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Newsletter Jan/Feb 2021

 
 

As we say goodbye (and good riddance!) to 2020 and ring in the New Year, it’s likely that many of you will be feeling a little uncertain.

There’s no denying that things haven’t quite gone to plan. Christmas wasn’t quite what we’re used to and all our hopes of “everything will be alright in next year” have been a little dashed.

If you’re feeling anxious, unhappy or just a little unsettled you’re certainly not alone. The good news is that there is a simple solution.

I can’t give you a way to click your fingers and make life go back to normal, but I can offer a simple strategy that will give you a little control over how you’re feeling. To help you feel calm in the chaos of these next few weeks or months.

Mindfulness.

I know mindfulness has a bit of a bad rap. Some people think it’s a bit woo-woo or airy-fairy. But it’s actually a hugely powerful technique that will help you to control your emotions and choose how you experience whatever life will bring. The theory is pretty simple.

Mindfulness is a practice of choosing to focus on the present. Choosing to guide your mind away from your past memories and your future worries, so you can stay fully present in whatever you’re experiencing at that exact moment.

Similar to meditation, it’s a good idea to set aside some time every day to “train your brain” to stay present. Just find a comfortable seat, close your eyes and focus wholly on what you can feel, hear and experience right now.

Then, any time you feel yourself spiralling or find your emotions getting back in control, take a few deep breaths and bring your mind back to now. What can you see, what can you hear, what can you smell…

It might sound simple, but it can have a very powerful effect. And I’m sure that if you’ll try it you’ll find it gives you a little calm in the chaos of 2021.

Dr. Sian Sayward

D.C.

Let’s be honest, most people will be more than happy to wave goodbye to 2020. It has, without a doubt, been the toughest year many of today’s generations have seen.

As the clock tolls midnight and we ring in the new year, it’s the perfect time to look ahead to the future and start to create some more positive habits.

Exercise is one of the most powerful things you can do to create both good physical and mental health. But new years resolutions are notoriously hard to keep. So what can you do to set yourself up for success?

Get Clarity On Your Goals

The first thing you need to do is get some clarity on what it is you are trying to achieve Do you want to lose weight? Build muscle? Strengthen and tone? Or perhaps increase your flexibility? Each of these fitness goals requires a different strategy if you want to achieve it, so it’s essential that you know what you’re aiming for before you get started.

Empty The Cupboards

Christmas is a time of indulgence. Before you start your new, healthy exercise regime, it’s a good idea to set yourself up to succeed. Empty your cupboards of all the unhealthy, sugary or junky foods that built up over the holidays. If they’re there when you’re hungry then you’re much more likely to cave in and eat them!

Fill Up The Cupboards

Building muscle and feeling full of energy does require fuel, so make sure you restock the

cupboards with lots of healthy snacks. Nuts, seeds and nut butters can help give you the calories you need and create that satisfied feeling. Dried fruit can help curb the sugar cravings and give you a quick energy boost before you workout.

Plan Ahead

A good exercise regime might need a little planning. Once you’ve decided on your goals, think about the types of exercise you’ll need to do to get where you want to go.

For flexibility, you might want to consider yoga. For strength, maybe pilates could work for you. For weight loss, think about cardio like running or a HIIT class. And for muscle gain, weight training is your fastest way to success.

Plan what, when and how you will exercise to set yourself up for the best chance of success.

Get Aligned

Whether you’re a regular exerciser or someone that’s new to the active lifestyle, it’s important to ensure that your body is in alignment. Even small problems in your alignment can have a significant impact on your body when you work out. You might find that exercising is uncomfortable, with additional strain placed on your muscles and joints. You could experience pain and you could be putting yourself at risk of injuries too!

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from 2020, it’s that life will throw things at you that you can’t control. So what can you do if you’re feeling overwhelmed, fed up and frustrated? How can you create a little stability in your life and develop a positive mindset in the face of all adversity?

