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For 95 years, co-operatives have been an integral part of the Singapore Story. Co-operatives' people-first approach exemplifies the ‘gotong royong’ spirit which centres around the heart to look out for each other’s needs, the selfless spirit to serve others and to come together to make a difference to people’s lives. The simple acronym H.E.A.R.T. says it all.

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Starting with the first letter ‘H’ which represents Health, we believe the starting point to doing good is to be healthy be it in a physical, mental, social or financial state. When we are healthy, we can do more.

The World Health Organization defines health as "not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, but a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing".

Building strong pillars of health cannot be achieved overnight. It is a process that will take time and commitment but the rewards for pursuing is for a ‘life’time.

Co-operator reaches out to some co-operatives for tips on the four pillars of great health that we should seek to live our life to the fullest.

Physical Health

Regular physical activity is an important part of the equation to stay physically healthy, but it’s not the only aspect. Physical wellness includes appropriate sleep, hygiene, and a healthy diet.

What are some practices you should incorporate into your life?

Tips:

  • Engage in physical activity for at least three days a week. Make this part of your lifestyle.
  • Eat healthy and don’t skip meals. Avoid oily fried foods, soft drinks, processed meats, and sweets. Try to include into your daily diet, five servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep every night.


Dr Kenneth Tan from GP+ Co-operative adds a word of advice: “Particularly during this pandemic, exercising often, sleeping enough and eating well will help keep our bodies and minds healthy. Work with your family doctor to optimise the management of your chronic diseases, and remember to screen for complications. Keep up-to-date with your recommended health screenings and vaccinations.”

Mental Health

Mental health includes our emotional and psychological well-being and encompasses the ability to navigate our feelings, thoughts and actions. Mental health is fundamental to our wellness because sometimes the ups and downs of life can take us on an emotional rollercoaster ride. The better we understand, process, and manage those feelings, the smoother the ride will be.

Tips:

  • Discover our personal stress reliever. Manage our time wisely.
  • Seek out a therapist, counsellor, or a trusted friend that can offer insight.
  • Journaling is a good way to identify and process our thoughts and feelings.


Vincent Ng, community lead from A Good Space Co-operative, shares: “A practice that I personally use is mindfulness and journaling - to observe what emotions I'm feeling and get clarity on what's bothering me. The act of journaling can become very powerful because it helps us become more self-aware. When I'm angry, sad, frustrated, inspired, etc... I try to journal about it to understand why and what caused these feelings. Sometimes, after journaling about why I'm angry, the anger disappears, like a bubble when you pop it. Somehow by just writing about it, the power of the anger goes away, and I feel more at peace.”

Social Health

The phrase 'no man is an island', coined by a 17th century English poet John Donne, expresses the idea that human beings won’t do well when isolated from others and need to be part of a community to thrive and grow. This truth still resonates today. Humans are inherently social animals.

Social relationships create support systems that can carry us through life’s struggles. In a Harvard’s Study of Adult Development, researchers found that participants who spent more time with others reported greater levels of happiness.

When the demands of life increase and stress mounts, the ability to turn to someone for support and understanding is powerful. Building and maintaining these networks take time and energy, but they’re worth the effort and mutually beneficial for holistic health.

Tips:

  • Invest in meeting new people through social networks, community events, or volunteer service.
  • Schedule regular meetups with friends and family.
  • Connect with someone to keep relationships strong.


A Good Space goes one step further by highlighting the importance of spiritual health. Vincent Ng adds: “To us, spiritual health means reconnecting with a higher purpose and feeling nourished from this connection. Why do we do what we do? Often times, we can get lost in the 'doing' and along the way lose sight of why we are doing it in the first place. We believe that having a regular practice to reconnect with a higher purpose, be that through religion, or discovering your values, is important to keep our fire burning as we continue on the work that we do.”

Financial Health

An often overlooked aspect, financial health is just as important as your physical, mental and social health. Much like having physical activity and eating well, your financial well-being is key to living a happy, healthy life.

Poor financial health has often been linked to stress, depression, anxiety or breakdown in relationships. Getting on top of our financial well-being can certainly relieve stress and give us the freedom to balance all aspects of our health.

So how can we improve our financial health? Decide what’s a priority, how we can spend less on expenses, and then plan and project our short and mid-term financial situation.

Tips:

  • Make paying off debt a priority.
  • Don’t spend more than you earn.
  • Create a budget on your expenditure and plan on saving.


Lynn Shi, Manager, Corporate Affairs, POLWEL Co-operative, advises: “Some simple tips on how to be financially healthy include spending less than you earn, sticking to a budget, committing to a savings plan, paying off your credit cards, and investing your money.”  She adds: “POLWEL extends loans to staff on a case-by-case basis to assist them with their financial needs. POLWEL also requires staff to submit Credit Bureau report on a biennial basis to assess their financial health status.”

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Singapore National Co-operative Federation
510 Thomson Road #12-02
SLF Building, Singapore 298135
Email: [email protected]
Tel (65) 6602 0747, Fax (65) 6259 9577

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