1 Thing You Can Do Today

Make a meal plan

Combine decision fatigue with the cost of living crisis and it is easy to see how your stress levels peak around mealtimes. Making a meal plan might help.

Meal planning involves creating your weekly food menu ahead of time. Whilst there are plenty of people offering templates and ‘hacks’ at a cost, getting started can be as simple as using a pencil and the back of an envelope.

What are the benefits of meal planning?

Meal planning reduces the mental load of keeping yourself and your family fed, it lessens food waste and overall saves you time and money (no more after-work trips to the supermarket!).

Meal planning has also been shown to increase the diversity and quality of food people eat.

Easy ways to get started

1. Tackle dinners first. These are the meals that often end up as take-away if you leave the decision to the last minute.

2. If planning for a family, choose several meals you know are well received, then ask the kids or your partner to suggest something for the other nights.

3. Make your shopping list as you go. Online orders will save you even more time and reduce impulse buys.

4. Try doubling recipes. Leftovers can make great lunches or can be labelled and put in the freezer for another night. ‘Future you’ will thank you!

5. Do not expect perfection, you are human! If you skip a day, do not worry. Just pick up where you left off and keep on going.

Stepping Safely: Smarter Ways to Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls

Slips, trips and falls are some of the most common workplace hazards and can result in serious injuries.

To keep you and your colleagues safe, here are some tips to minimise the risk of accidents at work.

1. Beware of spills

Whether it is your morning green juice or a rogue plastic bag, unexpected spills on the floor are common causes of slips. Where possible, clean up small spills immediately to prevent accidents, otherwise let someone know so the cleaning crew can be called.

2. Keep your space tidy

Not only does keeping your desk drawers closed look neat, it also stops them becoming trip hazards. Keep things like handbags off the floor as well.

3. Mind the cords

Always use the power point closest to you and avoid trailing cables across walkways to prevent tripping hazards.

4. Pick up after yourself

A moment spent to scoop up stray pens can save you and your co-workers from potential slips or trips.

5. Use handrails on stairs

This is not a suggestion to slide down the handrails, fun as it may be! Always use handrails when going up or down stairs. It helps keep your balance and you are less likely to fall.

6. Maintain clear sightlines

Also known as watch where you are going! When carrying anything large, if you cannot see past your load, find another way to move it.

7. Furniture is not a ladder

Do not be tempted to save time and climb on the shelves or other furniture to reach high shelves. Do yourself a favour, get a ladder!

8. Mind your load

Be careful on stairs and uneven surfaces, especially if you are carrying something.

9. Watch your step

Keep hallways and walkways free from clutter. In rainy weather, take extra care entering the workplace as slips are more likely. Do not rush. We are all busier than ever before, but try and slow down – hurrying and frustration are big human factors in slips, trips and falls. Always use appropriate footwear with slip-resistant soles for added grip.

10. Do not get distracted!

Mobile phones make it easy to use the time moving between spaces to catch up on emails or make phone calls, but distraction is a significant contributor to slips, trips and falls. Remember that when you are tired, you are more easily distracted and prone to accidents.

These simple actions do not take much time or effort but they make a big difference when it comes to keeping you and your colleagues safe.

Why Do We Resist Rest?

Rest is sleep’s poor cousin. Something to fit in when we can but rarely a priority. Yet taking time out for ourselves every day brings many benefits of its own.

Busyness, or having lots of demands on your time, has become something of badge of honour.

Asked how we are, we are as likely to answer ‘busy’ as we are ‘good’ or ‘fine’ – almost like we are assuring ourselves we are in demand and important, says psychologist and BBC radio presenter Claudia Hammond, author of The Art of Rest: how to find respite in the modern age.

And research led by Columbia marketing professor Silvia Bellezza shows that people perceive others who are busy – and who use products indicating they are busy (like a Bluetooth headset for multitasking) – to be important and impressive.

This cult of busyness has a downside, says Hammond, and it is that we struggle to fit in rest.

What exactly is rest?

Rest is anything that helps you to relax, switch off from worrying, take a break, and take a pause, says Hammond on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) radio show Tapestry. Rest can be different for everyone. It can be active (going for a walk or run) or passive (reading or listening to music).

Rest is not the same as sleep. Sleep is an essential function. Without it, every system of your body is affected, from your cognitive function to your immunity. When you are sleep deprived, your body will eventually force you to sleep.