Personal development is a lifelong process. There’s lots of ways to strengthen and improve your mindset, but a great place to start is your morning routine.

Hal Elrod, author of the best selling book “The Miracle Morning” claims that his simple 6 step morning routine has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Giving them more energy, focus and motivation. Ideal if you’re looking to boost your mental health and make 2021 a positive and productive year for you.

But what does a miracle morning look like?

1: Silence

Start your day with meditation to calm your mind and reduce stress.

2: Affirmations

Use simple, positive affirmations to change your thinking patterns and create new behaviours.

3: Visualisation

Play your perfect day through in your mind, to prepare yourself for the day and stay focused on your goals.

4: Exercise

Stimulate your mind, get your joints moving and boost your happy hormones with a short exercise routine that gets the blood flowing.

5: Reading

Feed your mind and fast-track your personal development by reading 10 pages of a self-help book each day.

6: Scribing

Journal, write your plans or practice your gratitude to keep your mind focused on the positives and process your emotions from the previous day.

Not a morning person? No problem. Elroy has a solution for that too. He claims that even the sleepiest of night owls can train their body and mind to wake up early, feel refreshed and have a more positive and productive day.

So what does your morning routine look like? Is it a carefully planned process designed to help you get the best out of your life? Or a “grab a coffee and hope for the best” approach?

If you want to learn more about how to have a miracle morning then I highly recommend you read the book. It could be the best thing you do this year.

New Year
NOODLES

INGREDIENTS
› 1 lb noodles or linguine pasta
› 1/2 – 1 1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
› 2 tbsp olive oil
› 1/3 – 1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
› 1 1/2 tsp chilli paste
› 6 tbsp soy sauce
› 3 tbsp honey
› Spring onions, carrots, peanuts, coriander, Sriracha and sesame seeds to garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

Chop the garnishes and set aside until you’re ready to serve.

Boil the noodles or pasta, draining before it goes gloopy. While the noodles are boiling, heat both oils in a large skillet with the red pepper flakes.

Once the oil is hot, strain the pepper flakes, reserving the oil in a bowl.

Add the reserved oil back into the skillet and add the chilli paste.

Whisk in the soy sauce and honey.

Toss the noodles in the skillet with the sauce.

Serve hot, at room temperature or even cold. Top with the garnishes to taste and enjoy!

Newsletter Nov/Dec 2020

   

A positive mindset can have a hugely positive impact on your life. Focusing on negative circumstances, wallowing in bad feelings or allowing negative thoughts to dominate your day not only affects your mental health but your physical health too.

Research has shown that negative attitudes can create chronic stress, which upsets your body’s hormone balance, depletes the brain chemicals required for happiness and damages the immune system.

But what can you do about it? What can you do when life gives you lemons and you’re stuck in a negative cycle?

Your friends and family might try to help, sending you positive quotes on Facebook and telling you to just “stay positive”. But does it really help?

There is a simple solution. Gratitude.

Now, I know it might sound a little too new-age and airy-fairy for some of you, but there’s actually a science behind how gratitude works.

Studies have indicated that simply expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain.

While not conclusive, the findings suggest that practising gratitude may help train the brain to be more sensitive to the experience of gratitude in the future, and this could contribute to improved mental health overtime.

So how can you make gratitude work for you? Keep a gratitude journal.

It’s really simple to do. Keep a notebook by your bed and every evening, just before you go to sleep, write down all the things you’re grateful for that day. It could be big things or small things like the cup of coffee your partner brought you this morning. Try to really focus on feeling grateful as you write to help increase the power of this practice.

As we come to the end of a tough year, it’s the perfect time to take a little control over your mindset and put some healthy habits into practice for the year to come. So grab a notebook and start making gratitude work for you too.

 

AH  The Gazette

Dr. Sian Sayward
D.C.

