The work hard or fail approach of our intense work culture, full calendars, constant messages, and the blurring of lines between work and family life is adding more to our days and leaving us with less energy. These demands stress the body, change it’s rhythms and encourage unhealthy behaviours such as wrong food choices, neglecting exercise, poor sleep habits. Add the physical stresses created by long periods of inactivity and you have the perfect recipe to threaten and impact physical, mental and emotional wellness.
As the relentless pace of our lives takes it’s toll there is an increasing need to make time to build wellness into our daily schedule. Self-care is a state of mind, it’s about making a commitment to recognise, take effective action, and make choices to move towards a healthy and fulfilling life – to work at wellness.
The 5 themes below are skills that can help us regain a sense of ownership for our own health – because our wellness matters. The suggestions are examples of practical ways to implement the themes.
1.Take Notice: We check the condition of our cars more frequently than we check the greatest tool we have to gauge what’s going on inside our body and mind – the breath.
How you breathe directly effects your heart rate, which in turn can influence every major system in your body. For example when upset or anxious our breath becomes shallow and quickens, the body tenses, heart beat increases, oxygen levels lower, the brain senses this and a vicious cycle can begin.
Regularly checking this powerful gauge and choosing to take as little as two minutes to slow and deepen the breath can break that vicious cycle, change mood, improve attention and reduce the affects of stress.
2. Release Tension: Our hectic lifestyles create tension in fascia the network of connective tissue that surrounds and includes your muscles.This tension limits movement, triggers the stress response and many other reactions in the body.
YES yoga, meditation, deep breathing all help release tension. Research has shown massage reduces cortisol by around 30% and increases the feel good hormones serotonin and dopamine.
Self massage, especially Myofascial release using tennis/massage balls or a foam roller its a “no cost “way to target tension and boost our sense of well-being.
3. More Movement: If we exercise 7 days a week for 1 hour a day that equates to 4% of a week, leaving a huge 96% filled with…..inactivity?
Find ways to move more and move in a variety of ways is the slogan to adopt here to keep mobile and target the negative affects of inactivity. Be inventive!
- Using your hands as a lever to help stand up and sit down makes your core lazy. Breaking this habit will activate your core and make your legs work more.
- Slot movement breaks into your work day to break long periods of inactivity Every hour – MOVE. Try ankle circles, calf raises, small lunges, shoulder shrugs/rolls, clench & open fingers, circle wrists, walk around. This is not only physically beneficial it will improve focus and attention.
- Leave the shopping trolley at the front of the supermarket and give your arms a workout – carry the shopping to the car.
Core Connection: Stress can create tension in the abdomen and cause poor digestion, constipation, IBS, mood imbalances, and more.
Several minutes focus on abdominal breathing with your hands placed one on top of the other over the abdomen stimulates the vagus nerve, the main communicator of our rest and digest system. It’s the primary medium through which the Enteric Nervous System ( ENS), also known as the second brain regulates mood. It also elicits our tend-and-befriend system, enabling us to reach out and connect with others. This is a critical factor in long-term stress resilience and, research shows, in happiness.
Relax:- Make space in your life to relax, rest and play. Push yourself too hard for long enough and you can become less adaptive, self critical, grumpy – an unhappy version of yourself. The worst – burnout.
If you find it easy to relax fab. However, it can be a challenge when your body and mind are in overdrive. Rest and play are great alternatives.
- Walking, yoga, golf, swimming, cycling, tennis etc – movement may be an answer
- Read a book even for a few minutes at a time.
- Listen to music
- Cook a meal from scratch,
- Spend some time outside: at the park, in the countryside, by the sea, in general get out more
- Unplug from technology even for a short time each day
Self-care doesn’t have to cost money, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Making time to take care of yourself can create a ripple effect of positivity in your body and mind.