Living and loving it: A little bag of tips and tricks

Deep breathing can help restore diaphragm function and increase lung capacity. PHOTO | GETTY IMAGE

What you need to know:

  • I read somewhere that taking deep breaths regularly is something we ought to do often because apparently, we do not get as much oxygen as we need to – especially those of us in urbanized areas.

Do you have the one thing you go to that almost always works for you whenever you need help? It could be a short routine in the morning that helps you get your focus back after a crazy weekend, or some sort of exercise that after only a few times makes you feel better after many weeks of no activity.

I too have some of those little tips and tricks in my bag, gathered from many places including Google, my mother, friends and just accidental happenings. Here are some of those that work really well for me.

Deep breaths: I read somewhere that taking deep breaths regularly is something we ought to do often because apparently, we do not get as much oxygen as we need to – especially those of us in urbanized areas.

Studies report that when the brain has enough oxygen, your brain is clearer and you can focus and concentrate better. It is recommended that if you feel anxious worried or agitated, to take deep breaths as that will help you calm down and think better and perhaps less emotionally. 

While I haven’t tried that in those situations, what was worked for me is taking deep breaths when I get a headache. As soon as I feel the pounding in my head, wherever I am, I try and focus on my breaths – inhaling for four seconds, holding it for another four, exhaling for four seconds and not breathing for four as well.

When I repeat this action 10 times or more, I find that the headache has subsided and sometimes even gone, especially if I am in a quiet place without distractions. I prefer that much more to popping a painkiller because I dislike swallowing tablets.

Ginger water: Or tea. I am not sure if I shall be able to take tea without any spice and enjoy it. Once our former house-help Ruth started making ginger water in the mornings, that was the end of plain tea for me. I just pour a cup of the water from the flask, add a teabag and… bliss. She geared things up by adding other spices.

So these days, I have tea in ginger water every morning. In the evenings the tea is put in water spiced with African basil (mujaja), or lemon grass (kisubi) or bay leaves (mudalasini). These are all wonderful to take after a long day. I am told they each have medicinal effects. 

The one I can vouch for that really soothes different things is ginger water (many times I do not even put tea in it. Just a spoon of honey and it still tastes good). The common home-made remedy for colds is hot ginger water with honey and lemon – what many restaurants serve as Dawa tea. The trick is in ensuring that the ginger is “hot” and not just mild.

Apart from helping relieve the symptoms of colds, I have found that it also soothes the stomach when I experience bloating. When I take a cup or two, the gas is either released or the pain just tends to decrease and subside completely. The problem is I now find myself recommending it for everyone in the house regardless of the kind of tummy ache they have, whether is bloating, period cramps, or anything else!

Petroleum jelly: I have always been uncomfortable with the fact that petroleum jelly is made from petroleum! I guess this is because I assume all things petroleum are used for machines and should not be on our bodies. I obviously need to do more research to put my mind at rest. There are so many lip glosses and balms that are touted to moisten all sorts of lips (dry, cracked, bleeding etc.). If you are like me though, most of these do not help. Your lips might look good after applying one of these but once the moisture dries up, your lips end up looking worse than before. 

I have found that petroleum jelly might come in a plain looking container with a bland colour and no scent but it does the magic. Once I apply it on my lips, it works very well and stays on long too. If I want the glossy look, I make sure to apply petroleum jelly as the base. That way, even if the gloss disappears eventually, my lips will still look fine. Of course drinking eight glasses of water a day regularly is the better way to go. But for those times I have failed, petroleum jelly saves the day.

Please note that I am obviously not professionally qualified to prescribe any sort of medication or remedy and it would be best to try things in moderation and get help from medical personnel especially for ailments that are persistent.

Now that that is clarified, how about you? Have any tips and tricks to share? Please do!