Ella's Daily Habits For 2024

Small daily habits shape our lives more than we often think. It’s easy to think that one healthy meal or one 15-minute at-home yoga session won't do much. But, when implemented regularly, these small, achievable habits make all the difference. It’s what we do day in, day out that truly impacts our health.

So, if you’re needing a little inspiration, here are the five easy(ish) habits that I swear by. These habits are all about nourishing your mind and body, focusing on a 360 view of wellness - no dogmatic rules or fads, I promise!

1. Ignore the noise, skip the fads

The world of wellness can feel incredibly confusing with never-ending streams of contradictory information and an array of quick fixes that promise you the world in a week. We’re flooded with images of "perfect" bodies, which for many people translates to a constant pressure to look a certain way. As a result, it's tempting to seek out the latest diet craze in hopes of achieving our health and wellness goals overnight. But here's the thing – fad diets are not the answer. In fact, they often do more harm than good in the long run.

Yo-yo dieting can wreak havoc with your metabolism and in the long run most dieters regain the weight they’ve lost. Likewise, many of the fad diets create nutritional imbalances and deficiencies because you’ve cut out lots of important foods (for example, the keto diet means you’ll miss out on the fibre you need), and this can prompt a really unhealthy relationship with food.

So, my advice is to ignore the noise and focus on the simple pillars of health, which are universal: more sleep, more movement, more wholefoods, more plants, more calm, less stress. Essentially, keep it simple. Simple lasts, simple is sustainable and overtime simple moves you closer to your goals.

And when it comes to what we eat, don’t overcomplicate it. Remember healthy eating doesn’t need to take hours or involve lots of unusual ingredients. One-pot meals or tray bake dinners are quick and easy solutions that require little effort or skill but are really satisfying. Likewise, don’t get pulled in by clickbait headlines and contradictory advice: stick to simple wholefoods and getting lots of veggies in (most of the time). You likely don’t need fancy gadgets or gizmos!

2. Try mindful mornings

I find the way I start my morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. If it starts in a rushed way then I find my mindset often stays in that more hectic, stressed state. When I take time for myself before diving into the demands of the day, I set a positive tone for the hours ahead. Ultimately, the only certainty in life is uncertainty, and despite our innate desire to control the world around us, there’s only so much we can do. So, taking control of what you can do to best set yourself up for a healthy, happy life makes all the difference.

There’s no one way to create a morning routine as it’s deeply personal, but I’d suggest finding a few stackable habits that add up to a calm, intentional, grounded morning. For me that’s a breathwork practice or meditation followed by a quiet coffee and a few moments for skincare (my favourite form of self-care). Then I’ll hear "Mummy I’m awake, it’s time to get up" and the chaos of the day begins!

So, have a play around: try journalling, meditating, a quiet walk, a short yoga class or a stretch, a herbal tea, a peaceful coffee. Find what works for you, challenge yourself to make it happen daily(ish) for a month and see how you feel.

3. Take breaks from tech and social media

So many of us, myself very much included, reach for our phones and start mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or TikTok without thinking. It feels harmless at first, but over the last year I started to notice just how much time I was losing each day and the extent to which this subconscious addiction to my phone was negatively impacting my mental health and productivity. Being attached to our phone is almost second nature for so many of us, but have you ever stopped to think about how it might be affecting your day, your mindset, and your overall well-being?

It's no secret that social media platforms are designed to be addictive and the constant stream of new content, comments and likes all trigger the release of dopamine in our brains. Every time you refresh your feed or get a new notification, you get a hit of dopamine, meaning a quick burst of pleasure, which is what makes these sites so addictive.

There’s a lot of conversation in the wellness world about dopamine at the moment. Dopamine, often called the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) is responsible for giving you feelings of satisfaction, motivation and pleasure. When it isn't regulated, it starts to affect your mood. You naturally release dopamine doing things that you enjoy and can increase your dopamine levels through your diet (protein is really important here), exercise, sleep, meditation, listening to calming music and getting sunlight. Our phones and social media, however, can disrupt the cycle and hijack the system. This dampens your natural dopamine response over time, like a feedback loop gone awry, so you need more and more stimulation to get the same sense of satisfaction. This can increase the feelings of anxiety, restlessness, poor focus and lack of attention.

