From A to Z: The ultimate guide to stay sane and healthy

This summer is different. Many of our clients are spending the weeks ahead in hot and humid Hong Kong. There’s no respite from your usual routines – if anything, you’ve got even more on your plate.  In these extraordinary times of uncertainty, taking care of your well-being is more important than ever.

We’re here to support you. As Asia’s largest natural health clinic, we’ve compiled our biggest ever health and wellness guide to make the months ahead as easy as A B C (well, almost!)

Practitioner recommended, client approved, these top tips will help you stay sane and healthy.  We’re in this together; we’ll get through this together.

The ultimate summer guide to stay sane and healthy

Accept that you can’t do it all.  The demands on your time and energy are likely greater right now as you juggle kids, careers and homes at a time when you’d typically slow down for the summer. Striving for perfection is unrealistic at the best of times. Go with “good enough” and  be kind to yourself. ~ Carole Bradshaw, Core Process Psychotherapist

Breathe.  What can be more simple than breathing? Consciously breathe in for a count of 4, pause for 2, breathe out for a count of 8, pause for 2, and repeat. This will activate your vagus nerve, which calms your whole-body system. This is effective in reducing anxiety and even panic attacks and helps to restore a sense of wellbeing. You shift from the ‘fight or flight’ sympathetic nervous system, pumping adrenaline and cortisol around your body, to the parasympathetic – a calm, relaxed, and much happier state.  Try it!  It works!   ~ Catriona Rogers, Counselling Psychologist

Choose what you focus on.  Do you consciously choose what you focus on? Do you watch inspiring videos, read uplifting texts, have meaningful discussions? Or are you addicted to the (mostly negative) news on the pandemic, protests and the planet? In the same way that you’re encouraged to eat healthy foods for a healthier body, feed your mind the good stuff that makes it healthy and happy, too.  ~ Catriona Rogers, Counselling Psychologist

Draw the line.  As best you can, put a line between work and home. Switch off work devices at a predetermined time in the evening.  ~ Aaron Anderson, Osteopath

Exercise outdoors.  Movement is key – especially now many of us are going to have super sedentary working lives for the foreseeable future (working from home plus home delivery of food, clothing and house supplies).  Schedule outdoor exercise: partner with a friend to walk, jog or run, or utilize the services of the many yoga, gym, pilates or boot camp businesses on offer to the community.  ~ Aaron Anderson, Osteopath

Faecalibacterium prausnitzii.  What if probiotics were celebrities and we only concentrated on the famous ones? Well, it’s time for a new rising star in the form of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii! This species of bacteria is seen in lower-than-usual levels in major depression and inflammatory bowel disease; and plays an essential role in the protection of the extremely important intestinal barrier. The good news is that this essential healthy bacteria can be increased by eating more fibrous vegetables containing a prebiotic called fructoligosaccharides – no capsules required! ~ Philip Watkins, Naturopathic Physician

Go plastic-free.  Change your plastic containers and bottles out for glass or stainless steel. With the high heat and heavy sun exposure in summer, plastics are prone to leech compounds such as BPA and BPS, which have been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and reproductive issues. Next time you go for a drink or take-away, bring your own container! ~ Dr Melissa Lee, Naturopathic Physician

Holistic detox. Follow these six steps to detox your body, mind and emotions.
1) Remove toxic foods and pollutants from your diet and home environment including the Dirty Dozen and plastics. Filter your water and domestic air. Ditch fried food, sugar and red meat for clean food. 2) Remove your “Endotoxins” and 3) Remove the pollutants in your liver and other organs. (You’ll need an expert Naturopath or Functional Medicine Doctor for these two steps). 4) Declutter. Clean up the chemicals and foods, and zen-up your home to remove clutter. 5) Remove toxic thoughts and emotions. Let go of whatever’s causing you inner conflict or guilt by living with more integrity. 6) Release spiritual skepticism and self-centeredness. Drop entitlement and any tendencies to believe you’re right. Open up and listen to more diversity of opinion. ~ Graeme Bradshaw, Senior Naturopathic Physician

