Change Your Life

How to change negative habits for healthy ones

by Katey Kerr-Peterson

Negative habits can creep into our lives and our routine, and before we know it they become part of our default behaviour. Often we know better than to make that extra cup of coffee, stay up late watching TV, engage in office gossip, or make unhealthy food choices. But we struggle to do better and know exactly how to turn our good intentions into our reality. 

We are all only human, and can’t be expected to make perfect choices everytime. But if you are honest with yourself, and know there are some positive shifts you would like to make for your own physical and mental well-being, then read on. As Magaret Moore, co-director of the Institute of Coaching at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital puts it – ‘engaging in habit changes for self-improvement is key to vitality and well-being at all ages’!

The good news is that you are the author of your life. Your life is made up of the choices you make, and you have the power and ability to bring about positive change. Change begins with you and you can start  today.

Here are our 7 steps to change unhealthy habits:

Identify the habit(s) you want to change

It all starts with awareness. Take the time to review the areas of your life as an observer, and notice the behaviour you want to shift. It can be anything from wanting to spend less time on social media, to engaging in more positive self talk, or even prioritizing physical health through more regular excercise. Be kind to yourself during this process. There is no need to feel ashamed, or to beat yourself up for not being where you want to be. Jot down a few of the changes you wish to make, and be proud of yourself for taking this first and important step towards change. 

Identify your triggers

Every action is initiated by a trigger. For example, if you’re standing in front of the fridge looking to eat yet another snack, pause to notice why you’re there/what has triggered you being there. Are you really hungry, or are you actually enjoying taking a small mental break from work? If you’re constantly reaching for your phone to surf social media, what causes this impulse – are you simply bored and looking for some entertainment? Becoming aware of your triggers can help you pause before you act, and you may find it easier to consider other, more positive, options.

Replace the negative habit for a better one

In this above example, instead of reaching for more food, you could opt to drink a large glass of water instead, or walk outside for a 10 minute mental break. Instead of scrolling through Instagram, try engage with a colleague in the office. These simple shifts will make you feel more energized, focused and connected, which are all hugely beneficial. Ask yourself – how do I really want to feel, and what (better) choice can I make to take a step towards this?

Change the narrative

Instead of justifying your negative habit, try and flip the script of you inner dialogue. For example, instead of pouring that extra glass of wine, or eating an unhealthy dessert saying ‘I deserve it, it’s been a stressful week’. Affirm to yourself ‘I love feeling in control of my health. I love feeling good, and right now I am satisfied just as I am’. It may feel un-natural at first, but when you start to feel good, it will get easier to shift to the healthier choice, and you will enjoy a positive cycle of thinking – feeling – and being.

Visualise

See yourself throwing away the twisp or buying healthy food or waking up early. Whatever the bad habit is that you are looking to break, visualize yourself conquering it, smiling, and enjoying feeling good. By holding this new identity in your imagination, the easier it will be to show up as him/her – bringing you closer to your ultimate goal.

Small steps are still progress

Let go of the ‘all or nothing” mindset. If you set out to do 1 hour of exercise, but have a work deadline that you need to prioritize – set aside 15 minutes to workout. You will feel less guilty about skipping it all together, and will reap the positive effects from reinforcing the habit regardless. Small steps in the right direction, is still progress.

Give yourself time

In our culture we want to see instant and immediate results. However lasting change takes time. Commit to the process, and offer self compassion when you slip up. Remember that everything in life is a choice, and every moment is a chance to choose again. Life is yours for the taking, so set your sights on your goals, and enjoy the journey on your way there.

Female Health Checks

5 Important Health Checks Every Woman Should Do

As women, we are in between trying to balance careers, children, families, social lives and so on. And because of how busy life gets, it can be hard to remember to look after your own health on top of it all.

This is why creating healthy habits for yourself through eating healthily, exercising and meditation is so crucial because you need the energy and ability to tackle your everyday. Over and above creating healthy habits, it’s also very important to ensure that you have regular health checks. The reason why health checks are so important is that they can improve your quality of life, prevent complications and detect potential problems early, which can ultimately save your life in the long run.

So the question is: What health checks should you be getting?

