I sometimes like to use the analogy of a car when referring to our bodies, because our bodies are the vehicle that we inhabit. And like a car, the performance we get from our bodies is largely determined by the degree to which we care for it. If we never service our car, fail to keep the oil topped up, forget to put air in the tyres and then drive it recklessly, it won’t be long before it breaks down.
The same goes for our bodies, if we don’t eat well, move often and generally take care of ourselves then our bodies will be more prone to illness and emotional imbalances.
Conversely, if we are conscious of how we fuel and nourish our bodies, we will feel better and perform better. Here are ten practices that can be useful for sustaining physical and emotional wellbeing on a day to day basis:
1. Move regularly
If you spend most your day sitting, make sure you get up and move your body at least every 90 minutes. Jog on the spot, do 10 press ups or 10 burpees. Get your heart rate up.
Stretching increases range of movement and blood flow to muscles. After waking and at regular intervals in the day spend 5 minutes stretching.
3. Walk barefoot in nature
Find a grassy or wooded area and walk with bare feet for 10 minutes. We have a huge number of nerve endings at the base of our feet and connecting them to the ground keeps them active.
4. Practice power postures and smile.
Stand up, push your chest out, move your shoulders back and place your hands on your hips. This shift in physiology creates a positive shift in your nervous system.
5. Breathe, breathe, breathe
When we are stressed our breathing is always fast and shallow. Any time you notice that you are feeling stressed, consciously slow your breathing down. Breath through your nose, in for 5 seconds and out for 5 seconds.
6. Drink enough water
Just a 1% drop in hydration will result in a minimum of a 5% drop in cognitive function. Aim to drink at least 2 litres of water per day.
7. Experiment with intermittent fasting
Your digestive system needs periods of time being empty in order to repair and reset. Experiment with only eating between 11am and 6pm or completely fasting one day per week.
8. Eat natural food
A simple rule of thumb for healthier eating is eat more food that has been grown (fruit, veg, nuts, seeds, etc) and less that has been produced in factories (chocolate, crisps, biscuits, pot noodles, etc).
9. Name your feelings
There are over 4,000 different named feelings in the English language. Increase your emotional vocabulary and awareness by using different words to describe how you feel.
10. Body scan
Practice naming and noting the physiological sensations of emotions: Location, texture, colour, intensity, movement, etc.
Our physical and emotional wellbeing doesn’t need to entail extreme fitness regimes and fad diets. Just simple practices, integrated into our daily routine can be enough to keep us balanced and healthy.