Resting, on the other hand, is not valued nearly as much as sleep. It is often something we fit in at the end of the day if we can, when everything else is done.

Yet ‘waking restfulness’ is good for us – physically, by reducing blood pressure and heart rate, and mentally and cognitively, through boosting mood, memory and our ability to concentrate. Rest allows you to take a break when you are awake to let your mind shut off.

What is stopping us resting?

Rest does not always come easily. You may put up barriers that prevent you from taking time out, says PsychCentral. Some common ones include:

  • Believing rest is the same as being lazy, and feeling guilty about it.
  • Being a perfectionist and setting yourself impossibly hard goals.
  • “Even though we may not recognise it as perfectionism, at times we are desperately trying so hard to be perfect by doing, accomplishing, and achieving everything we set our minds to,” says psychologist Dr Kelly Vincent. This may affect your ability to rest, she says, because of a fear that your life will spin out of control if you engage in a period of mental rest.
  • Being uncomfortable or afraid to rest. You may find you get bored when resting, or that having a rest means you have to stop doing whatever it is you are doing and fear this will set you back.
  • Having invasive thoughts. Ruminating and worrying can stop you fully resting. You may worry about getting all your work done, what you are going to have for dinner, even what others think about you resting!

The Rest Test

Claudia Hammond led a team in a 2019 study called The Rest Test, the largest global survey on rest ever conducted. The online study of 18,000 people from 135 countries found that regardless of income, two-thirds of people said they wanted more rest.

Hammond says that while often we are very busy and have too much to do, there is pressure to be achieving all the time. We live in an era with information at the touch of a button, and our social media feeds are full of people doing amazing things.

For many people in The Rest Test survey, the prospect of switching off and resting was associated with anxiety and guilt.

“We set ourselves high standards,” says Hammond. “We want to be fit, look a certain way, or cook amazing meals for our guests.”

Even during the pandemic there was almost a pressure to do lockdown well, she says. “Pressure to learn new things, make amazing sourdough bread – you needed some sort of achievement. Whereas the second time we had lockdown it was enough to get through.

“And I think the other thing is that the boundaries between work or not working have become really blurred, because technology has allowed them to do that,” says Hammond. “With so many people working from home during the pandemic, that is only increased.”


How much rest?

If you are thinking to yourself “well, I cannot fit in any time to rest because I am too busy,” Hammond says that we all have wasted moments in our day that we could reframe as resting.

This could be time commuting on a train or bus, time spent in a queue, or minutes spent waiting for someone or something.

Hammond says she new reframes wasted time as rest by thinking “yeah, I am going to rest now for 10 minutes, I have got a gift now of a break.”

When you are working and caring – whether for children or older relatives – carving out rest time is difficult, Hammond admits. She recommends prescribing yourself at least 15 minutes a day of something you find restful. This could be having a coffee in your garden or balcony, going for a walk, reading, or watching a favourite TV show.


Top 10 most restful activities

According to The Rest Test, these are the top 10 activities people find the most restful:

  1. Reading
  2. Being in a natural environment
  3. Being alone
  4. Listening to music
  5. Doing nothing in particular
  6. Walking
  7. Taking a shower or bath
  8. Daydreaming
  9. Watching TV
  10. Meditation or practising mindfulness

Are You a Morning Mover or Afternoon Shaker?

There is boundless research on the best type, duration, intensity and frequency of exercise, but until now, not so much on the timing of it. What is clear though is that whatever time of day we get moving, exercise is good for us. Here is a quick refresher on just some of the benefits.

1. Heart health

Exercise improves overall cardiovascular health and reduces your risk of heart disease. It strengthens your heart muscle, lowers blood pressure, and improves circulation.

2. Chronic illness management

Regular physical activity is key to managing chronic conditions such as diabetes and osteoporosis.

3. Mood booster

Exercise releases endorphins – your body’s natural stress relievers. Studies have shown a clear benefit of regular exercise in mild anxiety and depression.

4. Strength and endurance

Consistent exercise will strengthen your muscles and bones as well as improve your endurance – all vital for healthy ageing.

Morning movers

One clear advantage of exercising in the morning is that you are less likely to skip a workout. At the start of the day, the usual post-work excuses just do not hold. Help to limit other possible reasons for skipping a morning workout by getting an early night, laying out your exercise clothes the night before and making sure you choose an exercise you enjoy for your early morning workouts.

