The Wellbeing Website has a series of videos on Female Focused Health and Nutrition. As my Mindful May pledge this month is to get moving more often, I watched the video on Exercise and Nutrition. The video breaks down the Athlete’s Food Pyramid. Whilst I am definitely not an athlete, it was really interesting to learn about the different aspects of nutrition and how to fuel our bodies for exercise.
Macronutrients are at the bottom of the pyramid and include carbohydrates, protein and fats – the main food groups to benefit exercise. The next tier, micronutrients, include vitamins and minerals such as iron from spinach or red meats. Iron is especially important in a female diet. The timing of when we eat and how this affects the body is not something we consciously think of, but makes a big difference to how we feel throughout the day. It is also very important to fuel our bodies before and after participating in sport or exercise – carbohydrates before and protein after. Changes in hormones will also affect the quantity of food consumed at different times of the menstrual cycle every month. The final tier of the Athlete’s Food Pyramid is supplements. Whilst not relevant for everyone, personally I have been taking Evening Primrose Oil supplements which is a one a day supplement that benefits female health. Research what is best for your own personal health.
The other videos discuss female adolescent nutrition, the menstrual cycle and the menopause, so there is content available for all age groups. There is also plenty more content on diet and nutrition available on the website so it is certainly worth having a look!
As part of Mindful May, I decided to listen to the Mindfulness pathway under the ‘Wellbeing’ section of our Wellbeing Website. I often struggle with focusing on one task and find my mind wanders and thinks about all the tasks that I need to complete.
The Mindfulness pathway defines what mindfulness is and how to stop one’s mind from wandering. The pathway is split into 8 chapters, which consist of short videos/podcasts. I listened to them over the course of two evenings and found them to be very informative.
I will definitely be using the tips in my daily life in order to try and be more mindful.
We all experience stress during our lives and although in small amounts it can be beneficial in building resilience, too much is definitely detrimental to our wellbeing.
There are lots of different resources on the Wellbeing Website that cover stress and how to deal with it. I started with the Wellbeing article called Identifying the Sources of Stress in your life. It was really quick to read and summarised the different contributors to stress, some of which I definitely recognised as triggers for me. This then led me to look at the self-guided meditation plans for reducing stress in the ‘Be Calm’ section of the site which provides relaxing audio guides for clearing your mind and destressing. Well worth a try after a hectic day!
NewstrAid’s Wellbeing Website has 4 short videos (10 minutes each) focussed on money management and the association between good money management and our wellbeing.
The videos cover useful topics such as:
The cost of living video provides tips on how to save money as well as advice on how to cope, by determining the things that are and are not within your control. It is also worth noting that you can select ‘discounts’ on the site to save money on every day purchases such as 3% off at Tesco and Asda.
Over the weekend, I didn’t have much time available, and I wanted to try something that would make a nice quick and easy breakfast. So, I had a search on the Wellbeing Suite and found ‘Blueberry Overnight Oats’ – that seemed both tasty and quick, and my cooking and baking abilities are very lacking at the best of times, so this seemed perfect.
I stumbled across a winner, it was so easy to make and was very tasty in the morning – so much so, that I have managed to keep making them back-to-back each day and think I will try to keep this up. I’m a big fan of being able to go to the fridge and just grab the already prepared breakfast oats, I do try and go to the gym in the mornings, and this just compliments that so much, and that’s without mentioning the health benefits that come with this tasty little breakfast. Thanks NewstrAid 😊
I must admit that when I want onto NewstrAid’s Wellbeing website and clicked on the Men’s Health section, I felt a certain degree of nervousness. I know that I live a reasonably healthy lifestyle and feel fine apart from the odd ache or pain. However, as a 61-year-old man, like most men, I shy away from those more difficult health issues, the ones that you can’t see but can cause major problems.
The Wellbeing website reminded me of the need to take care of myself. Whilst I am not afraid of visiting my GP, I will avoid it if possible. However, the website informed me of various home testing kits for things like cholesterol and prostate testing which can provide an early warning of potential future problems. This early detection could be a lifesaver.
The site also had some great tips for boosting your physical and mental health and as a result there are things I am changing in my life. I am eating more fruit and vegetables, I have re-joined the gym, I am enjoying living in the moment more and not worrying about the future too much. One thing I may fail on – I may not be able to grow a worthwhile moustache for Movember!
Guys, get on the site and see how you can do some straightforward things to make you feel better about life.
I decided to try out one of the workout plans after setting up my ‘Fitness insight’ on our wellbeing website. I thought it would be good to focus on the ‘Exercise – Getting more active’ path to give myself a little boost prior to my holiday in May alongside the other fitness activities I attend during the week.
This path was split into 10 chapters and included a variety of formats including videos, articles and podcasts. As you work through each chapter it records your progression and as I completed the fitness insight all exercises and guidance was tailored to my physical abilities and I was able to complete all of the chapters over a few days.
I found this pathway worked best for me as I was able to set aside some time at the end of each day and plan my week ahead. It also enabled me to focus on a few small goals to start with, and ensured I was adding things I enjoyed more into my week.
