Plan Your Day the Body-clock Way

 

Autumn Leaves

Just like the trees follow a natural pattern and rhythm of changes, so does our body.

We have cycles in nature, they occur in humans, plants, animals, the sun, the moon, the tides, everywhere. The circadian rhythm is a 24 hour period where changes and responses occur in a regular pattern. As we move further and further away from being in touch with nature, our bodies have moved away from these patterns to the detriment of our health.

Understanding these natural rhythms of your body and of nature and following your day to suit as best you can, will help you to regain a little control over this natural phenomenon. Here are the natural cycles of our body and the day from the Chinese medicine point of view.

 

Things that disrupt our normal patterning

Plane Travel

One obvious example of moving away from our natural rhythms is jet lag. We move so quickly in a plane from one time zone to another, that our body doesn’t have a chance to catch up. This leaves us feeling tired and exhausted, with altered digestion and just a feeling of not-quite-right.

Lighting

We have sensors not just in our eyes but in our skin that are related to light. Too much light at the wrong time can disrupt our body clock. Televisions, phones, computers and other artificial light after sunset can stimulate the brain and affect melatonin secretion and therefore sleep patterns

Temperature

Our temperature peaks at 7pm and is at its lowest at 4:30am. Constantly being in temperature controlled environments such as that with air-conditioning or heating can disrupt these natural changes. The reason we have these changes in because certain bodily processes function at certain temperatures.

 

Chinese Medicine Clock

This describes what is happening in our body at different times of the day and how to utilise these functions to our advantage.

The organ system involved does not necessarily literally translate to the organ. For example, someone without a gall bladder may still have problems with the gall bladder meridian system.

1-3am Liver

The liver is responsible for detoxification and breaking down of hormones. It also holds a lot of anger and resentment emotionally speaking. If your liver has much to detoxify, you have hormone imbalances, or unresolved anger and resentment issues, you will find yourself waking up at this time. Chronic fatigue, anaemia, hormone imbalances, irregular cycles in women and headaches are all signs this time zone is out of balance. This is a time to dispel toxins.

3-5am Lung

Feelings of grief and sorrow occur at this time and are related to the lungs. Wheezing, coughing, asthma, or getting sick are signs there is imbalance. Distribute energy in the form of blood.

5-7am Large Intestine

Best time for a bowel movement. Letting go physically (doing a poo) or figuratively (letting go of things in life that no longer serve you, emotions, habits, people, thoughts)

Avoid caffeine at this time.

7-9am Stomach

Best time to eat breakfast. Best time for digestion and breaking down of foods. Reflux, indigestion, heart burn, bad breath and stomach ulcers are signs that you need to nurture this time

9-11am Spleen

This is the time for a warming tea or a small snack. Cinnamon dates and lentils are all helpful for the spleen. A good time to be thinking and working as the spleen does it’s thing. If you would like to lose weight, this is an optimum time for exercise.

11am-1pm Heart

This is a good time to relax, eat lunch, take it easy nap if you have time. Avoid anything strenuous or stimulating such as coffee, exercise, excessive heat or stressful situations. Palpitations, cold hands and feet and trouble sleeping are all signs this time needs balancing. Enjoy lunch with good friends.

1-3pm Small Intestine

The small intestine continues the digestive process so liquids are absorbed and more solid material moves through. At this time you will need to drink adequate water and may begin to feel the effects of dehydration. Dehydration, bloating and gas are common issues when this time is out of balance.

During this time Melatonin secretion also peaks which is why the more sleep before 2am the better.

A good time to be sorting and organising

3-5pm Bladder

Energy levels drop at this time if you are not well enough hydrated. Water, soups and broths are good to nourish and hydrate. Also a good time to be working or studying. Drinking extra water

5-7pm Kidney

This time is perfect for a meal, but only small meals in the evening. It is also a good time for love-making. The kidney and its energies are associated with reproduction, growth and development. If you would like to build muscle and strength this is a good time for the gym. A little wine is good to promote circulation. If adrenals are depleted, tiredness may set in. If adrenals are functioning well a ‘second wind’ may occur.

