LIST-Physical Well-being Well-being

Sleeping well

A good night’s sleep helps to recover from the previous day and get ready for the next one. Sleep helps us to think more clearly, manage difficult situations better, and feel more energetic.

Although it’s generally agreed that 8 hours sleep is ideal, the most important part of sleep is the ‘deep sleep’ phase, the first 5 hours after you fall asleep. However, regularly getting less than 5 hours sleep a night will eventually takes its toll.

Stress can get in the way of a good night’s sleep. This can feed Into a cycle of worry, where anxiety about not being able to sleep makes it even harder to relax. Being worried about having nightmares can also make it hard to relax and get to sleep.

Poor quality ‘deep sleep’ can lead to:

  • Tiredness during the day
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability
  • Aches and pains in the muscles and bones
  • An immune system that doesn’t work well, leading to frequent illness
  • Longer periods of depression.

Tips for sleeping well:

If possible, try to establish a consistent routine. Typically, this will take two weeks to a month to become a habit

  • Go to bed at around the same time each night.
  • Switch electronic screens off 30 minutes before bed. Try to avoid any highly stimulating activity before bed – whether that is physical stimulation like playing competitive games, watching an exciting or scary TV program or having a charged conversation that stimulates your mind.
  • Take a warm shower or bath before bed. Sometimes a warm bath about one hour before bed time helps the body’s temperature rise and then when it falls again you might feel drowsy
  • Read a short story or light, relaxing magazine article. Use a bedside light to reduce brightness when reading
  • Caffeine can have a body life of up to 7 hours so it is probably best to avoid drinks with caffeine after about 2 pm in the day – this includes tea (including green tea), coffee, colas and lots of other soft drinks (check the labels).
  • Going to bed too hungry or too full can get in the way of sleep because the stomach and digestive system are working hard
  • If you nap in the day time or before going to bed (in front of television is a big trap) then you might have tricked your body into thinking it is rested and you will have trouble getting off to sleep – try to avoid doing this
  • If you are taking prescription medication, take it at the times recommended as some medications can keep you alert if taken too close to bed time.
  • If you find you are waking up to empty your bladder a lot at night, then limit any fluid intake for a couple of hours before bed time. Avoid eating food that is too salty as this will make you thirsty during the night.
  • When you have decided it is time to go to sleep, relax yourself by taking slow, deep breaths through your nose for about 10 minutes. Notice the muscles of your body relax, as you sink and relax into the mattress.
  • If you go to bed and don’t fall asleep, DON’T STAY IN BED. This is the most important part of the sleep hygiene protocol – by staying in bed when you are awake you are training your body into associating bed with wakefulness. If you have lain awake for 15-30 minutes (no longer) then take your wakefulness out of bed, into another room and DO SOMETHING BORING. This is most important – sitting with a dim light on an arm chair is a good option. Once you are feeling drowsy or sleepy, then take your drowsiness back to bed. This helps your mind associate bed with sleep. You may have to do this multiple times at first. If it is winter it can be tempting to stay in a warm, cosy bed, even when you are awake – make sure the other room has a warm rug or blanket to put over your knees while you are sitting there waiting for drowsiness to come back again.
  • Remind yourself that even though nightmares are disturbing, they’re not real. I am safe.
  • Tell yourself, although I am anticipating a poor night’s sleep, it could be fine…I have slept well before. This tossing and turning at night will pass.
  • If you find yourself unable to let go of a particular thought or worry, get up and write it down, then you can come back to it and work on it after you have a good sleep.
  • Make sure that the room temperature is comfortable for sleeping. On hot summer nights, make use of fans or air conditioning, in winter use an extra blanket or heated wheat pack to keep you warm.
  • Try not to look at a clock or watch if you are not falling asleep – the time will pass anyway and checking may just make you feel anxious which will get in the way of sleep
  • Smoking nicotine stimulates the body – if you are a smoker try to cut back as the evening progresses and try not to smoke just before going to bed
  • Get up at the same time every morning, even if you had a bad night. Resist the temptation to have ‘just a little bit more’ sleep!
  • Do something to ‘wake yourself up’ in the morning, like a quick walk, run or bike ride.

