We all want healthy teeth and gums, right? Did you know that the health of our teeth, gums and mouth in general, is a window for the health of our bodies? If we have bleeding gums or chronic mild infection, this can directly increase the inflammation present in the rest of our body and may even be an indicator of ill-health somewhere else in our body. By eating fruits and vegetables, we can positively impact not only our general health, but also create the healthy teeth and gums that we want.
We know that fruits and vegetables are good for us, but
how do they help our mouth and teeth?
Many fruits and vegetables are rich sources of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. For example, folic acid and other B vitamins, found especially in leafy greens supports healthy cell growth in general, supporting a healthy mouth.
Fresh, crisp fruits and raw vegetables help freshen breath and clean plaque from teeth. Eating fibrous, fresh, raw foods such as apples, oranges, carrots or celery, as well as other hard and fibrous vegetables for example, help to clean teeth (although not a substitute for flossing and brushing). The large amount of chewing required, stimulates saliva production, washing away the acids present (citric and malic acids predominantly) as well as other food particles that may be present in the mouth. The chewing also stimulates the gums and reduces cavity causing bacterial build up.
Foods rich in vitamin C such as apples, pears, oranges, pineapples, strawberries, cucumbers and tomatoes, protect tissues, including gums from cellular damage as well as against bacterial infection. Vitamin C also provides an immune boost, improves blood vessel and gum health and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Foods rich in beta carotene or any carotenoids, such as carrot, root vegetables (and celery) support vitamin A production, an essential nutrient for strong, healthy teeth.
COFACTORS FOR CALCIUM
Dark leafy green and cruciferous vegetables such as kale, cabbage, chard, asparagus and broccoli, contain a great variety of micronutrients. These include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin A, as well as the B vitamins already mentioned. Many of these nutrients especially magnesium and phosphorus are important for the body to absorb and store calcium in the bones and teeth. As well as supporting the body’s ability to balance pH, which is essential for strong bones and teeth.
Cranberries have been shown to reduce plaque formation and tooth decay by disrupting an enzyme involved in this process. Anthocyanins, phytonutrients (plant nutrients) present in foods containing reds, purples and blues are also healthful. This includes foods such as all berries, pomegranates, cherries, eggplant, plums, prunes, raisins, red grapes, red apples, red onion, red cabbage, red kidney beans and beetroot. These compounds are powerful antioxidants that seem to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-cancer properties. Further, they may specifically prevent the attachment and colonisation of pathogens.
VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE
These are just a few ways in which fruits and vegetables can help keep your mouth and teeth healthy.
Hopefully, it is clear that a large variety of different fruits and vegetables, especially encompassing the rainbow of colours, can support general health as well as tooth and mount health in a multitude of ways. Thus making eating as wide as possible a variety a useful, cost effective, efficient, simple and healthful strategy for most of us.
The easiest way to make use of the power of healthful fruits and vegetables is just to make sure to incorporate as many as you can into your daily life. Any improvements here will not only improve the quality of your general health, but also greatly impact your mouth. Allowing you strong and healthy teeth and gums, well into old-age.
Another, is to strip your diet back to a simple, clean eating protocol for just a short period of time. During this time, make sure that the majority of what you eat is fresh fruits and vegetables. This allows your digestive system a chance to not work so hard, as you’ve reduced your meat and processed food intake. This in itself, plus the addition of a larger volume of nutrients and fibre from this plant based eating, can allow your body to take a moment and remove more toxins from the system.
A short and simple detoxification process is a great way to periodically help your body to purge and to repair. Are you ready to begin a simple, food-based detoxification process? Click through and Pre-REGISTER your interest to Join Us for a 10 Day Detox Challenge, set to start early in 2020!
• Stress; anxiety, nervousness?
• Muscle cramps, spasms or tension?
• Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
• Fatigue and low energy?
• Irregular heartbeat?
• Difficulty sleeping
• Low bone density
• Premenstrual syndrome
• Low appetite?
