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Working for a World without Prejudice

Modern society is more of a multicultural melting pot than ever before; but unfortunately, prejudice remains a big problem.

Prejudice is a preconceived idea or judgement against a person (or group of people) that isn’t based on reason or reality. This leads to discrimination against individuals and groups, based on judgements about factors like their race, class, sexual orientation or religion.

Prejudice leads to hate speech and hateful actions. It’s important that we all speak up against prejudice, to prevent hateful behaviour from becoming the norm.

How to Fight Prejudice & Foster Diversity

Here’s how you can be part of the solution:

  1. Challenge your own assumptions

We all grow up with prejudices and stereotypes – it can be embarrassing to admit this, but it’s necessary to acknowledge it!

Are there certain groups of people you look down on? Why do you feel that way? Do you make an effort to understand those people, or do you dismiss them based on an assumption? Acknowledge your own preconceived ideas, challenge them and work towards changing them.

  1. Educate yourself

Prejudice starts with ignorance, so education is the best way to defeat it. Find accurate, unbiased information about other cultures and different ways of life. Do so with an open mind and you’ll be amazed at what you can learn.

  1. Encourage acceptance in the next generation

Be a role model for your children, by demonstrating a respect for other cultures, races and walks of life.

Encourage your children to interact with classmates from other cultures and backgrounds. Point out stereotypes in the media your kids consume (movies, commercials and TV shows), and talk openly about why these stereotypes aren’t realistic.

  1. Get involved

Show support for those who have been the victims of prejudice. Make monetary donations to causes that focus on educating people and putting a stop to prejudice. Attend rallies or workshops to support these causes.

  1. Don’t dismiss “small” acts of prejudice

Take prejudice seriously and address it, even if it’s a “minor” matter like name-calling or an inappropriate joke. Remember, a slur or harsh statement could easily turn into harassment, harassment could escalate to threats, and threats could lead to physical violence.

By educating yourself and others, you can build a healthier society where prejudice and discrimination make way for acceptance and unity!




Better Care for Your Kidneys

Everyone knows that the kidneys are involved in urination, and for most people, that’s about as much thought as these little bean-shaped organs get.

Your kidneys are actually extremely important, multi-functional organs that don’t get enough credit. They play many vital roles in a healthy, functioning body, and it’s important to know what they do and how to care for them.

What Your Kidneys Do for You

The kidneys’ main function is to help remove waste products from the bloodstream, and get rid of them through the urine. But these remarkable organs work hard to do so much more than that.

Kidneys also support your body in the following ways:

  • Regulating the amount of fluid in the body, through urine production
  • Regulating your blood pressure, by producing a hormone that narrows the arteries
  • Making red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body
  • Producing active vitamin D, for strong bones and a healthy immune system

What is Kidney Failure?

Kidney failure is a serious medical condition that means the kidneys are no longer able to properly filter waste products from your bloodstream. There are two main types of kidney failure, namely acute and chronic.

Acute kidney injury is a sudden loss of kidney function that develops within 48 hours. Chronic kidney disease is a slow loss of kidney function, which happens over time.

The most common symptoms of kidney disease are changes in urination:

  • Foamy, bubbly or dark-coloured urine
  • Blood in the urine
  • More frequent urination during the night
  • Difficulty urinating, or a decrease in the volume of urine

There are plenty of other less obvious signs too, which aren’t directly linked to urination, but are still symptoms of what happens when things go wrong with your kidneys.


These symptoms include:

  • Swelling/ water retention in the legs, ankles, feet, face or hands
  • Fatigue or anaemia due to a decrease in red blood cells
  • Shortness of breath, due to lack of oxygen-carrying red blood cells
  • Severe itching or skin rashes, caused by a build-up of waste in the body
  • A metallic taste in the mouth, due to a build-up of waste in the bloodstream
  • Nausea or vomiting, due to waste build-up
  • Dizziness or difficulty concentrating, caused by a lack of oxygen being carried to the brain

Diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems all increase the risk of kidney failure, but lifestyle (diet and exercise) also plays a role. The good news is, with a few healthy habits, you can ease the load on your kidneys and do your best to protect them.

Easy Ways to Protect your Kidneys

  1. Firstly, make sure you’re hydrated. That means drinking plenty of fresh, clean water. Other drinks like juice, coffee or tea can contribute a little towards hydration – but caffeine is a diuretic, and most juices are full of sugar and additives too. There’s simply no substitute for pure water.

Top Tip: If your urine is pale (straw-coloured or lighter), that’s a good sign that you’re getting enough fluid. Darker shades of yellow can be a sign of dehydration.

