5 way to re-boot your health this weekend

weekendIt’s the weekend!  And also the time when good health intentions can go astray…

It’s easy to let precious work-free hours become sucked up crunching through household tasks or flipping through social media when what you really need is a proper mind-body break.

Make a commitment to a healthier work free weekend with these 5 steps to a mini-reboot. 

1. Take an early morning walk A weekend lie-in can be blissful, but there’s something special about the stillness that accompanies a weekend morning. Not only can you use the time for a moving meditation, research published last year in the journal PLOS ONE found exposure to bright light in the early morning can actually help to regulate appetite and body fat. Take a walk in a park and you’ll also benefit from a mental lift – studies show that just being in a green area can reduce stress and improve feelings of well being. End your walk with a coffee shop break and a good book or magazine and arrive home feeling refreshed before the rest of the family have opened their eyes.

2. Turn off your devices According to a recent report by GWI Social, we spend almost two hours a day on social media, and up to 6 hours a day online. Aside from missing out on face-to-face interactions and the beauty of what’s right in front of us, being consistently hooked up to the web means you never really turn ‘off’, especially if your phone and laptop is set up to receive work emails outside of office hours.

Flicking through social media might seem harmless enough, but there is some research to suggest that it can aggravate anxiety and low self esteem. Public Health England has also suggested a correlation between the amount of time spent on social media and lower levels of well being.

To properly unwind, take a full 24h (or longer) break from your phone, laptop and tablet. Switch them off or leave in a different room and learn to detach – the more difficult you find this, the more benefit you’re likely to get from doing so

3. Cook for yourself The weekend seems to lend itself to eating out, but chances are it’s actually one of the few times you can create some space to cook for yourself without having to worry about other time pressures. New activities create new neural pathways and studies show unstructured creative ‘play’ can help to boost your happy factor. Try baking a loaf, take inspiration from a home delivered recipe box or pull out a magazine with a meal you’ve circled for ‘when you have time’. Stick on some music, roll up your sleeves and enjoy the process of doing something new. And when you sit down to eat, leave the TV off. You’ll enjoy your food more if your attention is placed solely on what you’re eating. (For more recipe inspiration click here).

4. Find some headspace Research into the benefits of mediation are mushrooming – from improvements in mental clarity and concentration, lowered blood pressure, stress, anxiety pain and even IBS relief, learning the art of silence can be hugely rewarding.It might seem like a challenge, but the benefits can be seen with just 10 minutes practice a day. If the idea of sitting in silence seems too much to bear, start with the organization headspace whose modern approach to mindfulness meditation makes the whole idea of quieting the mind more accessible

5. Invite friends over Weekends are often reserved for family time, but penciling in time for friends is vital too. According to Brigham Young University a good social circle boosts longevity and reduces the risk of mortality. The exact mechanisms aren’t clear, but it’s thought that social support can encourage healthy behaviours (you’re more likely to take to the gym if your friend does) and help us cope with stressful situations. Dial down the pressure of catering for a large group by asking each person to bring a salad, drink, desert or main dish, – then sit back, relax and enjoy the company.