This is a key time to be looking after both your physical and mental health. I want to share what Louise and I do all year round to look after ourselves. These have become even more important during this time, and (bonus) we have more time to practice these and learn new ways of looking after ourselves. So I thought it was only right to share our Top Tips for Physical and Mental Health - all year round! These are tips that will give you more energy and lift your mood!
Tell us in the comments below what you do to look after your physical and mental health. Look out for some special offers from small vegan businesses (many of these are just for us to help promote small businesses during this time - we will always indicate where we may earn a fee).
Heads up! This post contains affiliate links, so we'll earn a little commission from qualifying purchases. This keeps us creating vegelicious content 🙂
1. Maintain Great Gut health
It has been proven for years now that our gut is key to both our mood and immunity. We also know that great digestion is so important for absorbing all the nutrients in the food we eat. Making sure you have a variety and an abundance of prebiotics (these feed the friendly bacteria in your gut) and probiotics (the actual friendly bacteria that live in your gut) will help to keep your gut beautifully healthy. So to keep your gut health top-notch you can:
- Eat lots of fibre and foods that feed the good bacteria
An obvious way to do this is by eating lots of fruit and vegetables, including superfoods that your gut bacteria LOVE!
A few times a week I mix Inspiriko’s Love Thy Gut (affiliate link) mix into my porridge or morning vegan yoghurt. I was first gifted this product then became a dedicated customer! It’s a blend of easily digested, nutrient-dense wholefoods, packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The best thing about it - it tastes soooo insanely good - like a mix of berries!
If you want to try it with a superpowered, fibre and nutrient packed-breakfast, here is my recipe for my Superfood Breakfast Bowl.
- Limit foods that stress your gut
This may be different for everyone (you know yourself best). So while I love a cup of strong coffee (hmmm, even the smell) I am having no more than one a day, and right now, just a few a week.
- Eat fermented foods with lots of good bacteria
Luckily there are lots of products on the market which are fermented. Kimchi and saurkerkraut are delicious and amazing on salad and curries. You can make your own (maybe a good skill to learn during this time!) or you’ll find these in most health stores. We love kimchi on our Quinoa Super Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing.
Then Louise’s personal favourite; kombucha (a fermented tea) (affiliate link). Available in health stores and online.
2. Keep healthy ready-meals in the freezer for when you want a cooking break
I love cooking, hence why I have a recipe blog with Louise! But there are always days we are so busy or just don’t feel like cooking. So I always have something easy and delicious onhand that doesn’t compromise your health. Our friends in the plant-based community have developed some incredible meals (cooked fresh, flash-frozen, then delivered to your door).
Our favourites, which we have tried and tested(!) are All Plants (affiliate link) and Vegan Fitness Meals, both with brilliant selections of yummy vegan meals. You can get 10% off any purchase with Vegan Fitness Meals using the code VEGANLARDER (we will get a small commission from this). Both are super filling, delicious and made by our friends in the plant based community running ethical businesses.
3. Eat and drink healthy herbs and spices
Not only do herbs and spices make your food taste GREAT they are also very good for your health. I grind up fennel seeds to make fennel tea when I’m having any digestive issues, and we’ve all heard of the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric (especially when you add black pepper to it - this helps you absorb much more of the curcumin in it).
You can add turmeric to your porridge, your stews, curries, scrambled tofu or make a delicious golden mylk latte. Our friend at Norty does a delicious Turmeric Latte blend, along with other insanely good nut butters and pudding pots. We had Norty's turmeric latte with our Apricot, Date and Walnut Layer Bars.
We love this small ethical business and its portions of deliciousness. You can get 20% off any of Norty’s products with the coupon VEGANLARDER20 until 18 April 2020.
4. Have a bit of what you fancy
If anyone knows me, they will know I am an actual chocolate fiend, whether that’s cake, brownies or just good old bars of chocolate. I keep things healthy 95% of the time, but give myself space for that bit of a treat. Remember, ‘treats’ don’t have to be unhealthy - there are lots of vegan brands making chocolate bars and other treats with high quality ingredients and carefully picked ingredients. One of Louise and my favourites are Prodigy bars, made with cacao butter and coconut blossom; they flavours like chunky orange and peanut & caramel. All give you the chocolate hit. They are giving all our readers 20% off their 6 packs or 24 packs with the coupon VL20 (valid until 16 May 2020).
Or you can make yourself a love dish of our Chocolate and Raspberry brownies (don’t forget to put some in the freezer for when you next need a treat!).
5. Interact with nature
Being around nature is one of the best ways to bring you wellbeing. I love going for a walk in the park, woods or forest to bring me back to equilibrium. Louise loves nature wellbeing activities like counting bees or butterflies (there are lots of programmes you can participate in such as the Big Butterfly Hunt or The Great British Bee Count).
If you’re not able to get out to a park or wood, even just sitting in your garden will help. If you don't have a garden, get some lovely plants for your home to nurture. Some herbs for a windowsill or some pretty pots on a balcony are marvalously uplifting. Or even just pictures of plants and nature can be a help. Pictures of nature have been proven to have a calming effect on us, so they are a lovely & cheap option too.
6. Do exercise & keep moving.
I love doing yoga, HIIT workouts, strength training and going for runs. What’s brilliant about the internet is that you can do so much physical training online! I tend to do my workouts shortly after I wake up (before turning on my phone) to get me in the zone for the day and get a sweat on. My favourite online exercise sources are Do Yoga With Me (this is free, and you can choose class levels and class length so it fits around your schedule) and Rumble Gym (they are a sustainable vegan gym who have started doing social media LIVE workouts and putting workouts on their IGTV).
Make sure to keep your exercise enjoyable. A brisk walk in the park or getting out in the woods is better than no exercise at all, and can help boost your mood. Or get silly and try something fun like a hula hoop or get a ball out & kick it around. Louise & Tristan love to do mad chasies around their garden for a quick break when time is tight.
There are some awesome plant based trainers out there who can do online 1:1 sessions including getting your nutrition in check. Have to give a shout out to our friend Paul Kerton aka Hench Herbivore - he is doing online and telephone consultations and personalised nutrition and workout plans - he’ll sort you right out!
7. Learn a new skill
Yes, we’re all so busy, and time management is key. My life and happiness got better when I started committing more time to learning something new as much as I could every day. This can be something very small. Maybe listening to a short podcast while you go for a walk, reading a blog on something you didn’t know about or testing out a new recipe. You can even test out part of a new recipe, like a new sauce to go with your baked sweet potato! Learning makes time go slower and gives a great sense of achievement at the end of the day.
Even when you are really good at something, keep working at a different aspect of the thing you're already passionate about. Louise is currently trying to get better at baking & is working on her breadmaking skills.
8. Optimise your sleep
Ok, I could write an entire blog on this! But I will just give you my top tips. I put my phone on airplane mode at least 30 minutes before going to bed, then don’t turn airplane mode off until I have done my morning meditation and exercise in the morning. Louise loves to unwind by turning off her devices at least half an hour before bed, and reading a book in the evening and cuddling with her lovely cats.
Make sure you have your essential sleeping artefacts like eye masks and ear plugs if your room lets in noise or light & keep your room a little cooler than the rest of the house. Being too hot can disrupt your sleep!
I am also in love with the Calm app, where I can pick meditations, bedtime stories or nature sounds to help me nod off for the days I am very ‘in my head’.
So there are our Top Tips for Physical and Mental Health - all year round! Key to all this too is to remember that you don’t have to do everything everyday. Sometimes we want to do nothing, and that is totally fine too - give yourself permission.