Head To Toe: The Complete Guide To Improved Health And Wellbeing
11 Jun 2020
Health is dominating the headlines at the moment, and it’s difficult to escape updates and analysis of the global pandemic. While there is no doubt that the situation we find ourselves in has caused widespread anxiety and grief, the fact that many more people may be thinking about their health and wellbeing could be a silver lining. If you’re keen to improve your health, here’s a comprehensive guide.
All too often, we focus on physical health when the word ‘health’ pops up in conversation. The truth is that mental wellbeing is as critical, but many of us don’t like to talk about it. The conversation about mental health is becoming increasingly open, but there’s a long way to go. Preventative measures and looking after your health are usually associated with physiological fitness. The good news is that you can also take steps to protect and enhance your mental health.
One of the most common barriers to good mental health is stress. Studies show that over 70% of working adults in Canada feel stressed. Stress affects both physical and psychological wellbeing, increasing the risk of anxiety and depression, sleep troubles and headaches and affecting immunity and energy levels. We all have different ways of coping with stress. In cases of mild stress, self-help techniques can often be beneficial. Examples include meditation, exercise, spending time with friends and family, devoting time to hobbies and interests and making sure you get enough rest. Breathing exercises can be helpful for those who struggle with anxiety and it’s also advantageous to be able to express your thoughts and feelings. Some people like to talk to close friends or relatives or a therapist, while others find writing or doing creative activities like painting or drawing cathartic.
Even if you don’t have symptoms of stress, depression or anxiety, there are things you can do routinely to shield your mental health and increase happiness. These include taking time away from your desk and social media, surrounding yourself with people who make you feel content and confident, learning to stop comparing yourself to others and finding the right balance between work and play. It’s also critical to open up or channel your emotions if you are struggling. There is help available if you feel like you’re not coping or your mental health is deteriorating.
Vision and hearing
We often take our senses for granted until we notice that they’re not quite as sharp as they used to be. It’s common for ageing to impact our ability to see and hear clearly, but changes tend to be very gradual and this is why frequent checks are essential. If you haven’t had an eye test for years, or you can’t remember the last time you had your hearing tested, now is the time to make an appointment. If your vision has changed, there are solutions, including contact lenses and eyeglasses. You can also order prescription sunglasses. For hearing problems, the first step is to determine the cause. There may be a temporary, treatable cause, such as an infection or a build-up of wax, which is making it more difficult to hear. Alternatively, you may have hearing loss. Hearing loss cannot be cured, but wearing hearing aids can have an extremely positive impact on confidence and wellbeing. Modern hearing aids are discreet and they also boast advanced features, including the option to link them to your smartphone.
Most people experience a degree of decline in both their vision and their hearing as they get older, but there are factors that accelerate deterioration. Taking steps to protect your eyes and ears can help to reduce risks. If your job involves being exposed to loud noises, it’s crucial to use ear protection and you should also keep volume levels low if you’re listening to music on your phone or on the radio. Take regular breaks when using a computer and watching TV and install a blue light filter to reduce eye strain. It’s also beneficial to shield your eyes from the sun. If you notice any signs that your vision or hearing have changed, seek expert advice. The sooner issues are detected and addressed, the better.
Heart disease is one of the most common causes of death in the world. Your heart is a muscle, and just like the muscles in your arms and legs, it’s critical to strengthen and condition it. You can reduce your risk of developing heart disease significantly by exercising regularly, avoiding smoking and drinking excessively and eating a healthy and balanced diet. There are several risk factors for heart disease, including family history, high blood pressure, inactivity and high cholesterol. If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked recently, it’s a good idea to arrange a check, as high blood pressure does not cause any obvious symptoms. A healthy reading is around 120/80. Your BMI can also play a role when working towards a healthier cardiovascular system. You can work out your body mass index by measuring your height and weight. The calculator will give you a figure, which will tell you whether you are underweight or in a normal, overweight, obese or morbidly obese range.
Health experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. If you don’t hit this goal routinely, it’s very easy to up your activity levels. Even the simplest things like making time for a walk every evening or cycling to the office or the local store instead of driving can make a difference. It’s a great idea to try and work towards incorporating physical activity into your daily routine and to build your fitness gradually. You can work out at home by following online sessions or tuning into virtual classes, you could start jogging or cycling, or you could embrace the great outdoors and try activities like climbing, open water swimming, hiking or kayaking. As long as your body is moving and your heart rate is rising, you should notice the benefits of a more active lifestyle.
Another key factor for optimal heart health is a nutritious diet. Whole grains and nutrient-packed fruit and vegetables are particularly beneficial for your heart. It’s also wise to cut down on saturated fats and processed foods and to keep a close eye on your intake of salt and sugar.
Muscles and bones
Your muscles and bones play a vital role in supporting your internal organs, facilitating mobility and keeping you free from injury. Exercising on a regular basis is the best way to build strength and stamina, increase flexibility and suppleness and reduce the risk of injuries. It’s particularly important to take good care of your bones if you have a history of osteoporosis in your family. As well as doing exercises to strengthen the bones, it’s also essential to bear your diet in mind. Calcium and vitamin D are crucial for healthy bones, teeth and nails. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables and nuts.
If you are looking to build muscle mass, it is worth noting that it can take a long time to see dramatic results. We are exposed to images of rippling six-packs and bulging biceps. While it is possible to train to achieve a body transformation, you won’t see a difference overnight. There are also several activities that can help you increase strength and definition without becoming a bodybuilder. You don’t have to have enormous quads or sculpted pecs to be strong and fit. Some athletes are very lean, but also incredibly strong.
Many of us are thinking about our health more in the midst of the global pandemic. If you’re eager to start adopting a healthier lifestyle, hopefully, this guide will get you off to a flying start.