With our urban lives picking up on automated speed by the day there comes a pretty heavy price to pay. Our minds are put under more pressure than ever while our bodies are moving less. In addition, foods have become increasingly processed with less nurturing wholesome goodness to feed our mind, body and soul. The outcome of this lethal threesome combination more often than not are stress levels that are shooting up the roof, gloomy, depressed moods and sensations of anxiety that turn your happy life upside down.
Arrghhh…not a good place to be in. But trust me there are ways out of this rather less than mind-blowing way of existing.
- Nurture Your Gorgeous Self with Wholefoods
I hate to break it to you but all those heavily processed foods full of sugar, salt and unhealthy fats are not only making you fat but they are also putting a huge burden on your happy way of thinking. Add your regular dose of alcohol and anxiety boosting strong coffee and you have a pretty mind-toxic cocktail. Like the rest of your gorgeous self, your brain too needs to be nourished with health-boosting nutrients too. Especially if you are asking it to perform at scarily high levels non-stop. So, ditch the sugar, those too many strong coffees and make your beloved glass of booze more of a celebrative exemption than a regular habit. Go back to cherishing your gorgeous self with real foods such as vegetables and fruits in all colours, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, olive oil, plenty of filtered water, herbal and green teas, antioxidizing spices and herbs, wholegrains, beans, legumes and more life-giving plant-foods.
- Eat more of those foods that boost your happiness
Here comes the fun part: most of the foods that are particularly nurturing for your powers of reasoning are also insanely delicious. And in order for you to re-balance all those stress levels of your non-stop performing, I am asking you to make sure you particularly focus on including those eats into your yummy-licious diet. I am talking about turning yourself into a healthy-licious choco-holic – no not the sugar laden milk chocolate kind of stuff but I am talking about cooking up a mood-boosting storm with raw chocolate powder and dark rich, mind-soothing chocolate bars. How about bringing those happy vibes of yours to new sweet heights with banana, berries of all kinds, kiwi-fruits, fatty fish, sunflower, chia and pumpkin seeds, almonds, brazil and walnuts, lentils, chicken and turkey, oats, warming spices like cinnamon and turmeric, spinach and other leafy green vegetables, not to forget fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, natural yoghurt or kefir. Happily yummm.
- Move that gorgeous body of yours
Wait, there is more healthy-licious fun coming your way!
You will probably agree that in order for you to stay on top of your healthful, up-beat and most focused game, it is important to find a way of releasing all those accumulated cortisol sh*t from your body. And the best and most fun way to do so is to get your precious body moving again. Drive less, walk more or ride your bike, start running, lifting weights, go swimming, try out interval training, rock-climbing, or hiking and book in for your favourite yoga practice. Getting off the coach and saying yes to the active YOU will not only lower those stress levels of yours enormously but at the same time it will release those feel-good endorphins into your blood stream. Awww…there is nothing better than enjoying the regular natural high from celebrating what your precious body can do. Sweating out the burden of your busy world and breathing in some serious happy-licious vibes is one of the best swaps you can do for your healthy-licious mind. The more vigorous your workout, the higher the dose of your happy hormones. That said, if intensity is not your thing, any form of moving will do its wonderful cheerful trick and help you step out of your prison of thoughts and into feeling the awesomeness of your physical self. Sensing how strong, how fast, how flexible you are, increasing your heart rate, pumping your muscles with blood, lengthening your spine – all of these have their very own superpower of slowing down everything that goes on around and within you, especially all the turning and twisting in your intellect, bringing you back to a much calmer here and now. So, when are you raising some happy sweat?
- Practise mindfulness
All those daily stressors, chores and demands have transformed you into a cortisol-ridden-anxious bombshell? Your mind is rarely quiet but those racing thoughts have become your stressed normality? If this is you then it is high time to lift that gloomy, overstretched, non-stop-on-the-go psyche of yours by introducing some mindfulness into your busy life. When was the last time you stopped to smell the sweet scent of those blossoming flowers, that you dived into the azur-blueness of the ocean with all the power of your gaze, that you listened to the happy chirping of spring, that you stopped to find yourself in right this gorgeous moment of your amazing life? Exactly, it’s been far too long. Let me invite you to change this and go back to being a vivid observer of all the magic that surrounds you. Coming back to your breath, inhaling all of this gloriousness and breathing out all your worries and fears. Yes, I know if it was only that easy….! Mindfulness as everything else takes practise and does not simply rid you in mysterious ways of all your worries…! Shame that! But learning to engage in your world in a mindful way regularly is like a warm hug to your tormented brain. And the more often you do it, the more natural this new comforting way of perception will become yours. So next time you take your shower focus on how wonderful all those little droplets of refreshing, life-giving water feel on your beautiful skin…take it all in, rejoice in the here and now of little daily pleasures that make all the difference between happiness and misery.
