Welcome to 2021. We are now entering year two of COVID precautions, including masks and social distancing. Its taken me a year, but I’ve come to a realization: I have been focusing on everyone else and not as much on myself. Are you taking care of yourself? No, not the newer “self care” trend. Sure, I like my monthly massages and some daily meditation as much as the next person. I’ll occasionally even leave the kids home and take a drive or a walk by myself if I’m losing my cool. Its okay, helicopter parents, I have a wide age range so they’re semi-supervised, plus they know how to call me, or 911. Yes, self care is important, but keep reading.
I’m really talking about the basics you provide for your child, but for you. I know, I know. You’re wondering, who does this? Seeing a doctor for a symptom you’ve had for months (or years) is important. If you don’t wash your car it gets dirty right? Maybe you can’t see through the windshield well. Let’s not even talk about the recent storm that rained and snowed what seemed like the entire West Desert onto our cars last month. But if you can’t see through your windshield you get a car wash so you don’t crash. Your body deserves the same. Moms, you make your kids take baths so say it with me: “Humans smell, and deodorant and dry shampoo only go so far. You get the point, right? Why do we take better care of our kids and our cars than we do ourselves?
Today I’m going to give you a list of things to do that can improve your health. Take them as you will. Most of them are recommended by the USDA or your friendly neighborhood doctor or dentist. Or just me, your friendly Create Better Health Educator and Ambassador from the USU Extension.
Make a doctor’s appointment. If it has been more than a year, go check in with them for your yearly health and wellness exam. Men and women have certain screening tests that should be done at certain ages. Get them done. If you have a family history of certain things, the starting age for those screening tests often starts five years sooner than the general population. Also, stop ignoring that snap, crackle, pop and ask about it.
Make an appointment to have your teeth cleaned and examined. Every six months. I think we’d all be surprised how fast teeth can change if left unchecked. A dentist catches things much sooner than if we let things go till they hurt.
Eat healthier foods. More veggies, lots more veggies. Basically every person could consume more vegetables, especially greens. Change up your protein. Eat more fish and lean proteins. Stop drinking juice and eat more whole fruits. Eat whole grains and less processed white flour and sugar-based foods. Choose low fat or non fat dairy.
Drink more water. The USDA doesn’t have a set daily intake of water, but most doctors agree that one ounce of water for every two pounds of body weight is a pretty good start. Set a timer and drink some water every hour if that helps.
Reduce the amount of caffeine and added sugars you consume. If you increase your water intake to the recommended amount you’ll naturally do this. If you have a “problem” with consuming too much caffeine, you may have a withdrawal headache for a couple days off and on. But as I type this I’ve gone six days without caffeine and I haven’t died yet.
Avoid drugs and alcohol. There’s not much that needs to be said here. We can generalize a little, but for the most part, unless prescribed by your doctor, they’re bad for you.
Practice good hygiene. Good hygiene is important for social, medical, and psychological reasons in that it not only reduces the risk of illness but it also improves the way others view you and how you view yourself.
Remember to focus on your mental health. See friends to build your sense of belonging. Consider joining a support group to make new friends. Try to do something you enjoy every day. That might mean dancing, watching a favorite TV show, working in the garden, painting or reading. Also find ways to relax, like meditation, yoga, getting a massage, taking a bath or taking a walk.
Exercise on a more regular basis. Being active is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity is the recommended amount per week for adults. Physical activity can be both fun and healthy. A nice motto to have is “Move More” for adults and “Play Every Day” for children. Remember all activity counts.
Also remember to be more intentional. When you are intentional you choose to make decisions and take action on what’s really important to you. Being intentional means getting clear up front about what you want to achieve. You intentionally set an intention to achieve a specific outcome or result in the future.
Sarah Patino is the Certified Nutrition Educator for Food Sense at the USU Extension – Tooele County office, which is located inside the Tooele County Health Department Building, 151 N. Main, Tooele. She can be reached at 435-277-2408 and at email@example.com.