Category Archives: Well-Being

Celebrate a stress free Christmas this year

Despite all the pretty decorations and celebrations Christmas time can be a stressful time of year for some people. Whether it is rushing to get all of your work tidied up before the close of the office, financial distress about how to afford presents for everyone, worry about how to put on the perfect feast or going off the rails of your summer body plan you can overcome it this Christmas.

Christmas isn’t about giving the most expensive present, preparing the best meal, what you look like or how much work you get done. Christmas is about sharing a laugh with your loved ones, spreading goodwill and Christmas cheer in the community, appreciating others and being kind to yourself. It is about spreading joy, love and peace. So focus on creating an atmosphere of joy, love and peace rather than looking at Christmas as an event to organise. Not only will this leave you feeling less up tight but it will also make you have a better more meaningful festive season.

We do however recognise sometimes it can be hard to focus on sharing the Christmas spirit when you are feeling stressed out so here are some tips to make it easier.

For the waist line:

  • Go easy on the starches such as cereals, rice, pasta, cakes, pastries, biscuits as well vegetables such as potatoes, yams, carrots, parsnips and swede. These foods drive our insulin levels up resulting in our bodies storing fat. Instead have an extra slice of turkey and opt for non-starchy vegetables such as cabbage, kale, spinach, sprouts, leeks, broccoli and  cauliflower.
  • Go for red wine over white wine, beer or spirits as red wine is higher in antioxidants and contains less “empty” calories than the others. The ideal would be opting for no alcohol – but we have to realistic here, it’s Christmas! Have your large Christmas meal at lunchtime rather than in the evening.
  • No snacking as this is really the way to pack on the extra weight. Try to ensure your meals are sufficiently dense in nutrition to last until the next one. If you must snack try to go for a slice of meat, cheese or vegetables rather than crisps, cakes or biscuits.
  • Prepare desserts with real fruit or dark chocolate over milk.

For the task orientated person:

  • Make a list of achievable tasks then cut it in half. Remember people are going to be impacted more by the feelings of love and joy rather than if you had fancy napkins or not.
  • Share the duties amongst your colleagues, family or friends.
  • Arrange childcare in advance if you can afford it to take the stress out of carting the kids around whilst trying to get everything sorted.

For the stressed out worker:

  • Be realistic with the work you can get done before your holiday, prioritise your work load and flag any tasks that might not be able to get done as early as possible with your manager.
  • Identify tasks that can be pushed back until the New Year and leave them until then.
  • If you are really struggling to get your work done before your break perhaps skip one of the many Christmas get togethers or go but don’t get carried away.
  • Limit your alcohol intake and go home at a reasonable time so you will be refreshed and ready to work at your peak the next day.

For the financially burdened:

  • Shop smart, the only thing more stressful than Christmas is starting the New Year with a mountain of debt. Get to the shops as early as possible to avoid the stressful shopping mall hustle. Online shopping is also a great tool to check out what’s out there and to compare prices without the high pressure of being in store with hundreds of people and a store attendant hovering over your shoulder.
  • Shop around for food and drink. You don’t need to get everything from the one store make the most of local produce on sale at markets and buy drinks and non perishables in bulk from discount stores.
  • Don’t be shy to ask others to bring things.
  • Do a secret Santa.
  • Get the kids to make home made cards for friends and family and even gifts for some like Grandparents who love that sort of thing.

For more Christmas spirit:

  • Invite someone in the community who doesn’t have anyone to spend Christmas with to join you. It may be that lady down the road or someone from work who has family overseas. Put the offer out there for them to decide.
  • Volunteer as a family or group of friends or colleagues to help out a local charity prepare Christmas lunch or hampers for those in need. You will help restore hope to some of the most marginalised and hopeless groups in the community and will be surprised at how good it will leave you feeling. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
  • If you don’t already have Christmas traditions, establish some. Attend a carol concert, pay a visit to Santa, or go to a service at your local Church or a friends Church even if you are not very religious it can help you focus on the meaning of Christmas is a lovely experience, do some Christmas baking, watch a Christmas movie or leave out cookies and milk for Santa.

We hope the above tips will help you experience a stress free very happy Christmas full of laughter, hugs and smiles. The team at Docmate sincerely wishes you a very happy Christmas and will be raising a toast to all of our followers and supporters. Thank you for your support in 2012 and we look forward to sharing an exciting 2013 with you all!

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The importance of taking a real lunch break

As important as it is to bring a nutritious lunch to work, it is equally vital to take a step away from your desk to take a mental break. Most work places contractually allow an hour for lunch however recent studies suggest that one in four people are too busy to take a break for lunch, one in three eat lunch at their desk and the average person takes less than 20 minutes each day for lunch away from their desk (Gandhi, 2012). Many people work through lunch in order to save time and avoid working late however it rarely works to their benefit.

