By Rachel Grunwell: Wellness Coach, PT, Yoga + Mindfulness Teacher. Author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness.
Here are 10 tips to help uplift your mental wellbeing. I was asked to pen these tips by Penrith City Council which is showcasing my book Balance during the Penrith City Council Library’s Wellbeing Festival in October for Mental Health Month. Try one of these 10 research-backed tips…
- Exercise (in a way that you enjoy) to boost your mood. Better still, do it in the morning to help you build confidence and overcome obstacles, says Psychologist Adam Grant. He says that “on days when people exercise before work, they’re more engaged and less exhausted. They see tasks as challenges to conquer rather than threats to avoid. Early wins boost energy and efficacy”. P.S. If you want inspiration, then I’m regularly sharing fitness and wellness tips on instagram via https://www.instagram.com/rachelgrunwell/
- Eat more real foods (and less stuff from packets). Good food helps to fuel how you think, feel and perform. p.s. some hero foods that boost brain power include things like blueberries, walnuts, salmon, cacao, fermented foods, avocados, and eggs – just to name some!
- Find flow. I mention in my book Balance that Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes flow as “the secret to a life worth living”. Flow brings you happiness – and you feel this way through doing activities that you love that can put you into a state of flow. To find out more about flow read this in my book or find a Ted Talk from the psychologist himself.
- Connect with people you love. A Harvard University study reveals you can live longer and happier if you have quality, loving relationships. This does not have to be a marriage. It can be anyone who loves you and lifts you up, supports you and cares about you.
- Go for a walk to calm anxiety. Australian author Sarah Wilson who penned the book ‘First, We Make the Beast Beautiful’, shares in my book Balance why walking is so calming, saying “there are studies to show that walking goes at the same pace as discerning thought, too. That in itself can modulate anxiety”. She explains why this is so in my book, plus shares her passion for sustainability also (page 252).
- Learn mindfulness meditation. This is an effective stress-relief technique. It helps to calm your nervous system. There are lots of amazing books on this topic in your local library. I love to teach this and you can access a free senses meditation via my instagram. Click HERE.
- Sleep well daily. Dr Adam Storey in my book Balance explains how this increases your ability to manage stress, helps you to have sharper concentration, improves your memory and increases your energy. I’d add that it helps to make me a nicer human to be around if I’ve had 7.5-8 hours a night! chuckle. I also love Dr Storey’s line “sleep like a baby so you can perform like a beast”.
- Professor Jarrod Haar recommended getting a pet because this increases happiness. In my book Balance he explains “the pause when we stroke a pet or engage for a few seconds helps employees disconnect from their work, so even after 10 seconds they are better able to refocus on the task at hand. Relaxed and happy workers tend to perform better too”.
- Texas-based Happiness researcher Shawn Achor shares in my book Balance that “raising your positivity in the present” can be a key to living life happier. He shares other tips too that he uses daily to help ward off depression. He has courageously spoken publicly about overcoming depression. His insights that he shares are things he works on daily to boost his happiness levels. They’re so simple – yet profoundly powerful.
- Spread kindness. It’s a boomerang. If you are kind to others, then I promise this vibe will come back to you too. And of course, this will help you to smile.
About the author: Rachel helps clients dump stress, fit their jeans better and love who they see in the mirror. She can help you to thrive, not just survive. Her aim is to help you feel VIBRANTLY ALIVE. Email her if you’d like a wellness coaching consult [email protected]
Find out more about her book Balance. Click HERE
The publisher says this about Balance:
“Respected journalist Rachel Grunwell interviews 30 experts globally to get the best of tips on how to uplift your mind, body and soul so that you can live your best life. Along the way, Rachel also shares her story on how she went from being an unfit, stressed- out investigative journalist and mother, to someone who is now a multi-marathoner and wellness expert who coaches others with fitness and lifestyle plans.
As well as interviews with experts, Balance has 30 recipes for nutrient-dense, delicious snacks and
smoothies, including some sweet treats, because the book is all about ‘balance.’
Balance is a science-based book with the best tips from a variety of experts that will inspire you to move well, eat well, think well, feel well and live well. What are you waiting for? Dip in!”
Here are 4 mindfulness practices that can help to dump stress. You don’t have to incorporate all of them into your life. Choose just one that most resonates with you and work on this one idea. Or have a go at all four practices if you are super curious and have the time.
I recommend all of these ideas for a more calm and happy life. I’m personally working on all of them myself to feel more in balance and happier. The trick is to start with one idea and do it for a few minutes a day and then build on this time, or pick up another idea. Over time, you just keep building on living a more “mindful life”.