Female Health Checks

1. Pap Smears

As you enter adulthood you should be going to get regular Pap Smears. According to WebMD you should go for the test “every 3 years from ages 21 to 65”. The purpose of this exam is to test for cervical cancer in women. It can also reveal changes in your cervical cells that may turn into cancer later.

2. Mammograms

A mammogram is a screening for breast cancer. It involves compressing the breast between plates so that X-ray images can be captured. According to nationalbreastcancer.org “women 40 and older should have mammograms every 1 or 2 years”.

3. Blood pressure

Having regular blood pressure tests should happen throughout your life. According to heart.org, “blood pressure numbers of less than 120/80 mm Hg are considered within the normal range”. To maintain a healthy blood pressure range you need to follow a healthy diet and incorporate regular exercise into your life.

4. Skin examination

Regular at home skin examinations should happen every month. You need to start getting in the habit of scanning your skin for any new moles or start pointing out changes to existing moles as they can be an early sign of skin cancer. According to cancer.orgfinding it early when it’s small and has not spread, makes skin cancer much easier to treat”. If you have a family history of skin cancer it’s best to go for regular check ups with your doctor or dermatologist.

5. Dental checks

From the moment you get your first tooth and through your whole life you should be going for regular checks with your dentist. According to nhs.uk “people with good oral health will probably need to attend only once every 12 to 24 months, but those with more problems will need check-ups more often”. This way you can spot early signs of decay and any other problems.

 

Self Care

There’s more to self-care than you think

We hear words like self-care and self-love a lot lately. These words are thrown around so often that they begin to lose their meaning and we start to feel overwhelmed with what we’re supposed to do. 

Is self-care eating that extra-large slab of chocolate you’ve been eyeing or is it taking a day off of work to recharge? Let’s unpack what self-care really is, the different types of self-care and why it’s so important to actively practise self-care every day. 

What is self-care?

Self-care is far more than you may have originally thought. It’s not overindulgence, it’s not about being selfish and ignoring all your responsibilities, there’s a little more to it. Self-care is about taking care of yourself holistically

It’s looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally so that you are healthy in mind, body and soul to accomplish everything you need to and so that you can dominate each day.  

In order to achieve optimal self-care, there are 5 types of self-care that you should focus on. 

 

Self-care Tips

Different forms of self-care 

1. Physical 

The first step to self-care is looking after your body. Now, this doesn’t mean working out for 2 hours 5 days a week. It just means that you will make healthier choices so that your body can run efficiently. 

It’s important to remember that there is a connection between your mind and your body. In order for your mind to be healthy, your body needs to be healthy too and vice versa. 

To be physically healthy, you need to make conscious decisions about the food you’re eating, how much sleep you’re getting and the physical activities you love.  

If you’re new to physical exercise, give these tips a try at home!

2. Social 

This is often something we don’t think about as self-care but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear how important social self-care is. 

This involves having healthy relationships with friends and family. It can be easy to let close relationships slip, life gets busy and it can be exhausting trying to keep up. This is made even more difficult by a pandemic that limits your social interaction. 

It’s important to set aside time to maintain your relationships. Take a couple of minutes out of your day to check in with your friends, set up a video call or meet for coffee (when it’s safe to do so). There’s no right or wrong amount of time to spend with friends and family but it’s important to nurture these relationships. 

3. Mental 

Your mental wellbeing is just as important as your physical wellbeing. Just like you exercise your body, you need to exercise your mind. 

Mental self-care includes doing things that keep your mind active. Find things you love to do like reading or even downloading apps that focus on keeping you mentally fit. 

Another way to take care of yourself mentally is by journaling. You can start by writing what you’re grateful for each day and some self-affirmations. This will help you develop a healthy inner dialogue. 

4. Spiritual 

Spiritual self-care is unique to everyone but it definitely aids in your self-care process. It involves finding something that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning and connection with the universe. 

You can do this by meditating, focusing on your religion and praying or discovering your own spirituality.

5. Emotional 

Your emotional self-care is so important. It is vital to find ways to handle difficult and uncomfortable feelings and emotions. 

Do you feel your emotions or do you have a habit of ignoring them? Confronting your emotions is necessary for your overall self-care so they don’t fester into something far worse. 