7-9pm Pericaridum

The pericardium is an accessory organ, as in it supports another. This time is good for relaxing activities such as gentle yoga or stretching, reading, cuddling, mediation or other activities to guide you into sleep. Soaking the feet in hot water is good for circulation and relaxation. Can also be a good time for socialising.

9-11pm Triple Warmer

This is also an accessory system.

This is a good time to go to bed and go to sleep. In Winter this should be in the earlier part and in summer it can be a little later. Deep sleep should be achieved before 11pm. Staying indoors (you should be sleeping anyway) is advised at this time period and the next. This is also a good time for lovemaking particularly for those wishing to conceive.

11pm-1am Gall Bladder

The gall bladder is responsible for digesting fats. It can cause you trouble if this is not balanced. This is the time for deep sleeping.

 

Other Body Rhythms

 

Infradian rhythm

This is longer than a day. Cycles such as human menstrual cycle, animal hibernation or migration, human Immune system cycle

Circaseptan

7 day cycle

Biorythyms – Physical, emotional and intellectual

23 days, 28 days and 33 days

Ultradian Rythyms

This is shorter than a day. Cycles such as 90 minute sleep cycle, 4 hour nasal cycle and 3 hour growth hormone cycle.

 

Time

Organ What you should be doing Signs of imbalance

Resolution

1am-3am Liver Sleeping Waking, insomnia, headaches, hormone imbalances Detoxification, letting go of any anger or resentment
3am-5am Lung Sleeping Coughing, asthma, sickness Let go
5am-7am Large Intestine Having a bowel motion Constipation, dryness Let go of concepts and ideas. Sit next to a sunny window and drink warm water
7am-9am Stomach Eating breakfast Ulcers, reflux, indigestion Apple cider vinegar
9am-11am Spleen Small snack bloating, low energy, craving sweets Cup of herbal tea or a light snack
11am-1pm Heart Relaxing and eating lunch Anxiety, palpitations, cold hands and feet Rest, nap, relax, enjoy lunch
1pm-3pm Small Intestine Drinking water Bloating or gas Drink more water
3pm-5pm Bladder Working or studying with a snack of broth or soup Burning or frequency with urination, yeast infections Drink more water
5pm-7pm Kidney Making love, exercising, eating a small evening meal Lower back pain, sexual dysfunction A little wine to activate circulation along with a small meal
7pm-9pm Pericardium Relaxing Depression, aversions, phobias Meditation, stretching, yoga, cuddling, reading
9pm-11pm Triple Warmer Going to sleep Difficulty digesting fats, poor judgement, anger or resentment issues Establish a night time routine and go to bed at the same time each night
11pm-1am Gall Bladder Sleeping Trouble digesting fats Ensure you’re asleep

 

For more information see:

http://www.yinyanghouse.com/practitioner_members/general-lifestyle/circadian-rhythms-chinese-clock-and-how-live-sync

http://www.naturopathicbynature.com/traditional-chinese-medicine-organ-times/

http://kaleidoscope.cultural-china.com/en/7Kaleidoscope10173.html

http://www.first30days.com/experts/marcella-vonn-harting

 

 

 

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Using the moon to manifest your dreams

 

Manifesting

Once a month I sit down and write intentions. It is a list of things I would like to happen, generally in the next month but also in the next few months, year, five years, and more. They are kind of like New Year’s resolutions, but specific and most often attainable in that month. It may be things like how many patients I would like to see on average in the next 4 weeks, or the intention to write at least two blog posts a week. A couple of months ago, one thing on my list was to book a holiday, which I did.

The most powerful time to write these intentions is during the new moon. The new moon is a time of new beginnings. Imagine wiping the slate clean and starting again. It is a time to plant the seed and wait for it to grow. Although this is a metaphor, the idea also literally crosses over to gardening. Planting leafy vegetable during the time between a new moon and a full moon is said to increase growth and yield. Planning activities such as financial planning or new beginning such as moving house is best done using the power of the new moon.

