Use plants to improve air quality indoors.
Use plants to improve air quality indoors. stevecoleimages

Calculate your plant-life balance now

HOW many plants do you need for your wellbeing? We're not talking about vegies but actual, living plants.

A new campaign dubbed Plant Life Balance, in collaboration with RMIT University and the University of Melbourne, has worked out the number of plants we need to improve our health.

Adding one medium-sized plant to a medium-sized room increases air quality up to 25 per cent. And when it comes to improving wellbeing, five or more plants leads to feeling healthier and happier. Direct benefits include improved mood and concentration and indirect benefits like productivity.

Research studies suggest indoor plants are effective in reducing airborne chemicals and particles in indoor spaces by as much as 75 to 90 per cent, depending on the pollutant and the plant. These pollutants include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which that are emitted by the likes of glues and modern furnishings and can cause maladies such as headaches, nausea, irritation, sleeplessness or fatigue. These VOCs include toxins such as formaldehyde, benzene and toluene.

Some great plants for indoors include aloe, peace lily, bamboo palm, philodendron and spider plant. Fiddle leaf figs are very fashionable at the moment, too. Oh - sorry, but those new, trendy fake plants won't cut it!

If you love tech, check out an app called Plant Life Balance that helps you rate your space, then improve your health score by choosing a look for a room or outdoor area, grabbing a plant list and hitting the nursery.

If you're more low-tech, skip the first part and just visit the nursery.

The Mayo Clinic has some tips for dealing with stress over the Christmas period.
The Mayo Clinic has some tips for dealing with stress over the Christmas period. Steve Debenport


IF YOU'VE started Christmas shopping, you may already be starting to stress about money, food and all the other pressures of the holiday season. Or, if you live alone, you may be wondering how you will cope with Christmas.

The prestigious Mayo Clinic has this advice for health and wellbeing:

  • Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realise that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's okay to take time to cry or express your feelings.
  • Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
  • Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year.
  • Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations.
  • Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend.
  • Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list.
  • Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Indulge too much over Christmas? Burn off some of that excess food and drink by going for long walks.
Indulge too much over Christmas? Burn off some of that excess food and drink by going for long walks. Rawpixel Ltd


PARTY season brings unlimited opportunities for busting your health plan.

What to do? Don't panic.

Food should bring us joy but, at the same time, overloading on alcohol, sugar and fatty foods may leave you feeling less than full of energy and, in some cases, with digestive issues.

Smart strategies include:

  • Adding a green juice to your diet daily. Try apple, cucumber, carrot and a little ginger.
  • Making dessert a treat, not a meal finisher. Cutting down on sugar and fat will help with energy and digestive issues.
  • Snacking on fruit, or vegies, rather than nuts, crisps or anything else hanging around the house. Cherries are in season. Or try delicious tropical fruits like mango and papaya.
  • Eating smarter. Substitute stevia for sugar, trim the fat from meat, choose a dip like hummus instead of one made with cream cheese and switch processed table salt to Celtic or Himalayan salt to help, rather than deplete mineral absorption.
  • Take a walk after large meals.

Surprising statistics

  • The global market for vegetarian/vegan products was worth US $51 billion in 2016.
  • Australians spend $14.1 billion a year on alcohol versus $1.1 billion a year on tea and coffee.
  • People who live in New South Wales spend an average of only $2.70 a week on greens.
  • The average Australian spends $32 a week on meals in restaurants.

Source: and

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