Thursday, 18 June 2020

Ways to Happiness and a Healthy Mind

Happiness......we all strive to be happy. We want to wake up in the morning happy, go to work happy, every day we want to be happy? But is this endeavour to be full of joy actually making us unhappy? Maybe happiness isn't something that just happens to us naturally? Social media, T.V, magazines all depict scenes of happiness, everyone is happy with their lives and grateful for all their family and wonder we feel inadequate at times and wonder how we too can live in this bubble of joy. We are humans, we have a plethora of emotions......happiness being just one of them. Being happy promotes good health and longevity. With a little effort we have the ability to make small changes in our lives, our behaviour and our relationships to help us on our path to a healthier, more positive life. 

Write a Journal
The simplest ideas can be the most effect. Writing a journal, taking a thought from your mind and writing it down becomes a "visual" can see how you feel. This is our own private space where we can express ourselves. You don't have to be a professional writer and your thoughts might be a few doesn't matter. Start your journal every day with three positive thoughts or three things you are grateful for on that particular day. This can be as simple as "the sun was out today" or "I had more energy today" or even "My favourite song was played on the radio as I was driving to work". The aim here is to make us more positive by looking for the things that make us happier in life and giving less power to the negative emotions that can overwhelm us during our every day lives. There are some great apps out there too (if you prefer this to a paper journal), that can prompt and remind us to write these positive thoughts down daily until it becomes a productive and worthwhile habit. Presently App...Minimal Daily Journal ...... This little app allows you to jot down a few words of gratitude, encouraging you to look for the positive rather than negative thoughts or occasions during your day. 

Plan an Event or Holiday
Simply planning is enough to improve mood and happiness levels. The excitement of planning a holiday, the date in your diary, the anticipation of relaxation and calm away from the real world can be one of the joyous parts of the holiday itself. It doesn't necessarily have to be a holiday? Planning an event or joining in an event has the same effect. Perhaps an overnight stay, a festival or carnival, a party with friends or booking a ticket for a show. Even if you cannot afford a holiday or do not have the time to book a ticket right now......just marking a date on your calendar and starting your plans is enough to enhance your mood. By physically marking the date on your calendar or writing the dates in your diary will give you a boost of happiness whenever you remind yourself.

Making better use of space, creating harmony between you and your surroundings makes a happier and an improved you. Clutter is not solely your unwanted possessions? Clutter forms itself in many ways disturbing our peace and clouding our happiness. Yes, we can declutter our home of unwanted items and clothing we no longer wear and without a doubt this increases our mood no end. Clutter and probably the worst kind, can be the build up of paperwork requiring our attention or phone calls that need to be made distracting our peace and disrupting our sleep patterns. There may also come a time where we need to declutter our 'friends list', which can often be 'all consuming' and energy draining. Clutter can cause moments of stress and anxiety, leaving us in a negative mental state inhibiting our desire for a happier lifestyle. We need to give ourselves time to declutter....... even as little as 15 minutes a day is a positive move towards rewarding ourselves more space. 

Setting Life Goals
Setting life goals and 'making headway' towards them promotes well-being. Having a purpose is integrated with our happiness, as we see ourselves making progress and achieving what we have set out to do. Breaking up our goals into smaller sections, will give us 'boosts' of happiness as each step brings us closer to our ultimate goal. Rewarding ourselves with something meaningful for every step we achieve will help us stay on the path of happiness and accomplishment. We all need goals to turn our dreams into reality, motivating and challenging us, but we must choose obtainable and not impossible goals. This will not bring us happiness, only stress and pressure. Thinking, planning and pursuing goals engage our attention, give us a sense of meaning and builds our confidence in achieving the end result.

Watch Something Funny

Laughter is extremely beneficial for our health and happiness. My personal favourite at the moment (above) is my 'go to' happy video. It doesn't matter if I am feeling sad, angry or fed up......I can guarantee I will be laughing and a lot happier after watching this video. Laughter is actually a medicine or therapy that can change your mood, state of mind and lift your 'spirits'. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins (the happy hormone), promoting a sense of well-being, that can even temporarily relieve pain and has been known to protect the heart. Some other benefits of a good laugh are:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Relaxes muscle tension
  • Eases anxiety
  • Improves mood
  • Strengthens relationships
  • Attracts others to us
Happiness is not always a natural emotion and may need some planning or goal setting. This will help us focus or give us a purpose to pursue a better place to be both physically and mentally. The pursuit of happiness is a long term goal for our well-being and can be made in several steps with appropriate rewards for achievements in our progression. Even if we falter from time to time, the end results of positive health improvements will make it all the worth while. 


