For those of you living in Ontario and also many other regions in Canada we are currently in lockdown number three. We know the news is saturated with Covid stats and lockdown rules so in keeping with our be kind, look good, and feel even better motto we wanted to share some of the daily habits that our practitioners have been observing over the past year. We are hoping these words of wisdom will help get you through the next few weeks and that all of you continue to be safe, healthy and happy even while missing aspects of your life that really matter to you.
I shifted my to focus on strength training as a form of exercise because you don’t have to do it for too long to get a great impact on mood and feel like you got your heart rate up. I created a set up in my apartment, bought weights and tried to create a space that is conducive. I use an app and play it on my TV because I know if I just do it on my own, I won’t push myself enough.
I try to eat as clean as possible and also workout as frequently as possible, but I also learned that I have to be kind to myself. These are hard times and sometimes I may want to indulge in a treat and that’s ok.
I started to use my apple watch a lot more for movement accountability: I found that when I use to go in to clinic I used to move a lot more by default, without thinking about it, and now, because I am working from home, I find that I have to be mindful and make an effort to get enough steps in a day. Through trial and error I’ve found what the minimum step needs to be for me personally and I try to get there as much as I can daily.
I drink my protein shake every morning. This helps my energy and means I start in a healthy way. Starting your day with a protein- and nutrient-dense shake will change your life. Doing so will increase your energy levels and cognitive function during the day, it will stabilize your blood sugar levels, reduce cravings, protect your thyroid gland (which controls your metabolism) and balance your hormones. A protein rich shake is also a great tool for weight loss. If you’re intermittent fasting you can start your eating window with this shake and if you are implementing a full fasting day only drink two of those shakes all day to obtain the benefits of fasting without stressing your body out and pushing greater levels of cortisol production.
One recipe I often share with patients is this one
Blend the following ingredients:
1. Amino Acids: 2 scoops of a medical-grade pea protein powder.
2. Healthy Fats: 1 TBSP of organic, cold-pressed olive oil (anti-inflammatory, great for cardiovascular health, cholesterol levels and lowers the glycemic load of your meals).
3. Fiber: 2 TBSP of ground chia seeds or flax seeds (great for bowel movement regularity, hormone balance and gut detoxification).
4. Greens/Carbs: 1 handful of frozen spinach (provides antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals as well as carb content).
5. Liquid: Add as much water as you would like or mix water and 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk.
6. Spices and Cacao for added medicinal benefits: 2 tsp of cinnamon (weight loss support, balances blood sugar levels, 1 tsp turmeric (anti-inflammatory, liver detoxification), 2 tsp of organic cacao powder (antioxidant, mood balancer, energy levels).
I bought myself an espresso machine and I make myself a delicious espresso with frothed cashew milk every morning – this gives me something to look forward to and I really enjoy it.
I try my very best to organize zoom calls with family and friends. Sometimes I feel tired of screen time and that’s ok too.
I try to stand in the sun for a few minutes every morning (when the sun is shining). For me, this makes a difference.
I do a movie and “healthy” take-out night once every weekend.
There is no doubt that this past year has required constant pivots and adjustments in light of the emotional and physical changes and challenges we’ve all experienced. The first thing I learned early on in the pandemic was to focus my energy inwards, toward my family, and decrease my time spent watching the numbers rise and the news updates. Minimizing the stressful and anxiety-provoking stimuli around me on a day-to-day basis helped decrease the subconscious panic that would arise from having the news on in the background.
I’ve learned to try to focus on only what I can control and to let go of what I cannot. This is sometimes easier said than done but having two young children in school meant putting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs above my inner desire to control everything around me. Letting my guard down and allowing them to be in school was a necessity. The only way I could do this was by closing my eyes and ears, for the most part, to the terrifying world around me. This helped me stay calm and engaged with my children, decreasing my fear and anxiety so that I would hopefully not leak any of these emotions into them. However, this only works to a certain extent. There are days where the fear, tension and anxiety is so overwhelming that you can’t help but to release it in some way.
