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A year of healthy intentions

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Author: Will Mbanga, Posted: Monday, 17th December 2018, 09:00

At this special time of year, after spending time with family and friends, we should all take time to reflect on those things which are really important – time, respect, love and, of course, our health.

I trust you had an enjoyable festive season with loved ones, and also took time to look back on the year ended and your positive intentions for the year ahead. New Year’s resolutions are something we are all familiar with and will be forming over the next few days.

A few years ago, I decided to try something different. Instead of resolutions, I would have New Year’s intentions – something that I could act on daily that would make a real difference to me and/or those around me.

Because we are inter-connected, our health is hugely important to the well-being and happiness of those around us. Having a holistic approach to your health will go a long way to ensuring you are able to be healthy, productive and, in your own unique way, contribute to making the world a better place.

From a health perspective, the following are four crucial areas to invest in over the course of the year ahead to ensure you are on course for living a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life.

Mental/emotional health

This should be at the top of your annual list of New Year’s intentions. Managing stress and building emotional resilience and coping mechanisms for life’s many challenges is crucial to your overall well-being. With stress, specifically dealing with social and or emotional stressors is essential to promoting good physical/mental health and wellness.

There is a strong link between increased stress levels and poor health, so an intentional approach to lowering stress is key. Social networks, friendships and activities that take you away from your everyday ‘normal’ are important and for men, talking about ‘stuff’ is also hugely beneficial. Men are generally less likely to talk about emotional issues than women, but it’s vital that we all talk and listen as best we can – after all, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.


Good quality sleep is essential for your health, regardless of your developmental stage; teens and small children need lots of it, but so do adults! Some useful tips for improving sleep quality include:

• Reduce blue light/screen exposure in the evenings. Lower intensity lighting is also good for the hormones governing circadian rhythm.

• Get into a good bed-time routine.

• Maximise natural light/daylight exposure to lower Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms.

• Use natural oils/herbal remedies to relax or improve sleep quality.

Digestive health

Ensuring optimal nutrition and hydration will be key, especially after over-indulging during the festive season! Finding ways to increase intake of foods that are helpful to gut health (e.g. walnuts, onions, leeks and asparagus) while lowering the intake of processed foods and alcohol will be an important focus area.

Physical health

Our biomechanical and physiological structure provides the strongest hint with regard to how best to ensure physical health; human beings were designed to move! Exercise boosts mood, strengthens bones, stimulates hormone production and raises our basal metabolic rate, helping us to stay lean and healthy.

There is a saying in Africa: “You cannot give what you do not have”. We all want health, happiness and success for our family and friends. Each of us has the power within to make positive changes through intentional action, but we cannot make this happen until we consistently manage that in our own life. Here’s to a happy, healthy and successful 2019!

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