The New Year is hailed with resolutions to beat the festive bulge, cure the budget hangover and visit the gym. But, often by February or even by late January, unhealthy habits creep back in as stress once again starts taking its toll.
According to last year’s Profmed Stress Index, most South African professionals listed work (45.45%) and finances (23.07%) as their two main causes of stress.
Sadly, this year does not show any sign of letting up. Unfortunately for South Africans, the current economic conditions are set to endure as local and global uncertainty continues to thwart the country’s economic development.
This doesn’t bode well for stress levels and has a direct impact on health.
“Stress, sometimes called the silent killer, can exacerbate current chronic conditions and make professionals more susceptible to chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes,” healthcare scheme for South African professionals Profmed CEO Graham Anderson says.
He notes that managing stress is more important. But how do professionals include healthy habits in high performance environments?
“It’s about incremental changes and a measured approach to overindulgence,” Anderson says.
“The overindulgence from the festive season may make it slightly more difficult to get into a routine, but by making one new healthy choice a day, the transition to becoming healthier and happier will be more manageable and sustainable.
“Simple changes like adding a little extra onto a credit card payment, opting for water instead of coffee, or taking the stairs are all steps that can be taken.”
Anderson suggests these “Top Five” healthy habits to pick up:
- Try jogging or any form of exercise at least twice a week
- Drink water instead of fizzy drinks
- Eat healthy snacks like nuts instead of chips
- Take regular breaks from your desk
- Make regular visits to your doctor for scheduled check-ups
Top five healthy foods you should eat more of:
- Fruit (cherries, strawberries)
- Lean beef (mince or steaks)
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts)
- White meat (chicken without the skin and fish)
Top five easy exercises to try at home:
- High knees
- Jumping jacks
Top five tips to cope with stress:
- Cut down on caffeine
- Try to sleep at least eight hours a night
- Try breathing exercises
- Don’t take your work home with you
- Put your stress into context – is it really worth the stress?