As we turn the calendar and move further and further away from 2020, we need to stay focused on improving our physical and mental health.
Since most of us are still stuck at home, it’s too easy to sit around streaming Netflix all day and lose sight of our overall health. Regardless of whether we’re working-from-home, lost a job, learning remotely with the kids, it’s stressful and fatiguing to be stuck at home all the time.
Those are all reasons why we need to focus on healthier living in 2021. Stress in short-doses can be beneficial. In fact, it’s a biological necessity that helps us with our “fight or flight” self-preservation response to dangers. Still, prolonged exposure and lingering stress can lead to various long-term health impacts. Stress can be linked to lower immune systems, increased heart disease, fatigue, high blood pressure, and even affect moods and cause depression.
With the danger of stress in our daily lives, we have five suggestions to help you lower your overall stress levels and improve your overall health.
The 5 Tips To Move Forward With Your Health
Get Your Health Screened
Between changes to your diet, exercise, and sleep, getting a professional follow up on your health is another crucial step. Older adults should be getting screened for various cancers such as colon, skin cancer, prostate tests for men.
HologicWomensHealth.com offers cervical cancer testing for women through a Pap smear and HPV tests. Other things to monitor at an older age include blood sugar (glucose) levels, blood pressure, and your heart health.
Check with your primary care physician to schedule your diagnostic screening and get a regular health screening as recommended. Right now more than ever everyone should follow health best practices and listen to their doctor. If you are forgetful, lazy, or uninterested in routine check-ups you may miss something that could be a gateway towards a weakened immune system, something everyone needs to avoid during the current pandemic.
Focusing on your health is, and always should be, your priority. With all the uncertainty in our lives, we can get overwhelmed with the stress and forget to maintain our health.
Exercise improves the cardiovascular system, increases respiratory ability, enhances bone density, keeps weight in check, and improves sleep quality. Exercise has shown to benefit the deep sleep, known as “slow-wave” we need for regenerative functions, and there is a correlation between improved aerobic capacity and deeper sleep. Plus exercise generally leads you away from some of the things that disagree with sleep the most such as sugar, fatty foods, soft drinks, television, and even smoking or vaping. Not only will increased calorie burn help your body crave rest but usually those who focus on physical health stay a lot further away from things directly linked to sleepless nights.
Exercise doesn’t need to be high-intensity or a significant undertaking. Instead, you can find little programs such as yoga or other practices to stay active at home to improve your overall fitness levels.
Set A Schedule
We’ve spent the better parts of our lives operating on a schedule. We’ve gone to bed at a specific time, had to wake up at similar times daily, schedules in the classrooms, and schedules at work. Until recently, we even scheduled our entertainment and tv viewing based on a set schedule, though the advent of streaming has taken some of that scheduling away.
The purpose of establishing a schedule for you is more a mental exercise than it is a physical benefit. By setting a schedule, you’re re-establishing some normalcy to your day. That sense of normalcy will help lower stress levels as so much of your stress levels are due to living and working with your current situations’ uncertainty.
There’s a saying in computer science, and that is, “garbage in, garbage out.” Your overall health is the same process. What you put into your body goes a long way toward your performance.
Changing your diet and eating better doesn’t have to be drastic action. Instead, it can be making small changes to what we already eat. For example, if you eat many processed foods or drink a lot of sugary drinks, eliminating some of those food items from your daily diet can make a positive long-term impact on your health. Another suggestion is you may want to substitute your sugary drink for water or watered-down fruit juice.
Remember to go slow in making your dietary change. To make your behavioral changes last, it’s best to make small incremental goals that are readily achievable. The reason is that our brains’ reward system is encouraged by little cumulative rewards, and that will fuel your motivation to continue to pursue more rewards that stem from your eating change.
Sleep is a necessity for physical health. Sleep is known to benefit energy levels, mental health, and brain function, including improved focus and attention. Additional benefits to sleep are that it allows the body to repair small tissue and brain tissue, enhances the immune system, helps fight chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and some cancers.
Some of the most common reasons people struggle with sleep include stress, an irregular sleep schedule, anxiety or depression, discomfort in bed, and too much stimulation before bed. Unfortunately, not all of these are easy to solve all at once but you can do some things that make a big difference.
For example, just by skipping television and smart phone time for the 120 minutes before sleep you can help your body settle down in advance of rest, the blue light emitted by our TVs and phones is literally stimulating the mind and body to be alert. Blue blockers help but nothing will be as effective as a reading a book instead of playing flashing video games. Another easy win is comfort. Is your bedroom hot? Do your sheets need an upgrade? Would white noise from a fan or speaker help lull you to sleep? Some people can significantly increase their sleep quality with just one of those things which can be the first domino down to better sleep, mental clarity, help with anxiety, and more.