Clinical Nutritionist and Naturopath BROOKE BENSON CAMPBELL (BHSc) presents 10 tips on achieving a stronger mind, healthier body and a better you in 2019…
It’s official – the weather is heating up, summer festivities are well into full swing and a new year is here. As we begin 2019, it’s essential we take a step back and consider ways to take better care of ourselves in the year ahead and actually achieve a ‘new you’ this new year. Here, I highlight 10 key focus points vital to achieving a healthy brain, healthy life and a generally a healthier, better and stronger you.
- ALLOW YOURSELF TO WIND DOWN BEFORE BED
To set yourself up for a strong ‘tomorrow’, create a closing day ritual you can put into practice before bed each night to help you disconnect from any stresses experienced throughout the day. Make yourself a to-do list for the next day, which will help to prevent mind chatter and mental lists consuming your relaxation time. Your wind down should be a reflection of the day that was, not the day that is to come. Whilst you’re reflecting on your day, another great way to calm your mind is to drink powdered magnesium mixed in a glass of water. This will help to calm the nervous system and quieten the mind, paving the way for a deeper and more restful sleep.
- TAKE THE NECESSARY STEPS TO ACHIEVE THE BEST REM SLEEP
REM, or ‘rapid eye movement’, is known as a unique phase of sleep distinguished by relaxation in muscles throughout the body and rapid eye movements. This is the deepest phase of sleep, where people experience their most vivid dreams. The key to achieving this phase of sleep and increased morning energy is melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain and works to manage your circadian rhythm and sleep pattern.
Unfortunately, two of the most common pre-bed rituals tend to dampen melatonin secretion and affect sleep quality. Screen time (including post-dinner TV, late-night laptop searches and Facebook-video frivolity) causes melatonin to remain at low levels due to blue light secretion. To avoid this, it is recommended that gadgets and electronics are turned off one hour before bedtime. However, if you find yourself relying on that last hour before bed for some much-needed screen time, consider investing in a blue light filtering for screens and phone apps as an alternative solution.
Ditch the alcohol, too. While our favourite tipple may help us to fall asleep more easily, it discourages REM sleep. Swap the evening Negroni for a glass of tart cherry juice – a natural source of melatonin.
- MAKE TIME FOR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
After the age of 30, testosterone levels begin to decline at the rate of around one percent per year. With a decline in hormone levels comes the beginning of muscle wastage and a lower bone density. To prevent these changes, it’s recommended that men in their 20s and 30s incorporate balance and flexibility training with cardio-heavy sessions. Ideally, add a yoga or Pilates reformer session once a week to boost sports performance and stress relief. Hailed by sports pros, there is no better training than yoga – you’ll be amazed at what it does for your flexibility, joint rotation and focus. Nine-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater practices yoga as regularly as cross-training. Enough said.
As for how often you should get your blood pumping; five sessions of 45 minutes per week is optimal, but these sessions should be a mix of weights, cross-training, flexibility and strength work to minimise injuries and muscle imbalance and to support hormone release.
- CHARGE YOUR BODY WITH SUPERFOODS
A must-have superfood to include in your daily regime is marine collagen. It’s 97 percent protein which contains essential amino acids and provides the body with structural building blocks for muscle regeneration and hormone synthesis. Given that your tendons and ligaments are around 96 percent collagen, this supplement works to support the healing of injuries and weight-bearing strength. It is also beneficial for gut health integrity and is high in glycine to boost muscle mass and metabolism.
- CAFFEINE CAN BE THE ANSWER (IN HEALTHY MODERATION)
Caffeine has received a bad rap of late, but between 1-3 cups of coffee per day is not only an appropriate amount but has actually been shown in clinical studies to support brain health. The caffeine in coffee does not just offer a short-term memory boost, but can actually enhance long-term cognitive performances, such as vigilance, response time, information processing and proofreading tasks. However, moderation is the key here. If consumed in mass quantities, the benefits can be replaced by anxiety, irritability, stomach upset, nervousness and heart palpitations, all of which are signs of caffeine overdose, and no fun for anyone.
