Five ways to feeling fine
Want to adopt a healthier lifestyle? Focus on these small steps to reap big rewards...
Work, family life, housekeeping and exercise – it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes. We speak to the experts to find out ways to live better, with just a few easy tweaks.
1. Follow the 80/20 rule
Forget crash diets and focus instead on knowing which foods to eat and which to consider a treat. “We would all love to consume the perfect diet. However, for me, the key to staying healthy is moderation,” explains Ben Green, a nutritionist with Fitness First Dubai. “Avoiding complete food restriction and treating yourself every so often will keep you mentally sane and help turn these changes into a habit.” In short, eat cleanly 80% of the time, focussing on lean meats, fish, fruit, vegetables and legumes, and save the processed pastas, breads and sweet treats for the weekend. If in doubt, the mantra, according to Ben, is “If it grows, eat it. If it doesn’t grow, don’t!
2. Get more sleep
Running yourself ragged and laying your head down for a mere five or six hours a night will wreak havoc with your weight, your health and your mental wellbeing. “Sleep is one of the most critical ingredients for optimal brain functioning,” warns clinical psychologist Dr Saliha Afridi, from Dubai’s Lighthouse Arabia. “Even one night of not sleeping properly can leave a person with fewer resources to manage their mood, making them more negative and emotionally unregulated.” Stress and the overuse of screens are both huge contributors to today’s insomnia epidemic. Try to avoid screens for two hours before sleep, but if that’s impossible, dim the screen light to minimise the impact.
3. Manage your stress
Stress isn’t just a major culprit in sleep deficiency; it can also make us more susceptible to all manner of major illnesses and have an impact on our ability to enjoy everyday life. Dr Saliha recommends practising mindfulness, arguing, “this is becoming critical in the times we live in, when we are either too future-oriented or stuck in the past. Developing a practice of mindfulness will bring you into the present moment. The effects of this on the brain and your mental health are astounding.” Aromatherapy can help – use eucalyptus oil during the day to energise, and lavender at night to help you unwind.
4. Move more
“I cannot stress the importance of keeping moving enough, no matter how busy you perceive yourself to be,” says Ben. “Physical activity or exercise can improve your health and reduce the risk of developing several diseases, like type two diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.” While health professionals recommend 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily, there’s no need to do it all in scheduled blocks – just 15 minutes of interval walking, resistance training or stair climbing will put you on the path to better cardiovascular health.
5. Schedule some me time
With all the stresses of modern life, carving out some time to simply ‘be’ might sound like a luxury, but it’s imperative to both mental and physical wellbeing. “Take brief naps in the middle of the day, or take 15 minutes to switch off and go for a walk outside,” says Dr Saliha, who stresses connecting properly with friends is equally important. “We need heart to heart connections with our loved ones. Whatsapp, Skype and emails do not count.”