Winter Warmer

VEGETABLE
CASSEROLE

INGREDIENTS
› 1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
› 1 onion, finely chopped
› 3 garlic cloves, sliced
› 1 tsp smoked paprika
› 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
› 1 tbsp dried thyme
› 3 medium carrots, sliced (about 200g)
› 2 medium sticks celery, finely sliced (about
120g)
› 1 red pepper, chopped
› 1 yellow pepper, chopped
› 2 x 400g cans tomatoes or peeled cherry tomatoes
› 1 vegetable stock cube made up to 250ml
› 2 courgettes, sliced thickly (about 300g)
› 2 sprigs fresh thyme
› 250g cooked lentils

INSTRUCTIONS

STEP 1
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 – 10 mins until soft.

STEP 2
Add the garlic cloves, smoked paprika, ground cumin, dried thyme, carrots, celery sticks, red pepper and yellow pepper – then cook for 5 minutes.

STEP 3
Add the tinned tomatoes, vegetable stock, courgettes and fresh thyme. Cook for 20 – 25 minutes.

STEP 4
Take out the thyme sprigs. Stir in the cooked lentils and bring back to a simmer. Serve with wild and white basmati rice, mash or quinoa.

GUNPOWDER, TREASON & PAIN?

Tis the season of bonfires, jack o’ lanterns and frosty mornings. While the cold winter weather can put a strain on your immune system, it’s not the only thing this season that can be tough on your body.

I never realised how very British Bonfire Night was until I mentioned it in conversation to my Austrian friend and she responded with just a very confused look. She’d never heard of it – so I tried to explain.

“It’s a national holiday that celebrates the day that a man named Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the houses of Parliament and

failed. We have firework displays to symbolise the gunpowder explosions and we get the children to build life-sized replicas of “Guy” out of old clothes and straw – then we build a huge bonfire and burn him.”

She looked fairly horrified – and after listening to myself explaining it – so was I!

But as if this cheerful winter holiday isn’t dark enough, Bonfire Night has another dark side…

Standing in a field for hours on end, with kids on your shoulders and your head tilted 

up to enjoy the displays can wreak havoc on your neck.

You see, your head is incredibly heavy – around 5kg believe it or not. Your neck is designed to support its weight – but not when you hold it off-balance for hours.

Neck ache, back pain and headaches can all be a sign that your holiday fun has caused you mischief – but there are some simple stretches you can do to help.

Just a few minutes a day keeping your neck flexible could save you the pain and prevent problems from worsening.

SIDE TILT

Do this while standing, with your feet hip-width apart and arms down by your sides.

Gently tilt your head toward your right shoulder and try to touch it with your ear. Stop when you feel the stretch. Don’t raise your shoulder.

Hold the stretch for 5-10 seconds, then return to the start position.

Repeat on your left side. You can do several sets and work your way up to 10 repetitions. For extra stretch, put the hand on the same side of your tilted head on top of your head, and press lightly with your fingertips

SHOULDER ROLL

This is best done standing up.

Raise your shoulders straight up and move them in a circle going forward. Do it 6 times.

Return to the start position, and make another 6 circles, this time going backward.

SIDE ROTATION

You can do this while seated or standing.

Keep your head squarely over your shoulders and your back straight.

Slowly turn your head to the right until you feel a stretch in the side of your neck and shoulder.

Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, and then slowly turn your head forward again.

Repeat on your left side. Do up to 10 sets.

Newsletter Sept/Oct 2020

   

As we move into Autumn and society slowly begins to return to some kind of normality (fingers crossed) it’s as important now as it ever was to look after our health and keep our immune systems function as well as we can.

One of the key areas in which we can do this, and something that I know many people struggle with, is to get a good night’s sleep. Sometimes falling asleep isn’t easy. The odd tough night is no big deal, but if you find yourself staring at the ceiling for hours as you wait for slumber to come, there are some simple things you can do to help.

Lose The Caffeine

Everyone knows that caffeine is a stimulant. If you’re struggling to fall asleep or even stay asleep, then caffeine could be the problem. Research shows that drinking caffeine at any time of the day can interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep. Consider switching it out for decaff. You can go cold turkey (which can be a rough ride for a few days) or gradually wean yourself off over time to avoid the withdrawal symptoms.

