It’s safe to say the wellness industry is booming and in a really good way. Everywhere you look there are self care tips, wellness bloggers, nutritious take away food and finally (most) of the fitness industry is no longer focussed on encouraging the ‘nothing is as good as skinny feels’ mentality but pushing everybody to be physically and mentally stronger and healthier than ever before. If I’m honest, it’s a bit of a bloody minefield and it’s no surprise that despite this positive movement around physical and mental well being, society is still battling with high levels of anxiety and stress and the fad diet industry is still just as booming as it was before the noughties.
I was listening to the Neom Organics London podcast recently and one of the messages that resonated with me most was, what is right for someone else may not be right for you and to remember the basics. You can go out and buy the most expensive CBD oil on the market because someone you followed on instagram swore it changed their life and it may have zero effect on you. You can follow a raw vegan diet after reading a book written by someone who claims this saved their life but it might make you poorly and miserable. You can follow every workout info graphic that Pinterest throws in your face but unless you have a balanced diet, enough sleep and the right exercises for you, you may not see the results that you’re expecting.
The other major point was that actually you don’t need all this stuff, the candles, the facials, the retreats, the hot stone massage or the juice detox to feel good. You might just need to get back to basics and really pay attention to what your body needs.
During pregnancy, I definitely noticed that as soon as I neglected the basics I felt so much worse,so paid more attention to the simple stuff and less attention to Pinterests reality of ‘self care’.
Here’s my list of basics to help you feel better:
- Prioritise Sleep
As a long suffering insomniac, possibly the lightest sleeper in the world and a very anxious brain whirring away, good quality sleep can often be incredibly hard thing to maintain. However, knowing that I don’t function at all well if my sleep suffers for more than a few days, I definitely prioritise it when I am feeling worse for wear. Sleep deprivation is used as a torture method for a reason! Even if I’m not getting a solid undisturbed 9 hours every night, I will at least try and stay in bed and rest my eyes/brain/body rather than toss & turn and get frustrated.
Sleep is so vital for your physical and mental well being, it’s not just a time for a rest, it’s a crucial time for your body and mind to repair, rejuvenate and replenish. Don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep when you’re feeling run down and if you’re struggling to get some good quality Z’s (because I know it’s not as simple as just going to bed) then seek help, google the shit out of it and find ways to get some better quality sleep because it will help. Everything. (I promise)
- Eat a Rainbow (and drink a river!)
OK so not an actual river please, definitely not recommended. However, this is a great philosophy to stick to without trying to ‘eat clean’, ‘diet’ or follow a plan of any sort. I’ve adopted it into my food philosophy after reading one of Deliciously Ella’s cook books where she talks about the Deliciously Ella ethos. I often find myself feeling foggy, sluggish and restless if I am eating junk, too much stodge and not enough veg and not drinking enough water.
The quickest way for me to not only acknowledge what is going onto my plate at dinner time but also change it, is to look at the colours. More colour equals more variety and more variety means more nutrients, vitamins and good stuff. It’s not rocket science (rocket pun not intended) and is so easy to see a difference so quickly. Even if I only manage to chuck a small salad on the side of that lasagne or some avocado with my poached eggs on toast, it’s better than nothing.
The water thing is obvious, our bodies need it, our brains can’t function without it and quite often we might think we are hungry when actually we’re thirsty. It can take a concerted effort to get enough water down our necks but I definitely notice the difference in how I feel when I keep on top of it.
- Get Outside
I’m not saying fresh air will cure all. I remember being in the clutches of grief after my Dad died and thinking what a load of shit this advice was… ‘Get some fresh air, it will help’ being a standard response to ‘My Dad just died’. On the flip side, seeing some direct sunlight (or just daylight) ergo giving your body some much needed Vitamin D helps us to sleep better, exercise gives us those feel good endorphins and being in nature just makes us feel good inside. (I know there are studies on all of this stuff, I promise I’m not making it up, but you know how to use google right?)
- Make a List
Not everyone loves a list (I cannot get my head round this at all) but it’s safe to say that when we are feeling overwhelmed, one of the best ways to get some sort of clarity and order in our lives is by writing down all of the things we need (or feel the need) to get done. It doesn’t magically make them disappear but it might make the list more manageable and less overwhelming. I also really like the method of prioritising using the urgent/important method (click here for the more technical version) or as I like to call it, the do it or drop it method.
- Schedule Downtime
If you’re struggling to find five minutes peace during the day or get that constant sense of doom and overwhelm, schedule in some down time and keep that appointment like you would a dentist appointment! Making it a priority like you would any other ‘chores’ and not putting it to the bottom of the list of things you’ll do if you find the time is the key. Write it in your diary in pen (not pencil!), put it in the calendar on your phone and set a reminder for 2/4 hours before, tell your partner or ask a family member or friend to look after babies for an hour so that you can get your nails done/hair done/read/go to the gym – whatever gives you a little bit of rest & recharge time. It can be difficult to not feel guilty about taking time for yourself but you ‘can’t pour from an empty cup’ so everyone else will benefit if you’ve given yourself time to reboot.
I also really like the idea of scheduling time away from social media like #switchoffsocialsunday – it’s a day where most are doing family things or spending the day watching netflix anyway and it can be a nice little digital detox without the drama of telling everyone you’re having a digital detox. Give it a try, you might like it (and I promise no one will notice)
- Accept Help
Possibly one of the toughest things for a lot of us to do is either to ask for help or just accept it when it’s offered. Mum guilt, general adulting ‘I shouldn’t need help’ guilt and not wanting to take advantage (just in case you actually do need some help one day!) are all reasons I hear all the time from people as to why they don’t like accepting help. The thing is, as an auntie to six, I always offered help to my siblings because I genuinely wanted to. I never minded the time, always appreciated hanging out with the kids and knew that if it was the other way round my siblings would do the same for me. Most offers of help are from a place of love (not judgement) and actually it’s a lovely thing to be able to give someone else the gift of your time. It’s free and goes a lot further than a bottle of wine (although wine gifts also help). Even if you end up paying for a babysitter or a cleaner to free up some time, this is more about you valuing your time (and sanity) over the pennies you’ve spent to get that time back.
Again, if you’ve got a lot on your plate and you can hand a little bit of something over to someone else for 5 minutes or even a whole day, you will feel less overwhelmed, more able to tackle the remaining list of things to do and you’ll hopefully just be a little less stressed & able to devote more time to the people and things that you love.