Do you believe you have the power to influence how your lifestyle affects your health and longevity?
Do you put everything down to your genes or your age?
Well, the answer is that you CAN influence your health, your surroundings and how long you live. There is one person who can make you happy, healthy, energised and well and that is YOU. In Ayurveda, longevity plays a major role in how you live your life NOW.
What is wellness?
Wellness is a balanced state of well-being, mentally, physically and spiritually. However being ‘well’ and free from disease comes from an overlap of activities in your life AND as everything is related, each area of your life can have a profound affect on the other. For example, your mood and energy can affect your relationships and motivation and your motivation or lack of can affect your mood and energy. Perception of how you think people see you can affect how you see yourself and your own attitude. How you sleep can affect cravings and your choice of food the next day and so on…..
According to Ayurveda, 80% of all chronic conditions are believed to be directly related to lifestyle factors and a large majority of disease begins in the gut. So, only around 20% is down to genes. This means you can influence whether you get ill and how quickly you recover from an illness. That is a staggering and exciting thought when I hear so many people tell me “I inherited this from my mother or father or ‘it’s in the family’. Your genes and your brain CAN be changed. This is known in the science world as epigenetics and neuroplasticity, which shows that external factors can change genes on or off, up or down and low cognition and brain function can be improved.
People who self-manage their own lifestyles tend to be more productive, less likely to visit their doctor or get ill, do not need medication and have more enthusiasm for life. Even cancer survivor patients have been seen to improve their health after treatment by making changes. Many conditions are caused by inflammation, especially heart disease and stroke. Inflammation also contributes to arthritis and fibromyalgia and following an ayurveda practice can be helpful to reduce the symptoms of these without the need for toxic pills.
So, if you take control of your own life NOW and how you manage it, you may decrease the risk of getting ill or developing a chronic condition. You can also reduce or reverse a current underlying ‘illness’ and eliminate pills from your body, which only mask problems!
Some examples of reversible conditions include:
- Early stage cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Heartburn and acid reflux
- High cholesterol
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Irritable bowel syndrome (especially constipation)
- ME and fatigue
Another of the popular excuses I hear for people not making the changes they want to is ‘not enough time’. What is time anyway? Time belongs to us and what we choose to do with it is in our control. We do not work 24 hours 7 days a week, we do not sleep 24 hours 7 days a week.
The fair and true fact of that is we all have varying jobs, priorities and finances but everyone has the same amount time in their purse. You could call time ‘your pocket money’. You are given the same amount as the next person each week and how you spend it is up to you. Obviously, some people just have a bit more spare time than others but if you want to make changes to feel better about something you CAN devote some time to it.
Remember long-term changes are better than short fixes so a little is better than nothing.
Let us start with the basics to achieving your wellness….
As mentioned, each of the areas of your life overlap to enhance to your wellness so I have written some questions and ideas to get you thinking about the balance in each area of your own life. You will find many different authorities on the subject of wellness but here I have broken them down based on my own experiences and research and what I do here at Making You Healthier.
Remember, we are all different so what is more important to one person will vary for another. For example, if you work in an office and your brain is whirring when you get home, it might be important to do something calming with your spare time and if you work alone or outdoors, you may want to do something that challenges your brain.
The common areas of Wellness to consider are:
- Exercise and Diet
- The Lymphatic System
- Rest and Relaxation
- Social Life/Family/Connections
- Love and Romance
Take what you want and leave the rest. When I work with my clients, I get them to draw up what I call The Wheel of Balance. This can be a great exercise to get you thinking about what is really important to YOU. The list above is not exhaustive and can be tailored for your individal lifestyle. Some people refer to it as the wheel of life or wheel of excellence. For me it has to be about balance.
Have you lost your identity?
Do you know your own identity, values or mission in life?
What do you call yourself and do you prefer to use your real name, full name or even a nickname?
Can you be yourself around other people or do you struggle with conflict?
Do you really know what food you like or just eat because it is there or cooked for you?
Identity defines who we are and this is the first place to start before setting goals or making any changes. If you do not know yourself, you cannot help yourself. Emotions can stop you doing something you want to do. Fear can hold you back and conflict can confuse you. Living in the past of something you had but do not have now can create a void in your life. Guilt is one of the main obstacles I see with clients who have lost their identity. Living your life to achieve standards set by somebody else or living someone else’s dream can cause loss of identity, loss of a loved one can all contribute to lack of identity, especially if you did everything together. Equally, being successful can cause feelings of guilt if you think you do not deserve what you have. Not knowing where you fit in can enhance feelings and thoughts of rejection, sadness or anger.
What are your long-term goals? What is your reason for getting up each day? What specifically would you like to see happen in your life?
In NLP (neuro-linguistics) we help you to focus on what you DO want rather than what you DO NOT want. You can then break this down further into five year goals, yearly goals, weekly and so on. Research has shown that people who write their goals down tend to achieve them. So, start brainstorming and get your ideas onto paper or into your tablet.
Whether you own or rent your own home, ask yourself this question. How cluttered is your home? Clutter can add to stress in your life. Whether you live in a large detached house or a 1 bedroom apartment, the first step to your wellness and peace of mind is to de-clutter your home. De-clutter your home to de-clutter your mind!
- Does everything have a place?
- Are your rooms, shelves, cupboards or garage so overloaded that you cannot find things easily?
- Are your clothes stuffed into your wardrobe weighing it down?
- Is your paperwork in order? Do you know where to find things you need for an upcoming event or have to search a hundred emails to find it?
- Can you find what you need before you leave the house or do get in a panic because you are now going to be late?