Find ways to process your feelings by maybe chatting to a friend you trust, going to therapy or writing your feelings in a notebook every day so you can process what you went through that day. Have a look at how you can live a more positive life here

Why is self-care so important?

As we said, self-care is not laying on the couch all day binge-watching series, self-care is putting your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing above everything else. 

We live fast-paced lives and it’s so easy to lose yourself in the hustle and bustle so you really need to slow it down. Start living a more meaningful life and be more cognisant of what you’re feeling every day and make sure you are actively looking after yourself.  You deserve it!

This is a life we should fall in love with not simply begrudgingly go through it.

Oat Pancakes

OAT PANCAKES

DIFFICULTY: EASY

TIME: 15 MINS
SERVES: 1-2

Because who doesn’t love pancakes? This version is made with cholesterol friendly high fibre oats.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp plain unsweetened yoghurt
  • Splash of milk of choice
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 2 heaped tsp coconut flour
  • 1 tsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp each: baking powder, cinnamon and
    vanilla essence
  • 2 sachets sweetener or 1 Tbsp xylitol or honey

Toppings of choice:

berries, chopped fruit; plain yoghurt, honey, sugar free syrup, desiccated coconut, chopped nuts etc.

Oat Pancakes

METHOD

Blend all ingredients together (*batter should resemble thick-ish pancake batter). If batter is too runny, add in a bit more coconut flour). Heat a large non-stick fry pan on medium-low heat and add oil/butter Pour batter into the heated pan – you can either make 1 large pancake or a few smaller ones. Cook for +/- 2 mins on one side (or until lightly golden), then flip and cook for another 1-2 mins. Serve warm with toppings of choice.

 

DOWNLOAD YOUR OAT PANCAKES RECIPE HERE 

Boost your Career

Does your career need a boost or is it more than that?

We’ve all felt like we’re stuck in a rut at some point. Be it in our personal lives or professionally, there are times where you feel that you need more or simply that something needs to change. Navigating these feelings can be difficult though.

How do you determine if it’s time for a promotion or even a new job? How do you know if you’re burnt out and need to focus more on your personal happiness? Feeling the need for change is one thing but knowing why and what changes to make is vital.

There are many reasons why we feel this way so we’re going to dive into ways you can understand what you’re feeling and figure out what you need to do. 

Struggling professionally

Ever spent a work day feeling miserable, annoyed at everyone and constantly wondering “why am I even doing this?” If you’ve ever felt anything like this, it might be time to consider the following:

It’s a good idea to upskill

These are just a few signs that it’s time to add some new skills to your repertoire;  

  1. People are being promoted around you 
  2. You find yourself getting bored easily 
  3. You’re constantly asking others for help with your tasks 

You might be sitting here and thinking but how is learning a new skill going to change anything? 

Upskilling yourself gives you the opportunity to branch out into something new and interesting while giving you the chance to add a new level of value to your company. Learning something new or mastering something you already know will give you a new sense of purpose and reignite your passion in the workplace. It is also never a bad idea to invest in yourself and learning new skills is the best way to do that.

Even better, you can use online courses from sites like Udemy that offer cost-effective options for you to expand your skillset. And you don’t even have to leave the house!

 

Career Success

Should you be asking for a raise or promotion? 

Knowing when and how to ask for a raise or promotion isn’t easy but these are a couple of signs that indicate it really is time to ask. 

  1. You killed your performance review 
  2. You’ve upskilled yourself and can now be considered as overqualified for your current position
  3. You’ve taken on  more responsibilities at work 

Asking for a raise or a promotion is a little daunting and can feel like an impossible task. There is definitely a lot that should be considered before doing so. According to this Forbes article, there are 5 major things you should think about before you make your request.

What stands out from that article is that preparation is key! Make sure you can adequately show why you deserve the raise or promotion, understand what your role is worth and know how to position yourself correctly to show the value you can add. 

