- This piece was commissioned for Coeliac Link magazine by Coeliac NZ. Many Kiwis live with coeliac disease, which is an autoimmune condition. This has wide ranging symptoms (including hairless, irritable bowel syndrome, anaemia or low iron, fatigue, weakness and lethargy, osteoporosis, and more). If you think you might have symptoms, please contact your doctor. If left untreated, coeliac disease can lead to serious health issues. It is estimated that one in 50 Kiwis have coeliac disease, but some of these cases remain undiagnosed.
9 Tips to Strengthen Your Mind, Body & Soul
By Rachel Grunwell
Your wellbeing is an inside job, and you oversee the controls. You can uplift your health any time you choose. You can do it through many ways – by either working on your mind, body, or soul. What I mean by this is that you can choose to improve how you move, sleep, eat (besides avoiding gluten if you have coeliac disease, of course) and think (aka stress management/mindset strategies/positive thinking etc).
I’m a wellness coach and I help clients with different ways to feel healthier and happier. Clients tell me their goals and what that looks like and feels like for them. I then look at their personality, what they desire, their lifestyle and create plans that are relatable, do-able and achievable.
Every client is unique and so no plan looks the same.
Here are some ideas below on some different ways you can start to elevate your health. Choose one to work on that resonates with you. Please don’t adopt all these ideas (because that could be overwhelming). Choose one idea that speaks to your heart. Keep trying it and see how it feels over time. Elevating your health is one tiny, courageous step at a time. Over time, those tiny steps will amount to a giant leap with your wellbeing. ps if I can go from a sugar-addicted, stressed-out investigative journo… into a greens-smoothie-lovin’ yogi… then anyone can transform!
1. Sleep like a baby at night so you can live life like a beast! Get 8 hours’ sleep nightly (if you are an adult). Children need more hours of zzzzzzzs. Sleep helps with things like having increased energy, shaper concentration, feeling happier, improved memory, better decision making, and it improves your ability to manage stress. Sleep helps you to feel more capable/have more energy and willpower with adopting healthy habits too! It also helps you over a longer period to look more youthful. Some tips include sleeping in a dark room. Try not to look at screens an hour before bed time. The blue light is potent and can impact melatonin levels ie keep us awake. Try to avoid caffeine in the afternoon or night if it impacts your sleep and remember that alcohol can also impact sleep quality.
2. Try to live a more active lifestyle. You don’t have to join a gym or lift heavy weights (although I love this and totally recommend it!) You can use your body weight to do some exercises for free (at home or in a park) if you wish. The latter is just as effective as going to the gym. You can do options like walking, jogging, dancing, skipping, vinyasa flow yoga or tennis. Resistance training is particularly important for strengthening your body and also your bones (which helps to combat osteoporosis). I’d personally recommend incorporating a more active lifestyle. If you want to start a fitness regime, then make it fun and start with roughly 30 minutes’ activity 3-5 times weekly. Ps doing resistance training with a friend or whanau will make it more fun. They can also help inspire you into action on days where motivation is hard!
3. Actively carve out time for happiness in your life. You get to create happiness; You don’t find this. How to do this? It depends on what you love doing. Do things that bring you joy, awe and wonder. These things help you to feel energised, and smile. Some ideas are running, swimming, surfing, knitting, reading books, gardening, listening to music, going to a comedy or movie… There is cool research behind finding ‘flow’ – which is something you love doing that you are good at and you get immersed in the love of doing it! In the state of flow you lose track of time often because you are so happy. So it’s a great state to chase!
4. Find strength through stillness. Everything is getting faster and more efficient in this world. But going faster isn’t always better. Too much stress can lead to burnout, anxiety, depression and overwhelm. Try things like yoga, meditation, tai chi, or just walking in nature. Cultivate calm to unwind your stress nervous system. If you feel calmer then this allows you to be happier, more productive, and there’s more space for letting ourselves think well, dream more and live well.
5. Learn mindfulness techniques to help you to live more vibrantly alive and happier in “the now”. Mindfulness helps you to train your brain into more positive thinking. This tool can help you to do less rumination and to feel less anxious. It helps you on how to more mindfully consider situations that you can’t change etc.
6. Nourish your body with foods and drinks that are good for your wellbeing ie blueberries and salmon are great. But obviously not together (yuck!) Chuckle. Eat more plants on your plate that are all the colours of the rainbow – so you get lots of different micronutrients. Eat more real, fresh wholefoods that serve your body well. Try to avoid too much processed foods, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
7. Nurture good relationships. A Harvard study found that people who are more socially connected are healthier and live longer. So, forget trying to be celebrity or getting rich as a road to happiness; Seek out great play mates instead.
8. Hugs. Do them often. With other humans or pets. It releases hormones in your body that helps you to feel gooooooooood.
9. Limit alcohol. The national guidelines are to limit alcohol intake to one or two standard drinks per day at the most. But even that is too much for many people. I advise clients to notice how alcohol makes you feel when you drink it and adjust your intake accordingly. It’s often high in calories too. And more than two units of alcohol per day can raise your fracture risk (according to Bone Health NZ).
Author background: Rachel’s mission is to inspire Kiwis to live healthier & happier. She is a “wellness geek” (PT, wellness coach, yoga + mindfulness teacher, wellness speaker, and healthy recipe creator for Good magazine). She’s also a “writing geek” (award-winning journalist, magazine writer and author of the book Balance: Food, Health + Happiness, which includes 30 global experts sharing health + happiness ideas). Rachel co-leads the blissful Mindful Moments Retreats at Rotorua’s Polynesian Spa. The latter has just been recognised as one of Conde Nast Traveller’s recommended places to stay for ultimate rainforest luxury experiences.
For more information on coeliac disease check out Coeliac NZ