Staying positive no matter what life throws at you can be a challenge, but NIKKI PAGE reveals her own hard-won recipe for healthy contentment
NIKKI Page appears to be one of those lucky people blessed with glowing good looks, an aura of serenity, and boundless energy.
As a former model and successful businesswoman, it’s easy to assume she’s had an enviably charmed life.
But more than 40 years ago, she battled, in private, a chronic illness after suffering a damaging reaction to an antibiotic when she was 20 years old.
Her struggle over the years to regain her health led to her discovering successful ways to boost her health and wellbeing, all revealed in her book, The Little Book Of Wellbeing: 60 Ways To Look Good And Feel Great.
“Life rarely delivers what we expect,” she says.
“I was fit, healthy and having the time of my life modelling and then I nearly died from antibiotic poisoning after I was treated for a severe stomach infection.
“My stomach was so ulcerated and damaged by the drug that I continued to suffer serious problems with digestion, absorbing nutrients and certain food groups.
“For years I had a range of debilitating side effects and lost all faith in the medical profession.”
Determined and resourceful by nature, Page researched alternative and complementary remedies, little respected at that time, and developed her own ways of coping with chronic fatigue and episodes of ill health.
“There were times when I felt so ill I would have to snatch a few minutes to sit in the ladies’ room to gather myself before business meetings, to allow me to practise breathing exercises and try to regain my positivity,” she says.
“Yet the challenge has resulted in my meeting amazing people who helped me find a path to wellness, and also meeting so many people who for all sorts of reasons feel ill and unhappy because they don’t know how to make themselves feel better.”
She hopes they will discover their own route to feeling and looking better by selecting some of her 60 tips, which include simple yoga moves, diet changes, as well as taking a different perspective on life.
Page, who has just turned 60, says: “Of course, just like anyone else, I didn’t relish reaching my sixth decade, but I realise that I don’t feel any different inside and that it’s possible to stay young by keeping the mind active and alive, trying new things, and regularly helping my body to stay fit and well.
“I also realise that life is wonderful and we should enjoy every minute of it.”
Nikki Page gives her 10 top tips to help you feel and look better.
Nothing ages a person more quickly than bad posture, whereas good posture stretches the spine, improves digestive function and boosts confidence, says Page.
“Walk tall by positioning your hips slightly forward, imagine an invisible thread from the top of your head to the sky, tuck your chin in, and relax the shoulders,” she advises.
“You will positively glide and look five years younger.”
WELCOME LIFE’S GLITCHES
Occasionally our best-laid plans are thwarted through no fault of our own, she says.
“Rather than rail against fate, I always look to see what new opportunity has arisen because of the unexpected changes,” says Page.
“I try to take the view that there’s a reason for the change or obstruction to my progress - I don’t believe in coincidences.
“Everything that happens gives us a chance to re-evaluate what we are doing, meet new people, do something else, or even just give us a break in our day.
“With that perspective you will be less stressed and open to exciting, new possibilities.”
CREATE A SPA
Declutter the bedroom, put on clean sheets, prepare a flask of herbal tea and leave a glass of water by the bedside.
Ensure both bedroom and bathroom are a cosy temperature, put a pile of clean towels by the bath, turn off your phone and hang ‘do not disturb’ signs on each door.
Light incense sticks, perfumed candles, and add an essential oil, such as ylang ylang or jasmine and lavender, mixed into an apricot kernal or another base oil.
“Play a CD with soothing sounds, maybe sea sounds, to help waft you into a dreamy place,” says Page.
“After the bath, massage your body with a scented oil or cream, and do long yoga stretches while your body is still warm and before wrapping up to rest.”
Appreciate nature, whether it’s birdsong, a beautiful window box, or a walk in the park, she urges.
“Even a couple of minutes focusing on nature calms the soul, and if you’re walking, try to notice every tree, flower and bird - it’s almost as good as a mini-vacation.
“If I’m stuck in a traffic jam, I always try to look at something beautiful to stop me feeling aggravated. It’s amazing how in built-up areas, a lone flower or tree can raise the spirits.”
BREATHE TO PROGRESS
Deep breathing can contribute hugely to relieving stress, and a simple breathing exercise, combined with positive thinking, can boost your wellbeing.
n Place the first and second fingers of your right hand on your forehead, the third and fourth fingers lightly on your left nostril and your thumb on your right nostril. Exhale to a count of five.
n Close the right nostril with your thumb and inhale deeply through the left nostril to the count of five.
n Close both nostrils, holding your breath for a count of five. Exhale slowly through the right nostril for a count of five.
n Release both nostrils but stay without breath for a count of five and then repeat in reverse. Repeat four times.
“It’s remarkably effective if, as you exhale, you let go of whatever is troubling you,” says Page.
“When you inhale, breathe in what you most desire - love, joy, abundance, or whatever’s most important to you.
“You are breathing out what you don’t want in your life and breathing in what you do.”
Life’s too short to spend it trying to exact retribution on those who don’t deserve our time or energy, Page advises.
“All I can tell you is bitterness held inside shows on the outside, and I’m convinced it leads to poor health and illness.
“If someone betrays you and you can’t avoid them, it can be tough, but tell yourself you don’t have to trust them again. Let the guilty party feel the guilt and strain. It’s amazing how things have a way of sorting themselves out.”
Good friends are much less expensive and more fun than psychoanalysis, says Page.
“I could never have got through some of the very difficult times in my life without my friends,” she says.
“Nurture your friendships, be thoughtful to your friends, listen to their problems as much as they listen to yours. Don’t hold grudges, talk through any disagreements, and keep in touch with them if they move away.”
Meditation, or quiet time, is food for the soul. If you nurture your soul, the more at ease you are likely to be, says Page.
“Find somewhere quiet and sit on a chair with a straight back. Play a meditation tape softly in the background,” she says.
“Gently place your right ankle over your left and relax your hands in your lap, your right hand gently resting in your left palm. Count up to 60 and imagine light pouring into your body.”
“Then count all the blessings in your life and ask your God or the universe for guidance in whichever part of your life needs reassurance.”
Don’t try to blank your mind, rather accept the torrent of thoughts swirling through your head and be aware of them like an outsider watching them, she advises.
Concentrate on the light flooding your body and let peace wash over you.
Helping someone else can make you realise how blessed you are, says Page.
“Help a mum with a pram, smile at an elderly person in the street, volunteer for a charity or at a local school or project.
“Even little things mean a lot and somehow helping someone else always makes you feel better and more alive.”
GRIN AND BEAR IT
Going to a mirror and smiling is an easy way of making yourself feel better, she says.
“At the risk of having people think you are marginally strange, smile at them.
“It’s amazing how infectious smiling can be and it eases tension and sets you off on the right foot with anyone you’re meeting.”
n INFORMATION: The Little Book Of Wellbeing: 60 Ways To Look Good And Feel Great by Nikki Page is published by Cico Books, priced £8.99. Available now.