Maybe it’s time for a new job 

It is so disheartening when you feel like you’re giving your all to a job that is giving nothing back to you. We spend the majority of our lives at work so when it’s not enjoyable, life as a whole can feel pretty ‘meh’. There are many reasons to find a new job, a few of them are;

  1. You’re often bored.
  2. It’s a toxic work environment
  3. It’s starting to impact your mental health
  4. You are constantly being overlooked for any promotional opportunities 

Always remember that your happiness, mental health and goals come before any job. If you are not satisfied in your current company or position then move onto bigger and better opportunities. 

Start off by really thinking about what you want and then begin browsing job listings on LinkedIn. This article by Balance Careers has some really great tips on how to get started! Starting a new job is often quite scary but the thrill of boosting your career is just SO worth it.

It’s personal 

You might find that you’re feeling really unmotivated and miserable at work but it has nothing to do with your company, your job role or anything work-related. This is when you have to really be mindful and understand where these feelings are coming from. 

Creating the elusive work-life balance can be a struggle and the fear of burnout is real. This is why it is so important for you to set boundaries within the workplace. You’ll find that once you begin to prioritise yourself, your goals and your mental health, everything falls into place. 

These are some of the best ways to overcome personal struggles that are impacting you professionally; 

  1. Begin each day on a positive note – a positive mindset can change everything!
  2. Be aware of imposter syndrome and how this is affecting you. Read more about imposter syndrome here. 
  3. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Perfection doesn’t exist so simply do the best you can.

Most importantly though, be patient with yourself and be kind to yourself. Life is difficult and we often feel endless pressure to be the best (thanks, Social Media). Simply take each day as it comes and make sure you’re doing the necessary work to keep bettering yourself.  

Whether you are struggling personally or professionally, it is time to make a change and take ownership of your own life. You’ve got this!

Mindfulness

Be Ever Present: The Art of Mindfulness

We often get consumed by the hustle and bustle of daily life. We find ourselves going through the motions every day without being too conscious of it. This often leads to feelings of burnout or unfulfillment which is why mindfulness has become such an important art to master. 

When people say the word ‘mindfulness’, a variety of thoughts may cross your mind; “has this got to do with spirituality?” “Do I now have to start meditating?” “I really don’t have time to add another task to my day”. And most importantly, “what does mindfulness do and does it work?”

We’re highlighting the importance of mindfulness and showcasing how easy it is to add it to your daily ‘To-Do List”.  This blog is going to take you through the journey of mindfulness – from what it is, all the way to how you can practice it. 

What is mindfulness?

Simply speaking, mindfulness is being 100% present in every moment. 

The Mindful Blog describes it as “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”.

Mindfulness is something innate in us that we are all fully capable of doing but due to our busy lives and the allure of social media, we easily forgot to be present in the moment. This makes mindfulness something we need to practice daily.

If you ever catch yourself really noticing what your senses are experiencing or you’re deeply aware of your emotions and your thoughts, you’re being mindful. The art of mindfulness includes learning breathing methods, using guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind. In the long run, these practices will help calm your mind, body and soul. 

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

The art of mindfulness is not merely focusing on the benefits of it. The goal is to practice it daily and slowly begin to notice the changes your mind and body will experience. 

When we solely focus on the benefits something can have for us, we often forget to completely immerse ourselves in the journey. That being said, there definitely are a variety of benefits to mindfulness. 

When you’re mindful, you are able to reduce your stress levels, gain insight and awareness of not only yourself but the world around you and enhance your performance in everyday life. You are able to gain a completely different perspective into your life and the lives of those closest to you. A perspective that is free of judgement, prejudice and full of positivity

According to the Mayo Clinic, mindful meditations have shown to minimise: 

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

Mindfulness has also proven to: 

  • Improve attention
  • Decrease burnout
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve diabetes control

Mindfulness

How to practice mindfulness 

Now that we’ve explained the beauty mindfulness has to offer, it’s time to dig into how you can practice being mindful every day. There are a variety of simple techniques to use so we’ve listed a few. 

1. Pay attention

This sounds slightly obvious, if I’m living and doing tasks then, of course, I’m paying attention. 

Well, not necessarily. 

Paying attention means more than just being there and doing something. It’s about slowing down and actively noticing the world around you through all 5 of your senses and really thinking about how it makes you feel. 

