Wellness Practices to Adopt for Spring
- Written By:Dr. Amy Shah
The arrival of a new season is a great time to step back and reevaluate your lifestyle and how you are feeling. Are you stressed? Sleeping well? Giving your body time to reset? Here are four wellness practices that can have a positive impact on your health, mood, and stress levels this season.
CHANGE WHEN YOU EAT
You might be wondering what is a circadian supper? Put simply, it is an early dinner — perhaps at 5 PM or 6 PM and then you start fasting for the rest of the evening into the morning. This is aligned with our natural circadian rhythms. Actually, every cell in our body has a circadian clock and studies show that digestion is optimized during the day and those genes are down-regulated during the evening/night hours. Think about this way: if you had guests at your house morning, noon and night, you would not have sufficient time to do the deep cleaning, restoration and repair needed. In addition, to the gut benefits, insulin sensitivity is also better when you eat during the daylight hours as opposed to the night hours.
Intermittent fasting often consists of people eating late into the evening and then skipping breakfast. This biologically is not ideal. Circadian biology shows that having earlier meals is better for inflammation-related diseases like cancer. For example, a study on breast cancer survivors showed that starting your fast early in the evening (before 8 PM) was better than after 8 PM. In that study, researchers asked breast cancer survivors to do a 13-hour fast and found that with just 13 hours between the last meal of the day and breakfast, people started losing weight and having a 36 percent reduction in breast cancer recurrence as opposed to people who were eating freely. They found the earlier you stopped eating the better the results were. A 13 hour fast, two days a week would not be so bad — you can finish dinner at 6 PM. and then eat breakfast at 7 AM.
TRY A MINDFUL WORKOUT
Mindful workouts are my favorite recommendation to those people who are very busy and stressed. Mindful workout might be a yoga, or a nature-based exercise. Any physical activity that takes your mind off of your to-do list. In my opinion, this can be a great solution for those of us that don't like or "have time for" traditional meditation methods. In the ideal world, you would do yoga four days a week plus a few minutes of meditation four days a week. Mindful workouts calm the brain while still burning those calories. I have found that adding this to my weekly routine, changed my energy, stress levels, and mood. My favorites are yoga three times a week (at least) plus an outdoor walk or hike at least once a week.
STOP COUNTING CALORIES
No weight scales or calorie counting and move your focus inwards to how you feel. How is your energy? How are your cravings? Your mood? When your energy, cravings, sleep, and mood are in check, you know you are on the right lifestyle/food plan for you. This may be different from your friend who is doing the Keto-craze.
Gratitude is simply taking a few minutes daily and either writing down or just acknowledging what you are thankful for. It might be the house you live in or as simple as the health that you have today. Gratitude is proven to improve physical and mental health. It's perhaps the most underused tool in improving mood, energy and physical health in medicine today.