No matter how old you are, taking care of yourself is a vital part of staying healthy and happy in life…
We all know the basics, they’re drilled into us from a young age. Eating your ‘5-a-day’, getting plenty of exercise and maintaining a healthy diet etc.
But, as you progressively get older, your daily routine begins to take a greater toll on not only your body, but your mind also.
So, it’s important to take into consideration certain things you can do to help you stay as fighting fit as possible!
1. Water is your best friend
If you weren’t already aware, H20 is pretty freakin’ important! 70% of our body’s are made up of it, so it would only seem logical to make sure we’re consuming enough of it right? The list of benefits it provides is almost endless. Everything from homeostasis (the body’s ability to regulate it’s own environment) to lubricating joints and helping with digestion.
Your skin really benefits from it too and we haven’t even covered the most obvious one… hydration. Keeping hydrated stops you from feeling tired, unwell and lethargic (which sucks). The obvious question to ask then is “how much should I be drinking?“. Well annoyingly, the recommended amount seems to keep changing, plus it completely depends on your lifestyle.
But, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine say that on average women should be consuming roughly 2.7 litres (that’s 11 and a half cups!) each and every day. Don’t panic, that includes the water that’s already present in foods, so aiming for 8 cups is a more realistic target.
2. Keep your eyes on the prize
It’s easy to forget the importance of our vision. I mean, how often do you wake up in the morning and think to yourself “wow, I’m really greatful I can see today!“. Not often, if ever right? But, if one day your vision went from crystal clear to blurred and unfocussed you’d panic! Well, even though your eyes are unlikely to regress to such a state in one fell swoop, they can get that bad eventually if you don’t take the necessary precautionary measures.
So, what can we do to protect them? Well, heavy exposure to the sun and prolongued exposure to screens (TV’s, computers etc…) can have a detramental effect, so try to limit that as much as you can. Unfortunately, as is the case with most parts of the human body, your sight will progressively worsen as you age. That’s just out of your control. But, annual checkups with your optometrist are extremely beneficial for keeping your eyes as healthy as possible. Plus, optometrists will check for other things like cataracts and glaucoma!
3. Your teeth are important too!
You’ll start to notice a common theme with these which is: time takes its toll. Your 20’s and 30’s will probably be the first time you start to see signs of damge to your teeth and your dental health in general. Fortunately, your mouth is one of the areas of your body that you have a great deal of control over. So, if you’re determined to keep perfect pearly whites… you can.
Obviously there’s always going to be some signs of slight decay, I mean unless you eat through a straw your entire life. But to avoid things like stains, enamel erosion and gum disease, you should be consistent in brushing your teeth well at least twice a day, using mouth wash and even flossing. These simple steps will make such a difference 30 years down the line.
4. Your blood pressure matters
Unlike your eyes and teeth, changes in your blood pressure are far less noticable on a daily basis but is equally if not more important. Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States? Which, to be honest, is pretty startling considering just how little some people pay attention their cardiovascular system. What’s more is as we age, women have the unfortunate title of being more likely to develop high blood pressure than men.
There are the obvious causes such as a poor diet, stress, pregnancy and even the wrong sort of birth control for your body. But, sometimes the cause can be far more subtle. So it’s incredibly important that you remain dilligent when it comes to looking after number 1! I’m not talking about taking 6 holidays a year, unless you can afford to of course… But just keeping an eye on things and making regular appointments (at least 2-yearly) to have the necessary tests taken that can check on your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, inflamation etc. Stay safe!
5. Food is both a curse and a cure
I freakin’ love food, don’t you? It’s just great and there’s so much choice whatever your taste! But remember, the effect certain foods and drinks have on your body could potentially be more damaging in your 20’s and 30’s than when you were 16. If you’re in your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s or beyond, the same goes for you too but even more so. We’re talking sugars, fats, caffeine, alcohol etc…
It’s tough to admit that we aren’t quite the spring chickens we once were and we can’t get over a heavy night of drinking and a rough hangover in a couple of hours anymore (I’m flattened for days!). So, be mindful of what you’re putting into your body and try to maintain a well balanced diet. That doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out everything you love, just keeping it within moderation. It’s boring and not what any of us want to hear, but it could save your life one day! Plus… you can still have a takeaway from time to time.
6. Sleep, glorious sleep
You don’t need to tell me to get into bed twice. Wait, that sounds weird. Anyway… sleep is vital for our bodies and minds to rest and recover from our punishing daily routines. Remember the days of staying up until all hours in your teens? Seems like a lifetime ago if you’re anything like me. I actually look forward to getting into bed each and every night these days.