These can be early signs that you are magnesium deficient!
WHY IS MAGNESIUM SO IMPORTANT?
Magnesium is a mineral that is an important part of many essential bodily processes. It is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions. Its importance for maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, health rhythm and cell energy production is most notable. However, it is essential for healthy blood sugar balance, normalising blood pressure, calcium metabolism and healthy bone, good blood circulation as well as dealing with stress effectively.
In 1991, a study on the Australian population by the CSIRO1 found that 50% of males and 39% of females tested were deficient in magnesium. This shows the trend, that in this modern world, most people living in developed countries tend to eat more than we require, macronutrient (fats, carbohydrates and proteins) wise. However, many are still nutrient deficient. Not to the level of deficiency diseases such as rickets, but below optimal levels required to experience optimal health and wellbeing. If we lack the correct ratios of associated nutrients and cofactors that allow micronutrients to be effectively absorbed, as well as their ability to be used in the body (bioavailable) and ability to perform in the body (bioactive) our levels will be insufficient, even if eating enough of a few specific nutrients.
WE NEED DAILY INTAKE
Magnesium is excreted by the kidneys in urine, every day, therefore we need to ensure we have adequate intake daily.
AMOUNTS NEEDED VARY AND ARE INDIVIDUAL
While Magnesium is found in many foods (see the list below), especially green vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes and even chocolate, we can often still be deficient for two reasons. First, even if we eat our vegetables, the amount in food varies and depends on the soil. Secondly, our requirements for Magnesium increase when we are under stress, especially chronic stress; drinking multiple cups of tea and/or coffee daily; or have exercised, especially a strenuous or long workout.
ARE YOU DEFICIENT?
Because no one type of magnesium level test is particularly accurate, a combination of lab tests and clinical assessment is best to determine if supplementation is useful. If you suffer any or a combination of the above symptoms on a regular basis, you may benefit from supplementation.
WHAT TYPE DO I TAKE?
There are many forms of magnesium supplement, and each has its place.
The skin can be a great way to absorb magnesium. This form of supplementation may be best for those who have trouble digesting or holding minerals, such as those with adrenal fatigue or low stomach acid.
Epsom salts (or magnesium sulphate) in the bath can be great for relaxation and reducing muscle cramps and aches. In addition, it can also help draw out toxins via your pores.
By The Way, this can also be used orally as a laxative, but it is easy to overdo, potentially causing uncomfortable toilet related accidents.
For muscle aches and pains, magnesium oil or lotion (magnesium chloride) can be fantastic. This form can also be useful for soothing eczema and dermatitis!
Just a note, you may find magnesium oil makes your skin tingle, generally this reduces as your magnesium stored improve, but you can always wash it off as soon as it dries, to reduce the sensation.
When supplementing orally, you may need to experiment to determine the type and dose that suits you best. This is individual and a dose that is too high for you, may cause abdominal upset, diarrhoea and, maybe worse. So take care, and it may be best to seek medical assistance.
Magnesium malate can help relax tense areas and relieve muscle pain as well as helping cells to make and use energy. May be the best form for fibromyalgia sufferers. Good to take in morning.
Magnesium Threonate may be great to support learning, memory formation and protect against cognitive decline.
Magnesium oxide is great to support movement through your digestion. So, if you are not emptying your bowels at least daily, small regular doses of this can be beneficial. It is important to note that you are not supporting body magnesium levels and toileting habits as the magnesium is also expelled.
Magnesium citrate is more absorbable that magnesium oxide, but it can also loosen your bowels, so take care. This form is good for relaxing muscles and the mind.
Magnesium glycinate is a more absorbable form, quick to raise magnesium levels and less likely to great diarrhoea. The amino acid glycine that it is bound to also supports better sleep.
So, now I hope it is clear that magnesium is an important mineral and supplementation is often necessary. Finding the right version and dose for you may take a little time, but it is well worth it. The best one, is the one that works for your body. You can always get magnesium from your food, but remember the content varies and supplementation is inexpensive.
