In this article, we’ll be discussing wellbeing. If you haven’t already read our introduction to the project, we’d recommend doing so before reading part three. You can also catch up on parts one and two by clicking the links below.
For Part Three of Kickstart Your Wellness, we’ve partnered with Plant Power – one of our favourite plant based food brands. Aside from bringing delicious tempeh based products to the mainstream in the UK, they’re all about connecting us back to nature and making the world a better place through the power of the plant. Their Tempeh is one of our favourite foods due to its whole bean fibre and probiotic qualities for gut health. What we also love is that as a brand, they’re all about sustainability with a focus on minimizing environmental impact. When it comes to wellbeing, and the incredible health benefits their products can provide, they felt like the perfect partner to take us through the last part of Kickstart Your Wellness.
What is wellbeing and self-care
When most people are asked if they take care of themselves, many will say that they do, but when asked to quantify what that means to them and what they do, they will often not be able to pinpoint what they do actually do. The problem is, we live in a world that often leaves us not prioritizing our wellness over others. This could be as simple as just keeping on working in the evening even though you’re incredibly tired just to get something done. Or not stopping at lunch when you’re actually hungry to eat something nutritious. So, when it comes to our wellbeing, self-care is something we do for ourselves that will actively improve our physical, mental, emotional and overall health. Self-care can actually be really important in reducing anxiety and also allowing us to feel a sense that we are able to give back to others. The problem is, we are often conditioned to think that looking after ourselves is selfish, but it couldn’t be any further from the truth. It isn’t just about considering ourownneeds, but it’s about considering whatwe needin order to be able to cope with life and actually enjoy it.
Image Description: A landscape format image.Fay is shown full-length and is wearing a bright yellow coat and black leggings whilst walking through a forest of bare trees.There is green moss and red fallen leaves on the ground.There are out of focus patches of red/brown in the foreground, coming from leaves on a plant.
What does taking your wellbeing seriously do for you?
Having a self-care routine doesn’t always mean you’ll feel happy. It is completely normal to feel a range of emotions, however, if you’re not looking after yourself, it can mean you might find it more difficult to process or cope with the general demands of your life. Taking our wellbeing and self-care seriously can have an incredible impact on us throughout our lives, from our mental health all the way through to how much energy we feel we have to do our other life tasks. It can also help you:
- Feel comfortable with expressing and experiencing many emotions
- Maintain more supportive and healthy relationships with other people
- See and experience enjoyment and appreciate the world more
- Feel a greater sense of confidence and better self esteem
- Cope with stress better and feel a sense that you can manage change
Key factors that can affect your wellbeing
There are so many different factors that can affect your wellbeing and how you feel. Especially this last year, there has been such a complex knit of things going on in so many different circumstances that it could be a whole combination of things. It may even be none of these things – we are all so different and it is important to note that we all experience things in such different ways. Just because something that affects you doesn’t seem to affect your partner for example doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the way you feel, it just means that there are different things that affect us. This can also be true around things that trigger us based on past experience and trauma. Some very common factors that can contribute to a general sense that your wellbeing is not in balance are:
- Difficult or stressful things happening in your life
- Relationships and communication
- Being unable to talk to or communicate how you feel to others
- The care, love and support you get from those around you and in the wider world
- Your environment, where you live, the conditions you live in
- Your general mental health and how you feel on a day-to-day basis
- Your physical wellbeing (this can include illnesses, injuries and the effects that these can have on your general sense of wellbeing
- Sleep and the quality of this – if you’re not getting enough sleep for you or you have trouble getting off to sleep, this can have a big impact on your overall wellness
- What you eat and drink
- If you take drugs, drink alcohol or rely on other stimulants
- Money problems
Image Descriptions (Left) A portrait format image.Fay wears a brown sweater and stands holding a cup with a cartoon bear print on.There are framed pictures of landscapes on the wall behind. (Right) A landscape format image.A close-up detail of the forest floor showing green moss, brown leaves and fallen spikey seed husks.
Action Points and Activities
How can I improve my sense of wellbeing?
There are many things that you can start to introduce to your life to encourage a better sense of wellbeing, and, as you look through and work on this list of actions, try to create a set of actions you can take, or begin to take that you feel are achievable. We are not trying to suggest that every element on this list is something you need to do, but it is about experimenting and seeing what has the most impact for you. It could even be that different things are more impactful for you at different times, and that is ok. Things change just as much as we change and develop.
Make a list of things that bring you joy and make time in your diary to do them
This list can be small things, like trying out new recipes or new cuisine – even trying a new food you haven’t before. Perhaps its ten minutes of yoga most days? Perhaps its making sure you get out for a walk each day? Or reading a book? Try to make a list of a number of things that you know bring you joy and commit to doing at least one of them a day. If you are thinking ‘I don’t have time for that’ then try to find little pockets of time you can work something in. A good thing to do is schedule some time just like you do for a meeting or hang out with someone – when you make the time available for yourself, the chances are you’ll make it happen and make that commitment. If you don’t know exactly what it is that brings you joy, this is a brilliant opportunity to get exploring!
Eat well for your budget and mindfully
What we eat, and drink has a huge impact on our bodies.It is certainly important to be mindful of how certain foods and drinks perhaps make you feel sluggish so you can be mindful of this. We find that for example, before we head out for a hike, eating a meal that is balanced in carbs, protein and crunchy veg is incredibly important to us feeling great whilst outside. For us, eating plant based isn’t just for reasons surrounding the environment, or animal welfare, but because it just makes us feel better in our bodies. Of course, we have balance, but a focus on nutrient dense foods has made such a world of difference for us. Before we began eating more intuitively, we didn’t realise just how much of an impact certain foods can have on our mood. We often think about how certain foods can make us feel sluggish, but we rarely talk about foods that make us feel a zing and a sense of wellness when we eat them.Plant Powerproducts are a great example of this – always giving us that sense of wellness.