But it’s not just the amount of hours your getting that matters, it’s when you’re sleeping and the depth of your slumber that counts too! Keeping a regular sleep cycle is important for your body to drift into a deep sleep more easily… which is important! Sleep is helpful for maintaining normal brain function, a healthy balance of hormones, muscle recovery and fertility amongst a whole host of other things. Sticking to the same bedtime and wake up time each day will help you fall asleep and wake up easier too!
7. Exercise doesn’t have to be a pain in the *ss
Some people love it, some people absolutely detest it, either way exercising is and will always be an essential part of leading a healthy lifestyle. If you’re part of the group of people that just can’t face the idea of going to the gym three times a week then don’t worry, it doesn’t necessarily have to be like that. Yes, any doctor would encourage activities like going to the gym on a regular basis but they wouldn’t say it’s the only option.
You can make basic changes to your day to day routine that can have a big impact on your physical health that don’t require hours upon hours on a treadmill. Try taking the stairs next time you’re changing floors, cycling to and from work and taking walks around the local park from time to time. These small meaures aren’t going to turn you into a supermodel, but they’ll help to keep your heart healthy, encourage strong blood flow around your body and keep muscles and joints from developing problems.
(Understanding your own body limitations is important with this one, don’t try and do too much and force your body to do things it’s no longer capable of… especially if you have a specific medical condition)
8. Take care of your skin
Nobody, I repeat NOBODY wants horrible skin when they get older. Even if you’re the least vein person in the world, given the choice you’d probably rather not walk around with incredibly damaged and prematurley aged skin right? Not only for its aesthetic qualities but also the potential health risks too. The best advice you can give to someone is to start looking more closely at skin care at as young an age as possible.
Sure, you’ve probably tried your fair share of products during those spotty teenage years, but it’s easy to forget about it once you reach adulthood. Addressing issues like dry, oily or sensitive skin during your 20’s can help to ensure healthy, radiant skin later on in life. But, most importantly, protecting yourself from the sun HAS to be a priority as exposure to strong UV levels causes the skin to age and can even lead to cancer. Try and avoid smoking too, the toxins in cigarettes and healthy skin are anything but a match made in heaven.
9. Sit up straight!
So, our moms were actually on to something when they were constantly telling us off for slouching. Bad posture may seem like a less significant factor to take into consideration when trying improve your overall health, but ignoring it has some surprisingly damaging effects. These can vary from headaches, bad moods and fatigue to carpal tunnel syndrome, sleeping issues and muscle and joint pain.
Don’t panic though, there are some quick fixes! If you know you’re the type of person that has really bad posture then try yoga, even if you do it on your own in the privacy of your own home. If you work in an office, try swapping your desk for a standing one to allow your back to straighten and just generally be wary of your body position on a day to day basis. You may end up regreting it if you don’t later on in life!
10. What you think matters
It seems as if only in the last few years have the masses begun to see mental health as something that is just as important as it’s physical counterpart. Attitudes around it change constantly and despite more and more medical proffessionals encouring us to be more open and aware, there are plenty of people out there that will be suffering in silence out of fear of judgement. So let me take this opportunity to say that what goes on in your head MATTERS and there is always help out there.
Just talking openly about the way you feel and how you perceive things can make a difference. Then there’s your lifestyle… try and assess how much stress your daily routine puts you under and pinpoint triggers that provoke negative feelings like anxiety. If you feel as though you need help in any way or someone to talk to, discuss it with your GP or see a doctor/therapist. Definitely don’t ignore it, because believe me, those feelings aren’t going anywhere if you do. Sometimes you need to be selfish and look after YOU.
11. Check yourself before you wreck yourself
Be sure to keep an eye on yourself basically. It sounds like a given, I mean you’d think you’d notice if something drastically changed right? But, there are things you won’t notice unless you delve a little deeper and perform the appropriate checks. For example, make sure to regularly examine your breasts for lumps. “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important,” Johns Hopkins Medicine states, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
This isn’t limited to self-examination either. It’s up to you to make sure you’re arranging regular pap tests, HPV tests and so on with your doctor. These sorts of things will not only help to prevent illness and disease creeping up on you but will just give you peace of mind, so that you can go and live your life without the worry of getting older.
FINAL MESSAGE: Take all aspects of your health seriously and your body will stand the test of time… plus, you’ll feel happier and healthier so it’s a win, win.
What do you make of this list Acidheads? Have you got any other suggestions? Let me know in the comments!