positive life

Positive habits for a positive life

Little habits can make all the difference to how you take on each day. So ditch the bad ones (reaching for the phone before your eyes are properly open?), and make some better new ones.

Here are some simple ways you can get your day off to a positive start – and be ready to take on the world (or at least some small children).

Positive habits

1. As soon as you get out of bed, take a minute or two to stretch. According to the Mayo Clinic, stretching increases muscle flexibility, which improves daily performance and overall movement. It also increases blood flow to your muscles and your brain, while at the same time, it relaxes you, thus easing tension and stress.

2. Keep a little book of inspirational quotes or passages handy. Have some inspirational quotes handy from which you can choose one appropriate for the day ahead. For example: “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot or “All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

3. Let go of any negative thoughts or grudges you may be harbouring. Know that harbouring ill feelings or negativity towards someone will only drag you down and prevent you from being at your best. Keeping your head clear will leave room for creativity and all the productive things you want to accomplish for the day.

4. Forgiving others is also good for your heart. A study from the Journal of Behavioural Medicine found forgiveness and letting go to be associated with a lower heart rate and blood pressure as well as relieving stress. So channel your inner Elsa and ‘Let it go’.

5. Take a moment to breathe. Try to get into the habit of stopping a number of times a day to check your breathing. Is it quick and shallow? We hold so much tension in our breath – once we stop, acknowledge it and allow ourselves to breath more deeply – our body and mind instantly begin to relax and the positivity flows.

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Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.


Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.