Sam Harrington-Lowe - 1 February 2022
Health and wellness tips you can carry through your whole year
Now that January has passed and the overindulgence of the silly season is but a distant memory, it can be easy to backslide into old habits. But do you feel better now? Would you like to keep feeling better?
High metabolism, bundles of energy, and a love for anything outdoorsy might not feel like it comes naturally anymore. But that’s not to say we can’t get there, with a few health, wellness and fitness tips and tricks.
If we feel ‘ok’, it’s easy to take our general good health for granted. And perhaps we don’t feel the need to change our routines or take extra measures to maintain our wellbeing. But as we get a few more years’ life experience behind us, it can be wise to pay more attention to our body. Let’s face it, we’re not getting any younger – none of us are! Use it or lose it, as the saying goes.
Here’s a few health and wellness tips for the year ahead. Small changes add up, remember that.
For many of us, the idea of activity and exercise is associated with thoughts of gym machines and intense training. Actually, you don’t need to train for a marathon or swim 100 yards each day to be considered active.
Going for a 30 minute walk each day will have more of an impact than you think. Try out a few different activities to see if you enjoy a particular one, such as playing tennis, swimming, or joining a rambling group.
Even something as simple as increasing the length of your dog walk will be beneficial. Anything that gets the blood pumping and provides you with a bit of regular exercise is a positive. Particularly if you’re that bit older.
You don’t even have to leave the house! Do some morning yoga in front of your TV each morning, or lift a few cans of beans while you’re waiting for your dinner to cook.
Work on a balanced diet
This one may seem obvious, but a healthy balanced diet can work wonders. Fad dieting and fasting is unsustainable and generally not good for you. If weight loss if what you’re after, speak to your doctor or a nutritionist for a diet plan that works for you; remember, everyone’s needs are different.
If you’re experiencing fatigue or general grogginess, it might be time to look at your diet. We’re not talking about counting calories, but about meeting the recommended dietary requirements.
And look at your caffeine intake. If you’re someone who loves a cup of coffee (or five!), consider swapping at least half of your daily coffees for decaf. You’ll sleep better and feel less edgy.
Establish and maintain a sleep routine
Good sleep health and habits are important. A badly managed sleep routine can lead to loss of energy, emotional unrest, and general malaise.
You could be doing everything else right in terms of diet and exercise, but if you haven’t got your sleep routine nailed, you won’t be maximising the benefits to a healthy lifestyle.
The body likes routine. So it’s best to aim for the same bedtime each night. And wake up around the same time each morning. The Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep for per night for adults. But often we forget about the time getting ready, falling asleep, and then slowly waking up. 7-9 hours in bed isn’t necessarily 7-9 hours of actual sleep!
If you have an early start, think about going to bed slightly earlier. If you’re more of a night owl, all good. As long as you’re achieving your healthy sleep hours, and trying to follow a pattern.
If you struggle to get to sleep, think about creating an evening routine to train your brain into expecting when it’s time for shut-eye. For example, a bath followed by a cup of tea then half an hour of reading your book in bed will attract the sandman. And allow your body to settle into relaxation mode for the night. Don’t watch TV, stare at screens, or engage in mentally strenuous activities right before you’re planning to sleep. Do we need to say that? Maybe to some of you. Put the phone down.
If you haven’t already, invest in a quality mattress and the right pillows for you. The wrong pillow or mattress can lead to more issues than just grumpiness, like a bad neck, or a misaligned back.
Look after your teeth
Don’t forget your pearly whites. We know that you already know this, but just as a reminder: brush twice daily and floss every day.
Gum disease is linked to diabetes, strokes, heart disease, and arthritis. Not to mention, bad breath isn’t pleasant for anyone.
Visit your dentist regularly, and report any concerns as soon as you notice them. If you incorporate brushing and flossing into your daily routine, hopefully you can keep visits to a minimum.
Utilise your doctor
We’re lucky to have the NHS in the UK, but people may have held back from visiting with health concerns during the pandemic.
Go to the doctor if something is wrong – leaving things can make them worse. We all know it.
Schedule regular appointments to monitor things like blood pressure, cholesterol and so on. And get checked out for any hereditary illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease if they’re common in your family. It’s also important to stay on top of flu jabs and Covid boosters.
Top up with vitamins, and watch your gut health
A Vitamin D deficiency is quite common, particularly in the winter months when the sun isn’t strong enough. Be sure to top up with Vitamin D supplements, and eat D-rich foods, like oily fish, eggs, and red meat. If you’re taking a Vitamin D supplement, aim for no more than 100 micrograms (4,000 IU) per day.
Vitamin C is always a good one to keep on top of, for help with strengthening your immune system. If you’re someone who doesn’t drink a lot of water, you can get the effervescent tablets you dissolve in water, which will help you stay hydrated while adding the fruity taste of orange to the otherwise bland taste of H2O.
Omega 3 is a big one for bone strength; you can find this in fish. Mix up your weekly meals to incorporate some into your diet. You can find a variety of recipes online, meaning you’ll get all of the goodness without having to compromise on taste.
Make sure you eat lots of greens and try and incorporate some homemade smoothies into your diet. You can find a handy NHS guide here which explains what each vitamin does, and how to recognise if you’re lacking in a particular one.
Pay attention to your overall gut flora too. It’s one of the most important aspects of wellbeing. You can improve your gut bacteria and health through diet – eat plenty of plant-based foods, and fermented foods like kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut are brilliant. Get some live yoghurt in, and have plenty of fibre. Watch out for antibiotics here too – they can play havoc with a good gut balance.
Talk about your feelings – don’t suffer in silence
We often forget to include our mental wellness when thinking about our health, but it’s just important as our physical wellbeing.
If you feel that you are struggling with day-to-day activities, having thoughts of anxiety or feeling generally emotional, it’s important to talk. Reach out to loved ones and friends – you’ll likely find you’re not the only one.
There are many resources to support you too, if you don’t quite feel ready to go public with your feelings.
*Advice in this article is purely general wellbeing suggestion. If you are poorly or need support, please contact a medical expert such as your GP. And take care of yourself.