- Give gratitude. Take a few moments each day to feel grateful for someone, or something, in your life that makes you smile. It could be your cat or dog, a loved one, a place you love to be in… Take a few moments to feel gratitude for this place, person or thing that makes you happy. Use visualisation. Another way to give gratitude is to do something… like write a message, text, or email to someone and tell them how you are grateful for them in your life. The more specific your gratitude is the better.
- Movement is medicine. Move your body in a mindful way to help you to feel more vibrantly alive. Movement helps your body, as well as your mind and soul. We are made to move. So move in a way that moves you… Sometimes we can get stuck in the “thinking”. Movement helps us to dump stress, feel more grounded and feel more in the present moment. People deal with stress differently. Some find meditation really works. While, others (like me) find doing something active is a great distraction from a busy life.
- Try mindfulness meditation. Learn how to be more present, aware, and tuned into the moment. This is all just about taking a few moments to check in with yourself in how you are thinking and feeling and then choosing how you wish to be. You don’t need to be cross-legged and in India and sitting in silence. You can be anywhere and do this anytime. Mindfulness meditation helps us to respond too with a more considered mind – rather than having knee jerk reactions. You can read books on the subject, listen to podcasts, or work with a mindfulness meditation like me to help you understand this discipline more clearly with practical ideas on what to do. Here’s a 60 second vid where Mindfulness meditation is explained by moi on instagram. Click HERE
- Sleep life a baby so you perform like a beast. This means 7 hours plus a day. Kids, and athletes, need more. Sleep helps us to think more clearly, respond more quickly and perform at our bests. It helps us to feel calmer and happier and to tap into more creativity. If you want to be productive… then sleep like a baby so you can do life like a beast. Often people turn to expensive supplements or expensive ideas to feel healthier. Sleeping is free!
- * Work with Rachel for delivery of a mindfulness meditation presentation by booking a time with her agent, Josie via [email protected]. Rachel does 20min, 40min or 1 hour interactive presentations
- Buy Rachel’s book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness full of 30 global experts sharing research-backed ideas on how to live healthier and happier.
By Rachel Grunwell – Yoga + Meditation teacher
I love this meditation to help me feel grounded, more aware and present in “the now”
I share this with yoga students often. It’s a fave.
Sit in a comfortable place and take a few slow breaths. Then notice your senses one by one with these prompts:
See. Firstly notice 5 things you can see. Colours. Textures.
Take a mindful breath.
Touch. Next notice four things you can touch. Notice the feeling.
Take a mindful breath.
Hear. Notice next three things you can hear.
Take a mindful breath.
Smell. What are two things you can smell?
Take a mindful breath.
Taste. What is one thing you can taste/or perhaps one thing you have enjoyed tasting today. It could be your morning coffee…
Now open your eyes and experience full presence.
By Rachel Grunwell – wellness coach, yoga + meditation teacher, and co-leader of the Mindful Moments Retreats at the Polynesian Spa
Stop, pause and take a breath. Notice how you are choosing to “be” in this moment, right now.
How are you choosing to show up in the world? Tune into your senses, or your surroundings and notice, with compassion, how you are feeling and what you are thinking…
You experience the world by the way you choose to think. So it’s important to have awareness around this and that you can change how you view your world and what you are experiencing…
You might notice that you feel stressed or anxious. Try diaphragmatic breathing perhaps to calm your nervous system which can help you to feel more calm…
Meditation is simply just all about taking time to check in with yourself, choosing to feel more aware and then choosing how you want to be…
Mindfulness is about living in “the now” – in this moment, right now. Rather than feeling stuck in the past, or feeling anxious about the future. You choose to be present in this moment now.
A great way to take a mindful moment is to look outside and notice the clouds in the sky, the shapes, colours and movement… and perhaps feel grateful for something, or someone, in your life that makes you happy.
Another way to take a mindful moment is to lay under a tree and gaze up at the leaves, colours, textures, movement in the wind or perhaps it’s the sun reflecting on the leaves in a beautiful way. Stopping, pausing, taking a breath… you notice the little things and tune into how you are thinking and feeling… and then you can choose to reset that thinking to how you want it to be.
By Rachel Grunwell
Food fuels how you think, feel and perform. I’m always inspiring wellness coaching clients to fuel their body like it’s a Ferrari.