If you have been having long-term sleeping problems, you know that it is not easy to change. It might be time to seek expert help. This could be your GP or other health practitioner, or a counsellor who deals with sleep problems. If things are really

LIST-Physical Well-being Well-being


Exercise is linked to mental and physical well-being. It has the ability to change your state of mind in both the short and long term in ways that give you more energy for dealing with life’s challenges. Exercise gives you a sense of control of your body and is often the first step to feeling in control of life events.

All adults will benefit from 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity each day.

If you can’t do something every day, it still helps to exercise fairly regularly. If you haven’t exercised for a while, gradually introduce physical activity into your daily routine. Exercise does not have to be done all at once; you can break it down into sessions of at least 10 minutes. Even a short walk can help you clear your mind and relax. Any exercise is better than none!

Different types of activity suit different people. Some people prefer team sports, some people like individual sports. Some people prefer to play competitively, others like a more social environment. Some people prefer the gym, some prefer games or sports.

If you’re not sure what would suit you, try a few things out. You don’t have to be an athlete to boost your fitness. Yoga and Tai Chi are recommended.

Some people find it really helpful to exercise with a partner or friend. Exercising with someone has the benefit that you can motivate, encourage and support each other to go for that walk in the middle of winter or to the gym when you are still aching from the last session. The main thing is that you find something that is fun or gives you a sense of achievement.

Tips for exercise:

As well as structured exercise or activities, there are day to day things you can do that don’t take much time, effort or organisation.

Work in an office?

  • Keep your walking shoes handy and be active whenever you have the chance.
  • Park your car a few blocks from work.
  • Get off the bus or train at the stop beforehand and walk.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Walk up the escalator instead of standing still.
  • Sit straight in your chair.
  • Get up from the chair and have a regular stretch and walk
  • Walk the longer way around to the photocopier or printer.
  • Enjoy a walk during your lunch break or team up with a friend to walk after work.
  • Stretch.
  • Walk to your colleague’s office instead of sending an e-mail.
  • Use a standing work station.

At home:

  • Walk around while you’re talking on a cordless or mobile phone.
  • Do some gentle stretches or movement while watching TV.
  • Use TV ad breaks as a chance to do a quick household chore.
  • Do some energetic house-cleaning, gardening or odd jobs on the weekend.
  • Get a pet.
  • Park the car further away when going to the supermarket.
  • Join a friend for regular walks.
  • See jobs at home as opportunities to exercise.

You can even book in a regular reminder to exercise.

Find out more:

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Eating Well

Eating well is about providing your body and mind with nutrients that keep you active and alert, as well as about enjoying the food you eat. Ideally you want to be eating five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit a day, plus keeping your fluid intake up by drinking plenty of water.

In the last few years, a lot more people have become interested in food and cooking, and it is certainly more socially acceptable for men to enjoy cooking than it was a generation ago.

Here are some simple tips for eating well:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Avoid snacking between meals or stick with healthy snacks like fruits and nuts.
  • Plan healthy, quick and easy meals for busy days.
  • Make use of the freezer – cook 2-3 meals worth at a time.
  • Enjoy cooking – experiment with new foods and try new recipes (there are literally thousands of recipes online).
  • Take regular drinks of water
  • Make the most of foods in season.
  • Enjoy meal times- turn off the television while you eat.
  • Invite a friend around to eat, or better yet, to help cook.
  • Eat slowly and savour every bite.
  • Cook using fresh, local ingredients.
  • Have a variety of coloured vegetables on your plate
  • Try not to eat after 8pm for healthy digestion and sleep
  • Include fish in your diet
  • Eat main meals without meat once or twice a week.
  • Listen to your body – eat slowly and stop when you feel full.
  • Try growing your own veggies, fruit or herbs.