If this article has caught your eye, the chances are that you are feeling a little tired, rundown and under the weather – you’ve been thinking about giving your body a bit of an overhaul and know that it’s probably time to make some changes to your lifestyle!
Life is busy and if you are juggling a stressful job, hectic social life and family commitments, it’s not unusual for simple lifestyle habits to start to slip. The accumulation of lack of sleep, erratic eating habits and too much coffee and wine can leave us feeling bloated, lethargic and prone to more colds and office sniffles. All too often we try to combat this with an enthusiastic health kick of strict detoxing and brutal boot camps to get us back on the healthy wagon, however these quick health fixes aren’t sustainable and may in fact put more strain on the body. It’s often said that it takes 21 days to either break or form a new habit, so with this in mind, I’m sharing some simple tips to help you feel fitter, more energised and in control of your health.
The first 7 days – now the first week is all about being kind to your body and allowing it to recover. If stress levels have been high the last few months, your sleep disrupted and you’re feeling tired and run down; it’s time to nourish your adrenals, minimise stress and support the body back to optimal function. So in week 1, let’s focus on recovery with these 5 simple actions.
- Cut out the alcohol – there is no need to ‘detox’ in order to be healthy as we have perfectly good kidneys, livers and skin that continuously detox, filter and flush out toxins for us. That said, we do need to support the liver; if we overload it with alcohol it needs to work harder to breakdown and eliminate what is essentially a poisonous substance. If the liver is prioritising alcohol, the breakdown of other foods may be compromised; cholesterol levels can rise and hormone imbalances can occur. If you have been drinking on more than 3 nights and have been exceeding the UK Government guidelines of 14 units per week, then try and eliminate the booze and give your liver a rest.
- Drink more water – following on from point number 1, to help support the liver, we also need plenty of water to keep us hydrated and support the movement of waste through the body. If you are dehydrated, you may experience frequent headaches, high blood pressure and your digestive system might feel sluggish and constipated. People also complain of poor concentration and fatigue when they are dehydrated, so try and aim for at least 2 litres every day (remember herbal and fruit teas can count towards your fluid intake).
- Reduce your caffeine – the caffeine culture of the west means that most of us drink anywhere between 2-6 cups of tea or coffee per day. Whilst it’s deemed to be the social norm to have a styrofoam cup surgically attached to our hand, it doesn’t do our adrenal glands or our stress levels much good. Caffeine increases the release of cortisol which is our natural stress hormone and whilst we have natural peaks throughout the day, our regular caffeine habit can start to artificially raise our cortisol levels which will leave us feeling wired, anxious, craving quick fix energy foods and drinks (like more caffeine) and experiencing serious energy slumps. It’s really hard to go ‘cold turkey’ on the caffeine and eliminating it completely can leave you feeling rotten for a good few days, so throughout this week, just try and cut back gradually. Limit yourself to no more than 2 caffeinated drinks per day and aim to have no caffeine after mid-day.
- Sleep more – try and keep your diary free of any mid-week social engagements this week and aim to be in bed before 10pm. The average recommended sleep per night is between 7-9 hours, but it’s not uncommon for us to get by on 5-6, particularly if you have a long commute, regularly travel with business or have young children. A couple of nights of reduced sleep might not be noticeable, but over weeks and months it starts to impact recovery, energy levels, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose control. You may get into bed and find it hard to switch off, but don’t worry, even if you aren’t sleeping, you are letting your body rest. Try and avoid watching TV and maybe read a book or listen to a podcast to help you disconnect the mind from the buzz of the day.
- Keep active, but nothing too high intensity – when you are busy it’s likely that your gym attendance has slipped by the way side, but don’t beat yourself up. It’s tempting to cram in a spin class or a HIIT session when you are pressed for time, but if your day is already chocka block and stressful, don’t add to the stress with high intensity exercise. It’s all about giving your adrenal glands a rest this week, so try and complete more low to moderate forms of activity such as power walking, swimming, Yoga or Pilates. The slight rise in heart rate will help support the autonomic nervous system without increasing the stress hormones and should hopefully leave you feeling energised rather than exhausted afterwards. If you can fit in half an hour each day that would be ideal, but ultimately you want to be making it an integrated part of your routine – simply parking further away from your office, taking the stairs, or getting up and going to speak to your colleague rather than emailing them will be breaking up that sedentary behaviour. If you work from home, then set an alarm to remind you to stand up and move each hour and if you are stuck on conference calls all day, wire in your hands free and walk around whilst you’re on the phone – these are all easy ways to sneak activity into your day.
Next week, we’ll start focusing on food and ways to adjust your diet………have a wonderful week and please feel free to leave comments and feedback on how you’ve been feeling this week and if these simple tips are helping you 🙂
If you would like further support or would like to book a FREE 15 minute consultation with Penny, then please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org