Beat the Heat: How to Live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives

12 March 2024 dot 6-minute read

By: Melati Wijsen, AIA Voices Environmental Ambassador and Full-time Changemaker

There is always a lot going on in our world which affect us in one way or another - the way we eat, move, respond, think, or even act towards each other and all living beings on earth. Unfortunately this is not always in a positive way. Imagine, like us humans, the planet is also experiencing drastic and radical changes, especially in the last 80 years at an increasingly rapid and scary pace. Floods, forest fires, snow too early, and heat waves that are warm enough to fry an egg on a pan outside. Natural disasters are more common and becoming “normal” in our daily lives. 

The State of our Planetary Health

The hottest year on record was 2023. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “We are moving from an era of global warming to global boiling.” Thousands of people across the world are already becoming climate refugees, losing their homes due to natural disasters. Thousands more are experiencing health crises due to the changes in our environment and the pollution in the air, land, and sea.

This is exactly what planetary health refers to. The concept recognises that the well-being of individuals is closely tied to the health of ecosystems, biodiversity, and the overall state of the earth.  
So long story short: if our planet is dying, our communities are dying too. 
It is as clear and simple as that. 

First, let's dive into how we got here in the first place; what the state of our planet's health is and why it is experiencing all of these radical and rapid changes. 

Human Lifestyle and Activity is Directly Linked to Climate Change

Let me quickly catch you up on where the science of climate change we are at right now. It is well acknowledged now by scientists globally and respected institutions that we all agree climate change is caused by our actions. The recently published IPCC Report outlined this very clearly. If the IPCC is still a new concept for you, no worries, let's go over it together now. 
IPCC stands for The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body for accessing the science related to climate change. Its core function is to prepare assessment reports on the state of knowledge on climate change. One of the big confirmations in their AR6 Synthesis Report on Climate Change 2023 is that it outlined once again the impact of our current lifestyles, actions, and human activities on the environment.

The Impact of Corporate Organisations on Climate Change

Our daily actions as individuals impact our environment, but it goes without saying that the actions and activities of companies on an industrial scale contribute even more to the acceleration of climate change. In fact, to really bring this to life, did you know that just 100 companies worldwide are responsible for 71% of greenhouse gas emissions?
This tells us one thing for sure: if we want accelerated change, we need to urge our systems to change. We need more leaders within the private sector to make positive changes.   
AIA is one of those companies that are spearheading positive change. For those of you who are new here, AIA is the largest life and health insurer in Asia Pacific. In 2021, AIA committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, in line with the latest climate science. Net-zero refers to the point where a company’s overall carbon emissions footprint amounts to zero. This commitment aligns with AIA’s purpose to help millions of people live healthier, longer, better lives by promoting positive behaviour change to build holistic wellbeing  - including through good mental, physical and financial wellbeing.
As a leading organisation, they are also deeply committed to environmental wellness. At the simple level, they understand that the health of our planet is very much linked to the health of our communities. So, it is great to see their commitment to taking action to address climate change, the impacts of which can be felt every day. Through working together with AIA, we seek to build awareness and action amongst future generations in our societies across the region.

My Story

My own journey started as a young changemaker when I was 12 years old. My vision was clear, change needed to happen and it needed to happen NOW. But little did I know all the different layers of change that I was about to uncover. That was 10 years ago. 
We have done a lot of campaigns, government meetings, and community mobilisations. As a youth-led organisation, we focused most of our work on education. We believe that change can start in the classroom. When we empower each other with knowledge, we can create impact through transformative and inclusive change. 
Today, as a 22-year-old full-time changemaker, I have learned a few core lessons: 
  1. We cannot do this work alone
  3. We need partnerships of all kinds to accelerate change 
  5. Sometimes, partnerships that are not the most obvious are the ones that create the most impact

Living a Healthier, Longer, Better Life

But how do we, especially as young people, lead healthier, longer, better lives to ensure that we are at our best to stand up for what we believe in? Good question. Now here are five personal things I do on a weekly basis to help me balance my mental and physical health. 
  1. Watch my food and water intake
  2. You are what you eat and drink! More recently, I’ve been making sure I reach the 2L target of drinking water to make sure I stay as hydrated as possible.
  3. Move!
  4. Exercise allows me to focus on my physical health. Recently I’ve become obsessed with running at the end of a long work day. It's a great moment for me to shut down the brain work and focus on the breath and movement work!
  5. Reflect
  6. Creating space to reflect is a good way to stay on track and focused. I do this by writing in my journal and I’ve found it a great way to express gratitude, discover my thoughts and feelings in order to be able to move forward with clarity and confidence.
  7. Check in with my friends and family
  8. Making time to be with loved ones! I know the to-do list can feel overwhelming but I promise some quality time with your family or friends will lift your spirits and recharge you for the work that still needs to be done!
  9. Step away for a moment
  10. It's okay to step away for a moment and strategise, you are not alone. Many incredible like-minded supporters will continue the work on the frontlines while you rest and recharge.
And then when all the above don't seem to do its job of making me feel healthier or better, I go and sit at the beach and watch the sun go down. And reminding yourself of the natural beauty of our world. This will remind you why it is worth joining this journey of change.
Because if we want a healthy planet, we need to first make sure we have a healthy lifestyle. After all, it is interconnected.
Together, we can do this and make a positive contribution that will lead to a healthier, longer, and better life on a healthy planet for all.
AIA Voices is a community of influential and educational voices from around Asia to talk about life, health and wellness. A platform to educate, motivate and inspire people to make positive behavioural changes on their health and wellness journey. Providing an opportunity for communities across Asia to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other. Designed to drive AIA One Billion, our ambition to engage a billion people to live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives by 2030.

This is general information only and is not intended as financial, medical, health, nutritional or other advice. You should obtain professional advice from a financial adviser, or medical or health practitioner in relation to your own personal circumstances.