Sweat, sleep & self care

Besides good nutrition and hygiene, the three most important factors for optimising health and preventing illness are exercise, sleep and self-care. All three have been proven to reduce stress on the body, which in turn improves immunity and motivation for daily activities (including study).
Sweat, sleep and self care for optimal health

SWEAT IT OUT

Even though we are health and fitness professionals (or studying to become one), we sometimes forget to incorporate exercise into our busy lives. However, when we are sick, home-bound and/or run down, altering the intensity and duration of exercise is important, to allow the body to rest and recover adequately.

Some great examples of home-based exercise include:

  • Yoga – get out your floral yoga mats and namaste
  • Pilates – even sitting on an exercise ball while studying is great for your posture!
  • Stretching
  • Resistance training with bands or light hand-held weights
  • Dance – put on a good tune and shake that body.

 

SLEEP

For adults aged 18 to 64 years, the National Sleep Foundation recommends a minimum 7-9 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. But for many of us, these hours of shut-eye are difficult to achieve.

Some tips for achieving better sleep include:

  • Maintain a sleep schedule, even on weekends (don’t hit the snooze button)
  • Stick to a relaxing sleep time ritual, such as aromatherapy, warm bath/shower, non-caffeinated herbal tea, limiting electronic device use at least 30 minutes before bed
  • Exercise daily
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine prior to bed
  • Ensure your sleeping space is as comfortable as possible – alter the temperature, sounds, light, pillows/blankets to your liking.

 

SELF CARE

According to PsychCentral, Self-care is any activity that an individual does deliberately in order to take care of their mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook.

Provided below are a number of tips to ensure self-care is practised on a daily basis:

Plan your day.

Take the time every morning to plan out your day using a diary, calendar or notepad. This will allow you to effectively manage your time and to ensure that you don’t miss out on anything during your day.

Practice mindfulness.

Have you ever found yourself working mindlessly throughout the day, forgetting to take breaks, eat enough food, drink water and stretch your legs? Take a moment every hour to bring yourself back to the present moment – rub your bare feet along the ground, take three deep breaths in and out, make yourself a cup of tea and get out of your chair to stretch your legs. Top tip: set a reminder on your phone to take scheduled breaks throughout the day.

Soul Food.

Engage in activities that you love.   Every.   Single.   Day.

This can be as simple as having a bubble bath, cuddling your pet, cooking a delicious meal, spending time in the sunshine, watching a funny video, talking with your loved ones or reading a book.

Aromatherapy.

Whilst there may not be substantial evidence for the use of aromatherapy in improving immunity, the use of air diffusers/purifiers/vaporisers can improve feelings of relaxation and calm, and depending on the essential oils used, may offer additional antibacterial effects (such as clove, eucalyptus, peppermint and lemon).

Practice Meditation.

The ability to quiet the mind allows you to silence anxious thoughts, reduce stress, and increase your attention span. Practising meditation is very similar to strengthening a muscle – you need to work on it every day in order to feel its benefits.

Avoid Alcohol.

Alcohol negatively affects the gut microbiome and causes inflammation, which may weaken the immune system. Limiting alcohol to no more than 2 standard drinks per day and 2 alcohol-free days per week is recommended. However, when sick, alcohol intake is best avoided, as the body needs all its energy, metabolism and immunity to fight off infection.

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