Covid is still around, proving difficult to shrug off. There's a cost-of-living crisis, strikes aplenty, mass layoffs, ever-rising inflation, and online scams off the digital scale. The way things are going, it could drive one to drink. The stresses and strains in such a precarious economic environment are felt by all of us in different ways.
Edinburgh-based health, wellness and detox specialist, Iain Bell, has a personal philosophy he has applied to those working in the hospitality sector but it can be extended to each and every one of us. His Bartenders Manifesto
sounds a somewhat ironic if not ill-fitting solution to Scotland's ongoing battle towards tackling alcoholism. It's not, as in reality it promotes a sense of well-being that is urgently needed throughout society.
A rise in drink-related deaths has been well documented and constantly tackled by counselling and group therapy units, as clinical experts point to ingrained societal drivers and lawmakers pursue ever stricter anti-booze policies. Iain is regularly invited to speak at key gatherings and he told a conference in Berlin that warning signs include permanent fatigue, inefficient work, low self-esteem and constant colds. Read burnout, with more energy, better work and an increased quality of life badly needed.
As founder-owner of Executive Fitness Foundation, he has delivered lifestyle/detox spa training in Europe, Asia and the Carribean and runs private detox programmes in Spain, Thailand and India. He is also a consultant to the global drinks industry, specifically on wellness and ethanol physiology.
At the German gathering, he invited the audience to test their saliva, pointing out that the further the measured value goes into the acidic range, the higher the risk of disease or immune deficiency. Iain's immediate tip: drink a litre of water with lemon and ginger slices in the morning: 'this has an alkaline effect and thus counteracts hyperacidity'. He does this every day, preparing his drink the evening before.
He circulated recipes to be mixed in a blender. 'The Blaster', for lots of power during work, consisted of walnuts, almonds, pumpkins, sunflower seeds, coconut milk and frozen berries, all mixed into a smoothie. Taken before work, it prevents energy loss, fatigue and hunger during a shift. Tip: expensive fresh fruit isn't necessary. Frozen food can be higher in nutrients. Who knew?
Iain cites a specific drink, 'Liver Flush', for detoxing and relieving the liver. It consists of the juice of two oranges, two lemons, fresh garlic cloves, 20g fresh ginger with peel, 20ml extra virgin olive oil, pinch of cayenne pepper or small chilli pepper, and some fresh parsley. Blend until smooth, drink right away. Usage: drink in the morning and evening for three days, do not consume alcohol, red meat and white carbohydrates like pasta or bread, plus drink at least two litres of water daily. Result? Less fat in the liver, reduced risk of inflammation, 1-2kg weight loss, brighter eyes, a boost in turbo energy and a great feeling all round.
As he put it, there has never been a more crucial time for an individual to give themselves 'the gift of better long-term wellness'. It is a sentiment borne out by Gary Meek, who runs Glasgow Council on Alcohol, a voluntary body coming to the aid of the city's alcoholics. He reminds us that we're not long out of the unprecedented period that was the pandemic. During lockdown, the council's addiction service, employing a harm reduction philosophy pioneered in America, increased in activity by almost 20%. He told NBC News that since then referrals are up 18%, with numbers further increasing when people returned to work, having to drive, going to the office and 'not being able to drink during the day any more'. He adds: 'Isolation is the worst thing for an alcoholic'.
Forensic psychologist Karyn McCluskey and her colleagues are taking their lead from a programme in Canada by establishing Scotland's first 'managed alcohol project', a service giving chronic alcoholics regular measures of drink in a safe, monitored environment where they can preserve their dignity and respect. Karyn, who also leads the Community Justice Scotland (CJS) team, adds that it is centred on steering this sharp end grouping of addicts away from the bottle while offering them a safe space and constant support.
CJS points to how the pandemic and a cost of living crisis have affected marginalised groups and communities, especially in relation to addiction, isolation and not being able to reach out for help. Karyn especially feels for young people who rely on contact with peers, school and outdoor activities to grow and develop the skills for life. She's a champion of the unseen work being done in communities by 'remarkable people' who don't wear uniforms or work in big buildings.
Here, it is the organisations who adopt a policy of blending the continuous backing of worthy causes with supporting their employees' health and well-being that pays off in the long term. Exception, Scotland's leading indigenous cloud solutions and digital transformation firm, cover all staff with full contracts of employment, zero-hour contracts are frowned upon and significantly this includes supply chain suppliers. An employee is urged, either as a volunteer or third sector board member, to engage with local charities and communities with enhanced leave options to pursue interests.
Such an ethical ethos has seen colleagues working with Capability Scotland that delivers high quality care, support and education for disabled children, by specifically providing the charity with the right data solutions and technology, to re-engineer and digitise its processes. Exception has also supported Children in Need for several years. When filling job vacancies, the firm always sources candidates locally and runs a flexible working policy.
Digital marketing manager, Andy Moore, said 'Our journey to support our people and charities started with a single footstep. We get behind good causes, our staff and organisations that work hard at what they do best'.
Former Reuters, Sunday Times, The Scotsman and Glasgow Herald business and finance correspondent, Bill Magee is a columnist writing tech-based articles for Daily Business, Institute of Directors, Edinburgh Chamber and occasionally The Times' 'Thunderer'