- Are you the opposite and get frustrated because you are obsessed with everything being neat and tidy?Remember, what works for one person may not work for another. It is only when it causes negative responses in you that you may have to address this area of your life.
You may love the area you live in but if not, does your home at least give you peace of mind when you are in it? Do you enjoy being there and does it show your personality? You may want to make some improvements and if you do not own the home you live in, think of how you can add your personality without spending a fortune.
- If you rent, speak to the landlord about your suggestions-they could be pleased you are taking an interest and may give financially towards the changes.
- Buy flowers every few weeks to brighten up your kitchen or if you on a budget, buy a nice plant to keep on your counter or dining table. Flowers can have a positive effect on your emotions.
- Consider changing the curtains or cushions to a colour and style that suits you
- Always open your curtains fully to let bright light in during the day and use warm low lighting bulbs at night.
- Lights should be dimmed at night and your TV’s brightness and contrast reduced at least an hour before bed. Our bodies are hardwired to wake up or stay awake when light is bright.
If you are like me and live in a house which needs refurbishment or maintenance and cannot get it all done all at once, tackle it one project at a time or one room at a time. If you can do a lot of the work yourself, then capture everything that needs to be done in a notepad. If you can afford it, save or budget to get someone else to do the jobs you cannot do yourself or to do the jobs you hate such as ironing or mowing the grass. Otherwise, allocate time in your diary to do a bit of these until you are satisfied with the end result.
Do you live in the city and yearn for the country or live in the country but want more of the buzz of town or city? Set yourself a long-term goal to move. What resources or support do you need to make it happen?
- If you do have a garden, choose flowers and shrubs you like and do not feel guilty about removing the ones that you dislike.
- Plan your garden or patio space so that you have some colour each month-you can find a good choice of plants at your local garden centre, which will give you growth and colour from February right through to October.
- If you do not have a place to relax indoors, try to find somewhere in the garden that you can set up to have time out. This will bring you closer to nature which helps boost immunity.
- If you work indoors most of the time, aim to get outside in nature for at least 20 minutes a day, especially if you work on a computer or with fluorescent lighting. This is very important in winter as artificial light has far less the light capacity to balance your brain than the sun has. This can help with labelled conditions such as SAD or ME, as natural light penetrates your eyes into your brain to fire off the neurons to help you feel more alert.
- Being in nature is also scientifically proven to raise mood and lower stress and its free!
Do you ever have new ideas or career passions and forget about them a day later or do you think they are too silly to push forward with? Do you think that creativity is unimportant in your life? When is the last time you were really curious about something?
One of my greatest icons is Leonardo Di Vinci. A few years ago, I read the book How to think like Leonardo Di Vinci and learned some valuable tips on the art of creativity. This comes naturally in many people (in ayurveda, the Vata type personalities can be very creative). I also had the pleasure of visiting the Di Vinci Museum in Florence recently and seeing some of his ‘out-of-the-box ideas and inventions. He was not afraid to daydream and captured many of his ideas as drawings.
What being Creative can do for you:
Tests of creativity measure not only the number of alternative solutions that people can generate but the uniqueness of those alternatives. The ability to see things differently is linked to other qualities such as flexibility, tolerance, unpredictability and the joy of unknown things. Being creative is also a really good way to entertain yourself or others as when you get engrossed in something you love, time passes much quicker and do not ‘clock-watch’. It is also a great way to relax without much effort on your part-this is called a state of flow. Being in ‘flow’ can also stop you over-eating or drinking.
In order to be creative, you need to view things in new ways or from a different perspective. Among other things, you should be able to generate new possibilities or new alternatives, recognise ideas or options that could be useful in solving problems and communicating better with others. Also, having a passion gives you something uplifting to talk about when you are with friends or meet a new person. This goes back to showing part of your identity, as mentioned above.
The key here is not just to capture creative ideas but it is very important to get things out of your head . Too much chatter in your head can cause stress, affects your memory and blocks your creative thinking. I always carry a small notebook and pen with me and use an app on my phone for dumping ideas or projects.
Small levels of stress can enhance our memory as it puts us on alert and can stimulate our thinking. However, over-excretion of stress hormones often impairs memory. In particular, the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and the amygdala are affected. The hippocampus and amygdala are involved in learning and the prefrontal cortex (PFC) helps working memory, self-regulatory and achieving goals. Chronic stress can lead to changes in neural circuitry which leaves your brain trapped in states of anxiety and depression, thus suppressing creativity. Your brain can change at any age-for better or worse. Enhance your creativity to cut your stress and enhance your brain power. What do you really enjoy doing where time goes quickly?
There are many tools out for managing tasks and projects. Check out Omnifocus or Microsoft ToDo for simple lists on your phone or tablet. Many people like Evernote if you need to share information. Find what works for you as sometimes the simplest can be the best. Remember, a nice notepad and pen can do just as well if you manage it right!
Poor sleep patterns can play havoc on your mood, your energy, motivation and general health. It is such a complex area. We are naturally designed to sleep. When we tune into our natural wake/sleep cycles we have better health, better productiviy and a clearer mind. These rythms are known as the Circadian Rythms – the natural rythms of nature. However, as we grow up and experience life, we take on changes that disturb our sleep patterns. We stay awake later than darkness, we spend ours in front of bright lights or checking emails. All of these can affect melatonin levels with affect our sleep patterns. When we sleep, our brain cleans itself via the microscopic lymph nodes and clear out around 3lb of toxins a year. This is crucial reseach in the change for cognitive function such as alzheimers and depression.