If you don’t take a lunch break you may want to reconsider after reading this post because there are definite health and productivity advantages in doing so. Of course, to a degree, the need for breaks definitely depends on the demands of your job. The more intense and demanding your job, the more necessary it is to take breaks.

Taking a lunch break and nourishing the brain with food and fresh air will not only boost your mood and leave you feeling refreshed thus increasing your afternoon productivity levels it will also help you maintain your weight. If you habitually eat while you’re working or at your desk, elevated stress levels lead to increase cortisol, which leads to fat accumulation in the body. There is also more of a chance you will overeat, because the distractions from work cause you not to realise that you’re full until you’ve over eaten (Gandhi, 2012).

Making a conscious effort to take a lunch break improves your productivity as it energises and refocuses you. It also encourages you to work more effectively as you are working towards a short term reward. It will also leave you feeling happier and less prone to mood swings, therefore being a more pleasant and motivated employee. Many workers worry about what their boss and co-workers will think if they take a break. You will need to get over this and allow yourself to detach psychologically as well as physically. If you are so stressed out that you are worried about work the entire time you are taking a lunch break, there won’t be any benefit. So as hard as it is to let go of the stress and get over about what others will think, it will be well worth it and you will be pleasantly surprised at your mood lift and increased productivity.

Once you master the art of taking a decent lunch break we dare you to step it up a notch and boost your endorphin’s by taking an express gym class or going for a power walk in a nearby park. Many gyms offer express thirty minute classes at lunch or gather some workmates or friends that work in the same area to do a thirty minute power walk.

So take the plunge of getting into a regular habit of taking a lunch break. Even if it means taking fifteen minutes more than you usually do to step outside for some fresh air. Fifteen minutes is better than nothing.

Make taking a lunch break a New Years resolution. Go on we dare you. You will be surprised at how your productivity and mood increases. We’d love to hear your feedback, tips and experiences of how taking a lunch break benefits you.

References

Gandhi, Kumud. 2012. The importance of lunch. Retrieved 24 November 2012 from http://www.mentalhealthy.co.uk/lifestyle/food/the-importance-of-lunch.html

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Best exercise for people with limited time

Today’s lifestyles are so busy it’s easy to push exercise to the bottom of the list when juggling work and personal life commitments. However we all know just how important it is to engage in regular physical activity and the benefits it provides such as weight loss, energy, general satisfaction in life and protection from numerous illnesses.

It is all about finding the exercise that suits you and that you enjoy and don’t find a chore. Then it’s about making time and prioritising it and setting yourself goals. Making simple lifestyle changes to your daily routine can also help to keep you physically active and boost your metabolism.

Here in Australia our obesity rate is through the roof. It has more than doubled over the past 20 years and Australia is now ranked one of the fattest developed nations in the world with around 37% of Australians being overweight and 25% obese.

We need to knock this epidemic on the head and start to change our lifestyle and habits. Incorporating regular exercise teamed with a healthy balanced diet is a key strategy to reducing these statistics and improving the lives of Australians.

Here are some tips for incorporating physical activity into your everyday routine:

  • Keep off public transport a few stops earlier and walk the rest of the way home or to work
  • Make good use of your lunch break go outdoors for a power walk you will come  back to work feeling more energised and able to focus
  • Let the kids ride their bikes with you jogging beside
  • Opt to take the stairs over elevators and lifts
  • Get up 30 minutes earlier than the rest of the family or than you normally would to take some time to go for a job or to do some yoga
  • Turn cleaning into a work out
  • If you have a dog or like dogs borrow a friends or neighbours and take it for regular walks
  • Make conscious decisions to do active activities on the weekend or after work. Instead of sitting at your computer or in front of the TV get outdoors and active whether it be throwing a ball around in the park or walking around a shopping mall instead of online shopping

While it is certainly important to make small changes like the above to your everyday life it is equally important to realise you should be engaging in at least three thirty minute sessions of moderate to high physical activity per week. There is no quick fix or round about ways to becoming physically fit and active. You have to make the time and make exercise a priority in your life. So we urge you to make a commitment today to choose your favourite type of exercise whether it be walking, surfing or tennis and we’re sure you will feel better for it!

For any recommendations around what sort of physical exercise is right for you or for any fitness related queries Docmate recommends consulting your GP.

References:

Better Health Channel (2012). Obesity. Retrieved 14 October 2012 from  http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Obesity

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Healthy lunch boxes for happy kids

A healthy school lunch is the best thing you can send your kids off to school with in the mad morning dash to get out the door. Often hectic routines can get in the way of sending the kids off with a healthy lunch box of food to keep them going throughout the day.

Eating healthy foods helps children concentrate and learn and will set them up for the future with healthier eating patterns.  Encouraging children to select their own lunch box items will mean they will be more likely to eat it. Setting a good example for your children is also important so try to set a good example with your own lunches and encourage your child to sit and eat before heading out to play.