Cathy Schier, an astrologer from Seagoat Philosophies suggests, “It’s worth taking time out for yourself, to meditate, review and use the time for introspective thinking and rest.” She goes on to also say, “Children and teenagers are especially tired around this time and the modern world doesn’t allow for us to just stop. There is no light at night and sleeping is much easier.”

The intentions that you write are whatever you believe them to be. If they are simply a list of things you wish to achieve, then that’s what they are. If you are speaking to God and writing your prayers, that’s what they are. If they are intentions you would like to submit to the universe for manifestation processes, then that’s it. This is no more of a religious practice, than going fishing on a full moon because that’s when the fish are biting. You are harnessing the natural pull and powers between the earth and the moon.

 

What you need to gather to manifest with the new moon:

Around 20-30 minutes

A nice pen – because nice pens make writing easier

Nice paper – same as above

A candle – optional, it makes the place look and smell nice

Music – makes everything more relaxing

A quiet space

 

What to do:

Sit down, light your candle, start your music and relax.

Don’t rush.

Begin by writing: “I accept these things into my life now or something better for my highest good and for the highest good of all concerned.” This is kind of like a disclaimer to whomever you are mentally submitting your list to. A karma disclaimer if you wish. If there is something better coming your way, then of course you want that. And it always needs to be of the highest good. You can’t intend on bad things happening to people. That’s not nice.

Start writing.

Whatever it is. Big or small. Important trivial. What would you like more of in your life? What would you like to happen? Remember to include the small, trivial things too, because these are the things that add up.

Once you are finished, fold your piece of paper and put it in a safe place.

Keep it until the full moon. Take it out and see what has happened.

Repeat this each new moon. Don’t cross out what has happened and add to what has. There is a full moon ritual of burning the list anyway. But it is important to start each new cycle with a clean slate, this includes a new piece of paper.

New moon dates for 2015

If you would like to see how this new moon personally affects you, contact Cathy at Seagoat Philosophies cathy@seagoat.com.au or find her on Facebook here.

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New Moon Dates for 2015

New Moon Manifestation

The new moon is a time for new beginnings. A time to create. A time to plant the seeds (literally or metaphorically) and watch them grow over the next month. It is a time to write your intentions and goals. A time for financial and business planning. Utilising this energy allows life to just flow…

Here are the dates for 2015:

20 Jan    11:44 PM

19 Feb   10:17 AM

20 Mar  8:06 PM

19 Apr   4:27 AM

18 May 1:43 PM

16 Jun   11:35 PM

16 Jul     10:55 AM

15 Aug  12:24 AM

13 Sep   4:12 PM

13 Oct   10:36 AM

12 Nov  4:18 AM

11 Dec   9:00 PM

These dates are for South Australia. For exact times in your location see http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/moonphases.html

Full Moon calendar here.

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Why Morning Routines are good for you! And what to do that will set you up for an awesome day!

Sunrise Nambucca Heads

A few years ago I was volunteering on the East Coast of Australia and woke before the sun to go for a run and get this picture

As of January this year, I have been living in one place. This is a big thing because for over two years I was travelling a lot and although it didn’t bother me, there was a lot of lost time in travelling, but also packing/unpacking etc. So late nights to bed, early mornings, lost time, excuses for why I wasn’t getting stuff done, lack of routine because every week was different! So when I settled myself in one place I was determined to get into a routine.

The first morning I started this, I thought to myself, “I will wake up with the sun”. So we opened the blinds the night before so the sun could shine in when morning came. I seriously woke up, wide awake, at 5:15am. First light! No alarm. Just woke up. Thankfully that only happened once because 5:15am was too early. But getting up with the sun is important, more about that later.

