5 habits for optimal wellness

5 habits for optimal wellness

Lean into these 5 things for a healthier life


It goes without saying that in these current times, it’s vital that we look to take care of ourselves more than ever before.

Blue Monday recently arrived as a reminder of the stark reality of bad weather, long nights and more. And in a period of time where we are dealing with a global pandemic, it is a difficult time for everyone.

Of course this impacts our overall wellness, but fear not - we have more control than we think.

It’s imperative that given the circumstances that surround days like these, we look towards what we can do to alleviate these feelings and help us thrive through the winter months and beyond, and this list of 5 things can go a long way to help.

Eat well

This is absolutely key - and something I can’t stress enough. Winter months are generally tough for us all but ensuring that we eat a variety of whole, unprocessed plant foods to support our wellbeing is crucial.

But why, Jeffrey?

Emerging research has shown that if we are able to eat foods that are rich in folic acid and Vitamin B12, we can potentially alleviate these symptoms of feeling blue - shown by the fact that low folate and B12 stores have been found in patients with depressive symptoms.

What foods should we focus on then?

Nutrient-rich foods like broccoli, brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and spring greens, and legumes such as chickpeas and kidney beans can enhance our folic acid levels and optimise our mental wellbeing.

B12 supplementation is also critical (particularly on a plant-based diet) so this should also be focused on as much as we can.

Train regularly

Now you might be thinking “Jeff come on, who has the desire to wake up when it’s early and go and train in this current climate?” I get it. I do understand it.

But let me tell you this; the research around training, exercise and depressive symptoms is robust and clear.

A study from 2016 showed that exercise at varying levels of intensity in comparison to the usual standard depressive treatment had more of an impact in reducing symptoms.

Whilst the optimal exercise dose is unclear, it’s almost irrelevant - getting up to move in any way is beneficial.

So even if it is going for a walk in the morning, a low intensity yoga flow, a moderately-paced run or a high-impact weights session the evidence is clear; you can optimise both your physical and mental wellness with this approach.

Perfect for this time of year.

Exercising is a key way to optimise mental wellbeing in the winter months
Exercising is a key way to optimise mental wellbeing in the winter months

Establish a good sleep routine

We’ve all been there; scrolling on social media until late or watching a show well past the time that our bodies want to begin it’s period of rest. I know I have.

But getting a good night of sleep is absolutely critical in being able to perform at our optimal best - on both a physical and mental level.

How can we improve this? One of the ways is to reduce our screen time in the evening. Plenty of studies have communicated this, including this one study that showed evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness.

How? By slowing melatonin production (the sleep hormone), meaning it takes longer to get to sleep, as well shorter time in the REM sleep phase (which is crucial).

Some of my own personal sleep ‘hacks’ include drinking Ashwaghanda, a root which has been shown to have sleep-inducing potential, as well as CBD oil and magnesium to help with relaxation.

Maintain healthy relationships

One of the things that as allowed me to maintain my mental fortitude during this last 10 months (which let’s be honest, hasn’t been easy for many reasons) has been the quality of my relationships. That goes for my relationship with my fiancé, as well as existing friendships that have been strengthened - as well as new friendships that I have made.

Us humans are social creatures and being around people who can encourage and uplift us, as well as those who have a positive mindset, goes a long, long way - particularly in testing times.

Prioritising a good sleep routine is absolutely crucial for optimal wellness
Prioritising a good sleep routine is absolutely crucial for optimal wellness

Staying present

This is something that I have consciously tried to practice since finishing The Power of Now which - if you haven’t already read - is an absolute must-read. With everything that’s currently going on, it would be very easy for us to think of the worst up ahead.

And despite what we are told through various media channels, practicing mindfulness and being conscious to the here and now can have a huge impact on how we respond to challenging situations.

In fact, I believe that all of the things listed above are in a position to become a priority once we focus on the present moment and what is in our control, as opposed to what is outside of us.

Not putting too much faith in a future that isn’t here yet, and leaving the past in the past are the best ways that we can commit to staying in the present.

Of course this is easier said than done. Much easier to read about; harder to put into practice.

Small steps towards any of these five wellness habits are what will move the needle - there’s no way it is possible to land all five with perfection, and I will vouch for the fact that it is not always plain sailing.

But aiming to stay disciplined with these things can have such a big impact for our overall health and wellbeing, and particularly in the cold, winter months, when we need all the help we can get.