Health and Wellness

Winter sure can be depressing. I don’t like the short, grey days or the chilly nights. If like me you feel your mood and energy are down this time of year, here are some things to help make your Autumn and Winter more enjoyable. 

  1. Visit Botanical Gardens. Even in the dead of Winter their greenhouses are filled with beautiful plants and trees. They are warm and smell lovely. The added oxygen can help lift your spirits, while the warm air will remind you of warmer days. If you don’t have botanical gardens around you visit any park, feeling closer to nature often make us feel better too.
  2. Meet a friend for tea or coffee – not pints. I am not saying drinking is out of the question for the colder months. However, if you are already feeling down, adding alcohol to the mix isn’t a good idea. Alcohol is a depressant, that followed by pouring your heart out to a friend can often lead to the fear in a big way. Instead, meet someone you trust for tea and talk. It will give you a chance to vent and hopefully not judge yourself too harshly.
  3. Let yourself hibernate. It’s colder, the days are shorter and your energy levels are low. Instead of spending the days complaining about that, give in. Let yourself move slower, eat a bit more and do less. Putting yourself down for your lack of energy won’t change anything, it will most likely do the opposite. The seasons will change, like they always do and you will once again feel more motivated. Untill that time, relax.
  4. Grab some vitamin D supplements. Usually us humans get all the vitamin D we need from the sun. The UV rays trigger its synthesis into our body. However, in these Winter months we often do not get enough. Those D vitamins are responsible for making our bones strong and keeping our immune system healthy. Pop into your local health food shop and give yourself a boost.15107440_10153934208221603_4422841898846942937_n
  5. Eat foods that are hearty and rich with good fats. This time of year it can feel like the tank is always empty. Make sure you are eating things that give you a boost. Nuts, lentils, chicken and turkey will all fill your belly and help balance your mind. Having a slow cooker in the house is handy because you can fill it with what you need on your way to work. When you return home dinner is ready to go, slip into some comfy clothes and eat up.
  6. Go outside on your lunch break. Depending on the hours you work you may never see sunlight. That can make it seem like you are living one long, dark, day. You need a break. Even if it’s chilly bundle up and walk around the block. Breathe in the air and admire those grey clouds. They’ll part soon and the sun will return… Right?
  7. Watch, read or listen to something uplifting. Sometimes we need to feel like the world isn’t that bad. I did a post before with some reading suggestions which you can check out. Otherwise ask friends and family what they watch when they want to feel optimistic. Sometimes we need the outside world to help counteract the inside feelings.

The key to all of this is noticing how you feel and deciding what you need. Trying to convince yourself you feel different than you do, doesn’t work. Embrace the cold and the grey. Curl up, get warm and be lazy. It will be Spring before you know it and you’ll be surprised how fast it’s come around. If you feel like you are feeling more down then usual contact someone like myself and talk. It’s totally normal to feel out of sorts at times and usually all that is needed is a little extra support.

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell

 

A Balanced Lifestyle

Due to the society we live in there is a large focus on looks. For both men and women there is a standard we are all supposed to ascribe too. The problem with that is how we look only tells a small story of who we are. However, feeling positive about how we look on the outside can help us feel more positive on the inside.

We all know that diet and exercise is the key to having a healthy body but it also contributes to a healthy mind. When it comes to the food we eat and the activities we do, I believe the key is balance. Diets have been proven time and time again that they rarely work. The diet is usually too restrictive and when you go back to eating the way you did before you gain more weight back.

Many of us have become incredibly disconnected from our bodies. Not noticing the connection between our diet and how we feel. In a past post I spoke about our relationship with food and how our patterns with it can be formed young. As we grow-up it’s important to look at why, when and what we eat. As well as when, why and how we are physically active.

If you find you don’t like exercise maybe you haven’t found the right activity. The gym and going to classes can feel intimidating. Why not try exercises at home? Here are some examples of exercises you can find on Youtube:

  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Cardio
  • Zumba 

These are just a few examples of what’s available. If you don’t even know where to start it always begins with awareness. Notice what it feels like when you eat and what you eat. After a difficult day do you crave sweets? Do you find instead of getting upset you eat until you are so full it’s uncomfortable?

Living in the extremes of restrictive dieting isn’t good for your body, listen to it and notice what it’s asking for. Try to find balance and enjoyment, your body carries you through each day, treat it in the way that it deserves.

“Health isn’t about being “perfect” with food or exercise or herbs. Health is about balancing those things with your desires. It’s about nourishing your spirit as well as your body.” – Golda Poretsky

Enjoy Responsibly

Today is Saint Patrick’s Day. Which means many will be wearing, eating and drinking all things green. The day is named after the patron saint of Ireland who died over 1500 years ago. He is known for bringing Christianity to Ireland. As the celebration falls during lent it originally allowed for those abstaining from alcohol to be exempt for this one day. For most people this day now has very little religious connections but are still happy to celebrate. As Paddy’s Day allows for those par taking in festivities to start drinking at noon, which for a week day can certainly can feel miraculous.

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When it comes to drinking, especially when in the midst of celebrations pacing isn’t usually part of the equation. Which is why here in Dublin many locals stay out of the city centre on March 17th. Tourists come in and drink far too much, too early and things get messy. In general it seems many people don’t know their limit. Being surrounded by people who drink faster than you or having to buy rounds can add a pressure and a pace that might not suit you.

