I've always been conscious of my physical and mental health and for years have made sure I exercise regularly, eat reasonably healthily and take time out to relax. However, in the past 12 weeks or so I've started tweaking my daily routine to help optimise how I feel and act and I wanted to share three of the main things I've started doing because I'm genuinely feeling really good right now! I'm a lot more focussed, a lot more appreciative of what's around me and I've definitely been feeling more confident and less anxious these past few weeks. I really feel like the new elements I've incorporated into my routine are easy for anyone to adopt but this is purely 3 things that I've found the most useful and what I've been able to stick to as well.
I started yoga at the start of 2018 for a few different reasons:
I needed a way to de-stress from the madness of central London;
I needed an exercise routine that didn't cut into my time too much and made me feel good and not self-conscious like the London gym I was going to;
I wanted to maintain the strength I'd built from months of HIIT, without the achy knees (promise I'm 27 not 87…);
And I was intrigued as to how good/ relaxed I could feel.
Fast-forward a few months and I can certainly understand what all the fuss is about. Physically, I'm much more flexible, my posture has improved and I'm really happy with how my muscles and strength have maintained and even increased. The focussed breathing sets me up for a really good night's sleep and I feel so calm and relaxed after I've completed a session. I aim for at least 30-60 minutes, 5 times a week and have solely been using Youtube - nearly always Yoga with Adriene - because I literally can't afford to pay £19 for an hour's class in London.
So this is such a hideous thing to do but after listening to Aubrey Marcus on Lewis Howes' 'School of Greatness' podcast I thought I would give it a go. As with the yoga, I've not looked back, because it makes me feel so good! Now I finish every shower with a 2 minute blast of freezing cold water. There's a ton of reasons why exposure to short-term stress (in this case extreme cold) is good for you, but some of the main points are:
It boosts your immune system - a study by the Thrombosis Research Institute showed that people who took daily cold showers had significantly more white blood cells than those who didn't
It increases your circulation
It stimulates weight loss via the metabolically active brown fat tissue
It fights inflammation through triggering the short-term release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol
As well as these reasons, I find that daily challenges seem so much more achievable as I know I've been able to withstand something extreme at the start of the day. My body is also really good at compensating for being so cold and I swear I warm back up so quickly afterwards. And I kind of look forward to knowing how refreshed I'll feel afterwards, as horrendous as it is at the time!
This is the one thing that has meant I've embraced the yoga and cold showers (among other changes) and stuck with them. Before I knew what direction I wanted to go career-wise I thought I was pretty happy and content with my job, leisure time and interests. But since I made the decision - the Goal - to actually start loving what I do and doing what I love, I feel like I have a new level of clarity, happiness and direction. I feel so motivated and this motivation has meant I'm doing things that I previously was not into at all, like listening to podcasts, reading self-help books, and commenting on random 'lifestyle influencers' social media posts - 3 months ago I would not have been down with any of. At the risk of sounding like a cliché, I just feel like something has clicked and changed in my head and I believe it is all down to having identified and clarified what I want and the steps I need to take to get there. I'd totally recommend to anyone living in their comfort zone or just responding to each day to try and identify some goals and see whether that new found clarity can contribute to making you feel so much better. I never realised something so simple could actually make a massive difference.