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  • Carol Kennedy

The 4 Pillars of Health & Wellness

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

Have you ever been told all of the things you have to do to live well and felt overwhelmed when the list seems never ending? Well I’m here to change your perspective on that.

As a health & wellness coach, it’s crucial that I lead by example and practice what I preach. Not only because I want to live a healthy and energy filled life for myself but also for my clients benefit too. That’s why I believe the process becomes much more manageable if we change that huge list of ‘should do’s’ into 4 manageable categories: Food, Movement, Rest & Relaxation. How much simpler does it sound now? Let’s have a quick look into each of these.



Food

We all need food to sustain us and give us the energy we need to get through each day. However, what we fuel ourselves with is super important. Not only to make us feel good but also to reduce our risk of chronic illness and disease such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

But how should we be eating?

  • Focus on real foods. Aim to eat foods that are as close to how they were grown as possible, or at least only minimally processed. Think fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and sustainably caught fish and meat as well as good quality dairy products.


  • Aim for 5 servings of veggies and 2 servings of fruit each day.


  • Minimise processed foods such as white bread, frozen pizza, tinned vegetables, deli meats, breakfast cereals, crisps, cakes & pies. These are all high in salt, sugar and trans fats - the bad kind which can lead to disease even in small amounts.


  • Reduce your sugar intake and you’ll feel your energy levels sore. Be mindful of hidden sugar too. Just because it doesn’t say sugar on the labels doesn’t mean it’s not there. Those sneaky food companies call it a whole heap of different names including, but not limited to, dextrose, sucrose, maltose, fructose, galactose, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, malt syrup, just to name a few!

If you need to sweeten something go for a natural option such as local honey, stevia or maple syrup.


When we eat is important too, try to have your last food of the day at least 3 hours prior to bedtime to allow your body time to digest your food and reduce your risk of reflux. This allows your body to use its energy for rest and repair at night too.

Healthy eating habits are beneficial in so many ways. You’ll have more energy, feel better, reduce inflammation, improve mood, improve your gut health….honestly, the list is endless!



Movement

If you don’t already have a regular exercise routine, adding physical movement into your day can feel overwhelming. However, you don’t have to slog it out at the gym doing exercises or classes that you hate every minute of. It’s important to find ways of moving that you actually enjoy and look forward to. You’ll feel way more benefits of doing this than adding additional stressors to your life.


Maybe you’d like to try out that new pilates class or go for a morning walk to start your day. Maybe it’s trying Crossfit or the new gym that’s opened in town. Or maybe it’s doing a workout in your living room while your dinner cooks. It could even be as simple as going for a wander round your office, taking a lunch break and going for a stroll, doing some stretching in the morning or before bed, parking further away and walking, taking the stairs or doing some squats while you brush your teeth. Moving your body doesn’t always have to be about sweating it out in the gym, even these incidental movements add up and release those feel good endorphins that we all love.

We’re all different, what works for one person won’t necessarily work for the next. The key is to do what feels right. That’s something we can work on together.




Rest

How much rest do you get in your day? Not just sleep but actual rest where you sit down and enjoy your own time and company without any mental stimulation or feeling like you ‘should’ be doing something.

Rest is vital for mental health, immune function, reducing stress and improving mood.

This could include taking a rest day from your current training routine to let your body recover, saying no to plans when you feel drained or sitting outside in the sunshine with a cuppa and a book.

Prioritising sleep is also one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and our health, both mental & physical. In an ideal world we’d all be sleeping between 7-9 hours per night.




Ways to improve your sleep


  • Dim the lights at least 1 hour before bed. This will help regulate your circadian rhythm. Your ‘go to sleep’ hormones will kick in just like your ‘wake up’ hormones kick in with morning light

  • Keep your room cool. 18 degrees is optimal. Our brain naturally thinks it’s night time and will rest better when it’s cooler

  • Try a warm bath or shower in the evening. As well as relaxing the muscles and washing the day away, this is a great way to wind down as the drop in body temperature following indicates to the brain that it’s night time

  • Minimise alcohol consumption. Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially but it’ll disrupt the length and quality of your sleep leaving you feeling tired the next day, you just don’t remember waking up through the night

  • Eat at least 3 hours before bedtime to allow your body to digest your meal. This minimises the risk of indigestion and enables your body to use energy through the night for rest and repair



Relaxation

Have you heard the saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’? Well this is where relaxation comes in. If we spend our whole lives giving to and looking after others needs, we end up drained. It’s so common with the modern lifestyle to be super busy with work, chores, exercising, socialising and family time that we forget we have to look after ourselves too!


Mentally unwinding can have huge effects on our stress and anxiety levels and in turn, lead to improved mood, better relationships and enjoying being more present in the other areas of our life.

It doesn’t have to take long but try and incorporate some ways of relaxing into each day.

Write a list of the things you enjoy and that fill you up, make you feel energised and aim to do at least one thing from your list daily.

Or you could create a morning or evening routine to start or end the day well (or both!). This could include things like meditation, breathwork, reading, listening to calming music, stretching, going for a walk in nature, gratitude, journaling, spending time with a pet, taking a bath, watching the sunrise or sunset, singing or making your favourite drink, being present and enjoying it mindfully.


These 4 areas hold so many potential benefits for your health and wellness. They incorporate the main principles of living well and through small, manageable steps you will feel the differences in a short space of time.



If you’re interested in learning more about how I can help coach, support and provide you with the tools to start putting these into practice I encourage you to book in for a free connection session where we can chat more about how the process works and get the ball rolling for you!



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