Many people worry they are not natural early risers, but regular morning exercise can help adjust your circadian rhythm, helping you with that early wake-up.

Studies suggest that morning exercisers may experience a post-exercise reduction in blood pressure that may continue throughout the day.

And as a bonus, starting the day on a positive note with a workout can boost your mood and productivity.


Afternoon activators

Research suggests that physical performance indicators, such as strength and endurance, might peak in the afternoon. If you are training with personal bests in mind, shifting to afternoon workouts might be for you.

Afternoon exercise can serve as an effective stress relief valve, especially after a hard day. If you are looking to switch out some of your less healthy coping mechanisms, an end-of-day workout could be a game-changer.


Consistency is the winner

When it comes to exercise, the real winner is consistency. The important thing is to find the time that suits your schedule and lifestyle and stick to it. The benefits of exercise are not limited to a specific time of day, so get out there, get moving and step into a healthier you!


Unlocking the consistency code

Whether it be morning ‘sum salutations’ or an evening jog, there are ways to build a consistent exercise routine. Here are some tips:

1. Set realistic goals.
Becoming an Olympic swimmer might be a fun idea, but it is not a reasonable expectation for most. Stay realistic to avoid discouragement.

2. Start slow and build up.
Want to start running? Great! Start with a short walk-run, not a long-distance dash.

3. Consider your personal style.
Are you a lone wolf or do you prefer to be part of a pack?

4. Remember rest and recovery
You are not a machine. Rest and recovery are essential to avoid your gains being undone by sickness or injury.

5. Ditch perfectionism. We all have that friend who eagerly starts something, misses a day and then gives it up altogether. You are human – you will miss days and have days where you do not hit personal bests. That is OK. Keep going!

1 Thing You Can Do Today


Daydreaming, often dismissed as a distraction, is a mental activity with surprising health benefits. Beyond providing a momentary escape from the demands of daily life, daydreaming has been linked to improved cognitive function and enhanced creativity.

Research suggests that allowing the mind to wander fosters problem-solving skills and encourages innovative thinking.


Reduce your stress and boost your mood

You probably do it instinctively, but it turns out that daydreaming has a positive impact on stress reduction. Engaging in pleasant and imaginative thoughts during moments of relaxation can lower cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress.

Daydreaming has also been associated with enhanced memory consolidation. During these mental wanderings, the brain consolidates and organises information, potentially aiding in learning and memory retention.


Improve your problem solving ability

When your mind is allowed to wander freely, it can make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas, leading to novel insights and solutions.

During daydreaming, the brain engages in what psychologists call “incubation”, a process where the subconscious mind continues to work on a problem even when the conscious mind is at rest. This incubation period allows the brain to consider alternative perspectives, and generate new ideas and think divergently.

Research has shown that people who take breaks and engage in mind-wandering during tasks requiring creativity often demonstrate improved problem-solving abilities compared to those who remain intensely focused.

Eat Smarter

Fresh Ginger

Fresh ginger is not just for stir fries, it is a nutrient-packed powerhouse that can do wonders for your wellbeing. Here are eight reasons to eat more fresh ginger.

1. Digestion

Ginger contains gingerol, a bioactive compound that kickstart the digestive process, reducing bloating, indigestion, and nausea. That is why so many motion-sickness supplements include ginger.

2. Anti-inflammatory

Gingerol is also a powerful anti-inflammatory compound. Anti-inflammatories can potentially lower the risk of chronic diseases like arthritis and heart conditions.

3. Immunity

Ginger is a nutrient-packed immunity booster. Rich in antioxidants, it strengthens your body’s defenses, helping you fend off common colds and flu.

4. Pain relief

Ginger is often used as a natural pain reliever, and clinical trials have shown it is effective in reducing pain, although more research is required. Its analgesic properties make it effective in soothing various types of pain, from menstrual cramps to muscle soreness.

5. Mood booster

Research suggests ginger can positively impact mood by influencing serotonin levels in the brain. Chemicals found in ginger can interact with the serotonin receptor responsible for antidepressant effects.

6. Weight management

Ginger can help you manage your weight by promoting a feeling of fullness. Additionally, its thermogenic properties can give your metabolism a gentle boost.

