Health – Women’s Health

Health – Women’s Health
Fitness, Nutrition, Health, Sex, Style & Weight Loss Tips for Women
Tue, 04 Jul 2023 12:49:45 +0000


Health – Women’s Health

“I Only Started Being Health Conscious When I Moved To Cape Town”

Wed, 05 Jul 2023 07:00:00 +0000

Thabang Buthelezi (28), didn’t pay much attention to her health and fitness for a while. She’d been living in Johannesburg, where her work took up most of her time and with little free time she had, she couldn’t dedicate much of it to keeping healthy.  While being healthy is a conscious effort that can be done almost anywhere, relocation awakened Thabang’s consciousness to health. Right in the seaside suburb of Sea Point in Cape Town, Thabang became inspired by all the people running on the promenade, the readily available health foods and the health consciousness of the people.

The change

“I only started being health conscious when I moved to Cape Town from Johannesburg in 2019. I think living close to the [Sea Point] promenade inspired my current lifestyle. I was constantly surrounded by people who jog, eat clean and take their health quite seriously,” says Thabang. Prior to that, her life was all about work and play – taking care of her body was the last thing on her mind. “I had a demanding job, worked long hours, lived on takeaways and enjoyed a glass of wine every now and again in between my imbalanced work and life set-up. That period of my life was miserable. When you do not have time to take care of yourself, your mental health suffers along with your bodily health,” recalls Thabang. All that had to change — and it did thanks to her relocation. 

Thabang Buthelezi’s routine

It started with short daily walks, then jogging and soon she was working out at least twice a week. It was just what she needed, reflects Thabang. “I had hit rock bottom, battled with anxiety, was mentally and emotionally drained and uninspired. Working out kept me sane. Jogging was my stress release and yoga centred my thoughts. 

“I’m also eating clean without depriving myself of the things I enjoy. I now take time out to give myself love and rest. I’m whole and in a space I never ever want to leave, all thanks to moving my body more often,” concludes Thabang. This is not her peak but she feels that she’s pretty close.

Thabang Buthelezi

The payoff

Now, Thabang has found her zen through exercise. “I’m not the fittest person you’ll find in the room but one thing I am, is active enough and content with where I am mentally and physically,” says Thabang. She still trains at least twice a week by going for runs. And, she supplements that with regular yoga sessions. “I’ve since learned that wellness is the ultimate luxury. When you look good, you feel good and do good.”

Thabang’s Resetting Tips

Rest is important

“Schedule some time off in the week just to do absolutely nothing – rest,” she says.

Practise self-care

“Get your favourite bubble bath, salts, light candles and pamper your body. It works so hard, it deserves all the love.”


“Take care of the mind; meditating is a great way to clear all thoughts and be whole with yourself.”


The Greatest Sleepytime Products That’ll Take You To La-La Land, STAT

Wed, 05 Jul 2023 06:00:00 +0000

If sleep evades you like your office crush (shame), you’re not alone. Around 30 to 40% of people have insomnia and experts suspect the rates of sleep apnoea are similarly high. And getting sub-par zzz’s spell more trouble than you’d think. Aside from affecting your day-to-day and making it harder for you to concentrate and maintain a slim physique (if that’s what you’re after), a lack of sleep can affect memory. A 2021 study looked at people who reported having insomnia when they were younger, and then had issues with cognition years later. The biggest issue? People who had trouble falling alseep reported higher rates of memory and thinking issues.

Rest easy knowing there are more than a few hard-working sleepytime products that’ll help you drift off, for real. From form-correcting beds to potions and lotions, there’s something for everyone and whatever stands in the way of you and restful sleep.

Next-Level Beds  

Uninterrupted evenings begin with a mattress that melts around every curve and keeps you in alignment all night.

restonic idream zonal flexpush bed set

Restonic iDream Zonal Flex Push

Microgel beads work to dissipate heat to keep you cool, while at least 50 plastic bottles have been upcycled into the fabric to deliver comfort in the upper layers.

Sloom mattress


Sloom offers modular support, with layers inside that are totally customisable so you can really get the right support you need. Plus, antibacterial treatment repels bedbugs and other pests.

hastens sleepytime products


Mother nature’s tech creates a bed so comfortable, it lasts a lifetime. Horsehair act like springs that offer flexible support, while wool creates a moisture-wicking, cooling environment. Plus, the bed is completely free of chemicals, with layers of natural materials such as flax, horsetail hair, and cotton.

