02 January 2018

"Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise"

With 2018 upon us it’s time once again to draw up those new year pledges to help you achieve health, wealth and hopefully wisdom too. An inspirational quote by Benjamin Franklin said to be about the value of health could form the key tenets for a better and improved you this year.

Healthy

A perennial promise that for many falls flat a few weeks into the new year is something you can achieve if you set realistic goals. You don’t have to sign up for a marathon; if you’d prefer to take on something a little less strenuous then setting yourself small, achievable goals designed to keep you active can make a big difference to your overall sense of wellbeing. The key is to keep moving, sitting is the enemy!

Personal fitness trackers are an increasingly popular way of keeping track of your activity levels, and you might be surprised how quickly you become more active just by measuring what you do and trying to make small improvements. If you start by monitoring how many steps you take in your normal daily routine it’s not a big leap to then set yourself small targets to increase these, and you could soon find yourself in the habit of taking the steps rather than the lift, or walking to the shops rather than jumping in the car.

If you don’t want to shell out on a fitness tracker then you may well find your smartphone has a fitness app that can track your activity instead.

To stay healthy, NHS guidelines recommend that adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week, and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not,” Mark Twain wrote a century ago. Today you can improve your diet without sacrificing everything you adore.

Wealthy

While most of us traditionally try to do something about our health, the excesses of Christmas tend to make the bank balance fairly unhealthy.

To rein things back in make some simple sacrifices like cutting down on takeaways in favour of home cooking, and buying fresh food in the supermarket rather than expensive ready meals (your body will thank you, as well as your bank balance).

An afternoon set aside to go through your Direct Debits will also be time that’s truly well spent. We often accumulate Direct Debits for things we rarely use or forgot we even signed up to, and the convenience of paying by Direct Debit for household bills like home insurance, car insurance, broadband or TV services can mean that years go by without us reviewing how much we’re paying, and how much we might save by switching to a new supplier.

Professional advice can help you with sorting out your financial goals. Create a realistic plan to achieve those goals and get help on how you could put a plan together in the most tax-efficient way. If you’re not sure where to go for advice then start by seeing what your employer might be able to offer.

The link between debt, money worries and stress, lower productivity and absence are increasingly recognised by employers, so ask if your company has any financial wellbeing programmes or employee assistance programmes in place. These employee benefits programmes can offer guidance and support to help you get to grips with your finances.

Wise

Start the New Year with a resolution to learn a new skill, but first give the brain some TLC.

Refresh and give it some well-earned rest. Sleep (but not when you’re supposed to be working) and recharge the batteries. Sleep is incredibly beneficial. A good night’s rest can do wonders for your mood as well as your appearance. A lack of sleep has been linked to a greater risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Hydrate: our brains are mostly water, and it’s amazing how being even slightly dehydrated can affect our mood and mental performance. Drink a glass of water at least every hour throughout the day to keep that grey matter running smoothly!

Finally, if you need a supercharge unleash the brain food! Holland & Barrett, Britain’s largest health food retailer, reported sales of its Rosemary Essential Oil increased by 270 per cent following the release of a study from Northumbria University which found that pupils who worked in a classroom with the aroma of rosemary oil achieved better results in memory tests*.

With a spring in your step, a few more pounds in the wallet and a distinctive woody fragrance, here’s to a healthy, wealthy and wise New Year!

* http://beta.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/rosemary-aroma-can-aid-children%E2%80%99s-working-memory