A healthier lifestyle

Most of us in healthcare are working harder than ever and this is not necessarily good for our general health and well-being

Arthur Cummings

Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2016

An ophthalmologist friend in South Africa is world champion at the modern pentathlon for the over 50’s. He has a very healthy lifestyle. He works hard at ophthalmology, at his multi-disciplined sport and his family life. What I had in mind for this piece on living a healthier lifestyle is not going to spend quite as many calories as my multi-talented friend. I want to go back to basics.

Most of us in healthcare are working harder than ever and this is not necessarily good for our general health and well-being. It takes us away from important issues such as exercise, loved ones and time to recharge. Modern medicine has increased treatments available to us when we are ill, with new drugs and devices to help improve our odds of recovery. There are however some preventative measures that we can take to reduce our risk of needing these modern treatments ourselves.

Our daily work lives are stressful. The obvious thing to do is to reduce stress at work. Create and foster excellent relationships. This starts with mutual respect. Something that works for us is hiring for attitude and then teaching the required skills. Creating a good work environment plays a big role in leading a healthier life.

Get some exercise during the day by walking as much as possible. Take the bicycle to work, park your car further away, and take the stairs, anything that gets you moving. There are also exercises that you can do while sitting at your desk. The key is to move as much as possible.

Eat healthily, eat less and reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. Fizzy drinks are out and drinking water is the healthier alternative. Snack on fruit and nuts. Red wine and dark chocolate in moderation are been accredited with health benefits. The 5-2 diet is being acclaimed to be a healthy way to manage weight and increase health. Stop smoking.

Take care of the important people in your life. Take regular breaks. Play sports, get involved with clubs and expand your social network. Bridge, golf, tennis, social clubs – it doesn’t matter. Just get involved with things that are not part of your daily work routine.

If music isn’t part of your life, make it part even if it’s just listening to music regularly. Switch off your smart phone’s internet capabilities when you’re out with people. Spend quality time with the people right in front of you.

Finally take care of yourself: your spirituality, your mind (reading, meditation, yoga) and your approach to life in general. A good friend once said that her quality of life greatly improved when she reduced her expectations. Be thankful for all the small things. Gratitude is possibly the number one attribute that leads to personal happiness. And always remember to laugh. And here are a few tips to help improve your mental health.

1. Get your to-do list out of your head and into one central place / list

2. Set calendar alarms on your phone so that you don’t have to continually remember everything

3. Set filters. “Information overload” can be better managed with “good filtering” – don’t give all emails the same importance. Important and urgent emails have priority and they should be dealt with first. All others can be dealt with later

4. Opt for “good enough” wherever possible on the little decisions so that you have more time for the more important decisions

5. Regularly triage and prioritise new items

Stay healthy!