5 simple strategies for optimal wellbeing
By Megan Dalla-Camina, Women Rising Founder & CEO
Creating and maintaining optimal wellbeing is a goal for the vast majority of women in this community. It’s also one of the things we struggle with the most. Here are 5 simple strategies that you can implement today that will create significant ripples of positive change in your health and wellbeing. We have taught these tools in detail to thousands of women, as well as poured over decades of research, so we know they work and create a solid foundation for a life of thriving. We hope they can help you too.
Here are 5 key things to focus on for your wellbeing:
Let’s be honest: when you’re busy and time poor, sleep can be the first thing you negotiate on, thinking that you can get by just as well on 5 hours of sleep as the recommended 8 hours. But the impact of this could be creating more issues than you are aware of, and flow on effects into every areas of your life. When you don't get enough sleep, it damages your health, your mood, your cognitive brain capacity and your productivity. Scientists have found that losing just 90 minutes of sleep reduces your daytime alertness by one third.
If you struggle to get the sleep you need, try to create a bedtime routine that can ease you into sleep by creating a restful zone - things like herbal tea, calming music, restorative yoga or some light reading. Turn your devices off at least 30 minutes before bed so your sleep cycle doesn’t get impacted by the device’s blue light. It also helps to maintain consistent times of waking up and going to bed every day of the week to bring those circadian cycles into rhythm.
There’s so much conflicting advice about what you should eat. And what makes you feel great is going to be different from the person next to you. But the core goal with the food you eat is to feel nourished, energised and well. A helpful way to choose what to eat particularly during your workday is to start thinking of food as fuel, not as pleasure.
Pay attention to what you eat and focus on things that make you feel energised. Think wholegrains, clean protein, healthy fats and lots of greens and vegetables. Track what you eat each day for two weeks and note in a journal the energetic impact of that meal. Did you feel tired 30 minutes after eating? Did the meal or snack give you sustained energy? Was your brain foggy? This is the best way to determine what is your best food as fuel, particularly during your work week.
Most people with office jobs sit for somewhere between six and nine hours a day. If you do the math on an average day, you will likely find that you are spending more time sitting than sleeping.
Sitting has been declared the most underrated health threat of our time. Researchers say that sitting is actually the new smoking in terms of its detrimental impact to our health. Regardless of how you get your exercise in, focus on moving your body frequently, working up a sweat often and getting in the 10,000 steps that researchers recommend helps with optimal health.
For a lot of people, restoration is often one of the most challenging of all of the wellbeing steps. At its core, this is about how you are renewing your energy and restoring yourself on all levels. It's great to build up a restoration toolkit for yourself so that you always have a few things that you can draw on to restore your energy.
Your restoration toolkit may include:
- A calming cup of tea
- Relaxing bath with candles
- Quiet reading time
- An early night
- Time in nature
- An evening walk
- Chatting to a friend
- Watching a funny video
- Your favourite TV show
- Afternoon nap
- Coffee in the sunshine
- Quiet morning time
- Essential oils
- Meditation break
Research shows you have around 60,000 thoughts a day, which is more than one thought every two seconds. This creates a phenomenon known as the monkey mind with your attention wandering 47% of the time.
When your monkey mind is in the distracted zone, your body gets flooded with the stress hormone cortisol, and it’s very detrimental to your health. Mindfulness will help you to direct your attention and look after your mental wellbeing and energy.
There are two key aspects for mindfulness practice.
The mindful pause. When you practice mindfulness, you bring yourself into the present moment with your attention and your energy, which creates a moment of pause between what’s happening (the stimulus) and your response to what’s happening. This pause gives you the space to see a situation clearly, and to choose a response rather than just letting your ingrained patterns or neural pathways trigger responses automatically.
The witness state of awareness. When you pause in mindfulness, you're taking a mental step back from whatever is happening. When you do that you can use your higher order mind to observe a situation objectively and not get swept away by everything that’s happening. You’re not losing our perspective and stepping into a reactive zone.