Recent Posts

Archive

Tags

10 behaviours that can improve your health and wellbeing

Let me start by saying this: health is not a moral obligation, nor is it achievable for everyone. Health looks different for each individual, and it is valued differently by each individual.


Health outcomes are largely determined by so-called social 'determinants of health' (external aspects of our life such as the environment you live in, discrimination, racism, housing, job security, access, socio-economic background, etc.) as well as by your genetic blueprint.


Having said all that, there are things you can do to make yourself feel happier and healthier, and you will be surprised to hear that none of them involve having to lose weight! If you would like to read more about health and issues with weight loss, check out my previous blogs!



a female dressed in black tank top and trousers holding a maroon umbrella jumping in front of a yellow wood clad wall

Everyone likes a list of things they can do to be healthier, and paying more attention to these 10 points can help to support your health and wellbeing:


1. Hydration – We are made up of about 75% water, so water is an element that is needed for most bodily processes. Drinking enough water is important for so many things:

- Regulating blood pressure and heart rate

- Flushing bacteria out of your body

- Transporting nutrients to your cells

- Aiding digestion

- Regulating body temperature

- Preventing constipation

- Helping concentration and focus

- Preventing headaches


The list is not exhaustive! There is no absolute and exact number of glasses you should drink per day, everyone is different and needs different amounts based on their activity levels, environmental influence or general lifestyle. You will do well starting with 5-6 glasses a day, and then adjusting accordingly!


a blue glass tumbler with water splashing out of it, having been put with force onto a wooden table
2. Movement – Moving your body has so many health benefits: from stress busting, joint and muscle strengthening, to improving heart health, chronic illness, mental health and general wellbeing. It can help you sleep better, feel better and keep your blood sugar levels in check.

It is important to find a way of moving your body that you enjoy and that you don’t do just for weight-loss or aesthetic reasons. It doesn’t have to be a certain kind of exercise or particularly intense, if that’s not your jam. It’s all about finding something that makes you feel great!


a family of 5 on holiday jumping in the air on top of a sand dune

3. Gentle nutrition – This is one of the principles of intuitive eating but one that is often put on the back-burner while you learn to focus on your body’s signals and reframing your beliefs around food and health.

It can easily be made into a set of rules, which then turns into just another diet. When you come to nutrition from a place of permission and not restriction, you can start exploring how different foods make you feel.


Adding rather than cutting out is my biggest piece of advice when it comes to nutrition. See how adding more fruit and vegetables, fibre-rich foods, pulses, nuts and seeds make you feel. As yourself” Can you add more plant-based options into your diet? Can you make sure you feed yourself enough? Can you eat your food in a more mindful way? Can you make your meals and snacks satisfying and enjoyable? If you have been restricting play foods such as cakes, biscuits, ice cream, etc., try adding those back into your life without judgement and with a neutral attitude (check my food neutrality blog for more on this topic)


a bowl of food including figs, pears, plums, sliced apples, nuts and seeds, crackers and green leaves, a hand reaches in to pick up a purple plum

4. Sleep – Getting enough good quality sleep is another amazing health booster.

Lack of sleep has been associated with low mood, anxiety and depression, hormonal, blood sugar and blood pressure imbalances, reduced immune functioning, let alone general irritability and apathy.


You can read up on good sleep hygiene by asking Dr Google about it, but a few tips to make sure you get a good night’s kip are:

- turn the screens off at least 1-2 hours before bed (in particular phones, computer and tablet screens – even when you use a blue-light reducing setting or screen!)

- read a book, do some deep breathing or relaxation exercises

- have a hot bath

- use essential oils that calm you down

- meditate

- or have a small cup of warm milk or a soothing herbal tea.


a grey short haired cat sleeping on a cream and grey striped duvet or blanket

5. Don’t smoke – I suppose you know that, and I understand that this is not always an easy habit to break, but it will really make a massive difference to your health.

If you find even the thought of giving up stressful, explore ways of stress relief to support you while you are quitting (see point 9). There are lots of resources available if you want to quit smoking, you could start by checking out the NHS website.


a red no smoking sign on a yellow plastic bollard, in the background there is a large skyscraper and other tall buildings and a bridge for trains

6. Connect – There are several studies that show that when we have deep and meaningful connections with people - be that friends, family or just our social network - we live longer and happier lives!

We may feel quite happy in our own bubble and being an introvert is by no means a bad thing! But having a few meaningful connections with people that make us feel loved, appreciated and valued, where we can be ourselves and feel safe, can truly improve your health outcomes. The pandemic has not been helpful here, let's face it, and many people have suffered so much from being isolated and lonely. Reaching out to others will not only make you feel better, it will also make them feel like they matter.


two females in larger bodies hugging in a swimming pool

7. Watch your alcohol consumption – I will not give you any recommendation here, the information is out there and we all know that if we feel we need to drink at all, we should do so in moderation.

a table set for dinner, a hand is pouring red wine from a bottle into a large red wine glass

8. Be in nature – Go for a walk outside, listen to the sounds, smell the air, touch the trees, be present.

Or just sit on a park bench and watch the world go by, the children play, the dogs chase squirrels. Go for a wild swim, a cycle ride, a picnic in the park. Build a den in the woods, let the rain fall on your face and the wind mess up your hair. Just being outside in nature can be a huge mood lifter, reduce anxiety and depression and make you feel wonderful.


a path leading into a forest with tall trees and dim light

9. Get your stress levels down – This is a biggie!! Stress, in my view, is one of the biggest health-zappers out there.

Low-level chronic stress can come from a vast number of things (e.g. discrimination, weight-stigma, work problems, relationship issues, social environment, health issues, mental health problems, etc., stuff we live with on a day-to-day basis, basically). Understanding what stressors are, where in your life they are coming from and then learning strategies on how to reduce stress levels can massively improve your wellbeing. This is a very individual journey, but to give you some ideas of what you may want to explore:


- Meditation

- Mindfulness

- Journaling

- Therapy

- EFT tapping

- Points 1-8 of this blog, especially exercise and being in nature

- Listening to music

- Personal development activities

- Breathing

- Singing

- Visualisations


a card reading the handwritten word mindfulness placed on a window sill facing out to a blurred outdoor setting

10. Health check ups – An essential part of self-care but often ignored due to various reasons. Regular health checks including for dental health, cancer, hearth health, mental health, are key to detecting anything that’s not quite right as early as possible.

For people in larger bodies, health checks often cause high anxiety levels due to the weight-stigma they fear they will experience when checking in with their healthcare professional. If you are in that situation please get in touch with me so that I can give you some tips about how to approach this with your doctor or nurse. No one should wait till it’s too late when it comes to health checks!!


a black and metal stethoscope lying on a white sheet


See, I didn’t mention you need to lose weight at all, and that’s because there is no need to focus on that. Weight is not a behaviour and therefore isn’t something that needs to be modified. (Please note that this does not always apply for someone in a very low weight body, or someone with an active eating disorder, which can have a profound impact on physical and mental health due to malnourishment and emotional trauma).


I’d like to add that there is also no need to detox, cleanse or re-set, your body does that all by itself and you will be better off spending your money on something that makes you feel happy!


Which of the 10 behaviours will you start focussing more on?