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6 April 2022

It’s Never Too Late to Kickstart a Healthy Lifestyle

By Tania Lam



We all know the importance of maintaining our health and well-being. As American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in 1860: “The first wealth is health.” And yet, some of us often find ourselves falling behind in taking care of our own health, especially amidst the relentless hustle and bustle of everyday life.

There are several aspects of personal health, but among the most widely discussed ones are physical and mental health. As the different dimensions of health are linked, it is important to approach health as a whole rather than as separate factors. Balancing the various elements well can help us lead healthier and happier lives.

It may seem like a daunting task, but don’t worry – you can always start by taking small steps towards achieving your wellness goal.

With World Health Day coming up on 7 April, now is as good a time as any to start living healthier!

 

You are what you eat


One of the pillars of good physical health is having a wholesome and nutritionally balanced diet. Generally, we should cut down on saturated fats, sugar and salt while increasing our fibre intake by eating vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

Yes, we know it can be a painful struggle to say “no” to less-than-healthy local favourites like kolo mee, laksa and teh C peng special. On the bright side, you don’t have to completely deprive yourself; the key is everything in moderation, so treat yourself every once in a while.

If you’re eating at a kopitiam, consider healthier alternatives such as porridge, lei cha and popiah. You might even find yourself a new favourite!

Preparing your own meals at home is also a great way to watch your food intake, as you have full control over the ingredients and additives that go into your meals. And remember: Healthy eating doesn’t mean your food has to be bland and boring. There is plenty of food out there which can be a treat for your taste buds while still keeping you on track with your fitness goal.

 

Get moving (but don’t forget your sleep)


It is proven that regular physical activity can help prevent and manage non-communicable diseases including heart disease, diabetes and stroke. While exercising may seem like a chore to some people, with so many forms of exercise available, there is bound to be something you enjoy.

Not a fan of jogging? Give other forms of exercise a go, such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or group fitness classes like dancing and spinning. There is a variety of gyms and fitness studios in Kuching that you can try out to find the right fit for you.

Love the great outdoors? Well, you’re in luck; Kuching and its surroundings house plenty of activities to enjoy out in nature. You could take a hike in search of stunning waterfalls, jungle trek in our beautiful national parks, explore caves, go kayaking, scuba dive and more. Students of Swinburne Sarawak can also check out the university’s recreational and sports clubs and societies.  

Need a little motivation? Having a workout buddy will not only make exercising more fun but also keep you accountable as you wouldn’t want to let your friend down by not showing up.

If you’re a little short on free time, you could slip several minutes of physical activity into your daily routine by making a few simple changes: Opt for the stairs instead of the elevator or take a five-minute break from your desk every hour for a brief walk or stretch.

Although it’s great to be active, getting enough sleep is just as essential. Sleeping well lets both your body and mind recharge, allowing you to be refreshed and alert upon waking. When you’re sleep-deprived, your brain can’t function properly, which in turn can impair your ability to think clearly, concentrate, and process memories.

 

It’s okay to not be okay


It’s important to take care of your body, but taking care of your mental health is just as crucial – and both physical and mental health are closely connected.

Life isn’t always easy, and the various challenges and stresses faced can have a negative impact on our mental health. To make matters worse, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a further toll on many people’s mental and emotional well-being in one way or another.

Although the mental health stigma is still rather prevalent, there has been some improvement in recent years as mental health awareness has increased. Perhaps a silver lining to the pandemic is that more people are now aware of the importance of mental health.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, talking to someone you trust and feel comfortable with can help. Other than that, you could do an enjoyable activity or hobby to boost your mood and take your mind off your worries.

Another way to redirect your thoughts away from distressing emotions is to do grounding techniques. These help to ease your state of mind in moments of anxiety or stress, and they can be anything which brings your attention back to the present. One simple yet effective method is to mindfully engage your senses through the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. This involves acknowledging five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste.



If you are still struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to seek professional help through a mental health helpline, counsellor or doctor. There are various options for mental health and emotional support available in Kuching, such as the Mental Health Association of Sarawak and Befrienders Kuching. In addition, psychiatry services can be sought at government and private hospitals and healthcare centres.

Did you know that support is also readily available right here at Swinburne Sarawak? Students can book an appointment with a counsellor to talk about their concerns, whether it is in a face-to-face, phone or online setting – whichever you’re most comfortable with.

Just remember, you are not alone!


This article was written in conjunction with World Health Day which is celebrated annually on 7 April. This global health awareness day draws attention to a specific health topic of concern to people all over the globe. It also marks the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. The theme of World Health Day 2022 is “Our Planet, Our Health”, bringing into focus the urgent need to keep humans and the planet healthy.


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