Last year, I admit we only turned the television off for one month, as life was topsy turvy while we were emerging from the first lockdown. This year, normal services will be resumed and a three-month break will ensure we get outside more and connect with nature. I smile, sometimes, when I hear people saying that summers aren’t what they were when they were children. As children, we did engage more with the outdoors; playing, swimming, and running on the grass. We can still enjoy these uplifting experiences.
As we look back over this last year, it’s clear that many people have endured an ongoing low-level flight or fight response. It takes time to rebuild what was lost. In daily life, we often hear the term bouncing back – he bounced back – she’ll bounce back. In reality, people don’t so much bounce back; they recover their vitality over time. And we can all use this magical season with lighter evenings and warmer temperatures to boost our vitality. Here are a few helpful tips to help you press the reset button this summer and raise your feel-good factor:
Be Aware: The foods and beverages we consume affect more than our weight. Many of the foods people consume every day are processed, and processed foods lower our physical energy and mood. To avoid a potential slump in energy after lunch, I recommend avoiding bread, pasta, and processed sugary snacks. Ideal lunches include soup and salad with beans, chickpeas, quinoa or lentils, and whole fruits and nuts. Most people feel better when they avoid wheat-based glutenous products such as bread, wraps, crackers and bagels. If you enjoy a pasta salad, you’ll love organic brown rice pasta, available from local health food stores. It’s naturally gluten-free and it’s so easy to make. It’s a great base for adding energy-boosting black beans, borlotti beans, mushrooms or cubes of roasted sweet potato – and ideal for taking a packed lunch to work.
Be Active: Outdoor activity is an adaptogen: it helps us revitalise and de-stress simultaneously. It’s especially important for those of us who sit at a desk during the day. We need to exercise the cardiovascular system. Walking, running, and cycling all help us maintain good muscle and bone tissue, which keeps us robust. The more we use the physical body, the stronger it becomes. And as we oxygenate the body, we feel brighter of mind and spirit. Such activity also helps lower blood pressure and regulate blood sugar levels, since aerobic exercise helps insulin to fulfil its purpose. As we engage in physical exercise outdoors, we give our mind a break from screen-time and mental stimulus – it’s so important to relax the mind.
Be Connected: One purpose of mindfulness is that it brings more quality of life. When energies become depleted, some people feel they’re existing, rather than really living. A cycle of work, eat, and sleep, feels like their reality. Yoga is a proven practice to help us release stress and tension and realise total connectivity with our physical body and with nature. Many people suffer lower back pain or stiffness in their hips – these areas of the physical body store our stress and tension. Regular yoga sessions help us release this tightness and loosen up. Similarly, walking down to the water’s edge as the sun’s going down, and sitting peacefully, aware of our breathing in and out, to the rhythm of the ebb and flow of waves, is a wonderful way to be at one with nature. And this is a privilege given to us on Jersey, for we are surrounded by beautiful beaches. Being present helps us to relax, and this aids our quality of sleep.
Be Creative: Every human being has a creative talent, though we are all unique. Some people love painting or drawing; others might enjoy gardening or flower arranging. Creative writing or playing a musical instrument are other ways we can express our imagination and originality. Our brain has two hemispheres – left and right. Left brain activities exercise the intellect and logical thinking, while right brain activities express our creativity. We all need to be creatively fed, and having a creative outlet brings more joy to life. When we spend more time doing things that make us completely forget about time, we tend to feel a greater sense of aliveness and more in our element. Work-life balance is something we can all cultivate and it’s conducive to productivity. Taking time out to enjoy life is an investment in our health, our family relationships, and in our career. Refresh, revitalise, reset.
Joanne Reid Rodrigues is the founder of Slimming Together and the creator of the Authentic Confidence training programme. Joanne is the bestselling author of Life Transformation Diet and Slim, Happy & Free. She’s a therapist in nutrition and cognitive behavioural therapy, and she frequently appears on broadcast media. She is available for classes, intensives, and private coaching. Joanne can be contacted at www.JoanneRR.com