So, try tech breaks throughout the day and phone-free mornings (back to starting the day the right way!) to reclaim your brain’s dopamine balance. Focus on more nourishing activities and less scrolling.

4. Upgrade your snacks

We all love a good snack, it’s the highlight of my day when I’m stuck at my desk knee-deep in an endless to-do list! Not all snacks are created equal though and upping your snack game can make a real difference to how you feel. Learning to snack smart has been a huge part of Deliciously Ella.

Once I started looking at ingredient lists in supermarkets, I realised that so many of the most popular snacks are packed with ultra-processed ingredients – artificial additives, flavourings, emulsifiers, preservatives etc. These ingredients are detrimental to our gut health, offer little nutritional value, and over time a consistent intake of ultra-processed foods is linked with a host of health issues, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers.

So, start skipping the snacks packed with non-food ingredients and upgrade your snacks to include whole foods like oats, fruits, nuts and seeds. My go-to is a bag of our chocolate dipped almonds, they’re crunchy, moreish and really satisfy any chocolate cravings while still giving me lots of goodness.

5. Prioritise sleep

With two small children, sleep hasn’t been my best friend the last few years, but we’re finally at a stage where we all get a solid sleep (almost) every night and wow am I feeling the benefit!

Sleep is the foundation of health in so many ways. If you haven't had enough sleep, maintaining healthy habits becomes incredibly difficult. Believe it or not, sleep plays a significant role in regulating appetite hormones and metabolism. When we're sleep-deprived, our bodies produce more ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and less leptin (the satiety hormone), leading to increased cravings and overeating. Sleep deprivation also wreaks havoc on our mood and emotions, making us more irritable, anxious, and prone to mood swings. And because sleep is so critical to our cognitive function, memory consolidation, and decision-making, when we skimp on sleep, our brains struggle to function optimally, leading to brain fog, poor concentration, and decreased productivity.

On the flip side, getting enough restorative sleep helps regulate our emotions, improve stress resilience, promote a more positive outlook on life and reduce cravings. So, making sleep your best friend will make the world of difference to more seamlessly integrating daily healthy habits. So, turn Netflix off earlier, put your phone away and try and get a little more rest each night.

Small habits that make a big difference

- Quick daily movement breaks: just 10-15 minutes exercise improves focus and boosts your mood, so don’t underestimate the power of a speedy at home class.

- Daily meditation or breathwork: as with exercise, a little goes along way here. Just 10 minutes of deep breathing can lower your feelings of stress, gently moving you out of a fight or flight state and into a rest and digest one.

- Eat more plants: try adding an extra portion of fruit & veg with every meal to super charge your meals. Put simply, the more colourful foods you eat, the better. They’re packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that support good health. Vibrant red, orange and purple vegetables are especially beneficial, being packed with polyphenols, which help feed your gut bacteria. Studies show we should be aiming to eat 30+ different plant-based foods a week for optimal gut health, which is essential for good mental and physical health. I know 30 might sound like a lot, but remember that herbs, beans, grains, nuts and seeds all count.

- Balance your meals: combine complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats in each meal to help stabilise your blood sugar and improve both your mood and energy levels. Do you often find yourself having an afternoon slump at 4pm? Making sure you’re balancing your meals should really help.

- Get outside: getting outside is so important for both your mood and your sleep patterns, so prioritise a short walk on your lunch break.

Remember, wellness is not about perfection, quick fixes or aesthetics – it's about finding balance and nourishing your mind and body, so you feel your healthiest and happiest. Some days these habits will feel easier to implement than others, and that’s ok. It’s all about moving 1% closer to where you want to go each day. So, give these habits a go and watch as the small actions you take add up to transform your life over time.

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