I am still leaving the blinds open but I now only wake up between 6:30 and 7pm. A much nicer time. I would be happier if it was earlier, but that’s when my body has decided its ok, so that’s ok with me. I then get up, have a big drink of water (always beside my bed), use the bathroom, take my bush essences remedy, and then head into my study/meditation/yoga/piano room.

We’ve positioned our house so our bedroom, the study and the dining room/kitchen all face into the morning sun. So in the study the yoga mat is always rolled out and this is where I head to do my sun salutations, a few extra yoga poses if I decide, a headstand or two if I please, then the 5 Tibetan rites, which I promise to do a blog post on soon and link it here. I then sit down for some meditation. The time varies. 5 minutes is enough. 10 minutes is good. An hour is better. The busier your day, the more you should do. Seems counterproductive but there are SO many benefits to mediation it’s unbelievable.

Now it’s breakfast time! And then my day continues…

That’s my routine so far.

So now onto why it’s important to have a routine and what are some ways to make your morning amazing:

You get more done

Getting up a regular time, which normally invoves getting up earlier means that you get more done over the day. Going for a run or a walk first thing in the morning, means your exercise is done. That’s it for the day. And what an invigorating way to start the day.

Giving yourself even an extra 15 minutes means that either you’re not rushing and running out the door, or you can add in extra things like a bit of mediation, 15 minutes of reading a book with breakfast, watering the plants outside, enjoying your coffee without slurping it down. Basically stopping in the morning to smell the roses. You can even fold the washing if you want. That’s one less thing you don’t need to do when you get home at night. Put dinner in the slow cooker. The list is endless. Whatever you feel you don’t have time for at night.

Getting up with the sun

Before alarms, deadlines, late nights of TV, people use to get up with the sun. Stop when the sun goes down, start when it comes up. This is what our body clock is designed to do. And this is the way our body works best. Have you noticed that when you wake up naturally, you wake up fresher and happier? That not necessarily the extra sleep you may have had, but that your body woke when it was ready. Getting your body in tune with natural rhythms of the environment around (eg. The sun) is so beneficial for not just your energy levels, but your mood, wellbeing and so much more.

Most weather apps or website can give you sunrise and sunset times. Sunrise generally happens (in SA anyway) between 6am in summer and 7:30am in the winter.

Make your bed

Everyone loves getting into fresh sheets. Only part of the reason is they’re clean, the other part is made beds feel fresher, even without the sheets. Making your bed in the morning means that it feels fresher at night time. Almost like you’re in a hotel, because if you make your bed in the morning, so much has happened between times it’s like someone else did it for you. Maybe?

It’s good feng shui practice anyway. An unmade bed makes the room look cluttered and untidy and that’s not good for a restful nights sleep. Its also seen as closure. As upsetting as it is sometimes to have to get out of bed (hopefully using these tips rectifies that!) the making of your bed signifies sleeping time is over and it’s time to face the world and get on with your day.

A study found that making your bed improved your sleep by 19%*

*National Sleep Foundation, Sleep Poll, Jan. 25, 2011

Exercise and getting outside

Even if it’s just a walk around the block or going outside to water the plants. If you’re following the ‘get up with the sun’ protocol, this is the BEST time to be outside. It’s fresh, it’s cool, it’s quiet and it’s peaceful. Walking around the block, going for a run, or even just getting outside to say good morning to the sun, the fresh air will wake you up and get you going.

Meditation

Anecdotal evidence, as noticed be me, says that meditation in the morning improves concentration and energy. And I’m sure somewhere I could find a study to prove that. Taking even 5 minutes so focus on your breath and clear your head can make such a difference in the day.

When I lived in Adelaide I got up at 5:45am three mornings a week to do yoga. At the end we would lie down and do as much or as little meditation as we wanted. As the teacher always reminded us, this might be the last time you get to lay down today. That always motivated me to stay an extra 5 minutes. So, go! Sit down on a chair or cross your legs, or lay on the floor, focus on your breath for 5 minutes, it may be the last break you get all day!