Cloud Nine Meridian Queen sleepytime products

Cloud Nine Meridian Queen

High-density foam provides next-level support, with air channels that allow air to flow freely, so you’re cool and comfy. Plus, these airflow channels compress to support and contour to your body and sleeping position.

Tempur Premium-Flex Adjustable Bed System

Tempur Premium-Flex Adjustable Bed System

If you’re needing some extra support, look to an adjustable bed base. This one provides added ventilation for your mattress, thanks to the honeycomb structure on the base. The silent motors work to move from your shoulder and feet, making for the ultimate support system.

Luxury Layers

Comfort is no longer the only bedding criterion. Top-of-the-line additions take care of other needs, too, like temperature control, allergies, and even stress management.

satin sleep set sleepytime products

Satin Sleep Set

Satin won’t snag on your hair or skin, making it perfect for sleep. You’ll wake up sans wrinkles or sheet marks and your skin will be decidedly smoother.

granny goose four seasons down duvet

Granny Goose Four Seasons Down Duvet

Polish goose down is lightweight yet warm, settling around the body for added comfort and cover. Plus, down’s natural tech keeps you warm in cold temps and cool during warmer months.

luxury weighted blanket

Luxury Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets take a load off by simulating deep touch. Research shows they’re clutch for anxiety sufferers or neurodivergent people. This 100% Egyptian cotton version is also customisable.

tempur ombracio pillow

Tempur Ombracio Pillow

If you’re a stomach sleeper, this pillow is for you. The x-shape allows you to lie on your arms without the added pressure weighing on you. High-density foam contours to the unique shape of your head while providing optimal support without causing stress on your pressure points.

memory foam leg pillow

Memory Foam Leg Pillow

This pillow is small enough for travel and big on benefits. While taking the pressure off your bod while you sleep, it also allows you to sleep in proper alignment for your spine, so you’re comfy and wake up without niggles.

Get in the zen zone

These sleepytime products work in your space – and on your bod – to let you drift off peacefully.

Lush Sleepy lotion sleepytime products

Lush Sleepy Lotion

A cult classic among those in the know: Sleepy is a heady mixture of lavender, Ylang Ylang and Tonka Absolute. There’ve been countless articles delving into the curious power of this concoction and its ability to knock out users. Breathe deep… and good night.

the body shop sleep calming pillow mist

The Body Shop Sleep Calming Pillow Mist

Similarly to sleepy, this spray harnesses the power of lavender to help you conk out. Simply mist all over your sheets, fall into bed and sigh away to dreamland.

dream on pillow patches

Dream On Pillow Patches

Aromatherapy rules in this range of therapeutic pillow patches. Simply slip one into your pillowcase and breathe deep to get the benefits of ylang-ylang, lavender and more as they calm and cool fried nerves.

L'Occitane prestige relaxing candle

L’Occitane Prestige Relaxing Candle

To truly unplug after a dragging day, surround yourself with the tranquil scents of lavender and other calming herbs like geranium, orange blossom, and rose. You’ll hit the hay smiling.

devilz earplugs

Devilz Earplugs

Unlike the name suggests, you won’t have nightmares with these. These comfy earplugs come in different sizes and filter out noise pollution so you’re not up all night tossing and turning. Plus, they don’t stick out of your ears, making you look like Shrek.

Tech Assists

Next-gen tech that’ll help you get to sleep, stat.

dodow sleep aid device

Dodow Sleep Aid Device

This intelligent device uses a light system to lull you to sleep. Synchronise your breathing with the light pulses which creates a hypnotic effect, causing you to doze off. Plus, the light is low-intensity so you don’t feel alert when following its pulses.

fitbit sense 2 sleepytime products

Fitbit Sense 2

Fitbit has been top of the game when it comes to sleep tracking, and this watch is no exception. The heart rate sensors and motion trackers work to deduce your wakefulness and time in REM and light sleep. You can even set a silent alarm that lets you wake up in peace and the advanced trackers let you see your sleep habits over time, with an in-depth sleep score.

xiaomi smart humidifier

Xiaomi Smart Humidifier 2

With minimal noise, you can get a good night’s sleep while fresh, purified air is pumped around you. Smart technology allows you to maintain the perfect humidity levels, too.