I create healthy recipes for brands, businesses and magazine pages. I’ve created recipes for New World, Lewis Road Creamery, 1838 Honey, and more. My book Balance boasts 30 nourishing recipes I had published in Good magazine too – some of which are pictured below. You can buy Balance via the link HERE
I always start my day with a juice or smoothie that’s full of real, wholefood ingredients. Here are some tips to making your own juices or smoothies:
- Simple is best. Don’t load up your drink with too many ingredients otherwise it can taste like swamp water.
- Think of the hero ingredient and build your smoothie or juice around that. ie what goes with pineapple? Obviously not milk as it would curdle. yuck. However, soda water, or coconut water can be a great base to a refreshing pineapple drink.
- If a recipe requires milk then choose the one you like to add. My smoothies are made with a variety of milks including real full-fat cows milk to oak milk or even cashew milk or almond milks. Use a variety of milk for different nutrients and flavours.
- Put a bit of avocado in your green smoothie. It tastes delicious! It’s great for your skin and thickens up your smoothie too. Yum! If you use avo in smoothies then you can store the avo in the freezer in chunks and use when you want.
By Rachel Grunwell (wellness coach)
The hardest part of starting a wellness journey is choosing to start. It’s the part where you decide to jump and commit to doing something.
This takes courage.
It also starts with self-love. You have to care about yourself, know that you matter and know that you deserve to take time out to nourish your body, mind and soul.
I do wellness coaching for people who want to work on either how they move, eat, sleep or manage stress. Sometimes people come to me with one goal, but end up realising that they’d like to work on some other things along the way. I can help anyone work on their nutrition, weight management, achieve a run goal or start a weight-lifting programme, to working on ways to manage stress or get more zzzzzzz at night.
Whatever part of your wellness you wish to work on… starting is everything. Choose any aspect and work on one small step at a time. One step builds over time and elevates your health.
Here are some ideas to start!
- Be body fit. ie move your body in a way that resonates with you that you enjoy and love. It could be walking with a friend at lunchtime, going for bike rides with your kids, attending a gym, running, swimming, dancing… whatever you like. Just move. It strengthens your bones, muscles and is healthy for your mind too. It helps you feel happy and alive and is a foundation for your mental health. If you have trouble sleeping… then this can be helpful for this too.
- Restrict your feeding window (time restricted eating, or also known as intermittent fasting) is a weight management strategy that’s worth giving a go. It could be as simple as finishing eating by 7pm at night and then not eating again until 7am the next day. You may not realise it, but you could be eating for 16-18 hours of the day and this trap of grazing non-stop is an easy trap to fall into. This strategy can stop us from over fuelling on too many calories.
- Not eating by the clock is another idea. We are not robots and programmed to be hungry at the exact time every day. Eat if you are hungry. If you aren’t then maybe wait a bit longer. For example, if I have had a big breakfast out with friends then I might not be hungry again until 1pm-ish. So I check in on how I feel and I’m guided by a more mindful-eating approach.
- Cut fruit juice. Drink water instead and the good news is this is free. Water is also free of sugar. There can be so many calories hidden in those soft drinks which give us a high, then a low.
- Move your body 150 minutes weekly. Get your heart rate up. Yes, I’m finishing with another movement idea because I’m so passionate about getting people moving. It helps us to look good, but importantly feel good. Ideally do this in nature if you can where you can soak up the sights and escape your never-ending to-do list!
- Lastly here’s a recipe for that smoothie pictured.
Blitz this in your blender and then pour into a glass to enjoy! #ad #brandpartner #nuzest
By Rachel Grunwell – Wellness expert, Rotorua Marathon ambassador, yoga + meditation teacher, marathoner, coach, PT and author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness
This post is kindly sponsored by the Rotorua Marathon event – NZ’s most iconic run event which has a distance option to suit every walker and runner including the Red Stag Marathon, Red Stag Half Marathon, Go Media 10km, First Credit 5.5km. Find out more about the event HERE.
- Stretch. Stretching will always be my No 1 tip after running. This helps to bring length back to tight muscles and helps you to walk with more ease. Decode: You’ll walk less like a cowboy going into a gun-totting standoff! Ever tried to walk down stairs after a long run? Yeah, you want to avoid that awkward walk that huuuuuuuuurts with every move you make and every breath you take. Trust me, I’ve conquered (decode: survived) 25 marathons and you want to stretch so you can move better. Check out my instagram for some quick vids on how to stretch and use a foam roller.
- Use a foam roller. This will help you to “iron out” your body so to speak. Target those knots and tight spots and gently use the foam roller to free your body up.