7. Cognitive clarity

Ginger’s antioxidants are thought to protect your brain against the oxidative stress behind neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.

8. Nutrient-rich

Ginger contains essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, B6, and potassium, making it a wholesome addition to your diet.

Are You a People Pleaser?

Do you want people to see you as ‘good’, always put others’ needs first and go out of your way to make life easier for everyone? If so, it may come at a cost.

Being warm, kind and agreeable are positive traits and an important part of being in nurturing relationships. But they can become problematic if they do not develop healthy boundaries.

“A lot of the time I didn’t like myself.” Says Natalie Lue, a relationship expert based in the UK, who describes herself as a recovering ‘people-pleaser’. I really had this fear of saying no.”

Lue, author of the book The Joy of Saying No, says ‘people-pleasing is when we suppress and repress our own needs, desires, expectations, feelings and opinions to put others ahead of ourselves so that we can gain attention, affection, validation, approval and love.

“Or we do it to avoid conflict, criticism, additional stress, disappointments, loss, rejection and… abandonment.”

Trying hard to make others happy comes at a cost, says clinical psychologist Jennifer Guttman, writing in Psychology Today. She says people-pleasing behaviour can lead to resentment and frustration, problems with decision making, and low self-worth.

Putting in boundaries

If you recognise yourself as a people pleaser, Guttman recommends some simple exercises.

- Practise saying ‘no’. This is a hard one for many of us, but it does not have to come across as uncaring. Assertive communication can be done in a firm but respectful way, says Guttman. Try statements like: “I would really love to be able to help you, but unfortunately I am already committed at that time.”

Lue suggests you do not start by saying ‘no’ to everything. She also discourages trying your first ‘no’ on someone you are most afraid of telling ‘no’, such as a parent or partner.

- Do not offer. Try to stop offering, doing things, or advising, unless you are specifically asked, advises Guttman. While this may be difficult if you are used to anticipating other people’s wants or needs, use restraint and wait to be asked.

If you are unsure, Guttman suggests doing something called a ‘resentment check-in’. When someone asks you to do something, do a body scan and ask yourself: “Were this behaviour never to be reciprocated or validated in any way, do I feel a twinge anywhere in my body?” if you feel a twinge, delegate, edit, or deny the request. If you do not then go ahead and accept.

- Make a decision by yourself. If you are used to making decisions in agreement with others, Guttman suggests you practise making small independent decisions, building up to bigger ones. Remind yourself that you do not always have to please everyone with your decisions. Start small, for example, by picking a restaurant, then work your way up to larger decisions as you feel more competent and confident in yourself.


Finding help

If you struggle to set boundaries and speak up for yourself, seek support from a trusted professional such as your doctor, a psychologist or counsellor.

Alcohol-Free Drinks: Are They Actually Good For You?

Most people would assume that an alcohol-free wine is healthier than a full-strength wine, but does it have inherent health benefits as well? Or is it just ‘less bad’ than the alcoholic options?

If you are choosing between an alcoholic wine or beer and a non-alcoholic one on the basis of health, the alcohol-free version wins hands down. Here is why:

1. You avoid the damage of alcohol

Any drink which does not contain alcohol will logically, allow you to avoid all the many health issues caused by alcohol.

These include but are not limited to: headaches and hangovers, higher levels of anxiety and depression, weight gain, sleep loss, liver disease, higher blood pressure, heart disease and several forms of cancer.

Remember, alcohol is a Group 1 carcinogen, which causes long-term damage to your body.

2. You get even more antioxidants

Many people say they drink wine for the health benefits of the antioxidants, particularly polyphenols such as resveratrol.

Polyphenols are a plant chemical linked with lowered blood pressure, improved response to insulin, and reduced oxidative stress. All these effects could help decrease the risk of heart disease.

Alcohol-free wines have the same polyphenols as regular wine – sometimes even more.

Plus, the removal of alcohol gives the antioxidants a chance to work on your immune system.

3. You will consume fewer calories

The alcohol-free versions of most alcoholic drinks are, by and large, lower in calories. For wines, beers and spirits, the zero version contains around a third to half the calories.

However, you need tp keep in mind three things:

A. What you mix it with. If you are drinking alcohol-free spirits and you are mixing it with a lemonade, cola or tonic, you are still consuming a lot of sugar.