LED light therapy lamp

LED Light Therapy Lamp

Light therapy floods your senses with light in the morning, cueing your brain to wake up peacefully. With six nature sounds, this lamp gently wakes you up by changing colour subtly from dim to morning light 30 minutes before the alarm. If you’d like, you can also hit snooze twice.

ohm white noise machine

Ohm White Noise Machine

White noise works to mask external noise by creating a calm, peaceful environment that lulls you to bed. Over time, you’ll become accustomed to the sound and associate it with bedtime, allowing you to fall asleep faster. This device comes with a variety of other sounds, including soothing, nature-based prompts that allow for deeper sleep.

sleep mask pro sleepytime products

Sleep Mask Pro

Made with ultra-comfortable, breathable fabric, this sleep mask moulds to your face and blacks out the outside world. Built-in Bluetooth speakers allow you to play soothing sounds while you drift away. Now that’s a sleepytime product we can get behind.

Sleep Supplements

Take these sleepytime supps as needed, to assist in dozing off.

CBD drops goodleaf

Goodleaf CBD Drops

CBD relaxes you so you can drift off peacefully. Plus, they help with pain. These vegan, sugar-free drops are taken orally before bed to aid in really sweet repose.

solal sleep naturally

SOLAL Sleep Naturally

This all-natural blend will help you drift off peacefully. Theanine works for stress-induced anxiety while magnesium helps relax tense muscles.

iVitamin sleep well gummies

iVitamin Sleep Well Gummies

Ashwagandha and magnesium combine to relax the mind and body for restful zzz’s. Magnesium works to relax the muscles while ashwagandha reduces stress.

The Patch Brand Sleep Vitamin Patch

Sleep Vitamin Patch

Place this patch on your bod 30 minutes before bed to drift off stress-free. Active ingredients like melatonin and valerian root assist in easing you into sleep.

Pukka night time tea

Pukka Night Time Tea

Sip these soothing leaves before bed and get dozing faster. Organic oat flower, lavender and limeflower work to relax and ease your body into rest mode.

Women’s Health participates in various affiliate marketing programmes, which means we may get commissions on editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer sites.


4 Proudly South African Apps For Mental Health Support

Fri, 30 Jun 2023 06:00:00 +0000

There are very few things in life that we can never tire of talking about. And mental health should top that list. This, in a country where the stigma surrounding mental health challenges is still met with nonchalant responses such as, “you’re being lazy” or “just keep pushing”, therefore making it harder for people to ask for help. At around a R1000 and more for a consultation, quality mental health care has become the reserve of those with deep pockets! 

South Africa’s mental health culture still sees many people choosing to suffer in silence and embarrassment instead of speaking out. Other than private mental health specialists, there aren’t many free or affordable mental health resources to cater to the population. 

A 2022 research paper published by the Wits/Medical Research Council Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit found that “South Africans suffer higher rates of probable depression and anxiety than other countries”. This was also a finding recorded by the Mental Health of the World report 2021 which, through the lowest mental health quotient score in the world, concluded that South Africa had a masked mental health crisis. To help you along on your mental health journey, we have compiled a list of apps and social media platforms to lean on when hard times strike. 

READ MORE: 5 Morning Routines That Actually Work, According To Science

Fee: Free for individuals
Available: Android and iOS users
Panda is on a serious mission: to empower people to be proactive with their mental health battles. The user-friendly mobile app features tailored content, assessments, one-on-one therapy sessions as well as anonymous group sessions where you learn on topics ranging from anxiety to depression (and everything in between). The app offers three care packages for individuals, employees and insurers. 

Fee: R185 per consultation or R120 for an express consultation
Available: Android and iOS users
With guaranteed quality healthcare at your fingertips, Kena Health has made it easy to consult a doctor or mental health professional directly. The app connects patients to qualified healthcare practitioners for advice, diagnoses, prescriptions and referrals to specialists or another place of care. Their aim: to make quality health care accessible at a steal.

READ MORE: It’s Official: Stress Makes Us Crave Junk Food

Fee: Free
Available: Android and iOS users
Developed by medical doctors, WHOLE empowers users with ongoing self-care focused on holistic wellness in its entirety. How do they do this? Through a fun way to build healthy habits that can help improve mental health. Experiment with over 100 science-backed activities to boost your happiness. Plus, useful tips that keep you balanced all day and measure your progress. 

READ MORE: “Social media had me romanticising my mental illness and put me in a hole.”

Fee: Free
Not available as an app yet
Developed by IT entrepreneur Pieter Oosthuizen, this online support group helps you achieve your mental health and greater self-awareness through sharing and conversations. “The benefit of joining a support group has been widely recognised by mental health professionals around the world,” says Oosthuizen, who was inspired to launch the platform by his own sister’s battle with depression and anxiety.

