10 changes to improve your health

If you want to get better and be one with yourself, you need to focus on your health. By health, I mean physically and mentally. I tried to be as concise as possible, even though the subject could be written as a book.

01. Have a responsible diet

“If you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food.” Errick McAdams

I am not going to tell you to follow a drastic diet, be vegan, be pescatarian, or any diet out there. When we use the word diet, it only means the food we eat is our diet. If you want to take care of your health, you need to have a responsible diet. By responsible, I mean ditching the saturated fats that don't do you good, the processed food, the fast food...

Eat vegetables and fruits: at least 60% to 70% of your diet. The reason why is that the fiber and nutrients will keep you full and prevent overeating. You will find all the nutrients you need in fruits and veggies. No need to take supplements.

Include omega-3 rich foods: it's good for your joints, brain and heart. It also helps you to sleep better, soothe your skin, lower your blood pressure and boost your memory. Fish is the best food source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially mackerel, wild salmon, herring, trout and tuna.

Reduce the amount of salt and sugar intake: you can do so by reading food labels. Adults should eat no more than 6g per day (1 teaspoon), and children, up to 3 years, should eat no more than 2g per day.

Avoid products with added sugar and drink your hot drink without sugar. At first, it doesn't taste great, but you get used to it.

Cook healthy recipes, twice per week minimum, instead of buying take aways or eating out. You can also try meal preparations so you only have to cook once per week for the whole week. You will save time, eat good food with all the nutrients you need, and you will save money.

You are what you eat, and it is essential to be conscious of what you eat. Nutrients obtained in food are important for a healthy body and a stable state of mind.

02. Drink plenty of fluids

Up to 60% of the human body is water. Not surprising that you hear very often "drink 8 glasses of water per day". When nutritionists talk about 8 glasses per day, it's plain water. No soda, no water with sweet flavours or added sugars.

On top of that, you can drink plain tea, fruit tea, coffee (no sugar, no milk!). If you are not a fan of the taste of plain water, you can add a slice of lemon. It is actually recommended to drink a big glass of water with a squeezed lemon right after you wake up, so you can rehydrate your body and cells. It has been proven that it is more re-hydrating than a plain glass of water. It's also a good source of vitamin C, a primary antioxidant that helps protect cells from damaging free radicals, it supports weight loss, improve the skin quality, aids digestion, freshen the breath (you still have to brush your teeth though!), and helps prevent kidney stones.

Being dehydrated can negatively impact everything from your mental focus to energy and metabolism.

03. Get a checkup

Cake-check, candles-check, party caps-check, the birthday person-CHECK! Yay, you're here! Just popped in to make sure that you have a blast on your birthday. Happy Birthday.

It's going to be short and precise: Take care of your body – go get a physical and some blood work.

Knowledge is power!

At least once a year, go to your GP (general practitioner) and have a checkup. It's better to be safe than sorry, and if there's something wrong, it can be taken care of ASAP, so you don't suffer the consequences. A body that works perfectly brings stability and confidence. The blood test can help you realise if you are missing vitamins or nutrients, so you can adapt your diet.

Do not wait for something to show up. Take your life into your hands and lead the way.

04. Be active

"Be active, be healthy, be happy!"

Our bodies are meant to move and the less we move, the faster our bodies will break down. You need to move those articulations, stretch those muscles. You don't have to spend hours at the gym, just go for a daily walk, do some yoga or Qi Gong, do some squats while brushing your teeth, park your car at the other end of the car park. Do it every single day. If you feel like you can push further, start with a short run (1, 2 or 3km - take some breaks if needed!), go for a swim, play tennis with a friend. And if it's hard to find the motivation, find a walking buddy and go for a walk together, every day. The goal is to exercise 45-60 minutes, 4-5 days per week minimum.

I will publish some active challenges, accessible for everyone. Sign up to the newsletter to be the first in!

05. Go to bed earlier and get enough sleep

"Sleep is the best meditation" - Dalai Lama

Sleep is the most important change you need to focus on, with the diet and your water intake. We don’t feel great when we don’t sleep enough, and chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, increased stress hormones, and irregular heartbeat.

I usually go to bed around 10pm, read until 10.30pm, and wake up around 6.30/7am. When I don’t get eight hours of sleep, it definitely shows, and I can become less productive. Sleep needs are individual but usually between 6 and 9 hours are required. Sleep is not only essential for your body to function effectively, but for long term health.

Tip: If you don't know how many hours you need to sleep, try with sleep cycles. Start with 7 hours of sleep for a week and write down the results. See if you need more or less sleep, log your productivity, your mood and the changes in your body. Keep a cycle of 7 days until you find the right amount of hours for you.

06. Reduce stress

"There are times when we stop, we sit still. We listen and breezes from a whole other world begin to whisper" - James Carroll

We live in a society where stress and anxiety are common experiences for most people. It is very important that you take some time for yourself and relieve all the tensions created by stress.

6.1: Exercise

The #1 advice you will find everywhere is exercise. Exercising prompt your body to release feel-good hormones like endorphins, and help you to feel less stressed. As stress can tense your muscles, exercising might help to release those tensions.

You don't need to run a marathon (unless you want to), but it has to be every single day. Stress doesn't wait for you to have a day off to kick in. Go for a walk around the block, go for a run, practice your jump rope skills, follow some free yoga lessons on youtube, or practice Qi Gong. You are the only one who can fix your own limits. You are the only master of your time, use it wisely.

