Let’s make 2022 a year of feeling great, happy and healthy. Sara Whatley looks at whole body wellness topics to keep us feeling our best all year long
With the New Year comes the opportunity to take stock of our health and wellness. Are you happy with your fitness? Diet? Mental health? This could be the perfect opportunity to make a positive change to becoming a better and happier you. We look at topics under the headings of Nutrition, Physical Health and Mental Wellbeing and will delve deeper into them, during each month of 2022.
We are what we eat, but what will we be eating in 2022 to keep us feeling healthy and happy? Overall, our interest in food and nutrition continues to grow with health conscious and environmental choices like cutting down on meat, going vegan and eating locally sourced food. We all got into cooking and baking more during lockdowns and the home-cooking movement continues to be embraced with cosy, comforting, carb heavy meals, such as pizza and pasta dishes taking centre stage. Perfect for the cold months of the New Year!
We all know we should drink alcohol in moderation, and now that’s easier than ever with the popularity of low or non-alcoholic drinks on the rise. Health conscious consumers are still after great tasting, interesting drinks and drink companies have delivered; beers, wines and spirits are all available alcohol-free, and even cocktail bars and nightclubs are getting on the booze-free train too. This trend is particularly big with the younger generations, so the stigma of teetotal is definitely on the way out.
An increased interest in keeping our bodies healthy and ready to fight off illnesses has led to a desire to boost our immune health. But can it actually be boosted? This is a question scientists are looking into, but it is known that leading a healthy lifestyle and looking after our gut health all contribute to maintaining a healthy immune system. Easy ways to pack extra vitamins and nutrients into our diets include whipping up vegetable-packed soups and stews, fruity smoothies, stocking up on vitamin and mineral supplements and super foods.
A healthy gut means a strong immune system, good heart health, brain health, improved mood, digestion and can even help to prevent some illness and disease. Our guts hold 80% of our immune cells. Eating fermented foods which are high in probiotics such as yoghurt, sauerkraut and miso is brilliant for our guts, providing it with living bacteria to add to the good bacteria already present. Also eating prebiotics, such as bananas, garlic and oats all provide our guts with food for the good bacteria. Generally eating a rainbow of vegetables and fruit; and eating them slowly and mindfully can all help contribute to a healthy gut microbiome.
We all know how important it is to keep our bodies moving, ideally 20 minutes a day of moderate activity (brisk walking, dancing, pushing a lawn mower) or 10 minutes a day of vigorous activity (running, skipping, martial arts). But sometimes, especially over the winter months, it’s hard to get outside and get motivated. Step in online fitness! From spin classes to yoga, at-home fitness is really booming and totally accessible to all with a huge range of activities to try. Exercise when it suits you, how it suits you.
FITNESS APPS AND TECH
Our fitness really is in our own hands these days with a plethora of fitness apps beneath our fingertips and wearable fitness trackers on our wrists. The convenience of having your workout on your phone is endless, and makes tracking your progress and setting yourself new challenges really easy. Monitoring our health has also become much more accessible with wearable fitness trackers. The increasing sophistication of these mean you can track steps, calories burnt and heart rate, as well as sleep monitoring, blood oxygen and electrocardiogram (ECG) activity.
The importance of fresh air, nature and being outside became paramount over lockdowns, and thankfully this trend has stuck. A newfound respect for the healing properties of immersing yourself in nature has been found by many, and workouts are moving away from the confines of the gym and into the great outdoors. Wild swimming, running in nature, outdoor gyms, bootcamp classes, tai chi in the park – whatever you chose the added bonuses of exercising outdoors are supreme.
The link between a healthy mind and a healthy body is becoming more paramount than ever and it’s a common practice these days to combine both aspects into a fitness regime. This might be running and yoga, swimming and deep breathing exercises or rock climbing and Pilates. We are seeing our bodies in a more holistic light and addressing mind, body and soul with fitness, relaxation, meditation and good nutrition to give us all-round health and wellbeing. Our bodies will thank us for it.
ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE
Sometimes when an ailment strikes, we need a little extra help away from the doctor’s surgery, or alongside it. Alternative and complementary health practices such as acupuncture, osteopathy and homeopathy can all be used to treat illness and ailments on their own, known as alternative medicine, or if they are used alongside conventional medicine they are known as complementary. These types of holistic treatments address a person’s body and mind together and work towards overall wellness instead of just treating one problem.
Stress is our body’s physical response to pressure and can be triggered by many things. It doesn’t always have to be viewed negatively either; stress can be a great motivator to getting things done. However, when it gets too much it can be debilitating. We all lead very busy lives nowadays with high pressured jobs, family life, social lives and trying to find time for our own interests too – it’s no wonder many of us feel stressed! Managing our stress is the key; trying to stay away from stressful situations, talking about our problems and seeking help and taking time to relax with some meditation, aromatherapy or reflexology all help.
So much of our modern day lives is spent on a screen; we work, shop and play on computers, use our phones to keep in touch with friends, family and the world, and countless other things too. And then we relax in front of our TV screens and catch up on our favourite programmes and films. But too much screen time can be detrimental to our health and lead to a host of problems – bad sleep, obesity, neck and back pain, depression and anxiety. Limit screen time daily, especially before bed, and engage in other fun activities instead; read, cook, talk, be creative, get outside to play and exercise or simply let your mind be still.