The Five Pillars of Wellness
So here we are already flying through a new year. We often start the New Year with high hopes and expectations of how we are going to improve our health and wellness, and then by February this often wears off as it all becomes un-achievable and too difficult to stick to.
So I’d like to propose that you switch your mindset and instead decide to focus on managing the 5 pillars of wellness.
Our body acts as a whole kinetic chain controlled by our brain. We cannot therefore modify just one element and expect to feel instantly better - we need to consider all the pillars and how we look after ourselves in relation to them.
Of course, that can seem over-whelming, so let’s look at some simple, easy to implement actions we can take to have a positive effect in these pillars of wellbeing.
In each section there is a simple task for you to do this month.
Nutrition is all about how we give our body the correct fuel it needs to carry out daily functions such as providing energy for movement, vital supplies for our internal organs, cell regeneration etc.
If we don’t get enough of certain things in our food intake, then our bodies can not function optimally. For example, we need certain amino acids from protein to make the building blocks for hormones and neurotransmitters.
Now there is no need to start to dwell too heavily on the absolute specifics of this unless you are training for a specific event, or have a food-related issue, as ever it is about balance in our diets.
· So not eating the same things over and over again- you need variety of nutritional elements
· Not over-eating- listen to your body and what it actually needs to be sated (I know this is easier said than done!)
· Checking on over-consumption of processed foods that bring high levels of saturated fat and salt
· Checking on the consumption of sugars which can have a detrimental effect on how we deal with blood sugars in the longer term(Syndrome X and Type 2 Diabetes)
· Checking on the consumption of alcohol which brings “empty” calories and other internal issues when levels are too high.
This month I’d like you to focus on each meal having 3 colours on your plate. Why? Well, this will help you get a range of micro-nutrients. Micro-nutrients often referred to as vitamins and minerals, are vital to disease prevention and wellbeing. Except for vitamin D, micronutrients are not produced in the body and must be derived from what you eat. So let’s aim to eat more of these each day by switching up what’s on our plate……..
This is when our body repairs itself so it’s so important to prioritise your sleep schedule. Interestingly it’s also when you start to take things you’ve learnt that day (short term memory) and store it away into your long term memory for better re-call. So if you’re having memory problems, maybe lack of sleep is the culprit!
It is recommended that an adult has between 7-8 hours of sleep per night. There are many sleep trackers you can use too, to monitor the actual quality of this sleep. These can help you understand your natural patterns and optimise on them. But we all know whether we’ve had a good, restful, rejuvenative night’s sleep…
Here’s some simple things you can work towards
· Have a sleep schedule. Yep I know your life is one long schedule!! However it can help your body fall into a pattern of sleep and wakefulness if you aim to get up at the same time each day and go to bed at roughly the same time too.
· Pay attention to your nicotine, caffeine and alcohol intake before bed. They can all have an effect on how much your body is able to relax and rest.
· Create a calming atmosphere before bedtime- limit the use of screens and as the blue light they emit can affect our sleep rhythms- so avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
· Try to resolve your worries or concerns before you go to bed. Jot down what's on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow. I also sometimes write things down in the night if my mind won’t “switch off” and it helps calm me down enough to sleep as I’m no longer worried that I have to remember and solve everything over-night!
This month why not focus on your caffeine intake and perhaps modify it to mornings only or less cups of coffee or cola? Monitor if your sleep patterns improve.....
Well, where do we start with this one. My first piece of advice if stress is causing a major problem in your life, then you need to reach out and ask for help. Do not struggle alone. Start with your GP. They can refer you to a range of different therapies and agencies that can offer help.
If you are stressed, you might feel:
Irritable, angry, impatient or wound up.
Over-burdened or overwhelmed.
Anxious, nervous or afraid.
Like your mind is racing and you can't switch off.
Unable to enjoy yourself.
Uninterested in life.
Like you've lost your sense of humour.
This website is great for extra support: https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/feelings-symptoms-behaviours/feelings-and-symptoms/stress/
So make a plan to deal with stress, the causes and how you respond. Taking some exercise, doing some breathing techniques, getting outside in the fresh air have all been proven to help alleviate stress.
This month make a point of noticing when you are feeling stressed and how you respond. Maybe go for a walk or do some breathing exercises and notice how different you feel.
Water makes up two thirds of our bodies. We can become de-hydrated through not drinking enough, but also by using lots of fluids through sweating etc and not replacing it quickly enough.
An easy way to monitor your hydration levels is to pay attention to the colour of your pee. The darker it is, the more water you need to drink to bring it back to a “normal” light yellow colour it should be.
If our hydration levels are low all our body systems start to become affected leading to things like dizziness, urinary tract infections, headaches, confusion, constipation.
So keeping fluid levels at the correct levels will make you feel so much better!
This month try having a water bottle on your desk, or wherever you spend most time and take regular drinks. There’s no need to go over the top- the NHS recommend the equivalent of 6-8 mugs worth.
Our fifth pillar of wellness is the one we focus most on here at Better Body Training-using movement to help our bodies function optimally.
Exercise covers a whole host of different disciplines, but at the most basic level our bodies are designed to move! In any way that makes us happy!
· We need cardiovascular activity to help our heart and lungs.
· We need mobility and flexibility work to help keep us moving freely and help prevent injury.
· We need muscular work to help stabilise joints and complete daily tasks without the risk of injury.
Exercise also helps our body release hormones that make us feel better- thus helping manage stress better.
During exercise we release endorphins which help block pain and increase sensations of pleasure.
Another hormone, Endocannabinoids, can help us with that natural post-exercise “high”.
Exercise can also help us improve our sleep patterns-so there is a great knock-on effect to the other Pillars of Wellness.
This month I’d like you to focus on adding in a 15 minute walk everyday- so can you walk to work(or part way), can you walk the kids to school, can you meet a friend and walk and talk?
The key to managing these 5 Pillars of Wellness is to not try and do too much at once. I’ve suggested a small task for this month to get you started.
In our newsletters I’ll give a new, small task each month. But there’s nothing stopping you looking at the list each month and choosing a new small objective. Afterall, if you don’t look after your body, who will?
In the words of Joseph Pilates:
“Not only is health a normal condition, but it is our duty to not only to attain it but to maintain it.”