Drink some water

The standard recommendation is 2 litres per day. I generally suggest 1 litre per 30kg of body weight, because a 100kg man needs more hydration than a 60kg woman. Starting the day with one glass (or two!) means you are one glass closer to your target. My drink bottle is 550mL. I carry that around while I go through my morning routine so by breakfast I’ve generally had ½ L already.

It is best to space your water through the day. Don’t drink your two litres in the morning and think you’re done for the day. Plus you’d have no room for breakfast. And spend the next three hours at the toilet.

Before breakfast another glass of warm water with a squeeze of lemon is also amazing for your health. Just a quick google search of “warm lemon water in the morning” will give you dozens of reasons why this is a good idea, from clearer skin to liver cleansing. It’s also good for delaying your coffee (See blog post here) because many of us, particularly in winter crave warm drinks, mostly reaching for the coffee or a black tea. Drinking warm water and lemon satisfies that ‘warm drink’ craving and gives us an extra cup towards our water quota. As opposed to coffee that negates two cups of water due to the diuretic factor.

Other possible routine ideas:

Practice gratitude – before bed or in the morning, write down three things you’re thankful for.

Oil pulling – first thing, put one tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish for 20 minutes. You may need to work up to this amount of time. The oil ‘pulls’ all sorts of bacteria and yuckies (technical term) from between your teeth, giving you fresh breath, clean teeth and better health as the state of your mouth, gums and teeth is very closely linked with your overall health

Eat breakfast – as the saying goes, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” People who eat breakfast consume fewer calories over the day. Make sure it’s something with a bit of protein and fat, not just the carb-filled toast or cereal options we’ve been lead to believe are good for us!

Don’t reach for your phone – lying in bed on Facebook in the mornings is dangerous. Firstly it’s a time waster. Secondly social media has been found to be detrimental to our self-esteem. Thirdly, have you ever dropped your phone on your face while in bed? I have. More than once. It hurts. Don’t play with your mobile phone in bed. It’s dangerous. For your face and your time. Get up and get moving.

Look in the mirror – say good morning to yourself. Say I love you. Be thankful for the able body you have. Do this every day and your life will change.

What morning routines do you have? What works best for getting you up and moving in the morning? Have you tried any of these techniques?

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What does your body actually need to heal and achieve full health?

In a recent Institute for Integrative Nutrition module, we were asked the following question:

“Joshua explains that, given half a chance, the body will heal itself. Why do you think this is the case? Why is it more effective to let clients find their own way to their truth instead of being guided step-by-step? Have you experienced self-healing of any kind? Please share below!”

A big part of the chiropractic philosophy is that the body is a self-healing, self-regulating system. This is a significant point to understand if you want to achieve health. You have all the tools and capabilities RIGHT now to be healthy. So what’s stopping that?

Our body wants us to be well. Our body is designed to be well. It’s when it doesn’t have access to all the necessary tools such as rest, vitamins and healthy relationships (just to name a few!) that it breaks down.

For example, your body isn’t designed to get a cold. It’s designed to fight a cold. When you come into contact with bacteria, your body’s immune system kicks into action to find that bacteria, capture it, destroy it and remember it for next time. All before you have a chance to cough. So why sometimes does that cold or flu take hold? Why do we end up with symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, green phlegm and a cough? It’s because the body doesn’t have what it needs.

What does it need?

Well that depends on the person. In my case I need rest. The only time I get sick is when I’m working too much and not getting enough sleep. My body might feel tired for a few days or a few weeks beforehand, and if I don’t listen to these subtle cues, then it says, “Ok, you’re not listening. I’m going to force you to rest!” And BAM! My muscles ache, I have a headache, I literally can’t stay awake and I rest.

The truth is (confession time!) I don’t mind being sick. Two reasons: I get to rest. Yay! Who doesn’t love staying in bed all day? And two: It means my body is working. It’s fighting off and processing whatever it needs to process. I do support my body. It gets extra vitamins, sometimes some olive leaf extract, vitamin C, lots of ginger, lemon and honey water, a chiropractic adjustment, some NET, but most of all rest. Because I know that’s what was lacking for me to get myself into that position in the first place.

