With January out of the way, and the hope of a more positive 2021 in the world around us, now is a great time to really focus on your own wellbeing. This means looking closely at your diet and lifestyle as both of these factors have a direct correlation to your self-esteem and how good we feel inside.
What we put into our bodies and what we get out of them can have a big impact on our feelings of well-being and positivity.
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, looks at three key areas and shares some top tips.
Be honest about food
We all know our own eating habits and the foods we love. Indeed, there’s a biochemical reason why we sometimes binge on certain foods which is down to the feel-good endorphins they stimulate. However, this doesn’t mean they’re necessarily the healthiest foods. It can be a good idea to write down everything we eat daily (and be honest!) and then look at it over a period of a few weeks to see what’s really going on.
Eating too many sugar-laden foods will not only pile on the kilos but upset mental wellbeing. There’s much research to confirm this. Treats are still permitted of course but maybe try to have just one treat day per week, so you don’t feel you’re missing out.
Base your diet around protein (poultry, beans, legumes, eggs, meat, white and oily fish), healthy fats (including nuts and avocados) and non-processed carbohydrates (whole grains, plenty of vegetables and some fruit). Not only will sugar cravings disappear, you’ll feel more balanced generally. And cutting out or reducing stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks will have a really positive effect on your mood and how well you sleep.
With the current lockdown and cold January weather, the motivation to exercise can be difficult. However, the less you move, the less you want to move. Even if you’re home-schooling, home working or key working, try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
Whether it’s going for a brisk walk, using an exercise app or following YouTube videos go for anything that gets the body moving and stimulates blood to the brain. The brain needs good blood flow in order to receive nutrients from which it can manufacture key neurotransmitters, amongst performing many other vital functions.
Additionally, if you’re worried about weight gain during lockdown, just moving more will help you to feel positive, improve self-esteem and burn some calories at the same time. If it helps, why not meet a friend outside for a socially distanced walk and then you’ll have a definite appointment to keep.
Find the joy
With so much depressing news right now, we sometimes just need to switch off, both externally and internally. There’s so much ‘noise’ everywhere, plus most of us are living a 24/7 lifestyle with emails, social media and family commitments never ending within the blur of home/work lifestyles. However, the mind needs to take a break in order to avoid being overwhelm and feeling overloaded.
For 20 minutes each day try to find at least one thing to think about (for example a meditation session), or do (perhaps listening to some music or a podcast that you love) or just being in your own physical and mental space (take yourself off to a room on your own). Doing this for a short time every day and thinking about or doing something that makes you feel joyful will lead to a more positive mindset.
Thoughts of sitting on a beach or at your favourite holiday spot are a great way for many of us to look to the future and the reality of this happening might not be too far away. There’s also nothing to stop you envisioning things in your life that you’d like to happen. Imagine yourself in those situations to help bring a more positive outlook to your day.
The body works as a whole; what we eat affects how we look, how we feel, our energy levels, mood and sleep. Equally, lifestyle factors and listening and responding to our body’s basic needs will help to generate positivity which will lead to better self-esteem and a more fulfilling life.
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