Get Sunlight On Your Eyes

In The Morning getting some sunlight on your eyes in the morning can help tell your body that it’s time to wake up and start the day. Just 10 minutes in the sunlight will set your circadian rhythm off on the right track, making it easier to fall asleep when the evening comes.

Avoid Screens In The Evening

If you’re struggling to fall asleep it could be the TV that’s to blame. Most screens emit blue light. This has been shown to have a stimulating effect on the brain which can interfere with your ability to sleep. Ideally, turn the TV off a few hours before bedtime and don’t look at your phone or other screens.

Don’t Snack After 9pm

Eating in the evening can give your body the wrong message and prevent you from falling easily into a silent slumber. Avoid snacking after dinner, but if you must, then avoid sugary

or carby foods and make sure you’ve finished eating by 9pm to give your body time to digest your food before you go to bed. You may have found other techniques that have helped you sleep such as meditation, a gentle stretching routine or breathing exercises to de-stress for example. Or sometimes a new mattress or change of pillow can help get your body in a better position for a good night’s slumber. I hope you’ve found what works for you. Wishing you health and happiness – and a good night’s sleep,

Dr. Sian Sayward

D.C.

BACK TO SCHOOL, BACK TO WORK,

BACK TO NORMAL???

If all goes to plan, it won’t be long before the kids return to school and adults return to work after what must be the longest “summer holiday” on record.

But after 6 months out of our normal routine, how easy will it be to return to some kind of normal?

Some of you will slip back into your old routine with ease, enjoying the change and  embracing the little bit of normality this old structure brings. 

Some of you may struggle. After 6 months of having complete control of your schedule and time in abundance, it may be hard to get up early and motivate yourself to get back into routine. 

Your body clock may have adjusted to a different cycle, your mindset has most likely changed and

your focus may be hard to bring back to the fore.

So what can you do to make this transition a little easier? 

How can you help your kids or yourself adjust to the new routine and prepare physically and mentally for returning to work or school?

You need to go back to basics.

1: GET YOUR SLEEP CYCLE BACK ON TRACK

While late nights and lazy mornings may have been a luxury to enjoy through the lockdown and summer holiday, a sleep schedule that’s off-kilter is going to be your worst nightmare once school or work begins. Start adjusting your circadian rhythm now by moving your wake up time forwards by 15 minutes each morning, and your bedtime forward by 15 minutes each night until you get back to your optimum schedule.

2: EAT CLEAN FOR MORE ENERGY

Many people have found their diets slip through the lockdown – a little extra wine here, a little takeout treat there. While finding ways to treat yourself and make these last few months more enjoyable is great, if your diet isn’t clean and healthy, you’ll feel it in your mood, your body and your energy when you go back to work. Start eating consciously again – reduce your alcohol intake (or cut it out!), limit any refined foods or sugars and pack in plenty of lean proteins, fresh fruit and veg for a nutrient boost.

3: GET MOVING TO IMPROVE YOUR FOCUS

Re-learning how to sit still and focus is going to be tough for kids this September – and adults too! Returning to sitting at a desk and asking your brain to focus on challenging or mundane tasks is going to be tough. But exercise can help!

As little as 15 minutes of movement in the morning can not only improve your fitness, boost your immune system and make you feel healthier, but it can help you to focus through the day too.

4: HAVE A REALISTIC & POSITIVE MINDSET

Getting back to normal is likely to have some challenges. If you start this journey expecting that there might be some tough times and difficult adjustments then you’ll be much more prepared to handle them when they pop up. Talk to your kids about the changes to come, problem-solve together and be kind to each other – and yourself as you learn to adjust once again to this new normal. Most importantly – stay positive. Even if the adjustment is hard, remember that this too shall pass and you’ll soon be enjoying your more-structured life once again.