There are so many causes for not being able to sleep or for over-sleeping. Changing your sleep patterns will need a change in lifestyle, diet and perhaps some natural herbs. As well as looking at your toxicity in the body which has built up over weeks, months or years.
Identity can play a role and how you spend your day is a good starting point, as getting you to sleep is a very important step before you can make any other changes in your life. Your brain and liver clean your body and brain when you sleep, so not getting enough quality sleep is a tick on your unhealthy list!
Not sleeping can cause low energy, brain fog, muscle pain and mood swings for a whole host of reasons. Continue reading for a summary on the lymphatic system and you can join up the dots on how your wellness is out of balance. There is so much around the subject of sleep that I had to write a seperate article on this so have a look HOW TO SLEEP BETTER. Coaching and Ayurveda play a large role in making changes to help you sleep better so contact me directly if this is your main aim for now. I normally combine sleep issues with toxicity of the body and mind and we work from there.
Do you exercise?
If not, why not?
If you do exercise, do you enjoy it or end up in pain afterwards?
Do you enjoy working out alone or with others?
What is holding you back?
Public Health England have published research on almost 200,000 adults and found that 45 per cent of middle-aged men, and 38 per cent of middle-aged women, fail to have a brisk walk of even 10 minutes once a month. That is 4 in 10 adults! If you are one of them you are increasing your chances of early disability, risk of serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, dementia and some cancers.
For those who do exercise, there is so much pressure on us to “perform” well. So much competition to beat your colleague or your own personal best or to go faster or further. This works great for some people and hey we all love the olympics.
However as part of kick-starting your wellness journey this year, my advice on exercise is that firstly you need to decide
- Why you want to do it and
- What you like to do
- Where you prefer to do it
If you can answer these simple questions you will be half way to a regular schedule to help you and your needs. Deciding why you exercise and what you would like to achieve from it is the first thing. Your reason for exercising is your motivation starting point. This can be anything from wanting to loose weight to calming your mind or getting a natural high. It may be that you want to challenge yourself or prove something to someone else. Perhaps you are just sick of feeling tired or having aching muscles and feel exercise is right for you at this time. Once you sort this part, then you pick a sport of activity that you really like doing. Some people love the water, others live to cycle whilst some just like to do yoga. I love running and yoga – they fit with my abilities and my brain and work to balance each other out. Running stimulates me whilst releasing built up energy and gets me outdoors but yoga gives me a good stretch, calms me down and helps me focus on my breathing and being more present. Both of them help my circulation. I love the water too but it takes much more effort to get me out there. That is just an example of my ‘why’.
Tip: Visualise an image in your mind of what you will be like once you do your exercise. Remember how good you felt after the last session and keep the reason behind why you are doing it always in the forefront of your mind.
The ‘what’ also has to be personal to you. If you like walking, then walk. If you like rock climbing, then climb. If you like kayaking then get out on the water. The list goes on. Choosing the type of exercise to suit your body is key. Some people have the make up and capacity to train and run a marathon whilst others will benefit more from regular gentle exercise such as long walks, rowing, cycling or short runs. Some people love the gym with everything in one place.
If you need to calm anxiety or are often tired, start slowly by changing your diet and add in Yoga or Pilates for mindfulness and breathing techniques. Yoga is exercise and also increases strength and flexibility. A really great place to start is with my sun salutations in the morning – they are so easy that even children can do them. Have a read here and you can also download and print the sheet out.
Where do you like to exercise? If you are the type that needs to be outdoors, then pick something to suit outdoors. If certain weather affects you, such as the heat of summer, then plan to exercise first thing in the morning or in the evening when it cools down. Are you happy to workout in the gym or an indoor pool? If you like the sea, join a local swimming club to get you motivated. Decide where you prefer and link that to the type of exercise you choose.
If you get pain when you exercise it a sign that something is wrong (the no pain no gain myth is rubbish!). Pain can arise from repetition such as over-working and ankle injury or generally over-exercising and pushing yourself too far. Being out of breath is not a bad thing such long as you do not have a heart condition. Working the heart rate and muscles can help to burn fat but monitor pain closely. If you play racquet sports and get constant arm or shoulder pain, then something is not right. If you have posture imbalances and weakness in certain muscle groups, your body will tell you to stop. Always listen to your body but if you need assistance with a sports issue, then book in for one of my massage therapies to help this.
So how does exercise improve brain health?
There are many ideas about how exercise helps improve cognitive health. Aerobic (or cardio) exercise , raises your heart rate and increases blood flow to your brain. This leads to the production of neurons in certain parts of your brain that control memory and thinking. In addition, an increased heart rate encourages you to breathe harder and faster. So, as more oxygen enters your bloodstream, is it also delivered to your brain.
Exercise also increases serotonin which lifts your spirits and may be beneficial for someone experiencing feelings of depression.
A great way to start off exercising is to workout to your heart rate. This takes the pressure off your ego or competitive or must do mind. It allows you to start with what really is good for your body and gets you to tune in on a calm and relaxed workout. Buy a basic heart rate monitor and calculate Your Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF). This keeps you at a level for your body and age and stops you over-doing it when you are out. It is so simple – ignore distance, ignore speed. Just work on your heart rate and keep your exercise within that limit for now. You will feel so much better working out that way.
To calculate your MAF = 180 minus your age (minus 5 if you are new to exercise). Try this next time you run or cycle and see how comfortable it feels (and you still feel great afterwards).
Tip: The main thing with exercise is just to get out and do something which you truly enjoy and makes you feel good but does not totally exhaust your body for days later.
What do you eat on a daily basis to enhance your health and energy?
Do you feel sleepy after a meal – the 3 course dinner is bound to kill you!