When I am travelling, you will most likely find me with my headphones on listening to a podcast – I find listening to something whilst I’m on the go keeps me both entertained and informed. Spectrum Life, which provides the resources on NewstrAid’s Wellbeing Suite has its own podcast – 4, in fact!
Whilst travelling to London this week, I decided to listen to the ‘Real Life’ podcast hosted by Jack Kavanagh. There are currently 12 episodes, and I chose episode 2 titled ‘The Compassionate Approach to Stress, Anxiety and Burnout’. It was a really interesting listen, and a topic that is definitely relevant during these unusual and uncertain times. By the end of the podcast, I felt I had learnt something new, such as how our brains respond to stress and ways to combat ‘Zoom fatigue’.
You can find this podcast on the Spectrum Life app which is really handy, but it is also available on Spotify. There are a number of other podcasts recommended by Spectrum Life which I also listened to – two personal favourites of mine were ‘Power Hour with Adrienne Herbert’ and ‘Happy Place with Fearne Cotton’. There is something to suit all tastes and interests.”
Under Soundspace, Family Life is a series of podcasts about parenting and modern life.
Episode 12 focuses on motivating study skills for children and why anxiety levels are currently a cause for concern with “Gen Z”. As a parent of a 16 year old son about to sit his GCSE’s, the first cohort of students to sit exams since Covid, I tuned into this podcast looking for some guidance on how best to offer support during the exam season.
The episode runs for just under 40 mins and it was well worth a listen as it not only explains what triggers anxiety with students today, but also how anxiety can affect their motivation and ability to study.
Discussion looks outside the classroom and explains how technology and, specifically, social media has affected their life experiences, self-confidence, friendship groups, and consequently, their focus and ability to learn.
It was interesting to think from their perspective, and it made me aware of just how different my student days were. Maybe, as parents, we expect too much from this generation and we think they know more than they do?
They may have access to more information, but technology has changed everything and they live completely different lives. The podcast gives lots of insight and it helped me to understand this generation gap in more depth.
I certainly feel better placed to empathize, even if I can’t relate to my own personal experience. Family life can be a challenge at the best of times and I look forward listening to more episodes in this series.
For information, this podcast refers to the Irish curriculum, but the content is relevant to students sitting exams anywhere. Junior Cert Students is equivalent to GSCE’s and Leaving Cert is on a par with A-Levels.
I listened to the podcast “Delicious ways to feel better” which is hosted by Ella Mills and her husband Matt Mills. I’ve been meaning to get into podcasts for sometimes, but with the many that are available was always struggling to know where to start.
Going on the Sound Space part of the Spectrum Life app really helped to narrow the selection down and it was good to know that all the podcasts available from the app are recommended by the staff at Spectrum Life, so you know you are going to be listening to something that is well balanced and reliable. You can listen directly from the app and it works on both the website version and the mobile app, although I mainly listened on my app as it allowed me to move about whilst listening to each episode.
I’ve listened to a number of the episodes of Delicious Ways to Feel Better over the course of the last week and have really enjoyed each one. They all focus on a different areas of health and wellbeing in such an engaging, uplifting and educational way and have guest speakers on each episode.
Information on the internet on how to be healthy can be a complete minefield but with these episodes I found that the general message was about balance, taking things one step at a time and not looking for a quick fix.
A few of the episodes I listened to talked a lot about creating better habits, whether it was for mental health, healthy eating or even our impact on the environment, and I have taken away so many good points and it has left me feeling more in control and less overwhelmed about making improvements in my life in so many different areas. I will definitely be continuing to listen to this series. They have been releasing one episode a week for some time, so I have a lot of material to catch up on, which is great when I’m out walking the dog.
Once I’ve worked my way through this series, I will definitely be looking to Spectrum Life’s sound space again for further podcast recommendations.
As part of Mindful May, I decided to give one of the workout plans on the Spectrum.Life app a go. I chose the Glutes and Legs intermediate workout plan, which was split into 6 workout sessions.
Each session included easy to follow videos for each exercise and time dedicated to rest breaks. I completed the full plan over two evenings after work but you could choose to complete one session a day over the course of six days if you’d prefer.
Exercise always lifts my mood and this plan certainly did!
I chose mobility because I get back pain quite a lot and I know I need to focus on building strength and stretching out that area.
The workout plan is split into individual easy to follow videos for each position, with a timer so you know you are doing them for the right amount of time.
The plan was split into 7 workouts so I did one each morning which is when I feel the most pain in my back and it definitely helped. It also gave me a mood boost after I completed it.
During the working day I spend a lot of time sitting in front of my laptop and often find that hours have passed and I’ve not got up from my desk.
I got my partner involved in this one so that we each were accountable and we agreed that the person with the lowest number of steps in the week would have to do a forfeit.
Both being competitive, this motivated us pretty well but in the end there was only one winner and now my partner is cooking the dinners for the whole of next week!
