5 steps to spring clean your way to a better life
The change of season is a perfect opportunity to clean out the cobwebs of your lifestyle. Consider these tips to expel toxic habits and live your best life.
Fuel yourself right
Good food equals good mood, so one of the best things you can do to put yourself in a positive frame is make sure you’re eating well.
And there’s no magic recipe for mental wellbeing.
The best mood-boosting foods is simply a balance of the five food groups – so plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, leans meats, fish, eggs, and dairy.
Aim for around five handfuls of colourful veggies and two handfuls of fresh fruit a day, and include a variety of high-fibre foods, like chickpeas and lentils, wholegrain cereal and bread, in your diet to help keep your digestive system regular and feeling good.
While it might be tempting to treat yourself with something sweet, fried or processed if you’re feeling low, it can have the opposite effect.
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Get yourself moving
“When it comes to physical and mental health, exercise is the wonder drug,” says sport and exercise medicine physician Brett Frenkiel.
Studies have shown people who exercise have better mental fitness, and can be a key part in managing depression as it activates neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate emotional health.
Australian physical activity guidelines for adults recommend at least 150 minutes of cardio, two resistance training sessions and one balance/flexibility activity a week.
“First timers should begin at low intensity, boosting the time or distance by 10 per cent a week,” Brett says.
“The same applies for strength training – just replace minutes and kilometres with reps, sets and resistance levels.”
Exercise can make you live longer and lower blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
It can reduce your risk of heart attack, cancer and stroke, improve your strength and wellbeing.
“The best part is you start to get the benefits straight away and it’s never too late to begin,” Brett says.
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Take an honest look at your relationships
Often, a gut feeling tells us if a friendship or relationship no longer serves us, but sometimes we ignore it because change is scary, says Sydney psychologist Dr Jodie Lowinger.
“Human beings don’t typically do well with uncertainty,” she says.
“We try to avoid uncertainty, to the point that sometimes we can stay in a relationship that’s not necessarily serving us well. So we are tipped to be passive.”
Jodie recommends we learn to be assertive, by standing up for ourselves while respecting others’ needs and she says part of this is embracing new activities based on things we enjoy and serve us well.
Take control of your social media
Social media can be a great way to connect with friends, but it can be problematic when it spills into other areas of life, causing us to snub physical relationships or waste time that could otherwise be spent doing something that nourishes our wellbeing.
Dr Lowinger says to bust bad habits, we first must work out why we’re doing them.
“Sometimes scrolling social media might be because we want to escape or we’re agitated or want to numb big emotions,” she says.
“Maybe it’s a habit we’ve got into and it’s become excessive.”
Once we’ve addressed why we’re doing it, we can then look at the benefits in changing that behaviour, says Dr Lowinger.
“If we can recognise that getting stuck scrolling through socials is taking up a whole heap of time, it’s taking us away from getting out in nature, or doing exercise, then that can be very helpful to let go of doing those sorts of behaviours,” she says.
- Real talk: Surviving social media and your relationship
Redirect negative thoughts
Negative thoughts can hold us back from being our best, but Dr Lowinger says once we are aware of them, we can adopt strategies to tackle them.
“It’s about noticing what worry sounds like, what worry looks like, what the words are when worry is taking hold, and just getting some distance,” she says.
“Sometimes worry can tip us into anxiety and stress, which can then take us out of that rational mindset.”
Dr Lowinger recommends mindfulness techniques and simply stopping to breathe to help bring us back to the present moment.
“These can be really helpful strategies to stand up to negative thoughts holding us back,” she says.
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Written by Melissa Iaria.