Do you eat processed and ready meals, meats and cheese, bread, biscuits and shop-prepared sauces?
Do you drink alcohol more than 3 or 4 days a week?
Is a lot of your food WHITE or BEIGE?
All of these foods contribute to slow release toxins entering your cells via the stomach and intestines and the slow release of toxins into the lymphatic system, blood and organs. This reduces the abilities of your organs to do their job of keeping you healthy and then compromises your digestive systema, overall immunity and general health and wellness.
Are you on a “diet” to lose weight? I can tell you now that in a year or two you will be one of the 65% who puts that weight back on! Juice and smoothie-only diets can play havoc with your digestion and the combination of fruits and milk is a no no… Most packet food supplements are full of additives and not a lot of natural ingredients (despite what they say on the pack!). Juicing needs to be tailored to your unique body type, body heat and current health conditions.
You may have the body type that will never be thin. That is okay. Take a look at my weight-loss programme and see if you could work on that. If you want coaching to loose weight, then contact me to discuss this as I can help you based on your needs, dosha and lifestyle.
It is important to start by knowing, everyone is individual and what your partner can eat may not be what your body needs. As a general rule, you could aim today to increase your water intake, start reducing sugar and white carbohydrates as they can be difficult for your cells to process and makes your immune system work overtime.
Note: According to ayurveda not all carbohydrates are bad and certain wheat products can be grounding and nourishing. Any intolerences are normally because of toxicity in your body so you may need a cleanse to begin with. To check if you may have toxicity (or ama) in your body, take a look at this article.
What you eat can manifest in
- poor digestion leading to bloating
- poor absorption of nutrients
- muscle and back pain
- low energy and being ‘tired all the time’
- heartburn and acid reflux
to name just a few……
I have listed some basic tips below on eating awareness and small changes to consider as part of your overall wellness. If you start with 1 to 3 today, which will be difficult at first, you will be taking a great step to feeling better:
- Eat when you are hungry (look at food as fuel and nutrients for your cells)
- Use a smaller plate and eat slowly
- Stop when you are full-this can come on quicker than you think
- Loose the old-fashioned concept of what is breakfast, lunch dinner/supper (eat vegetables for breakfast if you like or your dinner at lunchtime)
- Eliminate dessert or pudding – this way of eating dates back to the 1600s and is so wrong for our bodies now. Cheesecake and other “after-meals” are playing havoc with our digestion, our immunity, our blood sugars, our weight and our health overall.
- Do not eat in front of the TV or laptop
- Plan your main meals the day before you do your shopping and include plenty of vegetables in that
- Cook from scratch at least 3 days week – make a bulk and freeze it
- Reduce bread and pasta consumption (or just have them as a ‘treat’) – I am still shocked that the NHS advises eating bread and pasta as part of a balanced diet!
- Reduce your cereal intake – the “vitamins” in these are added, unnatural and synthetic – and the NHS still advises eating these !
- Wean off caffeine over 3-6 months until you are down to 2 cups of coffee a day or no more than 3 teas (I used to drink up to eight cups of caffeine a day and now enjoy my 2 cups a day and do not need it to wake me up!)
- Drink hot water or herbal tea in the morning or afternoon and after 8pm
- Reduce your alcohol to 2 days a week-if you are a binge drinker who cannot stop at 1, you may have an addicted brain which enjoys the ‘buzz’ of alcohol. Alcohol is a poison and kills brain cells, nerve cells and affects your stomach lining.
- Work out the emotion or feeling you have when you crave certain foods and at what time. For example a sweet snack between 1pm and 3pm; could this be the time you actually have your main meal? – see below.
Do you comfort eat or drink alcohol to relax? This is your mind hijacking you so ask yourself what is it you really need? Are you tired, bored, lonely or overwhelmed by what you have to do?
WHAT YOU EAT or cut from your meal planning is equally important as WHEN YOU EAT. If you are someone who is never hungry in the mornings, it could be because you eat too late at night. Try not to eat later than 3-4 hours before you go to bed. Your body needs time to digest the food and will not do that when you are sleeping. If you go to bed around 10pm, you should aim to have your main meal at lunchtime or 6pm to 7pm.
Food is not the only way to wellness but as we are surrounded by it hourly and daily, it can be one of the most difficult areas to change. Sort out your mind and get organised and you will start to sort out your food choices…
Look after your lymphatic system
I am pleased to see that Cancer Research is accepting the lymphatic system as part of their research. The knowledge given on their site is great but they focus a lot on the genes and the top 3 areas to improve, which I totally agree with are 1. eating a healthy diet 2. being more physicaly active 3. quitting smoking. So if you do not smoke you have 2 areas to address. However, what if you think you are eating ‘healthy’ but still feel like ‘crap’?
Ayurveda Medicine has known about the lymphatic system for 1000s of years. In Ayurveda it is called Rasa and I have worked with people on this for years. Your lymph system is the carrier of your immune system. It is of utmost importance when treating conditions and the signs of conjestion are obvious to me. Signs to look out for yourself include symptoms such as:
- Brain fog
- Feeling tired most of the time, especially on waking or after eating a meal
- General or chronic fatigue, not diagnosed by your doctor or GP – this is NOT in your head and is real!