2. Live in the moment

This means putting your phone away and being present. Don’t think about how cool this would look on Instagram and snapping a selfie as a result. Instead, be intentional with what you’re doing. Be open and accepting of all that is around you while being completely aware of your thoughts and feelings. 

Living in the moment also means being truly appreciative of what you have and those around you. 

Of course, you are going to be battling with fighting off plaguing thoughts that naturally enter your mind. But the trick is to accept and acknowledge those thoughts, and then let them go as you release them. 

A good way to look at your thoughts is as though you are sitting on the side of a busy road, watching the cars pass you by. Your thoughts are the cars. And you can either choose to pick a car to travel in – aka – a specific thought – or you can simply sit and watch them go by. This is the practice of peace and being present. It is the art of not allowing your thoughts to control and take over your mind. It is giving you the ability to control which thoughts you focus on and which ones do not deserve your attention. 

3. Accept yourself

If you don’t accept yourself, you will feel less inclined to be mindful because mindfulness opens you up to being vulnerable and taking a deeper look into yourself. You need to practice self-love and self-acceptance and truly love yourself like you would a close friend. 

4. Focus on your breathing

If you are feeling negative or anxious, you need to take a step back and fully focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath in and close your eyes, focus on your breath as you breathe out and pay attention to how the air moves through your body. Carry on breathing in and out focusing on the feeling of your breath. 

There are more advanced ways of practising mindfulness like through meditation where your breathing and your thoughts come together but for now, we’ve left you with the basics to get started. 

Some facts about mindfulness

  1. Mindfulness is not something that’s unfamiliar to you, it’s something we all know how to do. Life just has a way of taking over in some moments. 
  2. You don’t need to change who you are to be mindful but it requires you to use simple practices to open yourself up completely.
  3. Anyone can do it. From children to the elderly, this is something that is so easy to master and will truly transform your life.
  4. Mindfulness is something you need to be conscious of as often as possible. You need to train your brain to actively be mindful. 
  5. Being mindful can assist you at your job as well as in your personal life. When you’re mindful, you have a higher chance of being innovative and finding effective solutions to difficult problems. 

Take a moment now to truly be mindful. Sit back, breathe in and focus on your senses. In a short amount of time and with practice, you will truly transform your life.

BERRY COCONUT CHIA OVERNIGHT OATS

BERRY COCONUT CHIA OVERNIGHT OATS

DIFFICULTY: EASY

TIME: 10 MINUTES + OVERNIGHT

SERVES: 2

Chia seeds are a great source of health promoting Omega-3’s while coconut is a source of selenium, an important antioxidant that protects your cells.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • ¼ cup milk of choice
  • 2 Tbsp. shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 3-4 large strawberries, sliced (or any berry or fruit of choice)
  • Additional sliced strawberries or fruit for layering

 

BERRY COCONUT CHIA OVERNIGHT OATS

METHOD

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine oats, chia seeds, yoghurt, milk, and coconut milk, stirring well to ensure that everything is fully combined. Add in shredded coconut and sliced strawberries, stirring a few more times before covering with plastic wrap (or transferring to a sealed container) and placing in the fridge for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight. When ready to eat, assemble parfaits by dividing oat mixture evenly between two bowls or glasses, starting with a layer of oats, followed by a layer of sliced strawberries, and topped with a final layer of oats.

DOWNLOAD YOU BERRY COCONUT CHIA OVERNIGHT OATS RECIPE HERE

Let’s be positive

Set yourself up for a positive day, everyday

Do you feel like everyday is a struggle to find the motivation to do anything? Well then it’s time to make some serious changes! Adding some positive daily habits into your life can definitely help with creating a bullet proof routine that will ultimately encourage you to have a great day, everyday.

Being positive is a choice. I truly believe that if we have our mind in a positive space we can become unstoppable in all aspects of our life. But finding a way to keep ourselves motivated and positive takes work and conscious effort. You need to create a morning routine to get your mind into a positive space. This way you will feel motivated to tackle everything in your day!


7 Tips to get onto the positive train

 

Get up and get going

You know when that first alarm goes off? Don’t press snooze! Get up right away and get going. Trust me, I know it’s much easier said than done but it really makes a difference in helping you feel less groggy and more motivated! 

