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Top Tips for Good Health and Wellbeing

Updated: Jul 10


Health and wellbeing

We're told, "You are what you eat." But that's only partially true – your health and wellbeing are reliant on your diet, sleep schedule, and even your social life. While we're all familiar with the standard advice to quit smoking or cut down on alcohol, how many of us take the time to walk in nature, see friends, and get a good night's sleep?


Driven by work, family, and other demands, these critical factors get put on the back burner. But, with World Wellbeing Week spanning from 24th to 30th June, it's a chance to take a fresh look at our lifestyles. Our physical, emotional, and social wellbeing might just depend on it.


In this article:



Physical Health and Wellbeing

It's hard to keep track of health and wellbeing advice. One moment, you're told sugar is the enemy; the next, it's fat. Hardly a day goes by without a commonplace foodstuff being labelled carcinogenic or harmful.


The problem is most people fail to get the basics right. According to NHS England, 26% of adults are obese, and around 60% are overweight. Little wonder with such confusing dietary advice. Almost 1 in 5 adults aren't getting enough sleep, and around a third of adults are considered inactive (as per government guidelines).


Let's cut the complexity. When it comes to physical wellbeing, there are three key pillars:

  1. Exercise   

  2. Diet     

  3. Sleep


Exercise

Exercise involves our strength, aerobic capacity (ability to keep going), and flexibility. The NHS advises adults to perform some kind of physical activity every day. According to NHS guidelines, adults should aim to:


  • Engage in strengthening exercises targeting all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) at least twice a week.

  • Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week.

  • Distribute your exercise sessions evenly across 4 to 5 days a week, or aim to be active every day.

  • Minimise prolonged sitting or lying down by incorporating activity breaks throughout the day.


Remember to stay hydrated as you exercise and drink water throughout the day.


Diet

Diet is much more complicated. While some argue that weight gain is affected by multiple factors, from genetics to medical conditions (and there's some truth to that), ultimately, it's a simple bit of arithmetic: calories consumed minus calories burned. If you burn more than you consume, you will lose weight.


Focus on enjoying a diet with low levels of processed foods. You should eat a sizeable portion of protein, whole grains, healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, plain yoghurt, etc.), and lots of fruits and vegetables. Nuts and seeds are also fantastic option for getting your micronutrients.

Mindful eating is a helpful strategy if you find yourself eating by habit. Counting calories could bring your diet into perspective, but it's also about recognising when you're feeling hungry.


Sleep

We all know how long we should sleep: 7-9 hours per night. That's not time spent in bed; it's being asleep.


The problem? Most of us spend too much time glued to screens, eating sugar, or watching TV in bed. This is toxic to a healthy sleep pattern. Sleep hygiene refers to having healthy habits around sleep. Here are some practical tips to try:


  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed at the same time every night helps set your body's clock, ensuring you get sleepy at the right time.

  • Keep your bed solely for sleep. Your mind will begin to associate getting into bed with going to sleep.

  • Wind down an hour or two before bed. Dim the lights, turn off the TV, and practice mindfulness, meditation, or read a soothing book.

  • Take a warm shower before bed. The body cools by a degree or so in preparation for sleep. A warm shower and a well-ventilated room shed body heat, helping you feel sleepy.

  • Do more exercise. Regular physical exercise tyres you out, preparing you for bedtime.

  • Reduce your caffeine intake. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages for more than 2 hours before going to bed.


Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing

Physical health and wellbeing underpin everything else. However, it's only one component of a successful, thriving life. Your mindset and emotional state are also critical – after all, it's hard to force yourself to go to the gym if you're depressed.


People often talk about stress in reference to mental health. We could label this 'negative mental health,' i.e., the things that make us feel worse. But it's only one side of the coin – the other is 'positive mental health.' You've got to have a reason to get up in the morning, a purpose that defines your life.


Let's take a look at each one:


Stress Management

Feeling stressed? Maybe you're snowed under with work, your personal relationships are rocky, or your financial situation is nosediving. Whatever the problem is, you can manage your stress.



  • Taking time to relax. Stress is a natural response that helps us deal with challenging situations. In the wild it was attacks from lions and tigers. Today, however, stress persists for weeks or months. Whether you're a carer or CEO, you need to take time to unwind, decompress, and let your stress levels drop.

  • Spend time in nature. It's well known that going into nature – be it a park, woodland, or seaside – helps us destress.


  • Pursue your interests and hobbies. Doing things you love and enjoy is the best thing for long-term resilience. It combats loneliness, meaninglessness, and connects you with a wider world.

  • Practice stoicism. For more than 2,000 years, stoicism has been a trusted stress buster. It teaches us to accept the things we can't control and take action for the only thing we can – our response.


Positive Thinking and Gratitude

Positive thinking and gratitude practices are beginning to catch on. As Brits, we all love a good moan, but we've got a lot to be thankful for. Simple adjustments like saying positive affirmations – for example, "I am worthy of love and respect" or "I am in charge of my thoughts and emotions" – help reassert control over your thought processes.


Meanwhile, taking a few moments a day to journal the things you are grateful for puts your problems into perspective. Rather than focusing on the negatives, sometimes we need a positive outlook.


Social Wellbeing

Did you know loneliness is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day? Humans are social creatures; we crave other people – even if we don't like to admit it.


Building and maintaining strong relationships provide support in every aspect of our lives. We can decompress after a bad day at work, provide meaning to our lives, and spend more time engaged and active.


Community engagement is another critical aspect of social wellbeing. Involvement in activities like volunteering not only benefits others but also creates a sense of purpose and belonging. Social isolation, however, often leads to a spiral of negative feelings of fear and anxiety.


Of course, most people work jobs that consume much of their time. Maintaining a work-life balance is key to not burning out and ensuring you get enough time with your loved ones. Remember, you work to live; you don't live to work.


Lifestyle and Environment

Physical, mental, and social factors come together to form your overall health and wellbeing. However, there's another factor that underpins everything: your environment.

Just as putting an animal in a cage or dysfunctional environment leads to distress, so the same is true for people. Follow these tips to create a healthy living environment:


  • Declutter your space. Clear out unnecessary items to create a more organised and peaceful environment, which can reduce stress and increase productivity.

  • Get natural light. Spend time outdoors or open your curtains to allow natural light in, as it boosts mood and improves overall wellbeing.

  • Add plants and flowers. Incorporate greenery and blooms into your space to enhance air quality and bring a touch of nature indoors, promoting relaxation and happiness.


  • Reduce your screen time. Limit the time spent on electronic devices to alleviate eye strain, improve sleep, and encourage more face-to-face interactions.


Final Thoughts

There you have it – a complete overview of everything involved in your health and wellbeing. Forget headlines warning against a particular foodstuff or telling you to drink an extra glass of red wine. This World Wellbeing Week, take the time to look at the basics. Fix your habits, get out into nature, and spend time with your loved ones.


You can also get an accurate assessment of your current health status. Book a Well Man or Well Woman check with Health Klinix. It evaluates your fundamental health markers, identifying key areas for improvement. Get tested today.






References:

 

Author: Dr Joseph Nightingale, MBBS, MSc


Reviewed and approved by:

Dr Ravi Gowda, Consultant in Infectious Diseases and Travel Medicine

MBBS, MRCP(UK), DTM&H, MRCGP, DCH, DRCOG, DFFP

 

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