- Swelling in the body; for example water retention or swollen ankles/fingers
- Bloating after eating
- Skin rashes, hives or eczema
- Joint pain
- Sinus problems
- Allergies to certain foods such as gluten or dairy
- Unable to digest certain foods such as proteins or dairy
- A feeling of ‘heaviness’
- Shortness of breath and a conjested feeling in the legs climbing a small flight of stairs
- Seasonal allergies such as hayfever
- Autoimmune conditions
- Poor sleep patterns
- Breast tenderness before a menstrual cycle
- Migraines (especially if constant)
- Cellulite or poor circulation
This area of my work is so huge that I will need to write another article seperately. In summary, the lymphatic system is linked to your digestive and immune system (80% of your immune system starts with your gut). A good lymphatic system will deliver properly digested fats, detoxify the body without strain, purify and protect the body against infectious disease via healthy white blood cells (called leukocytes), which are formed in the bone marrow.
Supporting your Lymph will be the best gift you can give yourself
When things go wrong with the lymphatic system, it is often not discovered until you are ‘diagnosed’ with anemia or lymphoma or, worse still, cancer. Lymph is found throughout the body and is the gateway to cleansing your blood. When poor digestion of fats and acids break down, the intestinal tract, which has its own lymphatic system, releases undigested waste into the body via the lymphatic system. The liver is closely related to the lymphatic system and if it is already overworked, the bile needed to break down the fat and acids and excrete them, will not be enough.
If the lymphatic system cannot drain undigested food and waste properly via the lymph vessels around the skin of the intestines, it gets conjested and slows down and then seeps into the body system instead of being excreted. This includes lymph in the respiratory system which can cause hayfever and allergies. If the body’s system gets completely overloaded, it goes into over-responsive mode, causing autoimmune conditions, as the immune system gets confused on what cells to attack. (If anyone tells me they have an autoimmune condition, I immediately think years of stress, poor diet and toxic overload). When digestion breaks down, you will also experience heartburn or indigestion – easy to rectify in ayurveda.
Tips to support your lymphatic system
- Sit down to eat, do not eat in front of the TV or on your phone
- Eat when you feel peaceful, not stressed or angry – these 2 tell your brain to focus on digesting the food and not run off in a fight of flight mode
- Do not talk when eating – this is very hard, even for me, as I like to socialise when eating
- Eat at the right time when enzymes and acids are high – main meal between 12.00 and 4.00pm, if you can
- Eat the right foods for your body type and particular ailment – I can help you work out your dosha in the world of ayurveda and help you temporary eliminate foods that are causing any problems.
- Do not eat late – the liver needs to cleanse your body when you sleep so should not be trying to digest foods like crackers or cheese
- Exercise to move the lymph – by moving your muscles, you pump blood around which helps to move the lymphatic system
- Rebounding is great for the lymphatic system, but I appreciate we cannot all access one of these!
- Body brushing helps to move the lymph just under the skin to alkalise the blood, and move conjection via the system to the heart and into the blood for cleansing
- Oil massage to feed to the good microbiome on your skin. Remember internal skin such as that of the intestinal wall and external skin are very closely linked.
- Relax – the parasmypathic nervous system is our rest and digest. Start the day calm in order to move to a more vigourous task
- Mediate/Breathing – breathing moves the lymph, especially when we breath deeply into the ribs and stomach. They act as a self-massage for the organs. More on meditation later but breathing through the nose can help move lymph on the brain and throat. This method of breathing creates Nitrogen Oxide Gas which is great for the brain.
- Do not eat on the run – this turns your fight or flight system on and your digestion off. Your brain thinks it needs to be ready to fight or run so will not want to digest food. Poor digestion leads to poor lymphatic movement
- Normally a conjested lymphatic system will need a digestive reset or body cleanse – but to suit your body type. Cleansing may be the start you need to kick start your energy. Talk to me about the options.
- Eat greens; unless you are high vata as these can cause constipation and IBS in some cases
- Eat berries such as raspberries, strawberries, cherries, pomegranite
- Eat oranges (unless you have indigestion; a high pitta sign). The white pith of oranges is great for the lymphatic system.
- Get restful sleep – a huge contributer to poor lymphatic movement. Movement during the day helps move the large lymphatic system in the body whilst sleep helps to cleanse the brain via the microscopic lymph channels in the brain. There has been a nobel prize on the discovery of this.
- Take ayurvedic herbs (but not without advise from a qualified practitioner) such as neem, brahmi, manjista or ashwaghanda. Herbs will be suited to your individual needs, current medication or dosha mind-body type. I can help you with this but these are a last resort in my work. With herbs, I want you on them, then see improvements, then get off them!
- Have an ayurveda marma head and face massage. I had this treatment many years ago and could not believe the difference it made to my clarity and tension in my head and neck.
- Nasya Therapy – This can help with headaches, tension in the neck and head and to clear sinus issues. A good starting point to giving you the clarity and energy to move forward with your wellness aim.
- Do NOT use anti-perspirant. This blocks the pores under your arms which is the gateway to helping your lymph fluid move from your breast and breastbone area to the armpits. If you find you sweat too much or have a fowl odour from your sweat, then it is an underlying cause and can be addressed with ayurveda medicine.
- For women: TAKE YOUR BRA OFF WHEN YOU CAN. I have studied the research on this and discovered that women who wore bras for 24 hours (including bed) had a 3 out of 4 chance of developing breast cancer but women who wore bras less than 12 hours per day had a 1 out of 152 risk. Most importantly those who rarely or never wore a bra had a 1 out of 168 chance of getting breast cancer. It makes sense, especially with underwire bras, that these block your lymph system which needs to keep flowing.
Rest and Relaxation
What do you do to relax?
This may possibly be the most difficult area for people to answer and balance. The good old question of R & R. We are under pressure to do well at work, log onto social media and technology generally, bombarded with actions and to do lists and demands from others when we are not at work. No wonder the number of people complaining of tiredness increases every year!