What am I grateful for

Waking up and thinking about or writing down what you are grateful for will really help you focus on the positive things you have in your life. It doesn’t need to be more than 5 minutes every morning, but make this a priority! This will set you out in a positive direction and will put you in a good mood.

healthy and happy

Drink water

Even though it may sound obvious, drinking a big glass of room temperature water first thing in the morning BEFORE you grab your coffee will make your body feel good and revitalized. Drinking water will hydrate you and wake you right up!

Meditation or deep breaths

Taking 5 minutes in the morning to meditate or even do breathing exercises is a great way to clear your mind before your day starts. It doesn’t need to be anything formal, you could literally just sit down while doing your gratitude exercise or drinking your water and take a few deep breaths!

Have a healthy wholesome breakfast

Instead of skipping breakfast completely, eat something healthy and nutritious. If you don’t have too much time you could throw together a smoothie that is jam packed with wholesome goodness! Eating healthily goes hand in hand with feeling good about yourself and your day. 

Put together a playlist

Put together a playlist of your favourite happy songs! That way you can just press play and that positive feeling will come your way. Music really can bring in those feel good vibes into your life, so try to incorporate that into your morning (whether it may be when you are getting ready for work or when your commuting to work).

Move your body

Finding time to move your body and get a great workout in definitely has a massive positive impact on the body and mind. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but exercise helps release endorphins (happy hormones) into your body which make you feel happy and positive! I suggest trying to fit in your workout in the morning but if not set a time that works for you everyday.

Let’s be positive!

Ultimately, you have the control on how you live your life and how you decide to look at things. Using the above tips will really help set you up for success and get those positive vibes flowing throughout your day, everyday! 

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible!”

 

Gratitude

Living with Gratitude: How To Make Every Day Count

by Jessica Gaynor

You’ve got one life. These are our tips on how to get the most out of it!  

It’s easy to see the glass half empty right now. After COVID-19, Stress has been labeled as the number  one health pandemic, the global economy has hit one of its all time lows and poverty is rife.  

How can we possibly see the glass half full?  

The Secret to Happiness  

Ah, the age-old question!  

There was a 75 year-long study at Harvard focused on uncovering the most important factor in human  happiness. You might be thinking: financial stability or having a purpose right? The conclusion might  surprise you… It’s a human connection.  

When we talk about human connection, we’re not talking all that social media stuff. We’re talking real  physical and emotional connection with other human beings, and the quality and depth of those  relationships.  

Human interaction can foster a great sense of community and sense of support. 2 Things we have always  needed and will always need as humans to grow within ourselves and within the world. When we have a  sense of community and support, we feel safer and more willing to try new things because we know 

we’ll be backed up by our tribe regardless of the outcome. Not to mention, it’s been proven that daily,  quality social interaction can slow the onset of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease.  

So get out there and socialise (socially distanced of course!), make those connections, find your tribe and  try new things to get the most out of life and keep your mind healthy. But this isn’t the only thing you  can do to elevate your life…  

We can actually rewire our brains  

Until fairly recently, scientists firmly believed that the brain is unchangeable when we become adults.  Who we are is who we are. Solid, concrete, unalterable brains. Once we’re adults, that’s who we are – no  buts about it.  

Now we understand that the brain can be remolded and rewired to think differently – a term known as  ‘neuroplasticity’.  

If you’ve always got a gloomy outlook on life, fear not – you can change your mindset! If you have a bad  habit, you can change that too (phew!). All thanks to the ever-changing miracle and mystery that is your  brain. The secret to changing the brain is repetition.  

It’s all about habits  

To start thinking differently, you need to create new habits that support the life you want to live. You  need to implement changes consistently. The tried and tested way to build a habit is to ‘habit stack’.  

Habit stacking means doing the “new” habit right after an existing one. For example you could try  meditating and brushing your teeth in the morning – because that’s something you do every day  (hopefully!).  

The more we repeat something or think in a certain way and make it a habit, the faster our brains will be  rewired in line with those thoughts and actions. So let’s make sure it’s a positive change!  

