Kick-start the new year with healthy habits

A new year often brings the excitement of a new beginning. While planning your 2021, consider how you can improve your ability to live a healthier and more productive life, at work, in your social setting and at home. 2021 should also be a year where we look back at what we’ve learnt during 2020 and take a decision as to which of those learnings we would like to, or need to, include for future reference. One such skill that undeniably set certain individuals apart from the rest is their high level of resilience when faced with uncertainty and crisis. Developing resilience is an important tool to help you deal with crisis, which could be linked to work pressures, your family, being diagnosed with a terminal illness or dealing with the fear and anxiety of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

Wellness is characterised as being a broad concept. We are therefore invited to think of wellness as meaning being healthy in many dimensions of our lives. That includes the emotional, physical, occupational, intellectual, financial, social, environmental, and spiritual.
These dimensions are interconnected, one-dimension building on another.

With this in mind, our first 2021 wellness communication focusses on resilience, with the aim of understanding what is meant by being resilient.

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to adapt to misfortune or a stressful life event. Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors.

Resilience can be learned!

Dealing with a crisis might make you feel like burying your head in the sand, but there are more productive ways to deal with the challengers we face. And in fact, Professor Keith Bellizzi, a professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Connecticut, believes that during times of crisis is the best time to learn and practice resilience.

There’s an old saying that goes, “Out of adversity comes opportunity”. With this in mind, if we address every crisis with the attitude that we need to discover the learning opportunity concealed in the crisis, our approach and our resilience to the crisis will change.

The key to becoming more resilient, as reported by several professionals, can be achieved by focusing on what is within your control:

  • review the situation logically
  • look for the good amid the stress
  • regulate the way you respond- manage your behavioral response through emotional regulation techniques.
  • develop a healthy social support system – do surround yourself with positive resilient individuals and stay clear of inflexible and fatalistic people
  • Self-care is critical, encompassing your physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.There are a number of free, evidence-based apps that you can access to help you.

Ways to support your mind and body, as advocated by various acknowledged sources:

  1. Avoid burnout by creating habits that allow daily downtime: to manage stress levels, make sure you have enough downtime every day from anything that causes you stress.

    Downtime can be napping, meditation, unwinding and so on. It can either be time spent doing nothing or doing something enjoyable. At least once a year, take time off work to go on holiday or to break your normal routine while doing things that you enjoy over a sustained period (eight days or longer). This allows your brain to replenish, allowing improved attention, motivation and productivity.

  2. Exercise: research has shown that people who exercise tend to have a great sense of achievement and feel good about themselves. Exercising is a way to detach from work, not just physically but also psychologically.
  3. Eat a healthy breakfast every day: The brain’s ability to store energy is limited so, after several hours of sleep, there is a need to replenish energy by breaking the overnight fast. Breakfast contributes towards immediate and long-term nutrition, allowing for improved cognitive and learning abilities.
  4. Stop smoking and overindulging in alcohol: Stress is one of the leading causes of drug and alcohol abuse. Drugs and alcohol, as well as smoking, are not only bad for your health but they impair productivity. They also reduce your immunity against various diseases, including cancers. Make your healthy lifestyle efforts count by stop smoking and overindulging in alcohol.
  5. Ask for help: When it comes to responsibilities at home, learn to ask for and accept help when you need it. While asking for help is not always easy, a break is an important way to take time off to look after yourself and replenish your energy stores.
  6. Counting your coins is a great way to alleviate financial stress: Crafting a budget and sticking to it isn't just for people who've run into hard times. A budget is a stress reducer. Budgeting helps in the following ways to ease financial stress: helping you build you savings; meet financial goals; get out of debt and build self-discipline.

By introducing the aforementioned habits, you will be adopting positive lifestyle practices and developing resilient characteristics.

Author:

Charleen Rix CFP®

Head of Healthcare, Sasfin Wealth