During periods of heavy activity (both mentally or physically) our immune systems are constantly activating to repair muscles and joints. Without proper rest, your immune system cannot catch up to the repairs which your body needs. The sympathetic nervous system is there to help us relax and feel calm but most of us function in the parasympathetic nervous system. This causes increased heart rate and glucose to the liver, overactive adrenal glands, slow digestion and drainage from the bladder or bowels. The reason behind this is a primal function of survival in times of stress to escape being attacked by a a wild boar, wolf or fox. We would defecate to release toxins in order to run and this was a natural survival instinct of the body. Unfortunately, many of us still live like this today with anxiety and fear and stress. This can affect everything from memory (as mentioned before), sleep, digestion including gas and bloating and the organs of your endocrine system have to work harder. We need the balance of relaxing to heal the cells on a molecular level, especially after periods of stress. It really is simple but people run on flight or fight for years on end and then wonder why they get ill or a disease.
Many of my clients tell me they are “too busy” to take time out to “do nothing”. Remember, doing nothing IS doing something.
The benefits of relaxation include:
- Slowing your heart rate
- Slowing your breathing rate
- Lowering your blood pressure
- Improving digestive capacity
- Maintaining normal blood sugar levels
- Slowing down of the stress release chemicals
- Increasing blood flow to major muscles
- Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
It is important to understand that relaxation is also about relaxing your mind and letting your thoughts go for a short period. Meditation is great for this as it can help balance the brain chemistry and neurons engaged in fighting stress and over-thinking. If you are unsure about meditation, you should just aim to get a good balance between work, rest and exercise. Resting after exercise is just as important as it helps to repair damaged tissues and helps to restore energy. Resting after eating is just as important so that your brain can focus on digesting the food you have eaten.
You can find ways to relax by doing an activity you like but do not let it stress you. For example, if you like gardening but get overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do when you go into the garden, that is not relaxation, that should go on your ‘Project List’ with a step-by-step approach.
When is the last time you had a holiday? Leaving the routine of the home can help you to recharge your batteries, change your mindset and increase your gratitude for what you have and where you live. We often only feel the benefits once we are back home. If you cannot afford a holiday, take some off work anyway to do something for YOU. Go and block out a few days in your diary NOW.
Here are some ideas to relax and I have included a few of what I find helps me. Some can take only two minutes, others a bit longer.
- Watching a comedy and allowing yourself to laugh out loud
- Sit in a room for 5 to 10 minutes-without your phone or tablet!
- Lie on your bed reflecting or daydreaming if you feel overwhelmed
- Spend 15-20 minutes a day in nature (more if you can)
- Have a massage or other therapy which you love
- Listen to some relaxing music
- Take a bath
- Meditation-even 5 minutes helps
- Join a Yoga class
- Doodle, colour, paint
- Do a crossword or Mensa puzzle (if these do not increase your stress levels)
- Spend time with your pet or children with nothing else going on
- Book your next holiday
- If you cannot have a holiday, book some annual leave in your diary anyway!
- Write a daily Journal about your day, include how you feel, what you have achieved and what you are grateful for
- Read a book or magazine with your phone switched off!
- Massage your own hands or feet
- Stretch-a big cat stretch from toes right up to your forehead
- Make a cup of your favourite drink and sit still until you finish it
- Walk in the rain for a change
- Book yourself a ‘Duvet Day’ (guilt-free please) and watch silly programmes OR
- Have a day without TV or especially news
- Choosing exercise which suits your mentality and energy
- Have a bath and lock the bathroom door
- Steal a hug which releases oxytocin and reduces cortisol
- Put your phone on flight mode from 10pm until after your shower the next day
Make up your own list and write it down somewhere as a ‘go-to’ tool when you need a reminder.
Different people bring out different sides or features of ourselves and it can be healthy to have a mix of social connections and friendships of all ages.
Who is your tribe? This can be family, friends or a group of people who share the same passion as you. Aim to spend time with people who make you feel energised, uplifted and supported. Some relationships can exhaust us and give us nothing in return for our efforts. This may be uncomfortable in certain social circles or with some family members but remembering who you are and that we are all different can help balance this.
If friends or family members drain you and make you feel tired after being with them, work out what it is about them (or you) that brings that on. The more you understand and discover about yourself, the more you can cultivate and attract relationships which mirror qualities in you.
Family can be challenging for many of us and we may not get on with everyone. This can create a conflict for you when you do not want to just distance yourself from a loved one. You may not see eye to eye and clash with personalities or feel angry about something that happened in your past. If you can work it out between you, then do. Otherwise, understand your own boundaries and feelings. Knowing your own boundaries can also help you to be a good friend or support to someone that needs it. If you find that your relationship is one of trust and encouragement, then be ready to give that back when someone needs you.
If you are having serious and ongoing conflict with someone, then why not try Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to see this relationship from a different perspective. Often, anger is sadness and whilst NLP does not necessarily make you become best friends, it can help you gain inner peace and ease the issues and anger you have towards the other person. This can put you back to a place of calm so that it does not constantly take over your thoughts. Within the world of Ayurveda, once you know your own body-mind type and imbalances with what ‘makes you tick’, you will then begin to understand other people better. This can be great insight into a new world of relationships with yourself and others.
Do you find your friendships are formed only with your partner? Have you created your own networks and friends independent of that relationship or do you rely on them for socialising and entertainment? Whilst having a meaningful and loving relationship with our other half is healthy, spending too much time together can also be unhealthy. Having time and space away from our partners with people of a different mindset can add more fun and add to our ongoing self-discovery and identity.