“Working with my sister, we started developing a platform that would enable anyone wanting to join any type of support group for a mental health condition or for life coaching generally to do so in a way that’s convenient, secure and affordable. It has also been designed to protect their privacy by allowing them to hide their identity from the host and other group members should they choose to do so.”

READ MORE: Actress Shannon Esra On Learning To Trust Her Intuition

More habits to hone

Over some past few years, several studies have deduced that being constantly plugged into social media increased anxiety and depression. Taking a social media break is helpful for our mental health, as per the research findings of study by the Penn State University, USA and Jinan University, China. If you’re able to silence your mind for a few minutes a day (or more), then meditation also comes highly recommended. Several studies have, in the past, found that practising mindfulness and meditation ultimately leads to decreased stress levels. To get you started, we suggest downloading Insight Timer, Breathe2Relax or Smiling Mind for some guided meditation and breathwork. 

Click here for some mental health resources and support if you’re in South Africa. 


Actress Shannon Esra On Learning To Trust Her Intuition

Thu, 22 Jun 2023 08:00:00 +0000

The South African actress, best known for her impressive catalogue of local and international productions such as I Dreamed of Africa, The Queen, The Gamechangers, The River, Still Breathing and, more recently, season 2 of M-Net’s Lioness, is finally allowing her intuition to take centre stage.

“I’ve spent a great deal of time not listening to my intuition and it’s because I hadn’t understood the voice that was speaking to me,” she says.

Recently, she’s become conscious of where her intuition resides in her body. “For the most part of my life, I liked bouncing things off of people that I trust. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve known people or how close you are to them, they will only understand certain dimensions. Whatever message comes from your own intuition is for you alone,” muses Shannon.

Staying Connected

READ MORE: Banesa Tseki On How Yoga Gave Her A New Lease On Life

The truest way to connect to herself? Tapping into what’s happening whenever her intuition nudges her. We spend much time receiving the bulk of our feedback from the outside world. And sometimes, we do so while ignoring our primal and instinctual knowledge of self – also forgetting that the brain and body are built for survival – notes Shannon.

”Clichéd as it may sound, what I know is that our instincts are never wrong.” Along with relying on her instincts more, Shannon is also invested in healing her past traumas through therapy. She has a Netflix feature Do Your Worst film that was released in March. The movie’s about a failing actress about to turn 40, who’s dealing with some seriously bad decisions.

READ MORE: Why Toxic Positivity Is Harmful And What To Say Instead

Shannon didn’t particularly resonate with the character much, apart from the very real fear of being an out-of-work actor. “The character, Sondra, is a complete dits but the reason I bring her up is because when I’m in the midst of a project, I kind of become the person that I’m playing,” she explains.

“I think, in this very strange way, every character that crosses my path comes to inevitably teach and open me up to something in myself that might not have presented itself without their influence. Every character comes at exactly the right time – it’s as if acting is its own type of wonderful healing and evolving experience,” she explains.

Closed Off

Shannon goes on to explain that in her world, embracing a character has been much easier than being her true self. Therapy, she acknowledges, helped her realise that she’d been a shutdown human. She cites two events, in particular, that led to her being closed off. Number one: Her love-filled childhood where she never learnt how to process her feelings, nor establish her own boundaries.

“This created a perfectionist mentality in me, something that has troubled me for a large part of my life.”

READ MORE: 10 South African TikTok Fitness Accounts That’ll Give You ALL The Motivation You Need

The second event was a six-year relationship that she recently got out of. “I didn’t realise the extent of how its trauma had affected me because I grew up with that ‘if it doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t hurt’ mentality, which created space for me to keep shoving things under the rug.” Right now, Shannon only cares about being real, flawed and engaging in authentic conversations.

Going Forward

Her goal going forward? “…To be as self-aware and present as I can possibly be and, of course, listen to my intuition when something doesn’t feel quite right.”


It’s Official: Stress Makes Us Crave Junk Food

Wed, 21 Jun 2023 18:00:00 +0000

Have you ever noticed you reach for junk foods when you feel stressed? Maybe you don’t feel you have the energy to cook something healthy or you add a little something into the basket on your way home because you deserve it.

Comfort eating on repeat is all too real — and now we know the science behind it.


A study published in Neuron has shown that eating high-calorie foods while feeling stressed can cause brain changes that increase cravings for it. Ooof, slippery slope.

