Sometimes we overlook our physical health because we’re too busy taking care of other things like work, school, our obligations at home, etc. In fact, we often do things that harm our physical health on a daily basis. We eat junk food, don’t sleep enough and consume substances that are poisoning us slowly. Sometimes we do these things unconsciously, sometimes because it’s the fastest way to go, or because we think we don’t have a choice.
I used to suffer from alcohol and drug addiction. I knowingly damaged my physical health for more than a decade, and it took a toll on me. By the time I decided to get sober I was overweight, I suffered from mental illnesses and my liver was in trouble.
Luckily, I went to a rehabilitation center where they helped me recover not only from my addiction but also from the physical damage my body was suffering. Slowly, I began feeling sharper, more energetic, with a better outlook on life and, overall, healthy. I’ve been sober for 9 years now and I make sure to take care of my health every day. Today I want to share 5 easy ways in which you can do it too.
1. Exercise Regularly
Research indicates that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, depression, and osteoporosis. It also shows that former sedentary people who start exercising regularly present improvements in their overall health status. In addition, studies show that there is a correlation between aerobic exercise and improvements in mental health, such as better mood and less anxiety.
When I started exercising I was completely out of shape, so it was hard at first. If you are just starting to exercise, you don’t have to do intense routines at first. You can slowly incorporate exercise by setting small goals and working your way up. Make sure you choose an activity you enjoy in order to stay motivated and look forward to doing it.
2. Eat A Balanced Diet
It’s a fact that it is faster and more convenient to buy a drive-through burger or a supermarket sandwich than making a healthy, balanced lunch in the morning before work. But, as convenient as it may be, eating processed foods that are high in sugars, sodium and fats can contribute to developing obesity and high blood pressure. On the other hand, eating healthy can reduce the risk of suffering from heart disease, several types of cancer and obesity.
A balanced diet is one that includes a variety of foods in the right proportions. The Eatwell Guide indicates you should eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables per day, choose whole grain or higher fiber versions of your carbohydrates, get your protein from beans, pulses, and fish rather than from red meats, and choose dairy products that are low in fats and sugars.
A tip that helped me eat healthier is to keep a food diary, in which you register what you eat and how you feel throughout the day. Linking what I ate with how I was feeling helped me find out which foods made me feel better; mentally and physically. This also helped me realize which ones made me feel bloated, gassy, or irritable. This made it much easier to adjust my diet accordingly.
3. Get Enough Rest
We have all experienced what lack of sleep can do to our bodies in the short-term: we’re tired throughout the day, were unable to focus, irritable and stressed. In the long-term, not sleeping enough can bring more severe health consequences. Sleep deprivation has been linked to the increased risk of developing diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and mood disorders.
If you have trouble falling asleep, like I did, there are some behavioral changes that can help you fall asleep easier and get the rest you need. These include regulating your biological clock by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, not drinking coffee in the evenings, and exercising several hours before you go to bed.
4. Avoid Alcohol and Drugs
I was lucky. I consumed alcohol and drugs on a daily basis for many years and I didn’t suffer any permanent damage to my mental or physical health. Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky. Remember that even if you’re not an addict, drug and alcohol consumption are still harmful to your health in several ways.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people who abuse drugs are prone to suffer from illnesses such as lung and cardiovascular disease, as well as different types of cancers, stroke, and mental disorders. Depending on the type of drug, it can cause damages to your health ranging from memory and learning impairment to heart failure.
The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that 3.3 million deaths occur (worldwide) every year as a result of alcohol consumption, which represents 5.9% of all deaths. Excessive alcohol consumption can severely damage several organs such as your heart, liver, pancreas and immune system, in addition to increasing your chances of developing cancer in your mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast.
5. Get Regular Medical Checkups
It’s important to visit your doctor when you are feeling sick to get the treatment you need, but you should also get medical checkups regularly just to make sure everything is okay with your body. Visiting your primary doctor and dentist regularly is crucial. Doctors can detect diseases before they start to affect your everyday life. Make sure you ask your doctor any questions you might have regarding your health and be honest when they ask you about your habits and symptoms.
Neglecting your physical health can bring long-term consequences that can be prevented just by following these 5 simple tips. You don’t have to make any major changes in your daily life to take care of your health, just a few small lifestyle adjustments that can go a long way in disease prevention and overall well-being.
Do you have any other tips on how to take care of your health? Please let us know in the comments below.