3. Rehydrate well. This is an energy sapper otherwise! Also, your body works harder to pump the blood around your body if you haven’t had enough fluid. And make sure you have water and not the sweet stuff, of course.
4. Refuel well. You’ve obviously burnt some calories out on your run – and so eat some healthy, wholesome kai. A big mistake is people think they can eat LOTS of crap food because they run. In reality, you can’t outrun a crap diet. But I do believe in balance. I will be celebrating after the run with a glass of champagne and a burger. Yum.
5. Contrast Therapy. I love using cold water and hot water therapy after a run. It stimulates blood circulation and helps you to unwind, relax and rejuvenate. It’s bliss-inducing stuff. The ultimate is going for a soak at the Polynesian Spa in Rotorua where they have a cold plunge pool and lots of hot water pools on the lake edge of Rotorua. This is a blissful place to unwind, relax and you’ll get the best nights sleep afterwards I promise!
I help to co-lead the Mindful Moments Retreats at the Polynesian Spa by the way and I love coming here after a run or walk in the Redwoods Forest which is the location of the Rotorua Marathon’s half marathon course.
Whatever distance your run at this event, enjoy it and be proud of yourself for getting out there and doing the Mahi. Running is epic for your body, mind and soul. It’s a place within yourself to find flow and feel more in balance.
The Polynesian Spa is also a great spot for a recovery smoothie or juice that’s healthy or a massage!
Rachel is the author of the book Balance. She does wellness speaking and mindfulness sessions. She loves to run and lift weights and do yoga. She sees movement as essential for moving well, feeling well and living well.
Leg Love for Runners!
By Rachel Grunwell – Rotorua Marathon ambassador, marathoner, coach and yoga teacher
This blog was proudly sponsored by the Rotorua Marathon event. Find out more about the event on May 6, 2023. There is a distance for every level of walker or runner. Click HERE.
See a video demonstration (with tips) for these yoga poses too via instagram. Click HERE.
I recommend dynamic stretches before you run (to prepare your body for moving well so you can run well) and static stretches post-running (to bring length back to tight muscles and so you can avoid walking like the lego man)!
Stretching overall is a good injury-prevention tool.
Ps, I caution that you should never force a stretch, or bounce fast through movements. You can risk pulling a muscle. If you are tight then you can feel uncomfortable, but you should never feel pain.
Remember to breathe as you move and find joy in the movements!
#ad #yogaforrunners #mobility #rotoruamarathon #rotoruanz
Note: Reach out to me on social media if you have any questions. I’ve run the Red Stag Rotorua Marathon 42km distance four times – including three times guiding blind runners. I’ve done the Red Stag Half Marathon and Go Media 10km event twice too. I’m an experienced runner and I’ve conquered 25 marathons. I love teaching yoga to athletes to enhance their training and performance. It’s an injury prevention tool that I am passionate to share.
I also love this iconic Rotorua event. I’ve run it with my dad, my kids, friends and their kids, and guided disabled athletes through the event too. This event is joy-filled and for real athletes like you and me, plus the elites are inspiring to watch too!
By Rachel Grunwell (coach, yoga teacher, multi-marathoner and author of the book Balance: Food, health + Happiness)
Note: This post was sponsored by the Rotorua Marathon event which is on May 6, 2023. Choose from the full marathon, Red Stag Timber Half Marathon, Go Media 10km, or First Credit Union 5.5km distance. Find more information HERE.
Most runners do the same stretches day in, day out. But did you know there are 2100 yoga stretches to choose from. So, there are so many different ways to stretch each body part. So it’s fun to change it up. It’s also great to find a stretch version that suits your body best. I put a poll out to runners to ask what stretch they wanted most and hips/thighs came up as the most wanted. So here are three ways to stretch your hips:
This standing pigeon pose targets the hip flexors while you are in a stand position. The pose strengthens the standing leg, challenges your balance and focus and is a great option if the ground is wet or dirty! A good cue to remember is to sit back like you are sitting onto a chair. The lower you go, the juicier the stretch! Also, try not to collapse your shoulders. Keep your shoulders back.
- Rachel is a proud ambassador for the Rotorua Marathon and has been sharing coaching, stretching and wellness inspiration with runners in this role for six years now. She has run the Rotorua Marathon event four times, done the half and also conquered the 10km distance last year with her son and other family members. Three of the four times she has done this marathon she has guided blind runners through the Achilles charity. She loves to run, and help others run too.
- This is proudly a sponsored post by the Rotorua Marathon