Immunity – give it a boost.  Seven key factors influence your immunity – the first line of defense against coughs, colds and the dreaded coronavirus. Your mind, body, emotions, environment, community, spirit, and energy all need to be strong and balanced for optimal immunity. Stress, toxins, an unhealthy social network, a lack of purpose, poor diet and more can negatively impact your immunity. Look at all seven factors influencing your immunity, identify the gaps, and proactively work toward addressing them. Reach out if you need support.  ~  Dr Benita Perch, Naturopathic Physician

Journaling.  Writing helps to channel your emotions. Emotions are fluid, like water, and they touch every organ and cell in your body. By recording your thoughts and feelings you can express your emotions, allowing them to flow, build emotional vocabulary and, very importantly, figure out what makes you tick and feel happy or upset. The more aware you are the more power you have to build emotional wisdom and live your life with serenity, composure and grace. ~ Cristina Rodenbeck, Wellness and Executive Coach

Keep wellness at work a priority.  Wellness at work is essential for your health and productivity. It’s important to focus on your wellness both at work and at home. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so proactively prioritising your wellness needs is the difference between setting yourself up for stress or success. Personal time, socializing with friends, exercising, meditating, going for a massage, taking a staycation, and working with a mentor or a coach are a few activities that you can do to nourish and develop yourself, and fill your cup. ~ Cristina Rodenbeck, Wellness and Executive Coach

Lean on me.  Being there for others, really there is one of the greatest gifts we can give. Likewise, reaching out for help when you need it can relieve a lot of your stress and suffering. Find the courage to allow others to help you during the difficult times and the generosity to be there for others when you can. We are wired to belong and connect. ~ Carole Bradshaw, Core Process Psychotherapist

Meditate.  The power of meditation may lie less in what you get out of it than in what it helps you lose. It can help you lose the emotional weight of negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, anger, insecurity – all of which are being triggered by the uncertainty of the current Covid-19 pandemic.  For many these emotions are becoming the normal state as they dominate your thinking.  Meditation acts on the amygdala – the brain’s fear centre – and you react less to your negative thoughts. This will make you calmer, happier and healthier!  ~ Catriona Rogers, Counselling Psychologist

No – learn to say it.  Many of us feel so uncomfortable saying no, that we end up saying yes to things that we really don’t want to do and end up becoming over-stretched or resentful. If this is you, take some time to reflect on your priorities and give yourself the gift of a pause before you make a commitment to something or someone. ~ Carole Bradshaw, Core Process Psychotherapist

Outdoors in the sun.  Vitamin D3 (the ‘sunshine vitamin’) increases your levels of secretory IgA – the first line of immune defence against viruses and bacteria. Found naturally in your body, Vitamin D3 is produced when sunlight hits exposed skin. But lots of time spent indoors, slathering sunscreen on your skin when you do go out, and nutrient-poor foods can cause Vitamin D3-deficiency. The best way to top up your Vitamin D3 levels is to spend time outdoors sunblock-free, though this isn’t always doable. Fatty fish and a pharmaceutical-grade cod liver oil are good sources of Vitamin D, though not enough to overcome a deficiency. What can help you achieve optimal levels is the right quality and quantity of a clinical-grade Vitamin D supplement. A pin-prick test can determine your levels and – if you are deficient (as 73% of all Hong Kongers are) – how much you need. ~ Graeme Bradshaw, Senior Naturopathic Physician

Play. Our daily routines can seriously knock the fun out of life. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the busyness, we forget about what brings us joy. Write a list of every activity you ever enjoyed and every activity you’d like to try. Then pick one (or two or more) and schedule it in, so life becomes a healthier balance of work and play. ~ Dr Benita Perch, Naturopathic Physician

Quiet your mind and connect with your inner wisdom.  It may not be the much-talked-about meditation that does the trick, it may be art, movement, sport, music, prayer or mindfulness that allows you to switch off from the noise, information and distractions of daily life. When you quiet your mind, you give yourself the space to tune into what’s right for you and the next step you can take to move forward. ~ Carole Bradshaw, Core Process Psychotherapist

Reduce your caffeine intake.  For those of you who feel stressed or anxious, be aware of how much caffeine you’re consuming. Caffeine can cause insomnia and make you more anxious and jittery. Although caffeinated beverages can increase alertness for a few hours, it may cause rebound fatigue, making you more tired after the caffeine leaves your system. Instead of caffeinated beverages, try herbal teas that promote relaxation, like chamomile, peppermint and lemon balm teas. Extra tip for parents: Parents sometimes forget that chocolates, baked goods containing chocolate and bubble teas contain caffeine. Try replacing these with yogurt/ fruit smoothies, iced fruit pops, trail mix or other snacks that are caffeine-free.  ~ Dr. Ardyce Yik, Naturopathic Physician

