Top tips to improve your mental and physical wellbeing

Goodbye 2020, hello 2021! Needless to say the general mood of business is ‘bring on the holidays’. 

So, while you’re enjoying your time away from the office, it’s the perfect opportunity to mentally and physically prepare yourself for what’s to come. 

We had a chat to new member Emma Goldstraw from Total Health to get some top tips for feeling good mentally and physically, plus we reflect on some of the biggest challenges faced and how to overcome them. 

2020 has been a pretty tiring year for a lot of people. What are some of the biggest health struggles people have faced? (Mentally and physically)

One of the challenges this year has been an additional burden on our mental health. It’s been an uncomfortable experience not having full control of our lives and our immediate future.

Being at home during lockdown put additional pressure on relationships, as well as worries over jobs, businesses, schooling and our health. Those living alone at home were faced with the feelings of isolation and loneliness.

All up it’s been challenging for all of us. Seniors and those at risk have increased health risks from lack of social connection. People with eating disorders, addictions, anxiety, depression have found their behaviours exacerbated by the extra stresses. 

What impact does some of those mental issues have on physical health?

Everything is connected. Our mental health drives our behaviours, which ultimately impacts our physical wellbeing. An overstressed body will not be functioning optimally and anxiety can disrupt our sleep patterns; sleep we know is essential for optimal health. 

 In light of COVID-19, do you think we are more aware of health and wellbeing as a topic of discussion? What have been some of the benefits of COVID-19 and its positive impact in this area?

As a society we are more open to mental health challenges. The message of checking in with loved ones, neighbours and our communities is more readily embraced by both women and men.

I do think we are more aware of the importance of health, and hopefully of those who are more at risk from illness. I like to think we are more compassionate towards each other. 

Personally, the positives out of this whole crazy experience is the appreciation of my time. Having more space in the day to look up, reflect and enjoy my neighbourhood was a real positive, as were getting to know my neighbours and appreciating the small things in each day. 

Going into 2021, what are some things people should be mindful of to start the year in the best possible health?

To be kind to yourself and take some time to reflect on the past year, thinking what you want 2021 to look like. Planning some adventures and time out from daily life is vital. Get creative; this doesn’t have to cost money. 

I would encourage people to keep things simple in terms of their health. People often want to improve everything at once, change takes time and energy, taking it slow and ticking things off one at a time normally leads to a more successful outcome. 

If faced with big challenges, break them down into steps and slowly work through those steps. It can be difficult to manage. Staying in the present is a useful tool. 

What are some key ways to overcome the stress of the year and leave it behind as we head into 2021?

Sleep, adequate levels of vitamin D (sunshine), laughter, hugs, social interaction, movement, all with a bit of fun thrown in. Life can be a bit serious sometimes. 

I’m a big advocate of finding the joy in each day. Sounds a bit cheesy but it’s truly important. Every day is a gift, I half joke with clients. There is always something that can lift our moods, even if it’s only for a moment. 

Getting outside. Enjoying our beautiful country will greatly benefit you, so step away from that computer and screen, and head out for exploring and adventures. 

Remembering to be grateful, be thankful for what you have – especially your health, as not everyone is so blessed. 

A positive is that adversity brings greater resilience, and we can become more ready to face the next challenges life throws at us – there will be more. 

Head shot of Emma Goldstraw

What role does diet and exercise play in ensuring your working life is tip top?

It’s vital. Quality nutrition and movement are required for the way we feel. 

This isn’t about perfection; rather a focus on moving and fuelling our bodies so we can feel the way we want to and do the activities we enjoy.

This isn’t about being super strict or smashing yourself in the gym. It’s about finding ways to move that you enjoy and can adhere to. Finding a way of eating for life is key, so move away from the ideas of dieting and instead to eating well for most of the time. 

Remember your health is more important than your work. A healthy body, a healthy mind = increased performance at work. 

What are some ways you might be able to help people in this space?

I believe the number-one goal is to be as healthy as you, the individual, can be for the rest of your life. 

At Total Health I am not here to preach to you about what you should or shouldn’t be doing. I give you the information and tools you need to make informed sustainable choices that you can adhere to. Physical training is part of what I do, as is massage and health coaching. 

Anything else you’d like to add about yourself and your business?

I offer varied services in the health space, the bulk of my work being one-on-one with clients. I offer small group sessions and small group classes, and most of my services are available online or in person. 

I run weekly Seniors Move More classes, focusing on improving strength, balance and preventing falls. I also run a weekly Parkinson’s disease specific class, PD Fit at NextStep, both of these classes are part of Sport Bay of Plenty’s Keep on your Feet program. 

I offer Disordered Eating coaching and support those with exercising around their behaviours in a non-judgemental and safe space. 

Others services include Lymphasical Reset (TM), Movement Coaching and Health Coaching.