Table 1: Selected Food Sources of Magnesium 
Food Milligrams (mg) per serving Percent DV* Almonds, dry roasted,1 ounce 80 20 Spinach, boiled, ½ cup 78 20 Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 74 19 Peanuts, oil roasted, ¼ cup 63 16 Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits 61 15 Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup 61 15 Black beans, cooked, ½ cup 60 15 Edamame, shelled, cooked, ½ cup 50 13 Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons 49 12 Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices 46 12 Avocado, cubed, 1 cup 44 11 Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces 43 11 Rice, brown, cooked, ½ cup 42 11 Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces 42 11 Breakfast cereals, fortified with magnesium 40 10 Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet 36 9 Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup 35 9 Banana, 1 medium 32 8 Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces 26 7 Milk, 1 cup 24-27 6–7 Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces 24 6 Raisins, ½ cup 23 6 Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces 22 6 Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled, 3 ounces 20 5 Broccoli, chopped and cooked, ½ cup 12 3 Rice, white, cooked, ½ cup 10 3 Apple, 1 medium 9 2 Carrot, raw, 1 medium 7 2
*DV = Daily Value. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developed DVs to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for magnesium used for the values in Table 2 is 400 mg for adults and children age 4 years and older . This DV, however, is changing to 420 mg as the updated Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels are implemented . The updated labels must appear on food products and dietary supplements beginning in January 2020, but they can be used now . FDA does not require food labels to list magnesium content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient, but foods providing lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.
1. Journal of Nutrition Research, 1991. Baghurst, K.I.; Dreosti, I.E.; Syrette, J.A.; Record, S.J.; Baghurst, P.A.; Buckley, R.A. Zinc and magnesium status of Australian adults; Volume 11; pgs 23-32
2.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 2019. Food database. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/. Accessed 18/10/2019
As we travel through the turbulence of change, again, that is Autumn, here are our Top 3 Healing Herbs to Boost Your Immunity.
First let’s start with our immune system, what is it?
Our immune system is a vital part of our body, it keeps us safe from disease. Everything from a simple cold or flu, to more severe illnesses such as cancer.
It’s what defends our bodies from diseases and is also often the reason we feel unwell when those same diseases are trying to take hold.
Please be aware, even healthy bodies can feel unwell whilst fighting infections. A strong immune system, is not necessarily one that doesn’t ever feel unwell. It’s one that goes through the disease process more rapidly and recovers more quickly.
So what can we do, to boost it and get through the disease process faster?
Great question, here are 3 herbal suggestions that may help you.
Throughout history echinacea has been used to treat scarlet fever, syphilis, malaria, blood poisoning, and diphtheria. Today, people commonly use it to reduce the duration and intensity of symptoms of common colds and flu, as well as for respiratory tract infections, ear infections, sinusitis, tonsillitis, sore throats, coughs, and fevers.
Traditional health practitioners have used Echinacea for its suggested antiviral, anti-microbial and antioxidant properties. It can enhance the activity of our immune system and reduce inflammation. Primarily echinacea defends us against disease by strengthening our body’s immune system. It does this by stimulating the cells involved in tissue repair, “fibroblasts”, as well as activating the process of “phagocytosis”, where special white blood cells scavenge bacteria, very much like “Pacmen”. No wonder Echinacea has become a herb of choice for immune support.
So what can Echinacea really do for me? In a review of over a dozen studies, Scientists from the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, found that echinacea reduced the chances of developing a cold by 58% and the duration of a cold by 1 – 4 days. (The Lancet Infections Diseases (July 2007 edition) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252684.php).
There are three different species of echinacea are commonly used for medicinal purposes: Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea pallida, and Echinacea purpurea. And different chemical compounds that play a role in its therapeutic effects: polysaccharides, glycoproteins, alkamides, volatile oils, and flavonoids. These are found in different parts of the plant. The roots tend to have high concentrations of the volatile oils, while the above-ground parts of the plant tend to contain more polysaccharides; the substances that trigger the activity of the immune system. Echinacea can be bought as tinctures, capsules, tablets and ointments. These preparations can contain one, two, or even all three species and one or multiple parts of the plant. Like with any other herb or supplement, it’s best taken under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care practitioner.