This isn’t just the case with colds and flus. We are not designed to get cancer. It’s not “luck of the draw”. Cancer cells proliferate when given the opportunity. Or when our body isn’t working too its full potential and misses something. Headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, joint pains, heart disease and more are all examples of things that can “go wrong” in our body.

What is the prescription for optimal health?

  • Nutritious food
  • Good relationships
  • Sunshine
  • Exercise
  • Laughter
  • Music
  • Rest and relaxation
  • And more!
  • Whatever it is that your body needs

When you ask yourself, “What does my body need in order to heal?” what answer do you find?

What can hinder this healing?

The truth is, some people don’t want to get better. Without their illness or complaint, subconsciously they believe there would be an emptiness, nothing to talk about, nothing to define them. Finding the cause of this is a big part of the healing process for some people. Particularly with chronic conditions.

Having an answer come from within is more powerful for healing than if the answer came from outside the body (someone telling you what to do). Letting my patients realise from within, but still guiding them and being part of that epiphanic (I think I made that word up) process, means the changes are going to be more permanent or if not permanent at least more effective.

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Recipe – Lemon Bliss Balls

Lemon Bliss Balls

I made these Lemon Bliss Balls to share with people at the first Riverland Health and Wellbeing Festival. Everybody LOVED them. Even those who looked hesitant when we told them there was no added sugar. No sugar doesn’t have to mean no taste!

These balls are perfect for mid-morning or mid-afternoon snacks. You can swap almonds for sunflower, pumpkin or flax seeds for a nut-free version.

The ratios of ingredients are only rough estimates. When making these kind of things I stand in front of my thermomix with the pantry and fridge doors open and just add whatever I see. So feel free to alter the ratios to suit your taste.

Try this for starters…

  • 1 cup activated almonds
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 7 medjool dates
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • Rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • Dessicated coconut for rolling them in

Mix all ingredients (except coconut) in a high speed blender or Thermomix until well combined.

Roll into balls, and then roll in coconut.

Store them in a sealed container in the fridge.

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Product of the Month – October – Superfoods for Kidz

Do you have fussy kids?

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Is dinner time a struggle when it comes to vegetables? Do you worry your children aren’t getting enough nutrients?

Nutraorganics has a perfect product for you. Superfoodz for Kidz is a variety of flavoured powders that can be added to any meal to boost the nutritional benefit. We tested some of the flavours (Choc Berry Chunk, Vital Veggie and C Berry Blast) at the Health & Wellbeing Festival and found there’s something for each child’s taste. These fruit and veggie powders can be added to Bliss Balls, muesli bars, home-made ice creams, slices, smoothies and wherever else you can imagine.

The powders are freeze-dried superfoods. Superfoods are foods that have been found to have a higher nutritional content than other foods. They have lots of antioxidants, naturally occurring vitamins and minerals (rather than being artificially fortified), phytonutrients and bioflavonoids.

Superfoods for Kidz are available in the clinic for purchase or order online here.

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Superfoods for Kidz is made by Nutraorganics, an Australian-owned, Australian-based company on the Gold Coast. They source only the best quality ingredients and local ingredients if possible.

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What type of salt should we be using?

A few months back, I had an email question from a friend regarding salt. I have included the email below and my response.

Pink Salt

Hi Catherine,

I was wondering if you have heard of this salt (see attached page [not included here]). What salt do you use?

Love Lizzy xoxo


Hi Liz!

I haven’t heard of this particular one. But it looks ok.

I use Himalayan sea salt, which I buy in bulk through a co-op. And because I lost my Himalayan Salt at the back of my pantry a while ago, I also bought some Peruvian Pink Salt (mostly because it looks good in the grinder!) Celtic sea salt is another really good alternative.