These foods — call them comfort, junk, high calorie… potato, potato — activate the reward centre in the brain. Over time, if this craving is given into often rather than as the occasional indulgence, this cause and effect (stress hormones, such as cortisol and food) can create unhealthy associations and increase the chance of consuming them.

On an average day, the brain region responsible for stopping us overeating — the lateral habenula — would neutralise the reward we get from comfort eating, meaning it becomes less appealing.

Researchers found that in times of stress, the brain’s reaction to being satiated was overridden. Essentially, the lateral habenula stays shtum. This means junk food continues to press those ‘reward’ buttons, boosting feel-good hormones, such as dopamine, in the short term.

What’s The Catch?

High in calories, fats, sugars, carbs and most other things we don’t want an excess of on the reggo. These foods not only cause weight gain but a wide range of other changes, including sleep and hormonal issues.

The catch-22 is these can then lead to stress. This creates an unhealthy cycle of stress, junk food, sleep, repeat.

Though it can feel challenging to make an effort to make something nourishing when we’re feeling sub-par, healthy subscription boxes, frozen meals and a few easy recipes can make the difference between pizza every day and a healthy, balanced diet.

This article by Rebecca Gillam was originally published on Women’s Health UK.


5 Morning Routines That Actually Work, According To Science

Sun, 18 Jun 2023 16:00:00 +0000

If you’re on social media like the rest of the planet, you’ll know that morning routines are huge. Huuuuge. Pretty posts detailing mornings sipping specific green lattes, journalling, drinking water at specific times and more abound. But which of these routines are backed by science? We did the research to see the morning routines that’ll actually boost your day, leaving you refreshed and with other helpful benefits, too.

Get sunlight ASAP

Not only does getting a few minutes of uninterrupted sunshine boost your body’s production of vitamin D but it serves as a huge tool in boosting alertness. Since artificial light in our lives changes our natural circadian rhythm, causing us to be alert when we should feel sleepy, tuning into the natural rhythm of the sun has benefits. When you wake up, open the curtains, step outside and let the sunlight hit your face. This bright light therapy (BLT) can help with mood disorders like Seasonal Affective Disorder and can slow down the progressive cognitive decline in dementia, per one study. Another study found that people who took in sunlight within two hours of waking up were slimmer and better able to manage their weight than those who did not.

Brush your teeth before breakfast

You may not like the taste but the science might make you change your mind. When you sleep, plague – and the bacteria it causes – multiply in your mouth. Eating right after you wake up? That’s a whole lot of plague and bacteria you’re swallowing. Washing your mouth right after waking rinses out that icky bacteria and jump-starts saliva production, which helps break down the food you eat and kills the bad bacteria in your mouth.

Get moving

We know you hate to hear it but moving your body, even for a little while, can tip the needle in your favour for the rest of the day. Taking a walk, doing a light yoga flow or gentle stretches in bed can work. Plus, one study found that morning exercise reduces abdominal fat and blood pressure in women. If you’re up for it, try something heart-pumping. These offer the most benefits, since aerobic exercise is clutch at lifting the mood and clearing unwanted mental clutter. It also primes the body to burn fat all day long, provided you work out before breakfast.    

Eat a breakfast

If you like cereal, get that going (watch the sugars), but get some food in your system. Data from the Australian National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found that among breakfast skippers, there were higher intakes of saturated fats and lower intakes of fibre and micronutrients. Another study found that among Brazilian breakfast eaters, there were higher intakes of vitamins B12, C and D. Also: a lower intake of sugars. People who skip breakfast were also found to have higher nutrient deficiencies than those who indulged. Breakfast isn’t just a nutritional powerhouse, either. Several large studies have found that there’s a strong correlation between eating breakfast and having a lowered risk of obesity and weight gain.

Drink coffee, but not immediately

Coffee’s main component is caffeine, which gives you those jittery energy vibes we’re all hooked on. But having a cup of coffee right after waking up might be a bad idea. That’s because, per research, your body’s production of cortisol is at one of its highest peaks during the first hour of waking. Messing with this alert hormone teaches your bod to produce less cortisol, meaning you naturally wake up feeling more sluggish than sharp. Even worse, you might develop a reliance on the brew. Keep your cuppa, but wait for an hour before downing it.


How Armani’s Getting Ahead Of The Global Water Scarcity Crisis

Tue, 13 Jun 2023 06:00:26 +0000

When water comes out of our taps, we often don’t think about it – until it disappears. But water scarcity is a reality around the world and in South Africa, too. That’s why the Armani Acqua for Life campaign takes steps to address the issue.

