As many of us continue to consider the importance of our health, weight and wellbeing during the pandemic, FitandWell.com, the home of healthier, happier living, started enlisting the help of some of Instagram’s top wellness influencers to create regular video series on keeping safe and well, both mentally and physically, during the winter months.
Jenna Hope, Sophia Rose, Claire Dale, Dr Dawn Harper and Malcolm Stern all share some of their top tips to keep you at the top of your A Game.
Nutrition and emotional eating
There’s a couple of reasons why we stress eat: one of the reasons is because when you’re feeling stressed you release the hormone cortisol and cortisol is the stress hormone that’s your flight or fight mechanism, during that period you’re feeling stressed, anxious, tense.
Whilst you’re eating that dampens down that release of cortisol and all of sudden during that eating process you’re actually feeling much calmer and that’s why people stress eat, and when we do stress eat it tends to be those higher sugar, higher fat foods … we need to be aware of when it crosses into our coping mechanism.
“Some people completely lose their appetite, those people again go through that flight or fight mechanism of cortisol but when cortisol is in action in those people, everything else shuts down, so all your body is focusing on at that moment is to deal with that flight or fight – deal with that attack.”
Mental health and exercise talk
Sophia Rose, PT and Pilates instructor, understands the positive benefits of exercise and mental health.
She states, “Research shows how beneficial exercise is on our happy hormones; hormones that give us that boost to make us much happier, so they are hormones of endorphins, dopamine and endorphins.
Those wonderful hormones; we all know that feeling when we work out and we have a huge boost in those happy hormones and we just feel great, calmer.
“So if you struggle with anxiety like I do … that kind of strange compression feeling in your chest and an almost jittery feeling.
“Quite often a great workout or certain workout can really make us feel better and boost those happy hormones.
It’s going to give us that kind of sense of calm; it’s going to help calm our mind; it’s going to help regulate our hormones, re-regulate our hormones and calm our breathing down when we use our breathing and exercise, so we get away from that shallow chest breathing we go into when we are feeling really stressed and anxious.
“Intense exercise and certain levels of intensity of exercise can actually really increase feelings of stress and anxiety.
Again this is all to do with stress hormones when we exercise, and it’s that fine line or balance between those hormones helping us to make us feel better mentally and when they verge over into making us feel worse and making us feel more on edge and more anxious, and this is something that is going to vary very much from person to person.”
Building resilience with physical intelligence
Claire Dale, author of Physical Intelligence, believes building resilience is critical to remaining fit and well. She says, “WHO recently named burnout as an actual syndrome caused by chronic workplace stress.
In 2018, stress was the most googled symptom of all. So why is our resilience under so much pressure? The past 200 years the pace for change has been brutal and it’s not slowing down. But humans have not evolved for the pace of this change, which is why we feel overwhelmed and anxious and sometimes numb.”
Mind body connection
Simply Health’s Dr Dawn Harper states that mental and physical health is inextricably linked. She comments, “The mind talks to the body and the body talks to the mind and all too often we can get a little bit into a vicious cycle with that. It’s important whether you’re focusing on your mental health or physical health that you take some time to think about both, as looking after both will leave you feeling much more holistically well.”
How to thrive
Author Malcolm Stern, who was called an inspiration by the author of Eat, Pray, Love, says to thrive in tough times you have to follow your radar.
He comments, “We rarely activate our sixth sense, and our sixth sense is the part of us that is intuitive, instinctive and knows, and doesn’t go through the intellect, it bypasses the intellect. It is about being guided by something wise inside us that can come into play at the right time. ”