When does ‘normal’ stress become a chronic issue? A psychologist explains
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This muscle could be the cause of your back pain (and you’re probably not aware of it)

A whopping 60% of us have or will have chronic lower back pain at some point in our lives, according to the National Institute for Care Excellence, while the number of Brits now off work with back pain has reached almost 1 million. That’s a lot of people living in a whole world of agony. 

But what if you could identify the muscle causing all those niggles, and therefore target your rehab and recovery? Writer Naomi May has done just that and found that the tiny piriformis muscle may be small, but let it get weak, and you’re in for years of trouble. Here, we’re letting you know about piriformis syndrome and how to treat it (without booking in a weekly physio appointment).
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11 of the best health books for renewing your nutrition, wellbeing and fitness goals
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8 wellness experts on the last thing they do before bed for deep, restorative sleep
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Whether you celebrate Galentine’s, Valentine’s or year-round self-love, give the gift of wellness this February…
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Whether it’s managing stress or kick-starting a new fitness journey, these affirmation cards will help
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Packed with high-quality adaptogens, these delicious coffee blends enhance focus and zen
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It’s not all in your head – women really do get more headaches than men. Here’s why
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“My husband’s snoring keeps me up at night – is there anything I can do to rest easier?”
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Dr Uma Naidoo is a nutritional psychiatrist, chef, nutritional biologist and the author of the newly published Calm Your Mind With Food and the bestselling book This Is Your Brain On Food.

My ideal morning starts with… waking up early and having lemon water to hydrate, before a spot of meditation to help focus the mind and a little movement like yoga or walking to wake up the body. I then prepare myself a golden milk turmeric latte to help increase energy and start the day with reduced stress and inflammation. Although every day is busy and looks different, these non-negotiables help to maintain a sense of routine and allow me to put my best foot forward.

For breakfast, I love having… a homemade chia seed pudding with a handful of blueberries, a veggie-filled tofu scramble or chickpea omelette. If I’m on the go, I’ll drink a green smoothie. Having a healthy, nutrient-dense breakfast is important as it allows us to start the day optimally nourished and is a first step towards sustainable energy throughout the day. It’s especially for those with ADHD; I always recommend patients eat breakfast as this meal sets the foundation for a healthy day of eating and makes sure you’re getting the right kinds of brain nutrients early on.

Regular exercise like yoga and walking helps me… to feel grounded and reconnected to my body. It helps to lower stress and anxiety and the great thing is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. The best exercise routine is one you can remain consistent with over time. For me, that means practising yoga and taking brisk walks outside – or on the treadmill when the weather’s rotten. I also aim to strength train a few times a week.

I make specific meals to reduce stress, including… big salads packed with folate-rich leafy greens and colourful veggies that provide the body with an abundance of different vitamins and minerals. These plant foods are also an excellent source of fibre, which promotes a healthy microbiome and reduces neuroinflammation (which helps to calm the mind). It’s important to balance all of this with a healthy fat source such as a homemade EVOO salad dressing, avocado or nuts and seeds, as well as your favourite clean protein, which can include organic tofu or wild-caught fatty fish.

As a nutritional psychiatrist, I’ve got lots of pre-bed tips… and many of them, I practise myself. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, try to avoid caffeinated beverages from noon and go for calming chamomile tea in the evenings – it’s been used for centuries in Eastern medicine to promote sleepiness. I also love tart cherries and magnesium-rich foods like avocado or extra dark natural chocolate, because magnesium has also been shown to calm the nervous system. Many find it helpful to limit screen time and bright lights in the evening as well so as to not disrupt the circadian rhythm. 

If there was one thing I wish more women knew about stress, it’d be… that they have the power to alleviate and manage symptoms through intentional diet and lifestyle practices. Far too often, chronic stress is considered ‘normal’ or something that we have to deal with, but I have seen time and again in my clinical practice that this doesn’t have to be the case. 

This is why falling asleep in front of the TV is worse for you than you think
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This tomato and pepper soup is packed with inflammation-busting ingredients

Nourishing dishes really don’t have to be complicated. This tomato and red pepper soup couldn’t be simpler, but it’s brimming with flavour and packed with nutrients. Tomatoes aren’t just rich in vitamin C (a powerful inflammatory and antioxidant) – they’re also full of lycopene. That’s the plant chemical responsible for their red colour and it’s linked to several health benefits. Evidence shows that lycopene may help to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, as well as offer better skin health.

Red peppers, on the other hand, are full of vitamin A (great for eye health), fibre (a gut non-negotiable) and iron. The latter is especially useful because the body absorbs iron best when it’s paired with vitamin C, which this pepper is also rich in. So, if you’re anaemic or in need of a little energy boost, this soup could give you the nutrients you need. Perfect for grey winter days.

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