- Write a daily gratitude journal
At the thought of adding another chore into your life, you might be cringing now and quietly thinking to your gorgeous self, when on earth am I meant to fit something else into my already much too overloaded schedule? This whole journaling idea is impossible. Let me frankly share with you this was my reaction too. However, creating for yourself a 5-minute-gratitude window through which you could happily look out counting your blessings instead of gloomily staring into your dulling, monotonous TV has mood-boosting super-powers. Writing down 5 things that you are truly grateful for in your life is quickly done and so much more uplifting than following along with more of all the world’s tragedies on your news. Obviously, it is your call how you want to spend your little precious spare time. But I for myself have realised that prioritising my mental health by making little changes continuously that don’t cost me anything, don’t take long at all and are all too easily incorporated into my day, can make all the difference between mastering my life in a happy, efficient, productively successful way or aggravating all those mind-busting, heavy, fearful-not-coping-well-at-all traits. Looking back, I feel almost silly and ashamed of my previous for arguing against such empowering practice and not putting such little time and effort into what has such huge effects on my happy-or-not-life. Gratitude lists every day now it is for me. When will you start writing yours?
- Rest and re-balance
I don’t know about you but as far as I am concerned, everything is worse when I am tired. And science does back me up here. Fatigue feeds those worries of yours, aggravates your fears, makes you less capable of coping with everything that life throws at you and has your stress levels spiral out of control. Therefore, it is utterly important for you to make time to rest and re-balance. I know, unfortunately, reality for most of us means power naps will stay a habit practised only by those lucky people living in the Mediterranean but you can ensure you are getting those 8 hours of sleep every night. If your mind is getting in the way of such, be extra rigid with your sleep hygiene and reset your circadian rhythm to deep sleepiness at night and vibrant energy during the day. That is try going to bed around the same time every night and make this no later than 10 pm. Keep your room cool, dark and totally free of electronics. Don’t bring any of your work into your sleeping haven, instead really try and separate your working self from your resting goddess as much as possible. Practise a calming-it-is-almost-time-to-go-to-sleep-evening-routine that allows your hyperactive brain to let go and switch into a more restful state of mind. If you are one of the over 60% Australians who are experiencing sleeping issues, maybe consider taking a natural sleeping aid until your biological clock of sleep-wake rhythm has been re-normalised. Remember, it is during sleep that your whole body, mind and soul rejuvenate and those empty batteries of yours are replenished. Your hormones are resetting, your memory is recharged and every cell in your body deeply re-energised. Therefore, it is of vital importance for your overall wellbeing to make deep restful sleep a healthy priority of yours. It makes sense that if you are missing out on such deeply restorative time, your whole busy world is starting to break down on you eventually.
In addition, I also encourage you to find little pockets of deep, stress-free calm during your day. Whenever you can feel those cortisol levels of yours surging, try and remind yourself to come back to your deep belly breathing. Having one hand pressed against your belly breathe in and inflate your midsection so your hand moves away and then fully deflate feeling your hand moving back towards yourself. Take 3-5 breaths like this and watch your mind re-balance.
Yes, our lives have reached an insane speed of doing everything at once and the pressure that comes with this craziness can all too easy take its toll and dampen our spirits and with that our delightful quality of life. Therefore, looking after and caring for your mind has become more important than ever. As the world around you changes, you have to adapt the way you deal with it too. The good news is that this is easier done than you think. If you commit to practising these 6 simple strategies daily and make them your daily routine, you too will be able to go back to joyfully thriving instead of merely surviving. Happy mind – happy life – I am sure we all agree this could not be truer than true, so when are you starting to actively nourish your precious mind?!