The Boost your Energy resource on the Wellbeing Suite takes the form of 9 ‘chapters’ focusing on different ways of increasing energy levels. The chapters include podcasts. videos and articles and I found this mixed media approach good for keeping my attention.
The content featured includes: Tips on improving sleep, advice on reducing sugar intake and being snack smart, techniques for reducing stress and information on how exercise can help boost energy. Plus, each chapter finishes with a challenge to try over the next 5 or 7 days which is a great way to introduce new activities and log whether they have an effect on energy levels.
A lot of the content reinforced things I already knew or was aware of but it also gave me some new information. I will definitely try to continue to increase the amount of water I drink each day and if I am feeling particularly stressed, I will try 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation before bed to ensure a good night’s sleep.
In short, if you want to feel more energised it is worth giving this resource a try as you might find a few things that could make a big difference!
There are four short videos on the Spectrum Life app covering anxiety in children, body positivity, the importance of routine and fussy eating. All of the videos are recorded by a parenting coach.
My children are young, so some of the content wasn’t relevant because it covers such a broad age group, but it is good to know for the future. I especially liked the video on fussy eating, I have two very fussy eaters and introducing the parenting coach’s tip of getting them involved at meal times i.e. laying the table, or putting the food in sharing bowls in the middle of the table so that they can dish up their own dinner, has helped a lot. The tips are simple, but effective!
I picked this particular pathway as we are all surrounded by screens and distractions and it becomes increasingly more difficult to switch off, particularly when we have a lot going on in our lives. We’ve all heard someone joke how hard it is to balance a social life, with work and chores around our houses, but it’s true, it often feels like an impossible task and can make us feel overwhelmed.
This series of videos was really interesting and starts of by talking about recognising imbalance and ways to create more balance. It discusses the difficulties some people have with sleep and the importance of having frequent breaks particularly from our screens. The series then moves on to reconnecting with nature and finally discusses goals, both setting new ones and reconnecting with ones you may have set previously.
Throughout the course it focuses on what is important to the self, and gives tips on how to look at what matters most to us as individuals. Later on in the videos it gives pointers on how to set time aside either each week or each month to look back at what you have done and look forward to what is coming up, and most importantly to set aside time for the things we enjoy, to create balance in our lives.
I found this pathway useful and will be setting aside some time at the end of each week to plan my week ahead, focusing on a few small goals to start with, and ensuring I’m adding things I enjoy more into my weeks, such as catching up with friends etc.
With lots of big life events and changes going on at the moment for me, I found the Reducing Stress meditation sessions really helpful this week. I often find my thoughts are racing particularly when I first get up or when I am going to bed, so this is when I have been dedicating time to use the sessions. They vary in length which has been useful when I only had a few minutes to spare and they also vary in what they make you focus on; sometimes it is to visualise a scene and use that scene to allow your thoughts to pass, other times it is to just focus on breathing.
One I found particularly useful was the final mediation session “Soothing Nature Sounds”. I played this some nights before bed so as to help slow down and to focus my thoughts on the sounds rather than what I had to do the next day.
I have always found it difficult to let go, stop worrying about things and just live in the moment. Therefore, using the Spectrum.Life app, I decided to listen to the “Living in the Moment” meditation pathway.
The pathway is made up of seven sessions, that vary in length, which I listened to before going to sleep over the course of a few days. Each session focused on a different topic, such as; letting go of the past and future and the power of breath.
I found all of the sessions to be very relaxing and definitely helped me to let go and stop worrying.
I have heard about the benefits of meditation but never felt that I had time to fit it into my already very busy day! I used the Spectrum Life app to listen to six short meditation recordings, all 15 minutes or less, and realised that actually it is quite easy to find a few minutes to listen to one recording a day. There is even a recording to listen to with ear phones whilst walking, which is easier if, like me, you can’t get 5 minutes peace at home!
I don’t think meditation is a quick fix, it is a bit like exercise in that you need to incorporate it into your routine for a long time before you experience the true benefit. However, I do feel more positive, even after the shorter sessions; I will keep sending my negative thoughts off on the floating clouds!
We eat salmon quite a lot in our household but rarely have it with pasta so I thought I would try the Creamy Salmon Pasta recipe.
Using the Spectrum.Life app, I watched the very short video first and then followed the instructions which were pretty straight forward. Although the preparation time says 45 minutes, I would say it is nearer 30 minutes as whilst the salmon is cooking you can cook the pasta and then the vegetables. The only thing I would note is that we only had 0% fat crème fraiche in the fridge and this meant the end result was not very creamy (!) but it was a tasty and healthy mid-week meal which was pretty easy to prepare!
This was such an easy and quick breakfast and I really enjoyed it. It made a nice change from my normal boring bowl of cereal and is a great way to shake up what I eat in the mornings. Will definitely be making again.
With so few ingredients I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. It was quick and easy to make and a good one for making in bigger batches for lunches in the week (I doubled up for another meal) and portion out so that all I have to do is grab a box on my way out to the office. It would also be nice as a side for a BBQ or picnic.