It is a powerful natural antibiotic and also has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Garlic is a great source of vitamin B6 which is needed for a healthy immune system and the efficient growth of new cells. This vitamin B6 can also assist with mood swings and help maintain your positive attitude, through the challenges of this ever changing season of transition!
The most potent known part of Garlic, is a compound it contains, called allicin. Allicin is a fragile compound that only survives for a few hours, once the garlic clove is opened. So the most effective way to consume it, is to eat it – grilled or roasted, crushed or sliced. At the first sign of your next cold, why not try the old folk remedy of eating a clove of garlic that has been dipped in honey, and see if it works for you?
By having more antioxidant-rich fruits such as: oranges, lemons and limes, as well as blue berries and kiwi fruit, and vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes and capsicums, we can boost our immune system (https://www.pcrm.org – Physicians commit for responsible medicine).
Blueberries look small, but just a handful, pack a powerful punch of antioxidants including vitamin C, making them a great stress-busting and immune system boosting snack. Try some with a handful of nuts on your next break.
Hints for choosing supplements:
Fresh, from whole foods is always the best way to go. But if you’re looking for a convenient, cost effective and consistent way to optimise your intake on a daily basis, even on the days you don’t quite eat the way you know you should. Or if you’re wanting to kick start your healing process or have specific deficiency or weakness you want to manage… Here are some things to look for, in choosing them.
Make sure that they are plant based, organic and are not genetically modified (GMO). Choose ones that use the whole plant. That is the best way for our bodies to recognise it as a food and so digest it as such. This also enables our body to use it effectively, rather than a chemical version that it doesn’t recognise, and therefore can’t use properly.
Organically grown, means that we’re not putting toxins like pesticides, in our body, when we’re focusing on enhancing our health. And if the company takes the extra step of monitoring the vitamin & mineral levels of the soil to ensure that they are in there, then you know you’re actually getting the vitamins and minerals that you’re looking for. Quite simply, if the vitamins & minerals are not in soil, they can’t be in plant.
How do they process the supplement? This will affect the freshness and potency of the ingredients in the supplement. Look at the way they process it, how long it takes, and what do they use to form the tablet or capsule. All of these will affect which nutrients get into the product in the first place and if they are still in the product at the point you take it. For example, as we mentioned earlier, the Allicin in garlic, only lasts for a few hours. The processes used to create garlic tablets can destroy it. If you decide to take garlic in tablet form, it’s best to use one that is created within only a couple of hours.
Finally, what kinds of plants are being utilised in the supplement? Are they using a variety of plants, including specific and less accessible ones? For instance, fruits such as guava, acerola cherries & pomegranates, are very high in particular vitamins and minerals. Acerola cherries, for example, have 65 times more Vitamin C than oranges and are not commonly found local green grocer.
So, increase your garlic and Vitamin C levels with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, this Autumn. You may like to have some echinacea tablets on hand, as well, to boost your immune system and get through the disease process, to have you back on your feet faster!
We do best when we allow ourselves to follow the natural rhythms and seasonal changes through Autumn. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy, when we are in flow with these natural patterns we can more clearly see our own worth and the value we bring to the world we live in, whether we spend our time in board room discussions or refilling sippy cups.
Autumn is a time of harvest. Reaping the fruits of our labours, enjoying them and storing them in preparation for winter. Autumn is also a season of transitions. From the searing heat and the long days of summer, towards the shorter, cooler days of winter. The leaves of many trees in our local Sydney landscape, change colour; turning stunning reds, yellows and browns. Finally, in their pursuit to conserve energy, as the sunshine fades and the temperature cools, they lose their leaves altogether. Creating not only fabulous piles to jump, roll around and crunch in, but also their own compost, to enrich the soil and ensure the next generation has the nutrients they need to grow.