You could be fortunate enough to still have friends from school or college living close by. When was the last time you initiated a meeting in person with them? Why not contact someone you have not seen for a while and see if they want to meet up for coffee or lunch-you will be surprised what will come of it and how good you will feel afterwards.
On the other hand, perhaps you are the type of person who does not have lots of close friends-this is not uncommon but having a hobby or joining a group which shares your passion or interests can open your mind to new ways of thinking (remember the bit on creativity above). You also get to meet new people and still keep your independence with an activity that you truly enjoy. Eventually those new people are not strangers anymore and friendships can develop naturally.
I had a client from London where many of her friendships came from work. Moving to the country changed that for her and when she came to see me she was rather lonely. Her friendships with London friends fizzled out as she no longer shared the same interests and did not see them as much. She found herself isolated but made the decision to link up and attend local community events, join a running club and sign up for networking talks and events that interested her. This lady now has a good balance between work and social and has met some wonderful people along the way.
If you are looking to make new friends or a variety of activities, have a look at Meet Up.com-it has grown so much in the UK and there are activities and groups to suit any interest. The key is to just get yourself out there and ‘show up’ remembering that not everyone will like you and those that do will like you for your values and personality. There may also be a facebook group that arrange events you are interested in. If you have time, you could always think about volunteering with a local charity to help someone else. Kindness is good for us and can be rewarding to see the difference you can make to somebody else.
If you have ‘social-anxiety’, it is likely to be an unconscious fear from childhood or teen years. One or two sessions of NLP may help to eliminate that and give you confidence and tools to attend any social engagement. Call me for an appointment if you want to get out there but have a hidden fear that is holding you back.
If money was no object, what would you choose to do tomorrow?
Our working life can play a huge part in our daily existence and many of us spend more time at work than we do with family or friends. Working hard and enjoying work come hand in hand but working hard and NOT enjoying it can be bad for our wellness. I love my work and put in extra hours and the rewards can be a mix of high and low. Sometimes I think going back to corporate live could mean consist hours, consist monthly pay and bonuses and when you leave your are done for the day or the weekend. But for now, I like where I am with my career. Questions you may have asked yourself over the years can tell you what changes you might want to make, such as:
Do you enjoy your job and find your work fulfilling?
Do you have a career plan that motivates and inspires you and utilises your talents?
Are you so exhausted at the weekends that you cannot be bothered to do much?
Do you feel that ‘Monday blue’ on a Sunday evening?
Do you want to retire or move into a completely different field of work?
What is holding you back?
Can you plan some changes now to move you to your future goal?
Perhaps you are an over-achiever and feel permanently stressed to do well all the time? Maybe your motivation is money (see below on that). While there is nothing wrong with hard work or performing better than your peers on intellect or talent, if you find you are anxious for fear of criticism and judge your worthiness on how well you do, you may need to review a few things. Ask yourself if there are any boundaries you can apply at work or at home to make sure you have time to allow the stress-hormone cortisol to calm down. Just give yourself permission and drop the guilt at times when you choose to do something just for YOU. Remember; stress prevention is better than stress cure.
I worked with a client a few years back who kept telling me she was stuck, frustrated with her partner and uncertain about her future. We did a few sessions and realised she loved the buzz of work but wanted to play more tennis and did not put the time in for that. Her partner was happy to mooch around as he was retired and played tennis when he wanted. She felt that she wasted a lot of time on social media and didn’t do much outside of work. A few sessions confirmed that she was spending too much time on social media as she had no purpose or aim in the mornings off work so it passed time away and helped her connect to others. We worked on her motivation and really got to the cause of the thinking, then set a plan on what she really wanted. We started at the “beginning” changed some perspective and set some goals that fitted with her time and energy. Now, her relationship with her partner is better and she sees people in person, spends less time on social media, has a morning routine and has set up her own business as a freelancer.
If you are thinking of changing your job but not sure where to start, then contact me for an initial discussion to brainstorm ideas.
Are you working for the money for a longer-term gain? Money is a good motivator for many people. Just be aware when you get wrapped up in a job which makes you fell permanently exhausted and gloomy even by Monday morning. If money is your motivator, have a plan to save and get what you want and review it yearly to see where this fits with your true purpose. (see money topic below).
You might have a goal to save for something for your home or the holiday of your dreams – a reward for your hard work. If you have a large mortgage and high expenses for your children, this could be your motivation. Does this work to the detriment of your health? Whether you enjoy your job or not, you may find yourself working long hours. It is very important that you get a good work/life balance to continue functioning at your best. Do not deny yourself time alone to rest or to spend time with people you love when you are not working.
Do something fun and make sure you feel relaxed and energised to return to work with clarity and focus. Learn to say NO!
Money is the subject of emotion. Most of us want more of it and some of us want just enough to live our lives for now. But the debate on whether it makes us happy or not is ongoing. What money can do is it gives us choices AND having choices makes us more content and contributes to our wellness. How does it make you feel-good, bad, safe, anxious-do you hoard money or do you use it to enjoy your life?
One of my favourite sayings is “enough is as good as feast”. How much money do you want? Do you work to live?Do you have a financial burden to support others and look after their future? Perhaps instead of thinking that as money, consider it a purpose or aim in life and you will feel better about the actions you do to get that money? Do you want to travel or buy your own home? Do you have some savings as financial security should things ‘go wrong’. How much would you need for that?
If you are feeling overwhlemed be unwanted debt and low income, it can drain your energy and emotions. 1.5million households in the UK are in debt and that will grow with the current crisis. Try now to take control and work out a plan over a year or two (or longer if necessary) to cut your debt and to spend and budget more within your means. Can you focus more on increasing your income as opposed to reducing your budgets? What would you need to do to get that first step in place? Does it involved risk and are you willing to take that risk.