Creating an attitude of gratitude  

Expressing gratitude is the single most powerful way to create a more positive outlook on life. When we  focus on what we’re grateful for, we focus on what’s good in our lives. Then, by repeatedly focusing on  the good, we start to create a habit of thinking positively which ultimately extends to the way we see the  world. 

There are a few ways we can change our view on life:  

  1. Keep a gratitude journal 

Did you know that the information we learn with multiple senses sticks more easily? Writing in particular  is a very powerful tool we can use to learn because it engages both our senses of touch and sight. This is  known as ‘multimodal learning’.  

Get yourself a notebook in a size that floats your boat. A bonus for this one is if it looks nice on the  outside so you’re more drawn to pick it up and use it. Keep it in a place where you’ll see it often – next to  your bed is the best.  

Every day – before bed or when you wake up – write down 3 things you’re grateful for. It’s powerful to  write down full sentences that result in affirmations. For example: “I am grateful for my healthy body”.  

When you’re feeling low, have a read through your journal (which over time becomes prey  substantial!). After a year you’ll get to read more or less 1000 things that you get to be grateful for. 

  1. Take -me off social media  

Ever had a “(s)he’s got it all” moment when you’re scrolling? It’s really easy to get down into a slump  because your life seemingly isn’t as good as others’. It’s important to remember that people don’t post  their life’s lows. All you’re seeing are people’s highlights and that’s not real life.  

Set up the screen balance feature on your phone – they all have one! Make sure you’re not  scrolling through unrealistic expectations all day. Put your phone away and sit in the present to  acknowledge what you have in this moment. Why not even have a read through that gratitude journal?  

  1. Breathe 

It’s something we do without even thinking but really should. You know that thing where the air moves  in and out of the body and gives us life? Yeah that one!  

When you focus on the breath, you bring yourself into the present moment and that’s what we all need  the most. We’re always living in the past or the future but very rarely in the present. When we live in the  present we become more aware of what we have and how we feel. Basically, we live life in HD and who  doesn’t want that? Breathing in and of itself is something else we can be so grateful for. 

  1. Exercise  

We’re working even longer hours now that many of us work from home and struggle to set work/ home boundaries. We sit for way longer than our bodies were ever designed to do and our spines  compress, giving us all those (very common) back aches and pains. Set a timer on your phone to take a  break from your desk – that might mean just gebng up and walking around the house a few times.  

Try and exercise for 30 minutes, 5 -mes a week or 20 minutes every day. Your body will release happy  hormones and instantly give you a mood booster.  

  1. Give back  

As we spoke about before, community and connection are a big part of who we are as humans. When  we perceive that we are supported and can support others, we instantly have more purpose in life – and  that’s been proven.  

Why not support a charity or cause? Donate clothes or even your time? Taking the -me to help others  will give you a sense of gra-tude and pride in our communities by working towards the common good  for everyone.  

A word from Jessica Gaynor

Through the sharing of knowledge and experience, we want to help build communities and individuals  become the most optimal version of themselves both physically and mentally.  

Your health is your wealth so make lasting changes, one habit at a time.  


 

About Jessica Gaynor

The human mind fascinates me beyond words. After I was diagnosed with stress-induced Epilepsy, I  started to revaluate the way I was living my life and I became acutely aware of the global stress  pandemic. It’s become my life mission to help others become aware of it too, through meditation and  mindfulness – because awareness is the first step towards change.  

I’m a registered Yoga Teacher and Employee Wellness Coach with a focus on mental health and  wellbeing. I am currently studying towards a certification in Yoga Therapy – a discipline centered around  helping people understand and manage both their physical and emotional imbalances in the body. 

Running

BREATHING WHILE YOU RUN: THE EXPERT GUIDE TO BREATHING RIGHT AND RUNNING BETTER

Proper breathing can make the world of difference when running. Whether you are just starting out or you’ve been running for years, chances are, you’ve often struggled with your breathing. 

Now, we get that our hamstrings, quads and calves are the driving force that propel us forward, but the power of your breath is more important than you realise. In fact, getting your breathing right will not only make your running more enjoyable but it will make you a stronger, better runner. Meaning you can run harder for longer. 