Traditional Chinese Medicine explains that we each have 12 meridians, or energy channels that run through our bodies. Each season, one pair reaches their energy peak, giving rise to a particular set of mental, emotional and physical attributes expressing themselves most strongly and actively during that period. In autumn, the two strongest meridian energies, are the Lung and Large Intestine meridians. Both these meridian energies are about the cycle of life, about releasing and renewing. Just like the leaves of the trees mentioned earlier, these energies help us to release the old and unnecessary, and bring in the new.
Our lungs, which take in the air we breathe and then begin the distribution process, sending the oxygen from the air, all around our body. Similarly, the theme of lung energy is expansion, new thinking and the nurturing of these new ideas, through learning and experience. As well as the spreading of these learnings, knowledge and insights, through communication and personal expression. Strong Lung energy, helps us be most effective in performing our chosen tasks & maintaining our purpose.
One of the best ways to strengthen the lungs is simply breathing deeply. This nurtures and nourishes our immune system, supports our energy, and even promotes better sleep. When we breathe deeply and with intention, we flush our cells with the fresh, clean oxygen needed for all our body processes. One of the best things we can do to enhance our lung health, is walk outdoors, in the brisk autumn air, and take some long, slow breaths.
Our lungs are also seen as the receiver of pure Chi (energy). Through which, our spirit and sense of purpose is strengthened, and our connection to our personal perception of God. Whether we name it God, Christ, Buddha, universal energy, or simply our future or higher self. It is through this connectedness that we see and appreciate qualities in ourselves, raising our sense of worth, both of ourselves and others, fostering our humility and tolerance and buffering our strengthened boundaries.
Large Intestine is the partner energy to lung, and together they balance the body. The energy of Large Intestine Meridian is about our ability to let go of what is not needed, from our body, mind, spirit and emotions. Helping us to stay clean and clear, and not get bogged down with old habits, ideas, physical or psychological clutter, that no longer serve us. Making autumn a good time to reflect on what we may be holding onto and work these ideas through fully, to release them completely.
Of course letting go of negative thoughts and emotions is a good idea at any time of the year. But it’s particularly good in autumn, when our Lung and Large Intestine energies are at their peak. Sometimes, just awareness can create huge changes in how we see things, sometimes we need the help of a trusted professional practitioner, to help us clear the issues that are bogging us down or holding us back. Such as an osteopath, acupuncturist, or TEME practitioner (see website).
We usually, think of doing a major clean and declutter of our homes as a Spring Clean, but actually doing it in autumn can make our re-organising easier and support us emotionally, in the process of letting go of the old and making room for the new. Our lungs and large intestine both unconsciously remove the old and no longer useful components of the air we breathe and food we consume. We can use this added strength of lung and large intestine energy, while they’re at their prime. Our personal boundaries are bolstered, and we are enabled to more easily release the used, spent and unnecessary, and accept life for what it is, so we can truly get the most out of it.
Personally I have found that physical decluttering can help my emotional and psychological state. I may not know how to shift this stuck feeling I’m experiencing, but sorting and clearing physically, can help me shift my head space and move forward.
Try going through your wardrobe and putting together a collection of all the clothes you don’t wear anymore. Go through your computer and delete files you don’t need anymore. Sort and organise your desk, kitchen cupboards and general clutter. Take a trip to your local donation depot, give your old, disused items new life and make a donation you can feel great about!
These are just a couple of simple things you can do, to promote your health through the season of change, autumn.
Which things work for you? Let us know, in the comments below.
I don’t know who I am anymore… is this the way it is now?
Perimenopause, Menopause and Post-menopause
10 tips to a comfortable menopause journey
So, we know that menopause is a process that happens to all women at some
point. Many of us assume that the common symptoms of perimenopause
including hot flushes, irritability and discomfort are a “normal” and
inescapable part of the process. You may be surprised to know that this is not
the case! As with puberty, while our bodies change, it is not a life sentence.
