The words health, wellness and wellbeing are banded about everywhere, but what does being healthy really mean? And how many of us truly feel like we're thriving? I'm all about simplifying health and getting back to basics, so I'm sharing five ways to ultimately help ourselves to thrive.
Most of us would like to be *healthier*, whether it’s a weight thing, a new year thing or just a concern as we get older that things aren’t quite working like they used to.
But, digging a little deeper, what does *healthy* actually mean?
For some of us, healthy is being fit enough to run a 10k, or being slim enough to wear skinny jeans or for others, it’s not smoking.
The dictionary definition of health is: the absence of illness or injury.
I find that pretty uninspiring. I think health is *thriving*, not just surviving. I think it’s having all the energy you could wish for, to do all the things you want to do. I think that being *healthy* is actually about being the best version of yourself; it’s reaching your full potential.
For me, health is the foundation of everything else in our lives. And if we’re honest with ourselves, many of us aren’t thriving.
If we look at energy levels alone as an indicator, so many of us struggle with the pace of life and feel tired a lot of the time. Cue the coffee and sugar hits. I’d say that the majority of us are operating at about 60% of our potential.
Imagine if we were really *thriving*, if we had oodles of energy: how different our relationships would be, our families, our work, our fitness, our weekends, our happiness would be!
What could your next week, month or year look like if your intention and focus were to help your body to *thrive*? To move away from dieting, get back to basics and start nourishing the body?
Thriving or Surviving
I believe passionately that we’ve overcomplicated health. The basics are so overlooked and undervalued, but time and time again at the retreat, when I guide people to get back to basics with diet and lifestyle, the body responds beautifully.
Rather than focusing on what we should be cutting out of our diet, I prefer to focus on the important things that we need to be getting more of, in order to truly nourish the body (and mind).
1. Water – if you only make one change, drinking more water is a powerful game changer. I know it seems way too simple, but it makes a massive difference in terms of your health, your skin, your mental alertness, your concentration and your energy levels. I’m incredibly inspired by the book ‘Your Body’s Many Cries for Water’ by Dr. Batmanghelidj, where he links all health conditions to a lack of hydration. The reality is that most of us are chronically dehydrated. We don’t drink enough water, and we drink too many things like caffeine and alcohol that dehydrate us further. Aiming for 2 litres of pure water daily has to be your absolute non-negotiable, drinking it away from meals, or only sipping a little water with a meal.
2. Vegetables – of course, we know this – but more vegetables will make us feel so much better. So many of us now suffer with symptoms of pain and inflammation in the body, which is largely diet and lifestyle related. One of the fastest ways to reduce inflammation in the body is to include alkalising plants and vegetables in our diet that nourish our cells and help them to repair. I’m a huge fan of juicing for that very reason, as it allows you to consume a large variety of vegetables in a raw and easily digestible form,alkalising the body and bringing balance to the system. In order to truly thrive, the majority of our meals should consist of vegetables and plant based foods.
3. Time in Nature or Outside – we don’t get outside enough anymore. There’s a trend in Japan just now called ‘Forest Bathing’ where it’s scientifically proven that spending time in forests or nature, lowers our blood pressure and heart rate. We are designed to be outside. Especially living in the UK, making a habit of getting out during the day, preferably when the sun is at its highest point in the sky and as close to nature as possible, is so good for us to absorb the oxygen in our lungs, move the body and get vitamin D on our skin. Unfortunately in the winter in the UK, the sun isn’t strong enough for us to make Vitamin D, so it is also worth having your Vitamin D levels checked by your GP.
4. Rest – most of us are chronically deficient in rest. I’m not talking about sleep, but taking time out during the day to allow the body to rest is absolutely fundamental to our ability to thrive. Of course it’s good for us to exercise and move the body, but it’s equally as important for the body to be able to rest and recuperate, something that so many of us struggle to do. I regularly see clients who don’t know how to rest! As an antidote to stress, something you could practice is listening to a guided meditation every day, perhaps first thing in the morning and last thing at night? I’ve been running retreats for the last three years and the best results I see in people is when they have given themselves permission to properly *rest*.
5. Gratitude – an attitude of gratitude is proven to make us happier. One in five Scots are now on anti-depressants, a trend that is affecting so many in the western world. While stress affects our emotional health, it also has a significant impact at a physical level: dehydrating the body, causing inflammation and making the body more acidic. Practising gratitude has been proven to improve mental health and reduce feelings of stress and depression by 25%, which is just as effective as any anti-depressant. All you have to do is write down (in a journal or loose paper) five or ten things that you are grateful for before you go to sleep at night. It could be simple things like the food that’s nourished you that day or the clothes that have kept you warm, or perhaps more significant things in your life. The more we stress and worry, the more the mind searches for things to stress and worry about. However, the more we choose to look for the good in our lives, the more that translates to feeling happier and ultimately being healthier.
These five ideas are simple, yes, but they’re incredibly powerful tools that can help us to *thrive*. For us to feel well and healthy in this modern world, we really need to strip things back and get back to basics.
Our bodies deserve so much more love than we give them. If our focus is on nourishing and supporting the body, by getting back to basics, we are far more likely to thrive.
The Body Toolkit award-winning retreat programmes share simple, yet powerful things we can all do to nourish the body, reduce stress and help ourselves to thrive. For dates, availability and prices for upcoming retreats: www.thebodytoolkit.com/book-a-retreat