Tips for a stress-free summer

 

walking

Here’s a reminder of the suggestions Sue Mcfarlane shared on last Sunday’s show – how to eat healthily for summer and a simple but calming breathing exercise to try…

Planning For Calm Eating And To A Budget

  • Get a piece of paper or a calendar and some coloured pens
  • Sit down and write all the family events for the next week (at least)
  • Have a chat with your partner, if possible, about all meals/snacks that need to be planned for the days ahead
  • Have a good stocktake of foods you have in already – you may not need to buy as much as you think!
  • Agree on some basic meals that you all enjoy making and eating and include lots of vegetables and fresh fruit
  • Agree who is going to shop, prepare and cook the meals so that you all know the PLAN
  • Agree that you are all going to work together and eat more meals together, if you aren’t already
  • Have this as a basic week’s plan and then add other meal options to it so you have a rolling meal program to go forward
  •  Keep to the plan and you will really make a difference in your stress levels and your food budget

Food And Lifestyle

  • Eat lighter, fresher meals in warmer weather
  • Eat lots of salads, fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables
  • Experiment with different combinations to make healthy and colourful salads
  • Avoid heavy, calorie-laden processed/bottled dressings and ketchups, which have sugar or sweeteneers in, and go for simple lemon juice and olive oil
  • Avoid sugar in its many forms as these may help energy levels initially but tend to lead to bigger sleepy slumps and cravings later
  • Drink lots of fresh filtered water with a slice of lemon, lime, orange, cucumber, fresh mint or root ginger in – better than squash, lots of juice or alcohol
  • Caffeine and alcohol can seem to be a good idea but they may just push your body down the stress route further – opt for other alternatives including herbal or fruit teas (make up to double/triple strength and chill)
  • Include lots of healthy fats in foods such as avocado, nuts, seeds, fish, olive oil and cook with coconut oil (odourless if desired)
  • Eat a good amount of protein each day from lean meats, fish, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds – they’ll keep you full and help slow energy release for long active days
  • Try making your own ice/fruit pops by freezing fruited yoghurts or juice in lolly moulds or make your own quick ice cream by freezing slices of banana and blitzing with yoghurt and fresh berries, adding a little honey or maple syrup if needed
  • Get the children or your partner involved in the food preparation so you’re not stuck in the kitchen all summer
  • Have lots of time and fun outdoors – go to the park & find the swings!
  • Grow some salad stuff with the kids, in pots on the windowsill or outdoors – make food FUN!
  • If it rains, have an indoor picnic – spread out a sheet (washable!) and let your own and your family’s hair down!
  • Switch off your phone and tablet – engage with your family before they grow up!!
  • Go barefoot on clean grassy or paved areas (not tarmac!) or get to paddle in a stream or natural pond.
  • Just walk in the fresh air, when you can – see sunrises and sunsets!

And Now… Breathe!

  • Find a place where you can be on your own, even for a few minutes
  • Sit down if you can, with your feet on the floor and hands in your lap
  • Close your eyes
  • Take a breath, at your own pace, for a count of 5-6, in through your nose as if you are inflating a balloon in your tummy (not chest!) – you could put your hand there to feel the air expand your abdomen
  • Hold that breath for a count of 3-4
  • Let out the breath & exhale through your mouth, for a count of 5-6
  • Repeat
  •  As you are breathing, at your own pace, without forcing or overholding, imagine yourself as you would like to feel when you finish the exercise. You may wish to be calmer, more alert, have more energy, be more focussed, be positive, more agile, more forgiving, confident, more flexible – choose your own end result and focus on that feeling or vision
  • When you’re ready, just open your eyes and raise up your arms in a stretch whie taking in another breath, as if reaching for the ceiling/sky – make a circle with your arms and bring them back down to your sides/lap
  • Resume your day

You may wish to keep a journal of how you feel on a day to day basis and how this exercise might be making a difference. If you can’t find a place on your own (stuck on a tram/bus/at the bus stop/in a supermarket queue/in the kitchen with the family around you), just close your eyes for a moment, take a breath and exhale slowly two or three times.

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