6.2: Organise yourself

It might not be obvious at first, but organisation is one of those great tools to release stress, or reduce the amount of stress your way of life can create. If you have too many things going on in your life, you can feel overwhelmed, and this is when stress will kick in. Try to organise yourself with all the tasks you have to accomplish, create to-do lists and prioritise them. When you organise your tasks by priority, you can have a clear view of your project / life, and reduce the amount of stress usually triggered.

You can also organise yourself with a routine that suits your needs and wants. Most of the people I know tend to say they don't have enough time to exercise, visit their family, share some quality moments with their kids, it's only because they feel overwhelmed by their way of life. They are not organised. If you decide to have one hour per day for yourself to practice an activity, or do something that makes you feel good, one day to visit your relatives, one hour to play with your children, one hour to get your manicure done, one day to meal prep for the whole week.... this is the only way to organise yourself and anticipate things or situations that usually trigger stress.

Use the same method when you have to accomplish tasks for a project at work. Writing everything down can help make stressful tasks more manageable. Allow enough time for each task, prioritise all of them, and build space into your schedule to get everything done on time. When you have a helicopter view with a timeline, your goals seem more realistic. Doesn't it feel great when you tick all the things you've done in a day?

6.3: Breathe and meditate

When feeling stressed, it is important to listen to your body. When overwhelmed by a situation, we tend to have faster breaths (out of breath feeling), not enough oxygen gets into our blood, and our heartbeat accelerates. By taking some deep breaths, you will bring more oxygen into your system, slow down your heart, relax your muscles, and calm your mind.

You can practice this breathing exercise every time you feel overwhelmed.

Meditation is another great tool to reduce the amount of stress received by your body. It allows you to listen to your body and learn when anxiety and stress kick in. Meditation isn’t something new or on trend. People have been practising meditation for thousands and thousands of years and there is a misconception about what it really is. Meditation will help you to pause and slow down the abundance of thoughts in your head, especially the negative ones, and bring you to a state of calm and serenity, where you will be able to think but peacefully and constructively. If I had to summarise meditation in one word, I would use the word awareness. If you are someone who tends to visualise, imagine meditation as the sky, which has clouds representing stress, anxiety, worries, pain, thoughts... While meditating, you will clear out the clouds and find peace and serenity. You will be able to focus again.

If you are new to meditation, you can try this meditation for beginners.

07. Practice daily gratitude

Gratitude is a way to focus on the good things of life. Practicing gratitude daily will help you to see the positive even in the darkest hours.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” ― Melody Beattie

You can be grateful towards others, such as friends, family, colleagues, yourself, Mother Nature, or even the Almighty. And you can be grateful for anything that makes you vibrate: the air you breath, the smell of the freshly cut grass in your garden, having your loved ones next to you, having a roof over your head, being able to eat an apple, to walk, to watch the movies you want, to share a meal with friends, to push yourself into an action, to have a productive day... everything is subject to gratitude. If you focus on the good, you will only see the good in the future. And when we only see the good in everything and everyone, happiness comes to get us.

For some people, it’s hard to understand what is being written but give it a try. Try for a minimum of 21 days, as it is said that a habit can be obtained on a 21 days journey. Compare your way of thinking on day 1, day 7, day 14 and day 21. You will see your mind will switch little by little into a positive mode. At first it will be difficult to find your gratitudes, but time will heal you and bring you to the path of positivity and happiness.

If you would like to practice daily gratitude, I recommend the MCFRASER LONDON daily gratitude journals. They are undated, with 52 weeks, a quote/inspiration per week, you can list your goals for each week, and your gratitudes per day. At the end of the week, you can tick the smiley that best represents your overall feeling of the week.

08. Socialise

We are humans after all and connecting with other humans is very important. I'm not talking about social medias, but real relationships. Go out and meet a friend of yours, a family member, a colleague, simply push yourself to socialise and create new connections. I understand it can be hard when the going gets tough as we tend to isolate ourselves. Trust me, nothing will make you feel better than spending an hour, a lunch, or a day with a friend. It will reduce your stress and increase your feeling of belonging. If you want to go to an exhibition, try a yoga class, go to a market, go fishing, anything really... just reach out to a friend and ask for their company. You will not only make their day better, but yours too.

09. Turn off all screens

Yes, some people are addicted to digital technology. By screens, I mean your phone, your tablet, your computer, your TV, your e-reader, your games... We don't realise but we spend hours looking at screens.

You can try a digital detox and see the impacts it has on your life. Start by turning off all screens at least 30 minutes before going to bed. A digital detox has many benefits such as reducing stress, maintaining work-life balance (spending more time with your family), allowing a more positive approach of life (by not seeing all those negative news), and improving sleep habits (the use of artificial lighting and electronics at night may contribute to sleep problems. These devices emit light of a blue wavelength, which may trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime).

10. Give

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Ghandi

Why is it so important to give?

When we focus on others, we forget our problems. By giving your time, it not only makes communities better but it also has benefits for your mental health. Volunteering reduces feelings of loneliness, creates connections, boosts your self-esteem and gives a sense of purpose.

I hope this article will benefit you somehow. If you would like to share any changes you made that had an impact on your life, send me a message using the contact form or by leaving a comment.

I hope you learnt something from this article. Feel free to read more in our blog section and practice with our free meditations on this website, our YouTube Channel, and on Spotify & Apple Podcasts.

And as always, Be Kind To One Another, Including Yourself.

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