06 Feb
2020

ADOPT A NEW ATTITUDE TO WELL-BEING, EXTENDING FROM FOOD AND FITNESS TO YOUR EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL HEALTH, FINANCES, WORK AND FAMILY. HERE ARE TIPS TO GET 2020 OFF TO A GOOD START, WRITES GLYNIS HORNING

CLEAN EATING AND DRINKING 

It’s a buzzword bandied about by stars from Gwyneth Paltrow to Beyoncé, but it’s rooted in the natural health movement of the 60s and sensible principles.

• Focus on whole, natural, unrefined foods: lots of veggies and fruits, whole grains and legumes, some lean protein (preferably free-range), and healthy oils and fats like avocados, raw nuts and seeds and their oils, and fatty fish several times a week.

• Avoid or minimise processed foods (“occasional treats are fine,” says dietitian Dudu Mthuli, nutrition and health manager at Unilever in uMhlanga), as they can lose healthy fibre and nutrients, while gaining unwanted saturated fats or trans salt, sugar, preservatives and other additives. Read labels.

• Drink plenty of plain water, she says – invest in a filter, and keep a jug in the fridge, with sliced lemon, cucumber, apple or mint leaves for flavour; sip unsweetened tea or coffee.

NON-TOXIC GREEN LIVING

It’s easier to live a healthier and more ethical lifestyle than you think.

• Buy local produce in season to lessen your carbon footprint (support farmers’ markets), and choose free- range and organic if you can afford it, but only if it doesn’t mean you buy and eat less of a variety of fresh fruit and veggies: “Be sure to get at least five portions a day,” says Dudu. Rinse well – even produce with inedible skins, as cutting through these with a knife may contaminate the insides.

• Also look for organic, non-toxic products to clean your body (your skin is your largest organ and some chemicals can penetrate it and be absorbed), as well as for your home, dishes and clothes.

• Keep plants around the home and your workplace to clean the air – they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

ACTIVE LIVING

Moving briskly for just 30 minutes a day will give your heart and other muscles a workout, keep you strong and help you maintain a healthy weight.

• Do what you enjoy, so you keep doing it: walk with a friend, dance with your partner, do squats watching the news. Three 10-minute sessions a day will do it. “Small pockets of exercise beat no exercise and add up,” says Durban fitness consultant Hayley Cassim of Gym in a Box.

• Work out with weights (or water bottles) for 10 minutes, to strengthen muscles and bones.

• Hire a trainer for a session to get guidelines on what works best for your body.

EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL WELLNESS

This is vital to cope with the challenges in turbulent times, helping you put problems in perspective and bounce back.

• Name your emotions: anger, stress? Don’t suppress or act on your emotions. Take a few moments to compose yourself (breathe deeply), then address them. If they’re more than you can handle, talk to an understanding friend, or a professional.

• Know the signs of depression – ongoing low mood, crying, agitation, angry outbursts, tiredness, changes in sleeping or eating patterns or libido, withdrawal. “Start by seeing a doctor who can rule out physical problems such as anaemia and hormonal imbalance, and refer you to other professionals,” says Cassey Chambers, operations director of the SA Depression and Anxiety Group.

• Get moving and eat sensibly: just exercising briskly for 20-30 minutes a day can help relieve stress and boost feel-good endorphins, and a balanced diet can improve mood.

WORK WELLNESS

Work should be satisfying and stretching, but today is often a major source of stress.

• Do regular stress awareness check-ins: Are you irritated, tired, does your head or stomach ache? Is there tension in your shoulders, neck or back? Stretch and take a break. Get up every hour for at least five minutes, take a brisk walk, trot up and down any stairs.

• Consider getting in an ergonomics expert to assess your workspace and make recommendations (visit www.nioh.ac.za or http:ergomax.co.za).

• Make time to connect with colleagues in a non-work way – at the water cooler, before meetings, or even after work to build rapport and support, and relax.

FINANCIAL WELLNESS

Financial problems fuel stress and depression, while adopting smart financial habits can give a sense of security and confidence.

• Cultivate the three Bs: budget, build savings, become aware of your spending habits.

• Go through your bank statements and chat to your partner or best friend to see where your money goes: instead of your daily cafe cappy, could you brew your own?

• Understand “spending addiction”: Like our hunter-gatherer ancestors, we get a dopamine rush when we find and acquire something we desire, but it’s short-lived, and can leave us in debt, cautions businesswoman Steph Vermeulen, pioneer of EQ in South Africa.

FAMILY WELLNESS

Nothing is more important than family – strengthen yours by checking in regularly, however busy.

• If you can’t eat a meal together each day, have a weekly family night. Cook or braai together, or have build-your-own pizza bases and toppings, and play board games. These teach children problem-solving, turn-taking, and how to handle winning and losing, and let you laugh together.

• Have periodic family meetings to discuss and delegate chores, plan outings and talk finances and budgets in an age-appropriate way.

• Volunteer together – join a beach, river or street clean-up, plant trees, serve a meal at a homeless shelter, it develops life-skills and compassion. Visit www. charitysa.co.za, www.greatergoodsa. co.za for organisations and causes in each province.

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