Salt like anything, should be minimally processed so that it contains a full spectrum of minerals and nutrients that are there naturally in nature. A bit like sugar. It makes it better for you (contributing to more minerals in your diet) and also can help your body process it more effectively. Because unrefined salt (and sugar) is what we’ve been eating for thousands of years, the body recognises it as “food” and knows what to do with it.

So keeping that in mind, table salt or anything really refined and white should be avoided. Once you’ve eaten real salt, the other stuff actually tastes chemical anyway. You also need to be aware of claims of “sea salt” because most likely all salt at some stage came from the sea. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been processed. They also may be treated with “anti-caking agents” to stop it from clumping in the container, which adds more chemicals that don’t need to be there.

Salt can be added in small amounts to any food. A tiny pinch can also be added to your water while exercising as it does contain micronutrients and minerals that may be used up during vigorous exercise.

Thanks for the question! Keep them coming.

Love Catherine xx

 

Like all foods, the less processed and the more like it’s original form it is, the better it will be. The body recognises food in it’s original form and utilises it best this way. That’s what we’ve been doing for thousands of years.

 

What kind of salt do you use? Share your comments and experiences below.

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Self-care – what it is and why you need to do it!

dreamstimefree_138084

 

What is self-care?

Self-care is the art of taking CARE of yourSELF. Each and everyday. “But I have a family,” I hear you say. “I have kids, a job, house work to do, people to take care of, errands to run!” But like the oxygen mask on the aeroplane, if you don’t take care of yourself, you will be useless for all those other people.

Self care is taking time out each day for yourself. For each person it is different. You may like to have a massage, take a long bath, go for a walk, meditate, read a book, go fishing, draw, listen to music, play in the shed, have a coffee with a friend, write in a journal. The list is literally endless.

Go and get a piece of paper. Right now. If you’re on your phone, I’m sure there is a notes section you can use too.

Now list 5 things that you enjoy doing, that leave you relaxed, rejuvenated and happy. On this list can be things that take you 5 minutes, 20 minutes, half a day or a full day. (Or even more than a day if you’re like me and LOVE holidays.)

Even if you can’t do these things each day, put them on the list anyway. If your list is more than five, then good on you!

Why practice self-care?

As I pointed out before, self-care is much like putting on your oxygen mask in an aeroplane. It is so important to look after yourself so that you are happier, healthier and in the long run more reliable for your friends and family.

While taking this time for yourself, you will also give yourself a chance to listen to your own body. At all times your body is sending you signals. Your health depends on these signals. You might feel dehydrated and need more water. You might realise you’re exhausted and need an extra hour of sleep. You might notice the tension you’re carrying in your shoulder and need a massage. You might notice that bread you shovel down at lunch time is actually what is causing your bloated stomach and those pains you’ve been ignoring for months. You might notice how grumpy you’ve been with the kids and how short you’ve been with your family. You may remember you haven’t looked your partner in the eye and had a real conversation in weeks.

And although these things might be hard to face initially. And you might think that you “don’t have time to fix these things!” I can tell you that your long term health depends on it!

Now find that piece of paper. The one with your list. Below it list the top 5 things that are causing you stress right now. Leave a large gap between each one.

Go back and write two steps to let go of, reduce those stressors or certain self-care practices you can implement when those stressors rear their ugly heads.

What self-care practice will you do tomorrow.

While we’re here, let’s plan one for next week too!

“Please ensure you have secured your mask before assisting those around you.”

 

 

Image above courtesy of © Joao Estevao Andrade De Freitas | Dreamstime Stock Photos

 

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Staying Healthy During the Crazy Christmas Season

Christmas is definitely the time that people go a little crazy. Lots of Christmas parties, so much to do so little time, school is ending, work is ending, planning holidays, worrying about where “Christmas” will be held this year, stress of family, it goes on and on. In stressful periods it’s often people’s diets that suffer first, despite a good diet being crucial for the body coping. Christmas is a particularly tough time for this too with all the get togethers with various yummy foods, more alcohol than normal and the need to let your hair down. So here are my top tips to stay at your best during the Christmas season.

