After an eventful year of the rat, the Chinese New Year season dawns upon us once again. This year, we usher in the year of the ox. These strong but gentle beasts are known for their diligence, dependability, strength and determination. They also possess noble ideals and attach importance to family. These are certainly healthy (they don’t say “as strong as an ox” for nothing!) and admirable qualities that we can incorporate into our own lives.
Amidst movement and lifestyle restrictions, Chinese New Year celebrations and festivities this year may not be as they traditionally have been in previous years. However, that does not mean our celebrations should be any less meaningful.
As we enter into the New Year, here are some practical, creative, but very simple, helpful tips and ideas by National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Malaysia, to make this Chinese New Year healthy and most importantly, fun!
Maintain a healthy and balanced diet
Malaysians love to makan, especially so during festive seasons. Plus, the festive cookies and treats can be so tempting, right? While indulging every now and then is okay, overdoing it may result in long-term damage to our health and even kidneys. The key is moderation.
Go for smaller meal portions, while maintaining a balanced diet. Reduce foods high in unhealthy fat, sugar and salt. Instead, increase intake of vegetables, fruits, and lean protein. Some types of fish and seafood are also rich in highly beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which are good.
Try to eat home more, rather than eating out or ordering in. This New Year, get the entire family or household involved in the food preparation and cooking process too! Besides eating more healthily, it is a great way to foster ties amidst our busy lives. This is also the perfect opportunity to try out new recipes and even unearth some hidden culinary talents!
Bond with fun activities
Speaking of fostering ties, this Chinese New Year is the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with family and members of the entire household. Change things up and try out some fun activities in which everyone can participate. With a little creativity and imagination, the possibilities are endless.
Some ideas include doing a jigsaw puzzle together, playing board games, writing a script or play before acting it out (starring members of your household, of course!), or organise a karaoke session right at home, using household items as musical instruments. These make for unique videos too!
Engage in regular physical activity
Another beneficial way to bond with family is to engage in physical activity. To some, this may seem like a chore. But it need not be. In fact, it is probably one of the most fun things you can do. Health professionals recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Enjoy a walk or jog around your neighbourhood or kampung and see how many types of birds you can spot.
Or start a physical challenge with members of your family or household, or relive the “old days” with games like hop-scotch, police and thieves or lompat getah (jump rope made out of rubber bands). What’s important is to get moving, and do it regularly. Infuse imagination and creativity for some added fun for both the young and old!
Stay hydrated, and get enough Zzzs…
While getting in all that physical activity, it is also important to stay hydrated with plenty of water, while cutting down on sugary, acidic and aerated drinks. Equally important is getting the right amount of sleep every day, even during the holidays. Experts recommend between seven and eight hours for adults while children require even more!
Stay physically distanced, but socially engaged
Finally, though some of us may be far apart from our extended family and loved ones this New Year, it does not mean we need to be socially disconnected from them. Technology has never been more powerful in bringing people together than today.
There are plenty of digital apps and tools out there, many of which cost little to nothing, that allow multiple individuals from various locations to engage in virtual video chats. Play games, tell stories, and catch up remotely. You can even do things like have a murder mystery party or set up a themed quiz session.
As you can see, just because our circumstances are different this Chinese New Year, it can still be a meaningful and joyous celebration. In fact, with a little creativity, it can certainly be a year to remember, with stories and memories to last for generations, all while keeping physically and mentally healthy with family and loved ones – yes, just like the ox! NKF wishes all Malaysians a Happy Chinese New Year! For further information on NKF or to donate towards the organisation’s efforts, please visit www.nkf.org.my or call 03-7954 9048.