While always important, keeping yourself healthy has really been front and center over the past two years. You’ve been bombarded from every direction with advice about how to avoid COVID-19. That’s great, but there’s more to staying healthy than steering clear of one virus.
There are lots of ways to take care of yourself and safeguard your health. They involve more than wearing masks, washing your hands, and social distancing. Given that’s the case, what do you need to do to take charge of your health? Follow these seven tips, and you’ll put yourself on a healthier path.
1. Birth Control
Baby giggles, first steps, and first words sound like just the ticket. Or maybe you’re not ready for them yet. Or perhaps diaper bags and teething rings really aren’t for you — ever. Whatever your situation, you need to take pregnancy prevention seriously.
Consider a birth control patch, which makes it easy, offering you doctor-prescribed medication without an appointment. This option does more than help you sidestep a baby bump, though. If you use the patch consistently, you’ll know when your period is coming. You can even skip it if you need to (yay!).
As if all that weren’t great enough, the patch offers more health benefits. By making your periods lighter, it protects you from anemia. It also improves your bone health, lowers some cancer risks, and prevents breast and ovarian cysts.
2. Exercise and Diet
You’ve heard it a million times before because it’s true. An active lifestyle and a balanced diet can keep you healthier. You just have to commit to them.
Even though you may be busy with school or work, you can find time to squeeze in extra exercise. Take the stairs when you can. Park farther away from the store or dance in the kitchen while you cook. Shoot for 30 minutes of exercise four to five days a week to maximize the health benefits.
You can improve your diet with a few small changes, too. Grate veggies into your spaghetti sauce or grab carrots instead of chips when you want a crunchy snack. Is dessert your Achilles heel? Keep more fruit around to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Water is great on so many levels. That’s why health experts tell you to drink eight glasses a day. (Sorry — coffee, soda, and tea don’t count.) Thankfully, water is calorie-free and won’t disrupt any of the diet changes you might make.
Drinking more H2O can do lots of wonderful things for your health. The more hydrated you are, the fresher your skin looks. If you want to eat less, down a glass before mealtime. Water also helps with your digestion and circulation, and as you age, it helps you think more clearly.
4. Snooze More
You may be swamped at work or dealing with a big project at school. Either way, resist the temptation to skip sleep so you get more done. Catching enough z’s is an easy way to boost your performance. It’s also critical to protecting your health.
If you get seven to eight hours of sleep nightly, you’ll manage stress better and recover from exercise quicker. Getting more shuteye also lowers your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and certain types of cancer. When you’re well-rested, you’re also less likely to experience anxiety and sadness.
5. See Your Doctor
Going to the doctor isn’t necessarily fun, but regular appointments are a fundamental part of keeping up with your health. You can’t fix things that go wrong if you don’t know what’s happening with your body. So take the time to gown up and sit on the exam table.
Your doctor will keep tabs on your vital signs to make sure they look normal. They will also recommend any necessary screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies. These tests give you an early warning of any developing problems. Before you go, make a list of questions you don’t want to forget and things you know you should mention.
6. Track Yourself
Don’t depend on your doctor alone to keep track of your health history, however. You can — and should — do it yourself. Choose a safe place and keep all your important health-related documents together. Online tools are available to help you manage and record important details.
For example, keep a current list of your medications (including dosages) and your health conditions. Make a log of when you’ve seen your doctor and when you’ve had important tests and screenings. Include your physician’s contact information. Staying in charge of your health is much easier when you have good files.
7. Stay Social
There’s no question it’s been a long two years. Finally, things feel like they’re opening back up again. That means it’s going to get easier to make plans with friends and family. Take advantage of the opportunities to socialize.
Seeing your loved ones goes a long way to helping you feel less isolated. This can be dinner out, a movie, or an at-home gathering. It’s all good for your mental health and can reduce anxiety and sadness. So get out there and mingle!
One of the keys to being happier and staying active longer is paying attention to your health. You can’t prevent every health issue you might have. However, you can set your body and mind on a healthier course. Give these seven tips a try, and you’ll stay in charge of your health for the long term.