As adults, we know health—including physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual—should be a top priority. However, all aspects of health are often the first things to be compromised when stressful or demanding situations arise. There are countless clichés to remind us to prioritize our health, such as, “You can’t pour from an empty pot.” Western culture reveres a packed schedule, and it’s common for people to boast about the little amount of sleep they get. It’s important to keep in mind that health might not suffer immediately when it’s ignored, but the negative side effects will build up over time. “Poor health” is holistic, and if we ignore one aspect of our health, it’s sure to affect other aspects of our lives negatively.
If you think your health has been on the back burner too long, it’s time to ask yourself these questions:
- Do I depend on drinking? Alcoholism doesn’t always look the same. It can include feeling the need to drink nightly or bingeing on a few occasions. If you think you might have a problem with alcohol abuse, it might be time to look into treatment or talk to your doctor about your concerns. Abuse varies person to person (and standards country to country), but the most significant sign that you’re dependent on alcohol is if you’re questioning whether you are or not.
- Do I get 150 minutes of exercise per week? This is a subjective number, and some people need more or less exercise depending on their age, health, and goals. However, it’s a good target number to think about and remember that you don’t need to only count traditional forms of exercise.
- Is strength training part of my exercise? Strength training can be even more important than cardio, but both types of exercise should be part of your regimen. Once a person reaches 30 years old, sarcopenia sets in. This is the body’s natural loss of muscle mass due to age. Muscle mass is important for men and women alike because muscle is what moves the bone.
- Am I engaging in weight-bearing exercises? Strength training only to be dumbbells and fixed machines, although those are great for the body. It’s also important to bear weight on other bones, such as walking downhill. In addition to sarcopenia, the bone becomes less dense with age and more prone to breaking. Walking downstairs or taking a stroll downhill might not seem as challenging as an uphill walk to some, but it’s just as important.
- Have I identified my best ways of reducing stress? Most people can’t get rid of stress entirely. However, learning your best methods for stress reduction is important for your overall health. Stress has been linked to a variety of diseases, from heart disease to strokes. Management is key, but it’s different for every person. Yoga might work for some, while simply turning off all screens and deep breathing helps others. What works for you can also change throughout life.
- Are you getting your social fix? Social health is an often under-appreciated form of health, and social media isn’t going to cut it. In fact, studies have shown that social media actually increases depression and a person’s feeling of loneliness. It’s important to spend quality time with family and friends who are supportive.
- Have you assessed your current relationships? Toxic relationships can dramatically reduce your health, and in many cases, you’re in complete control of them. You can’t avoid every person in your life, such as co-workers, but a lot of people stay in toxic relationships (both romantic and friendship) out of habit.
- Do you see a dermatologist every year? A lot of people think of dermatologists as only treating acne, but they’re the best experts to spot skin cancer early. Melanoma is the deadliest form of all skin cancers but is easy to treat when caught early. People of all ages and with all levels of melanin can get skin cancer, and an annual skin check is the best way to catch it early.
- How’s your mental health? Mental health is just as important as physical health, but there’s still a stigma surrounding it. Everyone can benefit from seeing a mental health therapist, and increased insurance plans are covering these types of services.
- Is your dental checkup up to date? Dental health is tied to a wide variety of diseases, yet a lot of people avoid the dentist. Seeing this expert once per year is a bare minimum, and many people are recommended to visit their dentist twice each year.
Taking care of all facets of your health is a must for everyone, but especially adults as they continue to age. A number of diseases and disorders that predominantly affect older adults are preventable. Make 2019 the year you put your health first.
About The Author:
Rachel is a freelance content writer located in San Diego, California. Over the course of her career, she has written a variety of health, parenting, and fitness articles. In her free time, she enjoys running along the beach with her two puppies and practicing yoga. Find her on Twitter.