  1. Drink water between drinks
    In normal circumstances you need one litre per 30 kilograms of body weight, or around 30mL per one kilo of body weight (depending who you ask). When you are drinking coffee you add two cups of water per one cup of coffee and when you are drinking alcohol it’s about the same. So adding a few glasses in between your drinks will make a real difference, not only the next morning but to your health overall. If drinking between drinks isn’t your thing, you can at least make sure you have had your water quota spaced out through the day before you pop that bottle.
  2. Eat more salad
    The more cooked a food is, the less nutrients or ‘life’ it has left in it. The more processed (packaged) a food is the less ‘life’ it has too. Health isn’t a matter of how many calories or how much food you’ve eaten. It’s the quality of what you’re eating. Salad is a good option for Christmas dinners due to our warmer Christmas weather. It’s healthier than oily roast vegetables and won’t leave you feeling fat, bloated and lethargic after your meal.
  3. Slow down
    Stop rushing through this Christmas time. Focus on what is important. And when it comes to that Christmas dinner, slow down too. Eating slowly means you will eat less. It also means you will enjoy your meal that little bit more. It gives your stomach time to produce acid and enzymes for digesting which will help avoid that bloated and full feeling
  4. Keep your body moving
    Now that we have avoided that full and bloated feeling you won’t be feeling like that afternoon nap you usually need after Christmas lunch. Jump up! Have a game of cricket, play with the kids or use their toys. Keep active and keep moving because it is proven that exercise gives you more energy.
  5. Express gratitude
    Taking time to be thankful does wonders for people’s mood. Be grateful for your family around you even if they’re a little crazy, at least they’re around. Be thankful for the food that is on your table and this may slow you down for even just a few seconds from gobbling it all up. It means that you can savour the experience and not rush through, because next thing you know it’s January…or February…and the fun is all over.
  6. Eat more protein
    Protein and fat (good fats) are the ideal fuel for our body. Too many carbohydrates cause our body’s to accumulate excess body fat and contribute to many health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and chronic pain. In the short term, carbohydrates give us an energy rush, not sustained energy which causes the body to crave more food, so we eat more often. This is your permission to gobble up that Christmas turkey, devour the roast lamb, hog the pork, tuck in to the beef, whatever you need to do to get more protein which will stop you from filling up on breads and other carbohydrate foods. Warning: This may cause a smaller dessert serving requirement.
  7. Fruit is a perfect dessert
    Although fruit does contain sugar it contains more nutrients and fibre along with the sweetness to finish off your meal. Swapping the trifle, pavlova or Christmas pudding for baked apples, berry sorbet or a variety of fresh fruit is a better option.
  8. Swap it
    1. Nuts instead of chips
      Putting a bowl of nuts on the table instead of potato chips provides a healthier option and with all the protein and good fats in nuts it might also limit Christmas lunch overload
    2. Butter instead of margarine
      Requires more time and space than I have here. Just know that butter is a real food, margarine is a chemical. Butter (if coming from grass fed, healthy sources) is good for you, margarine is not. Your body recognises the fat in butter and can put it to good use. Margarine is unrecognisable to the body and does lots of damage.
    3. Positive instead of negative
      See Christmas as a time for celebration whatever your beliefs. It is a time to spend with family. Time spent being grateful for what you have and for what has happened in the past year, then looking forward to the coming year. Try and see the positive in all that happens.
  9. Start on your new year’s resolutions
    If you ignore all my suggestions and still end up feeling fat, bloated and sorry after your Christmas dinner, this is the perfect time to start making resolutions if your health or weight is something you want to work on. And even if it’s not, now is the perfect time to start thinking, “What change do I want to make for 2014?” “What do I want more of?” or “What do I want less of?” Thinking about these things now gives you that little bit of extra time to think, plan and put into place your intentions for next year.
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