What is the water scarcity situation in South Africa?

In South Africa, over 3 million people still don’t have access to a basic water supply service. And, only 64 percent of households have access to a reliable water supply. Globally, 1 in 10 people don’t have access to clean water close to home. And without this access, the door is open for contaminated water sources, bringing diseases like cholera and dysentery.  

What is the Armani Acqua for Life initiative?

The same year that Armani created Acqua for Life, the United Nations recognised the right to water and sanitation as a human right. Added to that, Armani’s initiative has invested 14 million euros in water projects across 23 countries, which has helped over 590,000 people worldwide. They focus on delivering universal access to drinking water in water-scarce regions. That includes the installation of water points, latrines rainwater collection, water filtering and water purification systems.

boy drinking from a tap in the Armani Acqua for Life campaign

The Armani Acqua for Life initiative took steps in South Africa. They also put up a series of portraits of people who have been positively impacted by the programme. These were displayed at Nirox Sculpture Park in Johannesburg. Through this initiative, Armani aims to raise awareness about water scarcity. Estimates show that by 2025, half of the world’s population could be living in water-stressed areas.

Raising awareness about water scarcity

The exhibition unveils authentic and optimistic portraits of people positively impacted by an Acqua for Life project in South Africa. South African artists Justice and Fhatuwani Mukheli – with the help of videographers, Simba, and Wesley Takaedza, shine a light on the concrete impact that Acqua for Life projects have had. The artists went to the Mamburu and Maangane villages, with a series of portraits of those who live there. These portraits illustrate how access to water allows people to flourish, enhancing the intrinsic connection between water and life.


Why Toxic Positivity Is Harmful And What To Say Instead

Mon, 12 Jun 2023 08:00:00 +0000

“You have to keep strong! or ‘Everything happens for a reason!” “Don’t grieve like a non-believer!” or “You need to stop moaning about him, and get over him already!” or “You’re young enough, you will still be able to have more kids!” Let’s pick your brains real quick…What do these five statements have in common? *Drum Roll*

They are those go-to phrases most people over-rely on during trying times, you might say! Or that, secondly, they discourage the person on the receiving end (or, yourself even!) to process their truest feelings. Or that, they reek of an unrealistic pressure to stay positive even when an incident doesn’t call for it. And don’t get us wrong, we’re not advocating for people to chuck their resilience out the window at the first sign of distress or to romanticise negative emotions.

But what we’re defs saying is that toxic positivity, as demonstrated in the musings above, tends to be inauthentic and unrealistic at the best of times — even though it may come from a heartfelt place.

READ MORE: Banesa Tseki On How Yoga Gave Her A New Lease On Life

Read The Room

By now, the above examples should’ve jogged your memory back to those incidents where someone’s statement left you thinking: ‘What in the name of tone deafness is that?’

Experts describe toxic positivity as unsolicited pressure to only display positive emotions while dismissing any negative emotions and experiences. It invalidates human experience and can lead to trauma, isolation, and unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Over the years, many research studies have found positivity to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, improve coping skills, increase physical wellbeing – including reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues – and
even lengthen your lifespan. However, when positivity turns is forced to the point of it being toxic, the results are considerably different. “Toxic positivity is beyond having a positive approach to life,” explains Dr Jennie Hudson,
a professor of clinical psychology.

“It extends beyond the edges of reality. It is insincere optimism, an extreme positive bias that ignores reality.” It also ignores the negative ramifications, both on those spreading toxic positivity and those on the receiving end.

Though optimism is a powerful tool, forced positivity isn’t helpful at all. In 2020, researchers at the University of found that “overestimating outcomes was associated with lower well-being than setting realistic outcomes”. Circa 2018, universities of Toronto and California researchers found that people who avoided acknowledging challenging emotions could actually end up feeling worse. Dr Hudson unpacks this, saying: “It is normal to experience painful events, or emotions like anger, sadness and guilt. If we live in a toxically positive environment that doesn’t allow us to experience emotions like anger or sadness, then we are robbed of important life experiences and lessons.” She adds that these emotions have a role in our lives, in childhood development, in our relationships. When we feel angry it is usually because someone has wronged us. When we feel sad it is because we have lost something important. These emotions help to guide us and our choices.

READ MORE: “Social media had me romanticising my mental illness and put me in a hole”

Say This Instead

When it comes to showing support or motivating loved ones, words matter far more than we think. Instead of finding yourself uttering words that will leave people rolling their eyes, life and relationship coach Megan Luscombe offers alternative approaches to “motivational” phrases.