Stay connected to others.  Set aside time regularly to message, call or Facetime loved ones. Go on a hike or dine out with friends (if your city allows). Let out any frustrations you have to a trusted friend or counsellor. Extra tip for parents: Be sensitive to your child and listen actively. Allow them to share their thoughts and fears without judgement.  ~ Dr. Ardyce Yik, Naturopathic Physician

Think about the sky.  As the crisis unfolds or when we face difficulties, difficult thoughts and feelings may arise.  Often, we cannot stop them from showing up; they are normal reactions. However, we can make room for them. It can be helpful to think about the sky. No matter how severe the weather, the sky has room for it and the sky can never be hurt by the weather. Sooner or later, the weather always changes. Our thoughts and feelings are like the weather; we can learn to be like the sky and make room for the ‘terrible weather’ of our difficult thoughts and feelings.  ~ Marian Wong, Clinical Psychologist

Understand and address underlying health issues.  Now’s the time to identify and treat underlying health issues. PMS, low energy, digestive challenges – whatever your challenges, you don’t have to live in pain or discomfort. Don’t guess, test! You can achieve optimal health when you schedule the time to unearth the hidden culprits affecting your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.  ~Dr Benita Perch, Naturopathic Physician

Values – live by them.  Every moment, even in the hardest time or when you’re separated from family and friends, look for ways to ‘sprinkle’ your values into your day. Consider what you want to stand for in the face of challenges. What sort of person do you want to be as you go through them? How do you want to treat yourself and others?  See if you can take little actions to live by your values. When you act on your values, you’ll begin to create a more fulfilling life. ~ Marian Wong, Clinical Psychologist

Water for yourself and for your plants.  Summer is a great time to nurture yourself, and also a perfect time to start nurturing some plants of your own. If you have a sunny window or a small balcony, try planting some cooking and medicinal herbs. Enjoy them fresh in your cooking, drinks or herbal teas as many of them have health benefits. Mint and lemon balm are my personal favorites! ~ Dr Melissa Lee, Naturopathic Physician

EXercise indoors. As the current situation mandates it, it is crucial to develop ways of staying healthy while home. Use your space to get the most out of your daily movement routine – a few square feet is sufficient to work your cardio and muscles. Planks, push-ups, burpees and abdominal circuits can easily transform extra time at home into a powerful experience. Establish a training plan, with weekly goals to monitor performance. Expect slow yet sustainable results. While you’re at it, exclude bad habits such as snacking on unhealthy foods and remaining in the same position for hours – too easy to do when you’re at home all day. ~ Victor Bourdeau, Osteopath

“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think…” That’s what the rather wise Christopher Robin said to Winnie the Pooh, and I agree! At times of stress and difficulty, there can be a tendency to contract, lash out at others or withdraw. Equally so, there’s an opportunity to tap into our deepest resources, to grow and transform. When we slow down and pause, we create space to tap into our resilience and wisdom. ~ Carole Bradshaw, Core Process Psychotherapist

Zzz – you’ve got to sleep well to be well.  It’s no secret that many Hong Kongers are sleep- deprived. Spending time on your smartphones, eating a big meal or drinking alcohol too close to bedtime, being in an environment that’s not conducive to relaxation, and high levels of stress can significantly affect the quality and quantity of your sleep, leaving you more tired, grumpy and unable to focus the next day. A B-vitamin supplement, avoiding caffeine after midday, eating a low-glycaemic lunch, taking a twenty-minute power nap between 3-5pm and ditching the digitals an hour before you hit the sack can set you up for sleep success. ~ Philip Watkins, Naturopathic Physician.

So, there you have it! Our summer bonanza to see you through the days and weeks ahead. Of course, if you need a personalized plan to help you with a particular health and wellness challenge, please get in touch. Be it physical, mental, emotional or a combination of challenges, our specialist practitioners are available in-person, online or both to address the root cause of your health condition and help you sustain long-term wellbeing and sanity.

To schedule a consultation with our practitioners, call +852 2523 7121 or connect with us here.

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