Set this in your ‘Project’ list and focus on it.
If you are in debt, start by cutting up your credit card and cancelling your overdraft and paying them off over the next few months or years! Start to live within your means for now.
Use discount vouchers for days out with your children, have a month where you use your loyalty cards, plan meals in advance, shop with a list or on-line to a budget and cook from fresh as much as possible. Get a store card that gives your points such as the co-op or Tesco and build that up for big events such as Christmas. Do what you can to take the financial burden off your mind and do not compare yourself to what others have – they may not be as happy as you think…
Always try to save at least 10 or 20% of your income for a ‘rainy day’ and put it in an account that you cannot access easily with a contactless card.
This is a subject many people shy away from, mainly because they do not understand it. It can often be confused with religion or living outside the norm. What spirituality does includes is a sense of connection to something bigger than ourselves and looks more at our human spirit as opposed to physical or material things.
Why are you here? What is your purpose?
Spirituality is simply the part of us that wants to embrace something personal in our own unique way. This can be anything from wanting to feel more calm more often or an urge to campaign to change something in the world around us. Simple things that make us present can ehnace our spirituality such as listening to a special piece of music, appreciating art in a gallery or sitting in nature. Whatever makes you feel more joyful and alive is good for your spirit, especially if you feel great afterwards. You know the saying “that really lifted my spirits”.
What lifts your spirits? What are you passionate about?
What did you enjoy doing as a child or teenager that you no longer do but would reconsider if you made space and time for it? Did you run, swim, knit, paint, sing, play football. Do you ever feel ‘in the moment’ when spending time with your children, grandchildren or pets? It is a great example of being present as we forget for a while about our ‘to-do’ lists.
Gratitude: This is another word for thankfulness and an appreciation for kindness you have received or will receive. Gratitude is more than just being positive when you feel down. It is an emotion which is fired up from little things or major life events that you have experienced. It is about really taking note of the things that make you feel good. By saying what you are grateful for each day and out loud to yourself, you reaffirm a positive emotion that brings you in tune with yourself. Try it and see. What are you truly grateful for today?
Take time to nourish your inner-self and nurture your spirituality. You will feel good about who you are, you will feel more empathy and connection to everything else around you, whether that is nature or people or just the unknown.
Love and Romance
- Are you in a kind and supporting relationship?
- Are you in a relationship that does not fulfil your needs and desires?
- Do you live with someone who is depleting your energy, emotions and finances?
- Are you single and want to attract a new relationship?
- Do you sometimes think you would prefer to live alone?
No matter what your answer is to the above, love is not the fairytale you see in movies. A good relationship can bring out the best in us, give us friendship and intimacy, encourage us to laugh out loud, embrace our dreams and aspirations and enrich our lives. Overall, it can give us a positive feeling of wellness. Love and relationships can \also come with fear of abandonment, rejection, loss of independence, loneliness and unwanted challenges. We often search for the ideal and set ourselves up for disappointment.
Cultivate a healthy relationship with yourself first and then you can give and receive love unconditionally.
The first step to cultivating any healthy relationship is to know and understand yourself first. The more you are aware of yourself, the more you can take control over your own choices and manage expectations and set boundaries. This in turn, can give you a greater perspective of how you relate to others. This starts with your identity, values and beliefs. If you need help defining these, then contact me for a discussion.
Secondly, take time to enjoy your own company. I know some people who cannot be alone and are so needy that they drift in and out of unhealthy relationships through fear of loneliness or spend hours on social media to feel some sort of connection to people. Take time out to be alone to reflect and be honest with yourself. However, do not isolate for too long and link up to those people who will support you, as mentioned prevously.
My third tip for any relationship is one of the hardest for many – communication. Do you have trouble expressing your feelings to a loved one or do they run the other way when you start a conversation on a touchy subject? You are not alone. Talking about small stuff is easy but when things get more personal, it is difficult to even raise the subject, let alone work around a solution. Do not try to change your partner but work with compromise that suits you both.
Start with sharing responsibilities around the home and as well as having your own responsibilities. If you need to discuss something that requires focus and calm, talk as you walk. Being away from your home environment and out in nature can relax the body and mind and allow for thoughts to just ‘flow’. Taking a walk with your partner to discuss a concern is a great way to solve a conflict and brainstorm new ideas for moving forward AND its free therapy!
The taboo subject in many relationships is sex. Aim for a balance between having too much or not enough. Intimacy benefits not just your relationship but is good for your heart, reduces stress and boosts your immune system+. Also, a good hug can be intimate and beneficial so take or give one when you can.
Sometimes, no matter how much we try, the relationship does just not work. Find a way to let go and move on. This may be harder with a mortgage or children but only YOU change your circumstances and your life. Allow the fear of change and the new challenge of fulfilling your desires to come into focus. You can do this alone or, eventually, with someone else – it does not matter how old you are. Every day can bring a better life if you attract it. Making hard decisions can be painful and difficult but once we deal with them and are honest, we can help our overall wellness.
Thank you for reading. I hope you find something in here useful to you. If you have any comments or questions, just let me know.
What is the one positive change you can make NOW to start balancing the jigsaw of your life? Write it down and start and see how you feel this time next week or next month…..
If you need help defining and changing certain areas of your life, I can help you with just a few sessions. Remember, you have the answers; I can let you see them…..
Nothing ever exists alone. Everything is in relation to everything else – Budda
*Human Motivation-Robert E Franken ^ US department of health and human services + NHS Health and Care Information