18 ways to boost your wellbeing TODAY!
Here's 18 super practical steps to help boost your mental, and physical, health during lockdown from some of Kent’s best wellbeing experts...
Wellbeing: your survival guide – during this time of uncertainty we’ve created a really practical guide to the best mindfulness tools, counsellor contacts and online fitness to keep you on track.
So we asked some of Kent’s best wellbeing experts – who specialise in everything from clinical psychology to wellbeing retreats – for their top tip on staying sane through the lockdown.
Focus on what you can control
Dr Rachel Whatmough, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of The Tunbridge Wells Psychologist says:
Life is full of things we can’t control right now. Focusing on the unknowable’s like ‘when will lockdown end?‘ is understandable, but unhelpful. Ruminating about what we can’t control increases our anxiety. Instead focus on what is within your control – your behaviour – because from that, our feelings and emotional states follow.
So how? Keep to a routine and do daily breathing exercises to help break the habit of that future-focused, worrying mind. Gather attention to the physical sensations of the breath in the body. When the mind wonders, gently redirect to sensations of breathing.
Don’t dismiss your feelings. When facing a crisis, fear and anxiety are normal. While it can be helpful to remember the universality of these feelings – that everyone is suffering right now.
It’s also important not to dismiss your own struggles: ‘we are all in the same boat so I just need to get on with it’. We’re not all in the same boat, we are in different boats – sailing across the same stormy sea. Let’s be compassionate to the struggles of those around us, but also to our own individual challenges and feelings
Take a deep breath
Mel Thomas, mindfulness coach and Founder of MindLessFull says: ‘As a child, I remember being told to ‘take a deep breath’ if I was upset and crying about something, and it turns out that was pretty sound advice.
The way we breathe sends information to the brain, so if you’re breathing ‘fast and shallow’ then the brain reads this as a signal that all is NOT well. However, if you’re breathing ‘slow and deep’ then the brain takes that as a signal that you’re in a place of calm, and you start to feel less stressed.
So, by changing the way we breathe, we can change our stress response. It’s the most brilliant hack! Even if we’re stressed, we can tell our brain that we’re not, simply by changing our breathing.’ For more tips follow Mel on Instagram.
Find a practical project
Style Confidante, Becky Leeson, founder of Becky’s Wardrobe, who offers everything from Wardrobe Edits to Outfit Building sessions says:
A tidy and organised wardrobe makes for a clear head and a sense of calm. Stuck indoors and with time on our hands having a wardrobe sort out will be cathartic and offer a little control in these chaotic times.
You have spent time curating your wardrobe, invest in yourself by understanding it and you will reap the benefits of organising it. It’s an emotional process and it’s okay to feel that way.
Be strong, remove pieces you know you won’t wear again, if you need time to accept some emotional ties keep these pieces together and review a little later.
You will discover pieces you had forgotten about and you will feel a sense of achievement and inner happiness, believe me it’s liberating and it will boost your self esteem.
Becky has just launched Online Mini Edits, so she can give you the confidence to connect and maximise your wardrobe in just 90 mins on Zoom – a life-changing service for £149. (Prior to that she offers a 30-minute FREE Consultation via Zoom (or the telephone) if you would like a fun and inspiring conversation before you work together.
Get your kitchen in order
Have a proper kitchen make-over with The Cooking Apple Kitchen Edit! It will feel like having a new room in your house. Pip from The Cooking Apple will help you organise your kitchen cupboards plus the best tips on where to buy storage, utensils and equipment to make cooking – the way you like to – easy and calm.
Even better, it can be done all over Zoom. This may be the gift you give yourself…
Celebrity trainer, Kathryn Freeland, founder of Stede Court Kent’s exlusive luxury fitness and wellbeing retreat says:
Now, more than ever, we need to look after both our bodies and our minds. Make a routine and write lists of things to achieve. Make sure you get your one daily outdoor exercise that everyone is entitled to do.
Even if your outdoor space is tiny, stand in the fresh air, feel the sun on your face. And follow one of my easy exercise routines here.