There are so many processed foods such as muesli bars, cookies, crisps and crackers on the market which appeal to parents for their convenience and kids because of their high sugar and fat content. We’re not saying all these products are bad just to be wary of which products you buy we encourage you to take a look at the nutritional content and not to fill up your child’s lunch box of all of these sorts of items.

Some health food suggestions include:

  • Fruit: fresh or tinned and occasionally dried fruit as it is very high in sugar, low in fibre and stick to children’s teeth causing tooth decay.
  • Vegetables: try vegetables with a dip or a small container of mixed vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, capsicum and cucumber.
  • Dairy: a small drink of milk (freeze overnight and wrapped in a cloth in the lunch box), cooled fruit yoghurts, homemade versions of cheese and crackers (avoid sweet dips such as chocolate spread and oven-baked savoury biscuits are just as high in salt and fat as chips are so are best avoided).
  • Breads: attempt to include a variety of bread, particularly if children begin to lose interest in sandwiches. Try bread rolls, pita bread, flat bread, bagels, fruit loaf or buns, corn thins, scones, pikelets, muffins, crumpets, crisp breads to keep it varied.
  • Fillings: keep the sandwich fillings varied also with vegemite, peanut butter, different types of cheese, tuna, egg, sliced cold meats, grated carrot and lettuce, avocado, hommus, the list goes on.
  • Muffins and cakes: try making your own at home to include more fruit and vegetables and to eliminate additives. Sultana, carrot, zucchini, banana or pumpkin can be used in various baking.
  • Muesli and ‘breakfast’ bars: these are almost always too high in sugar and stuck together with fats and sugar. Try to avoid or keep to a minimum.
  • Water and milk: are the best drinks for children and can be frozen to help keep foods in the lunch box cool. Sweet drinks such as fruit juices, juice drinks, cordials, sports drinks, flavoured mineral waters, soft drinks are high in sugar and not necessary as they can increase the risk of tooth decay and are filling so may take the place of healthier foods.

Since time is usually of the essence you can prepare lunch boxes in advance the night before or some items can be prepared for the week and frozen such as bread, cooked meat, cheese, peanut butter, baked beans, mashed egg, yeast or vegetable spreads such as vegemite.

For more tips or information about your child’s lunch box or eating habits you can contact your school nurse, community health nurse, Dieticians’ Association of Australia or us here at Docmate and we will point you in the right direction.

References

Better Health Channel (2012).  Lunch Box Tips. Retrieved 14 October 2012 from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Lunchbox_tips#

Burrell, Susie (2007). How to pack a healthy kids lunch box. Retrieved 14 October 2012 from  http://www.taste.com.au/news+features/articles/1156/how+to+pack+a+healthy+kids+lunch+box

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Hygienist trips makes for happy teeth

Dental hygiene is an important element for everyone. Poor dental habits can lead to teeth decay, gum disease, infection, and not only the loss of teeth, but poor digestion and stomach problems. Not to mention the fact that of the pain both physical and to your pocket.

Daily flossing, mouth wash, and brushing (preferably with an electric tooth-brush) are an important habit to get into in order to maintain dental health. However it is also strongly advisable to annually visit the dentist or a dental hygienist to help get rid of any missed plaque and debris that can cause tooth decay and cavities as well as provide a general check up.

Caring for your teeth like this will reduce the risk of cavities, keep your gums healthy, your breath smelling fresh, your teeth whiter, can reduce the risk of heart attack. The heart attack reduction is a benefit less known about. The American Heart Association tracked more than 100,000 people for an average of 7 years in Taiwan. They found that those who had their teeth professionally cleaned at least once every two years were 24% less likely to have a heart attack and 13% less likely to have a stroke.

Measures you can take yourself in between dental appointments are to regularly floss, brush, gargle and also to limit you consumption of certain foods and drinks. For example caffeine is a major deteriorate of tooth enamel and sugars such as chocolate and candy can lead to the development of cavities. That is not to say you need to completely wipe caffeine and sugar out of your diet to have healthy teeth but you need to be aware of the risks and counteract them by limiting your consumption and brushing post consumption.

It pays to look after your teeth as many of us know poor dental health is a serious business. It can lead to more grave problems than just the loss of teeth and pain. Not being able to chew food properly will affect your digestion and limit what foods are available for you to eat. In turn this can lead to weak immune systems, weight loss, malnutrition, lethargy and much more.

DocMate highly recommends you visit the dentist at least once a year and you can book your appointment with a dentist in your area right here!

 

References:

Samadi, D (2012). Dental hygiene important for whole body not just your smile. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/03/28/dental-hygiene-important-for-whole-body-not-just-your-smile/

True, L (2012). Importance of Dental Hygiene. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://ezinearticles.com/?Importance-of-Dental-Hygiene&id=6679757

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