The wellness industry has exploded in recent years, after all who doesn’t want to feel more content, better able to cope with life’s crises and to be more present and in control of their own lives? But for many the mindfulness maze is hard to navigate.
With that in mind, Ireland’s leading wellness summit, is coming to Dublin this month headed up by Alison Canavan, a UCLA trained Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behaviour mindfulness facilitator and well-being coach.
The former model discovered self empowerment following her own experience of addiction and recovery. Through 15 years of study in meditation and mindfulness, Alison has put together a day that takes you on a journey of true health and well-being, looking at everything from the benefits of juicing to the powerful effects of sound healing, something Alison personally credits as a large part of her own healing journey.
Each element is designed to enable people with tools to deal with the everyday stressors in our lives. “Financial struggles, for example, were a huge source of stress for me when James was young,” Alison explains. “And I have seen first hand from working in the fashion industry where I was exposed to 1000’s of chemicals daily, the health issues that can arise from the amount of toxic products we are using.”
So what does a typical day look like for mindfulness expert, it's no surprise that it starts with meditation: "I wake and meditate for 15-20 minutes, set an intention for the day and choose three things I’m grateful for. I struggled with mental health issues for most of my life so the morning is an important time for me. It’s an opportunity to catch your mind and work with it before it runs off into the land of stress.
"I have a raw celery juice every morning and my son James usually wakes as I shower. We get ready for school, have breakfast and walk to school together. Anyone with kids knows that the morning can be incredibly stressful so my practice helps to keep me sane.
"I teach meditation a few days a week, run workshops, coach private clients and go into schools and corporates delivering workshops and talks on wellbeing. I also write articles for various publications. I love my varied job and every day brings a new adventure.
"The afternoons are spent driving to various sports, activities and doing homework. In the evening, myself and James practice gratitude before bedtime and I often do a body scan with him before he goes to bed as he can be quite anxious sometimes. I prioritise sleep as it’s incredibly important and the foundation for good health. Seven to nine hours is optimal and kids need at least 10! This is the time when your memories get stored, your cells renew and rebuild and your body and mind get a chance to rest.
And as part of Alison daily routine she also believes in the importance of certain supplements for herself and son James, explaining:
"I believe in eating a well-rounded diet and only supplementing where necessary. That said, I always include Eskimo Omegas as I know I don’t get enough in my diet alone. James is eight and doesn’t like nuts, seeds or oily fish, so it’s tough to get enough omegas without supplementing for him. Omegas are important for mood, brain and heart health and in kids for concentration and behaviour also."
Alison also believes in taking Vitamin D, saying: "You need at least 35mg of vitamin D for sufficient absorbtion. You can go to your doctor and get a simple test done and they can advise if you need supplementation. It’s not like other vitamins and it’s called the sunshine vitamin because your body can make its own vitamin D when you expose your skin to sunlight.
"But your body can’t make other vitamins. You need to get other vitamins from the foods you eat. For example, you need to get vitamin C from fruits and vegetables. Also what makes vitamin D unique compared to other vitamins, is that when our body gets its vitamin D, it turns it into a hormone. This hormone is sometimes called “activated vitamin D” or “calcitriol.”
"Vitamin D is very important for strong bones. Calcium and phosphorus are essential for developing the structure and strength of your bones, and you need vitamin D to absorb these minerals."
Finally Alison also believes a probiotic is essential for everyone saying: "Our gut health is also crucial so I take a probiotic like Alflorex regularly. Our gut has been nicknamed the second brain and it’s estimated that 90 per cent of the body’s serotonin is made in the digestive tract – serotonin is your happy hormone so happy gut, happier mind. You can also eat foods like kefir, kimchi, fermemnted foods and kombucha to keep your gut smiling."
The March issue of RSVP Magazine featuring a full interview with Alison Canavan and six other wellness experts is on shelves now
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