“If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything”. It may be a cliché, but it’s true. All the money, success and possessions in the world mean nothing if you don’t have the health to enjoy them.
Most people know this, which is why we are bombarded by ads for nutritional supplements, niche treatments, the latest superfoods from deep in the Amazon rainforest, and intense fitness crazes.
However, looking after your mental and physical health doesn’t need to be this complicated, nor expensive. Here is a look at the top 7 things you should be doing to take care of yourself. And most of them are easier than you may think!
1. Be Active
Keeping fit and active isn’t just about losing weight or building a certain physique. It is also essential to your health. Research show that even light exercise on a regular basis will extend your lifespan. In addition, regular exercise will give you more energy, reduce your risk of contracting chronic diseases, and improve your emotional wellbeing, among other benefits.
Experts recommend having at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, three to five times per week. Moderate exercise could include going for a brisk walk, going for a swim, or taking a dance class – that doesn’t sound too hard, does it?
2. Eat a Balanced Diet
Of course, as anyone who has ever even briefly researched health and wellbeing will know, the two keys to a healthy body are exercise and a balanced diet. A healthy diet is absolutely essential to lowering your risk of chronic illnesses, as well as bringing a range of benefits from more energy to healthy-looking skin and hair.
It is important to know that a healthy balanced diet is very different to following the fad diet trends which seem to come along virtually every week these days. Fad diets are generally very restrictive and use strange techniques to trick your body into losing weight, in the short term.
A healthy balanced diet on the other hand is about eating fresh food full of the nutrients your body needs, in sufficient amounts and a balanced proportion. Experts generally agree that a balanced diet consists of around 40-60% carbohydrates, 10-30% protein and 10-30% fat which includes plenty of vegetables, fruit and omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is not only important to rest, reset and rejuvenate, it is also critical to many of our body’s processes such as immune function, memory, cognition and mood. Unfortunately it is also something which many people sacrifice in favour of work or the pull of other commitments. The optimal amount of sleep depends on your age: for most it is 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, more for children under 16 years of age, and a little less for those aged 65 and older.
4. Get Tested
400,000 people were diagnosed with STIs in the UK in 2017, with countless more going undiagnosed because they did not get tested. With the prevalence of conditions like chlamydia and gonorrhoea, as well as less common but life threatening conditions like HIV and Hepatitis, if you are sexually active you simply cannot afford not to get an STI test. If you engage in casual sex or have more than one regular partner, you should get yourself tested regularly. As with any health condition, all STIs can have serious health effects and the early they are diagnosed, the better. You can use a HIV testing site to book an appointment confidentially online.
These services are professional and highly discreet, making it easy to get the peace of mind you need.
Physical health is not the only thing you should take care of: your mental and emotional health is also critically important. Furthermore, mental health problems can have real impacts on your body, manifesting in symptoms such as stomach aches and gastrointestinal problems, exhaustion, and skin issues.
One great way to look after your emotional wellbeing is through meditation. Meditating doesn’t need to be a big commitment: this could be as simple as taking five to 10 minutes each morning to sit in stillness and calm your body and mind.
6. Connect with Friends and Family
Studies show that another keys to strong mental health is to maintain strong social connections, and in particular relationships with close friends and family.
Make sure you prioritise picking up the phone to call an old friend, or making time to spend time with your family. In our modern, busy lives it can be all too easy to let personal relationships slide in favour or work, financial and other commitments, but these really are the most important things in life. And look after these things and you’ll be looking after your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.