Finally, spring may have just sprung. The long, cold and damp winter has not been kind to our bodies with exacerbations of arthritic and rheumatic pains and nasty cold and flu viruses in the air. Dark and cloudy days and staying mostly indoors have deprived us of sunlight and vitamin D. Your body may need just a gentle nudge to get it back into the seasonal flow.
Here are 12 signs to look out for, and the reason for you to spend a little bit of effort getting your health back on-line.
- Weight gain, a few extra pounds gained over the winter overeating indulgence.
- Tired and sluggish, can’t think properly, ‘brain fog’ and poor concentration.
- Emotionally feeling stressed, low and lethargic.
- Tired eyes, dark circles around the eyes or puffiness around the face.
- Digestive discomfort or bloating and heartburn.
- Poor sleep. Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or waking up tired and unrefreshed.
- Drinking alcohol in the evenings to unwind or relax.
- Stopped attending the usual exercise, sport, yoga, and dance or meditation class.
- Eating more processed food or ready meals, and less fresh fruit and vegetable.
- Appearance of spots, dry skin patches or exacerbation of allergies and eczema.
- Body aches and pains.
To get yourself back on track, here are some things you can do.
- Shift that body: It is a known fact that physical activity promotes the release of ‘endorphins’ also know as feel good chemicals. It relaxes the muscle and joints and invigorates the mind, thus preventing low mood and depression. Movement also improves the body’s blood circulation but also lymphatic flow which is important for our immune system. When we move our muscles act as a natural pump, helping blood to return to the heart, whilst the lymph flow is increased by 15-30 times. Our bone density responds to high impact movements (like jumping), making them stronger. Exercise also helps with weight management.
- Good sleep regimen allows the body to rest and recuperate. The body has a natural circadian rhythm which is linked to the release of hormones and regulation of body functions. Research has shown that when we are awake the brain is in a state of inflammation, and sleep helps to reduce that inflammation.
- Hydration, the body is 70% water and the blood and lymph circulation is dependent on it. Avoid dehydrating drinks such as tea, coffee, fizzy drinks and alcohol.
- Clean up the diet by minimising processed and high carb foods especially bread, cakes, biscuits and fatty and fried foods. Avoid sugary foods. Freshly cooked foods are much preferred. Regularise your eating and increase fruit and vegetables and essential fats found in fish, seeds and nuts.
- Mindfulness is an excellent practice to manage stress and emotional distress. It calms and relaxes the mind and body.
- Friends and Family is important for our well-being. Enjoy some relaxing or playful time with them.
- Supplements can help to make up for loss due to increased stress, but also normalise existing body levels. Stress increases cortisol levels, which makes you eat more thus contributing to weight gain. In particular it also uses up B vitamins, vitamin C and minerals magnesium and zinc. It also affects the digestive microbiome of good bacteria which is extremely important for our immune system, so increasing pre or probiotic intake through food or supplement can help.
- Therapies like massage, acupuncture, yoga is extremely beneficial for well being. They give an extra boost to health. Their importance is even more so when the usual self-management or health changes may not be sufficient. They are an added dimension to the overall treatment to facilitate and focus on health improvement to get added benefits to getting better.