Thursday, 11 June 2020

Stretching for Stress Relief

When you are experiencing stressful situations or faced with constant pressure on a daily basis, the likelihood of muscle tension, headaches and emotional stress will be present, inhibiting you from total relaxation and sleep. 

Engaging in a regular stretch routine releases tension in tight muscles, increases flexibility and calms the mind. Stretching is a powerful stress reliever and I cannot be a bigger advocate of a regular stretch routine for a stress free and healthier life.

Stress and tension are not just mental and emotional issues....they can become physical triggers too, for example headaches, stomach upsets and back pain. Chronic tension can be the reason for long term health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and type II diabetes as well as mental issues including depression, anger, anxiety and insomnia. Stretching regularly can release the chronic tension causing many of these health problems.

Stretching Exercises for the Mind and Body 

Yoga relieves physical tension and promotes mental focus. Yoga is a type of strength training, assisting in flexibility and clearing the mind. Yoga inspires you to relax and focus your thoughts to the present moment, slows down your breathing and encourages calmness. This in turn will shift your nervous system from the 'fight or flight' response to its calming, restorative mode. Your system relaxes, decreasing your blood pressure and heart rate and lowering your breathing....... a complete relaxation and stress free response.

Similar to yoga, Pilates can refresh your sense of well-being. Pilates is a body and mind form of exercise improving strength, flexibility and alignment. Pilates reduces stress and encourages a healthier mental and emotional state of mind. The practice of Pilates necessitates you to slow down and concentrate on your body and movements. This will improve your concentration levels, giving you a chance to focus on the present moment distracting you from the daily stressors of life.

Stretching Routine
Stretching relieves muscles tension and in return will release stress to help you to relax and sleep better. Stretching before bed time can reduce mental stimulation and improve sleep quality too, which is common for those who suffer with insomnia.  Stretching resets your body, ensures your body holds no tension, improves your flexibility and range of movement, preventing injury and allows your body's recovery process to take place whilst you sleep.

Take time to de-stress your mind and body with exercise in the form of a stretching routine. Stretching whether it's Yoga, Pilates or Stretching exercises, will be beneficial to a healthy mind and body. The physical benefits are improvements in flexibility and range of movement, enhancing heart health, reducing blood pressure and avoiding type II diabetes. The mind will become calmer, focus will be sharper, levels of concentration will increase and mental issues such as depression, anxiety, anger and insomnia will feel the benefits of regular stretch programme.

Thursday, 4 June 2020

The Benefits of Exercising with Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are very versatile and an easy to use 'go to' piece of fitness equipment. They come in all shapes, colours, and sizes. They are very portable and provide a wide variety of strength exercises, targeting all your muscle groups. The other benefits of these bands are that you can take them anywhere, whether you want to take them with you on holiday, to work or even to the park if you prefer to do your workouts in the fresh air. Resistance bands are very simple to use. They are not as confusing as some of the equipment in today's "hi tech" gyms that can feel very intimidating to those who are novice exercisers. It's hard to believe that these bands have any power when you place them next to a dumbbell or kettlebell, but the power they have will surprise you. Resistance bands are similar to free weights (dumbbells, kettlebells) in that they provide external resistance so you have to engage your muscles to oppose the tensity. 

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to purchase anything I may earn commission from the sale. Thank you.

Different Types of Resistance Bands

Mini bands
Mini bands are great for targeting lower body muscles such as glutes and quads (bottom and thighs).  These bands are also good for warming up these large muscles prior to a run. Mini bands can help to stabilise your hips, knees and ankles. By improving your strength and stability in these large muscles the more you will decrease your risk of injury. Mini bands are not just for your lower body. These bands can improve strength in your upper body too. You can use a variety of exercises to increase the strength in your arms as well as strengthening and stabilising your shoulders. 
You can purchase mini bands in a pack of 3, with a light band (1), medium strength band (2) and a heavier strength band (3). As you progress with your exercises you can increase the resistance by advancing to the next level of mini band.   Amazon - Mini bands

