Keeping healthy has as much to do with feeding your mind as it does to do with what you put in your body and what you make your body do! We live in increasingly hectic times and whilst we’re pummelled from every angle to be stronger, fitter and healthier there seems to be little said for looking after ourselves psychologically.
A good friend of mine, Des-from New Zealand, often tells me that I should try and have eight hours of work, eight hours of fun and eight hours of sleep each day to keep everything in balance. These are five things (plus two extra) that I try and do everyday:
1) Get Outside-it could be on your daily commute or at lunch time but set aside sometime to be outside ideally somewhere open and green!
2) Learn Something-Learn something everyday. It might be a case of just reading the news or it might be learning five new words in Spanish-whatever it is learning and challenging our brains keeps us alive.
3) Exercise-done properly this will do as much good for your mind as it does your body. Don’t rush, don’t worry about times and speeds, let your mind wander. Thinking over problems and situations whilst out running/swimming/cycling/walking makes time go quicker and allows you to think through the problem deeply. You want your problems solved? Give them to a long distance cyclist!
4) Make your bed-No, I’m not your Mum but coming home to a bed that’s already made eases the stress away and helps you relax into a decent (eight hour minimum!) sleep.
5) Do something good for someone else everyday and if they find out then it doesn’t count. There are some ideas on Guerrilla Kindness here.
These may all seem common sense so here are two extra:
6) The Morning Pages
The Morning Pages are a way to clear any creative block you may have. They’re pretty simple. You write (not type) until you’ve filled at least three A4 pages of paper. You can write about anything. You can repeat the same word over and over if you want or just gush out anything your thinking. These aren’t a diary, they’re not for anyone to look at they’re just to clear the sleep out of your head and let the creative juices flow.
I’m not very creative but these morning pages help no end. I also like to apply the same theory to mind and maths puzzles like crosswords and sudoku-do four or five each morning-don’t worry if you get them wrong just get them done. I usually think out the right answer later in the day and come back. They really help you think straight if you’ve got a day of logistics ahead!
7) Cold Water
This one may take some getting used to but here goes. Spend some time in cold water every day. Have a cold shower, go for an open water swim. Why? There’s been heaps of studies and the conclusion is…it’s great for you. It’s good for your immune system, circulation, blood pressure, everything. Swimming in the river just as the sun rises is the PERFECT way to start any day. It is the breakfast of champions all wrapped up in a watery hug. From the very moment when you tip toe nervously down to the edge and your brain tells you a thousand reason why you shouldn’t be doing this; to the first second when your system overloads with feelings and sensations; to the slight chill you get after a few minutes and the incredible buzz you get once you’re out and the blood rushes back to your skin. It’s amazing.
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