much time ‘giving’ to everyone else – children, parents, friends and work colleagues – that we don’t make enough time for ourselves.
Self-care is essential to support our physical and mental wellbeing and there are lots of ways you can improve your diet to help you have a healthier lifestyle.
Clinical nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares some great ways in which you can take better care of you.
Make your diet more colourful
What you put into your body is the cornerstone of life. How you look and feel is primarily governed by what’s within, meaning your nutrient intake. The body requires around 45 different nutrients daily (including water), so each mealtime needs to count.
The more colour you have on your plate, the more nutrients you’ll be taking in without even thinking about it. For example, a dinner plate that contains poached salmon, roasted red peppers and asparagus, mashed sweet potato and a portion of broccoli really embraces this concept.
It’s the beautiful dark, rich colours in foods, especially in fruits and vegetables, that really pack a nutrient punch, so have some fun with creating your colourful plate.
Also remember that sugar, in all its forms, has no nutritional value and can even prevent absorption of certain nutrients, so really watch your ‘empty’ calorie intake. Plus, you might appreciate the instant sugar rush and feel energised at the time but overall, you’ll feel more sluggish and not very spa vitalised!
Prepare for the next few months
Whilst we can often feel down as the colder weather and shorter days approach, autumn can be a magical time in the great outdoors; autumn colours are truly beautiful. If you can get out for some longer walks in the countryside, this can be a great stressbuster plus you can literally lose yourself in the colour spectacle.
Changing seasons can unfortunately herald the start of the ‘bug’ season. However, taking good care of your yourself can also help prevent their onset. Cleaning up your diet is important. Plus, poor sleep and over-indulgence in alcohol or too many late-night parties will deplete the immune system, so do pace yourself.
Tap into Mother Nature’s little helpers in the form of immune-boosting herbs and spices. Make your own ginger tea with lemon every day, using fresh squeezed ginger root. Other great immune-boosting ideas include adding cinnamon to your morning porridge or cereal and using plenty of garlic in your cooking (stir fries are quick and easy). Try adding fresh rosemary to your roasted veggies or roasted sweet potato wedges and sprinkling turmeric over as much as you can (even scrambled eggs taste great with some added spice).
Using shitake mushrooms rather than button ones will give you a real immune-boost (they also contain some vitamin D) and drinking two or three cups of green tea each day provides you with a range of antioxidants. These few simple changes will protect and invigorate you over the coming months.
Take time to breathe
This means literally and metaphorically. When you’re stressed and racing around at 100 miles an hour, the body can quickly feel depleted of energy. Deep breathing exercises can bring instant relaxation. Even just lying on your bed or in a quiet place and breathing in for five seconds, holding the breath for seven seconds and exhaling for eleven seconds, a few times, can bring peace and relaxation to the body. Try this a few times and just enjoy the feeling. It will also help you to sleep if you’re struggling or will calm the body and mind during the day when life is too frenetic.
Taking time to breathe also means stepping back sometimes. When you’re in the fast lane all the time, the mind and body can become overwhelmed. This can cause anxiety, restless sleep, poor concentration and low mood. Whether it’s taking a 20-minute walk away from your desk at lunchtime or after dinner, doing a yoga or Pilates class or reading a book, try to book some ‘you’ time in every day. Try to recognise the signs of feeling overwhelmed in yourself and take time out, whether that’s a short break or a holiday.
So take a step back this week and decide how to create the ‘spa’ me time we all need to promote self-care.
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