Trade for prosperity

Keeping yourself as fit and healthy as possible is the key to a happy, fulfilling life. Follow our guide to boost your wellbeing, whether you want to be more active, look after your mental health, or simply benefit from some me-time. 

1 Eat healthily

For optimum health, eat a balanced diet that’s rich in fruit and vegetables, starchy carbohydrates, protein and unsaturated oils. The good news is you don’t have to give up all your favourite foods. 

Find out more about eating healthily at the Eatwell Guide from the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-guidelines-and-food-labels/the-eatwell-guide/ A natural way to improve your mental health is to eat more foods with high amounts of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that the body converts into serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’. Try bananas, plums, tomatoes and pineapple, plus oats, eggs, tofu, poultry, fish, beans, and nuts and seeds. https://www.yours.co.uk/wellbeing/health/wellbeing-activities/ 

In 2020, 62.8% of adults in England were either overweight or obese
(Gov.UK)

2 Stay hydrated

Do you regularly suffer with headaches, constipation, dizziness or muscle cramps? It could be that you’re dehydrated. Drinking enough fluids is just as important for your physical wellbeing as eating a balanced diet. Ideally, you should drink about 2 litres of liquid or between six and eight glasses and cups a day to stay healthy. Water, fruit tea, plain tea and coffee (without sugar), and lower fat milk all count. If you don’t like plain water, try adding lemon or lime juice, or no-added sugar squash for extra flavour. Finally, remember to take a refillable water bottle whenever you go out. 

3 Sleep well

Quality, uninterrupted sleep is vital to allow your body to rest and repair itself. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you’re at greater risk of developing coronary heart disease, diabetes and obesity. You’ll also experience excessive tiredness, a lack of focus and changes in mood. 

To increase your chances of a good night’s sleep, try to keep to the same times for getting up and going to bed. Get into a regular bedtime routine, perhaps by having a hot drink or reading a book. Make sure your bedroom is restful; free of clutter, smartphones or tablets; and completely dark. Try using thick lined curtains with a blackout blind to block early morning light. 

4 Get active

When you add physical activity to your daily routine, not only will you feel fitter, you’ll also reduce your risk of developing serious health conditions. Getting active is great for your mental wellbeing too, because it boosts your mood, reduces stress levels, increases self-esteem and improves the quality of your sleep. Find a sport or activity you enjoy, be it cycling, dancing, football or swimming. Whatever you choose, you must love it so much that it’s guaranteed to get you moving. That way, you’re more likely to keep it up and not even realise you’re exercising!

5 Learn new skills

Every time you learn something new, your brain is actively engaged. Learning is also ideal for boosting self-confidence, connecting with other people and giving you a sense of purpose. But you don’t have to do a formal course to learn a new skill, unless you want to. How about trying out a new recipe, tracing your family tree, following an online tutorial for a DIY project, or learning a new language? You could even rediscover hobbies you enjoyed as a child. Whatever you learn should be something you’re really interested in, but it doesn’t matter if it takes you a while to work out what that is – discovery is an important part of the process. 

6 Improve your home environment

Is your home cluttered and messy, in need of redecoration, or simply uninspiring? Don’t underestimate the importance of a welcoming home environment to your mental health. Having a good clear out helps to clear the mind too. So get rid of the clutter and sort out storage for whatever you want to keep. 

It’s amazing how different colours can affect your mood. Get some inspiration from decorating websites, then decide what sort of colour scheme you’d like to try. If you have lots of areas to decorate, only think about one room at a time. Otherwise, the sheer scale of the task can become overwhelming and cause unnecessary stress. 

7 Connect with others

Taking the time to nurture relationships with friends and family will help give you a sense of belonging and a way to share your experiences. Modern life is so busy that it’s all too easy to text or email, rather than speaking to them. Make the effort to pick up the phone and have a proper conversation instead. Even better, arrange regular meet-ups with the people who are important to you. 

If you’re lonely and would like to make new friends, try joining a choir or sports club; volunteering in a charity shop; or enquiring about your local befriending service. 

8 Stay in the moment

Mindfulness, or paying attention to the present moment, can improve your mental wellbeing by helping you understand your thoughts and feelings. Slowing down and really taking notice of your surroundings can also make you feel calm, so it’s an effective coping strategy if you’re having a stressful day. Five minutes per day is all that’s needed to make a difference, although you might want to spend longer in the moment once you understand the benefits of mindfulness. 

You could try getting outside and really appreciating the beauty of nature; exploring local paths you’ve never walked down before; unlocking your creativity in photography or art; or really focusing on a mindfulness app every day. 

9 Have some me-time

We all deserve to be happy and to take a break from the stress of daily life. This is especially true if you’re a parent or a carer for a loved one. So make a conscious effort to make time in your diary just for you. It could be 10 minutes a day, or an afternoon or evening once or twice a week – whatever works for you.

It’s important that you do something you would genuinely look forward to. Depending on the time-slot, that might be meeting up with a friend, dancing around your kitchen or simply having a blissfully long bath. It could become the highlight of your week! 

 

One in four people experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England
(MIND)

10 Give to others

A great way to improve your self-esteem and feeling of self-worth is through small acts of giving and kindness. Not only does it help other people, but giving actually stimulates the reward area of the brain, making you feel positive. You could try helping neighbours or relatives with their shopping or gardening; talking and really listening to a friend who is going through a difficult period; or signing up to a mentoring project. If you have time, you could do more by volunteering in your local community to help with a cause you feel passionate about.

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