It’s the middle of winter, so it’s cold and flu season. South Africa also just recently withdrew its mask mandate meaning that we could potentially be exposed to more germs than we would be if everyone were wearing masks. On top of that, it will soon be spring, which is peak allergy season. If there was ever a time to take control of your health, it would be now. And there are various ways to do that just by making small changes in your life and home.
Don’t forget the dust traps
There are many spaces in your home that are massive dust traps and prime spots for germs to breed in. You might not want to think about it, but your sheets, pillows and PJs can be full of dead skin cells, unwanted germs, and tiny dust mites that increase your risk of suffering from allergies, hay fever, and asthma. Additionally, carpets and rugs attract a lot of dust and dirt, so be sure to clean these regularly, advises Aisha Pandor, CEO of SweepSouth. Even air pollutants like pollen, fungi and cigarette smoke get trapped in carpet fibres, and can trigger allergies and eczema attacks, so vacuum carpets and rugs at least twice a week, and more in high traffic areas. Another good cleaning habit is to use your vacuum cleaner on a low setting to give your curtains a quick once over to remove dust, while a clothes steamer can be used on curtains to refresh them.
Eat seasonal vegetables
Fruits and vegetables that are stored for a long period of time while being transported lose high amounts of nutritional value. This is why eating in-season fruits and vegetables is better for your health.
Chef Norman Heath of Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront agrees: “In-season fresh produce is nutrient dense and it also tastes better than anything that gets imported. Not only that, but it’s better for the environment, too, which works out better for everyone’s health in the long run.
“And, you will be supporting local farms, local markets and local employment, all with this one choice to buy in-season,” he adds.
Breathe it out
Meditation and deep breathing is something everyone can easily implement for their health. It reduces stress which, in turn, has endless benefits for your overall health. Stress suppresses your immune system and increases blood pressures, among other things.
Calm your mind by deep breathing, with longer exhales than inhales for a few minutes. Follow it by focusing on relaxing every part of your body, releasing tension as you go. You can do this whenever you’re feeling stressed, but it’s also a highly effective way to help you fall asleep at night.
Invest in a good mattress
Getting a good night’s rest should be high on our agenda of a healthy lifestyle, and an important part of achieving this is having a comfortable mattress. A good mattress supports your whole body as you sleep, keeping your spine in a neutral position, says Teljoy CEO, Jonathan Hurvitz. “You wouldn’t run a race without the right shoes, or climb a mountain without the correct gear, yet despite the fact that we spend up to a third of the day sleeping, we often don’t don’t consider how an old mattress, or one that isn’t offering adequate support, is affecting our quality of sleep,” he says.
With so many different types of beds to choose from, do research when choosing the bed that’s right for you. If you suffer from back pain or allergies, for example, a foam or latex mattress might be your best bet, or perhaps a soft mattress doesn’t give you adequate support, in which case a medium-to-firm mattress would be more comfortable.
Check your family’s medical history
Maintain and protect your health in the long run by finding out if any serious health conditions run in your family. An especially important one to know is whether there is a history of blood clots, says Dr. Helen Okoye of the World Thrombosis Day Steering Committee. Worldwide, more people succumb to the life-threatening conditions caused by thrombosis, the formation of a blood clot in blood vessels, than the total number of people who lose their lives to AIDS, breast cancer, and car crashes combined, every year.
You’re more likely to develop blood clots if you have family members who have had dangerous blood clots. This is because inherited causes of blood clots are linked to your genetics. People with a family history of life-threatening blood clots tend to develop thrombosis before the age of 45, although it is not very common. If you are aware of this pattern in your family Dr Okoye advises that you let your doctor know about it so they can make informed medical decisions any time you visit the hospital with an ailment. Knowing this also allows you to make the necessary lifestyle and dietary adjustments to avoid the problem.
Make time for fun and spend time with your loved ones
A story published by Time notes that social isolation can have severe effects on your mental and physical health. The sense of isolation and loneliness can lead to depression, anxiety and less movement, which is bad for your health.
The same article goes on to say that “A robust social life can lower stress levels; improve mood; encourage positive health behaviors and discourage damaging ones; boost cardiovascular health; improve illness recovery rates; and aid virtually everything in between. Research has even shown that a social component can boost the effects of already-healthy behaviors such as exercise”.
Bottom line – meet up with the people who bring you joy. Saturday 30 July is International Friendship Day, so make work of planning a dinner or going on a fun outing with friends to celebrate!
The old saying that your health is your greatest wealth is sage advice. When you’re feeling healthy you’re more confident, more productive and have a far greater ability to experience life richly.