Notice, nurture, nourish: Simple tips for a healthier mind and body
In this three-part series, we give you some easy, practical tips on how to feel more refreshed and energised so you can focus on creating your excellent life.L
Part 2: Nurture
It’s a well-known fact that people who experience high levels of stress tend to get sick more than others. Combine stress with lack of sleep and poor nutrition, and our immune system’s ability to naturally protect us against infection and disease is greatly reduced.
A great way to help reduce stress and improve your resilience is to increase your physical activity. That’s right – good old exercise.
Physical activity makes us feel more positive and confident by raising our endorphins – chemicals that can trigger a positive feeling in the body. People who are physically active often talk about the ‘runner’s high’ – the feeling of euphoria after a good workout.
And with its ability to help us relax and sleep better, exercise is now commonly prescribed by doctors treating patients for anxiety and depression.
But it’s not always easy to fit in regular exercise. How many of us have started an exercise routine and let it slip as life gets in the way?
Thankfully, you don’t need to commit to a strenuous workout, or an expensive gym membership, to reap the benefits of physical activity. Just a small amount of movement can help reduce stress, increase energy levels and even your ability to concentrate and focus, making you more productive throughout the day.
Here are some simple, but effective ways to get us moving:
- Talk to a colleague face to face instead of emailing them. Your communication is likely to be more effective and you’ll develop a closer working relationship at the same time.
- When shopping, park further away from the entrance. You’ll add extra steps and longer time carrying those weights (shopping bags), without going too far out of your way.
- Schedule a walking meeting. Choose a nice beach or park to walk through if you can to make it more pleasant. You’ll find that walking together, in the same direction at about the same pace and speed, naturally helps your unconscious minds to be more collaborative and see the world from similar perspectives.
- If you catch public transport, get off a stop earlier. This helps you fit in an extra walk without it feeling like too much of a burden.
- Move while on the phone. If we stand up when we’re making calls, we sound clearer, more confident and we often feel mentally more capable.
- Make cleaning a fun activity. Break it up into smaller tasks and delegate to family members or colleagues. Why not turn it into a group relay? One person does a first step e.g. empty the top shelf of the dishwasher, then goes and taps the next person to take a two minute stretch break and empty the bottom shelf. Before long everyone in the office has gotten up and moved and the kitchen is clean!
- Stretch at your desk. Hold a simple upper body stretch at your desk for 3-5 seconds or get up and do a full body stretch. Stretching brings proper blood flow and nutrient supply to our muscles and tissues, especially our brain. This can help prevent fatigue, discomfort and reduce the risk of injury, stiffness, aches and pains and even lower our risk of osteoarthritis.
- Get out of your comfort zone. I have a friend who is a computer programmer. He has a brilliant solution to getting stumped with programming problems – he goes rollerblading in the park. It gets him outside, in the fresh air, away from the problems at hand. Enabling his conscious mind to focus on something completely different gives his unconscious mind the opportunity to think through the problem. Often, he will arrive back at the office having worked out the solution.
- Exercise with others. Having a gym partner or belonging to an exercise group can help keep you accountable as we’re more likely to turn up when others are relying on us being there. It’s also a wonderful way to connect with others and nurture our minds at the same time.
Other things we can do to nurture ourselves include:
- Massage. Previously considered a ‘luxury’, massage is now rapidly gaining popularity as a way to improve mental and physical wellbeing. A remedial massage can undo knots in your muscles, decrease aches and pains in your body, boost our immune system, lower heart rate and blood pressure and increase blood circulation, helping our body to eliminate waste and increase access to fresh nutrients. As for the mental benefits, massage can relax your mind and de-stress you.
- Epsom salt bath. The magnesium in the salts seeps into muscles, relaxing and rejuvenating them. A foot bath after standing for a long period can help restore our feet and calves and help our mind unwind too.
What are some of the ways you nurture yourself, or others already? Let us know in the comments below.