B. What else if added. Just because it is non-alcoholic does not mean it is low in sugar or additives. Always read the ingredients.

C. How much you have. It is easy to knock back more alcohol-free drinks than you would an alcoholic drink.

Top Tips for Exercising in the Heat

As the temperature rises, so does our enthusiasm for outdoor workouts. With summers staying hotter for longer, how can you continue to exercise, even when it is hot?

If you are pushing yourself to exercise too hard when it is too hot, you do not just ruin your workout, you risk jeopardising your health.

Exertional Heat Illness, or EHI, is the term used for conditions that include heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope (fainting), and heat cramps.

It is vital to listen to your body and be attuned to symptoms of EHI. These include headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and light-headedness. If you start to become disoriented, or you blackout or faint, it is serious and you need to get immediate medical attention.

This does not mean you cannot still exercise outdoors in summer. You just have to follow some more considered strategies.

Strategy 1: Timing is everything

In summer, the timing of your workouts is just as important as the length and intensity.

Dr Michael Bergeron is a sports medicine researcher and is globally recognised for his research on exercise-heat stress. He consults to international tennis, basketball, soccer, hockey, and martial arts associations.

Dr Bergeron recommends steering clear of the sun’s peak hours between 10am and 4pm, when temperatures are at their highest. Instead, he suggests scheduling outdoor activities during the cooler periods of the day, such as early mornings or late evenings. It minimises your risk of overheating and maximises your performances – and your enjoyment.

When you exercise in the cooler part of the day, your body expends less energy trying to cool itself down, resulting in improved endurance and reduced risk of heat-related issues.

Strategy 2: Buddy up

Exercising with a friend is good for your motivation anyway, but in summer, it is good for your health too.

Dr Bergeron advises having a buddy with you when you exercise in the heat, in case anything goes wrong. Heat stress can creep up on you, and it can help to have someone else telling you to slow down or take a break.

Strategy 3: Drink water, the right way

Do not wait until you are thirsty before you drink. Thirst is a sign that you are already dehydrated.

How much to drink depends on the heat, the intensity of your exercise and your weight.

In advice for competitive tennis players, Dr Bergeron says you can lose between one and two and a half litres of water during each hour of competitive singles. Some players can lose up to 3.5 litres per hour. And although women generally sweat less than men, this is not always the case.

The key, according to Dr Bergeron, is to drink enough water before, during and after exercise.

  • Before your workout, make sure you are well hydrated and avoid caffeine.
  • During exercise, drink enough to feel comfortably full, even if you are not thirsty. If you are exercising for an hour or less, water is fine. Much longer and you might need a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink that includes sodium.
  • Afterwards, you need to replace lost fluid, electrolytes and carbohydrates.

Eat Smarter


Despite its name, buckwheat is not a grain but is actually a seed, although we tend to use the pyramid shaped kernels (groats) like a grain.

With plenty of other grains to choose from, why should you bother with buckwheat? Because it is:·     uten free. If you have coeliac disease or are intolerant to gluten, you can eat buckwheat. Just be careful to check labels if you are buying buckwheat products like soba noodles, as they may be combined with wheat.

  • Gluten free. If you have coeliac disease or are intolerant to gluten, you can eat buckwheat. Just be careful to check labels if you are buying buckwheat products like soba noodles, as they may be combined with wheat.
  • High in antioxidants. Buckwheat is rich in antioxidants, more so than many other grains. These include rutin (which may lower your cancer risk and improve your blood lipids) and quercetin (which may lower risk of cancer and heart disease). It is also one of the richest food sources of D-chiro inositol, a unique type of soluble carb that reduces blood sugar and so may help manage diabetes.
  • Rich in minerals. Compared to other grains, the minerals in buckwheat are particularly well absorbed. That is because buckwheat is relatively low in phytic acid, which can reduce the absorption of minerals. Buckwheat contains manganese, copper, magnesium, iron and phosphorus, all essential and sometimes lacking in our diet.
  • High in fibre. Buckwheat is rich in fibre, particularly insoluble fibre and resistant starch. These provide fuel for your beneficial gut bacteria, helping them increase in number.

To cook buckwheat groats for use in soup, salad, or as a side dish, first rinse them well before simmering in boiling water for 10 minutes, until they are tender but still have a little bite. Drain well.