By Lindsey Porter, Smart Works Edinburgh volunteer and owner of www.yoganuu.com
Continuing my belief that just as ‘5 a day’ of helpings of fruit and veg helps us to sustain a balanced healthy lifestyle, 5 a day of other activities can also support our greater wellbeing. Todays article contemplates a more holistic view on ways to enhance our overall wellbeing to bring us nearer to that mental, physical and spiritual balance.
Here are 5 things you can consider doing on a daily or frequent basis to boost your overall feel good-about-yourself factor. And if you find you do some or all of these things already then acknowledge the good work you’re doing and spread the word.
- YOGA. Of course this is going to be Number One on my list as a long standing yoga practitioner and teacher! But here’s the thing, when I see new people come to my yoga class and start say things like, ‘I slept so well after last week’s class’, ‘my body feels so much better from the lengthening and stretching, ‘coming to your yoga class helped restore peace at home’ it validates how bringing our focus towards the connection between our body, mind and breath rejuvenates us. I suggest trying out as many different types of yoga as it takes to find a style you love and that will help you eagerly return to your yoga mat to explore and benefit from these connections. Also consider introducing a new daily routine in to your life starting with perhaps just one yoga practice. This will help awaken and prepare your body and mind for the day ahead. For example you could start with a 2 minute hip opener practice, best to do first thing in the morning and you can view my short YOUTube version of it at: http://www.yoganuu.com/be-inspired.html
- WALKING. Not in any old way but in a focussed way. In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) language we like to call it, mindful walking or walking in another person’s footsteps. The theory is when you would like to perhaps do something in a way you see someone else doing it well or to understand a person’s viewpoint/actions try this approach. Take yourself to a quiet place. Settle your breath, closing your eyes can help and then really start to bring to mind what that person looks like, sounds like and even smells like. Assume what you believe their identity to be and then start to take a few steps in a way that you know or imagine that person would carry themselves. As you continue to walk in this very conscious way you can start to think how that person would look at or approach your situation/challenge whatever it is that’s on your mind. You may find from this exercise you become aware of some fresh perspectives for your specific issue or challenge. When you do, have a go at doing something differently and see what happens. Changing things up and taking a fresh look at something can lead to a better sense of wellbeing in creating a life with a wider approach and more choices.
- DRINK TEA. So not everyone is a tea drinker and that’s ok. However, whether you drink it regularly or sparingly there is growing support around the health benefits particular types of tea can bring. It’s the high levels of anti oxidants as well as compounds called catechins which are regarded as helping with our concentration and focus. Aj, a friend of mine who I used to work at the same London bank and went trekking in Nepal with back in 1997 (and we definitely savoured our chai tea back then too), co-founded Camellia’s Tea House and is the UK’s first ITEI (International Tea Education Institute) Master Tea Sommelier. There’s a growing range of health and wellness infusions available from health food stores and you can also check out Aj’s amazing range available at: camelliasteahouse.com. Plus, not to be missed is Smart Works Edinburgh’s own Luxury Afternoon Tea, socialising and fundraising event taking place on Friday 20th May, 2016 1.30-4.30pm where you can get your fill of wellbeing in good company. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 516 7787 for tickets or further information. I’ll be drinking a cup along with you but from our May Scottish Wellbeing Retreat in the remote and tranquil Kinloch Rannoch. “Tea is like a hug in a cup.”
- FIND SOME QUIET TIME. We all know how busy and inundated we are with our to do lists, post it notes or gadgets with reminders going off. At the same time can we honestly justify a good reason for not being able to give ourselves just 5 or 10 minutes in a day. A moment to pause, find some quiet, to zone out and reflect? Some ‘me time’ is a habit worth cultivating and if you need convincing read, listen or watch Andy Puddicombe’s take on how 10 minutes can make all the difference (he has a book ‘Get some HEADspace, phone apps you can get a daily quote from and some TED talks on YOUTube). Over my years working towards some type of ‘meditation’ practice his take on things is getting me the closest. Call it what you want; meditation, me time, mindfulness, or something else, just find a way that gives you a reason to press the pause button long enough to catch your breath, reflect, renew and be able to move on again from a better place.
- BRING SOME WELLBEING TO SOMEONE ELSE FIRST. Whether you feel connected to your own sense of wellbeing or otherwise, look for ways to bring some wellness into the lives of others and consciously note how you feel in response. It can be the tiniest thing that can make the biggest difference to someone’s day or even their life! For example, you’re stuck at a T junction in a queue due to some temporary traffic lights caused by road works (this seems to happen a lot around my way), suddenly the traffic with the right of way and green light allows you to pull out to merge in turn (letting you avoid a long wait), how does this random act of kindness make you feel? I’m guessing however big or small that feeling, it’s likely to be a positive one. Some refer to it as the law of the universe, karma, where what you give out you receive back or ‘reap what you sow’. Those of you who are already active volunteers may already appreciate the benefits of boosting your own ‘well’ of internal wellness through supporting, encouraging and helping others. I know the Smart Works Edinburgh team certainly appreciates all the hard work and enthusiasm from the volunteer team to make a difference to the clients and their families beyond.
Now you have 5 simple and useful tools, whether as new suggestions or reaffirmations of what you already do. Next try this: attach one or all of these ways of enhancing your wellbeing to a simple ‘trigger’. This will act as a reminder to focus on and acknowledge one to five of your ‘5 a day’. For example, using a traffic analogy, every time you’re in a vehicle and are stopped or see a red traffic light let this be a reminder to focus on what you’re doing about nourishing your wellbeing today. Let me know how you get on… and watch this space for the next 5 a day topic encouraging us towards a better life.
“Create a life that feels good on the inside not one that just looks good on the outside.”
(This blog is part II of a many part series by author Lindsey Porter. Click here to read Part I)
Lindsey Porter is an accomplished Project Manager in Financial Services who is now running her own business providing Well Being Retreats, Yoga classes and other therapies. She is an experienced NLP Practitioner, Reiki Master and Holistic Therapist.