INSTEAD OF: Look on the bright side 

RATHER SAY: “Sometimes there isn’t a bright side. I’ll stay with you in the dark for as long as it takes and when you want to turn the light on, I’ll help. “

INSTEAD OF: Everything happens for a reason 

RATHER SAY: “I’m sure you feel like you need a reason for this to have happened to make sense of it. What’s the story you’re telling so far? I want to support you.” 

INSTEAD OF: You’ll get over it

RATHER SAY: “Instead of thinking you have to get over it, let’s instead start to process it.” 

INSTEAD OF: It could be worse 

RATHER SAY: “Your feelings are valid. Don’t minimise your experience.” 

INSTEAD OF: Never give up 

RATHER SAY: “It’s OK to sidestep, press pause or even change our minds. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up; it means you’re re-prioritising.” 

INSTEAD OF:  It is what it is 

RATHER SAY: “What it is, is something that’s hurt/upset/disappointed you. You’re allowed to feel your feelings instead of dismissing them.”


What Is Insomnia, Exactly? And How Can We Get Better Sleep?

Mon, 12 Jun 2023 06:00:00 +0000

If sleep is a constant struggle for you (here’s looking at you, doom scrollers), welcome to the club. According to the sleep tracking app Sleep Cycle, South Africans get fewer hours in the hay than any other nation in the world. It also seems that the older you get, the worse your insomnia becomes. Per a 2012 study, people aged 65 and older have higher rates of insomnia.

Meet The Expert: Dr Alison Bentley is a Restonic Sleep Expert

So… What is insomnia?

“It’s easiest to describe insomnia as a reduced quantity of sleep,” Dr Bentley says. “But, to be an insomniac, the reduction in hours of sleep has to cause some kind of problem with daytime function. This could range from poor concentration to memory problems, trouble focusing on tasks and fatigue.”

She adds that apart from a drop in daytime function, insomnia can have many long-term effects on health, including cardiac issues and metabolic disorders, such as obesity and diabetes. This makes it important to address insomnia as soon as possible.

What are the symptoms of insomnia?

There are three main symptoms of insomnia, according to Dr Bentley.

  •  Trouble falling asleep
  • Waking in the middle of the night and battling to go back to sleep
  • Waking too early in the morning.

Most people have more than one of these symptoms and a particular symptom does not necessarily link to a specific cause.

There are different types of insomnia

Insomnia is a class of disorders as there are multiple causes. Dr Bentley says the condition can also either be acute or chronic.

Acute insomnia

“Acute insomnia occurs when sleep is disrupted due to a specific stressor and in most people only lasts for as long as the stress does, after which it resolves and sleep becomes normal again,” she says.

“The stress is often psychological. For example, someone might struggle with after the death of a loved one or during a period of intense work stress. It can, however, also be caused by a physical trigger, such as the development of a painful disorder, such as arthritis. Only a quarter of people with acute insomnia go on to suffer with chronic insomnia.”

Chronic insomnia

Got chronic insomnia? That’ll be the case if you’ve got sleep problems, from the above symptoms, lasting at least three days per week for at least three months. “At this point, it’s usually not stress causing the sleeplessness, but changes in the way we think of sleep (cognitive issues), as well as some bad habits (behavioural issues) that we adopt to try to get more sleep,” says Dr Bentley. “These mean we worry more about our sleep and spend longer in bed trying to get more sleep and both of these factors make our sleep problems worse.”

Other types of insomnia

If you’re dealing with depression, anxiety, chronic pain or obstructive sleep apnoea, you might also have insomnia. Various medications used to treat other medical disorders can also interfere with sleep, for example, medications that lower cholesterol and antiretrovirals for treating HIV infection, says Dr Bentley.

Is your mattress the culprit?

Sometimes, your mattress might be to blame. If you have a mattress that leaves you waking up with aches and pains, you might need to replace it. “Over time, the comfort layers in your mattress break down, which can cause pressure points when you sink onto the firmer support core,” says Dale Harley, Executive in Restonic Marketing.

Dr Bentley adds that other signs that your mattress is affecting your sleep can include finding it difficult to get comfortable causing a longer sleep onset (time to fall asleep).

“If you no longer wake up feeling refreshed, your mattress may be at the end of its life,” Harley says. “It’s worth exploring whether this is the case.”

How do you know if you have insomnia?

