Between recurring colds, children who don’t grow enough or seem to gain too much, those nagging headaches and our family histories of illness, we’re boxed in. It’s hard – especially in our society – to not assume that a symptom isn’t a precursor of something grand. Deadly, even.
Then again, so-and-so told you about a person who did ignore symptoms, but by then, it was too late…
It’s a rock and a hard place, isn’t it? Our parents are aging, we’re exhausted, and our kids are exposed to so many things that can negatively affect their health (and that’s assuming that they’re not doing anything intentionally that’s bad for them).
What should you do when you’re wondering if frequent ear infections will produce hearing loss, whether your mother’s breast cancer will reoccur, or if your husband’s depressed (or you are)?
You focus on the health you already have, and on what you can control in the future. You intentionally shut the mental vault on the what-if worries. What do you have going for you? Three things, no matter your current health status:
1. You live in a society with advanced medical sciences, medications and vaccinations, should you need or want any of them.
2. You’re conscious of the dangers and conditions that lurk out there, and you know how to get medical care.
3. There’s knowledge everywhere, in any format so that if you need to know facts, outcomes, alternatives, preventative methods or need supports, it’s just about asking for help.
Didn’t that totally erase all of your worries? No?! Me neither. Let’s focus on what we can control to reduce the likelihood of ‘what-if?’ becoming ‘is’:
- Eat a diet rich in produce, complex carbs and fibre.
- Follow the requirements for dairy and meat-based foods.
- Learn about serving sizes.
- Limit caffeine, alcohol and exposure to chemical-based foods.
- Try a whole-foods diet, and simpler recipes. Really astounding is how badly people actually felt, but weren’t aware of, until switching to a diet without prepared foods.
- Wear sunscreen and protective clothing.
- Get regular exams, as determined by age, gender and family history.
- If something changes about someone’s health, especially suddenly, checked it out.
- Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day (walking, stair-climbing, running, swimming, biking, etc. – something that changes your breath). If you can’t do daily, make three times a week your minimum.
- Aim for weight-bearing exercise for 30 minutes in total, three times a week. Carrying groceries from the store to the car three blocks away counts; parking up a hill adds aerobic exercise, too.
- Sleep for however long your body needs. Recommended is 7-9 hours per night, but some people (like vegans, raw foodists and athletes) actually need less; some need more.
- Quit smoking and limit second-hand exposure.
- Lose or gain weight if needed, aiming for health and longevity.
- Have (safe) sex, alone or otherwise. Orgasms are good for everyone.
- Lift with your legs, not your back.
- Stretch and warm up prior to, afterwards and regardless of any exercise.
- Find yourself. The cliché: a happy mom makes a happy family. It’s true, in terms of health. Moms can be the most self-sacrificing bunch and truly it doesn’t help anyone, and leads to stress, resentment, physical symptoms, relationship issues and more.
- Minimize negative stress – it causes a release of excess cortisol, which can cause weight gain, higher blood pressure and depression.
- Treat depression, with medication, formal therapy, lifestyle changes and alternative therapies. It’s a persistent condition that can be a catalyst for suicide, promiscuity, drug and alcohol abuse, and issues with immunity, memory and motivation. It’s silent and it’s often stigmatized – and it’s real.
- Practice safe driving in heavy traffic, on the freeway and in the elements. Put down the cell phone; have an emergency pack in the car.
- Aim for the middle-of-the-road when spending, eating, exercising, working, agreeing to activities and getting involved with your community – extremism is costly.
- Plan for retirement, emergencies, and health, life and disability insurances.
- Estate-plan. Morbid maybe, but we should plan for what will happen when we die.
- Educate kids on health-related issues and how to make their own choices, regardless of their peers’, like about sex, drugs, diet, exercise, stress and smoking.