To know your limits it’s important to pay attention to what feels right for you when it comes to alcohol. You don’t have to be the same level of drunk of everyone else if you don’t want too. Especially if you suffer from anxiety, pacing can go out the window. That anxious voice that usually fills your mind might be quieted as the booze flows. However, what often happens is you wake up the next day feeling so much worst. Often because the fear of what happened while under the influence haunts you. If you have hazy memories that makes it worst and gives your anxiety more power and a louder voice.

Alcohol is a depressant which means that it takes longer for information to travel between the brain and body. This slowing down impairs everything we do but can often give an air of confidence, which is why people might do something drunk they would never do sober. Since it’s the most widely used drug in the world it’s common to make excuses for what happens drunk.

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As with all things it’s important to notice your own pattern when it comes to alcohol. Do you feel like you need a drink when you are sad/anxious/upset or angry? If that’s the case you are most likely using it to help you cope. If you feel it’s the only way you can celebrate or unwind then you most likely need it to help you relax. Using regularly in either scenario can become a problem because your body can forget how to regulate; you’re relying on a chemical to have the intended reaction. Which is why some people feel like they can only have fun while drinking.

The goal is to enjoy everything in moderation, which looks different for everyone. Today and any other day you decide to consume alcohol notice the impact it can have on you. You are fun and people will like your company even if you aren’t completely hammered. If you wake up dreading what happened the night before you’re only hurting yourself.

“Drink moderately, for drunkeness neither keeps a secret, nor observes a promise.” – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Pets and Animals

The joy we can get from sharing our space with another is amazing. That same joy can be got from sharing our space with an animal. It may not be until you have a pet of your own that you realise how much love you can have for a furry friend.

There are tons of health benefits from owning a pet. Below I’ll just name a few:

  • Less stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Helps you socialise
  • Improved mood and health

Not to mention the feeling you have knowing you get to care for another living thing. The responsibility of having a pet has literally turned lives around. In a few select prisons inmates were allowed to keep pets. The results were incredible: “Over the course of a year, prisoners on the pet ward were less violent and needed only half the medication of their petless peers, and there were no suicide attempts, compared with eight on the other ward. Another study, at Lorton Correctional Facility in Virginia, found that prisoners on a special pet programme had a recidivism rate less than a quarter of the national average. ”
Those findings are amazing and are directly related to having a pet to care for.

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If you find yourself feeling lonely or down a pet can be a wonderful natural way to raise your mood. Of course only decide to start caring for an animal when you are sure you have the time and ability. Like you they deserve love and affection and since their love is unconditional make sure you treat them right.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France

Happy Easter!

Just a quick note to wish you all a very happy Easter. I plan on enjoying the fact that Spring is around the corner. If you are feeling bright and springy yourself, why not start a little art project?

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Here’s some inspiration for you: mandalas (featured above), crafts for kids and crafts for adults. The changing season is a great excuse to start something new. Embrace the change and have faith the snow will melt and the sun with shine on your face once again.

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” – Hal Borland

Slow life

Take a few moments and watch this hypnotic video called ‘Slow Life’. Why not take a few deep breaths while you’re at it. Life is short, we all could benefit from slowing down and marvelling in the beauty and weridness that can surrounds us.

“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.” – Leonardo da Vinci 

Weight, what?

The Summer months are fast approaching and even if it weren’t for the change of weather I would know. How? Well the push to make people feel bad about their bodies of course. Cosmopolitan has an entire section of their website dedicate entirely to how to be ‘bikini ready’. It seems to me that a bathing suit ready body is more a state of mind rather than a size but I imagine that doesn’t sell as well.

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I was recently reading a great article from Cracked.com where a woman shared her experience of being in a weight loss commercial. I have seen how before and after pics can be doctored, I know about the camera tricks. However it is amazing when you see some of these transformations and hear the ‘testimonials’. She explains how the individuals involved are never on the same program and how they blatantly lie to tug at insecurities many of us face. I recommend a read as it is eye-opening and a little terrifying

No carbs, no sugar, sleep 8 hours a night, drink 8 glasses of water, exercise 5 days a week. We have all been told over and over again what to do to lose weight. On a very logical level we know that if you eat poorly, you feel poorly and look poorly. That little voice in your head beats you up yet you keep munching. Most of us do so the question is, why?

My hunch is that somewhere along the way we’re taught that unhealthy food is a treat. It’s something that is used to comfort, to make us feel better when we’re down. The problem is that a lot of these treat foods can have very addictive qualities. Our brain can get a high off these foods. We love the way it feels to eat them, no matter the consequences.

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If you are hoping to feel better about yourself this Summer I recommend you start with a food journal. This is not about keeping track of your calorie intake, it’s not that type of journal. It is about writing down how you feel when you’re eating. For example:

1:00pm – Had a sandwich for lunch, decided to skip breakfast which felt really good.

2:00pm – Tea break, had low-fat milk and 4 biscuits. Jesus, I feel fat already. What is wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just have one?

5:00pm – Had a take away for dinner. It’s shit food but I had a shit day. Ugh, I feel miserable…

If you have a negative relationship with food that can change. Instead of focusing on a number on a scale take some time to sit with your feelings. As your attitude towards food changes so will your attachment to it. Or maybe you’ll learn it’s how you comfort, numb or grieve. If that’s the case then talking to someone can help, you don’t have to deal with all of life’s stresses on your own.

Starting today don’t beat yourself up for what you’re eating. Take some time to explore why you’re eating. I did an article on body image a few months ago, if you feel like reading more have a look.

“I am beginning to measure myself in strength, not pounds. Sometimes in smiles.” – Laurie Halse Anderson