As 2015 approaches I’m sure many of us are engaging in a little bit of soulful reflection on the past year. For me, 2014 has been crammed full of intensely joyful-but-stressful occasions; I got married, travelled around Europe for three months (tough gig, I know) and relocated from Sydney to London with my husband. On the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, I’m cranking a pretty high score for the amount of life changes I have experienced. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with this scale, it’s a scoring system working out by two psychologists – Thomas Holmes and Richard Raye – back in the 1960s, which attributes scores to 43 various life events that have been statistically linked with illness. The psychologists came up with the scoring system by examining the medical records of thousands of patients. And yes, of course I am sure you want to figure out your score too, so click here for a link to the scale.)
What about you? How was 2014?
With such a big year behind me, I’m taking some time to create a little list of healthy practices that I would like to adopt more regularly in 2015. To motivate and encourage you to also embrace 2015 with some healthy living goals, I thought I would share a few of them with you.
- Stretch more. I am aiming to do this by attending yoga classes regularly, walking around the city during my lunch break (as often as I can – at the moment I hardly do it at all!), and taking a few minutes to stretch when I wake up and prior to jumping in to bed at night. My lower back has been quite sore lately, something that I have heard many people complain of but until now has not been a real issue for me. Long periods of sitting at an office desk, hunching over my laptop at night working on my website, running, cooking…they’re starting to take their toll. At home, I have a foam roller which is so fabulous to lie on and roll on; I highly recommend one if you’re feeling stiff. Incorporating stretching in to your daily life does not have to involve a reformer pilates machine or even doing anything outside of your home.
- Re-align my approach to exercise. My relationship with exercise has fluctuated significantly. As a child, I wasn’t particularly athletic, though I participated in the obligatory netball team. That dried up by mid-high school, when I resolved that I was just not a fitness fan. Several years of partying, drinking and eating crap later and sadly, restrictive eating and obsessive exercising took control when I was feeling low, and I became very thin and anxious. Now, I’ve got back to a pretty fit bod and good eating habits, but unfortunately have a few lingering health issues from the time when I was very underweight. Though I love to get sweaty and I always want to push myself, in 2015 I want to prioritize movement that will support me individually and allow my body to heal (ergo, the stretching and yoga focus). Remember, we all have different body types and metabolisms; don’t get caught up in all of the #fitspo out there and feel like you need to crossfit six times a week or become a distance runner. Exercise needs to be right for you; listen to your body. What is right for you may not be what you see someone else doing.
- Chew more. What?! Yes, chew more. I have a tendency to eat lunch at my work desk or eat my breakfast while checking my phone/the news/reviewing a document etc. For some meals, it is just about unavoidable that I am going to be preoccupied, which can mean that I don’t concentrate on my food and leads to indigestion. Chewing kickstarts our digestion; saliva contains an enzyme called amylase which helps to break down starches in food, and also the physical process of mashing our food into mush before swallowing helps our stomach and intestines out too. Less bloating and discomfort after eating, better digestion and nutrient absorption. So chew more. This also facilitates the practice of more mindful eating (if it’s in your mouth for longer you’re probably going to think about it longer, aren’t you?), which promotes satiety and a better relationship with food.
- Get back in to fermented foods. Back home in Sydney I was always brewing away a few litres of kombucha tea and going through truckloads of sauerkraut. Of course, this is pretty unsustainable while travelling, but now that I’m back into a regular routine I am aiming to introduce fermented foods back in more often. Fermented foods including sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and yoghurt provide our digestive systems with an abundance of good bacteria which help us to digest our food, maintain the integrity of our intestinal lining and protect us against illness. Did you know recent research indicates that the composition of our gut micro-biome may play a significant role in our physical and mental health? If the idea of bugs in your belly being able to affect you from head-to-toe is totally new to you, have a look at ABC TV show Catalyst’s program on the relationship between our gut bugs and illness here. I also like this presentation by Dr Robynne Chutkan on Mind Body Green.
These are just a few of the little things I am going to take on board with me into 2015 and which I hope will help me through another crazy busy (but crazy wonderful) new year. I’d love to hear what practices, mantras and/or goals you are taking in to 2015 with you, please leave a comment and share if you feel comfortable. And… Happy New Year! xx