Alongside everything else, it is vital to be eating the right foods to combat stress – click here to read our full 7 Steps: Eat to Beat Stress article, complied with the expert guidance of Registered Nutritional Therapist, Virginia Hills, and founder of Virginia Hills Nutrition. Virginia – who runs online (and in person when normal life resumes) consultations from her home in Kent – has some top tips for us.
‘Incorporate spinach, swiss or rainbow chard into your diet as they are a great source of magnesium that helps calm your nervous system and is quickly depleted by stress. It’s easy to do as you can add a handful of greens to a bowl of soup at lunchtime or dinner in the evening.’
Good news as Virginia also recommends dark chocolate (minimum 70%) for an additional source of magnesium but does say ‘Go easy on the dark chocolate – 3 or 4 squares as a snack is ideal!’ You should also consider swapping your coffee or tea for green tea – it’s lower in caffeine and contains theanine that calms your nervous system and reduces anxiety.
Download Virginia’s free handy ‘Rainbow Tracker’ chart by subscribing to her newsletter here (virginiahillsnutrition.com) to help you come up with different veg/fruit to add to your weekly shop.
Findurfit is run by Sarah Best the super approachable and friendly online fitness class instructor and personal trainer. Sarah promises to inspire you to make fitness part of your life and find a love of exercise whatever level you are.
Barre by Tara
Qualified Barre teacher and level 3 personal trainer, Tara aka Barre by Tara runs Barre classes a combination of yoga, Pilates and ballet with a focus on strengthening and lengthen your body. Fab for toning and building lean muscle – better yet, first sessions are always free!
To join her virtual classes email Tara Nicholas here. You’ll need a yoga mat, a chair and two x 2 kilo weights or two x tins of beans. You can go barefoot or in grippy socks.
There’s more than 100 classes, in 10 fitness disciplines and more than 7 classes live every week (including Yoga, Boxing, Strength Training & Indoor Cycling). You’ll even find online nutrition courses to try too. Get your FREE 7 day trial now.
Body & Health By Design
Get expert support for both your mental and physical health through this change. So in the form of life coaching, virtual fitness classes and wellness programmes – the amazing Karen Porter can help us all!
Through a secret Facebook Group, Karen runs a monthly subscription programme of live fitness classes, daily coaching and nutrition advice, LifeWorks Lifestyle. Join in live with; HIIT, Pilates, Strength, Toning and Stretch classes also Mindset, Breathing, Boundaries, Happiness coaching sessions – ALL this for £59 a month. Want in? Message Karen on FB to join or try out a class.
Or if you’d like more targeted support get 1-1 Online Life Coaching.
YOGA & PILATES
Caelia Butcher from Cinque Yoga who teaches yoga at Green Farm, the rural spa and wellness retreat near Shadoxhurst, says:
Do not underestimate deep and rhythmic breathing techniques which can help to quieten your thoughts, slow your heart rate, and regulate your autonomic nervous system. Best of all, they can be done anywhere – in even the smallest space.
Try the ‘box’ or ‘square’ breath: breathe in for a count of five; hold for a count of five, breathe out for a count of five; hold for a count of five.
Using hand mudras such as the ‘Adi Mudra’ while breathing in this way can increase and stimulate oxygen flow to vital areas like the throat and head and increase the capacity of the lungs. To perform Adi Mudra, fold the thumb in towards the base of the little finger and wrap the fingers around it to form a fist. Rest your fists gently on your thighs with your palms facing down.
Samsara Retreat & Yoga
Samsara, the beautiful Retreat and Yoga Studio in the heart of Kent, run by husband and wife team Lori and Dipu, is offering plenty of online courses to keep you stretched and sane.
Still experience the Samsara magic (just through your screen!) for £10 a class. They have a range of classes, in the evening throughout the week with Hatha, Vinyasa and Ashtanga! Click here for full class details.