It can just be a transition. It is true that many women suffer horribly. It is
also true, that with a diet and lifestyle that supports our hormones to balance,
including cortisol and DHEA as well as the more widely known oestrogen and
progesterone, we can transition through this period of life, comfortably! Life
after menopause can be lively, exciting and something to look forward to. A
stage of life blessed with increased wisdom and being comfortable in your own
skin. Travelling through your Golden years with ease and grace.
These tend to vary
from person to person and some women hardly notice any. An incomplete list
Lower Sex drive
Headaches and migraines
Discomfort during sex (due to dryness)
Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing
Mood swings and irritability
Arm yourself with knowledge and find answers to how you can heal yourself naturally – access free gifts with free Registration to the Menopause Summit – get the Expert Advice
Perimenopause is the transitional stage between regular monthly periods and reaching menopause (defined as the point in time when a woman has had 12 months since her last period). The stage after this is classified as post-menopause.
Pre-menopause is the stage of life between puberty and menopause. A stage where hormones tend not to fluctuate much, a woman tends not to suffer any symptoms associated with menopause and she is in her reproductive years.
Perimenopause begins when the oestrogen produced in the ovaries starts to
reduce. Often resulting in several years of irregular periods due to the more
sporadic release of oestrogen and progesterone (as well as cortisol and DHEA).
Sometimes the hormonal fluctuations as so large or out of balance that we may
experience symptoms such as depression, moodiness and irritability, weight
gain, discomfort, reduced memory and concentration, muscle aches, as sense of
being uncomfortable in our own skin, hot flushes, hair loss, breast tenderness,
reduced libido and sexual pleasure and vaginal dryness, to name a few. This
stage may begin sometime between the ages of 35 and 50 years and can last from
as little as a few months, to as long as 15 years with the average, being
around 4 years. In the final stage, oestrogen levels may decline sharply. Symptoms
may be most pronounced at this time, expanding to include things like urinary urgency
and frequency or even incontinence; depression and anxiety as well as night
sweats, fatigue and skin dryness.
Menopause occurs when there is no longer enough oestrogen produced by the ovaries to trigger the uterine lining to build, the release of an egg or the shedding of the uterine lining. This is the point where fertility ceases. Contrary to what some of us thought, during the perimenopausal stage, conception is still possible.
Doctors can prescribe
Oestrogen creams for vaginal dryness, pain and discomfort
Progesterone creams for breast tenderness
The pill or other hormone replacement therapies to try to minimise symptoms
Creams or tablets to reduce bladder irritability
Look into the options and side effects for yourself before you decide
10 Natural Tips for a Comfortable Menopause Journey
Get more rest/sleep
Reduce alcohol intake
Be in a healthy weight range
Ensure you don’t have a vitamin or mineral deficiency (magnesium, vitamin D, vitamin C, omega 3, evening primrose oil [internal or topical])
Reduce foods that have the potential to alter hormone balance in the body => Processed, hydrogenated and trans-fats; Highly refined carbohydrates (especially sugars); Caffeine; Alcohol
Pelvic floor exercises to support the pelvic area and the bladder (as incontinence is a symptom of hormonal imbalance associated with perimenopause)
Using natural oils (jojoba, coconut, olive) as lubricants down there as a lubricant during sex, or during the day to allow more comfort
Add an anti-inflammatory, alkalising, plant rich diet
Always consult your doctor if you have strong pain, very heavy bleeding or bleeding for more than 7 days longer than your usual period
Are you ready to improve your health and vitality and reclaim your body and life? Dr Anna Cabeca has a new book with one approach to help you do just that.
Instagram will have us believe that the path to an excellent life involves green smoothies and yoga poses on the beach. While that may work for some, for most people, building a strong and healthy body and mind involves a much greater investment of time and energy.
Although this sounds daunting, don’t be put off, because the rewards are huge.
According to Gallup research, people who invest time into building a healthy mind and body are kinder, happier and more forgiving.
