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Back to work – fresh start

As millions of us return to work after the long summer break, health and wellbeing experts offer their tips how to ensure that you start as you mean to go on.

Move the mirror. Michael Hanna, Feng Shui master practitioner.

Chinese people swear by the power of Feng Shui, which is the art of putting things in their proper place to get the most positive energy flows. A simple thing which you can change is the position of mirrors in your home. According to Feng Shui principles, mirrors reflect chi energy and so can make a huge difference to your health and happiness. Never put a mirror over your bed. If you do have a mirror in your bedroom, cover it with a cloth when you are sleeping. Mirrors disturb and confuse your incarnate chi energy which is believed to leave the body when you are asleep. Mirrors placed to the right of the front door will improve your wealth. To the left, a mirror will improve your relationships. Never put a mirror facing the front door because it will reflect chi energy outside the house. Also keep the front door as clear as possible, to let in the maximum amount of chi energy.

Take the TV out of your bedroom. Relationship counsellor Denise Knowles

This is really about making me time. Having a TV in the bedroom means your most intimate personal space becomes an extension of your lounge. The bedroom should be a place where you can close the door and curl up with a good book, or cuddle up with your partner, without distractions. If possible, make it a child free zone. You need to be able to be you, and not just a mummy.

Another good way to give yourself an extra dose of me time, is to give yourself an extra 10-15 minutes in the bath. Ask your partner to run it for you, and add some drops of a relaxing essential oil. If you have your own personal space, then you will improve that vital relationship you have – with yourself. From that, lots of other good things will start to flow.

Ban smoking in your living space. Karol Sikora is Professor of Cancer. Medicine and honorary Consultant Oncologist at Imperial College School of
Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital.

Whether you are a smoker or not, if you ban smoking in your living space, you do yourself, and your smoking friends a favour. This applies to your car, your living room and your bedroom.

My wife has banned everyone from smoking in our home, and that means that even dinner party guests have to light up in the garden, whatever the weather. If you make smoking inconvenient and uncomfortable, it will be less appealing.

This simple strategy will really make an impact because lots of studies show that the harm that smoking causes is closely related to the dose. So if you have less opportunity to smoke, you will do yourself less harm. Passive smoking has also been shown to cause health problems, particularly to children and people with allergies like asthma. It has even been linked to cot death.

Help yourself by removing ashtrays from your home and not offering cigarettes to others, if you do smoke. You can even put up polite signs saying that you live in a smoke-free zone.

Practice portion control. Suzannah Olivier, nutritionist and author.

Portion control could be a simple way of helping people to stay slim. Average portion sizes have increased by 50 per cent in the last 20 years. Your stomach is a muscular organ which is normally only about the size of a closed fist. All the food you eat has to go into the stomach, causing it to distend. Having big meals regularly causes it to extend further and further, so you will need to eat more to feel full.

There are simple ways to keep your portion sizes under control. Use moderately sized plates and small 125 ml glasses. Take a little time to work out what a portion of meat, fish, cereal, cheese and potatoes actually looks like. A healthy adult should eat around 4oz of meat per meal – that’s about the size of a pack of cards. If you eat an 8oz steak in a restaurant, you are eating a double portion. A 2oz portion of cheese is no bigger than a matchbox. Never go supersize and restrict your intake of sweet drinks. A can of fizzy cola contains around eight teaspoons of sugar. Drink water instead.

Managing portions is very important but you should make good food choices too.

Take five minutes to listen to your kids. Professor Rachel Calam, clinical psychologist at the University of Manchester

Statistics show that there are higher levels of depression among our children today than ever before. There is a whole range of reasons for this but I think the key one is that children need to have the attention of concerned and loving adults in their lives. Sometimes, we are just too busy to give the attention they deserve.

Even taking short moments to really engage with your child will pay dividends, but make sure they are your focus and there are no other distractions.

A good time to talk is when you come home from work, or they come home from school. Tell them about your day too so it’s a time for sharing. Meal times – not in front of the TV – and bedtimes are wonderful opportunities to really listen and share experiences with your kids. You will find that they have lots to teach you too and they will feel much happier and more secure. A little bit of time now will save stacks of time later trying to deal with unhappy children who have behaviour problems.

Drop a frenemy. Gladeana McMahon, psychologist.

When I encourage people to do a life audit, one of the things we do is evaluate friendships. It is amazing how many people stick with so-called friends who are just a waste of emotional space. Frenemies are those people who take and never give back and are a constant drain of your resources. It really is time to stop trying to make it work and spend your efforts making new friends who you really like, and who really like you. To determine if someone counts as a frenemy, ask yourself to list the things you like about them and the things you want to change. If the latter list grossly outweighs the former, you may have to make some hard decisions. Is she there for you? Does she ever stop talking about herself? I suggest relegating a frenemy, rather than dropping completely. By all means, have lunch twice a year with a frenemy, but don’t burn up the phone lines listening to their woes day and night.

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