Tube Resistance Bands with Handles

Tube resistance bands are long rubber tubes with handles that best imitate gym resistance machines. These versatile bands are great for hitting those big muscle groups using the push and pull methods, such as chest press, shoulder press, bent over rows, pull downs, isolated exercises such as bicep curls and tricep extensions. Again, these bands are very portable and a fabulous way to workout outdoors in the fresh air. Amazon Tube Resistance Bands

Flat or Therapy Bands
Flat bands are very long, thin, flat bands and can measure up to 2 meters long. They are flat meaning not looped. These bands are the most versatile bands as they come in many different colours, lengths and strengths. They can be used by physiotherapist as a rehabilitation tool for patients to help with recovery and rebuilding muscle around injured joints. They can also be used as light resistance for the elderly to help maintain muscle and bone health. Their use also extends to exercise classes for toning and strengthening workouts as well as assisting static stretches during a cool down session. Amazon flat bands

Resistance exercises are essential for our health, specifically for muscle maintenance and bone health. Resistance bands are versatile, portable and a safe and efficient way to workout. There are many types of bands of differing colours, strengths and sizes. Bands can be used for rehabilitation, balance, stabilisation and stretching. 

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Fibre and Weight Loss

What is Fibre

Roughage or fibre is part of plant based food that cannot be broken down. Examples of fibrous foods are nuts, fruit, vegetable, beans and grains. Fibre passes through the body undigested which keeps your digestive system healthy and eases bowel movements. Fibre also flushes cholesterol and harmful carcinogens (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue) out of our body. 

Fibre rich foods within a balanced and healthy diet can improve weight maintenance and improve good gut health. Fibre provides a good food source for "friendly" gut bacteria helping to improve our overall general health. A healthy gut is very important to maintain or improve our health. Anything that can feed our good gut bacteria will keep us free from illness. When our gut is happy then we are happy too.

In 2015 the Government guidelines for the consumption of fibre equates to 30g per day per adult. On average we consume approximately 18g per day which is a lot less than we should be aiming for. 

How Does Fibre Help With Weight Loss

Increasing your fibre intake will increase your chances of loosing those pounds even if you do not make any other changes in your current eating habits. Fibre food is more filling, digests a lot slower than non fibrous carbohydrates (such as white rice, breads and refined sugary foods), plus fibre has so many other health benefits. The following video will give you some helpful hints on adding fibrous foods to your diet to help you to loose weight:

Fibre Rich Food

  • Pears - Tasty and nutritious. A great source of fibre at 5.5g per medium size (3.1g fibre per 100g)
  • Strawberries - Low calorie, nutrient dense, full of vitamin C, manganese at 2g fibre per 100g
  • Avocados - Loaded with good fats, vitamin B,C, E, magnesium at 6.7g fibre per 100g
  • Apples - Tasty and filling at 2.4g fibre per 100g
  • Raspberries - Full of vitamin C and manganese at 6.5g fibre per 100g
  • Carrots - High in Vitamin B6, K, magnesium and beta-carotene at 2.6g fibre per 100g
  • Broccoli - High in vitamin B.C.K. folate, potassium, manganese, iron at 2.6g fibre per 100g
  • Sprouts - High in vitamin K, potassium, folate at 2.6g fibre per 100g
  • Almonds - 13g fibre per 100g
  • Pine Nuts - 11g fibre per 100g
  • Pistachios - 11g fibre per 100g
  • Hazelnuts - 10g fibre per 100g
  • Pecans -  10g fibre per 100g
  • Macadamia - 9g fibre per 100g
  • Peanuts - 8g fibre per 100g
  • Brazil Nuts - High in selenium at 8g fibre per 100g
  • Lentils - high in protein at 7.9g fibre per 100g
  • Kidney Beans - High in protein at 6.4g fibre per 100g
  • Chickpeas - High in protein at 7.6g fibre per 100g
  • Chia Seeds - Full of omega fats at 34g fibre per 100g
  • Flax Seeds- Full of omega fats at 27g fibre per 100g
  • Sunflower Seeds - Full of Vitamin E at 9g per 100g

Non-digestible carbohydrates are collectively know as "fibre". Consuming adequate amounts of fibre (aim for 30g of fibre per day), is extremely important for optimal health. Fibre improves the efficiency of the good bacteria in our gut. Some types of fibre can assist in weight loss by increasing our feeling of fullness and satiety, leading to a reduction in calorie intake. To optimise healthy living always add fibre to your diet. Choosing a variety of fibre from fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and pulses.

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