- EASE YOUR MIND AT WORK
At work, two small changes can help to simplify and streamline your day. Firstly, be strategic with emails. A person’s stress level can be directly correlated with how many times they check their email per day, so exercise a little self-discipline and limit visits to your inbox to balance stress levels. Secondly, use nature as a stress-reliever. Nature is visual valium, so take walking meetings where possible, or embrace a proper lunch break at the local park. Studies have shown that being in nature improves attention and offers rejuvenation to downgrade stress levels. Otherwise, if you’re more of an indoors type of person, squeeze in a soothing massage or acupuncture session during lunchtime using a real-time booking platform such as www.bookwell.com.au which will guarantee ultimate relaxation and distraction.
- CHANGE UP YOUR WORK ENVIRONMENT WITH A CHANGE IN ATTITUDE
Revamping your work environment and optimising productivity begins with a tweak in attitude. Celebrate the small victories and consciously reward yourself and your team with a pat on the back. This will encourage open communication between workmates and aid the team in working towards a culture of respect.
- MINIMISE THE FIRST-DATE PANIC BY ACKNOWLEDGING YOUR STRENGTHS
For those searching for love, it’s no secret that meeting someone new can be daunting. Before the initial meeting, it can be easy to get carried away with negative thoughts – cue the ‘first date freakout’. A great way to counter this before walking into a date is to hone into your strengths. Think about your strengths, even write them down, to remind yourself of all the good qualities you bring to the table. For example, if humour is an asset of yours, make your date laugh until they cry. If you are knowledgeable, wow them with facts. If you are creative, let that energy shine.
Where all else fails, ‘fake it until you make it’. Faking confidence is a sure-fire way to encourage your body to produce hormones responsible for confidence: one feeds the other. A strong stance, a confident walk, open body language – all signs of confidence that can be employed to boost testosterone levels and transform ‘pretend’ confidence into ‘real’ confidence. Remember it’s likely not just you! Your date is human too and likely experiencing the exact same feelings.
- WHEN GETTING PHYSICAL WITH SOMEONE NEW, KEEP TESTOSTERONE LEVELS IN CHECK
Following the first date, things may start to heat up soon after, heading in a more physical direction. As with all new endeavours, patience is key. The biological ticket to allowing a relationship to progress naturally lies in balancing your testosterone levels. Testosterone is the powerhouse hormone behind a lack of impulse control and snaps in judgement. It has been proven that upping testosterone levels can result in men making judgements without ruminating on which decision is best (i.e prematurely speeding up the physical stage). The key to controlling impulse and behaviour, therefore, lies in balancing testosterone and cortisol levels. The method for doing so? An active lifestyle, low toxin exposure, and avoiding personal care products that contain phthalates, all work to balance hormones.
- WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR LOVED ONES, ACTIONS MAY SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
Science has proven that women tend to utilise speech and emotion more than men, who prefer a ‘get to the point’, no frills communication approach. If poetic monologues and emotive words are your downfall, blame good-old biology. But never fear – actions truly do speak louder than words, and simple gestures rule supreme. Delivery of an impromptu cup of coffee in bed on the weekend (extra points if you’ve made it) or a home-cooked meal (even if it’s eggs on toast) can help to remind your loved one that you care. Feigning pretend interest in their obsession with reality TV or our deliberation over a particular shade of lipstick earns huge brownie points.
Most importantly though, show respect for their opinions (however ridiculous they may be) and know that regardless of how self-sufficient, intelligent and fierce your loved one may seem, they are also in some way vulnerable, insecure and requiring support and reassurance (this applies to partners, friends, and family).
Brooke Benson Campbell (BHSc) is a Clinical Nutritionist and Naturopath, speaker, writer and presenter with a passion for all things health, beauty and wellbeing. A self-proclaimed human test subject, she is constantly trialing the newest products, seeking the latest discoveries and reading the current clinical studies, in order to share her findings with the public through private practice, social media and industry education.
For the full article grab the February 2019 issue of MAXIM Australia from newsagents and convenience locations. Subscribe here.