Core Belief Pilates
We are big fans of these local Pilates classes run by the incredible Yusra at Core Belief. Choose from three Live Pilates classes each week (£10 a class) or sign up to their monthly membership plan (£29 a month) to access all classes and watch any back!
During these sessions, Yusra guides you seamlessly through her intricate myofascial release techniques using foam rollers, balls and general household objects to help you realign your skeleton and reduce pain and disfunction. She then builds strength in your weaker connections to stabilise and secure your spine and other joints.
Perfect if you previously relied on massage, osteopathy or chiropractic services. If you’d like a taster, book your first free class here!
Flow Tunbridge Wells
Flow Tunbridge Wells, winner of Best Yoga Studio in Kent in the 2018 and 2019 Muddy Awards, will be by your side this lockdown with their much-loved online yoga classes. Running 7-days a week, catch a restorative Meditation or Relaxing Yoga class – morning, noon and night! For the full class schedule and booking link – click here.
Ismini Philips Studio
The brilliant Pilates and Movement Studio in Tonbridge is perfect for perfecting both your fitness and body alignment. They are also specialists in back pain, neurological conditions and breast cancer rehabilitation. With a range of classes on offer, including new courses like Introduction to the The Feldenkrais Method or Intuitive Movement classes to focus on exploring different movements of the skeleton. Plus there’s Unwind Thursday – designed to improve energy and help you relax and re-balance. For full information and to book click here.
Adapt & set new goals
Dionne Reece, Founder of The Positive Mind, Psychotherapy and Counselling says:
Adapting and being flexible will allow us to not only survive the circumstances, but to thrive and find a positive way through.
Self-isolation and social distancing mean that we may find ourselves with lots of time on our hands to think – which can lead to a great deal of rumination. This means old anxieties, perhaps triggered by current events, may come to the fore. What is key, is to use this time constructively.
We are being forced to think about where we are in our lives, so we should consider this a time of consolidation and planning for the future and set new goals. Think about it, when do we ever get the chance to pause and properly reflect on where we are?
Our lives will undoubtedly change – and potentially for the better – and we should see this as a springboard to a fantastic future in which new opportunities may open up. Start brain-storming now.
Get help if needed
Amanda Gardiner, founder of Reset Divorce Coaching says:
There will be many people already going through divorce and or separation (or considering it) for whom this virus is a clear stressor on top of an already horrible situation. There’s been a 31% increase in divorce enquiries since lockdown began.
Many will be forced to ‘stay home’ with a spouse they are separated from, others will have child contact concerns and challenges and yet other will be facing additional financial worries.
The number of couples rowing during lockdown has increased significantly, with almost half of couples (46%) admitting they have had more tiffs with their spouse than usual.
You can try to manage these by ‘shrinking the challenge’. Whatever your particular problem is, ask yourself ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ And then ‘If it did what would I do?’ and ‘How can I prevent it happening?’ Drill down until your problem seems smaller and more manageable.
It is also worth avoiding confrontation. Try to keep the spotlight on any common ground you have with your ex (maybe your children or staying healthy). Consider putting disputes on hold for now, as arguments in the context of today’s surreal world can seem much graver and challenges may appear insurmountable.
Finally, boost your mental strength and resilience by focussing on the future. This, like everything else, will pass. Try visualising how life will be then and look forward to it with every fibre of your being.
Reset Divorce Coaching is offering mini coaching sessions at significantly reduced prices to help you through this challenging time.
Support for your Teens
It has never been more important to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people so we wanted to let you know about this incredible resource. Founded by author and expert Alicia Drummond, Teen Tips is a one-stop shop for support and advice in parenting this age group – including Parenting Teens Courses, Webinars, Workshops and 1-2-1 Parenting Consultations.
Teens Tips deliver talks and training for schools, organisations, parents and pupils, to support positive mental health and wellbeing in children. Parents or schools can join the Wellbeing Hub, which is an annual membership club that guarantees parenting support at your fingertips. Membership of the Wellbeing Hub costs parents £7.99 a month. For more information & 7-day Free Trial HERE.