Sure, you’re not clocking eight solid hours every night, but does that mean you’re an insomniac? Not necessarily, says Dr Bentley. “The number of hours usually quoted as constituting ‘normal sleep’ is seven to eight hours a night. However, this is not quite true,” says Dr Bentley. “Yes, seven to eight hours is the average amount of sleep for a population. But there are many people who need more than that and some who need less.”

Treatments for insomnia

Treatment for insomnia can include CBT, or cognitive behavioural therapy, as well as medication. You’d also need to cultivate a sleep routine that includes cues your body would learn from. When you expose yourself to a certain scent, for example, that might signal sleep time for your brain, enabling you to nod off. Per the Sleep Foundation, healthy sleep would also involve limiting stimuli around bedtime. Yip, that includes your cellphone and TV.

Bottom line: if you wake up feeling tired, you likely need more sleep. Think you’re dealing with insomnia? Chat with your doctor first. “There are a number of conditions that cause insomnia and treatment does not always need to involve sleeping tablets,” says Dr Bentley. “But ignoring the problem does not result in improvement over time. Once insomnia has become chronic, it will generally continue unless specific action is taken.”


Here’s Why There’s More Air Pollution In Winter – And How To Solve It

Mon, 05 Jun 2023 07:00:00 +0000

During colder months, you’re probably going to want to light the fire, close the windows and keep cosy. And, when loadshedding hits, flick on the generator and continue to ‘Netflix and chill’. But, if you want to stay healthy this winter, this is exactly what you shouldn’t be doing – unless you’ve invested in an air purifier, says Trevor Brewer, Director of air treatment and lifestyle specialist Solenco. That’s because indoor air pollution in winter can become a problem.

In winter, the air gets a little dirtier, leading to respiratory illness that can get deadly. Per the WHO, Household air pollution was responsible for an estimated 3.2 million deaths per year in 2020, including over 237 000 deaths of children under the age of 5. Cooking with gas because of loadshedding? Watch out: these gases emit kerosene, which generates harmful household air pollution, says the WHO.

Air pollution in winter – even indoors

In South Africa, the particulate matter (read: pollution) in our air is regularly higher than the national standards. Around 86% of South Africa’s primary energy supply is from coal, and much of the particulate matter that we breathe in is caused in the process of generating coal-fired electricity, says Brewer.

And indoor pollution can get bad. “Pollutants are microscopic particles of toxic chemicals that are small enough to enter the bloodstream. Because they’re so small, you can be sure they’re being carried into your home. In fact, the concentration of pollutants and toxins found in the air can actually be two to five times higher indoors than out,” says Brewer.

Air Pollution Solutions

Stay ventilated

Keeping the windows closed may help to keep cold air out but it also keeps polluted air in. Dust, fumes from household chemicals, emissions from appliances, bacteria and germs, pet dander, damp and mould, and the pollutants discussed above, are all at home in your house when there’s no fresh air circulating. And with them come all the winter ailments.

You could stock up on medicine to deal with the symptoms that come with seasonal changes, says Brewer, but he suggests that you rather prevent these adverse effects by investing in an air purifier for your home or office.

Solenco Purification Pal for air pollution in winter

Solenco Purification Pal

This gadget keeps the air in your home clean by forcing air through an ultra-fine mesh that traps pollutants. Look for one with HEPA tech, like the Solenco Purification Pal, that removes 99.8% of particles as small as 0.3 microns from the air.

Humidify your air

The dryness of the air can constitute a health hazard, especially in cooler months. For people with respiratory or lung issues, cold and dry air narrows airways and makes it harder to breathe. Even if you’re healthy, dry air can cause pain, inflammation and headaches, asthma, allergies and hay fever, itchy, uncomfortable skin, and nose bleeds. What works? A humidifier, which can refresh the air by injecting purified water into your surroundings.

Xiaomi Humidifier 2 Lite for air pollution in winter

Xiaomi Humidifier 2 Lite

Brewer says an evaporative humidifier is a great way to keep your indoor air at optimal moisture levels and remove air impurities, to improve your comfort and your health. A smaller unit will service a bedroom or living area, while a whole-home unit can cover 370 square metres.

Invest in air-purifying plants

Some house plants can diffuse toxic chemicals in the air, like formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene. It’s essential to still clean your plants, since the leaves can collect dust, leading to allergies.

Snake plant image by Image by azerbaijan_stockers on Freepik, air pollution in winter

Look for plants like English Ivy, Bamboo Palm and Aloe Vera. Snake plants are extremely pretty indoors and also help purify the air.


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