  1. Eat a healthy, balanced diet that’s high in fruits and vegetables. This will help you get enough of the nutrients and antioxidants that support kidney health.
  2. Avoid eating salty foods, or adding salt to every meal. Too much salt raises the sodium levels in your bloodstream, making it harder for your kidneys to remove the water (causing water retention). This leads to higher blood pressure and added strain on the kidneys.
  3. Avoid smoking and drinking. Having alcohol and nicotine in your system forces your kidneys to work harder to remove those added toxins from your blood. Not to mention the other health complications that smoking and drinking can cause!
  4. Monitor your blood pressure regularly. If it is high, you may have a higher risk of kidney failure, so speak to your health care practitioner about the right way to manage it.
  5. Regular exercise and a healthy body weight will reduce the workload on your kidneys. Just 30 minutes of physical activity every day will keep you fit.

Your kidneys do so much for you; say thank you by taking good care of them!




Consumer tip

If you’re still battling with festive season debt this far into the New Year, it may be time to turn to a professional for advice. Speak to LifeAssist or a professional like a chartered accountant, who can review and restructure your current plan to get out of debt, giving you a clearer way forward. This will go a long way towards better financial health for you and your family.


Consumer Tip

Financial stress can take a terrible toll on relationships – in fact, money is the issue that couples argue about the most, and a huge percentage of divorces result from financial troubles.

To improve the financial health of your relationship, plan your short-term and long-term financial goals as a couple. Draw up a budget together and update it regularly; once a month at least. This is an empowering exercise that will help both partners to stay equally involved.

Keep your own separate bank accounts, as well as a joint account. This means you have some money of your own to spend or save independently, while pooling the rest of your money together to cover major living expenses.

Lastly, remember that money is just a tool at the end of the day. It reflects what you can afford, but it’s not a reflection of who you are as a person!


Caring Families

“The purpose of a relationship is not to have another who might complete you, but to have another with whom you might share your completeness.”

– Neale Donald Walsch, American author and screenwriter

These are great words for you (and your partner) to live by! Make sure you take care of yourself and cultivate an all-round healthy and happy life, rather than waiting for the right person to come along and do it for you.


Seven Secrets to Better Communication Skills

Communication is what helps us to connect with others and build relationships, with our family, friends, colleagues and clients. Good communication skills come naturally to some of us, but if you’re nervous about talking to new people, or speaking in front of a group, it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve.

These seven practical tips will help you to become a more effective communicator, making it easier to connect with those around you.

  1. Don’t just hear, listen. Learn to pay attention to what other people are saying, instead of thinking about what you want to say next. Cultivate active listening skills, which will make it easier to give others your full attention when they’re speaking. If you listen actively, you’ll be able to respond more constructively.
  2. Be patient. Don’t interrupt the person speaking. Wait until they’re finished before responding. Interrupting isn’t just considered rude, it can distract the speaker and derail the whole conversation.
  3. Avoid “filler” words. Try not to um and ah when you talk, as it will make you sound less confident and less credible. It helps to speak a little more slowly and to pause more often; this might feel awkward at first, but it sounds much less awkward than all those “ums”.
  4. Be aware of non-verbal cues. Body language plays a big role in communication. Make sure that you look the other person or people in the eye when you talk, and when you listen. Pay attention to their body language and your own when you’re having a conversation, to make sure everyone feels involved and engaged.
  5. Focus. Concentrate on one topic at a time during a conversation. You could miss out on valuable information if you think too far ahead, or dwell on past topics. Minimise distractions (noise, electronics etc) so that you can focus fully on the conversation at hand.
  6. Ask the right questions. Avoid asking close-ended questions (those that require simple “yes or no” answers), and ask open-ended questions (which require more detailed answers). Summarise and repeat the other person’s answers back to them, to make sure you’ve understood and clarify anything you might have missed. For example: “So to recap…” or “So what you’re saying is…” This will keep both of you engaged throughout the conversation.
  7. It’s not just about what you say; it’s also about how you say it. Make sure you use the right tone of voice as well as the right words. If you talk about an exciting topic with a dull, unenthusiastic tone, the topic itself will be boring as well.

Good communication is the start of any great relationship. Work on your skills and you’ll reap the rewards in your professional and personal life.



Top 10 Ways to Improve your Communication Skills
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The Institute for Management Excellence
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Five Ways to Go Green this Year

February is Environmental Health Awareness Month, so while you’re thinking of ways to spoil your Valentine, it’s important to show the Earth a little extra love as well.

Do your bit to promote a healthier environment, by following these five easy solutions to common pollution problems:

  1. Ban the Bag

The problem: Many of us load up on plastic shopping bags every time we take a trip to the store, and don’t even think to reuse them once before throwing them away. No wonder these packets have become a pollutant plague to our parks, beaches and other beautiful natural spaces.

The solution: Use canvas or paper shopping bags instead of plastic bags. Choose convenient, lightweight bags that you can easily fold up and carry around. If you get caught without your reusable bags and have to use plastic, be sure to reuse that plastic bag as much as you can before you toss it.

