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Turbocharging your health and wellness

 

You have probably heard it said by many, we are living in unprecedented times. This phrase, which almost sounds like a cliche, holds much truth than we ever imagined. Prior to the Covid-19 phase, I could bet that most employees would give anything to have a flexi policy that would allow them to work from home. Living that most coveted reality at the moment is not a matter of choice. It has to be done, in the spirit of social distancing and flattening the curve. What no one told us is that working from home would present so many other dynamics, more so during a time of anxiety and when homes are full to capacity. The delicate balance between sanity and maintaining a productive work environment at home, while still handling the family is not one’s usual cup of tea.

Family health and nutrition

Integration of health and wellness strategies in the workplace is highly recommended, in particular, these days when Covid-19 has necessitated that institutions have a remote working policy. In recognition of this, Strathmore University began a wellness program with the aim of building resilience among its staff members alongside taking care of the health of each individual. The integration of wellness and health knowledge has become  a vital component that cannot be ignored and this has seen Strathmore employees engaged in a number of webinar knowledge sessions. I particularly enjoyed the session on family health and nutrition which placed emphasis on immunity and meal planning.

As was aptly described by Catherine Kibunja, Director at Premier Wellness Solutions, “Wellness is  the process through which people become aware of and make choices towards a more successful existence. She further explained the importance of having a healthy lifestyle which promotes increased energy and motivation to conquer the daily challenges of life. Therefore, declaring oneself 100% well means that one has met the eight facets of Swabrick’s wheel of wellness: 

  • Emotional- coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships
  • Environmental- ensuring good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being
  • Intellectual- deals with recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills
  • Physical- recognizing the need for physical activity, diet, sleep and nutrition
  • Financial- the satisfaction with current and future financial situations
  • Social- developing a sense of connection, belonging and a well developed support system
  • Spiritual- expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life
  • Occupational- personal satisfaction and enrichment derived from ones work

Building a  culture of health and wellness within the home requires deliberate effort.  We cannot afford to be couch potatoes and imagine that somehow, the gained weight will shed itself off. Neither can we keep shifting desired goal posts everyday. Discipline must be a close friend and creating good habits must be our way of life. 

Myths debunked

As was demonstrated during the staff session, most people believe that it is possible to build immunity through vigorous exercises, taking supplements and all sorts of concoctions or herbal medications. This myth was debunked by Ashley Kibuthia, a registered and licensed dietitian who revealed that we cannot boost our immunity and neither should we desire to do so because any such efforts could result in auto-immune disorders. Instead, she recommended  that we work towards supporting our immune system by eating regular nutritious well-balanced meals and snacks, staying hydrated, being active, minimizing stress, getting regular and appropriate amounts of rest and sleep, frequent immunizations, ensuring good hygiene and  practicing food safety. Just in case you’re still wondering how a particular friend rarely falls ill or has such good immunity, allow me to share my great revelation:  individuals with good immune systems have simply received this benefit through genetics and not out of any action of their own might.

This revelation also begs the question on the relevance of the many drug supplements being purchased over the counter. While such supplements are not necessary, because they can be obtained through well balanced meals, they are permissible for those who are predisposed to certain ailments or conditions. Eating with moderation has proven a challenge for the majority of people who are working from home. Ashley was categorical in stating the importance of managing food portions in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 

Meal planning

On the same note, Maryanne Wanza, a licensed Clinical Dietitian, spoke on the importance of meal planning within the home and the relevance of having a meal time table that guides one on the number of meals and the exact meal to be consumed within a particular day. She also added on the importance of avoiding a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet behaviours that directly place one at a high risk of chronic diseases. She also belaboured on the aspect of ensuring a daily  or frequent exercise routine with the aim of building mental stamina, managing weight, developing increased fitness level (better endurance), exercise tolerance, reduced blood pressure levels, increased perceived energy levels and improved sleep.

As demonstrated through the above reflections, health and wellness are not goals to be achieved overnight. It takes a strong will to stick to one’s plan and to remind oneself that it is possible to progressively achieve any desired wellness goal. We live in the hope that Covid- 19 will pass and when it does, it will leave us a more resilient and  highly re-charged people. This is a season for us to thrive and we cannot waste all the moments of learning and reflection that have been presented to us.

 

The article was written by Martha Oduor.

 

Would you like to share your experience of living through the circumstances brought by the Covid-19 pandemic? Kindly email: communications@strathmore.edu

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