Besides giving ourselves more grace and learning to be easier on ourselves, here are some things I do daily to improve my overall well-being: I ensure I sleep a solid 8 hours per night. This helps to regulate cortisol, female hormones, improve immunity and resilience. Lack of sleep and fatigue makes us more vulnerable to anxiety, irritability and decreases our ability to cope with physical and emotional stressors. For parents who get woken up at night, this can sometimes be more difficult. In this case, I recommend going to bed very early, for instance at 8:30 pm, to ensure a longer night of sleep which helps to combat sleep disruptions. In addition, trying to maintain a whole foods diet, free of personal food sensitivities, can truly help maintain mood balance and energy. On days where anxiety is prevalent, cutting back on caffeine can help reduce symptoms such as racing heart, overwhelm, nervous tension and irritability. Lastly, being outdoors and in nature on a daily basis is essential for improving mood, energy, outlook, immunity and decreasing the stress response. It is a well-researched, simple, and effective tool for relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression. This is true for both adults and children alike.
When it comes to supplements, I highly recommend taking vitamin D daily for both the mood enhancing effects, improved sleep, hormonal regulation and immune benefits. For those of you who experience bouts of anxiety or low mood, incorporating supplements like Ashwaganda, Relora and L-theanine into your daily regiment may help provide you with an additional sense of balance, well-being and ability to cope. Always discuss supplements with your ND to find what is best suited for you. I am holding onto hope that this time next year, we will be living in a healthier, happier and safer world.
This past year we have all been faced with so many challenges and uncertainties, most of which are completely out of our control! We have had to persevere through many changes in our daily lives and have collectively had to adapt to “the new normal”. During these difficult times, I have personally reminded myself that although much of what is happening is out of our control, the one thing I can control is myself––I can do my part in practicing the necessary safety precautions, I can be there to support my friends, family, and patients, and I can also prioritize my own self-care. Now more than ever I have realized the importance of self-care and how prioritizing my physical and emotional health is an essential factor for me to ensure I can help others to the best of my ability.
Below are some of my basic Self-Care Essentials that have helped me during lockdown:
1) Morning + Bedtime Routines: Every morning, the first thing I do is drink my lemon water tea (juice of half a lemon, 2 pieces of fresh ginger, a dash of turmeric, stevia & warm water)! This is my favourite way to instantly rehydrate, kickstart my metabolism and wake up my digestive system for the day! And every night before bed, I take the extra time to pamper my skin while enjoying a calming cup of chamomile tea!
2) Get Moving + Sweat: My go-to sweat sesh lately is either yoga, or a 30 min HIIT YouTube workout video! This helps clear my mind, reduce stress, as well as boosts my energy, metabolism and focus!
3) Unplug + Unwind: With many of us on constant virtual meetings/appointments/classes, or constantly watching the news, Netflix or scrolling through social media, there is a sense of tech overload! Unplugging from everything and picking up a book before bed instead to unwind for the day has been key during this lockdown for me!
Lastly, I wanted to share something with you that has had a profound impact on my life, especially during this past year! One of the most valuable lessons that my dad has ever taught me is to remember that “Tough times never last, tough people do”. If you are struggling and need some extra support, feel free to reach out! I am here for you!
When we went into the first “lockdown” I certainly didn’t anticipate that we would still be here a year later! I have certainly had my ups and downs, but have implemented some non-negotiables into my routine that have really supported me. As someone who has struggled with anxiety, the uncertainty has been challenging. My morning routine has really helped me manage my anxiety and stress throughout this past year.
What does it look like?
I wake up before the rest of the house and meditate. I will then write in my gratitude journal before working out. If you are looking to start a morning routine start with one thing and add on. I started by setting the alarm to work out, then once I established that I added more time to journal and then lastly added in the meditation. Starting my day this way has now become non-negotiable for me as I know it is helping support me through this and allowing me to show up each day in the best possible way.
Other healthy habits I am leaning into right now;
Sleep: For the most part it has been okay, but as soon as I hit a rough patch with sleep, I really focus on it and supplement if necessary to get it back on track.
Balancing Blood Sugar: eating every 3-4 hours. This helps my body better deal with stress and keeps my energy up. Meals are mainly protein, non-starchy veggies and healthy fats. I will add a starchy carb like quinoa, beets or beans with dinner to support my cortisol levels.
Say NO to devices: I don’t look at my phone until after my morning routine is complete. I want to control how I start the day before I let the external world start influencing me.
I hope that some of these tips can help you support yourself during this latest lockdown. Just starting with one small non-negotiable you do each and every day for you will have a ripple effect into your life.
Next week…Dr. Natasha Turner ND and Dr. Lindsey Campbell