5 things to make you feel great

Gratuitous happy dog picture

Today we’re all about the feel good factor. The sun is shining, weather is sweet yeah, as Bob Marley once sang. Makes you wanna move your dancing feet, he went on to say, quite rightly. It’s an apt tone to set for this blog post. It’s nearly impossible to feel in low spirits on a day like today was, the brightness of the new spring shining its light into every shadowed nook and cranny that melancholy might be allowed to linger.

So, to build on this lovely sunny momentum, I’ve been musing over 5 failsafe things that are guaranteed to make you feel great. They work for me, so it might be effective for you as well.

1. Smile. You’re never fully dressed without a smile. The great thing about smiling is that the very act of doing so fools your brain into believing that things are pretty good, and so endorphins, happy molecules, are produced and travel around your body which therefore make you feel a bit better, and the cycle goes on. Smile and the world smiles with you, so the saying goes. With perhaps the exception of the London transport network, where you may be met with pitiful glares or glassy indifference if you smile at people, in general us humans are jolly creatures who like nothing better than to sit and feast together at the banquet of happiness. I think laughter lines are the most attractive type of age line, a face that has seen a lot of laughter and joy shows the twinkle behind the eyes that speaks of a life well lived. Give me a laughter line over a frown line any day. Smile, and you’ll feel better and you’ll spread that general better-ness around you and the world seems like a much happier place because it is. Smile and get a winning smile back from a baby, particularly your own baby, and you feel like a hundred gajillion dollars.

2. Get moving. It’s true. If you feel a bit rubbish, getting your body moving is the way forward, perhaps literally. Get up and stretch, walk around, if you can walk around outside in the natural light, and add a smile then all the better, and your body will emerge from its lethargy and energy will rise, as will spirits. I always say, for every hour that you find yourself hunched up at a desk/in a car make sure you move your limbs and take your spine into motion for at least a few minutes. Doing a bit of Pilates would of course be the optimum (ahem), but a walk to the loo/kitchen and back will be better than nothing. Add a few proper deep breaths into the mix and you’ll feel like a new person….which brings me to…

3. Breathe. We forget to breathe mindfully, it’s something that we do on autopilot, forgetting how essential it is, it is the very essence of life itself. Breath. Mr Pilates had it down right when he said

Breathing is the first act of the life, and the last… above all, learn how to breathe correctly.

He went on:

˝To breathe correctly you must completely inhale and exhale, always trying very hard to ˝squeeze˝ every atom of impure air from your lungs in much the same manner that you would wring every drop of water from a wet cloth.˝

This is one of the things I find my Pilates clients struggle most with. Teaching you how to breathe, surely this is unnecessary? But notice how you’re breathing as you read this (and check your posture while you’re at it…). Are you barely breathing, shallowly into your chest? Breathe in through the nose and channel the breath wide, wide, wide into the back of your lungs, really inflate them fully like bellows. Feel your ribcage expand as it was built to do. Now breathe out, slowly and deliberately, through the mouth. Sigh the breath out through the lips as if you’re attempting to blow a candle softly out. Do this once, twice…and then try and remember to do a version of it forever. You’ll re-energise and invigorate your mind, body, blood, muscles, complexion. It will make you feel great.

4. Be touchy. Not in a negative prickly way responding over-sensitively to other people, that would defeat the purpose of this feature, unless I am trying out some reverse psychology… No, I mean, massage, the power of touch. If you can persuade a happy companion to give you a massage then that would be fab (use the smiling technique honed in point 1), but otherwise, massaging your own face daily is a fantastic way of creating skin that looks like you regularly treat yourself to expensive facials. I know this because pre-baby I used to fairly regularly treat myself to expensive facials, and soon learned that actually if you’re dedicated and remember to do it every day, your skin does benefit hugely from it. It doesn’t even require expensive potions (although they may help with a feelgood indulgence factor), you could massage regular kitchen olive oil onto your skin and it would have a beneficial effect. I used to give myself a facial massage every morning and every evening when cleansing my face, without fail. But the little guy Mo seems to have diverted me from this path, and wow, does my skin show it. Little bit crepey, very tired looking, grey and lacklustre. Ok so the lack of sleep/regular hearty exercise may not have particularly helped… So I am planning on coaxing the lustre back into my skin by taking just 2 minutes every morning and evening to stimulate the glow once more by massaging a facial oil (I’m a particular fan of Neals Yard frankincense facial oil, but any moisturiser will do) onto my skin in circular movements, really getting deep into the skin to get the blood flowing, encourage life into it and to banish the cragginess. Have a look here http://www.beautybible.com/libc08.htm for some tips on how you can massage yourself into radiance, for free!

5. Make sure that at least one of your meals every day packs a huge nutritional punch. Get more bang for your buck, as they say in the States (“get more for your money” doesn’t have quite so much oomph). It’s easy to eat the same things, day in, day out, without really noticing whether they are of any real value. But it really is true that you are what you eat… which means right now I am a hastily devoured lone weetabix at breakfast, a rushed cobbled-together easy lunch eaten with one hand while trying to keep tabs on Mo somehow with the other, and luckily a lovely hearty dinner usually cooked by my husband who is much more organised and housewifey than i can be at the moment. With too many carrot cake breaks thrown in at various points throughout the week with a coffee with mum friends. I also drink hardly any water at the moment, I simply forget to, and this is no good. My greatest goal is to start eating the way that I used to, mindfully, eagerly, giving my body fuel but considered in terms of its mega nutritional power and fabulous taste. I’m talking, salmon, sweet potato, broccoli, loads of great spices and superfoods full of skin-saving wonder such as avocado, garlic, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate. My great grandmother used to say that a colourful plate was a good plate. And I totally agree. The more you can touch on the spectrum from dark green to dark orange, and everything in between, the better. But now due to Mo mayhem I tend to think haste rather than taste when it comes to lunch. So I am going to try and turn this around, and with the hope that this contemplation will also have the happy side effect of allowing me to become slightly more streamlined once more. Hmm, time shall tell with that one, and it’s not a top priority, but I do want to feel like I’m powering my body and skin up with the good stuff rather than the whatever’s there stuff. So, not a diet, per se, I’m not a fan of those, but a nutritional challenge to be more considered again about what I am consuming during the day.

Join me trying out these 5 things every day if you can, and see how it makes you feel.

Until the next time!

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