They have more energy, find it easier to maintain a positive attitude, learn new and more difficult things, can concentrate longer and are generally better problem solvers.
And importantly, they deal better with stress, trauma and depression.
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.
Part 1: Notice
By doing things that we excel in on a regular basis, we can maximise our sense of achievement, satisfaction, confidence and contribution. This can make us feel like contributing even more, further enhancing our productivity.
How to tackle those annoying tasks
We all have those tasks that we need to complete, but don’t particularly enjoy doing. Household chores, work emails, exercise… I could go on!
A practical tip to help you tackle those unavoidable tasks is to notice what time of day you feel most awake, strong and capable.
If you feel best first thing in the morning, great! Get those less inspiring tasks done and out of the way early so that you can enjoy the rest of the day. If it’s later in the day, make sure you set aside time then to get those items ticked off the list.
The next thing to take note of are your priorities. This will help you focus on the important items rather than what’s urgent. This can help you work smarter rather than harder and feel more in control. We can’t manage time, but we can manage our priorities.
You may have seen the idea of prioritising important tasks illustrated with a container being filled with large rocks then topped up with smaller rocks, then pebbles, then sand is added to fill in the tiniest gaps. And just when you thought nothing else could fit, a cup full of water is tipped in, to trickle into all the crevices. The point being, if you begin with the Big Rocks, your highest priorities, you can fit everything else in. But if you start with the pebbles and the sand, you’ll never get to the Big Rocks.
To illustrate this, here is a personal story about my husband and I, and our garden. Our garden had been neglected for a few months and was a complete mess. Feeling overwhelmed, my husband was stressed out and paralysed as he couldn’t see where to start.
To help remedy the situation, we created a list of all the things he could see that needed attending to. To our amazement, once it was all down on paper, he got his head back. His sense of overwhelm started to clear and he could make sense of what he wanted to achieve. We prioritised the list, by looking for just a couple of things that would make the biggest difference and that was enough to get us started. He was also able to delegate jobs to me and clearly communicate what he wanted done in a way that I could understand.
Another way to trick ourselves into success is to create 20 minute sessions. This allows us to work through larger projects that might look daunting. Once we’ve reached the end of the 20 minutes, we can choose to do another session, but we don’t get stuck there.
Breaking tasks up can be invaluable. Each component of the job, in its smallest possible piece forms a list. Completing these smaller tasks seems doable, almost a no brainer. They can often fit into these 20 minute bites and ticking them off can get addictive.
These 20 minute sessions can be interspersed with breaks to clear your head and re-energise. A few ways you can utilise these spaces include:
Meditation or visualisation. You can do this on the train or bus, a walking mediation while you’re walking through the park or by the water. Or just by sitting quietly and focusing on a positive, uplifting statement.
Books, podcasts or music. Reading or listening to something uplifting can be a great way to keep your mind focused and positive. For example, reading about successful people who’ve already crossed those tricky minefields ahead of us can help us gain ideas, perspective and confidence.
Incorporating daily movement. Going for a walk or even doing stretches at your desk are quick and easy techniques that allow our unconscious mind time to process, assimilate and file the previous experience and help us mentally put it away, rather than dwell on it.
Einstein said “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” In other words, no one is good at everything, so it’s important not to judge everyone by the same standards.
Let’s start by taking a moment to notice what we’re good at – our own personal strengths. Think for a brief moment about a time when you felt you were operating at your best.
Are you more likely to be:
Dealing with big picture challenges, or does getting into the small details light you up?
Energised by starting a new project, or by doing and completing an existing one?
Focusing mainly on tasks, or do you come alive when you are dealing with people?
Buzzed by doing the researching, analysing or refining of concepts or when you are sharing, presenting or selling these concepts?
Now that you are aware of some of your strengths, notice where and how you already use them, whether you’re at home, at work, in your local community or engrossed in a hobby?
How might you be able to utilise them even more?
When do you notice that you’re operating at your best? Let us know in the comments below.