Image Descriptions (Left) A landscape format image.A flat-lay still life showing a packet of Plant Power Curry Flavour tempeh pieces, surrounded by fresh-cut herbs, tempeh pieces and chilies.A tray of roasted vegetables and Curry Flavour tempeh pieces with fresh spinach sits to camera right. (Right) A portrait format image.A flat-lay still life showing a packet of Plant Power Sticky BBQ Sauce tempeh.Below this sits a pale blue bowl containing roasted Sticky BBQ tempeh, noodles and various fresh salad ingredients.The bowl is surrounded by torn herbs, salad ingredients and chopsticks.
Try to get outside and keep a diary or note of how you feel before versus after exercise
Keeping a note to assess how you feel before and after exercise and time outdoors can be a really fantastic way of proving to yourself that it makes a difference. This can be a quick easy note in your phone, a spreadsheet or in a diary. We’d really suggest writing this down to see its effectiveness on paper – that way, you have proof you can refer back to. Getting exercise is amazing for upping our serotonin levels which creates improved moods and energy. But it is important to choose an exercise that you like – so this is a great place to experiment! Getting out in nature can be incredibly important here too.
Are there any health concerns you can get medical attention for?
If you have niggling health concerns, one of the things we often do as humans is put off dealing with them. This can be for a whole range of reasons. But can you schedule in that doctor’s appointment to discuss a particular concern? Chances are, once you’ve been and started to get it sorted, you’ll feel a sense of togetherness and a feeling like you can move along with the situation. It is also important to keep checking in with yourself – this is an ongoing process. One thing that we’ve realized over time is just how important taking care of yourself is. There have been times in the past where we have said we don’t have time for that physiotherapy, or that doctor’s appointment. Early in 2020, Fay got an injured ankle whilst out hiking and left it for a while, then decided to get physio for it, to which the physio said that if it had been left much longer it could have caused permanent damage. This maybe isn’t something that would be the case for everything, but it really made us reassess what we see as important here and how easy we seem to find it to excuse ourselves from not taking care of our bodies.
Image Descriptions: (Left) a landscape format image.Matt walks through an autumnal woodland.There are red and brown leaves on the ground and the light is cold.Matt wears red trousers, a black coat with light fake fur trim on the hood, a grey top and a yellow backpack.(right) A portrait format image.A close-up detail of a yellow food storage pot containing a pasta dish incorporating Plant Power tempeh pieces.Matt holds the pot in one hand whilst preparing to dip a fork in.In the background we can see a leg of Matt’s red trousers and brown leaves on the forest floor.
Make a list of things you can say no to
Creating barriers can feel extremely difficult, but we all have things we do in our lives that we don’t enjoy, and we don’t actually have to do. Are you taking on too much at work for the time you have available? Can you just not say yes to anymore clubs? Need a week off socializing? Saying no is powerful and it isn’t selfish. Make a list of the things that you want to say no to, and we can promise you, whilst it may feel difficult at first, it gets easier the more you do it! This might include not checking your emails in the evening, not checking texts after a certain time, not attending gatherings or events that don’t interest you, or not answering your phone at certain times of the day. Whatever feels most impactful and liberating for you.
What are some good things in your life that you can focus on?
We know this may come across a little cheesy – as we know the idea of gratitude is bounded around in pretty much every article that focuses on self-development. But in truth, developing a feeling of appreciation for the things we do have in our lives is a really effective way of helping us to feel that little bit more grounded. Even just appreciating the meal you were able to eat for lunch, the time you got to spend with your pet or the warm and comfortable bed you slept in last night are things to be grateful for. We’re not trying to suggest that these things alone make everything else going on in your life ok, they may just make it that little bit easier and help you to see that there are actually good things going on as well.
Image Description: A landscape format image.Matt lies asleep in bed.Surrounded by white bedding, only his head is visible.The room is bright and airy.
Can you improve your sleep?
Our sleep is really important, and it can also be really difficult to sleep when we are stressed or going through things that feel difficult, and this can also be a big factor for those struggling with chronic pain or illness. But are there things you can do to make your sleep space more appealing? Do you spend loads of time in your bedroom other than sleeping or relaxing? Can you make the space darker? Remove bright devices? If you’re having trouble sleeping, exercise can also really help but we of course know that isn’t a solution for everyone. Meditation can also be a great way of relacing the mind for sleep – we’d really recommend searching for yoga nidra meditations – which help relax the body in mindful stages. Are you also eating or drinking stimulants before sleep? It could even be as simple as trying to get to bed even just a half hour earlier. Try to look at ways you can improve the quality of your sleep.
Image Description: Fay sits on a stool looking out of a large window whilst sketching in pen on a pad of paper.Fay wears an orange cardigan, black top and black and green leopard print leggings.There are plants to camera left and the room is bright and airy.
Mindfulness can have a huge effect on you when it comes to self-care so trying to develop a technique that works for you to get you into the moment is going to really change things for you. This is a great opportunity to experiment. Can you try and focus on what is really around you when you go out for a walk or run? Does yoga help you feel really present in your body? Does cooking and eating mindfully allow you to feel connected to yourself? Can you experiment with foods you perhaps haven’t tried before? Does having a conversation or watching a film that you really need to concentrate on help you to feel engaged? Or is it meditation? Or a combination? Try to be inquisitive around what helps you to feel mindful and more present.