The science behind breathing

Many runners start out not knowing the importance of breathing correctly. The right breathing technique is vital as a runner. It differentiates rookies from experts. But far too few runners are actually aware of how their breathing impacts their running, not to mention how the body works when we breathe. 

When we breathe in, our diaphragm will contract and the lungs will expand – basic science. Breathing in allows oxygen into the body, an important gas that our muscles need to generate energy. We thus inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. When carbon dioxide accumulates in the body, it can lead to breathlessness and anxiety, making any run feel incredibly strenuous and hard. 

How to breathe right to run better

The first thing you need to pay attention to so that you can properly examine the efficacy of your breathing technique (apart from gasping for air like a fish out of water), is assessing whether or not you are using your diaphragm effectively. Some signs include: 

  • Pain or tightness in your upper body while running 
  • Flared ribs or an arched back 
  • Paradoxical breathing – your stomach rises when exhaling and compresses when inhaling

All of the above signs indicate an issue with your breathing efficacy. When you bring awareness to your breathing technique, this will enable you to create a calmer mind, steadier pace and help you to endure high-pressure race scenarios. Focusing on a good breathing technique will give you the power you need to fight any fatigue you might experience and maintain a proper form. 

Did you know that the common reason why we gasp for air when we run is because we have not regulated our body’s response to running and our heightened state of breathing? Instead of reacting in a ‘fight or flight’ manner, we need to adapt our way of thinking to be ‘rest and remain calm’. 

When we react in a stressful manner to running (i.e. heavy breathing, gasping for air, feeling light-headed), this will impact your lungs and heart, which in turn, means you cannot run without reaching your ventilatory threshold, this is the point at which you cannot breathe in oxygen quickly or deeply enough to meet your body’s demand. When nearing this point, our body’s stress response will kick in and result in struggle and panic. It’s a vicious cycle. 

 

Breathing with your belly and not your chest

Deep belly breathing is the correct breathing technique to use when running, also known as diaphragmatic breathing. This will result in a maximum oxygen intake compared to shallow chest breathing.  Your maximum oxygen intake is known as your VO2 max – this is the maximum rate of oxygen your body can use when exercising. The higher this value is, the more oxygen your body is able to consume and the more effectively the body can use oxygen to generate energy. 

The air we breathe in will remain in our lungs for a short period of time, which will prevent the complete exchange of air, thus reducing the oxygen intake. When our breathing technique is poor, it can not only result in unnecessary fatigue but also the common side stitch so many runners experience. Deep belly breathing allows for increased oxygen intake and prevents side stitches. 

Here’s how to do it…

For a few minutes before your run (you can also practise this at random during the day), lie down on a comfortable surface, placing your hand on your belly. Take a few slow, deep breaths, ensuring your belly naturally lifts your hand when inhaling and your hand sinks when exhaling. Once you are comfortable with this technique, you can practise it when moving around and running at a comfortable pace. 

Pay attention to your form 

Make sure you also pay attention to your posture when running. Your upper body should be straight, shoulders relaxed (not hunched forward) and your head should be in line with your body, not pushed forward. 

Applying deep belly breathing to your running: Rhythmic breathing

Experienced runners know about rhythmic breathing. This is breathing in a pattern which allows you to increase your oxygen intake and result in your body being in a more relaxed state. Remember, every time your foot hits the ground, your body experiences stress associated with this impact. It’s your job to control how your body reacts to this stress. 

An expert trick is to alternate exhales between your left and right foot. This form of rhythmic breathing will allow for less pressure to be placed on your diaphragm and balance the impact between both sides of the body. 

Following a 3:2 pattern allows you to focus on your breathing and lessen the stress your body experiences. This means you will inhale for three strides and exhale for two. If you increase your pace, you can change the pattern to be 2:1 – Allowing your body to take in more oxygen and quickly expel the carbon dioxide. 

The final stride

Following these expert tips will improve your running, lessen the stressful impact of running on your body and help make your running more enjoyable. 

A word from RunMalibu

This blog was written by WellBe&Co in collaboration with RunMalibu. WellBe&Co is a personal and corporate wellness company specializing in easy-to-implement, lifestyle-focused nutrition, training and health solutions.