  1. Start Composting

The problem: Food is biodegradable, so it should be safe to throw away, right? Wrong! Household food waste is a growing issue, with more and more discarded food in our landfills fuelling the production of methane and carbon dioxide – bad news for the environment.

The solution: Instead of tossing out your food scraps and leftovers, compost them. You’ll be cutting right down on household waste, and creating an affordable, effective source of nutrients for your garden at the same time. This is a good opportunity to start growing some of your own garden-fresh goodies!

  1. Ditch the Bottle

The problem: The disposable plastic bottle is another common item that ends up in the rubbish dump after just one use. Not only are plastic bottles pollutants, they’re also filled with potentially dangerous chemicals (like BPA) which leach out as the plastic starts to break down.

The solution: Get a snazzy reusable (glass or stainless steel) drinking bottle to carry your favourite refreshments with you to the office or the gym. A reusable bottle is better for the planet and safer for your health – plus it’s designed to last for many years, saving you money in the long run.

  1. Shop Local

The problem: Big chain stores are convenient shopping destinations, but they also have a significant impact on the environment. These stores require a lot of transportation for their goods, resulting in a high level of carbon emissions.

The solution: Instead of shopping at large national chain stores, support smaller local businesses as often as you can. These businesses typically use fewer resources (land, water, transportation etc), which means lower carbon emissions. Buying locally grown produce helps to support local farmers, and shopping with locally owned businesses will strengthen your local economy.

  1. Say No to Straws

The problem: Plastic drinking straws are yet another huge source of pollution, especially in the oceans. Straws are among the top 10 most common litter items picked up during costal cleanups. What’s more, they’re completely unnecessary! You’ll typically use a straw for just a few minutes before binning it.

The solution: Start saying no to plastic straws this year. Ordering your drinks without straws is one small habit that contributes to a big difference for the planet. You can also get on board with the eco-chic crowd, and invest in your own reusable straw from a local sustainable brand. There are so many stylish options out there, made with materials like glass, stainless steel or biodegradable bamboo.

These simple changes will turn you into an environmental health hero before the year is over!



Rethink the Bag
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Strawless Ocean
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Ban the Bottle
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Why should I compost?
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Loving Advice for a Healthier Relationship

In a marriage or a long-term romantic relationship, it can be all too easy to get complacent and fall into bad habits. This could leave you and your partner feeling frustrated and wondering what happened to that original spark between you.

When the going gets tough, it might feel easier to give up on the relationship than to slog through the hard work of repairing what went wrong. But those who are happily married will tell you that the work is all worth it in the end.

If you feel like your relationship is in dire need of some TLC, don’t expect your spouse to read your mind. Sit down together and talk about where you are in your relationship, and where you want to be. Be kind but honest about your feelings. Then you can start taking some steps towards a healthier, happier relationship.

  • First, decide together that you both want a fresh start, and that you’re both committed to making the changes your relationship needs.
  • Forgive old wrongs from the past, and agree not to bring them up in future arguments.
  • Agree to a new set of standards and expectations. For example, is there something you specifically want your partner to stop doing, or start doing? Do you want to rekindle an old tradition like date night, or start a new one like family night?
  • Spend quality time together and make these new standards a priority. You might even want to take a short trip together, as a way of clearing your heads and starting anew.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate! Check in regularly with each other, review your agreed-upon set of standards and make sure you’re each holding up your end of the bargain.
  • Show your appreciation. Thank your partner sincerely when you’re grateful for something they’ve done, and be specific about what you’re grateful for. This positive reinforcement can be a big motivation for them to keep up those positive behaviours.
  • Be prepared to apologise, and admit when you get things wrong. This can be hard to do, but it makes maintaining a healthy relationship so much easier.
  • If these positive changes don’t start to improve your relationship, getting professional help can make all the difference. Talk to a marriage counsellor or couples’ therapist who can give you the tools to talk through your concerns and work out your differences.



Relationship Dating Advice
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A New Beginning
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Caring Families

We recommend spending some time setting goals for the New Year as a family. Creating a Family Vision Board is a fun, interactive way to do this.

First, get together and discuss your goals and dreams for the year ahead. Then it’s time to get creative. Collect a stack of magazines, and cut out pictures or words that remind you of your goals. (Artistic types can also draw their own.) Put all these images together on a large pin-board or cardboard sheet. Display your Family Vision Board in a place where you can all see it daily, as a reminder to stay focused on making those dreams a reality.


Consumer Tip

The best gift you can give yourself this year is your health. A healthier life is a longer life, which means you’ll be able to enjoy more cherished time with your loved ones.

Schedule an annual physical check-up with your GP every year. This will give you and your doctor a chance to review your health and identify any potential risks. It will also empower you to make healthy, informed lifestyle decisions.

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