1) Belly Breathing – If you watch most toddlers breathe you’ll often see their bellies inflate outwards as they take a nice deep inhale before deflating as they breathe out: a calm relaxed breathing sequence. In contrast if you watch most adults they’ll be mainly breathing via their neck and chest in a short shallow rhythm: a stress response breathing sequence linked to our fight or flight response. Breathing through the chest is a natural way to breathe but if overused or utilised at the wrong time it can result in the body being in a constant state of stress. So for 2016 take a lesson from the youngsters of the world and try to mainly take deep calm breaths using your diaphragm.
Starting point – Lay on your back with one hand on your chest and one on your belly. Spend 5 minutes breathing slowly and deeply trying to cause the hand on your belly to rise but leaving the hand on your chest still.
2) Take Advantage of Simple Activity Opportunities – Although exercise is essential for being fit and healthy it can still be a struggle to undo a whole weeks worth of sitting at a desk with 3 hours in the gym. The best solution is to be active throughout the day by taking the stairs, going for walks during your lunch break, stretching in the evening and just generally being as active as you can. It doesn’t have to be much and shouldn’t be intense but just gradually upping your movement volume is a fantastic method for feeling better.
Starting point – Always take the stairs when you can and swap every other email or social media check for a brief walk and drink of water instead.
3) Improve the quality of your food – ‘You are what you eat’ is a phrase you’ve probably already heard of. The basic idea is very much true, meaning that the quality of what you eat is going to determine the quality of how you feel, look and perform. If the food you eat is loaded with good stuff, so will you be and vice versa. So for 2016 evaluate where you could improve your food quality and see what a difference it can make to your health and fitness.
Starting Point – Have a look at the guidelines below and select an item from the dirty dozen list to try in organic form.
4) Wind Down Before Bed – Nothing beats a good nights sleep, but sometimes they can be hard to come by. Often, with so much going on in the day, people have overloaded minds and can struggle getting to sleep, staying asleep or wake up feeling un-refreshed. Often it can be all three. A lot of the time it’s because we’re constantly stimulated i.e. eating sugar, drinking coffee or looking at screens and only stop these things when it’s time to go to sleep. In order to get the best nights sleep possible it’s a great idea to set some time before bed to wind down and begin to get ready for sleep before we actually get into bed. That way we can drift off easily and get into the deep restorative sleep we need to feel at our best.
Starting Point – Begin to wind down an hour before you’d like to be asleep (ideally start around 9pm). Dim all the lights, turn off the tv/laptop, put away the phone and find a relaxing activity to help you get ready for bed. A warm bath, reading, stretching or mediation are all good activities to try. Experiment and find what works best for you.